Culture

10 Almost Already Forgotten Celebrity Deaths of 2016

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES) - RTR1TDL3

The poor Chicago Cubs. Even though they finally broke their zillion-year-long World Series drought, they did so in a year that was dominated by even bigger things in the news. Just a few years from now, 2016 will mostly be remembered for Donald Trump’s vanquishing of Hillary Clinton and the deaths of so many A-list, beloved celebrities.

The deaths of icons like David Bowie, Prince, and Carrie Fisher also pushed the passing of lesser-known celebrities to the side as well. True, it’s the plight of the B-listers to not be remembered as well, but last year was a little worse than usual given how many heavyweight celebs left us. I was thinking of a couple of the people on this list and trying to remember if they were in the 2016 toll or had died earlier. So here, in no particular order, are some who we may already have gotten confused about. I know that there will be debate about whether any belong on the list, but that’s what beer and arguing are for.

1: Abe Vigoda

By ABC Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By ABC Television (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We begin with the celebrity who defined not dying. There had been so many social media jokes about whether he was or was not still alive that it was kind of difficult to believe that he might actually be dead. Vigoda was one of the first celebrity casualties of 2016 and has been gone almost a year now. Twitter is full of conspiracy theories about his death not being real, so many are just confused as to his status.

Yeah, he’s gone.

2: Erik Bauersfeld

That both R2D2 and Princess Leia passed in 2016 obscured the fact that the voice behind Admiral Ackbar died too. Yes, the hardcore Star Wars people will know, but the casual fans who aren’t able to quickly tell you who said “It’s a trap!” won’t.

RIP, dear Admiral.

3: Pat Harrington

The iconic building superintendent from the show that launched a million crushes on Valerie Bertinelli passed away last year. Schneider’s late 1970s ways would probably be condemned by modern social justice warriors as a safe space-invading tool of the patriarchy.

4: Lou Pearlman

When not making skin crawl or ripping off investors, Pearlman was giving young girls boy bands that they are still swooning over during reunion shows twenty years later. He left a lot of financial victims in his wake, but he gave us Justin Timberlake.

Wait, Disney did that.

5: George Gaynes

https://twitter.com/Patsy1207/status/809829887267786752

This great character actor had two distinct fan bases: the Punky Brewster crowd and the Police Academy fans. Anyone who tells you they liked both is probably a sociopath. I have no idea what his role on the former was but I sure as heck know who Commandant Lassard is.

All good Americans should.

6: Emerson or Lake

Brutal year when 2/3 of a legendary trio die within months of each other. Carl Palmer, the group’s remaining member, did not die. However, Arnold Palmer did. It could simply have been that the Grim Reaper was drunk and messed up his assignment.

Too soon?

7: Paul Kantner

Continuing the classic rock musician theme, 2016 also claimed Jefferson Airplane founder Paul Kantner. After Jefferson Airplane morphed into Jefferson Starship, Kantner had the good sense to leave before the band went in the direction that would eventually unleash the musical horror known as “We Built This City” on the world.

8: William Christopher

I’m only including Father Mulcahy here because the news of his death didn’t start hitting social media until later on New Year’s Eve. Between the drunken revelry and the subsequent hangover nursing, a lot of people may have just missed this.

Christopher had recurring roles on Hogan’s Heroes, Gomer Pyle, and M*A*S*H, which means he got to work with some absolutely brilliant television actors. Unfortunately, it means he also got to work with Mike Farrell.

9: Michael Cimino

Cimino had many successes, but was also responsible for one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. That was back when a movie could really, really bomb. These days, even the worst films can make a fortune around the world and in Blu-ray or streaming purchases. People may not pony up 12 bucks to have the theater experience, but enough will take a $4.99 flyer for on-demand viewing to make almost any movie bomb-proof. I do remember watching about fifteen minutes of “Heaven’s Gate” once and wishing that film had never been invented.

10: Kevin Meaney

Kevin Meaney did have a short-lived starring role on a television series but is still probably not a “celebrity” to a lot of people. I include him here because he certainly was to other comedians. Most comics loved him, which is weird in this business. I never heard anyone say anything bad about him. He had a goofy stage presence and built his act almost entirely around call-backs. We’ll end here with a clip of Meaney from The Tonight Show. Stick around for the “I Don’t Care” song at the end.

And Happy 2017.