In the area of arts and entertainment, this year saw the death of one who was
hugely influential though not technically an entertainer at all. Roger Ebert, who died
in April, was America's most popular film critic. In his long-running TV review
program and later on his blog after being sidelined by health issues. The Pulitzer
Prize winner wielded the nation's most influential thumb to tell audiences which
movies to see or avoid.
Fellow Chicago celebrity Larry Lujack, a radio DJ known for his world-weary,
sarcastic style, died in December. Others from the entertainment world who died
this year included actors James Gandolfini, Paul Walker, Cory Monteith, Peter
O'Toole, Dennis Farina, Jane Kean, Annette Funicello and Jean Stapleton,
musicians, George Jones, Van Cliburn, Lou Reed, Donald Byrd, Ray Manzarek,
Bebo Valdes and Mindy McCready, and authors Tom Clancy and Elmore Leonard.