2009 was the year the country lost a lion and a king and many other prominent people.
The suddenness of Michael Jackson's death in June was shocking. The outpouring of sadness was instantaneous. Undeniably, one of the greatest entertainers of all time, Jackson died with "Thriller", still the best selling album in history. Ruled a homicide because of prescription drugs, just how the King of Pop died is a question that lingers into the New Year.
On the floor of the U.S. Senate he was the answer to several generations of have-nots. But the roar of the lion fell silent when Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy died in August. After the tragic deaths of his three brothers, Ted became the Kennedy to keep intact the legacy of America's first family. Even the brain tumor that took his life could not keep him from the role of playmaker in helping elect the country's first black president.
Sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver died two weeks earlier. Her legacy as founder of the Special Olympics will last for generations to come.
Walter Cronkite covered the Kennedys and most every major event of the last half of the 20th century, from the anchor chair at CBS News. Recognized as the most trusted men in America, his presence guided the country through tragedy, war and triumph.
CBS is also where Don Hewitt found a niche and founded the still-standing, still incredibly successful "60 Minutes."
The rest of the story is what broadcasting legend Paul Harvey told. His worldwide audience still averaged 24 million just prior to dying in February at age 90.
Robert McNamara was vilified for his role as Defense Secretary during the controversial Vietnam War and he would admit his failures in a memoir that came 20 years after the war ended.
William Safire would write supportively of that war while serving as a speech writer in the Nixon White House. And kept up the conservative cause in columns for the New York Times until his death in September.
Conservatism was a lifetime cause for politician Jack Kemp, too who went from NFL quarterback to congressman, to vice-presidential candidate.
Writing was their life for authors John Updike and Frank McCourt, while painting was Andrew Wyeth's.
While the appropriately named John Hope Franklin lived as not only an activist in the civil rights' movement, but also as one of its leading scholars.
Leading ladies like Farrah Fawcett Majors and leading men, like Patrick Swayze headlined Hollywood losses in 2009. As well as the death of Ed McMahon, Bea Arthur, Ricardo Montalban, David Carradine, Dom Deluise and Mary Travers.