This year saw the deaths of people who shifted culture through prose, pragmatism and persistence. It also witnessed tragedy, in talent struck down in its prime.
Eugene "Mean Gene" Okerlund, 76. His deadpan interviews of pro wrestling superstars like "Macho Man" Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan made him a ringside fixture in his own right. Jan. 2.
Carol Channing, 97. The ebullient musical comedy star who delighted American audiences in almost 5,000 performances as the scheming Dolly Levi in "Hello, Dolly!" on Broadway and beyond. Jan. 15.
Lamia al-Gailani, 80. An Iraqi archaeologist who lent her expertise to rebuilding the National Museum's collection after it was looted in 2003. Jan. 18.
Nathan Glazer, 95. A prominent sociologist and intellectual who assisted on a classic study of conformity, "The Lonely Crowd," and co-authored a groundbreaking document of non-conformity, "Beyond the Melting Pot." Jan. 19.
Harold Bradley, 93. A Country Music Hall of Fame guitarist who played on hundreds of hit country records and along with his brother, famed producer Owen Bradley, helped craft "The Nashville Sound." Jan. 31.
Anne Firor Scott, 97. A prize-winning historian and esteemed professor who upended the male-dominated field of Southern scholarship by pioneering the study of Southern women. Feb. 5.
Frank Robinson, 83. The Hall of Famer was the first black manager in Major League Baseball and the only player to win the MVP award in both leagues. Feb. 7.
John Dingell, 92. The former congressman was the longest-serving member of Congress in American history at 59 years and a master of legislative deal-making who was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry. Feb. 7.
Albert Finney, 82. The British actor was the Academy Award-nominated star of films from "Tom Jones" to "Skyfall." Feb. 8.
Jan-Michael Vincent, 73. The "Airwolf" television star whose sleek good looks belied a troubled personal life. Feb. 10.
Betty Ballantine, 99. She was half of a groundbreaking husband-and-wife publishing team that helped invent the modern paperback and vastly expand the market for science fiction and other genres through such blockbusters as "The Hobbit" and "Fahrenheit 451." Feb. 12.
Lyndon LaRouche Jr., 96. The political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004, including a campaign waged from federal prison. Feb. 12.
Wallace Smith Broecker, 87. A scientist who raised early alarms about climate change and popularized the term "global warming." Feb. 18.
Karl Lagerfeld, 85. Chanel's iconic couturier whose accomplished designs and trademark white ponytail, high starched collars and dark enigmatic glasses dominated high fashion for the past 50 years. Feb. 19.
Luke Perry, 52. He gained instant heartthrob status as wealthy rebel Dylan McKay on "Beverly Hills, 90210." March 4. Stroke.
Birch Bayh, 91. A former U.S. senator who championed the federal law banning discrimination against women in college admissions and sports. March 14.
Dick Dale, 83. His pounding, blaringly loud power-chord instrumentals on songs like "Miserlou" and "Let's Go Trippin'" earned him the title King of the Surf Guitar. March 16.
Larry Cohen, 77. The maverick B-movie director of cult horror films "It's Alive" and "God Told Me To." March 23.
Ken Gibson, 86. He became the first black mayor of a major Northeast city when he ascended to power in riot-torn Newark, New Jersey, about five decades ago. March 29.
Sydney Brenner, 92. A Nobel Prize-winning biologist who helped decipher the genetic code and whose research on a roundworm sparked a new field of human disease research. April 5.
Richard "Dick" Cole, 103. The last of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who carried out the daring U.S. attack on Japan during World War II. April 9.
John Havlicek, 79. The Boston Celtics great whose steal of Hal Greer's inbounds pass in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference final against the Philadelphia 76ers remains one of the most famous plays in NBA history. April 25.
John Singleton, 51. A director who made one of Hollywood's most memorable debuts with the Oscar-nominated "Boyz N the Hood" and continued over the following decades to probe the lives of black communities in his native Los Angeles and beyond. April 29. Taken off life support after a stroke.
Peter Mayhew, 74. The towering actor who donned a huge, furry costume to give life to the rugged-and-beloved character of Chewbacca in the original "Star Wars" trilogy and two other films. April 30.
Peggy Lipton, 72. A star of the groundbreaking late 1960s TV show "The Mod Squad" and the 1990s show "Twin Peaks." May 11. Cancer.
