Okay, maybe it’s a little misleading for me to headline a column “Celebrities We’ll Lose In 2019.”
I’m not in possession of a crystal ball to tell me which SPECIFIC ‘70s sitcom stars, retired politicians, faded athletes, backup singers, daredevilish adrenaline-junkies or award-winning authors are going to kick the bucket in the new year.
I’ve simply observed human nature and the media long enough to know the sort of trends to watch for as notable people pass away.
For instance, absolutely no later than Valentine’s Day, we’ll be seeing the first inescapable “Celebrities We’ve Tragically Already Lost This Year” clickbait. (“Keep your roses and candy, you beast! How can I feel romantic when I’m constantly reminded that the Duke of Fahrvergnugen fell off his yacht the second week of January?”)
Workplace productivity will suffer as each obituary brings water cooler reactions of “I thought he was already dead,” “I had such a crush on him” and “Hey, isn’t this the brand of water that KILLED the (expletive deleted)?”
Invariably, someone will have “created a genre,” “revolutionized a process,” “raised the bar,” “inspired billions,” “left an unmatchable legacy” and then — after her SECOND cup of coffee…
Some of the celebrities we say goodbye to in 2019 will have been on the “National Enquirer” death watch for years, while other passages will be a surprise, both to the adoring public and to those who knew the deceased best. (“Honestly, we thought we could leech off of him…er, enjoy the benefits of his mentorship … for decades to come.”)
I cringe at the way we take once-hot creative personnel for granted until the Grim Reaper arrives on the scene. Then the internet nearly crashes when all the “fair weather fans” suddenly start streaming their music, movies or books like there’s no tomorrow. Because, you know, nothing makes a love song more soul-stirringly romantic than knowing that the crooner was blown to smithereens when a terrorist planted a bomb at the STD clinic he was frequenting.
As always, we’ll see the unequal treatment of the famous and the behind-the-scenes “fame-adjacent.” Newspapers will still print blurbs such as “Although most knew Johnson only as the third husband of the famous industrialist, he was an accomplished composer and worked tirelessly for charities such as…Whoa! Gotta save room for the horoscope and Sudoku!”
Will most of the celebrity deaths in 2019 be short-attention-span news items, or will there be more prolonged mourning periods, as with Aretha Franklin and John McCain? TV programmers and publishers of commemorative magazines are certainly hoping for the latter.
“Are there are any necrophiliacs in the royal family? We could really clean up with a royal marriage to a dead president. Darn that heterosexual Duke of Fahrvergnugen!”
The average news consumer is amazed at how rapidly a comprehensive obituary can be put together. But major news operations are proactive about composing life histories for certain prominent public figures years in advance, needing merely to insert the details of the actual demise.
Some news outlets do a better job of keeping the biographies updated than others. And I’ve detected just a whiff of a political slant. In 90 percent of the still-unused files I examined, the person’s dying words are already recorded as “Stop Trump in 2016,” “Stop Romney in 2012” or (in the case of Keith Richards) “Stop Coolidge in ‘24!”
Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.