updated 08/25/2015 AT 8:16 PM ET
•originally published 12/23/2013 AT 1:45 PM ET
The year 2013 had its ups – but unfortunately it was the downs that generated the most page views on PEOPLE.com.
From a Glee star’s overdose to the year-end car accident that killed a Hollywood heartthrob, the last 12 months produced some unexpected tragedy.
But amid some of the more dramatic news, readers were also interested when a former Dancing with the Stars contestant shed an impressive amount of weight, and an A-lister revealed how another star played a prank that ruined her expensive dress.
Read on to relive 2013 as we countdown to the biggest news story of the year:
Cleveland Kidnapping Rescue
In May, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who vanished a decade ago, were found in a house near downtown Cleveland after Berry managed to make a 911 call. Their kidnapper Ariel Castro died a few months later in his prison cell from possible auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Valerie Harper Is Diagnosed with Terminal Cancer
The beloved TV actress revealed to PEOPLE in March that she was content saying her final goodbyes after doctors told her she had very little time to live. She later went on to compete on DWTS and said she thinks about cancer “less and less.”
Miss America’s Sgt. Theresa Vail Is First Contestant to Expose Tattoos
Miss Kansas’s Sgt. Theresa Vail was not only the first contestant in the military to compete in the Miss America pageant since 2007, but when she strutted Boardwalk Hall in her bikini, she broke a long-standing taboo by bearing her two giant tattoos – the insignia for the U.S. Army Dental Corps on her left shoulder and the Serenity Prayer running down her right side.
Cory Monteith Dies of Mixture of Heroin and Alcohol
July was a somber month for the cast of Glee and its slew of fans, who mourned the loss of the show’s star, Cory Monteith. Shortly after he was found unconscious in a Vancouver hotel room, authorities determined he died from a mixed drug toxicity of heroin and alcohol.
Sandra Bullock Reveals the Prank George Clooney Played That Ruined Her Dress
Known prankster George Clooney sure pulled a fast one on his Gravity costar Sandra Bullock – an expensive one at that. The actor manipulated Bullock into getting in a pool alone in “a cute dress that I paid a lot of money for,” she said, adding that once she got out, “it started disintegrating.”
Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Star Mama June Loses Over 100 Lbs.
Mama June Shannon will soon become unredneckognizeable if she sheds as much weight in 2014 as she did this year. The Here Comes Honey Boo Boo matriarch, who lost 100 lbs., claimed she didn’t have any surgeries, take pills or go to the gym, but said simply, “With the show I’ve been more active.”
Kate Gosselin’s Life After TV
One of the biggest headline-making names in previous years recently drifted from the spotlight – but as numbers proved in August, there was still some interest in the former reality star and her life as a single mom of eight, who admitted to PEOPLE she “made so many mistakes” during her TV days.
Beyoncé’s Pregnancy Buzz
Already a mom to Blue Ivy Carter, Beyoncé had cyberspace in a flurry over reports that the pop star could be expecting baby No. 2. Although the singer – who just released a sexy secret album – has expressed desire to have more children, the pregnancy rumors were quickly shot down.
Pregnant Kate Bikini Photos Anger Royals
The Duchess of Cambridge’s privacy was invaded during a February vacation with hubby Prince William, and a rep for the pair expressed that they were none too pleased when photos were released of the pregnant princess frolicking around in a bikini.
Chaz Bono Loses 43 Lbs.
Former DWTS contestant Chaz Bono, who famously struggled with his weight for years, had readers in awe of his determination to shed pounds, kicking off 2013 with a 43-lb. loss. By the time September hit, Cher’s son was a total of 70 lbs. lighter, explaining he feels “more comfortable, more confident.”
Gia Allemand Dies of Apparent Suicide
After her boyfriend told her, “I don’t love you anymore,” the former Bachelor contestant from Jake Pavelka’s season hung herself in August. Allemand was on the phone with her mom when she took her own life.
Paul Walker Dies in Car Crash
The second most-read story of the year came at the very end of 2013. Longtime Hollywood heartthrob and star of the Fast & Furious franchise died earlier this month as a result of “traumatic and thermal injuries,” following a car accident that also killed his friend Roger Rodas, who was reportedly driving the 90 m.p.h. Porsche that caught on fire in Santa Clarita, Calif.
Kim Kardashian Becomes a Mom
The biggest story of the year was the early birth of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby in June. The couple named their little one North West, and has managed to keep their daughter out of the spotlight, with the exception of an occasional social media share.