Doris Day, 97. The sunny blond actress and singer whose frothy comedic roles opposite the likes of Rock Hudson and Cary Grant made her one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s and '60s and a symbol of wholesome American womanhood. May 13.
Tim Conway, 85. The impish second banana to Carol Burnett who won four Emmy Awards on her TV variety show, starred in "McHale's Navy" and later voiced the role of Barnacle Boy for "Spongebob Squarepants." May 14.
I.M. Pei, 102. The versatile, globe-trotting architect who revived the Louvre with a giant glass pyramid and captured the spirit of rebellion at the multi-shaped Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. May 16.
Murray Gell-Mann, 89. The Nobel Prize-winning physicist who brought order to the universe by helping discover and classify subatomic particles. May 24.
Claus von Bulow, 92. A Danish-born socialite who was convicted but later acquitted of trying to kill his wealthy wife in two trials that drew intense international attention in the 1980s. May 25.
Leon Redbone, 69. The blues and jazz artist whose growly voice, Panama hat and cultivated air of mystery made him seem like a character out of the ragtime era or the Depression-era Mississippi Delta. May 30.
Dr. John, 77. The New Orleans singer and piano player who blended black and white musical styles with a hoodoo-infused stage persona and gravelly bayou drawl. June 6.
Gloria Vanderbilt, 95. The intrepid heiress, artist and romantic who began her extraordinary life as the "poor little rich girl" of the Great Depression, survived family tragedy and multiple marriages and reigned during the 1970s and '80s as a designer jeans pioneer. June 17.
Judith Krantz, 91. A writer whose million-selling novels such as "Scruples" and "Princess Daisy" engrossed readers worldwide with their steamy tales of the rich and beautiful. June 22.
Tyler Skaggs, 27. The left-handed pitcher who was a regular in the Los Angeles Angels' starting rotation since late 2016 and struggled with injuries repeatedly in that time. July 1. Choked on his own vomit and had a toxic mix of alcohol and painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system.
Lee Iacocca, 94. The auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford's lineup in the 1960s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler 20 years later. July 2.
H. Ross Perot, 89. The colorful, self-made Texas billionaire who rose from delivering newspapers as a boy to building his own information technology company and twice mounted outsider campaigns for president. July 9. Leukemia.
Rip Torn, 88. The free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor in television, theater and movies, such as "Men in Black," and win an Emmy in his 60s for "The Larry Sanders Show." July 9.
Pernell Whitaker, 55. An Olympic gold medalist and four-division boxing champion who was regarded as one of the greatest defensive fighters ever. July 14. Hit by a car.
John Paul Stevens, 99. The bow-tied, independent-thinking, Republican-nominated justice who unexpectedly emerged as the Supreme Court's leading liberal. July 16.
Elijah "Pumpsie" Green, 85. The former Boston Red Sox infielder was the first black player on the last major league team to field one. July 17.
Rutger Hauer, 75. A Dutch film actor who specialized in menacing roles, including a memorable turn as a murderous android in "Blade Runner" opposite Harrison Ford. July 19.
Harold Prince, 91. A Broadway director and producer who pushed the boundaries of musical theater with such groundbreaking shows as "The Phantom of the Opera," “Cabaret," “Company" and "Sweeney Todd" and won a staggering 21 Tony Awards. July 31.
D.A. Pennebaker, 94. The Oscar-winning documentary maker whose historic contributions to American culture and politics included immortalizing a young Bob Dylan in "Don't Look Back" and capturing the spin behind Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign in "The War Room." Aug. 1.
Henri Belolo, 82. He co-founded the Village People and co-wrote their classic hits "YMCA," “Macho Man" and "In the Navy." Aug. 3.
Toni Morrison, 88. A pioneer and reigning giant of modern literature whose imaginative power in "Beloved," “Song of Solomon" and other works transformed American letters by dramatizing the pursuit of freedom within the boundaries of race. Aug. 5.
Peter Fonda, 79. The actor was the son of a Hollywood legend who became a movie star in his own right after both writing and starring in the counterculture classic "Easy Rider." Aug. 16.
Cedric Benson, 36. A former NFL running back who was one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history. Aug. 17. Motorcycle crash.
