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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 11:24 GMT
Highs and lows of celebrity life
Cruise and Kidman
Cruise and Kidman's split shocked the world
It was the year Tom and Nicole divorced, Liz Hurley became pregnant and Heather Mills bagged a Beatle.

BBC News Online's Helen Bushby charts the ups and downs of our favourite celebrities in 2001.

It has yet again been a busy year for the stars. Plenty of births, pregnancies, marriages - and divorces - to entertain their adoring public.

Elizabeth Hurley
Elizabeth Hurley's love-life was splashed across the tabloids
In the biggest showbiz shake-up of the year, Hollywood was rocked when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman announced their divorce, shattering what had appeared to the world as a solid marriage.

The couple's amicable separation fuelled speculation as to what had gone wrong, but both remained tight-lipped.

Cruise later appeared in public with his new girlfriend, Penelope Cruz, while Kidman had two resounding box-office success with the lead roles of Moulin Rouge and The Others.

She has now won two Golden Globe nominations for the roles, ending the year on a high.

Winslet and Threapleton
Winslet and Threapleton split after three years
Cruise, on the other hand, was named "the most powerful celebrity on the planet" in March by American business magazine Forbes.

Also in March, veteran actor Sir John Mills had cause for celebration when more than 400 stars of screen and stage gathered to honour his life and career.

The rest of Hollywood's movers and shakers gathered for the Oscars, which saw Russell Crowe and Julia Roberts crowned best actor and actress, while Gladiator took best film.

Back in the UK, things looked decidedly less glamorous for the three male members of teen pop band S Club 7, who were cautioned for possessing cannabis.

And Royle family star and scriptwriter Caroline Aherne vowed to turn her back on television work because of media intrusion.

Chris Evans and Billie Piper
Chris Evans and Billie Piper are still together
But it was not all doom and gloom. Wedding bells rang in May for TV presenter Chris Evans and pop star Billie Piper, who married in Las Vegas.

This prompted endless speculation about their 17-year age gap and whether the relationship would last - which so far, it has.

The world of the small screen saw cartoon character Homer Simpson beat his human counterparts to the title of greatest TV character of all time in a Channel 4 poll.

No such luck for Eminem - the controversial rapper was sentenced to one year's probation and community service after pleading no contest to gun charges.

McCartney and Mills
McCartney and Mills are due to marry next year
A US judge said the star was "extremely lucky" that nobody was hurt in an incident last year.

By July, love was in the air for former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who announced his engagement to model Heather Mills, saying he was "a bit nervous" about proposing.

The entertainment world was shocked when actress Kate Winslet announced her split from husband of three years, assistant film director Jim Threapleton.

S Club 7
S Club 7 were not as squeaky-clean as they appeared
Describing the split as "amicable and respectful", they were blasted into the full glare of the media. This has been fuelled by the Winslet's new relationship with director Sam Mendes.

Some favourite names left us too. In January, the acting world lost Michael Williams, the much-loved husband of Dame Judi Dench.

Williams had suffered for months from lung cancer, and tributes flooded in to BBC News Online, including a note of thanks from his daughter Finty, who thanked readers for their "amazing messages".

R'n'B fans were devastated in August when singer Aaliyah, 22, died in a plane crash, prompting mourning at the loss of such a young talent.

Charlotte Coleman
Charlotte Coleman died aged 33
Film fans were also saddened by the unexpected death of Four Weddings and a Funeral actress Charlotte Coleman, 33, from a fatal asthma attack.

And although it was perhaps less of a shock, the death of former Beatle George Harrison, who lost his battle against cancer, upset millions of people worldwide.

Harrison's legacy as a musician and film-maker and his spirituality were remembered in countless tributes, including those paid by Paul McCarntey, Ringo Starr, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Queen.

Back in the world of showbusiness, the tabloids sharpened their pens when millionaire movie producer Steve Bing said he unsure he was the father of Liz Hurley's unborn baby.

George Harrison
Former Beatle George Harrison was mourned globally
He said he and the actress were not in an "exclusive relationship when she became pregnant". The Mirror even labelled him Bing Laden and invited readers to ring him at work with their views on his behaviour.

And a tale to cheer up all ladies of a certain age for Christmas... Hollywood legend Joan Collins has announced she is to take a fifth husband - her 36-year-old boyfriend.

The year 2001 showed once again that life in the spotlight is never dull - for those who can also put up with the glare.

See also:

15 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Actor Michael Williams dies
06 Feb 01 | Entertainment
All over for Cruise and Kidman
21 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Stars pay tribute to Sir John Mills
26 Mar 01 | Film
Crowe leads Gladiator to glory
21 Mar 01 | Entertainment
S Club 7 stars found with drugs
09 Apr 01 | TV and Radio
Royle star Aherne 'quits' TV
07 May 01 | Entertainment
Chris Evans weds Billie Piper
07 May 01 | TV and Radio
Homer voted top TV star
27 Jul 01 | Showbiz
Sir Paul: How I proposed
26 Aug 01 | Music
Aaliyah: A rising star lost
30 Nov 01 | Music
George Harrison dies
04 Dec 01 | Showbiz
Hurley's ex unsure over baby
11 Dec 01 | Showbiz
Cruise thrilled with new movie
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