Entertainers, Politicians and a Yogi: People We Lost in 2014

    31 December, 2014

    Here are nine people who made a difference in their countries and around the world. We saw their movies, read their books, sang their songs, argued about their ideas, wore their clothes and did their yoga. Now, we say goodbye.


    Many people were shocked when they learned that American actor Robin Williams committed suicide. The comedian was known for inventing funny dialogue and scenes. But he had a long battle with depression. Some of his most famous movies were "Good Morning Vietnam," "Dead Poets Society" and "Mrs. Doubtfire."

    Sir Richard Attenborough was a respected English actor, director, producer and entrepreneur. He spent 20 years trying to make a movie about the life of Mahatma Gandhi. He finally succeeded. The film "Gandhi" won eight Academy Awards, including a best director Oscar for Mr. Attenborough.

    Over 360 films credit the work of Run Run Shaw. He was one of the pioneers of the 20th century Chinese film industry. His movie "Five Fingers of Death" is considered a kung fu classic. Later, Run Run Shaw became a major philanthropist. He donated billions of dollars to schools, charities and hospitals in China.

    Legendary singer Pete Seeger helped create the modern folk music movement. Artists around the world have recorded his songs, including "If I Had a Hammer" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!" His best-known work is probably the church song "We Shall Overcome." Mr. Seeger did not write the song, but he helped link it to the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.


    In 1969, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou made literary history. It was the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

    Ms. Angelou rose from poverty, segregation and violence to become a powerful public and creative figure. Americans who did not already know her work heard it at Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993. There, Ms. Angelou read her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning."

    Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos described Gabriel Garcia Marquez as "the greatest Colombian who ever lived." Many consider him one of the most important authors of the 20th century. His works include "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Love in the Time of Cholera." Mr. Gabriel Marquez was affectionately known as Gabo throughout Latin America. He wrote in the style of magic realism – in other words, he combined the real with the impossible.


    Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a political leader and military general. He served as the 11th Prime Minister of Israel.

    Ariel Sharon helped define events in the Middle East for decades. One of his most important decisions was to turn over Gaza and parts of the West Bank to Palestinian control. He died eight years after suffering a severe stroke.

    Oscar De La Renta was not a politician. He was a fashion designer who was born in the Dominican Republic and trained by top Spanish designers.

    But one of his most famous clients was American First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Mr. De La Renta also made dresses for movie stars – and he eventually become a star himself.

    And one more

    Indian guru B.K.S Iyengar suffered from tuberculosis, typhoid and malaria as a child. He said doing yoga saved his life. Mr. Iyengar become one of the most important and powerful teachers of yoga around the world. His kind of yoga – called Iyengar yoga – requires people to stay in a yoga position for a long time. It demands strength, desire and discipline.

    I'm Marsha James.

    Marsha James reported and wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.