Today is the first official day of autumn, so you celebrities out there can finally exhale: the seasonal orgy of death has come to a close. I’ll always remember summer ’09 for the days that Twitter taught me how to grieve: for David Carradine’s apparent Michael Hutchence impression, for Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson on the same day, for a 4th of July marred by Steve McNair’s murder.
Some people will tell you that there wasn’t a death trend, and you need to seek out those contrarians and hammer their gonads with a rubber mallet. Jezebel recently made the mistaken claim that because a couple people who were most famous in the ’70s and ’80s died, today’s writers — mostly in their 30s and 40s — waxed nostalgic and thus it was misdiagnosed as a trend.
In 2008, for example, we lost Studs Terkel, in his nineties, like Cronkite; Paul Newman at 83, like [Dominick] Dunne; Michael Crichton of cancer in his sixties, like Fawcett; Tim Russert of a heart attack in his late fifties, like Hughes and Carroll; Bernie Mac unexpectedly at age 50, like Jackson; not to mention Jeff Healey and Brad Renfro, respectively far too young and far, far too young. Beloved Golden Girl Bea Arthur died in 2009 — and beloved Golden Girl Estelle Getty died in 2008. So what’s the big deal about this year?
Oh, I’m sorry. Help me out. Which former All-Pro and NFL MVP was shot in the chest at age 36 by his mistress in 2008? Which badass actor died of autoerotic asphyxiation in Thailand in 2008? You’re telling me this was normal? You can blame a celeb-obsessed culture and Twitter all you want, but there’s no getting around the fact that a high number of celebrity deaths were grouped unusually tightly over the course of a season.
And now it’s over. I’m kind of nostalgic for it already.
Notes on the image: Excluded were John Hughes, Eunice Shriver Kennedy, Les Paul, and Frank McCourt, whom I consider influential figures but not “celebrities” in the strictest sense. Oh, and Bob Novak, because F Bob Novak.