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20 Dec 2013 00:00
Chinua Achebe, African literary giant, in 2008. (AP)
Chinua Achebe (82). Founding figure of African literature, his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart sold hugely and he launched the Heinemann African Writers series.
Later work chronicled his homeland Nigeria's political travails.
Sathima Bea Benjamin (67). Jazz singer and wife of pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, she spent four decades in exile. Her albums included African Songbird (1976), Southern Touch (1989) and Cape Town Love (1999).
Ronnie Biggs (84). Involved in Britain's 1963 "Great Train Robbery", he escaped from jail and was wanted for 36 years.
Karen Black (74). Off-beat actor who memorably appeared in Easy Rider (1969) as a tripping prostitute. Among her other notable movies was Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), directed by Robert Altman.
Bobby Bland (83). Blues and soul singer; had 23 top-10 R&B hits, mostly in the early 1960s.
Sebatana Rupert Bopape (89). Producer who shaped black pop in South Africa from the 1960s to the 1980s; launched Mahlatini and the Mahotella Queens, among others.
Donald Byrd (80). Jazz trumpeter; a leading hard-bopper in the 1950s, he moved into jazz-funk in the 1970s, becoming one of the artists most sampled by later groovists.
JJ Cale (74). American blues-rock guitarist and songwriter; famous for Cocaine (1976).
Tom Clancy (66). Bestselling American novelist; The Hunt for Red October (1984) was the first of many espionage and military thrillers.
Van Cliburn (78). Classical pianist; he hit world fame in 1958 as the winner of the first International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow. His recording of the composer's first piano concerto was the first classical album to sell more than a million copies.
Dirk Coetzee (67). Former apartheid security policeman who revealed secrets of state hit squads to Vrye Weekblad in 1989.
Gerard Derbesy (47). Chief executive of BP Southern Africa.
Ray Dolby (80). Inventor who expanded cinematic sound.
George Duke (67). Keyboardist with jazz, funk and pop modes.
Roger Ebert (70). Possibly the US's most famous film critic, and the first to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Colin Eglin (88). A co-founder of the Progressive Party in 1959 (later the Progressive Federal Party), the chief parliamentary opposition in the apartheid era. During the transition he made signal contributions to the multiparty talks and the constitutional process.
Douglas Englebart (88). Inventor of the computer mouse.
Joan Fontaine (96). Actor famed for her lead roles in Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941).
David Frost (74). British broadcaster who hit global fame through his series of interviews with Richard Nixon soon after his resignation as U.S. president.
James Gandolfini (51). American actor famed for his lead role in hit TV series The Sopranos.
Vo Nguyen Giap (102). Brilliant guerrilla leader who masterminded the war against the French and then the Americans in Vietnam. He also served in the post-war North Vietnamese government and wrote works of military history.
Eydie Gormé (84). Singer; had huge hit with Blame It on the Bossa Nova in 1963.
Chico Hamilton (92). Jazz drummer. He led an innovative trio in the 1950s, scored Roman Polanski's Repulsion in the 1960s, played with rock band Little Feat in the 1970s, and was still recording prolifically in his 80s.
Ray Harryhausen (92). Pioneer of stop-motion film animation; his works included The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Clash of the Titans (1981).
Richie Havens (72). American folk singer and guitarist. Opened Woodstock in 1969; played at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.
Seamus Heaney (74). Irish poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. "In a time of burnings and bombings," wrote Colm Toibin, "he used poetry to offer an alternative world."
Willem Hefer (87). Sandton mayor who extended services to Alexandra township in the 1980s; also founding chair of the Rhodes National Heritage Trust. He restored Boschendal wine estate and launched the brand.
Oscar Hijuelos (62). Latino author, most famous for his prize-winning and popular novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989).
Virginia Johnson (88). Pioneering sex researcher; co-leader, with William Masters, of the studies that led to the ground-breaking Human Sexual Response (1966) and Human Sexual Inadequacy (1970).
George Jones (81). Country singer and songwriter; wrote Seasons of My Heart, among other hits. A hell-raising drinker and addict, he was married to fellow country star Tammy Wynette from 1969 to 1975.
