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2012 Passings

10 Artists and Authors to Remember

They were poets, writers, filmmakers and more

LeRoy Neiman, 91

PAINTER
Five times the official artist of the Olympics, and a longtime contributor to Playboy, Neiman captured the drama and energy of athletes, entertainers and animals in bold strokes and bright colors. He used some of his earnings to fund arts education.

2007: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Nora Ephron, 71

WRITER, FILMMAKER 
A successful newspaper and magazine writer, she hit it big in Hollywood — penning the screenplays for Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally, among others, and writing and directing Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.

1978: George Rose/Getty Images

Gore Vidal, 86

NOVELIST, ESSAYIST, PLAYWRIGHT 
Blessed with a biting wit and prodigious literary talent, the grandson of a senator ran unsuccessfully for office twice. But his real vocation was writing: novels (Myra Breckenridge, Lincoln, Burr), plays, and countless essays.

1964: Jacob Harris/AP

Maeve Binchy, 72

AUTHOR 
After publishing her first novel at age 42, the former newspaper reporter quickly became one of the world’s most beloved writers — with novels and short stories that depicted small-town life in her native Ireland, translated into 37 languages.

2000: Geoff Wilkinson/AP

Ray Bradbury, 91

AUTHOR 
Although he preferred to call himself a “fantasy” writer, he wrote what most people call “science fiction” — a genre he helped make popular with works such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. Fun fact: he never learned to drive.

1982: Lennox McLendon/AP

Adrienne Rich, 82

POET
W.H. Auden wrote the introduction to her first published book, in 1951; her last volume was published 59 years later. In between, her 30 books of poetry and prose emphasized the experience of women, lesbians and the disenfranchised.   

ca. 1950s: Betmann/Corbis

Thomas Kinkade, 54

PAINTER 
The self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" created ubiquitous (not always critically acclaimed) works of simple, rustic settings — think seascapes and charming cottages with glowing windows. He died from an accidental overdose.

2000: John Storey/Corbis

Vidal Sassoon, 84

HAIRSTYLIST, ENTREPRENEUR 
He revolutionized hairstyles in the 1960s by leveling the beehive to make way for short, geometric "wash-and-wear" cuts. His empire eventually grew to include salons around the world and a popular line of hair care products.

ca. 1975: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis

Carlos Fuentes, 83

AUTHOR 
Mexico gave its greatest writer a state funeral — honoring one of the 20th century's leading lights of Spanish-language literature. Outspoken in the political arena both at home and abroad, he was the epitome of the “public intellectual.”

ca. 1988: Vittoriano Rastelli/Corbis

Maurice Sendak, 83

Children's Book Author/Illustrator 
A creator of fantastical worlds and creatures, Sendak wrote and/or illustrated nearly 100 children’s books. The best known: 1963's Where the Wild Things Are, in which Max sails off to seek adventure after being sent to his room.

1985: AP

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Find more about these artists and authors in AARP's "Legacy" blog, and elsewhere on our website: 

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