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Image: Johnny Carson
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Comedian Johnny Carson's political jabs targeted Richard Nixon, but he was equally at home clowning around in corny costumes, tossing off a risque quip or gently interviewing a child or colorful senior citizen.
updated 12/19/2005 12:35:13 PM ET 2005-12-19T17:35:13

With Willy Loman, playwright Arthur Miller created a universal symbol of the struggles of the ordinary man and the fading of his dreams.

Willy was not the toiler in the fields so often portrayed in the arts, but a worker with a frayed white collar. A salesman.

"Death of a Salesman" made Miller famous in 1949 as an artist of the theater. By the time he died in 2005 at age 89, he was hailed as one of the great playwrights of the century.

We also said goodbye this year to Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow, who in novels such as "The Adventures of Augie March" explored the anxieties and cultural clashes of modern life.

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We lost Johnny Carson, who night after night for three decades helped us laugh ourselves to sleep as host of "The Tonight Show." His political jabs targeted Richard Nixon, but he was equally at home clowning around in corny costumes, tossing off a risque quip or gently interviewing a child or colorful senior citizen.

August Wilson, who was killed by liver cancer at age 60, dramatized the story of 20th century black life in a matchless cycle of 10 plays, including two that won Pulitzers, "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson."

Richard Pryor pushed racial humor to (then) the limit in the 1970s, paving the way for even edgier artists who followed. Hunter Thompson, who took his own life, forged a singular brand of personal journalism.

Actress Anne Bancroft played the determined teacher in "The Miracle Worker" and the Older Woman in "The Graduate." Architect Philip Johnson mastered the simple lines of the modernist style and then plunged into postmodernism with his AT&T Building. And Peter Jennings spanned the globe as anchor of ABC's "World News Tonight."

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, blues musician, and Austin Leslie, restaurateur, both died after being driven from their Louisiana homes by Hurricane Katrina.

We also said farewell to the deep-voiced men who spoke for Tony the Tiger and the Jolly Green Giant, and to the singers of two of the funniest hit records of the 1960s: "You Talk Too Much" and "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)."

Here, a roll call of artists, performers and pop culture figures who died in 2004. (Cause of death of younger notables is given when available.)

January
Frank Kelly Freas, 82. Influential illustrator of science fiction books and for Mad magazine. Jan. 2.

Will Eisner, 87. Artist who revolutionized comic books ("The Spirit"), helped pioneer the graphic novel. Jan. 3.

Danny Sugerman, 50. Associate of The Doors; cowrote acclaimed Jim Morrison biography. Jan. 5. Lung cancer.

Spencer Dryden, 66. Jefferson Airplane's drummer in band's glory years. Jan. 10.

James Griffin, 61. Member of 1970s pop group Bread ("Make It With You"); co-wrote Oscar-winning song "For All We Know." Jan. 11.

Thelma White, 94. Actress; played a dope peddler in "Reefer Madness." Jan. 11.

Amrish Puri, 72. Bollywood's favorite villain; also in British and American movies. Jan. 12.

Charlotte MacLeod, 82. Mystery writer; protagonists were often amateur sleuths. Jan. 14.

Victoria de los Angeles, 81. Spanish soprano known for masterful tonal control. Jan. 15.

Ruth Warrick, 88. Star of soap opera "All My Children"; career launched in "Citizen Kane." Jan. 15.

Marjorie Williams, 47. Washington Post columnist, author. Jan. 16. Liver cancer.

Virginia Mayo, 84. Versatile Hollywood star of 1940s, 50s ("White Heat," "The Best Years of Our Lives"). Jan. 17.

Lamont Bentley, 31. Regular on sitcom "Moesha." Jan. 18. Car crash.

Vivian Green, 89. British historian; inspiration for John le Carre's spymaster George Smiley. Jan. 18.

Consuelo Velazquez, 84. Mexican songwriter whose "Besame Mucho" became a standard. Jan. 22.

Johnny Carson, 79. The quick-witted "Tonight Show" host who became a national institution. Jan. 23.

Philip Johnson, 98. Architect who promoted the "glass box" skyscraper and then smashed the mold with daring postmodernist designs. Jan. 25.

