It’s hard to find any good news in dying – but we’re trying to have a sense of humor here. I found myself thinking – if people born on holidays (I was born on January 1) are considered lucky – charmed – or at the very least – special – what about people who die on holidays? Do they get remembered more – or better? Did they lead charmed lives? Or do already-famous people just learn how to hog the spotlight, even in passing on to the other side?
Let’s take a look at people who died on Christmas Day, since we’re fast approaching probably the biggest holiday day in our calendar.
Charlie Chaplin, the most famous comedian and film star of his day – and who practically invented the cinematic art form and a genre of mime – who also created and ran an entire movie studio (tk), died on Christmas Day 1977. (1889 – 1977). Well, you don’t get a lot more famous than him.
Nicolae Ceausescu was the General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party. Now Romanian leaders aren’t particularly well known – usually – but NC was the second and last Communist leader of Romania. He was also despised by his people, and was responsible for civil uprisings – and a lot of death. (1918 – 1989). However, he was very celebrated around the world – though for being a very bad guy.
Dean Martin, crooner, member of The Rat Pack, who started out as a team with Jerry Lewis – Martin and Lewis toured the country in a two man comedy act, till they both broke into film and made a veritable killing. Martin was a good singer and loved the ladies – and vice versa – and had the rep of being a major booze hound. Some people say it was a great act and a cool persona – and some say there was no acting involved. Either way, Martin is certainly one of the most famous singer/actor/comedian hybrids of all time – as the cliche’ goes, they don’t make em like that anymore. (1917 – 1995)
James Brown – how much more famous – and unique – can any entertainer get. He was a radical dancer, activist, singer, songwriter, musician – and all around superman and force of nature. Okay, so he had some upheaval in his chaotic life. What artist doesn’t? And with a bio pic starring Chadwick Boseman only a few years old, Brown really still lives – he’s still super bad. (1933 – 2006)
Eartha Kitt is another wholly unique performer – she sang like a cat, and even looked and moved a little feline. She also half talked many of her songs (“Is That All There Is”), both speaking and singing voices being raspy and low. If you’re collecting Christmas songs, check out her version of “Santa Baby” – it wipes Madonna’s away. Another entertainment icon. (1927 – 2008)
W.C. Fields is one of the earliest iconic actors and comics in the history of film. He was literally bigger than life – the male version of Mae West – or was she the female version of W.C. Fields? Also using initials as a first name made him even more memorable. (1890 – 1946)
Last Christmas, 2016, the amazing pop singer, died at the much too young age of 53, shocking the world, since few people had any inkling he was ill. His songs were sexy, his pants were tight, his face was gorgeous – and after he passed, we learned he was surprisingly very shy. Unfortunately or fortunately, dying young had made him even more famous.
Spanish painter and sculptor Joan Miro’ was as famous as famous gets in the avant garde European art world of of the 1930’s and 40’s, painting geometric multi colored forms, visually conscious of Kandinsky – as they were all at the forefront of the symbolist movement. In the art world, in the history of painting, Miro’ is one of the most famed in the world in Spain, in Europe – and in the world.