2016 has been quite a year for celebrity deaths. We've lost so many great people. It shouldn't be a surprise but somehow it always is, no matter how old someone was. Perhaps it's the fame thing which makes us think that somehow our heroes are immortal.
Last Edit: Nov 12, 2016 12:36:36 GMT by josef: Typo
I don't think that 2016 has necessarily been a worse year than others for famous deaths. I think what is happening is that some of us are getting a bit older and realising that some of these people aren't all that much older than we are! Plus we grew up with them, and people that die now mean more to us than those that died when we were younger.
I remember when I was a kid when John Wayne and Peter Sellers died, that my dad was a bit upset. They were two of his icons, but the former I'd never heard of at the time and the latter only because of The Pink Panther. I'm now a couple of years older than my dad was then, and likewise I've been more upset about more recent deaths.
1984 was a particularly bad year for deaths... Diana Dors, Tommy Cooper, Eric Morcambe, Richard Burton (the first three were very familiar to me, but the last one, at the time, I'd never heard of, but again my parents were shocked about). Growing older does mean dealing with this, and getting used to it happening.
I met her briefly when I was a schoolkid. I'd gone into Woolworths after school and saw this platinum-haired woman sitting behind a desk signing books (copies of her latest autobiography). I sort of knew who she was (well, kind of) and was mesmerised so I hung around. I had no pocket money to buy a book but as she got up to leave I joined in with a crowd of people who walked with her to the door. I actually got very close to her and she said something to me but I forget exactly what it was, damn it. I believe I'd shyly said something to her and she said thank you. I can still recall her perfume, the eyelashes painted on her face, the tatty fur coat she wore (the lining was all ripped- isn't it funny the things you remember?!) and the intense looking man by her side whom I now realise was her husband Alan Lake, who committed suicide after her death from cancer not that long afterwards.
Anyway, of the deaths this year, Caroline Aherne's saddened and shocked me the most and of course Bowie. I recall coming home from school and finding my mum in floods of tears because Elvis had died. I didn't quite understand it back then but of course I do now. Our musical heroes, actors and so on, often become very important to us and their death is felt keenly. I'm not sure I'd shed tears but you never know.
Last Edit: Nov 15, 2016 16:09:05 GMT by josef: typo
And Victoria Wood too... that was one of the most shocking ones this year as it was completely unexpected. Leonard Cohen was at least 82. Not ancient by today's standards but still a good innings. Victoria was just 62.
One of the most shocking deaths in the last few years, for me, was Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah-Jane Smith in Doctor Who). Even now I still can't believe that one. I remember hearing the news report on BBC ("The actress Elisabeth Sladen...) and I knew from the tone that they were going to say she'd died, but for a split second I thought "she can't be!".
When someone dies younger than expected and keeps their illness secret (which I admire immensely), it's a bigger shock, as Wood and Sladen were. Bowie also did but something wasn't right there, he wasn't doing interviews. I somehow expected his death announcement but also didn't!
Sorry to be excessively morbid here but I'm expecting ABBA members and Kate Bush to go this way (hopefully not for many, many years). It will just be announced, with no warning. *shudders*
Whilst I also admire someone who keeps things private, I can also see the benefit of going public and highlighting a particular illness. If it helps someone to summon the courage to go to the doctor's and get checked out, then it's a good thing.
...When someone dies younger than expected and keeps their illness secret (which I admire immensely), it's a bigger shock...
I also experience the opposite feeling, when you are reminded that someone you might have assumed would no longer be with us is actually still going strong, and you realize that when they do depart then one of our remaining links to an earlier era will be lost. An example that springs to mind is Burt Bacharach. He's 88 now, still making music and still inspiring generations of songwriters. To put his long life in context, he was Marlene Dietrich's Musical Director! His songs have been the soundtrack to my life (born 1961) for as long as I can remember, and I fear that when he passes away there will be nobody left in popular music with his mastery of composition; it may well be a dying art. I felt similarly about jazz genius Dave Brubeck, who died in 2012, the day before his 92nd birthday. Both Bacharach and Brubeck were pupils of the prolific French composer Darius Milhaud, who was in turn a contemporary of Ravel; a couple of leaps and we are already at the dawn of modern music. Wow.
In her last few years, Diana Dors was reaching new audiences. She'd appeared in an Adam and the Ants video, a sketch series with The Two Ronnies and had a regular slot on breakfast TV. I remember when she died... turning the TV on and seeing an interview with her, and then the presenter saying "the late Diana Dors" or something along those lines. She was the first famous person I knew of to die of cancer. She'd survived it a few times but it got her in the end.