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Exhausted From Celebrity Passings


hepclassic
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This year has just been exhausting with all the classic and other film stars passing away this year. Do you feel this way? I think after Robin Williams' suicide followed by Lauren Bacall's passing I am just numb. 

While Williams' death was certainly unexpected, several of the others were sort of expected. Though isn't it interesting that Zsa Zsa hangs on (and will probably make it to 100), and we have these other ones bidding farewell...?

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Of course it was unexpected. She went into cardiac arrest during a medical procedure. She had some help passing on.....

To me death isn't "unexpected" for anyone over 65, or so, that has surgery.   

 

Of course it comes down to how one defines 'expected'.   If one defines this as 'they have to have a known illness (e.g. cancer),  than yea,  even death for someone that is healthy that is 90 would be unexpected.

 

My basis point was that when I hear a person over 65 or so has died,  I'm NOT surprised.  

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Maybe that was true 60 or 70 years ago, but people do live longer now. Maybe an attitude of acceptance like yours helps. To her family, I'm sure it was quite unexpected. Joan Rivers had a performance booked for the next night. Whatever happened to her was not only unexpected but most likely unnecessary. She had a lot to live for, very sad.

 

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I'm far less exhausted from hearing about the deaths of 80 or 90 year old actors who haven't made a movie in decades than I've been from learning of the deaths of people whom I used to know personally.  My 1962 high school yearbook might as well be sponsored by a funeral home, and half of the people I knew in the pool rooms of the 70's and the book shops of the 80's and 90's are now pushing up daisies.  Much as I admired Lauren Bacall, very few celebrity deaths from old age are ever going to hit me in that way.

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Maybe that was true 60 or 70 years ago, but people do live longer now. Maybe an attitude of acceptance like yours helps. To her family, I'm sure it was quite unexpected. Joan Rivers had a performance booked for the next night. Whatever happened to her was not only unexpected but most likely unnecessary. She had a lot to live for, very sad.

 

 

I'm expecting a huge lawsuit to be filed soon with all I've heard about what went on................Unbelievable if true.

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While Williams' death was certainly unexpected, several of the others were sort of expected. Though isn't it interesting that Zsa Zsa hangs on (and will probably make it to 100), and we have these other ones bidding farewell...?

 

 

I know. Zsa Zsa is still hanging in there. I cant imagine her medical bills.............Noone knows her real age. For all we know, she's hit 100 already. I know her mother hit it.........

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but she didn't look it

 

Ummmmmmmmmmmmm............................oh, never mind. If you don't know why she didn't look 81............ :rolleyes:

 

 

I think she did look her age despite all the plastic surgery. No wrinkles. But I think the surgery made her look old in other ways.....

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I certainly don't want to sound insensitive about this subject but some of us take these things a little too personal.  These celebrities are people we don't know personally, we are fans , nothing more.  Most of the movie celebrities from the  "classic era" that  we admire are gone now, some for many years. The survivors are becoming fewer and fewer. Many of these people are way up in age so their passing is to be expected. My only thoughts are that their final days  were not too troublesome for them and their families and we should be happy that they lived long and productive lives.

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I certainly don't want to sound insensitive about this subject but some of us take these things a little too personal.  These celebrities are people we don't know personally, we are fans , nothing more.  Most of the movie celebrities from the  "classic era" that  we admire are gone now, some for many years. The survivors are becoming fewer and fewer. Many of these people are way up in age so their passing is to be expected. My only thoughts are that their final days  were not too troublesome for them and their families and we should be happy that they lived long and productive lives.

 

Well said.   I do understand that each of us deals with death in different ways even for people we don't know, like celebrities.   For example,  when Bacall died my wife started texting me from work.   I told her I knew and I would see her tonight.   She texted me again and said how sad it was, etc...   I have pictures of Bacall on our wall in the T.V. Room as well as Bogie and Bacall.   She was somewhat surprised I didn't have a more emotional response.  

 

Because this impacted her when we had dinner I made sure Too Marvelous for Words was playing (I have about 8 different version of the song so I set them up to play one after the other).       It took her awhile to make the Dark Passage connection but when she did I got a big hug!   

