The Bible (and one of my father’s favorite bands from his youth, The Byrds) makes it clear there is time for everything. “..a time to be born, a time to die…a time to laugh, a time to weep….”
This year more than ever, it seems the stars of Hollywood and history have dimmed a little with the loss of so many greats. We’ve lost icons of music, film, and television. We’ve said goodbye to powerful activists and others whose enduring legacy we should aim to continue in the years ahead. These are the people that have made us cry, sing along and scramble to our local movie theaters, and there are many more who remain unmentioned in this small tribute.
We here at #NAMB wish to share a heartfelt expression of gratitude and condolences to the friends, family, and fans of those that made our lives happier and more exciting, despite having never having known us personally. Before award show season starts, here is Not Another Millennial Blog’s In Memoriam.
Unfortunately for music as a whole, the medium lost several artists who were brave enough to push the boundaries of expression and did so without regard for their many critics.
The public was fascinated by David Bowie and Prince’s outward appearances — which often included make-up, complicated hair styles and outrageous wardrobe pieces — and the strange aliases the stars used; Ziggy Stardust and The Artist Formerly Known as Prince A.K.A. “the love symbol” (used from 1992-2000 after a tumultuous fight with his record company), respectively.
The world also lost the incomparable Leonard Cohen as well as members of legendary bands The Eagles (guitarist and co-founder Glenn Frey) and Earth, Wind and Fire (singer and bandleader Maurice White). Just last week as many Christmas-music lovers belted out the lyrics to Last Christmas, Wham! singer-songwriter George Michael was found dead in his home by his partner during the holiday.
In the ‘90s, few men brought boy band fanatics more joy and pain than Lou Pearlman, the man who funded the creation of the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, O-Town and LFO among others. While he put a new wave of platinum-selling vocal groups on the map, he was also cheating its exhausted members out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Pearlman died in August of this year at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida while serving his sentence for conspiracy, money-laundering and making false statements.
Another man who financially supported a mega-star’s then-budding career — Rene Angelil died after a long battle with cancer. The talent manager is best known for managing Celine Dion (his future wife of 22 years), even mortgaging his home to pay for the recording of her first album.
Sadly, one singer-songwriter and YouTube sensation in particular will never have the opportunity to be called an icon, as her life and career were cut short at the age of 22. The same weekend as the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting, Florida was the scene of a murder-suicide attack at a concert at The Plaza Live in Orlando. Christina Grimmie, a former Team Adam contestant on The Voice was greeting fans after her set. She was performing as part of the hometown show of friends and touring partners Before You Exit. Holding her arms out in anticipation of a warm embrace, Grimmie was shot by a 27-year old-man who was then tackled by her brother before turning the gun on himself.
Our movie and television screens will no longer be the home of these beloved stars — except in reruns and re-airings of our favorite films. We lost the brilliant Alan Rickman to cancer and Willy Wonka himself — Gene Wilder — to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alexa Arquette died of complications of AIDS, and The Sound of Music’s Charmaine Carr died of problems associated with dementia. A young actor who had built a career on the pillars of great movies like Hearts in Atlantis, Alpha Dog, Charlie Bartlett, Like Crazy and most recently Star Trek, Anton Yelchin was just 27 when he died in a freak car accident. According to reports, Yelchin’s Jeep failed to remain in park in his steep driveway and crushed the star against his security fence.
Academy Award Winner and mental health advocate Patty Duke died from sepsis this Spring. And in a twist of fate, mother and daughter Carrie Fisher (also an author and mental health advocate) and Debbie Reynolds died last week. It is said that after Fisher suffered a fatal heart attack, her devoted mother died of a broken heart (it is very likely the stress of that event caused a massive stroke) the following day.
Our great sitcoms lost Doris Roberts, Florence Henderson, and Alan Thicke who played fair, conscientious and sometimes overbearing on-screen parents. Game of Thrones actor Peter Vaughan filmed his final scenes in the series in 2015 and died of natural causes at the age of 93. In late 2016, Zsa Zsa Gabor died just a couple months shy of her 100th birthday. Hopes of another Princess Diaries movie were dashed when director (who also brought us Happy Days, Pretty Woman, and Valentine’s Day) Garry Marshall died after being diagnosed with a deadly case of Pneumonia.
Harper Lee, whose unforgettable novel To Kill a Mockingbird is both celebrated and banned in school districts around the country, died months after the publication of Go Set a Watchman, her second book. Another author whose works depicted the often cruel nature of humanity, Elie Wiesel went on to tell his story of survival and triumph in the face of uncertainty at a Nazi concentration camp. His books Night, Dawn and Day have become classroom staples and many readers mourned the loss of the author and humanitarian at the age of 87. American playwright Edward Albee died, leaving behind a legacy of works including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Leader of the “Just Say No” (to drugs) campaign, Nancy Reagan was the involved, upright, motherly first lady the 1980s so desperately needed. This year we said goodbye to our former First Lady whose involvement on “the war on drugs” furthered the idea that indeed First Ladies had a power all their own. The first female Attorney General and longest serving Attorney General, Janet Reno died as well controversial communist president of Cuba Fidel Castro.
Sports lost athletes who were heroic in the boxing ring and on the green and also in their lives outside of their pursuits of excellence. Muhammad Ali became a decorated boxer at the 1960 Olympics but was also a proud activist who fought for civil rights, even refusing to be drafted during the Vietnam War.
Golfer Arnold Palmer is regarded as the “best golfer in history” but was also noted for his philanthropic work. American hero (fighter pilot in World War II and Korean War) and astronaut, Senator John Glenn died after a career few people could imagine. Finally, the man who invented the oft-used (and trust me, it’s always scary to perform) Heimlich Manuever — a practice that has saved countless choking victims since its adoption into first aid techniques in 1974 — died just a few weeks ago.
Should we aim to type out the accomplishments of all the powerful people we have bid farewell to this year, there would surely be no room for any of the other articles on this blog. Their deaths may leave gaps in our MP3 collection or our bookshelves, but their mark on the world deserves our recognition. For it is through loss that we are better able to appreciate the impact someone has on our lives — even someone we knew from a textbook, a magazine, or computer screen.
So, millennials, raise your glasses to the extraordinary people that have ensured our lives have had color and beautiful words, and who taught us lessons about what humanity should be and when humanity has failed. We milliennials remain eternally grateful for your guidance, grace and laughter.