Recent Celebrity Deaths

In the last year or so, several legendary celebrities and acclaimed individuals have passed away, gaining national attention and some controversy. These distinguished people have contributed to the music, entertainment, art, and technology world for years. Each unique in their abilities and contributions, they were loved and respected by all.

Dick Clark – April 18, 2012

Known primarily for his influential part in promoting rock ‘n’ roll as a legitimate form of music, Dick Clark was an iconic American radio and television personality. He hosted the longest-running variety show American Bandstand, the game show Pyramid and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, which was broadcast every New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Given his youthful appearance, Clark was called “America’s oldest teenager” on multiple occasions. In addition to his widespread television fame, Clark was also a successful businessman, serving as both chairman and CEO of Dick Clark Productions and founder of several ventures including the American Bandstand Diner – modeled after the Hard Rock Café. He was also responsible for the creation of the annual American Music Awards. In December of 2004, Clark’s speech was impaired by a severe stroke, but he returned to his New Year’s Eve show despite his impediment. On April 18, 2012, however, a heart attack following a medical procedure to fix an enlarged prostate caused his death. Clark’s family decided on a cremation instead of the traditional burial.

Thomas Kinkade – April 6, 2012

Nicknamed “Painter of Light,” Thomas Kinkade was a noted American painter whose work was marketed to the masses in the form of printed reproductions and licensed products. His work generally depicts classic American scenes in idealistic representation such as gardens, Christmas scenes, cottages, and lighthouses. Kinkade liked to paint with saturated pastel colors that he used to achieve the glowing highlighted look that earned him his nickname and fame. Although he was often criticized for his commercialized work, Kinkade did not seek fame from the fine art critics. Rather, he focused his skills on producing art that connected with his audience. Kinkade made it clear throughout his lifetime that he placed a higher focus in life on his Christian beliefs and God. This was most likely the reason Kinkade preferred to commercialize his work — so that others could enjoy the beauty he saw in light and art.

Whitney Houston – February 11, 2012

American singer, actress, producer, and model Whitney Elizabeth Houston passed away on February 11, 2012. Though she was found dead in her hotel bathtub and the coroners initially proclaimed her death as “accidental drowning,” traces of multiple types of narcotics were found in her system. Whitney’s acting career included roles in The Bodyguard, Being Bobby Brown, Sparkle, Waiting to Exhale, The Preacher’s Wife, and Cinderella. Her version of Dolly Parton’s song “I Will Always Love You” became the No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 after just three weeks. It spent 14 weeks at the top of the chart and nearly 12 million copies were sold worldwide. From 1984 to 1999, Houston scored 11 No. 1 pop hits as well as 11 top 10s. Houston received multiple Grammies for her music and for her acting. Whitney’s 16-year long marriage to Bobby Brown ended in 2006 and rumors circulated that the narcotics-ridden relationship could have contributed to an addiction that eventually caused Houston’s death. However, in a recent press release, Bobby vehemently claimed otherwise. Even after an investigation, authorities were still convinced no foul play was behind her death. There was mention of the possibility that she might have had a minor seizure as a reaction to a lack of drugs and certain medication. Either way, the cause of death has remained “accidental” according to the coroners and authorities.

Steve Jobs – October 5, 2011

On October5, 2012, Apple icon and co-founder Steven Paul Jobs passed away. Steve was best known for his involvement in Apple Inc. as a chairman, chief executive officer, designer, and inventor. Considered the greatest pioneer of the personal computer revolution, Steve broke all preconceived notions of traditional computer use and his innovative thinking defied all limits of creativity. Early on in the age of computers, tubes and cords would fill a room. Steve Jobs successfully created a personal computer no thicker than a spiral notebook. The Macbook Air is currently the slimmest computer available on the market. In the phone industry, the iPhone has become the single most popular phone with a 96% satisfaction rate. The touchscreen functionality is second to none and with thousands of apps available to consumers, it’s no surprise that Apple has sold more than 35 million of these super phones. Other notable contributions Jobs made were to The Walt Disney Company when he became a co-founder and chief executive of Pixar Animation Studios in 2006 shortly after Disney acquired Pixar. In 2003 Jobs contracted a tumor in his pancreas and although he received treatment, a liver transplant was necessary in 2009 due to a hormone imbalance. Despite these treatments, Jobs’ health continued to decline and he took most of 2011 off for medical leave. Soon afterwards, Jobs stepped down as CEO. He died of respiratory arrest in relation to his metastatic tumor in early October.