Our favorite part of any award show is the memorial montage commemorating the lives of all those who passed away in the past year. While this year’s headlines were populated by the tragic deaths of celebrities and other bold-faced names — from Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett to Patrick Swayze and Senator Ted Kennedy — our industry lost quite a few of its prominent members in 2009 as well. Here, a look back at some of the media’s brightest stars we said goodbye to this year:
A number of famous columnists also left us without their prolific narratives about politics, celebrities and the English language in 2009. Conservative columnist Robert Novak died in August from a brain tumor, Vanity Fair‘s Dominick Dunne passed away later that month after a battle with bladder cancer. The New York Times‘ “On Language” columnist, William Safire, died in September from pancreatic cancer. Another columnist who we had the pleasure of working with last year, men’s wear expert Stan Gellers, died suddenly last winter, just a few months after the publication he had contributed to for more than 50 years, DNR, folded.
Some other big names in media who died in 2009 helped create and fund mainstay of New York journalism, like “60 Minutes” creator Don Hewitt and New York magazine owner Bruce Wasserstein. Hewitt’s death in August led to an outpouring of memories from across the media spectrum, while Wasserstein’s sudden death in October had many worried what would become of the magazine he loved. (Don’t worry, his family reportedly has no plans to sell the mag.)
And let’s not forget authors Frank McCourt and John Updike, as well as photographer Irving Penn, made famous on the pages of Vogue. And someone who was not a journalist but worked closely with them, President Jimmy Carter’s press secretary Jody Powell.
Other journalists we said good-bye to this year included Sarah Conroy from The Washington Post; former television critic John J. O’Connor and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nan Robertson from the Times; Bloomberg’s Mark Pittman; sports broadcaster George Michael; news producer Jack Rielly; Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief Jack Nelson; NBC News correspondent Irving Levine; John Wilke of The Wall Street Journal; Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Lou Forbes and LA Times transgender sportswriter Mike Penner, who also went by Christine Daniels.