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The Worst of 2012: The Movie People Who Passed Away

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It's inevitable that as time goes by, we will lose some of our favorite stars. And yet, year after year, it never gets any easier to look back on the great entertainers who had died over the previous 12 months.

Still, it's important to remember the legacies of the people who enhanced our own lives over the years with their talent, style and love of cinema. Here's a look at some of the many wonderful Hollywood talents who passed away in 2012.

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston Getty Images

One of the most successful, beloved and influential pop stars of the last quarter century, Whitney Houston also became a Hollywood power in the '90s thanks to her roles in blockbusters like "The Bodyguard" and "The Preacher's Wife." Though she had her very public ups and downs over the past decade, Houston was in the process of making a career comeback on the big screen with the musical "Sparkle." It ended up serving as the posthumous cap to her legacy after she accidentally drowned in her hotel bathtub on February 11 at the age of 48. A great talent who left us far too soon.

Tony Scott

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Considering his older brother, Ridley Scott, is one of the most acclaimed and successful directors of all time, you would think that Tony Scott had lived in his shadow. But nothing could be farther from the truth, as the younger Scott carved out an amazing career as a film director in his own right, helming the all-time classic "Top Gun" as well as hits like "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Crimson Tide" and "Unstoppable." Sadly, just as he and star Tom Cruise were preparing the long-awaited "Top Gun 2," Tony Scott took his own life on Aug. 19 at the age of 68.

Ernest Borgnine

Ernest Borgnine Getty Images

Few stars were ever as unlikely — or prolific — as Ernest Borgnine. A late bloomer who didn't get interested in acting until his mid-30s, Borgnine went on to star in literally hundreds of television shows, movies and stage productions over the course of a career that spanned seven decades. Among the many classics he appeared in were "The Dirty Dozen," "The Wild Bunch," "Escape From New York," "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Marty," which earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in 1955. Borgnine, who was still working in films right up until the time of his death, died on July 8 at the age of 95.

Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron Getty Images

Just how influential was Nora Ephron over the course of her long and amazing career? Pretty much the entire modern romantic comedy genre is just one industry-wide attempt to replicate the success of her many classic films about relationships, such as "Sleepless in Seattle," "When Harry Met Sally" and "You've Got Mail." But while many have tried to copy Ephron, nobody has yet managed to capture the essence of her singular writing and directing style, which earned Ephron three Oscar nominations. Ephron died on June 26 after a six-year battle with leukemia at the age of 71. Often imitated, never equaled.

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan Getty Images

Renowned for his gregarious and gentle demeanor as much as his incredible physical stature, Michael Clarke Duncan lived a true Hollywood rags-to-riches story, beginning his career as a bodyguard to the stars before being discovered in the mid-'90s. His first major role in a motion picture would make for enough of a legacy for any actor, as Duncan was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1999's "The Green Mile." He didn't stop there, though, going on to become a fan favorite due in part to his easygoing nature, which led him to take numerous comedy roles. Duncan died on September 3 from complications following a heart attack in July at the age of 54.

Ben Gazzara

Ben Gazzara Getty Images

Beginning his career as a television player in the early '50s, Ben Gazzara made the leap to the big screen by the end of the decade, appearing in such major projects as Alfred Hitchock's 1959 classic "Anatomy of a Murder." But he became a indie legend thanks to his numerous collaborations with director John Cassavetes in the '70s, including films like "Husbands" and "Opening Night." He went on to even greater mainstream success, with his most famous roles probably being the bad guy in the 1989 cult classic "Road House" and a small but memorable turn in 'The Big Lebowski." He died of pancreatic cancer on February 3 at the age of 81.

Adam Yauch

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Adam Yauch is best known, of course, as MCA in the legendary rap group The Beastie Boys. But as impressive as his musical legacy is, his work in film is also considerable. As the founder and creative force behind Oscilloscope Laboratories, Yauch distributed more than 40 independent films worldwide, including Academy Award nominees like "The Messenger" and "Exit Through the Gift Shop" as well as his own directorial debut, the basketball documentary "Gunnin' For That #1 Spot." Yauch died on May 4 at the age of 47 after a three-year battle with cancer.

Ralph McQuarrie

Ralph McQuarrie Empire Online

Ralph McQuarrie is a household name, but only in very specific households — that is, those that belong to "Star Wars" fans. McQuarrie was already a successful commercial artist in his mid-40s when he was approached by George Lucas to draw up some concept art for a little sci-fi film Lucas was planning. McQuarrie went on to define the look of "Star Wars," designing characters like Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Darth Vader. "Star Wars" springboarded him to a career in Hollywood, which culminated in a Best Visual Effects Oscar for "Cocoon" in 1986. McQuarrie died on March 3 at the age of 82 from complications of Parkinson's Disease.

Robert B. Sherman

Robert B. Sherman MouseClubhouse.com

Along with his brother Richard, Robert B. Sherman formed half of the legendary Sherman Brothers who, beginning in 1961, defined the sound of Disney. Besides the numerous TV specials and theme park rides they created music for, Robert and his brother crafted songs for such classic films as "The Jungle Book," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" and, of course, "Mary Poppins," which earned them two Oscars. Robert, who is probably most famous outside of film circles for also co-writing the legendary earworm "It's A Small World," died on March 5 at the age of 86.

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