Died January 12

Agatha Christie's novels have sold over 2 billion copies, making her the best-selling author of all time, according to the "Guinness Book of World Records." She wrote unforgettable murder mystery novels such as "Murder on the Orient Express." Her memorable characters included Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. We remember Christie's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.

2017: William Peter Blatty, best-selling author and screenwriter who terrified readers and moviegoers with "The Exorcist," dies at 89.

2012: Bill Janklow, four-term governor of South Dakota who also represented the state in Congress, dies of brain cancer at 72.

Bill Janklow (Associated Press Photo)As South Dakota's attorney general, governor, and congressman, the colorful politician dominated the state's political landscape for more than a quarter century, changing the face of the state's economy, education system, and tax structure, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Even his enemies – and there were many – admitted that the Republican had a talent for getting things done, even as they complained that he ran roughshod over his opponents. Read more

 

 

 

2009: Claude Berri, French director whose films were international hits and whose "Le Poulet" won the Oscar for best live action short film, dies of a stroke at 74.

2007: Alice Coltrane, U.S. jazz musician who was one of the few harpists in jazz history and who was the second wife of jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, dies of respiratory failure at 69.

Alice met John while playing in Terry Gibbs' band in the early 1960s. Within a few years, the two were married. Soon thereafter, in early 1966, Alice replaced McCoy Tyner as pianist for John's band. It proved a short-lived partnership – John died just a year and a half after Alice joined the band – but a musically fruitful one. Read more

 

 

 

2004: Randy VanWarmer, U.S. singer-songwriter whose biggest success was the 1979 pop hit "Just When I Needed You Most," dies of leukemia at 48.

2003: Maurice Gibb, British singer-songwriter and musician who was the twin brother of Robin and younger brother of Barry, who formed the Bee Gees pop music band and had numerous hit songs during their career, dies of a heart attack at 53.

Maurice Gibb was known as "the quiet one" among the Bee Gees – he was much less of a frontman than his brothers. But don't write off his contributions to the group just because he wasn't front and center as a lead singer. He played bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, and harmonica, and he was a key part of the Bee Gees' songwriting, arranging, and recording. Read more

 

 

 

2002: Cyrus Vance, U.S. secretary of state under President Jimmy Carter, dies of pneumonia and other complications at 84.

2000: Bobby Phills, U.S. basketball player in the NBA for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets, dies in a car accident at 30.

1999: Betty Lou Gerson, U.S. actress who appeared in film, television, and radio shows, and voiced animated characters for Walt Disney movies, dies at 84.

1995: George Price, cartoonist for The New Yorker, dies after a brief illness at 93.

1992: Walt Morey, U.S. author of children's books including "Gentle Ben," dies of a heart attack at 84.

1991: Keye Luke, Chinese-American actor who played Kato in the "Green Hornet" film series and Master Po on the TV series "Kung Fu," dies following a stroke at 86.

1990: Laurence J. Peter, Canadian author known best for creating the Peter Principle and co-authoring the book "The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong," dies of stroke complications at 70.

1976: Agatha Christie, English mystery writer who is the best-selling novelist of all time according to the "Guinness Book of Records," dies at 85.

BAgatha Christie (AP Photo)esides poison, Christie used several other methods to dispatch her fictional victims. They were: strangled by a raincoat belt, strangled by a ukulele string, jabbed in the neck with a venom-tipped dart, stabbed with a corn knife, stabbed with an ornamental Tunisian dagger, drowned in an apple tub, crushed by a bear-shaped marble clock, and electrocuted by a chessboard rigged to deliver the fatal charge upon completion of the third move of the Ruy Lopez opening. Read more

 

1965: Lorraine Hansberry, U.S. African-American playwright known best for "A Raisin in the Sun," dies of cancer at 34.

One of the central conflicts of "A Raisin in the Sun" was based loosely on an event from Hansberry's own childhood. In 1938, her family bought a house in a white neighborhood, in violation of a restrictive covenant – which was legal at the time – prohibiting a black buyer from purchasing the house. The fight that ensued, against both the legal system and the hostile neighbors, deeply affected young Hansberry. Twenty years later, she channeled her memories of the struggle into one of the greatest plays of the 20th century. Read more

 

 

1956: Norman Kerry, U.S. actor who appeared in many films including "The Phantom of the Opera," dies at 61.

1944: Lance C. Wade, U.S. pilot who was a distinguished World War II flying ace with the British Royal Air Force, dies in a flying accident at 29.

1928: Ruth Snyder, U.S. woman convicted of murdering her husband and the first woman to die in the electric chair at Sing Sing prison since 1899, is executed at 32.

1899: Hiram Walker, U.S. distiller known for creating Canadian Club whiskey, dies at 82.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including heavyweight champion Joe Frazier.