Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye, 2016

2016 is a year that many people are anxious to see leave. It was a year that saw the deaths of more beloved celebrities than any in recent memory. What is more, for many (particularly in the United States) it was a bad year in other ways as well. If ever there was a year that the majority of people in the English speaking world hated, it was 2016.

As mentioned earlier, the year was marked by the deaths of several beloved celebrities. During most years I might cry only over one or two famous people. This year it was many more, as several of my absolute favourites died. The biggest for me was also the most recent. I think it is no secret that I have always loved Debbie Reynolds, and so I took her death particularly hard. Matters were made worse by the fact that she died only a little over a day after her equally beloved daughter Carrie Fisher (over whom I also cried). My favourite celebrities started dying very early in the year. David Bowie has always numbered among my favourite music artists, and so I took his death particularly hard. His death was followed by one of my favourite actors, Alan Rickman. The Beatles' producer, the legendary Sir George Martin, died this year, as did legendary cartoonist Jack Davis. Like many I grieved heavily over Gene Wilder, forever Willy Wonka for many. Ron Glass numbered among the deaths I took the hardest. He starred in two of my favourite shows: Barney Miller and Firefly. William Schallert was another of my favourites who died. He not only starred on Dobie Gillis and The Patty Duke Show, but made an incredible number of guest appearances during his career. Like most people I was shocked and saddened by the death of Prince. Even television heroes were not immune. Robert Vaughn, who starred in the movie The Magnificent Seven and the TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Van Williams, The Green Hornet himself, both died. Even real life heroes died. John Glenn, astronaut and statesman, the last of the Mercury Seven, died late this year. Among my other favourites who died were actor, star of Mister Ed, and voice of Uncle Scrooge, Alan Young; character actor Jack Riley; character actor Marvin Kaplan; singer Bobby Vee; Dad's Army creator Jimmy Perry; horror host Zacherley; and Dr. Bombay himself, Bernard Fox.

As you can see, it is a very long list of my favourites that died this year. Sadly, they were far from the only beloved stars to die. Music saw the deaths of Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane; Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer; folk singer Glenn Yarborough; songwriting legend Leonard Cohen; Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, & Palmer; and  Rick Parfitt of Status Quo. Film also saw its share of deaths, including Phantasm star and author Angus Scrimm; the legendary George Kennedy; cinematographer Douglas Slocombe; animator Willis Pyle;  John Carson of many British horror movies and TV shows; character actor David Huddleston; R2D2 himself, Kenny Baker; and comic legend Pierre Étaix. Besides Debbie Reynolds, two links to the Golden Age of Hollywood died this year: MGM contract player Gloria DeHaven and Lyn Wilde of the Wilde Twins. Several notable figures from television died, including comic actor Pat Harrington; Abe Vigoda of Barney Miller; Peter Brown of Lawman and Laredo; the legendary Patty Duke; creator of The Waltons Earl Hamner; comedian Garry Shandling; comedian Ronnie Corbett; Gareth Thomas of Blakes 7; character actor Doris Roberts; voice artist and voice of Judy Jetson, Janet Waldo; Ann Morgan Guilbert of The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Nanny; Lois Lane herself, Noel Neill; frequent guest star on Sixties TV shows, Lisa Gaye; producer and creator of many shows (not to mention film director) Gary Marshall; Steven Hill of Mission: Impossible and Law & Order; character actress Tammy Grimes; singer and Brady Bunch star Florence Henderson; TV executive Grant Tinker; and Peter Vaughan of many British TV shows. Radio saw the loss of Bob Elliott of Bob and Ray fame. In literature authors Umberto Eco and Harper Lee died.

As to why so many famous people died this year, the simple fact is that the stars from Sixties television shows, rock stars from the Sixties and Seventies, and movie stars from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, are all getting old. To make matters worse, many music stars did not lead lives conducive to longevity Ultimately, I think that even if the next few years don't see as many deaths as 2016, they probably will see nearly as many. Sadly, I think 2017 will bring more deaths of beloved actors and musicians.

Indeed, for much of this year there has been a tendency to see 2016 as nothing but death and disaster, but some good things actually did happen this year. My dear friend Lyndsy Spence published two books: her dream project, Margaret Lockwood: Queen of the Silver Screen and The Mistress of Mayfair: Men, Money and the Marriage of Doris Delevingne. My friend Drew Morton had a book published as well, Panel to the Screen Style, American Film, and Comic Books during the Blockbuster Era. I also had two dear friends get married during 2016, a few who welcomed new children or grandchildren, and a few who got jobs that they absolutely love.

I really don't have too much to say about television and film this year. With regards to television it seems as if the networks debuted very little that interested me. The only new shows to debut on the networks in 2016 that I liked were Superstore and The Good Place. Like many people I find myself watching a good deal on streaming these days. In my case it is mostly older shows that originated on network, but I did watch two new originals on Netflix: Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. As to film, it seems as if this year was little more than sequels and remakes, which has been the trend the past several years. I am hoping that perhaps 2017 will bring more original material to the big screen.

Ultimately I think many of us are glad to see 2016 to go. It was not a particularly happy year for many of us. That having been said, I wish everyone the best for 2017.

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