Date of Death: February 2, 2014
Cause of Death: Acute mixed drug intoxication
The only death on this list I learned via iPhone on my Facebook feed. I was in a room of people and exclaimed “Ah, shit!” as soon as I read it. One of my favorite actors, I liked him instantly when I first saw him in Scent of a Woman. I’m not a huge movie watcher, but I managed to also catch him in The Big Lebowski, Patch Adams, and Happiness. I didn’t really care for the last two movies in that list, but I vividly remember his performances. So far I have managed to miss Capote and Moneyball, though I want to see both. I had just watched Catching Fire when I heard the news. Even when the guy got a handful of lines in a movie that wasn’t going to win him any awards, he nailed his performance. I hear he had already filmed his scenes for the third Hunger Games movie. I’ll watch that, if nothing else, to see Hoffman one more time.
Date of Death: August 27, 1990
Cause of Death: Helicopter Crash
Another posthumous reaction from me, as I certainly wasn’t listening to him when I was ten years old. I was introduced by a friend, and Vaughan (in addition to John Fogerty) was responsible for my love of guitar music. The Sky is Crying and Texas Flood are two of my favorite songs. Pride and Joy is pretty awesome, too.
I had a speech teacher in college whose office was a shrine dedicated to Jimi Hendrix. If you even hinted that Vaughan was a better guitar player you might risk getting a lower grade. I don’t really see the point in debating it, as they’re both obviously incredible. Their styles are also different. I prefer Vaughan’s, and I still have never seen anyone handle a guitar with such speed and grace. I really wish I could have been collecting his music for decades.
Date of Death: March 6, 2006
Cause of Death: Stroke
If Puckett had died in 1992, he’d probably be at the top of this list. I’ve loved baseball since I was six and I revered Kirby. He was one of the best players the Twins ever had. He hustled. He was always smiling. And his body was so oddly shaped that you thought, heck, if Kirby can become a major leaguer, maybe I can too.
Unfortunately, he died shortly after his near-perfect public image was shattered by domestic disputes and criminal charges. Despite being exonerated on all charges, the ideal of Kirby was gone. He ballooned to over 300 pounds. He became just a regular dude who I rarely ever thought about. Still, when the news of his sudden passing came, it was a sad day. If I had any celebrity childhood hero, it was him. And a part of me hoped that someday he’d somehow win our hearts again.
Kirby is the only celebrity on this list that I’ve met. At the 1994 NBA Jam Session, Kirby was signing autographs. I was sicker than shit and waited in line for almost an hour. I remember Bill “Boom Boom” Brown was signing autographs, too, though I didn’t know he was at the time. I got Kirby’s autograph on one of his baseball cards (which is still encased in a hard plastic case). I shook his hand and got up the nerve to talk to him. I asked him if he was glad that the divisions had been realigned and that they’d get to face the Cleveland Indians more often now. I was thirteen, oblivious, and assumed the Indians would be terrible for all eternity. Kirby just smiled and explained that they have some good players coming up and that they’ll probably be pretty tough. I thought he was just being polite. Whoops.
Date of Death: January 22, 2008
Cause of Death: Prescription Drug Intoxication
This reaction was definitely post-mortem. When Ledger died, I had only seen The Patriot and barely remembered him. However, I was blown away by his performance in The Dark Knight. I also recently saw Brokeback Mountain. Talk about range. This guy could have had a really special career, and I am saddened that I’m going to miss out on it. And that he felt he needed all of those benzos to feel relief.
Date of Death: March 4, 1994
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
Date of Death: September 11, 2003
Cause of Death: Aortic Dissection
When rounding out my top ten, both of these guys came to mind and I couldn’t pick one over the other. In both cases, when I heard, I was like “Awww, man.” I haven’t even seen much of either guy’s catalogs. I really like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but otherwise a lot of Candy’s movies were either not good or his skills weren’t pushed as he played the big-hearted buffoon over and over. I have a feeling Candy could have done very well with some dramatic roles, or even some GOOD comedies. As for Ritter, I wasn’t able to get into any of his TV shows, despite finding him affable. But I loved his performance in Sling Blade. Scrubs dedicated an entire episode to its main character grieving his death (as Ritter played J.D.’s father), which was a nice touch.
I guess both of these guys were just really likable. While I wasn’t expecting either of them to blow me away with future roles, it was just sad to see them gone so young.
Recently I learned news of a celebrity death and my immediate reaction was, “Ah, shit!” I was surprised by this reaction because normally the most I can muster when I hear similar news is curiosity. I have rarely felt any emotional attachment to someone I’ve never met, and when I feel something when a celebrity dies, it’s generally because I’m going to miss whatever form of entertainment they were providing. The next two weeks we’ll look at the ten that provoked the most reaction out of me.
To be clear, the list will just be entertainers. I could provide a laundry list of people that were really important to society that I’m pissed died young (e.g. Alan Turing), but I don’t feel like being angry for two weeks. So, fluff it is!
2. Picard Becomes Kamen
Episode: The Inner Light (5.25)
I cry every freaking time.
4. Resistance Is Not Futile
Episode: I, Borg (5.23)
After not hearing from the Borg for almost two full seasons, this was the perfect reintroduction. And this is the perfect scene, challenging Picard’s personal feelings about a race that nearly destroyed him.
6. Sito Jaxa Dies
Episode: Lower Decks (7.15)
A great follow-up to The First Duty, Sito Jaxa gets on the Enterprise because Picard requests her, trying to test her resolve after her being knocked down a couple pegs after the disciplinary action. She dies on an extremely important mission, and then Picard has to announce her death.
8. Crusher Learns The Size of the Universe
Episode: Remember Me (4.05)
The creepiest part of this episode where Beverly is caught inside the warp bubble is that the computer is completely oblivious to all of the changes going on. Majel Barrett’s best episode on the show.