Friday, January 4, 2013

Famous Deaths 2012

Everyone is in such a hurry to talk about the best/most/biggest/worst/etc. of the year that lists start coming out as early as November.  I think we should save those lists until January, so anything that happens in the end of December will still count.  I still remember hearing on the radio on Christmas day that Billy Martin died in a car accident, over 20 years ago, but how unfair is that to leave him off a list because it's near the end of the year?  I had my list ready a week ago, and sure enough, Norman Schwarzkopf died, and he shouldn't have been left off the list.

A few of these are pretty obvious, but some might need some explanation.  I left off some famous deaths because I didn't have much of a connection to them, like Harry Carey - he was in two great movies, Gremlins and Back to the Future, but I didn't really remember his characters even after looking them up.  When Polly Holliday, who played Mrs. Deagle, dies, she'll be in the list for sure.

The zombie actor is there, not so much because of his role specifically or anything about the movie itself, although it is the granddaddy of all zombie movies.  Actually, it is likely that we even have the zombie industry fascination that we do have because of the copyright status of this movie.  That is, it doesn't have one.  Before the U.S. adopted the Berne Convention, you had to claim copyright to be granted copyright.  A last minute change to the title of the film and someone forgetting to put a copyright notice on the new title screen meant it was public domain, open for remixing, sharing, and a multitude of other uses, which increased its popularity.

Trayvon Martin stuck out to me because of his complete lack of being famous, yet his tragic death, which is still being investigated is what made him famous.  I didn't know or care that much about Vidal Sassoon, other than growing up knowing it was a shampoo, and it wasn't until he died that I realized it was a person.  What's worse?  Being famous for dying or for being a shampoo?

Joe Paterno - Penn State coach
Ian Abercrombie - Seinfeld actor Mr. Pitt
Bill Hinzman - first zombie in Night of the Living Dead
Whitney Houston - singer
Gary Carter - catcher (Go Mets!)
Trayvon Martin - teenager
Davy Jones - the Monkees
Mike Wallace - news correspondent
Dick Clark - TV host
Junior Seau - football player
Adam Yauch - rapper Beastie Boys
George Lindsey - actor Andy Griffith
Maurice Sendak - author
Vidal Sassoon - hair stylist
Robin Gibb - singer Bee Gees
Ray Bradbury - sci fi author
Rodney King - LA riots
Andy Griffith - actor
Ernest Borgnine - actor
Stephen Covey - author
Sally Ride - astronaut
Mel Stuart - director Willy Wonka
Phyllis Diller - comedienne
Jerry Nelson - muppetteer
Neil Armstrong - astronaut
Michael Clarke Duncan - actor
Gary Collins - actor
Arlen Specter - politician
Zig Ziglar - author
Rick Majerus - coach
Jack Klugman - actor
Norman Schwarzkopf - general


Tom said...

Why is Andy Griffith on your list twice? Does this tie back into some kind of zombie/undead theme? Serves me right for skimming...

robmba said...

Hey Tom, that's one of the interesting things. Andy Griffith actually isn't in the list twice, though. It's that George Lindsey, who played Goober on the Andy Griffith Show, is also in the list. Interesting that they both died the same year, as long ago as they worked together.

Anonymous said...

Was that your personal list, or is this just the general list of famous deaths of 2012?

Whitney Houston's death was and still is on the top of my list of famous celebrity deaths. She re-defined music, in her own way, by introducing the operatic "melisma" to modern pop music.

I was listening (well, more like belting) to one of her biggest hits "Greatest Love of All," when my mother came upstairs and told me "Hey, Whitney Houston just passed away. Its on the news right now!" I thought she was joking, but then I raced downstairs in utter shock that my personal inspiration had passed away, and I now will never have the pleasure of meeting her one day.

Sorry, if I'm rambling. Just sharing my personal experience with this topic in 2012. Nice post.

P.S. ~Found the blog, you were referring to.

robmba said...

Thanks, anon. Your comment here was a good reminder to do a follow-up for famous deaths of 2013. That said, to answer your question, this is my personal list. It seemed to me that there were a lot of famous people that were meaningful in my life that happened to die last year, including Whitney, which is what prompted me to make the list last year. There are not as many that stick out to me from 2013 without going to Wikipedia to find a comprehensive list.