David H. Koch, 79. A billionaire industrialist who, with his older brother Charles, was both celebrated and demonized for transforming American politics by pouring their riches into conservative causes. Aug. 23.
Valerie Harper, 80. She scored guffaws, stole hearts and busted TV taboos as the brash, self-deprecating Rhoda Morgenstern on back-to-back hit sitcoms in the 1970s. Aug. 30.
Robert Frank, 94. A giant of 20th-century photography whose seminal book "The Americans" captured singular, candid moments of the 1950s and helped free picture-taking from the boundaries of clean lighting and linear composition. Sept. 9.
Eddie Money, 70. The rock star known for such hits as "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight." Sept. 13. Esophageal cancer.
Phyllis Newman, 86. A Tony Award-winning Broadway veteran who became the first woman to host "The Tonight Show" before turning her attention to fight for women's health. Sept. 15.
Ric Ocasek, 75. The Cars frontman whose deadpan vocal delivery and lanky, sunglassed look defined a rock era with chart-topping hits like "Just What I Needed." Sept. 15.
John Keenan, 99. He was the police official who led New York City's manhunt for the "Son of Sam" killer and eventually took a case-solving confession from David Berkowitz. Sept. 19
Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, 85. The 1955 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State and running back for the Detroit Lions. Sept. 20.
Ginger Baker, 80. The volatile and propulsive drummer for Cream and other bands who wielded blues power and jazz finesse and helped shatter boundaries of time, tempo and style in popular music. Oct. 6.
Rip Taylor, 88. The madcap, mustached comedian with a fondness for confetti-throwing who became a television game show mainstay in the 1970s. Oct. 6.
Robert Forster, 78. The handsome and omnipresent character actor who got a career resurgence and Oscar nomination for playing bail bondsman Max Cherry in "Jackie Brown." Oct. 11. Brain cancer.
Alexei Leonov, 85. The legendary Soviet cosmonaut who became the first person to walk in space. Oct. 11.
Harold Bloom, 89. The eminent critic and Yale professor whose seminal "The Anxiety of Influence" and melancholy regard for literature's old masters made him a popular author and standard-bearer of Western civilization amid modern trends. Oct. 14.
Elijah E. Cummings, 68. A sharecropper's son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump. Oct. 17. Complications from longstanding health problems.
Kathryn Johnson, 93. A trailblazing reporter for The Associated Press whose intrepid coverage of the civil rights movement and other major stories led to a string of legendary scoops. Oct. 23.
John Conyers, 90. The former congressman was one of the longest-serving members of Congress whose resolutely liberal stance on civil rights made him a political institution in Washington and back home in Detroit despite several scandals. Oct. 27.
Gert Boyle, 95. The colorful chairwoman of Oregon-based Columbia Sportswear Co. who starred in ads proclaiming her "One Tough Mother." Nov. 3.
Werner Gustav Doehner, 90. He was the last remaining survivor of the Hindenburg disaster, who suffered severe burns to his face, arms and legs before his mother managed to toss him and his brother from the burning airship. Nov. 8.
Charles Rogers, 38. The former Michigan State star and Detroit Lions receiver was an All-American wide receiver who was the school's all-time leader in touchdown catches. Nov. 11.
Jake Burton Carpenter, 65. The man who changed the game on the mountain by fulfilling a grand vision of what a snowboard could be. Nov. 20. Complications stemming from a relapse of testicular cancer.
William Doyle Ruckelshaus, 87. He famously quit his job in the Justice Department rather than carry out President Richard Nixon’s order to fire the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. Nov. 27.
Allan Gerson, 74. A lawyer who pursued Nazi war criminals and pioneered the practice of suing foreign governments in U.S. courts for complicity to terrorism. Dec. 1.
René Auberjonois, 79. A prolific actor best known for his roles on the television shows “Benson” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and his part in the 1970 film “M.A.S.H.” playing Father Mulcahy. Dec. 8.
Caroll Spinney, 85. He gave Big Bird his warmth and Oscar the Grouch his growl for nearly 50 years on “Sesame Street.” Dec. 8.
Danny Aiello, 86. The blue-collar character actor whose long career playing tough guys included roles in “Fort Apache, the Bronx,” "Moonstruck" and “Once Upon a Time in America” and his Oscar-nominated performance as a pizza man in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Dec. 12.