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Nobel winner, ‘King of Pop’ left us in ’09

Of all the notables who died in 2009, the one who most changed the world could have walked down any Main Street USA without causing a stir.
Image:  Norman Borlaug
Norman Borlaug, visiting professor at Texas A&M University, and the 1970 Nobel Prize recipient, looks over some sorghum tests in this Oct. 30, 1996 file photo taken in one of A&M's teaching greenhouses, in College Station, Texas. The Nobel Prize-winning agricultural scientist died in Texas on Sept. 12 at age 95.Bill Meeks / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Of all the notables who died in 2009, the one who most changed the world could have walked down any Main Street USA without causing a stir.

Scientist Norman Borlaug, who died Sept. 12 at age 95, developed crops that enabled Third World farmers to wrest more food from their land. His "green revolution" was credited with averting global famine — and won him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver were born into America's pre-eminent political family and spent decades living up to its tradition of service.

Michael Jackson helped create his own family dynasty, this one rooted in show business, as the lead singer for The Jackson 5 when he was just a child. He grew up to become one of entertainment's most influential and controversial figures as the self-styled "King of Pop," and his death at age 50 was as mystifying as his life.

They are just four of the men and women of achievement who died in 2009.

The political world said goodbye to Jack Kemp, Claiborne Pell, Robert McNamara, Jody Powell and writers William Safire, Irving Kristol and Robert Novak. Overseas, we lost two courageous dissidents who went on to lead their countries — Corazon Aquino of the Philippines and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea.

In the arts, those who died in 2009 include groundbreaking choreographer Merce Cunningham; photographer Irving Penn; painter Andrew Wyeth; and novelist John Updike.

We lost scholars John Hope Franklin and Claude Levi-Strauss; broadcast journalists Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt; and TV stars Ed McMahon, Bea Arthur and Farrah Fawcett.

Here, a roll call of some of the people who died in 2009. (Cause of death cited for younger people if available.)


Claiborne Pell, 90. Six-term Rhode Island senator, force behind Pell college grants. Jan. 1.

Adolf Merckle, 74. German billionaire; business ran into trouble in financial meltdown. Jan. 5. Suicide.

Griffin Bell, 90. His friend Jimmy Carter's attorney general. Jan. 5.

Cornelia Wallace, 69. Gov. George Wallace's wife, who threw herself over him when he was shot in 1972. Jan. 8.

Claude Berri, 74. French actor, director ("Manon of the Spring"). Jan. 12.

Preston Gomez, 85. Managed Padres, Astros, Cubs during long baseball career. Jan. 13.

Ricardo Montalban, 88. Actor in splashy MGM musicals; Mr. Roarke in "Fantasy Island." Jan. 14.

Andrew Wyeth, 91. Artist whose portraits and landscapes combined realism, modern melancholy. Jan. 16.

Edmund de Rothschild, 93. Oversaw modernization of family's Rothschild merchant bank. Jan. 17.

John Updike, 76. Pulitzer-winning novelist, essayist. Jan. 27.

Ingemar Johansson, 76. Swede who knocked out Floyd Patterson in 1959, stunning boxing world. Jan. 30.


Millard Fuller, 74. Founded Habitat for Humanity. Feb. 3.

Herbert Hamrol, 106. Survived 1906 San Francisco earthquake; recalled how his mother carried him to safety. Feb. 4.

James Whitmore, 87. Many-faceted actor; did one-man shows on Harry Truman, Will Rogers. Feb. 6.

Jack Cover, 88. Invented Taser stun gun. Feb. 7.

Paul Harvey, 90. Radio news, talk pioneer; one of nation's most familiar voices. Feb. 28.


Sydney Chaplin, 82. Tony-winning actor; son of Charlie Chaplin ("Bells Are Ringing"). March 3.

Horton Foote, 92. Playwright ("The Trip to Bountiful"), screenwriter ("To Kill a Mockingbird"). March 4.

Anne Wiggins Brown, 96. Soprano; original Bess in "Porgy and Bess." March 13.

Ron Silver, 62. Won Tony as tough Hollywood producer in David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow." March 15.

Natasha Richardson, 45. Heiress to British acting royalty ("Patty Hearst"). March 18. Skiing accident.

Jade Goody, 27. British reality TV star. March 22. Cancer.

George Kell, 86. Hall of Fame third baseman; Tigers broadcaster. March 24

John Hope Franklin, 94. Towering scholar of African-American studies. March 25.

Jack Dreyfus, 95. Mutual fund pioneer. March 27.

