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A chronology of those who died in December 2012

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Dec. 1

— Arthur Chaskalson, 81, a civil rights lawyer who once helped defend Nelson Mandela and later became South Africa's chief justice, Johannesburg. He had leukemia.

Dec. 5

— Dave Brubeck, 91, a pianist and composer of "Take Five," a deceptively complex jazz composition that introduced a new, adventurous sound to millions of listeners, in Norwalk, Connecticut of heart failure.

— Oscar Niemeyer, 104, an architect who recreated Brazil's sensuous curves in reinforced concrete and built the capital of Brasilia on the empty central plains as a symbol of the nation's future, in Rio de Janeiro of a respiratory infection.

— Kanzaburo Nakamura, 57 a kabuki actor who helped boost the popularity of the traditional Japanese art form, in Tokyo of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

— Ignatius Hazim, 92, the patriarch of a Damascus-based Eastern Orthodox Church, in Beirut of a stroke.

— Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, 103, a prominent Australian philanthropist and mother of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, near Melbourne. No cause of death was given but she had been hospitalized in September after a bad fall.

Dec. 8

— Karel Vas, 96, a prosecutor who came to symbolize unlawful trials during the post-1948 communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, in Prague. No cause of death was given.

Dec. 9

— Jenni Rivera, 43, the California-born singer with a powerful and soulful voice who rose through personal adversity to become a superstar adored by millions in a male-dominated genre of Mexican-American music, in northern Mexico in a plane crash.

— Patrick Moore, 89, a British astronomer and broadcaster well known for his long-running BBC television show "The Sky at Night," which was credited with popularizing astronomy for generations of Britons, in Selsey, England. No specific cause of death was given but he had heart problems.

Dec. 11

— Ravi Shankar, 92, the sitar virtuoso who became a hippie musical icon of the 1960s after hobnobbing with the Beatles and who introduced traditional Indian ragas to Western audiences over an eight-decade career, in San Diego, California. No cause of death was given.

— Galina Vishnevskaya, 86, a world-renowned Russian opera diva who with her husband defied the Soviet regime to give shelter to writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn and suffered exile from her homeland, in Moscow. No cause of death was given.

Dec. 13

— Abdessalam Yassine, 84, the charismatic religious leader of Morocco's largest opposition movement and longtime opponent of two Moroccan kings, in Morocco. No cause of death was given.

— Jack Hanlon, 96, who had roles in the 1926 silent classic "The General" and in two 1927 "Our Gang" comedies,in Las Vegas. No cause of death was given.

Dec. 14

— Maurice Herzog, 93, the first man to climb an 8,000-meter Himalayan peak of Annapurna despite losing all his fingers and toes to frostbite and who later went on to scale the heights of French politics, near Paris. No cause of death was given.

Dec. 17

Daniel K. Inouye, 88, who broke racial barriers as the first Japanese-American elected to Congress and was a World War II hero who served decades representing Hawaii in the Senate, playing key roles in congressional investigations of the Watergate and Iran-Contra scandals, in Washington of respiratory complications.

Dec. 19

— Peter Struck, 69, a former German defence minister and a vehement opponent of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, in Berlin of a heart attack.

— Robert H. Bork, 85, who stepped in to fire the Watergate prosecutor at Richard Nixon's behest and whose failed 1980s nomination to the Supreme Court helped draw the modern boundaries of U.S. cultural fights over abortion, civil rights and other issues, in Arlington, Virginia, from complications of heart ailments.

— Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, 68, a former Israeli military chief who later became a Cabinet minister, in Jerusalem. He had cancer.

Dec. 21

— Lee Dorman, 70, the bassist for psychedelic rock band Iron Butterfly, in Orange County, California. No cause of death was given.

Dec. 23

— Elwood Jensen, 92, an award-winning University of Cincinnati professor nominated for the Nobel Prize for medicine for work that opened the door to advances in fighting cancer, in Cincinnati of pneumonia.

Dec. 24

— Charles Durning, 89, a World War II veteran who went on to a prolific 50-year career as a consummate Oscar-nominated character actor, playing everyone from a Nazi colonel to the pope to Dustin Hoffman's would-be suitor in "Tootsie," in New York. No cause of death was given.

— Jack Klugman, 90, the prolific, craggy-faced character actor and regular guy who was loved by millions as the messy one in TV's "The Odd Couple" and the crime-fighting coroner in "Quincy, M.E.," in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given.

— Ray Collins, 75, who invited guitarist Frank Zappa to join the band that eventually became the Mothers of Invention, in Claremont, California after suffering a heart attack.

— Richard Rodney Bennett, 76, a British composer, pianist and arranger with a long distinguished career moving among classical music, jazz and film score, in New York after a brief illness.

Dec. 25

— Frank Calabrese Sr., 75 a Chicago mobster and a hit man who strangled victims and then slashed their throats to be sure they were dead, in a federal prison in North Carolina. No cause of death was given.

Dec. 26

— Gerry Anderson, 83, puppetry pioneer and British creator of the sci-fi hit "Thunderbirds" TV show, near Oxfordshire, England. He had mixed dementia.

— Fontella Bass, 72, a soul singer who hit the top of the American rhythm and blues charts with "Rescue Me" in 1965, in St. Louis of complications from a heart attack.

Dec. 27

— Norman Schwarzkopf, 78, a retired Army general who topped an illustrious military career by commanding the U.S.-led international coalition that drove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, in Tampa, Florida, of complications from pneumonia.

— Harry Carey Jr., 91, a character actor who starred in dozens of films over a 50-year career that included such classics as "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and "The Searchers," in Santa Barbara, California of natural causes.

Dec. 28

— Bogdan Baltazar, 73, an influential banker, who became Romania's first government spokesman after communism collapsed, in Bucharest. He had cancer.

Dec. 30

— Rita Levi-Montalcini, 103, a biologist who conducted underground research in defiance of Fascist persecution and went on to win a Nobel Prize for helping unlock the mysteries of the cell, in Rome. No cause of death was given.

— Jean Harris, 89, the patrician girls' school headmistress who spent 12 years in prison for the 1980 killing of her longtime lover, "Scarsdale Diet" doctor Herman Tarnower, in a case that rallied feminists and inspired television movies, in New Haven, Connecticut. No cause of death was given but she had two heart attacks while in prison.

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