And now, for the part of 2009 that really didn’t personally concern me.  Macabre as it may sound, the part of the Oscars that I most enjoy is their tribute to the stars that have died that year.  Well, this year, I found a list of those who left us this year, and decided that some of them were worth mentioning here.  I think it is a true sign that I am getting older that I actually knew who more than half of the people were, and even had an opinion on most of them.  Not that my opinion matters much, but I do remember many years in which I had no idea who all those people were who had died, or why anyone would care.

So, I am categorizing them in my own way:  The “Greats” (Those who really made a difference for this world, and often risked their lives in doing so, or who just lived that long), The “Too-Young-To-Die” (Those who should have lived a few more decades, at the very least), The “Well Known and Loved” (I think that one is pretty self-explanatory), The “Rich and Powerful” (again, self-explanatory, except that these may not have bee so well-loved, at least not by yours truly!), and The “Not Well-Known-But-Important-Anyway” (maybe not household names, but still famous in their own right).  There is, of course, some overlap, but I’m generalizing, so please allow me some discrepancies.

GREATS

Marek Edelman (Last surviving leader of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazis); Harry Patch (Last surviving British trench soldier from World War I); Millvina Dean (Last survivor of the Titanic); Maria de Jesus (World’s oldest person, age 115)

TOO-YOUNG-TO-DIE

Brittany Murphy (Actress, age 32);  Chris Henry (Bengals, age 26); Stephen Gately (Irish Pop Singer, age 33); Andy Kessler (Skateboarding Pioneer, age 48) Michael Jackson (Superstar, age 50); Dolla (Roderick Anthony Burton II) (Rapper, age 22);

WELL KNOWN AND LOVED

Roy E. Disney (Nephew of Walt Disney); Patrick Swayze (Actor; and he could qualify for “Too-Young-To-Die”, as well); Farrah Fawcett (Actress); Ed McMahon (Sidekick on the Tonight Show); David Carradine (Actor, Martial Artist);  Dom DeLuise (Comedic actor, director); Bea Arthur (Actress); Natasha Richardson (Stage and screen actress, qualifies for “Too-Young-To-Die”, as well); Paul Harvey (Broadcasting Pioneer); Ricardo Montalban (Actor);

RICH AND POWERFUL (Well-Known, but Not Necessarily Well-Loved)

Oral Roberts (Evangelist); Edward KennedyWalter Cronkite (Legendary Anchorman);

NOT WELL-KNOWN-BUT-IMPORTANT-ANYWAY

Don Hewitt (Creator of 60 Minutes);  Les Paul (Guitarist & Inventor); John Hughes (Director of “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club”, two of my favorite movies); Billy Mays (TV Pitchman); Jack Kemp (Congressman and NFL quarterback);  Dave Arneson (Co-creator of the game Dungeons & Dragons);  Alan Livingston (Creator of Bozo the Clown; former president of Capitol Records who signed the Beatles and Frank Sinatra);  Millard Fuller (Habitat for Humanity founder)

I felt very sad when Farrah Fawcett died, and I think I actually grieved when Michael Jackson died.  No, I was not a huge fan, and I really never cared for much of his music, at least not anything he did after “Thriller”.  But growing up, Michael Jackson was as much a part of our lives as school, or dinner.  He was everywhere, and everyone knew him.  Listening to his songs that came out in the early 1980’s brought back so many very good memories.  How could I not grieve?  And, like him or not, he was freakishly gifted.  And finally, for what very little it’s worth:  I do not, and never have, thought he was a child molester.  If you want to know my reasoning behind that (and I would be shocked if anybody even cared!!) then email me, or leave a comment, and I’ll explain.  I also loved Dom DeLuise.  He was just somebody you wanted to hug!  And finally, I felt a tremendous amount of sadness when Paul Harvey died.  I knew his voice as well as my own father’s, and probably welcomed it more.

So, tomorrow is a new year, and a new decade.  Thank God!!!

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