With the recent deaths of many of my childhood icons — Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Ed McMahon, John Hughes, Bea Arthur – I got to thinking about the famous people who died this year. Growing up, we watched the Oscars segment honoring those who the industry lost during the year. It seems like there’s more celebrity deaths this year than ever before. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say I’m now old enough to recognize the famous people who are dying.
Curiously, Wikipedia keeps track of the deaths of “important” or famous people by month and year. I looked over the list for this year, and I was amazed at how many Hollywood people I recognized. I suppose they do every year, but this is the first time I ever took notice. I also noticed that there were great losses to the SF/geek world this year.
Some of the non-celebrity interesting people who passed away this year include:
Alec Gallup – of Gallup Poll fame
Jane Aiken Hodge – writer of gothic, romantic suspense novels that I gobbled up as a tween.
Marilyn French – feminist author of the Women’s Room (I gobbled that one up, too).
Alfred A. Knopf, Jr. – publisher
John Updike – famous American author
Andrew Wyeth – famous American painter
Claiborne Pell – Senator from Rhode Island. Created Pell Grants, the NEA, and the NEH
Shi Pei Pu – gender-bending Chinese opera singer and spy, inspiration for M. Butterfly
Some important academics who I admire:
Peter Kollock – cyberstudies scholar
Edward T. Hall – anthropologist, important figure in nonverbal and intercultural communication
Ronald Takaki – Asian American historian, pioneer of ethnic studies
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick – queer theory scholar
Charles N. Brown – founder of Locus Magazine
John Keel – parapsychologist, author of The Mothman Prophecies
David Eddings – author of The Belgariad series
Paul O. Williams – author of the Pelbar Cycle
Tom Deitz – author of the Soulsmith Trilogy
Hans Holzer – paranormalist, investigator of The Amityville Horror
Dave Arneson – co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons
Philip Jose Farmer – prolific SF author
Howard Menger – “contactee” (i.e., alien encounters)
Kim Manners – director of X-Files and Supernatural
Ricardo Montalban – starred in Fantasy Island and in ST II: Wrath of Khan