2008: The Year in Death

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Normally, I don’t dwell too much in the past, but there were a few notable celebrities passing this year that mark personal milestones for me. This list is in no particular order:

Allan Melvin: Sam the Butcher is as good a representative as any for blue collar labor.

Issac Hayes: Doctor Soul, Hayes was responsible for a good bit of the musical background of my childhood.

W. Mark Felt: Deep Throat ignited the Watergate scandal that would lead to the kind of paranoia that birthed PseudoCertainty.

Betty Page: Really, is there any need to dig deeply into this one?

Paul Benedict: As the deranged number painter on Sesame Street, Benedict helped infect me with dada-ism.

Paul Newman: Food magnate and actor, Newmie’s Own Lemonade is a winner in my house.

Jerry Reed: As a child, I seemed not be able to swing a dead cat without hitting a TV with Reed on it.

Don LaFontaine: LaFontaine is the voice of movie trailers. What will Hollywood do without him?

Estelle Getty: ESTELL GETTY WAS STILL ALIVE THIS YEAR?!

Tony Snow: The Mouth of Sauron and oddly good blues harmonica player

Jesse Helms: Racist, Luddite and general cretin, Helms on his death bed, mostly likely dissolved into a cloud of acrid smoke leaving a greasy residue on the sheets. I believe that’s the typical way an incubus leaves this plane of existence.

Kermit Love: He made the Big Bird costume. Can you get more iconic than that?

George Carlin: I’m only now understanding the jokes he told in the 70s. Next up: Bill Hicks. Then I’ll be all caught up.

Jim McKay: The Wide World of Sports announcer was a fairly constant voice of my youth. This is the only person on my list even vaguely associated with sports.

Tim Russert: One classy newscaster. While still guilty of giving into popular consensus, he at least made a good show of pressing fat, self-satisfied politicians.

Charlton Heston: As influential to me for his acting as for his crazy defense of gun ownership. Soylent Green, indeed!

Arthur C. Clarke: A consummate nerd who made it big. The movie 2001 is still impressive thirty years later.

Gary E. Gygax: After achieving 36th level in all available professions, Gygax’s petition for apotheosis was granted.

William F. Buckley: While I didn’t agree with his politics, I did feel he came by his beliefs honestly. A conservative who could change his mind — go figure.

Roy Scheider: He will always be my idea of an action hero.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: As a student of transcendental meditation, I certainly owe this dude some thanks. But his creepy beard gives me the jibblies.

Barry Morse: While I never understood the premise of Space: 1999, Moorse did a fine Spock-clone impersonation.

Heath Ledger: Best Joker Ever.

Suzanne Pleshette: Through The Bob Newhart Show, Pleshette introduced the meaning of the manifestly important term “MILF” to me.

Bobby Fischer: Chess guru and crazy racist, Fisher didn’t record ENOUGH madness to last me the rest of my lifetime. Boo!

Sir Edmund Hillary: EDMUND HILLARY WAS STILL ALIVE THIS YEAR?!