Here Thar Be Monsters!
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Life In The Rear-View Mirror 2016
Today we begin our three-part series wrapping up 2016, and culminating in our world-famous Predilection Issue for 2017, in which we follow the trends to their natural conclusions. In this column, we track all the famous, or infamous, faces that disappeared during the year. Part 2 covers the major news you missed because of the wall-to-wall election coverage. Then Part 3 looks ahead to what's in store during our next trip around the Sun. After that, we'll be on holiday deep in the jungles of Borneo for a well-earned respite with our four wives and trained monkeys, coming back on 2 January 2017, sunburned, refreshed and ready to roll!
2016 has got to be one of the weirdest years on record. It had some of the highest highs and lowest lows of any we can recall, and we've been through some Doozies. Taking a look back just 12 months or less reminds us of just how much news has passed our desk, most of which got lost in the churn and burn of election campaigns and natural disasters.
As a reminder of what we have survived - thus far - we've compiled a short list, with links to much longer ones, of some of the biggest events of the year. The dear reader may be shocked at what has already been forgotten, or even missed altogether.
2016 was not kind to celebrities. Even as Carrie Fisher lies ailing in hospital from a heart attack in a galaxy far, far away, much closer to home where those we lost.
In the world of music, some titans passed. Leonard Cohen passed on and David Bowie checked out leaving us with a rather dark and foreboding album called Black Star. Not to be outdone, the Prince whose name shall not be mentioned died in a rather mysterious elevator scene, as if leaving us with some post-mortem symbol to ponder. We also lost Glen Frey (Eagles) and Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane), and Merle Haggard for the line-dancing crowd, among a constellation of other names big and small. A note of interest, Frank Sinatra, Jr. and Ricci Martin, sons of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, both went down. And we can't forget Leon Russell who walked the Tightrope of fame. Finally, we can't forget Sir George Martin, known for some reason as the Fifth Beatle, which must really irk Peter Best.
In the world of writing, we lost Harper Lee, who some might remember as the author of To Kill a Mocking Bird. There was Earl Hamner, who gave us The Waltons. We can throw Morley Safer in here, since he was one of the last real journalists and long-time anchor of 60 Minutes. Michael Cimino checked out, as well, best remembered for Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate, which is frequently listed as one of the worst films of all time.
In sports, some giants fell to time if not to rivals. Mohammad Ali/Cassius Clay went down for the last time, as did Arnold Palmer and Joe Garagiola.
Star Wars deserves its own listing, since the franchise is seemingly resurrecting itself by killing off its original stars. Harrison Ford died on-screen while Carrie Fisher ails in hospital, but Kenny Baker got bit. You may remember him as the every-present mini-actor who was always on-screen, but never seen. More famously, he was Fidget in Terry Gilliam's brilliant Time Bandits.
Politics was not kind to anyone. Hillary Clinton can be said to have metaphorically died, but a number of major figures passed on this year. Shimon Peres and Janet Reno, both butchers in their own right, show up on the list. Fidel Castro and King Bhumibol of Thailand both checked out after more than a combined 120 years of ruling their countries. We can include Elie Wiesel even though he wasn't a politician, but he did plenty to politicize the Holocaust. And why not include Jim Delligatti, since there is no real telling how many people his Big Macs have killed. Finally, we include the murder of Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court justice of note.
2016 saw the demise of a whole slew of A-, B- and C-list actors. The most notable among them were Alan Rickman, famous for his voicing of Marvin the Robot in the film Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and for lesser-known roles in Die Hard and the Harry Potter series. We also lost Larry Drake (Darkman) and George Kennedy (Airport series). Patty Duke and her twin sister died at the same time on the same day, interestingly enough. How can we forget Alan Young, the horse-bit Wilbur on Mr. Ed? We also lost The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Robert Vaughn, and Florence Henderson, most remembered as the Virgin Mother (so who was the daddy?) of The Partridge Family. Of course, the ever-glamorous Zsa Zsa Gabor passed on - famous for...um...being famous and living on a farm.
And always in competition with Star Wars, the Star Trek universe lost Anton Yelchin, who will now forever be known as Chekov II, since he won't have a chance to get un-typecast. And exactly why did Bones raid his Enterprise locker for booze at the beginning of Star Trek Beyond?
We note the passing of Bernard Fox, who along with Terry-Thomas and David Niven, formed the Holy Trinity of typecast British comedic stuffiness for generations of American audiences.
Finally, we wipe a tear for the passing of Gene Wilder. If ever there was an iconic comedic actor, he was it. With his bushy red hair and unique delivery that always implied much deeper context and irony, Gene owned his own niche in American comedy. Husband of Gilda Radner, partner of Richard Pryor, and mainstay of Mel Brooks films, he delivered characters that will never be surpassed. Even Johnny Depp and Tim Burton could not outdo Gene's Willy Wonka, and his sidekick role in Blazing Saddles stole the film, surrounded by masterful and memorable performances. And who can ever forget his turn as Frederick Frankenstein (that's Fawnken-STEEN!) in the brilliant spoof Young Frankenstein? An entire era of comedy died with him.
Yes, it was a tough year to be famous. Father Cronus was busy collecting his souls, some marked by headlines, others quietly passing in obscurity. Hell, half the cast of Barney Miller died (Abe Vigoda and Ron Glass), though most folks would have no idea what that means. Fear not, Barney and Wojo are still going.
Michael Douglas put us on warning about Kirk Douglas, though followers of the Mandela Effect thought he passed on years ago.
Fortunately, depending on your personal point of view of course, we are still here and will continue assaulting the internet for years to come, God willing and the creek don't rise.
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2. Sampai jumpa, y'all!