Ray Peterson, 65. His 1960 hit "Tell Laura I Love Her" exemplified the era's teen tragedy song. Jan. 25.

Jim Capaldi, 60. Drummer of British rock group Traffic ("Paper Sun"). Jan. 28. Cancer.

Ephraim Kishon, 80. Best-selling Israeli humorist. Jan. 29.

Eric Griffiths, 64. A member of the schoolboy band that evolved into the Beatles. Jan. 29.

February
John Vernon, 72. Character actor; nasty Dean Wormer in "National Lampoon's Animal House." Feb. 1.

Ossie Davis, 87. Actor and civil rights activist; his rich baritone and elegant bearing graced stage and screen. Feb. 4.

Lazar Berman, 74. Acclaimed Russian pianist. Feb. 6.

Karl Haas, 91. Brought classical music to millions through radio program "Adventures in Good Music." Feb. 6.

Jimmy Smith, 79. Jazz organist; considered a pioneer with the instrument. Feb. 8.

Keith Knudsen, 56. Doobie Brothers drummer ("Black Water"). Feb. 8. Pneumonia.

George Herman, 85. CBS political reporter; longest-serving moderator of "Face the Nation." Feb. 8.

Tyrone Davis, 66. R&B singer ("Turn Back the Hands of Time"). Feb. 9.

Arthur Miller, 89. He gave the world "Death of a Salesman" and married Marilyn Monroe. Feb. 10.

Sammi Smith, 61. Country singer ("Help Me Make It Through the Night"). Feb. 12.

Sixten Ehrling, 86. Conductor for Royal Opera in Stockholm, Detroit Symphony. Feb. 13.

Dan O'Herlihy, 85. Character actor, Oscar-nominated for Bunuel's "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe." Feb. 17.

John Raitt, 88. Robust baritone of Broadway ("Carousel") and Hollywood ("The Pajama Game"); father of Bonnie. Feb. 20.

Sandra Dee, 62. Teen-queen actress ("Gidget"); married Bobby Darin. Feb. 20. Kidney disease complications.

Hunter S. Thompson, 67. Acerbic counterculture writer who created a new form of journalism ("Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"). Feb. 20. Suicide.

Guillermo Cabrera Infante, 75. Cuban-born novelist; hailed as original voice in 20th-century Spanish literature. Feb. 21.

Simone Simon, 93. French screen star best known in U.S. for 1942 thriller "Cat People." Feb. 22.

Harry Simeone, 94. His chorale's "The Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas perennial. Feb. 22.

Edward Patten, 66. Member of Gladys Knight & the Pips. Feb. 25.

Mario Luzi, 90. Acclaimed Italian poet. Feb. 28.

Chris Curtis, 63. Drummer for British band the Searchers ("Needles and Pins"). Feb. 28.

March
Harold Brooks-Baker, 71. Publisher of aristocratic genealogy guide Burke's Peerage. March 5.

Chuck Thompson, 83. Hall of Fame broadcaster in Baltimore, known for exclaiming, "Ain't the beer cold!" March 6.

Teresa Wright, 86. Sweet-faced, Oscar-winning actress ("Mrs. Miniver," "The Best Years of Our Lives"). March 6.

Debra Hill, 54. Film producer ("Escape From L.A."). March 7. Cancer.

Chris LeDoux, 56. Rodeo champion turned country music star ("Whatcha Gonna Do With a Cowboy"). March 9. Cancer.

Danny Joe Brown, 53. Lead singer of Southern rock band Molly Hatchet. March 10. Diabetes complications.

Don Durant, 72. Star of 1950s TV Western "Johnny Ringo." March 15.

Lalo Guerrero, 88. Acclaimed Mexican-American musician. March 17.

Andre Norton, 93. Science fiction author; wrote popular "Witch World" series. March 17.

George F. Kennan, 101. Diplomat, Pulitzer-winning historian. March 17.

Bobby Short, 80. Suave cabaret singer who epitomized Manhattan sophistication. March 21.

Barney Martin, 82. Detective turned actor; played Jerry Seinfeld's father. March 21.

Rod Price, 57. Member of boogie band Foghat ("Slow Ride"). March 22. Injured in fall.

