POLLY ANDERSON

It was only a rehearsal, and he was twice the age of the dancers accompanying him. But the video doesn't lie: Michael Jackson was looking ahead to a smash opening in London ¿ and giving it his all.

And then he was gone.

With his thrilling music and dance, enigmatic personality and worldwide reach, Jackson led the list of notables in the worlds of art, entertainment and popular culture who died in 2009.

Some, like Jackson, departed without warning. Some, like actor Patrick Swayze, waged a very public struggle with illness.

But others were still active in their 80s and 90s. The great choreographer Merce Cunningham spent his last months on a work about his own aging, "Nearly Ninety." Andrew Wyeth called his last work "Goodbye."

Television journalism lost two founding fathers who remained at the top decades later: Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt. Musician-inventor Les Paul and radio broadcaster Paul Harvey both continued on the job past their 90th birthday.

We also said goodbye to writers John Updike, Horton Foote, John Hope Franklin, Marilyn French, Budd Schulberg, Larry Gelbart and Hortense Calisher.

The visual arts lost photographer Irving Penn, cinematographer Jack Cardiff, and two women who collaborated with their husbands on famous public art projects, Coosje van Bruggen and Jeanne-Claude.

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