I am not a huge TV fan, don’t follow Entertainment Tonight, or any of those ‘what’s going on in Hollywood’ shows. I do admit to watching TMZ on occasion, it’s pretty funny. In fact I find most of those shows quite curious, I’m not sure what the allure to them is. Although the curiosity of how the upper crust live is nothing new. The poor have wanted to know how the rich live for as long as there has been rich and poor. We have always wanted to know what goes on in the Main House.
I don’t check out who is dating who or who was seen where. My wife and daughters think it’s funny when they talk about an award show that was on and I haven’t a clue. But even me, in my bliss of ignorance noticed how many celebrities died last year. Perhaps I noticed because many of the ‘Stars’ who passed away were people I grew up watching or listening to. Maybe I noticed because the media loves a good death story, it sells. Or maybe I just noticed.
Here is some of the list. Sid Caesar, Casey Kasem (who knows where this guys remains ended up), Ann B. Davis (Alice from the Brady Bunch), Richard Kiel (jaws from the James Bond movies), Bob Hoskins, Elizabeth Pena, James Garner, Lauren Bacall, Shirley Temple, Richard Attenborough, Mickey Rooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman (same age as me! I hate when that happens). There was Ken Weatherwax (creepy kid from the Addams Family), Maya Angelou, Joe Cocker (what a voice),Bobby Keys, Ian McLagan, Jimmy Ruffin ( “What becomes of the broken hearted”), Tommy Ramone, Johnny Winter, Joan Rivers and of course Robin Williams.
It’s funny, how, as a society, we relate to the death of these people. We mourn them as though we knew them, almost as if they were part of our distant family. When really we knew nothing at all about them, except for what they wanted us to know.
Of the list above I think the death that effected me the most was Robin Williams. Why would his death have an effect on me? I didn’t know him, we didn’t have coffee on Tuesdays, or play tennis on Sunday mornings. We didn’t call each other on the phone to see how each others families were doing. And when the media told me that it was suicide, good Lord, I was shocked, I honestly was shocked. But Why would this shock me? I have no more of an idea as to what was going on in Robin Williams’s life as to how the universe was made.
Perhaps Williams death touched me because I relate certain of his works with events in my life. I remember talking with friends in class about ‘Mork from Ork’. I remember my daughters watching ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ endless times after our house burnt down. We were living in a very small apartment with very limited furniture and a handful of videos. But we were all alive and together, and Mrs. Doubtfire was making my children laugh (thank you Robin Williams, wherever you are).
Or perhaps we just relate to the death of celebrities because we have all lost someone we loved. Perhaps that’s what makes us human.