Entertainment behind the scenes
Summer ’09: A Hollywood Requiem
Every year in Hollywood when the long, hot days of summer set in, some story comes along to shake up the media, and reporters seem to bite into it like a dog with a bone. Absent anything else going on in town, that story is becomes the tale of Hollywood’s summer.
So far, early in this summer of 2009, the story has been celebrity deaths. When Karl Malden died yesterday, he was added to a growing list of celebrities who either died after long illnesses or suddenly, topped off by the King of Pop himself Michael Jackson.
When Jackson died last week, fans across the world went into shock and are still waiting news of an official funeral or public memorial.
Also catching fans by surprise was the strange demise of “Kung Fu” actor David Carradine, who was found in the closet of his Bangkok hotel on June 4. A pathologist who oversaw a private autopsy told
Reuters the cause of death was asphyxiation, but so far an official cause has not been released by Thai police.
However, most of the stars who have passed on to that major studio in the sky were in poor health or had a serious illness.
Farrah Fawcett, the 1970s icon who captivated teenage boys with her smile and golden wavy hair, ended her struggle with cancer on June 25, the same day Jackson died.
Ed McMahon, America’s favorite sidekick on NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” died on June 23 at 86 and had battled a series of illnesses.
Karl Malden, who won acclaim for his roles in “A Streetcar Named
Desire” and “On the Waterfront,” had been in failing health in
recent years. The actor, famous for playing ordinary guys, died in his sleep on July 1. He was 97.
And over the weekend, there were three other deaths: impressionist and singer Fred Travalena, who could voice nearly everyone from Bugs Bunny to George W. Bush; pitchman Billy Mays; and 1950s sitcom star Gale Storm. Maybe they were not all on the A-list. But they were well-known during their time.
The real question is whether the stretch of celebrity deaths is over? There is an old saying that celebrity deaths come in threes, and so far, we’ve had far more than three.