While several huge stars -- Elizabeth Taylor and Amy Winehouse among them -- died in 2011, a slew of other wildly talented but perhaps lesser-known celebs passed away as well. Here are just a few.

  • 1

    Jeff Conaway

    October 5, 1950 – May 27, 2011

    Conaway's star-making turn as Kenickie in the hit film 'Grease' led to roles on the television series 'Taxi' and 'Babylon 5,' but his career was sadly cut short by health issues stemming from a long-time substance abuse problem.

  • 2

    Andy Whitfield

    July 17, 1972 – September 11, 2011

    Whitfield, star of the television series 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand,' suffered two bouts of non-Hodgkin lymphoma before finally succumbing to the disease at the age of 39.

  • 3

    Pete Postlethwaite

    February 7, 1946 – January 2, 2011

    Steven Spielberg called the Oscar-nominated Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world." After a long career including films like 'In the Name of the Father,' 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park' and 'The Town,' the actor died early last year of pancreatic cancer in his native England.

  • 4

    Clarence Clemons

    January 11, 1942 – June 18, 2011

    Although Clemons, dubbed "The Big Man" by fans, was best-known for playing saxophone in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band for almost 40 years, he also played with a slew of other artists (including Lady Gaga on her 'Edge of Glory' track) and the entire music community mourned when he passed away from complications caused by a stroke. He was also a solo artist, and scored a hit with 'You're a Friend of Mine,' a duet with Jackson Brown and Daryl Hannah of all people. Watch the fun '80s video below.

  • 5

    Jack LaLanne

    September 26, 1914 – January 23, 2011

    The fitness, exercise, and nutritional expert, often called "the godfather of fitness" and the "first fitness superhero," was a health-nut to the end -- just one day before dying of undiagnosed pneumonia at the ripe old age of 96, he still performed his daily workout routine.

  • 6

    Harry Morgan

    April 10, 1915 – December 7, 2011

    Although he was also known for starring in shows like 'Dragnet,' the crown jewel in Morgan's career was playing the gruff-but-big-hearted Colonel Sherman T. Potter on the iconic show 'M*A*S*H' for nearly a decade. He died of natural causes at the age of 96.

  • 7

    Bubba Smith

    February 28, 1945 – August 3, 2011

    After playing pro football, Smith launched an acting career, specializing in comedic roles -- most notably, as Moses Hightower in the first six 'Police Academy' movies. He died of heart disease.

  • 8

    Sherwood Schwartz

    November 14, 1916 – July 12, 2011

    You may not know his name, but you surely know his shows. Schwartz was the TV producer who created the television series 'Gilligan's Island' and 'The Brady Bunch' -- and wrote their catchy theme songs as well. He passed away at 94 of natural causes, survived by his wife of nearly 70 years.

  • 9


    1931 - 2011 (allegedly)

    Cheetah the chimpanzee, who starred in the 'Tarzan' movies alongside Olympic swimmer-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller in the 1930s, reportedly died in December of last year at the age of 80. But not long after the news broke, some Hollywood insiders said the role of Cheetah was actually played by several chimps, and animal experts added it was highly unlikely for a chimp to live eight decades. So you might want to take this one with a grain of salt.

  • 10

    Bob Anderson

    September 15, 1922 – January 1, 2012

    Anderson was 89 when he died of natural causes on the first day of this year -- but we bent the rules to include him on our list anyway. Regarded as the premier choreographer of Hollywood sword-fighting, the British Olympic fencer wore the Darth Vader costume during those famous light-saber battles in 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi.'