When former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated at a rally last week, protests erupted across parts of Pakistan, and troops were called out to put down some of the most chaotic violence the country had seen in years. Bhutto was not only an iconic leader, but a living symbol of hope for change in Pakistan.
Along with Bhutto, here are some extraordinary human beings who died in 2007 — just some of the icons who have created history.
Benazir Bhutto was the youngest person and first woman to lead a Muslim state. Bhutto entered the political spotlight as the daughter of one of Pakistan's most democratically leaning prime ministers, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was imprisoned and executed following a military coup. She replaced him at the helm of his political party, and was elected prime minister of Pakistan in 1988 at the age of 35. She was removed from office both times on charges of alleged corruption, which were never proved, but drove her into self-imposed exile. Even while in exile, she maintained her devoted following. Bhutto returned to her home city of Karachi this past October, which rallied hundreds of thousands of supporters and set off political protests against President Pervez Musharraf. For months, she negotiated an agreement to share power with Musharraf, but instead, Musharraf declared a state of martial law. Bhutto was killed this past Thursday in a shooting and suicide bombing attack at a rally in Rawalpindi.
July 6, 1925 — Aug. 12, 2007
Merv Griffin was both an entertainer, who entered American homes as a beloved talk and game show host, and a show biz magnate, cementing his reputation by creating shows like "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune." Born into a middle-class Irish-American family, Griffin began his performance career as a choir boy and then church organist, and later became a singer. At the age of 19, Griffin began singing on radio and was later discovered by Doris Day while singing in a nightclub. A successful screen test at Warner Brothers Studios launched an acting career, which evolved into one as a game and talk show host. From 1958 to 1962, he hosted numerous shows, including "Play Your Hunch," as well as an ABC show called "Keep Talking." He also produced some game shows, including an unsuccessful attempt to make a show out of the board game Monopoly.
March 31, 1929 — June 26, 2007
For Liz Claiborne, it wasn't enough to be a modern working woman — she created the first professional wardrobe for modern women in 1976, just as women were making forays into corporate America. Turned off by women's work clothes, which began as simply a reinterpretation of men's professional wear, Claiborne imagined and reinvented workwear for women. She injected color, creativity and sensibility into well-tailored clothing, which was an affordable alternative to the other, more costly clothing options available to women. Liz Claiborne Inc., was the first women's company to make the Fortune 500 list, and by the time Claiborne retired in 1990, it was the largest women's apparel company in the United States, logging $1.4 billion in sales. Claiborne died of complications from cancer at the age of 78.