The 10 Most Dead People of 2013
Lots of things ended in 2013, the three most important being Breaking Bad, the Justin Bieber/Selena Gomez relationship, and the papacy of Benedict XVI, in that order. But lots of people ended too, some more so than others. Let’s face it, there’s dead, and then there’s really dead. Glee star Cory Monteith, for example, doesn’t make the cut, as his death was merely a cover version of other more famous deaths. But these people? They’re the deadest of all.
10. James Gandolfini
“The first time you make fun of a celebrity death, that’s the hardest. I don’t give a shit if you’re fuckin’ Wyatt Earp or Jack the Ripper. First one’s tough, no fuckin’ foolin’. The second one … the second one ain’t no fuckin’ Mardi Gras either, but it’s better than the first one. ’cause you still feel the same thing, y’know … except it’s more diluted, y’know it’s … it’s better. I threw up on the first one, you believe that? Then the third one … the third one is easy, you level right off. It’s no problem. Now … shit … now I do it just to watch their fuckin’ expression change.”
9. Paul Bearer
Crossed off the Alive Wrestling Managers list—and taking his gimmick to the next level—in 2013 was William Moody, also known as Percival Pringle III, also known as St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, but best known as Paul Bearer. An actual real-life mortician turned wrestling manager, Moody put the “morbid” in “morbidly obese.” (And also, at a peak weight of 525 pounds before spooky gastric bypass surgery, the “obese.”) His death came as no surprise; when last seen alive, he looked decidedly pale and deathly. Did Paul Bearer’s protégés Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, and Vader serve as his actual pallbearers? Are his actual ashes now contained in the mystical urn constantly carried around by the Undertaker? Given his great devotion to the wrestling business and the fact that his death was immediately worked into an angle on Monday Night Raw in a way he would undoubtedly have delighted in, let’s just go with a shrill “Oh yes!”
8. Stompin’ Tom Connors
No matter what you may have been told about troubadour/panderer Stompin’ Tom Connors, it’s weird that Canadians see him as a national hero when he got that name for stomping a man to death over a $600 debt. He was basically a drifter who did prison time. If you want to call that a hero, fine, take your chances. Like, you might hear an amusing song about potatoes, or you might get stabbed and stomped to death. It’s your call. Yes, unlike that American pretender Johnny Cash, Stompin’ Tom really did kill a man just to watch him die. Well, that, and to get back his $600. The saddest part of the story is that the guy that Stompin’ Tom stomped to death was the Littlest Hobo’s original owner, dooming the poor mutt to wander aimlessly forever in search of a new home. True story.
7. Conrad Bain
Most loved him as Phillip “Mr.” Drummond. To others, he was the Bain of their existence. Cut down before his time at a mere 89, Conrad Bain is the latest victim of the Diff’rent Strokes curse that has previously claimed Gary Coleman, Dana Plato, and Nancy Reagan, and he’s presumably keeping Gordon “The Bicycle Man” Jump from molesting young boys in heaven now. In a way, Philip Drummond was the Angelina Jolie of the 1970s. Except that he took in a couple of poor black children according to their mother’s wishes rather than stealing them from another land, and he didn’t obviously treat them worse than his natural-born child, and he also continued to hold down a job instead of just swanning around like the Queen of Sheba all the time.
6. Paul Walker
Every halfwit on Twitter rushed to make jokes about how ironic it was that a man who gained fame through a film series about reckless, irresponsible street racing should die in a car crash, in a phenomenon that might well have been hashtagged #2fast2soon. This is about ironic as porn star John Holmes contracting and dying of AIDS, you chuckleheads. That is, it isn’t. It’s either a coincidence or a consequence, depending on whether his fast-driving film persona bled into his real life. Irony is a situation that’s the opposite of what might have been expected—for instance, a man named Walker dying while driving.
5. Chris Kelly
Warm it up, Kris / I’m about to / Warm it up, Kris / Get off my back; I just told you I was about to. Chris Kelly was clearly under a lot of pressure leading up to his premature (and—let’s face it—wiggity, wiggity, wiggity wack) demise by drug overdose. How could he follow peaking as a 14-year-old kid with the temerity to bill himself as “Mac Daddy”? Would the two members of Kris Kross someday be murdered in some kind of Strangers on a Train situation? Would the undertaker place him face-down in his coffin, or just put his suit on backwards? Had he missed the bus on building a musical legacy, and would his name be totally krossed out of the history books? Well, no matter. Mac Daddy is with Vanilli now, in one-hit-wonder pop-star duo heaven.
4. Elmore Leonard
It was a dark and stormy night. Author Elmore Leonard, who had a long, bespectacled face and white receding hair and a goatee, moved slowly around his living room, which had a couch, two chairs, a crackling fire, and a bookcase filled with his many books, such as Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Rum Punch. Suddenly, all hell broke loose! Elmore Leonard had a stroke! “As surely as I was born in New Orleans, I gar-on-tee that you have killed me with your awful writing!” he moaned, clutching his chest. “You should have read my ten tricks for good writing!” he admonished gravely. “Why did you never read my endlessly republished ten tricks for good writing?“
3. André Cassagnes
If you don’t think it’s a big deal that the inventor of the Etch A Sketch died, give your head a shake.
2. Annette Funicello
Film and television lost many of its luminaries this year, such as adult film stars Harry Reems and Peter O’Toole. A year ago, we had Jonathan Winters; now we have global warming. Special effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen’s body was, according to his will, stripped of his flesh and his skeleton displayed with a sword in its hand, probably. Troubled That ’70’s Show actress Lisa Robin Kelly passed of as-yet unrevealed causes, but you can do the meth—er, “math.” (Kelly is survived by her husband, Robert Joseph Gilliam, who reportedly immediately began dating actress Christina Moore.) But perhaps the greatest loss was on the other side of the silver screen: that of film critic Roger Ebert, whose writing dripped with humanity and wit. “The most striking element … is the intelligence of the language,” wrote the man without a face in his 1993 review of Mel Gibson’s The Man Without a Face, and the same was true of him.
On the other hand, this list hasn’t had a single woman on it yet, and let’s be honest: Do we want to look at a picture of Roger Ebert from any point in his history? Or do we want to look at cutie-pie original Mousketeer Annette Funicello? Thought so.
1. Nelson Mandela
He was a progressive voice of wisdom despite his many years in servitude as a so-called inferior. After being banished from the eyes of the world by the powers that be, he re-emerged to have a remarkable second act and forge unlikely alliances with former enemies. And when he died, the world mourned. But enough about Brian Griffin, the talking dog from Family Guy. Released from a decades-long imprisonment, Mandela became president of his country only four years later, which, to put things in perspective, is exactly the length of time between The Shawshank Redemption and Deep Impact, two films he is sometimes believed to have starred in. Who will replace great, inspiring humanist figures such as Mandela, Mother Teresa, and the Dalai Lama as they pass from the world’s stage? It’s really basically down to Jaden Smith now.
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