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, including choreographer Merce Cunningham, painter Andrew Wyeth, broadcaster Paul Harvey and those two giants of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt.

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

TV fans mourned sidekick Ed McMahon, delightfully sharp-tongued Bea Arthur, "Kung Fu" star David Carradine; and the decorative Farrah Fawcett.

We also lost the scholar who helped make sense of all this when he coined the term "popular culture."

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