Thursday, April 28, 2016

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye*


Excuse me for engaging in a bit of morbidity, but it sure seems like a lot of famous people are dying lately.

The Grim Reaper seems to be racking up the overtime hours in 2016 with his harvest of the great and near-great: Alan Rickman, Merle Haggard, David Bowie, Nancy Reagan, Patty Duke, George Kennedy, Gary Shandling, Glenn Frye, Prince, and many others have passed away so far ... and we're only four months into the year. The Death List for 2016 - the annual list of the 50 celebrities considered most likely to die in the course of the year - is already well underway.

So what's going on? Is this an unusually deadly year or what?

According to this article from BBC News, there are several reasons for the surge in famous deaths, not the least of which is the fact that many people who became famous in the 60's and earlier are now in their 70's and - statistically - are more likely to shuffle off their mortal coils. Also (and this is my conjecture, not part of the referenced article), many celebrities are more likely to have abused their bodies with alcohol, drugs, and related high living, leading to an earlier-than-perhaps-expected demise.


Another point, and one that I found fascinating to consider, is that people had more opportunities to become famous after the middle of the 20th century. At one time, the big celebrities were the stage and big-screen movie stars, of whom there were relatively few. But then came television and the Internet, wild politics, and the vast range of musical styles, creating a lot more venues in which one could become a recognizable celebrity. And with more celebrities out there, the numbers that would pass away in any given year began to grow.

Obituary writing is a growth industry, and obituaries are usually easy to write for celebrities. But what about you and I, Dear Readers? We're not famous (unless I've got celebrity readers out there I don't know about) and most of us don't leave much of a record behind, so how will we be remembered? I wrote about this back in November of 2009, and it's still a valid question. I plan to write a lot more letters and keep up the blogging now that I'm retired, so I'll leave a pretty well documented history. What about you?

And while you're thinking about that, consider this: with all the celebrities dropping like flies this year, how is it that Keith Richards is still alive?

Have a good day. Take care of yourself ... the obituary writers have enough work to do. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

* With apologies to the Trapp Family children from The Sound of Music.

5 comments:

Chuck Bear said...

Take care of yourself also, Bilbo!

John Hill said...

I don't think there is much that is memorable about me. Other than a brief obituary and short ceremony, I expect people to go on with living and forget all about me.

Maybe we can blog for weeks in advance and fool our readers for awhile...maybe I'll start scheduling posts to appear many years down the road!

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Nothing memorable about me, I'm afraid. Just say 'War Eagle' and drink a beer in my honor.

And smile at girls. All are pretty.

allenwoodhaven said...

I've commented before that it seems more famous people die than are born. It makes sense that there are more celebrities today. Gotta fill all that air time and those glossy magazines/websites! As for Keith Richards, it may be that heaven doesn't want him and hell is afraid he'll take over. Or, perhaps, he's so well preserved from all he's taken that it's hard to tell when he's passed on...

Mike said...

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll is starting to catch up with some people.