There is an old wives tale that proclaims that celebrities always die in threes. A swift look at my posts on this blog for the past two weeks will prove that this is certainly not the case. It sometimes seemed as if every day one or more celebrities died. Even given the strictest definition of the word "celebrity," including only the absolutely most famous individuals, it seems rare to me that three celebrities die at once. Sometimes only one celebrity will die, to be followed by no others. Other times several may die at once, as was the case in the past three weeks.
Of course, given that this blog is dedicated to pop culture in all its forms, I like to eulogise those who have contributed to pop culture. In fact, I feel nearly duty bound to do so. And sadly, writing tributes to the recently deceased seems to be what I am best known for in this blog. Unfortunately, there are times I must admit I find myself hard pressed to keep up with everyone who has died. The past two weeks are a perfect example. A list of those who died and were eulogised here includes Dick Martin, Sydney Pollack, Earle Hagen, Harvey Korman, Alexander Courage, Joseph Pevney, Bo Diddley, Robert H. Justman, and Mel Ferrer. That is certainly quite a list.
Given the number of celebrities that can die during any given week (or even day, for that matter), I must say that I have set down some ground rules for who is eulogised here. The first is that they must have had some significant impact on or contribution to pop culture. This is why I generally do not eulogise sports figures. As I see it, the average sports figure is a celebrity of the moment. Once they are dead, their names will generally be remembered only by sports fans. Think about it. For those of you who aren't huge baseball fans, just how many baseball players from the Thirties can you name? I would guess at best only two or three.
Second, their sole claim to fame must not be that they were a politician or religious figure. Arguably, both politicians and religious figures do contribute to popular culture after a fashion. After all, where would comedians like Bob Hope or Jay Leno be without politicians? That having been said, I like to keep this blog free of controversy, and both politics and religion can be touchy subjects for most people. That means avoiding any posts on politics or religion in this blog, including eulogies of politicians and religious figures. Now, notice that I said that politics or religion must be their sole claim to fame. As governor of California, Arnold Swarzenegger is obviously a politician, but he is one who had a long and successful acting career beforehand. Fred Thompson is also obviously a politician who was an actor. If either of them died, I would eulogise them, although I would focus on their achievements as actors, not politicians. In fact, had this blog been entirely up and running when Ronald Reagan died (he died when it was only a day old), I would have eulogise him, even if as a former president he was obviously a political figure.
Finally, since this is my blog, the individual must have an impact upon me as a person. This is why I have never eulogised country singers, even though I cannot deny that people such as Buck Owens, Porter Wagoner, and Eddy Arnold all had a huge impact on American pop culture. Not being a fan of country music, none of them have ever had an impact upon me personally (now those who know me might point out that I am a Johnny Cash fan, but the Man in Black was a folk singer, in my humble opinion, not a country singer...). Over the past few years there have been numerous authors, artists, singers, and so on whom I never eulogised, either because I had never heard of them or because, even if I had, they had no significant impact on me. I suppose some might think it unfair of me to eulogise some celebrities and not others, but then it is my blog.
Here I must go on record on saying that while I put a lot of work into my tributes to those who passed on, it has never been something I have enjoyed doing. In fact, writing tributes to the recently dead is probably my least favourite thing about this blog. The fact is that before I can even write a tribute, someone must have died. And more times than not that will be someone whom I liked and or admired. Still, while I take no real pleasure in writing eulogies and there are times when so many fill this blog that it begins to resemble a newspaper's Obituaries page, I feel that it is something I must do. When someone who has had an impact upon our lives dies, we all like to remember them in some way. For me that way is to pay tribute to them in the best way I know how, in words. While I don't like to write tributes and there are often so many celebrities who die that it is hard to keep up with them all, I will continue to pay tribute to those who pass on in the pages of this blog.