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Ten deaths that marked 2009

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, December 28, 2009 10:00 EDT
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PARIS — Ten deaths that marked 2009:

HELEN SUZMAN (died January 1, aged 91)

Suzman was for decades the lone voice of white dissent in South Africa’s parliament against apartheid rule. She served in parliament between 1953 and 1989 and was the first lawmaker to visit African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela in jail. After Mandela became the first post-apartheid president in 1994, she was also critical of the new government’s record on fighting AIDS, crime and unemployment.

JADE GOODY (died March 22, aged 27)

The former dental nurse from London rose to fame on the “Big Brother” reality television show in Britain, fascinating audiences with her ordinariness and lack of general knowledge. Goody was shamed after subjecting Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty to a racist insult on the show, almost provoking a diplomatic incident. She was taking part in a remake show in India in a bid to clean up her image when told she had cervical cancer. Goody opened up her dying days to the media to earn money for her children, earning new respect. Crowds lined the street for her funeral.

FEROZ KHAN (died April 27, aged 69)

The Bollywood actor was dubbed “the Clint Eastwood of the East”. Khan, whose father was of Afghan origin and mother Iranian, played up the cowboy tough guy image in more than 50 films. He even died from cancer at his Faroz Khan Ranch in Bangalore. Khan found fame in “Oonche Log” (High Society) and the musical “Arzoo” (Wish), both in 1965. But it was with the 1980 Hindi/Urdu gangster film “Qurbani” (Sacrifice) that he scored his biggest hit as an actor, producer and director.

MILLVINA DEAN (died May 31, aged 97)

Millvina Dean was only nine weeks old when she was bundled up in a sack after the Titanic hit an iceberg and carried to safety just before it sank in the Atlantic on April 14, 1912. Though her mother and brother survived, her father was killed and the family never made it to Kansas to open a tobacco store. Dean never married and never had children, but in her 70s became an international star as a Titanic survivor. When she died she was the last person to have been on the ill-fated liner.

MICHAEL JACKSON (died June 25, aged 50)

A brilliant but bizarre pop singer and dancer, Jackson was beaten by his father as a child. It left mental scars but also inspired him to work such as “Thriller”, the world’s best-selling album with more than 70 million copies sold. He became “The King of Pop”. But his erratic behaviour and use of plastic surgery attracted growing attention.

Jackson had lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on child molestation charges. He had been preparing for a series of comeback shows when he suffered an apparent cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home. Coroners ruled Jackson’s death a homicide highlighting the excess use of a powerful sedative propofol. So the show is set to go on.

KIM DAE-JUNG (died August 18, aged 85)

As a democracy campaigner against successive US-backed South Korean military governments, Kim survived assassination attempts and was at one point sentenced to death. But he won the presidency, and served from 1998 to 2003, winning the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his policy of trying to seek peace with Communist North Korea.

He left office under a cloud over corruption allegations involving his government and the attempts to woo the North.

EDWARD KENNEDY (died August 26, aged 77)

Once seen as the political heir to his assassinated brothers John F. and Robert, Edward Kennedy’s hopes of getting a chance to win the White House were killed off in 1969 when a car he was driving went off a bridge after a late-night party and a young woman who was with him drowned.

Ted Kennedy still had a long and distinguished career as a Democratic senator, notably campaigning for labour legislation and against South Africa’s apartheid regime. He became known as “The Lion” of the Democratic party. He died of a brain tumor at his home in Massachusetts.

MAREK EDELMAN (died October 2, aged about 90)

Edelman was the last commander of the doomed 1943 Warsaw Jewish ghetto uprising against the Nazis. In April 1943, the Nazis began liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto where just 60,000 Jews remained after the vast majority had been sent to their deaths at the Treblinka concentration camp. The Jewish groups in the Ghetto launched a valiant but doomed attack on the Nazis. Against all odds, the insurrection lasted three weeks.

CLAUDE LEVI-STRAUSS (died October 30, aged 100)

A French anthropologist who helped shape Western thinking about human civilisation, Levi-Strauss trained as a philosopher and shot to prominence with his 1955 book “Tristes Tropiques” (A World on the Wane), a haunting account of travels and studies in the Amazon basin. He was a leading proponent of structuralism, which sought to uncover the hidden, unconscious or primitive patterns of thought believed to determine the outer reality of human culture and relationships.

GRAND AYATOLLAH HOSSEIN ALI MONTAZERI (died December 19, aged 87)

The top Iranian dissident cleric was a fierce critic of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Once designated as the successor to the founder of the 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Montazeri came out in bold support of the Iranian opposition when it rejected the re-election of Ahmadinejad in June. Iranian police clashed with mourners, making arrests and injuring some after Tehran warned of a crackdown.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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