Paul Henning, 93. He created "The Beverly Hillbillies" and wrote its theme song. March 25.

Greg Garrison, 81. Pioneering TV director; worked with such stars as Jack Benny, George Burns and Lucille Ball. March 25.

April
Jack Keller, 68. Pop songwriter ("Everybody's Somebody's Fool"); a producer on Monkees' first album. April 1.

Saul Bellow, 89. Nobel Prize-winning author of "Herzog" and "Humboldt's Gift." April 5.

Neil Welliver, 75. Painter known for his landscapes of Maine woods. April 5.

Dale Messick, 98. She created the comic strip "Brenda Starr, Reporter." April 5.

Prince Rainier III, 81. His fairy-tale marriage to Grace Kelly brought Hollywood glamour to Monaco. April 6.

Frank Conroy, 69. Memoirist ("Stop-Time"), longtime director of famed University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop. April 6.

Jose Melis, 85. Former "Tonight" show bandleader who led the orchestra for Jack Paar. April 7.

Yoshitaro Nomura, 85. Japanese director whose 1974 suspense thriller, "Castle of Sand," has been ranked by critics as one of Japan's best films ever. April 8.

Andrea Dworkin, 58. Feminist author; anti-porn crusader. April 9. Had osteoarthritis, other ailments.

Norbert Brainin, 82. Violinist; a founding member of the Amadeus Quartet. April 10.

Johnnie Johnson, 80. Rock 'n' roll pioneer who teamed with Chuck Berry for hits like "Roll Over Beethoven" and "No Particular Place to Go." April 13.

John Fred Gourrier, 63. As John Fred, he and his Playboy Band topped the charts in 1968 with Beatles parody "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)." April 15.

Laura Canales, 50. "Grande dame of Tejano music"; blazed a trail for stars like Selena. April 16. Complications from gall bladder surgery.

Ruth Hussey, 93. Oscar-nominated for role as James Stewart's wise-cracking girlfriend in "The Philadelphia Story." April 19.

Richard "Rick" Lewis, 71. A member of the doo-wop group the Silhouettes whose "Get a Job" soared to the top of the charts in 1958. April 19.

Gene Frankel, 85. Directed the landmark off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's "The Blacks." April 20.

Sir John Mills, 97. British actor; Oscar-winner for "Ryan's Daughter"; Hayley's father. April 23.

Augusto Roa Bastos, 88. One of South America's most celebrated novelists whose writings often examined Paraguay's social and political struggles. April 26.

Mason Adams, 86. Nominated for an Emmy for "Lou Grant"; the voice on the Smucker's jelly commercials. April 26.

Maria Schell, 79. Leading actress of German-speaking films; sister of Maximilian Schell. April 26.

Mel Gussow, 71. New York Times drama critic and cultural reporter who showed an eye for undiscovered talent. April 29.

William Joseph Bell, 78. Emmy award-winning daytime TV soap writer; co-creator of "The Young and the Restless," "The Bold and the Beautiful." April 29.

May
Joe Grant, 96. Disney artist and writer; created queen-witch character in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." May 6.

Herb Sargent, 81. Writer and producer for "Saturday Night Live." May 6.

Tristan Egolf, 33. Young author whose first novel "Lord of the Barnyard" won him comparisons to Steinbeck. May 7. Suicide.

Jay Marshall, 85. Magician and ventriloquist, often on "The Ed Sullivan Show." May 10.

Monica Zetterlund, 67. Jazz singer; one of Sweden's best-known artists. May 12.

Jimmy Martin, 77. Singer, guitarist; performed with the Blue Grass Boys. May 14.

Frank Gorshin, 72. Impressionist; nominated for Emmy for role as the Riddler on the "Batman" TV series. May 17.

Howard Morris, 85. Comic on Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows"; the poetry-spouting Ernest T. Bass on "The Andy Griffith Show." May 21.

Ismail Merchant, 68. With partner James Ivory, produced intelligent film dramas ("Howards End," "The Remains of the Day"). May 25.

Eddie Albert, 99. Actor; the befuddled city slicker-turned-farmer on "Green Acres." May 26.