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As funny as it may sound, I think the hardest celebrity death for me to take was James Dean's. He died almost seventeen years before I was born. But when I was discovering who he was-- EAST OF EDEN was the first film of his I saw in 1990, so he was dead for more than thirty years at that point-- I wanted to learn more about him. I didn't even know he died young, so when I found out and then started to read up on the circumstances of his death, and then read a series of biographies, it really had a profound effect on me. One article I read said some asian girls (in Japan?) had committed suicide when they learned he had died. So the whole thing has embedded in it a huge amount of tragedy and loss.

 

Another one that hit me: Jean Harlow. Probably again because she died so young. But also it is because when I lived in West Hollywood, I would take my dog for walks in our neighborhood. One sidewalk I used almost every day had Harlow's signature (and I think a handprint). If I am not mistaken, it also had the date she made the impressions. It was sort of like the prints at the Chinese theatre, except this one was done right in the neighborhood. I presumed it was in front of where she used to live. There is a lot of old Hollywood history in that area-- I lived on North Harper, right where it connects with Sunset Boulevard. 

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Maybe that was true 60 or 70 years ago, but people do live longer now. Maybe an attitude of acceptance like yours helps. To her family, I'm sure it was quite unexpected. Joan Rivers had a performance booked for the next night. Whatever happened to her was not only unexpected but most likely unnecessary. She had a lot to live for, very sad.

People are living longer now, and while I don't know any of them personally, you got to admit being a fan of an actor you hoped would live longer or hold on for a few more years makes it upsetting. 

 

I don't know who wasn't thrown by Robin Williams' suicide on some level. It was easier for me to accept Bacall's passing, especially since it took place in the immediate of Williams', because she was older, died naturally, and had a long, successful life, and she didn't kill herself. But the list is long and hard this year regardless of just those individual ones. 

 

Juanita Moore, Maximilian Schell, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, James Shigeta, Ruby Dee, Herb Jeffries- its been a heavy year. 

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As funny as it may sound, I think the hardest celebrity death for me to take was James Dean's. He died almost seventeen years before I was born. But when I was discovering who he was-- EAST OF EDEN was the first film of his I saw in 1990, so he was dead for more than thirty years at that point-- I wanted to learn more about him. I didn't even know he died young, so when I found out and then started to read up on the circumstances of his death, and then read a series of biographies, it really had a profound effect on me. One article I read said some asian girls (in Japan?) had committed suicide when they learned he had died. So the whole thing has embedded in it a huge amount of tragedy and loss.

 

Another one that hit me: Jean Harlow. Probably again because she died so young. But also it is because when I lived in West Hollywood, I would take my dog for walks in our neighborhood. One sidewalk I used almost every day had Harlow's signature (and I think a handprint). If I am not mistaken, it also had the date she made the impressions. It was sort of like the prints at the Chinese theatre, except this one was done right in the neighborhood. I presumed it was in front of where she used to live. There is a lot of old Hollywood history in that area-- I lived on North Harper, right where it connects with Sunset Boulevard. 

If Dean hadn't died at the time and in the manner that he did, it's possible he would be almost forgotten today.

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I agree this has been a rough year.  I think what can also make celebrity deaths more difficult to deal with is when they happen "in threes."  As morbid as the saying is, celebrities do seem to die in threes.  I think what makes it worse is when three major (or at least beloved) stars die one after the other, or when the threes are three celebrities from the same era/sport/etc. I agree with others when they stated that they weren't affected as much by stars who were an elderly age, because it is to be expected; but I think the impact of the star's passing is contingent upon how much an individual liked/loved someone.  Also, the impact is greater when it seems to come out of nowhere; rather than hearing that a drug-addled star has died of an overdose. 

 

Last month, Robin Williams' suicide came out of nowhere.  I was shocked and very saddened by his passing.  Then the next day, when Lauren Bacall passed, I was further saddened just because I loved her so much.  She was one of my favorites. While I know she was 89 and that it was inevitable that she'd pass sooner rather than later, it was still really sad-- especially since she was always a living survivor of the Golden Age.  With each successive passing of a Golden Age star, that era of film is further and further in the past-- and soon we will have no one with active memories of working in films at that time.  In the past year, we've lost: Joan Fontaine, Peter O'Toole, Eleanor Parker, Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Lauren Bacall... just to name a few. 

