Dec 29, 2009 11:52 AM by Mark Barger

The entertainers who left us in 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, lets take a look back at some of the iconic celebrity figures we lost this past year and there was none bigger than the "King of Pop".

Michael Jackson was on the brink of a comeback.

A few final days of rehearsal remained before returning to the world stage in London. "He was in great spirits, full of energy keeping up with the 20 year old dancers. Just really excited," said Jackson's guitarist Orianthi.

Jackson's sudden death sent shockwaves everywhere.

Millions of fans mourned and months later, circumstances surrounding his passing remain unclear.

Alongside his brothers in the Jackson five, he had been a child star, but on his own, Jackson evolved into "The King of Pop."

He influenced generations around the globe both in song and dance.

But Jackson's tumultuous personal life sometimes overshadowed that talent.

Still, the world watched as this legendary performer was laid to rest.
Just hours before news of Jackson's death, actress Farrah Fawcett lost her very public battle with cancer.

A 70's poster girl who fought successfully to be taken seriously as an actress, she found that cancer was one battle she couldn't win.
Pancreatic cancer claimed the life of Patrick Swayze.

His dirty dancing and ghostly presence in movies sent hearts a flutter and raked in hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office.
TV's ultimate second banana made "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" must-see-TV even before there was such a phrase.

But Ed McMahon also carved his own niche as a TV pitchman extraordinary.
His latter day counterpart Billy Mays was the TV pitchman everywhere.

From engravers to cleaners, Billy Mays was the video vendor for must have household products.
Karl Malden's pitch for traveler's checks and his years as a TV cop made him a familiar face.

His performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire" made him an Oscar winner.
And then there's "Maude"

Her role as TV's most outspoken feminist brought Bea Arthur an Emmy. Another Emmy followed as a lively as a senior on "The Golden Girls".
Television gave actor David Carradine an iconic role as Caine in "Kung Fu".

The movies made him the evil title target in "Kill Bill volumes 1 and 2".
Comedy was always cooking with Dom Deluise on TV and in film.

Frequently, with his long time buddy, Burt Reynolds.
The sound of music literally changed thanks to Les Paul.

He put the rock in rock'n roll with his invention of the solid body electric guitar.
A very different sound resonated through the 1960's.

Mary Travers of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary provided a gentle soundtrack to the volatile civil rights and anti-war movements.
But the films "The Breakfast Club" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" proved otherwise for director John Hughes.

He struck a heartfelt chord with teens in 80's and launched a new generation of stars.
A seemingly minor fall while skiing resulted in a fatal head injury for actress Natasha Richardson.

The daughter of award winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and wife of actor Liam Neeson.

The sudden passing of this fourth generation member of the Redgrave acting dynasty, like that of Michael Jackson, served as a reminder of the fragile nature of life, even among the famous.



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