"Early Show" national correspondent Hattie Kauffman noted perhaps 2009 will be best remembered for what the entertainment world lost -- Michael Jackson.
Landing in the spotlight in 1971 as a 12-year-old powerhouse, Jackson was an icon of the '70s, a superstar of the '80s. His sudden death at 50 on the eve of his comeback tour brought shock, sadness and a celebration of his music like no other.
Also this year, young country star Taylor Swift basked in the spotlight of success. At just 20 years old, Swift won awards that usually take a lifetime, and scored sympathy points when Kanye West crashed one moment at the MTV Video Music Awards.
In the middle of Swift's speech, West cut in, saying, "Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time."
He later apologized to Swift.
"American Idol" star Adam Lambert had his own awards show controversy. The rocker's racy moves and gay kiss slowed, but didn't stop his post "Idol" momentum.
Lambert said of his performance, "I admit I did get carried away, but I don't see anything wrong with it."
Throughout 2009, it was hard to take your eyes off Lady Gaga's outrageous costumes. Kauffman pointed out just a year ago she was an opening act, but her sexy style brought her center stage -- leaving her past struggles and her real name "Stefani Germanotta" behind.
Also, funnyman David Letterman admitted past affairs and detailed an alleged extortion plot against him by "48 Hours" producer Joe Halderman.
Singer Chris Brown offered a guilty plea for attacking then-girlfriend Rihanna, but a photo released by TMZ.com of the battered singer may keep Brown's career rehab on hold.
"Jon & Kate Plus 8" subtracted one in 2009 -- Jon -- when Kate Gosselin filed for divorce. With the series now canned, Kate is shopping around a talk show.
Meanwhile Oprah -- the world's most famous talk show host -- announced that next season -- her 25th -- will be her last.
Hollywood also celebrated a record year at the box office. "Paranormal Activity" made for only $15,000 scared up a $100 million in ticket sales. And "New Moon" brought Twilight fans a sequel to scream about.
The year also made us remember the work of those who made their final bow this year, including Walter Cronkite, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Natasha Richardson, Bea Arthur, Ed McMahon, and Michael Jackson.
Dignitaries, Friends Honor Cronkite
Farrah Fawcett Dies At 62
Swayze's Widow: He's Dancing With Angels
Natasha Richardson Dies After Ski Accident
Bea Arthur Remembered With Laughter
TV Personality Ed McMahon Dies At 86
Michael Jackson's Last Act