As we draw closer to the end of the year, it’s only fitting we pay tribute to the fallen stars and newsmakers that brought us much joy or left us buzzing. Here’s a final goodbye to Whitney Houston, Don Cornelius, Donna Summer and more.

On January 20, the music world lost one of its most treasured vocalist, Etta James. The blues and soul singer lost her battle with leukemia at 73. James’s best known song, “At Last,” earned her a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2008, “At Last” made its way into the history books once again when Beyoncé sang it for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during their first dance at his inaugural ball. Watch James sing her greatest hit live.

For 23 years, it was nothing but peace, love and soul for Don Cornelius’s on Soul Train. Week after week, we welcomed him into our home for the grooviest dance party we knew. Legendary guests Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Diana Ross and more set the stage on fire with their performances. Soul Train was the longest-running nationally syndicated show in TV history. Cornelius died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 1. He was 75. Check out this special fan-created tribute to Cornelius.


Singer Whitney Houston tragically died of an accidental drowning on February 11. In the months leading up to Houston’s death, it appeared she had conquered all her troubles and was on the road back to success. The Grammy award-winning singer wrapped up shooting Sparkle just weeks prior and was in the studio recording new music. What fans will miss most about Houston won’t be her quick wit or sassy commentary, but her iconic voice. To date, her most famous song, “I Will Always Love You,” from The Bodyguard soundtrack, remains the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time—selling more than 42 million copies.

Disco diva Donna Summer passed at 63 after a long battle with cancer. The five-time Grammy winner, who is known for disco hits like “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls,” kept her ailing condition under wraps. She was, however, working on new material at the time of her death. But until new music is released, fans will have to relive the magic of her voice and her greatest hits—like “Last Dance.”

Beloved actor Michael Clarke Duncan died on September 3. He never fully recovered from a heart attack he suffered on July 13—which he was resuscitated from by his fiancé, Omarosa Manigualt Stallworth. He remained hospitalized until his death. Duncan rose to fame in 1999 after an Academy Award-nominated performance in The Green Mile. What fans will miss most about the actor are his courageous onscreen performances—both big and small. His final film, The Hive, opens this Friday.

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Celebs We Lost In 2012: A Final Farewell  was originally published on