It seemed like there were an abnormally high number of high-profile deaths in 2009 so Entertainment Tonight and their ilk--ahem, like the programming on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News--had a lot of easy material to work from. Also, everyone gets to do some kind of "best of" list at the end of the year so, like the sheep I am, I wanted to do one, too.
Anyway, without further ado, I give my top 10 list for celebrity deaths in 2009...
Ahh, the late, great Billy Mays. I wondered how the infomercial world (or rather, direct response marketing world to be more accurate) was going to mourn the passing of their greatest asset, and they did so by continuing to run commercials in which he was in. The dead move product among us.
Jovial sidekick of the late, great Johnny Carson. He spent the last years of his in and out of hospitals for broken bones and pneumonia, fighting bankruptcy, and trying to buy gold from us in Super Bowl commercials.
Sex symbol of the 70s and 80s. Ms. Fawcett got her start as one of the Ten Most Beautiful Coeds in Cashbox magazine while a Tri-Delt in the late 60s, and then 30 years later after being in a sorority at the University of Texas she lost a three year battle with anal cancer. Bad things truly do come in threes.
Heartthrob of the 80s and early 90s. He died of pancreatic cancer after a late diagnosis. More than likely he's dancing and kicking ass up in the great road house in the sky.
Elder statesman and last of a storied generation of a certain family. He's the third in a row on this list to die of cancer--his of the brain variety. Being a Catholic, his belief says his soul is at rest in heaven. Being a Kennedy, I say his soul is at rest in that he doesn't have to work to keep the closet door closed anymore.
Speaking of closets, Carradine was found dead in one in a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, with his hands bound and a shoelace tied around his penis. It's the easily the oddest death on the list, but that's not why he's on here. (Honestly, though, the coolness of dying from an apparently botched sex act did bump him up a couple spots.) He's on here because he's awesome and because he was on Kung Fu... both of them.
The great comedic actor. If you care about comedy at all, you're well aware of the work of Mr. DeLuise. He died from from complications with cancer and kidney failure. That's two Cannonballers in one year--he and Farrah Fawcett. I think it's safe to say the last to go will be Jackie Chan because of his magical powers, and next to go will be Burt Reynolds. He'll die from choking on a sausage patty made from a pig that had anal cancer. (The tumors always get stuck in the back the throat no matter how much you chew them up.)
THE golden girl and unfortunately another tally for cancer. When not doing a ton of showbiz work, she crusaded for animal rights and the rights of gays. She ranks so highly on the list because she was hot, hotter than Farrah Fawcett.
He's known as the King of Pop and is the most commercially successful entertainer of all time. When he kicked bucket as a result of drug-induced cardiac arrest, people went crazy. Luckily, in this day and age we have 24-hour news networks so we could hear all the drama and drivel surrounding Jackson's death around the clock for two months. I am so glad there wasn't news to cover during that time.
Considering the intense coverage the media doled out on the death of Michael Jackson, who could ever top him and pull in the coveted top spot of my list?
"The most trusted man in America." He is without a shadow of doubt the greatest, most influential broadcast newsman of all time. Unwaveringly dedicated to educating and informing the public, he is an irreplaceable American icon.
It's been said his death has brought an end to an era, but it's never said what era that is. It's the era of good, honest, non-ratings-driven, televised journalism. We've re-entered an era of biased sensationalism, reminiscent of the yellow journalism of the late 19th century, and it'll probably be years before we can look back with the blessing of hindsight to truly see what we lost.
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order only):
John Hughes (Hughes should have been in the list, but I'd already made the list by the time I realized he'd passed away. What does this mean? It means my laziness outweighs my "integrity" as a "journalist.")
I just found out Robert S. McNamara died this year as well. That's huge. I don't think I could have made a joke about him, though, so he'll just be an honorable mention. Damn. I've got to get my shit together.