June
Leon Askin, 97. Played Gen. Albert Burkhalter in the 1960s comedy "Hogan's Heroes." Announced June 3.

Anne Bancroft, 73. She won the 1962 best actress Oscar as the teacher of a young Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" but achieved greater fame in "The Graduate." June 6.

Dana Elcar, 77. Round-faced actor whose real-life struggle with blindness was written into his role on "MacGyver." June 6.

Richard Eberhart, 101. Won Pulitzer in poetry in 1966 for "Selected Poems, 1930-1965." June 9.

Carlo Maria Giulini, 91. Italian maestro whose spiritual interpretations of classical music made him a conducting giant of the 20th century. June 14.

Phil Ford, 85. Entertainer who teamed with then-wife Mimi Hines on "The Tonight Show," Las Vegas stages. June 15.

Gene Miller, 76. Won two Pulitzers for Miami Herald stories that led to the release of four people wrongly convicted of murder. June 17.

Ronald Winans, 48. Grammy-winning member of Winans gospel quartet. June 17. Heart complications.

Chris Griffin, 89. Member of trumpet section in Benny Goodman's orchestra, alongside Harry James and Ziggy Elman. June 18.

Larry Collins, 75. Co-author of "Is Paris Burning?," best-seller on Nazi occupation of French capital. June 20.

Shana Alexander, 79. Veteran journalist; her skirmishes with James J. Kilpatrick on "60 Minutes" were spoofed on "Saturday Night Live." June 23.

Paul Winchell, 82. Ventriloquist, inventor; created lispy voice of Winnie the Pooh's animated friend Tigger. June 24.

Chet Helms, 62. Bay Area impresario; launched Janis Joplin's career. June 25.

Shelby Foote, 88. Brought his Southern storyteller's touch to multivolume work on the Civil War and the landmark PBS series. June 27.

Bruce Malmuth, 71. Film director ("Hard to Kill"). June 28.

Christopher Fry, 97. British playwright ("The Lady's Not for Burning"). June 30.

July
Luther Vandross, 54. Grammy winner known for his lush voice on such hits as "Here and Now," the bittersweet "Dance With My Father." July 1. Stroke.

Renaldo "Obie" Benson, 69. Member of Motown's Four Tops ("Baby I Need Your Loving"). July 1.

Ernest Lehman, 89. Six-time Oscar nominee as screenwriter ("North by Northwest") and producer ("Hello, Dolly"). July 2.

Nan Kempner, 74. Quintessential New York socialite, fashion plate. July 3.

June Haver, 79. Sunny star of 1940s musicals ("Oh, You Beautiful Doll"). July 4.

Ray Davis, 65. Member of influential funk band Parliament-Funkadelic ("One Nation Under a Groove"). July 5.

Evan Hunter, 78. His gritty Ed McBain detective series pioneered the police procedural genre. July 6.

Claude Simon, 91. French novelist; won 1985 Nobel for literature. July 6.

W. Pauline Nicholson, 76. She cooked Elvis Presley's favorite peanut butter and fried banana sandwiches. July 7.

Frances Langford, 92. Actress-singer who captivated soldiers on Bob Hope's USO tours during World War II. July 11.

Geraldine Fitzgerald, 91. In classic 1939 films "Dark Victory," "Wuthering Heights"; also noted stage actress. July 17.

Gavin Lambert, 80. Hollywood historian, wrote novels, screenplays, biographies. July 17.

Paul Duke, 78. Hosted public TV's "Washington Week in Review." July 18.

James Doohan, 85. As "Star Trek" chief engineer, he responded to the command "Beam me up, Scotty." July 20.

Long John Baldry, 64. British blues legend; helped launch careers of Rod Stewart, the Rolling Stones. July 21.

Eugene Record, 64. Founder of Chi-Lites vocal group ("Have You Seen Her?"). July 22.

Myron Floren, 85. Accordion player on "The Lawrence Welk Show." July 23.

Catherine Woolley, 100. Children's book author ("Ginnie and the New Girl"). July 23.

Danny Simon, 86. Comedy writer ("Your Show of Shows"); worked with his brother, Neil. July 26.

