Notable Texans Dying in 2007

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DALLAS (AP) - From a former first lady, to a honky tonking senior citizen, to perhaps the most well-known former waitress-turned-Playboy Playmate, several Texans of note passed away in 2007.

Lady Bird Johnson was a woman of quiet dignity who worked for the political career of her husband and championed conservation efforts.

Hank Thompson was a seemingly tireless country singer who kept playing music until he was physically unable to reach the stage.

Johnson died July 11 at age 94 of age-related illnesses. Thompson died November 7 at age 82 of lung cancer.

Each left a legacy unique to the Lone Star State when they died in 2007.

Johnson's touch will always be found in the wildflowers that spruce up Texas roadways.

Thompson's brand of honky tonk and Western swing. reminiscent of Bob Wills, will live on as well.

The two were among Texans who died in 2007 after gaining notice as writers, politicians, entertainers or sports figures.

Some will be remembered for long lives, filled with achievement. Others, like Anna Nicole Smith, shot to fame before their star quickly burned out.

The glitzy Smith, a former Playboy Playmate born Vickie Lynn Hogan in Houston, was a waitress and cook at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken restaurant in Mexia before achieving fame for flamboyance.

She died at age 39 of an accidental overdose in February.

Among Texas entertainers who died in 2007 was the rapper known as Pimp C. Born Chad Butler in Beaumont, he was found dead in an upscale Los Angeles hotel on December 4. He was one-half of the trailblazing rap duo Underground Kingz.

Early in 2007, the world took notice of the passing of syndicated columnist Molly Ivins - a Texas original who could wield a pen with flair. The sharp-witted liberal and best-selling author made a living partially at the expense of another Texan - President George W. Bush, whom she mocked as "Shrub."

Ivins died January 31 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer.

Another notable journalist - and entertainer - died in 2007. Flamboyant Houston TV investigative reporter Marvin Zindler died July 29 of complications of pancreatic cancer. He was 85.

Zindler carved out a niche in Texas lore with his crusade against "a bawdy house" near La Grange.

His fame grew when a Playboy Magazine story followed. "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" became a Broadway smash then Hollywood movie.