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A look back at this epic year in celebrity news would not be complete without reflecting upon some of the brightest stars who said goodbye to us in 2012.

Here are 12 of the most notable pop culture figures – from singers to actors to authors and even historical figures – who passed away this year:

Donna Summer - Last Dance

12. Donna Summer, disco’s queen, became synonymous with an entire genre of music with hits like "Love to Love You Baby" and "Last Dance."

11. Ray Bradbury was an author ahead of even his sci-fi time.


10. Jenni Rivera. The popular Mexican singer-actress was taken from us – and her family – far, far too soon this month in a tragic plane crash.

9. Larry Hagman. Dallas star was the original TV villain.

8. Mitchell Guist. The Swamp People star attracted an enormous following thanks to his reality show, and the reaction to his passing was immense.

7. Nora Ephron‘s screenplays – When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle – have been often imitated but never duplicated in modern cinema.

Phyllis Diller Standup

6. Phyllis Diller hilariously made herself the butt of her own jokes, but more importantly shattered the glass ceiling of comedy over a decades-long career.

5. Don Cornelius‘ Soul Train didn’t just provide great music, it empowered a black audience and informed a white audience in a vast cultural experience.

4. Steve Sabol may not be a household name, but the NFL Films founder forever changed the way we watch the most popular sport in America.

3. Neil Armstrong & Sally Ride, the first man on the moon and first woman in space, were both pioneers outside of our atmosphere and inspirations on Earth.

2. Dick Clark may not have invented popular music, the American teenager or New Year’s Eve, but he left an indelible mark on all of the above.

Whitney Houston National Anthem: The Best Ever

1. Whitney Houston‘s final years were not what millions of fans would have hoped for, but her legacy and the power of her voice never diminished.

These are just a dozen of the memorable figures we bid farewell to, of course. Share the names and memories of these and others you will miss below!