Robert Wright, 90. Broadcay composer, lyricist ("Kismet"). July 27.

Helen Phillips, 86. Broke Metropolitan Opera color barrier in 1947 as first black chorister. July 27.

Arthur Zankel, 73. Financier; gave $10 million for Carnegie Hall recital space. July 28.

Pat McCormick, 78. Walrus-mustachioed comedy performer, writer. July 29.

Al McKibbon, 86. Bassist with the George Shearing quintet. July 29.

Hildegarde, 99. Cabaret singer Walter Winchell dubbed "The Incomparable Hildegarde." July 29.

August
David Shaw, 62. Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer-winning media critic. Aug. 1.

Max Steele, 83. Prize-winning author ("Debby," "The Cat and the Coffee Drinkers"); creative writing teacher. Aug. 1.

Ibrahim Ferrer, 78. A leading voice in the Buena Vista Social Club of vintage Cuban performers. Aug. 6.

Peter Jennings, 67. Longtime ABC News anchor, part of a triumvirate that dominated network news for more than two decades. Aug. 7.

John H. Johnson, 87. Publisher whose Ebony, Jet magazines countered stereotypical coverage of blacks. Aug. 8.

Barbara Bel Geddes, 82. Oscar-nominated actress ("I Remember Mama") who reached her greatest fame as Miss Ellie Ewing in "Dallas." Aug. 8.

Judith Rossner, 70. Her hit novel "Looking for Mr. Goodbar" was made into movie starring Diane Keaton. Aug. 9.

Matthew McGrory, 32. Deep-voiced 7-foot-plus actor; the gentle giant in the movie "Big Fish." Aug. 9. Heart problem.

James Dougherty, 84. He married Norma Jeane Baker _ before she took the name Marilyn Monroe. Aug. 15.

Vassar Clements, 77. Nashville fiddle virtuoso, A-list studio musician. Aug. 16.

Dennis Lynds, 81. His Dan Fortune mysteries were praised for reflecting contemporary social issues. Aug. 19.

Robert A. Moog, 71. His synthesizers revolutionized music in the 1960s. Aug. 21.

Brock Peters, 78. In his long acting career, played the black man falsely accused of rape in "To Kill a Mockingbird." Aug. 23.

Cecily Brownstone, 96. A cuisine maven who wrote cookbooks and articles on food for The Associated Press for 39 years. Aug. 30.

September
R.L. Burnside, 78. Mississippi bluesmen influential with younger musicians. Sept. 1

Bob Denver, 70. Bumbling namesake of "Gilligan's Island" who delighted generations of TV fans. Sept. 2.

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, 81. He built a 50-year career playing blues, country, jazz and Cajun music. Sept. 10.

Robert Wise, 91. Won four Oscars as producer and director of "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music." Sept. 14.

Sid Luft, 89. Producer credited with reviving career of then-wife Judy Garland in the 1950s. Sept. 15.

Guy Green, 91. Won cinematography Oscar for the 1946 film "Great Expectations." Sept. 15.

John Bromfield, 83. TV Western actor of the 1950s ("U.S. Marshal"). Sept. 18.

Willie Hutch, 60. Co-wrote Jackson 5 hits ("Never Can Say Goodbye"). Sept. 19.

Tommy Bond, 79. Was Butch, the bully, in "Our Gang" films. Sept. 24.

Don Adams, 82. Fumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart in TV's 1960s Bond spoof "Get Smart." Sept. 25.

M. Scott Peck, 69. Wrote best-seller "The Road Less Traveled," other self-help books. Sept. 25.

Austin Leslie, 71. New Orleans chef whose Chez Helene soul food restaurant inspired the television show "Frank's Place." Sept. 29.

October
August Wilson, 60. Playwright whose works included such landmark dramas as "Fences," "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." Oct. 2. Liver cancer.

Nipsey Russell, 80. Witty actor-comedian who was a staple of TV game shows; Tin Man in "The Wiz." Oct. 2.

Devery Freeman, 92. Screenwriter who helped form Writers Guild of America. Oct. 7.

Louis Nye, 92. Comedian who created a national catchphrase _ "Hi, ho, Steverino!" _ on Steve Allen's 1950s TV show. Oct. 9.

