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Guitarist King, Baseball's Berra Among Those Lost in 2015

  • Deborah Block

Musicians, actors and politicians were among the notable people who passed away this past year. Some were famous. Others, not so well-known, made behind the scene contributions.

Guitarist B.B. King, who thrilled his fans with songs like The Thrill is Gone, left an indelible mark on blues music. His style was unusual in that he didn’t like to sing and play at the same time. Almost to the time of his death at age 89, he was still performing.

Composer James Horner scored some of the most memorable music in movies for more than 25 years, including the story of the sinking Titanic, which earned him two Academy Awards. At age 61, he tragically died in a plane crash.

Horner also composed music for the film, A Beautiful Mind, inspired by the brilliant but eccentric mathematician, John Nash, who struggled with schizophrenia. Nash, who was awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize for economics, died in a car crash in May.

Actor Leonard Nimoy will be forever known as the logical science officer, Mr. Spock, from the Star Trek TV series and films. He had other parts but could never escape the half-human, half-Vulcan role that made him popular.

Egyptian-born actor Omar Sharif, was a leading man in the 1960s classic Lawrence of Arabia that catapulted him to fame. He appeared in more than 100 films, including Doctor Zhivago, where audiences loved his portrayal of a young doctor in a love triangle.

Political leaders

In the political arena, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, a powerful U.S. ally against al-Qaida, sought to modernize the conservative kingdom with increasing reforms. But his first priority was to counter the influence of Iran.

The first and longest-serving prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, was in power for 31 years until he stepped down in 1990. He was feared for his strict law-and-order policies and admired for business practices that turned Singapore into a high-technology and financial hub.

Kim Young Sam, the pro-democracy president of South Korea from 1993 to 1998, formally ended decades of military rule. In a country marked by military coups, he laid the foundation for a peaceful transfer of power.

Julian Bond was a longtime U.S.civil rights activist who was on the front lines of protests that led to the nation’s landmark civil rights laws. For 10 years, Bond was the chairman of the NAACP, an organization that fights discrimination against blacks.

American painter and sculptor Ellsworth Kelly was famous for his brightly colored abstract art. His vivid, geometrical paintings are in some of the most prestigious art museums.

Celebrity novelist Jackie Collins thrilled millions of readers with her scandalous tales of Hollywood. Her popular books include Hollywood Wives, which sold 15 million copies around the world.

One of baseball’s beloved stars, Yogi Berra, died at age 90. When he was a catcher with the New York Yankees, his team won the World Series 10 times. Berra is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.