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Looking back on a year of tragedy and hope

Shaun Harrison
1 of 12 J. Vespa/WireImage.com

Jan. 22: Heath Ledger Found Dead at 28

The life of one of our best and most promising young actors comes to an abrupt end by an overdose of prescription drugs. The body of the Oscar-nominated Brokeback Mountain and Dark Knight star is discovered in his Manhattan loft.
2 of 12 Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Feb. 12: Hollywood Writers' Strike Ends

The costly 100-day walkout ends as members of the Writers Guild of America vote overwhelmingly to go back to work — allowing countless stopped shows to finish their abbreviated season.
3 of 12 NBC

June 13: Tim Russert Dies at 58

The Meet the Press host, as celebrated for his fairness as his tough questions, dies unexpectedly just as the Democratic primary draws to a close.
4 of 12 Vera Anderson/WireImage.com

Aug. 2: Christina Applegate Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

The 36-year-old Samantha Who? star announces she has breast cancer and is seeking treatment. She later announces she's undergone a double masectomy. Her brave fight inspires millions.
5 of 12 Scott Gries/Getty Images

Aug. 9: Bernie Mac Dies at 50

The actor — and one of The Original Kings of Comedy — dies of complications from pneumonia. Best remembered for The Bernie Mac Show and several scene-stealing film roles, he was a working comic for more than three decades.
6 of 12 Avik Gilboa/WireImage.com

Aug. 28: David Duchovny Enters Rehab for Sex Addiction

In a move that seems like a rejected plotline for Californication, the X-Files star announces he's seeking treatment for sex addiction. In October, he and his wife, Téa Leoni, announce they've been separated for months.
7 of 12 Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Sept. 7: Britney Spears Begins Comeback

With three wins at MTV's Video Music Awards, the cleaned-up pop star begins a comeback bid that continues with a new album, Circus, and plans to tour next year.
8 of 12 Ron Galella/WireImage.com

Sept. 27: Paul Newman Dies at 83

The actor, always as cool as the blue in his eyes, dies of cancer after a life of stage and screen stardom, philanthropy, and driving race cars.
9 of 12 Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic.com

Oct. 24: Jennifer Hudson's Relatives Killed

Jennifer Hudson's mother and brother are shot in a domestic dispute; her 7-year-old nephew is later found dead as well. William Balfour, the ex-husdand of Hudson's sister, is arrested in the killings.
10 of 12 Clay Aiken by Al Pereira/WireImage.com, Wanda Sykes by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic.com, Lindsay Lohan by Chris Polk/FilmMagic.com

Stars Come Out

Clay Aiken wasn't a surprise; Wanda Sykes was. We're happy for both of them, and for Lindsay Lohan, who shows everyone it's okay to keep things ambiguous.
11 of 12 Stephen Vaughan/DC Comics/Warner Bros.

Dark Knight Becomes Second-Highest Grossing Film

Powered by Batman fanatics, Ledger's performance, and macabre interest in his death, the sequel earns nearly $1 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest grossing film after Titanic.
12 of 12 Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Nov. 4: Barack Obama Elected President

Shocked television viewers see several things they've never seen before: an African-American president-elect, thousands of people filling the streets in euphoria at the outcome of a U.S. election, and, for a few moments, cable news talking heads falling completely silent to take it all in.