Baker Knight, 72. Prolific songwriter ("Lonesome Town"). Oct. 12.

Edmund N. Bacon, 95. City planner whose vision transformed postwar Philadelphia; father of Kevin Bacon. Oct. 14.

Gordon Lee, 71. Chubby child actor who played Spanky McFarland's little brother, Porky, in "Our Gang" comedies. Oct. 16.

Elmer "Len" Dresslar Jr., 80. The booming voice of the Jolly Green Giant. Oct. 16.

Ba Jin, 100. One of China's most revered communist-era writers. Oct. 17.

Jean-Michel Folon, 71. Belgium-born artist whose vivid images appear in galleries and on posters. Oct. 20.

Shirley Horn, 71. Jazz pianist and vocalist; revered as master interpreter of American standards. Oct. 20.

Enid Haupt, 99. Publishing heiress; gave millions to museums, New York Botanical Garden. Oct. 25.

Maurice Rosenfield, 91. Producer whose "Bang the Drum Slowly" boosted Robert De Niro's career. Oct. 30.

November
Skitch Henderson, 87. Began a television tradition as first bandleader of "The Tonight Show." Nov. 1.

Bonne Bell Eckert, 82. Retired chairwoman of Bonne Bell Cosmetics, named for her as a child. Nov. 3.

John Fowles, 79. British author ("The Collector," "The French Lieutenant's Woman"). Nov. 5.

Link Wray, 76. Guitar innovator; inspired such legends as Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townshend. Nov. 5.

David Westheimer, 88. Novelist whose "Von Ryan's Express" was turned into movie starring Frank Sinatra. Nov. 8.

Fernando Bujones, 50. Leading ballet dancer and teacher. Nov. 10. Melanoma.

Lord Lichfield, 66. Official photographer at Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer's wedding. Nov. 11.

Moustapha Akkad, 75. Film producer ("Halloween," "The Message"). Nov. 11; in bombing of hotel in Jordan.

Keith Andes, 85. Handsome actor who was Marilyn Monroe's leading man in the 1952 film "Clash by Night." Nov. 11.

Vine Deloria Jr., 72. Author, advocate of American Indian rights ("Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto"). Nov. 13.

Ralph Edwards, 92. Broadcasting pioneer who spotlighted stars and ordinary people as host of the popular 1950s show "This Is Your Life." Nov. 16.

Chris Whitley, 45. Chameleon singer-songwriter who oscillated between roots rock 'n' roll, blues and alt-rock. Nov. 20. Lung cancer.

Hugh Sidey, 78. Longtime writer of Time magazine's "The Presidency" column. Nov. 21.

Constance Cummings, 95. Hollywood star of the early 1930s; later leading figure on the British stage. Nov. 23.

Pat Morita, 73. Nominated for Oscar for role as the wise martial-arts teacher in "The Karate Kid." Nov. 24.

Stan Berenstain, 82. With wife Jan he wrote and illustrated the Berenstain Bear books that delighted and educated millions of children. Nov. 26.

Joe Jones, 79. Sang 1961 hit "You Talk Too Much"; become an independent music publisher, advocate for black artists' rights. Nov. 27.

Wendie Jo Sperber, about 47. Actress ("Back to the Future," "Bosom Buddies"), breast cancer activist. Nov. 29. Cancer.

Jean Parker, 90. Lovely star of 1930s and '40s films; was Beth to Katharine Hepburn's Jo in 1933's "Little Women." Nov. 30.

December
Peter E. Haas Sr., 86. Helped build family-owned Levi Strauss & Co. into a socially conscious clothing empire. Dec. 3.

Gregg Hoffman, 42. Film producer who developed horror hit "Saw" and its gory successor "Saw II." Dec. 4.

Edward L. Masry, 73. Activist lawyer who mentored the real-life Erin Brockovich. Dec. 5.

Richard Pryor, 65. Actor-comedian whose profanely personal insights into race relations made him one of Hollywood's biggest stars. Dec. 10.

Robert F. Newmyer, 49. Prolific independent film producer ("Training Day"). Dec. 12. Apparent heart attack.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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