GOD has been taking home his celebrities at an astonishing rate this summer, as you may have noticed. David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, Karl Malden, Walter Cronkite, Corazon Aquino, John Hughes… All taken too young. That’s right, ALL taken far too young.
Sometimes when a really old celebrity dies, people say, “I guess I didn’t realize [he/she] was still alive! Is that a mean thing to say?”
Well, call me mean or not, here are some of those people. The ones sitting in God’s waiting room.
(These are just the ones I find surprising, in descending order of surprisingness. I’d better hurry up and publish this list, it could become superannuated at any minute! God forbid.)
Ernest Borgnine (January 24, 1917 – ?) This is a no-brainer. He should totally be dead by now, I feel like I’ve seen his obituary half a dozen times, but must’ve imagined it.
Olivia De Havilland (July 1, 1916 – ?) AND her sister, Joan Fontaine (October 22, 1917– ?) Love these grand olde dames de la cinéma. But come on, they were co-stars with Crawford and Davis. And Bette Davis died at the age of 130 like 20 years ago.
Christopher Lee (May 27, 1922 – ?) Maybe him playing a vampire (and an old one at that) when I was a kid (and I’m now in my mid-50s) is what has made him undead.
Jack Klugman (April 27, 1922 – ?) Okay, I admit I thought he and Karl Malden (March 22, 1912 – July 1, 2009) were the same person.
Jane Russell (June 21, 1921 – ?) Alive and kicking and looking pretty hot by old-lady standards (see photo at right from 2006, where she’s 85).
Doris Day (April 3, 1924 – ?) Just surprising, that’s all.
Lizabeth Scott (September 29, 1922 – ?) Born Emma Matzo in Scranton, Penna. Why would you change a name like Emma Matzo? Peekaboo hairstyle originator; the missing “E” in her name is hidden under her hair, too. [thanks to commenter below. -SS]. I guess I have her mixed up with Frances Farmer or some other premature-dying (as in death, not dye) blondy-cakes.
Mickey Rooney (September 23, 1920 – ?) Seems like his self-mocking “I’m still alive” appearance on The Simpsons was already 10+ years ago… So…
Phyllis Diller (July 17, 1917 – ?) I want her never to die, but we all have to someday.
Jean Stapleton (January 19, 1923 – ?) AKA Edith Bunker. Probably assumed dead through confusion with sister Maureen Stapleton (June 21, 1925 – March 13, 2006).
Bob Barker (December 12, 1923 – ?) One of those cases where retirement (2007) = invisibility = assumed death.
Sid Caesar (September 8, 1922 – ?) I guess I assumed he was dead because, to illustrate my point, wikipedia lists the following awesome guests he had on his show in the ’50s: Jackie Cooper (Still alive [b. 1922, so putting him on the watch list.] Sorry, Jackie!), Robert Preston, Rex Harrison, Eddie Albert, Michael Redgrave, Basil Rathbone, Charlton Heston, Geraldine Page, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Pearl Bailey, Fred Allen, Benny Goodman. Guess what they all have in common.
Abe Vigoda (February 24, 1921 – ?) Poor Abe has already been through the false death rumor ordeal a few years ago – in 1982!
J.D. Salinger (January 1, 1919 – ?) Lesson here? Pretending you don’t exist makes you live forever. R.I.P, J.D. Salinger, January 1, 1919 – January 27, 2010.
Abigail “Dear Abby” Van Buren (July 4, 1918 – ?) Guess I had her mixed up with her sister, Ann Landers (July 4 1918 – June 22, 2002). It’s okay, she’s used to it.
Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – ?) I just associate him with moldy pulp paperbacks stacked in someone’s basement. Not vibrantly alive to me.
Pierre Cardin (July 7, 1922 – ?) Really? Is he shacked up with Coco Chanel somewhere? (No, she died in 1971.)
Gloria Vanderbilt (February 20, 1924 – ?) Anderson Cooper’s grandma mom, the “poor little rich girl” who was already an old woman when her jeans were all the rage in the ’80s.
Hubert de Givenchy (February 20, 1927– ?) Birthday buddy with Andy’s grandma mom! Wiki says: “…opened his first couture house in 1952 and created a sensation with his separates, which could be mixed and matched at will.” Separates? What is this newfangled thing?
Les Paul (June 9, 1915 – ?) Could be Paul McCartney’s grandfather. So old, I assumed he was dead even when I was a kid learning guitar from his books. R.I.P. Les Paul, June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009
Earl Scruggs (January 6, 1924 – ?) Let’s put it this way: Lester Flatt died 30 years ago. Looks like we know which banjo won the duel!