 

I remember hearing about Michael Jackson's death and while I knew he had a lot of problems, I didn't expect him to die at the age of 50 and from something like an overdose on an anesthesia medication.  I remember listening to his Thriller and Bad albums over and over for like a week, just as some sort of tribute to him-- in my mind anyway.

 

When I was in middle school, I remember Gene Kelly passing away.  I absolutely loved Gene Kelly (and still do) and was so sad when he passed.  I remember TCM (I think?) having a Gene Kelly memorial tribute and I watched some of his films.  My friend and I watched The Pirate in his honor.  I know it wasn't his best film, but it was one that was available.  I also remember in middle school (1995-1998) all these classic stars whom I was excited to find out where still living (Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, etc.) after seeing their films on TCM.  Then slowly throughout just that three year span, many passed on.

 

I remember stars like Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Temple (just a few examples) just always being alive (I know that sounds weird).  Then slowly as the years have passed, they're all gone. 

 

Other than actual memories of stars passing, I always find it sad to read of the circumstances of someone's passing-- especially if they were young and if I had developed an affinity for their work (Judy Garland, James Dean, Errol Flynn, Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, etc.).  While some of their young deaths aren't surprising (Garland and Flynn come to mind), it doesn't make it any less sad. 

 

All I can do is be happy that these stars were able to make an indelible mark on cinema and that their films will live on for generations to come.  I just hope that through the efforts of TCM, local cinema, etc. that these stars will not be forgotten and that new generations will continue to discover them and keep their memories, films, etc. alive.

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In theory, I think it's rather odd to be emotionally affected by the death of any celebrity one doesn't know and especially silly to get upset over the death of a celebrity who made it 85+ years.  But in reality, the two celebrity deaths that have truly affected me are Myrna Loy and Katharine Hepburn.  I didn't know either one of them (more's the pity), they lived to be 88 and 96 respectively, and both succumbed after an extended period of enduring failing bodies and minds.  To react the way I did is something bordering on crazy, but there it is.  Sometimes the way someone touched and inspired us - as an actor, and perhaps even moreso as a person - outweighs logic.

 

Robin Williams' suicide was terribly sad on an objective level, but had no emotional impact on me beyond the "how terrible" compassion that is simply the human norm as I was not a fan.  Lauren Bacall died of natural causes at a ripe old age, but she's the one I wanted to sit down and watch films to remember, because I was a fan of her. 

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Death is sad in general for those who survive those that pass on. Though we did not personally know any of the celebrities who died, we appreciated their gifts, and in that sharing, we got to know them. Classic movie stars included in that bunch. We know their history, we talk their personal life offscreen- things we know about them because of the sharing of their gifts. 

 

It is in their gifts that we separate them from us. Maybe that's why so many people don't feel anything when a celebrity passes away. Fame has isolated their humanity away from their person, and we create the isolation by recognition we give them. 

 

I was personally affected by Katharine Hepburn's passing 11 years ago. I was just getting into classic films seriously, and she was my go-to classic film actor. Mind you, I don't have a shrine made for her nor any false idolatry of her person, but I do learn and continue to learn from her life. With the deaths of this year, I am reminded of how much each of those passed away have contributed to the world around them and made it a better place to be in through sharing their talents with us. It's a sadder place without these actors in our lives. I was just hit to the point of exhaustion because for me, losing these actors that have affected my appreciation as a classic film lover and general film lover has been rough. With Hoffman and Williams, it was harder considering how they passed away versus the natural passings of actors like Dee, Jeffries, Shigeta, Rooney, Moore,Temple, Schell, and Bacall. Outside of meeting Ruby Dee and talking to her for a brief five, the measure of my grief has just been thinking a lot about a world can exist without their voices, their talents, and the gifts of their presence, if that makes any sense. 

 

We all die at some point, and all are equal in death. I think TCM does a great job in remembering, and helping us remember their contributions, as well as keeping the memory alive through their programming. If I didn't feel like I couldn't share my appreciation of classic film here, I wouldn't be here nor at the Classic Film Union. I realize I have a part in preserving the memories. 

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