Ed Koch (88). Three-term mayor (1978-1989) of New York, he took the city from the financial doldrums to boom times. He ran as a Democrat but endorsed later Republican candidates for his job as well as George W. Bush for president.
Pius Langa (76). A judge in the first Constitutional Court, he was South Africa's widely loved and admired chief justice from 2005 to 2009. He had been a key figure in the formation of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers in the 1980s and led it until 1994.
Koloi Lebona (71). Great (blind) music producer; he discovered Brenda Fassie, produced McCoy Mrubata, and scored the movie Under African Skies.
Elmore Leonard (87). Crime novelist; a strong seller, he also won critical acclaim for his oblique, laconic style. His books include 52 Pick-up (1974), Glitz (1985) and Out of Sight (1996)
Doris Lessing (94). A towering figure of 20th-century literature, she wrote more than 60 books, starting with The Grass Is Singing (1950), about Rhodesia. The Golden Notebook (1962) is a key work in post-war women's writing, covering also politics and mental breakdown. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.
Graham Mackay (64). Much-admired business leader; he took South African Breweries, later SABMiller, from local giant to global player.
Nelson Mandela (95). Icon.
Chiwoniso Maraire (37). Zimbabwean singer and mbira player; made an impact with her Ancient Voices album in 1998.
Baby Jake Matlala (51). South African boxer, four times world flyweight champion: 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2001. Only 147cm tall, he said: "I work the body, then the head will come." After retirement, he appeared on TV's Strictly Come Dancing, and did charity work.
Richard Matheson (87). Prolific American novelist, most famous for the 1954 sci-fi classic I Am Legend.
Ray Manzarek (74). Keyboardist of the Doors, which he co-founded with singer Jim Morrison in 1965. Manzarek's post-Doors projects included work with poets and electronica; he also wrote two novels and an autobiography.
Marian McPartland (95). Jazz pianist and radio host.
Junior Murvin (67). Jamaican singer and composer, known for Police and Thieves (1976) and Apartheid (1982).
Victor Ntoni (65). Bassist whose work throbs throughout South African jazz. He worked with everyone from the Ngcukana Brothers and Dollar Brand in the early 1960s to DJ Black Coffee more recently.
Big T Ntsele (about 80). Bassist who anchored the Soul Jazzmen in the 1960s.
Paddy O'Byrne (83). Irish broadcaster who worked for decades in South Africa, notably during the pre-TV "golden days" of radio.
Peter O'Toole (81). Irish-born actor who shot to fame in the title role of Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He received a record eight Oscar nominations for best actor, but won only a lifetime achievement award (2003). Highly praised for The Stunt Man (1980), My Favourite Year (1982) and Venus (2006).
Patti Page (85). The biggest-selling female vocalist of the 1950s.
Phil Ramone (72). South African-born music producer; co-founded A&R Recording in 1958 and went on to produce Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and many more, winning 14 Grammy awards. A&R also launched the world's first compact disc in 1982.
Lou Reed (71). Seminal rocker who co-founded the deeply influential Velvet Underground in the early 1960s and had a solo hit with Walk on the Wild Side in the early 1970s. Later work was less successful, but he charted his own course.
Mandy Rossouw (33). Mail & Guardian and City Press journalist; she will be remembered (as we said in the M&G) for "her vivid character, razor-sharp wit and insightful articles".
Margaret Thatcher (87). Britain's only female prime minister and the 20th century's longest-serving (1979-1990), she led the Conservative Party to electoral victory after the strike-hit "winter of discontent" under Labour. Then she crushed the trade unions, cut back the welfare state and, with US president Ronald Reagan, led the neoliberal bid for global domination.
Stan Tracey (86). British pianist known as "the godfather of British jazz", he had a 70-year career. His best-known work is the Under Milk Wood Suite of 1968, based on Dylan Thomas's play for voices.
Paul Walker (40). American actor most famous for his part in the Fast and Furious franchise.
Esther Williams (91). Swimming star who turned her water skills into a Hollywood career.
Hiroshi Yamauchi (86). Nintendo boss who made the games company a global empire.
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