Raul Alfonsin, 82. Argentine president; guided return to democracy following dictatorship. March 31.


Dave Arneson, 61. Co-created Dungeons & Dragons fantasy game. April 7.

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, 54. Colorful Detroit Tigers pitcher; captivated fans in '70s. April 13. Accident.

Jack Cardiff, 94. Oscar-winning cinematographer famed for innovative use of Technicolor ("The Red Shoes"). April 22.

Bea Arthur, 86. Her sharp delivery propelled "Maude," "The Golden Girls"; won Tony for "Mame." April 25.

Venetia Phair, 90. As schoolgirl interested in mythology, she suggested name for the planet Pluto. April 30.


Jack Kemp, 73. Quarterback turned politician who crusaded for lower taxes, was Bob Dole's running-mate. May 2.

Martha Mason, 71. Polio victim who spent 61 years in iron lung yet graduated from college, wrote memoir. May 4.

Dom DeLuise, 75. Portly actor with offbeat style ("The Cannonball Run"). May 4.

Dom DiMaggio, 92. Bespectacled Boston Red Sox center fielder; Joe's brother. May 8.

Chuck Daly, 78. Hall of Fame basketball coach; led Dream Team to 1992 Olympic gold. May 9.

Velupillai Prabhakaran, 54. Leader of Sri Lanka's separatist Tamil Tigers, one of world's deadliest insurgencies. May 17. Killed by government forces.

George Tiller, 67. Physician who performed later-term abortions at his Kansas clinic, making him focus of protests. May 31. Shot to death.

Millvina Dean, 97. Last survivor of Titanic sinking; was nine weeks old. May 31.


Koko Taylor, 80. Regal, powerful singer known as "Queen of the Blues." June 3.

David Carradine, 72. Actor ("Kung Fu," "Kill Bill"). June 4.

Bernard Barker, 92. Ex-CIA operative, Watergate burglar. June 5.

Omar Bongo, 73. He ruled Gabon for 42 years, making him world's longest-serving president. June 8.

John Houghtaling, 92. Invented "Magic Fingers Vibrating Bed" for hotels. June 17.

Dr. Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald, 57. She treated her breast cancer before dramatic rescue from South Pole in 1999. June 23. Recurrence of cancer.

Ed McMahon, 86. Ebullient "Tonight" show sidekick who bolstered Johnny Carson. June 23.

Farrah Fawcett, 62. 1970s sex symbol, star of "Charlie's Angels." June 25.

Michael Jackson, 50. The King of Pop. June 25.

Billy Mays, 50. Burly, bearded television pitchman. June 28. Heart disease.

Harve Presnell, 75. His booming baritone graced Broadway musicals ("The Unsinkable Molly Brown"). June 30.


Karl Malden, 97. Oscar-winning actor; a star despite his plain looks ("A Streetcar Named Desire"). July 1.

Herbert G. Klein, 91. Richard Nixon's director of communications. July 2.

Steve McNair, 36. Popular Tennessee Titans quarterback. July 4. Shot to death.

Bela Kiraly, 97. A leader of Hungary's short-lived anti-Soviet revolution in 1956. July 4.

Robert S. McNamara, 93. Pentagon chief who directed escalation of Vietnam War despite private doubts. July 6.

Walter Cronkite, 92. Premier TV anchorman of networks' golden age. July 17.

Frank McCourt, 78. He gained post-retirement fame, and a Pulitzer, for "Angela's Ashes." July 19.

Harry Patch, 111. Britain's last survivor of the World War I trenches. July 25.

Merce Cunningham, 90. Avant-garde dancer, choreographer; revolutionized modern dance. July 26.


Corazon Aquino, 76. Former Philippines president who swept away a dictator with 1986 "people power" revolt. Aug. 1.

Naomi Sims, 61. Pioneering black model of the 1960s. Aug. 1.

Budd Schulberg, 95. Novelist ("What Makes Sammy Run?") and Oscar-winning screenwriter ("On the Waterfront"). Aug. 5.

John Hughes, 59. Writer-director of youth-oriented comedies ("Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "Home Alone"). Aug. 6. Heart attack.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 88. Founded Special Olympics to bring new opportunities to mentally disabled. Aug. 11.

Les Paul, 94. Guitar virtuoso; invented solid-body electric guitar and multitrack recording. Aug. 13.

Kim Dae-jung, 85. Dissident who became South Korean president; won Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to reconcile with North Korea. Aug. 18.

