Why does it seem like so many actors/actresses and musicians have died this year?
It started with a bang with Lemmy from Motorhead, continued through David Bowie & Alan Rickman in the same week, Abe Vigoda, Umberto Eco, Glen Frey, Harper Lee, Joey Feek, Bud Collins, Joe Garagiola, Ken Howard, Garry Shandling, Patty Duke, Doris Roberts, and now Prince. As well as many, many more from literature, music, sports, tv and movies.
So far there have more than 30 celebrity deaths. Is that unusual? Apparently not. During the first three months of 2016 there were 24 celebrity deaths. In 2015 the first three months there were 21. In 2008, there were 25. There have been many more level B celebrities (like Big Ang & Chyna & Vanity), but I’m talking about those that were more iconic and transformative.
What does make it unusual is the number of celebrities under the age of 70 that have been dying this year. To be 69, British, and have cancer is apparently not a good thing this year.
What’s also noticeable is that most of these icons were major stars during the youth of the Baby Boomers and the “lost” generation between the Baby Boomers and the Gen X’ers. We grew up watching ‘Remington Steele”, “The Patty Duke Show”, or “White Shadow”. We grew up listening to ‘Hotel California’, ‘Major Tom’, or ‘Little Red Corvette’. We grew up reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, or ‘Prince of Tides’ or ‘The Name of the Rose’. We grew up watching & listening to Bud Collins & Joe Garagiola, and watching / rooting for or against Milt Pappas &Tony Phillips.
I guess this is what aging does. You start to see your favorite ____________ (fill in the blank) pass on – whether due to illness, accident, suicide or unhealthy lifestyle choices. It begins to hit home that we aren’t immortal – even though we knew it.
It struck me after Glen Frey passed (which was a bigger loss to me personally, than Prince or Bowie) that I’m in the autumn of my years – as Frankie would sing. Yes, I’m in pretty good health – weight notwithstanding – but my mother died at 53, my grandmother at 54, and my grt-grandmother at 53. I’ll be 53 next year.
Here’s hoping The Angel of Death takes a break for a while this year, and leaves Betty White, Queen Eliabeth II, and David Soul alone for many years.