Deathlist 2009 is a real title, not just the title of this article but is a website that lists out by the month the names, dates, occupations and cause of death of prominent Americans. After reading almost everything that I could find on the death of Democratic Senator and Kennedy Family Patriarch, , I had to research the deaths of this year. I think that we can all agree that this has been the year of the shocking . I have been surprised almost monthly over the death of a well-known individual who has impacted some segment of our Nation. Whether they were fighting a terminal disease, sudden death or homicide this has still been the year of surprising deaths.
Let’s start with Bea Arthur known for her beloved character Maude in the show Maude from the 1960’s era. Best known in my generation for her quick witted dry humored role as Dorothy in the Golden Girls. She was well respected with a long career in theatre. Equally as long was her battle with cancer, when she passed away though it was surprising to me.
Another shocking passing was Billy Mays, the Oxy Clean, loud talking, energetic, informative salesman/spokesman who was the singular force behind me getting OxyClean for laundry and Orange Glow for household cleaning. I believed Billy Mays when he endorsed a product because the products he spoke on really worked! There was also Walter Cronkite, evening Newscaster, John Updike, Author of the Witches of Eastwick, which also made into a movie staring Bette Midler – it was rather enjoyable. Dom Deluise, Actor from the Smokey & The Bandit movies as well as being known for Italian cuisine and condiments. Then there was Edward McMahon, the voice announcer known for saying “heeeerrrreee’s Johnny!”
Now for the younger audience we will remember him as being the host of Star Search and the spokesman for the million dollar prize commercials. Also there was the astonishing death the adoring from the Charlie’s Angels series and a plethora of other movies. Farrah trail blazed the fashion industry with her thick beautiful blonde hair, her blue eyes and amazing smile. She was stunningly beautiful and in all of that external beauty she sought to make movies, television and other media that would display the deeper aspects of her emotional intelligence, basically showing her ability to be more than a beautiful Woman. The impression she left on the entertainment industry was a serious one. Her battle with cancer was highly documented, followed tightly by the media up until her last day.
And the most unsettling passing of the year for everyone around the world was the sudden passing of King of Pop Michael Jackson. The world was waiting for his return to the music industry; he was literally rehearsing for his tour that would be going on now I believe when he died under his Physician’s care. Every generation has an event that they remember. I used to hear questions “where were you when Kennedy was shot?” or “where were you when Martin Luther King was shot?” For us it will be “where were you when died?” I was in Atlanta preparing for my daughter’s photo shoot with Drexina Nelson when it came over the news. It felt like a cruel prank was being played as text messages came in, twitter and facebook updates flooded the Internet making it even more unreal. Then we were glued to the television for hours waiting for the truth to be revealed only for our greatest fears to be realized. That Michael Jackson was not only rushed to the hospital but he died there. For many of us it took days to take root. For others it hit immediately. My friend & love cried for ten hours straight while it didn’t hit me truly until two weeks later at his Memorial Service where I cried through the entirety of it and a few hours afterwards.
I could talk about this forever but there is another passing that I didn’t expect and like Michael Jackson is rather iconic in the fact that the Family is well known, legendary in fact. I am speaking of Edward M. Kennedy also known as Ted Kennedy. The successful Democratic Senator who has kept the Family going in the realm of politics is the oldest Brother to live to die of natural causes. He is the Patriarch of the Family now leaves his family reeling to determine what happens next. Very much like the passing of Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy’s family is feeling to decide who will manage the lineage from here. Who will carry the torch? Of all the surprising deaths this year I feel for the families that are left behind and I think frequently on how they are handling things, what is next for them, how they will fill the huge void left behind by the passing of their Brother, Sister, Father, Mother, Aunt, Uncle, Son, Daughter and Friend. This year has been so shocking when it comes to the deathlist…and we are only in the month of August.