Robert Novak, 78. Combative conservative pundit who loved "making life miserable for hypocritical, posturing politicians." Aug. 18.

Don Hewitt, 86. TV news pioneer who created "60 Minutes," produced it for 36 years. Aug. 19.

Stanley H. Kaplan, 90. His company helped young people boost college admissions test scores. Aug. 23.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 77. Senate's liberal lion and haunted bearer of the Camelot torch. Aug. 25.

Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein, 36. Celebrity disc jockey; also a reality TV figure who attempted to help fellow drug addicts. Aug. 28. Overdose.

Nancy Talbot, 89. Co-founded Talbots women's clothing company. Aug. 30.


Army Archerd, 87. His Daily Variety column kept tabs on Hollywood doings for more than a half-century. Sept. 8.

Jim Carroll, 60. Poet, punk rocker; wrote "The Basketball Diaries." Sept. 11. Heart attack.

Larry Gelbart, 81. Slyly witty writer for stage and screen ("Tootsie," "M-A-S-H"). Sept. 11.

Gertrude Baines, 115. World's oldest person. Sept. 11.

Norman Borlaug 95. Iowa farmboy who became acclaimed scientist, developed a type of wheat that helped feed the world. Sept. 12.

Patrick Swayze, 57. Dancer turned movie superstar in "Dirty Dancing," "Ghost." Sept. 14. Pancreatic cancer.

Jody Powell, 65. President Jimmy Carter's press secretary, top adviser. Sept. 14.

Melvin Simon, 82. Billionaire mall developer; owned Indiana Pacers. Sept. 16.

Mary Travers, 72. One-third of 1960s folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary ("If I Had a Hammer"). Sept. 16.

Irving Kristol, 89. Writer, editor known as godfather of neoconservatism. Sept. 18.

Susan Atkins, 61. Member of Charles Manson "family"; killed actress Sharon Tate. Sept. 24.

William Safire, 79. Pulitzer-winning New York Times columnist. Sept. 27.

Donald G. Fisher, 81. Co-founded apparel giant Gap Inc.. Sept. 27.

Guillermo Endara, 73. Former Panamanian president, led country to democracy after ouster of Manuel Noriega. Sept. 28.


Marek Edelman, 90. Last surviving leader of ill-fated 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against Nazis. Oct. 2.

Irving Penn, 92. Photographer famed for stark simplicity in portraits, fashion shots. Oct. 7.

William Wayne Justice, 89. Federal judge in Texas; rulings reformed schools, prisons. Oct. 13.

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, 70. Spiritual leader of Church Universal and Triumphant, predicted nuclear Armageddon. Oct. 15.

Howard Unruh, 88. He killed 13 in 1949 Camden, N.J., shooting spree, nation's worst mass murder at the time. Oct. 19.

Soupy Sales, 83. Rubber-faced comedian whose career was built on thousands of pies to the face. Oct. 22.

John O'Quinn, Flamboyant Texas lawyer; won billions in verdicts. Oct. 29.

Claude Levi-Strauss, 100. French intellectual who was considered father of modern anthropology Oct. 30.

Michelle Triola Marvin, 76. Fought a landmark "palimony" case against ex-lover Lee Marvin. Oct. 30.


Francisco Ayala, 103. Spanish novelist, sociologist; in exile during Franco dictatorship. Nov. 3.

Vitaly Ginzburg, 93. Nobel-winning Russian physicist, helped develop Soviet hydrogen bomb. Nov. 8.

Abe Pollin, 85. Washington Wizards owner who brought an NBA championship to nation's capital. Nov. 24.


Jack Pitchford, 82. Air Force fighter pilot; survived seven years in North Vietnam's notorious "Hanoi Hilton." Dec. 2.

Richard Todd, 90. Acclaimed British actor ("The Longest Day"). Dec. 3.

Paula Hawkins, 82. Former Florida senator, first woman elected to a full Senate term without family political connection. Dec. 4.

Thomas Hoving, 78. Former director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art who championed the "blockbuster" exhibit. Dec. 10.

Paul Samuelson, 94. Economist who won a Nobel prize, helped shape JFK's tax policy and wrote a textbook read by millions. Dec. 13.

Oral Roberts, 91. TV evangelist who built a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university that bears his name. Dec. 15.

Jennifer Jones, 90. Oscar-winning actress ("The Song of Bernadette"). Dec. 17.

Grand Ayatolla Hossein Ali Montazeri, 87. The spiritual father of Iran's reform movement. Dec. 20.