Neil Armstrong would always be taking that first step onto the moon, and Dick Clark was forever "the world's oldest teenager." A look at some of the notables who died in 2012:
- Etta James, 73. Blues singer best known for her enduring classic "At Last." Jan. 20. Complications from leukemia.
- Joe Paterno, 85. Longtime Penn State coach who won more games than anyone in major college football but was fired amid the Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Jan. 22.
- Whitney Houston, 48. She ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice was ravaged by drug use. Feb. 11. Accidentally drowned in a bathtub.
- Davy Jones, 66. Actor turned singer who helped propel The Monkees to the top of the pop charts. Feb. 29. Heart attack.
- Andrew Breitbart, 43. Conservative media publisher and activist behind the fall of Anthony Weiner. March 1.
- John Demjanjuk, 91. One of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions. March 17.
- Pope Shenouda III, 88. Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt's Christian minority for 40 years. March 17.
- Thomas Kinkade, 54. Painter of idyllic landscapes, cottages, and churches. April 6.
- Mike Wallace, 93. Dogged CBS reporter and 60 Minutes stalwart. April 7.
- Dick Clark, 82. "America's oldest teenager" and TV pioneer. April 19.
- Junior Seau, 43. Homegrown superstar who was the fist-pumping, emotional leader of the San Diego Chargers for 13 years. May 2. Apparent suicide.
- Adam Yauch, 47. Also known as MCA, the gravelly voiced rapper helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal groups in hip-hop. May 4. Cancer.
- Mary Richardson Kennedy, 52. Estranged wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. May 16. Apparent suicide.
- Donna Summer, 63. Disco queen whose pulsing anthems became the soundtrack for a glittery age of drugs, dance, and flashy clothes. May 17.
- Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, 60. The only person ever convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. May 20.
- Robin Gibb, 62. One of the three Bee Gees whose falsetto harmonies defined the disco era. May 20.
- Ray Bradbury, 91. Sci-fi master who transformed childhood dreams and Cold War fears into telepathic Martians, lovesick sea monsters, and Fahrenheit 451. May 5.
- Rodney King, 47. Black motorist whose 1991 beating by LA police officers sparked race riots. June 17. Accidentally drowned.
- Nora Ephron, 71. Essayist, author, and filmmaker who thrived in the male-dominated worlds of movies and journalism. June 26. Leukemia.
- Andy Griffith, 86. The wise sheriff in The Andy Griffith Show and a rumpled defense lawyer in Matlock. July 3.
- Ernest Borgnine, 95. Beefy screen star known for blustery, villainous roles. July 8.
- Sally Ride, 61. She blazed trails into orbit as the first American woman in space. July 23. Pancreatic cancer.
- Gore Vidal, 86. Author, playwright, politician, and commentator. July 31.
- Tony Scott, 68. Director of such Hollywood blockbusters as Top Gun and Days of Thunder. Aug. 19. Died after jumping from a bridge.
- Phyllis Diller, 95. Housewife-turned-humorist who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself. Aug. 20.
- Neil Armstrong, 82. Steely-nerved astronaut who made "one giant leap for mankind" on the moon. Aug. 25.
- Michael Clarke Duncan, 54. Hulking character actor in The Green Mile, Armageddon, Planet of the Apes and Kung Fu Panda. Sept. 3. Heart attack.
- Chris Stevens, 52. US ambassador to Libya. Sept. 11. Killed during the attack on a US consulate in Libya.
- Arlen Specter, 82. Outspoken former Pennsylvania senator. Oct. 14. Complications of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
- Larry Hagman, 81. Actor whose predatory oil baron J.R. Ewing on Dallas became a symbol for 1980s greed. Nov. 23.
- Besse Cooper, 116. World's oldest person. Dec. 4.
- Dave Brubeck, 91. Jazz composer and pianist whose pioneering style in pieces such as "Take Five." Dec. 5.
- Oscar Niemeyer, 104. Architect who recreated Brazil's sensuous curves in concrete. Dec. 5.
- Jenni Rivera, 43. California-born singer who became a superstar in Mexican-American music. Dec. 9. Plane crash.
- Ravi Shankar, 92. Sitar virtuoso who hobnobbed with the Beatles. Dec. 11.
- Daniel Inouye, 88. Hawaii senator and influential Democrat who broke racial barriers. Dec. 17.
- Robert Bork, 85. Nixon-era solicitor general and failed Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court. Dec. 19.
(Read more Best of 2012