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Neil Armstrong
NASA/Reuters/Landov
Neil Armstrong

2012 Departures

2012 News of the Year | Some January-November deaths

Issue: "2012 News of the Year," Dec. 29, 2012

Patience Abbe

87, March 17 | Best-selling child author at age 11 (Around the World in Eleven Years) and as a teen.

Ian Abercrombie

77, Jan. 26 | Actor who played Mr. Pitt (Elaine’s boss) on Seinfeld, and had many other roles.

Irving Adler

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99, Sept. 22 | Teacher and author of more than 85 books who made the wonders and complexities of science understandable for children.

Neil Armstrong

82, Aug. 25 | Apollo astronaut whose “giant leap for mankind” made him the first human to set foot on the moon.

Stuart Barton Babbage

96, Nov. 16 | British and Australian educator who, in a 10-year sojourn in America that began in 1963, served first as president of Conwell School of Theology at Temple University in Philadelphia, then played a key role in merging it in 1969 with Gordon Divinity School in Boston.

John F. Baker Jr.

66, Jan. 20 | Army sergeant and Vietnam War hero awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing wounded soldiers in a 1966 ambush and leading a counter-assault against 3,000 enemy troops.

Letitia Baldrige

86, Oct. 29 | Arbiter of good manners who wrote etiquette books, including the Complete Guide to Executive Manners and an updated version of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. She was Jackie Kennedy’s social secretary and a consultant to Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, and Nancy Reagan.

Jacques Barzun

104, Oct. 25 | Columbia University historian and administrator and author of many books on the shaping of culture, including at age 92 his masterwork, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life. In his 1954 book, God’s Country and Mine, he coined the often-quoted aphorism: “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

Dick Beals

85, May 29 | Boyish-sounding voice-over actor for hundreds of animated characters, including Speedy in the Alka-Seltzer TV commercials, Gumby in The Gumby Show, Davey on Davey and Goliath, and Beals was the unforgettable voice singing, “Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.”

Anthony J. Bevilacqua

88, Jan. 31 | Retired Catholic cardinal and archbishop of Philadelphia whose final years were clouded by allegations that he and his predecessor had covered up sexual abuse by priests.

Jan Berenstain

88, Feb. 24 | Beloved author of mega-seller children’s books who with her late husband created the Berenstain Bears series of hundreds of picture books that helped guide millions of young readers along the pathways of childhood.

Maeve Binchy

72, July 30 | Irish author who wrote stories set in Ireland that appealed to readers everywhere—her books have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and been translated in 37 languages. Two of her novels, Circle of Friends and Tara Road, were made into movies.

Anthony “Tony” Blankley

63, Jan. 7 | Conservative author, columnist, political commentator, former White House aide in the Reagan administration, press secretary for House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and editorial director of The Washington Times who started out as a child actor on Lassie, Make Room for Daddy, and other TV shows.

Roger Boisjoly

73, Jan. 6 | Whistleblowing Morton Thiokol engineer who warned months in advance that cold temperatures could cause its huge rocket boosters for the space shuttle Challenger to fail, and who, when Florida temperatures fell below freezing on the day before the Jan. 28, 1986, launch, frantically urged company officials to delay it. Under pressure from NASA, they didn’t, and 73 seconds into lift-off, Challenger exploded, killing its seven crew members.

Ernest Borgnine

95, July 8 | Burly, gruff-voiced actor with a gap-toothed smile often cast in bad-guy roles but winner of an Academy Award for his portrayal of a gentle Bronx butcher in the 1955 film Marty, who also starred in the ABC sitcom McHale’s Navy in the 1960s, and in later life did the voice of hero Mermaid Man in the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants.

Ray Bradbury

91, June 5 | Influential, imaginative master of science fiction and fantasy whose books sold more than 8 million copies in 36 languages.

Peter Breck

82, Feb. 6 | Actor who starred as Barbara Stanwyck’s temperamental son Nick Barkley in ABC’s popular 1960s Western series The Big Valley.

Andrew Breitbart

43, March 1 | Conservative writer, activist, and website operator who was behind investigations that brought down the liberal social action coalition ACORN and uncovered the sexting scandal involving former Rep. Anthony Weiner.

Helen Gurley Brown

90, Aug. 13 | Best-selling author (Sex and the Single Girl, 1962), and long-time editor of Cosmopolitan magazine (1965-1997) who shaped the leading edge of the sexual revolution for countless women. She emphasized looking good and feeling good while virtually ignoring moral boundaries, and offered confusing contradictions in her approach to women’s social roles.

Read more "2012 Departures."

Listen to a report on notable deaths of 2012 on WORLD’s radio news magazine The World and Everything in It.

Photo credits: ARMSTRONG: NASA/Reuters/Landov; CLARK: Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images; GRIFFITH: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; KINKADE: Rick E. Martin/MCT/Landov; PATERNO: Ronald C. Modra /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images; SEAU: Matt A. Brown/Icon SMI/Corbis/AP; WELLS: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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