The 10 Most Dead People of 2015
Many things came to an end in 2015. Our impression of British prime minister David Cameron as someone who probably hasn’t fucked a dead pig, for example. NBC anchorman Brian Williams’ reputation as the most trusted man in America, followed by that of Subway pitchman Jared Fogle. And U2 singer Bono’s ability to play guitar, following a bicycle accident (so the news isn’t all bad). And, as usual, many, many lives. But it just so happens that there’s a big difference between dead and the most dead.
10. Leonard Nimoy
“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most … human,” James Kirk once said, viciously roasting his dead best friend with stinging insult comedy. Known for appearing on Mission: Impossible, In Search of…, and the Canadian five-dollar bill, Leonard Nimoy was of course best known as Mr. Spock, the pointed-eared hobgoblin science officer on Star Trek. He became an icon for this role, and contributed much to Star Trek lore, inventing the Vulcan salute, which he adapted from a Jewish priestly blessing, as well as the Vulcan Death Grip, which he adapted from a forceful teenage masturbatory technique. Generations of children who grew up on the reruns loved him like a cold and distant father, and if you understandably got a little emotional over his death, just remember, he wouldn’t have wanted that. Instead, let’s hope he placed his katra in Zachary Quinto before he passed on, and get to work on building a Genesis Device to revive him.
9. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
As usual, many names were crossed off the Alive Wrestlers List, notably including Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, “The Other Nature Boy” Buddy Landel, and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. But don’t worry too much about that last one, wrestling fans; as you know, a “Dusty Finish” is an ending that seems definitive, only to then be reversed on a technicality. So let’s talk about “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, aka “Hot Rod,” now aka “Room Temperature Rod.” Roddy Piper was no role model (unless you’re a big, muscular fake Scotsman, like hockey defenceman Douglas Murray or Shrek). He was wildly politically incorrect even in the nakedly racist milieu of 1980s professional wrestling, such as when he painted the right side of his body black like Frank Gorshin in the Star Trek episode “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” to wrestle the biracial “Bad News” Brown. (The bad news for Piper was that the paint wouldn’t come off for a month.) On the other hand, he played the foil in feuds with guys who turned out to be self-centered, disloyal creeps (Hulk Hogan), alleged murderers (Jimmy Snuka), or Juggalos (Greg “The Hammer” Valentine). Just when you think you have all the answers, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper changed the questions, not to mention his vital status.
8. Taylor Negron
Perhaps the reason more people didn’t talk about Taylor Negron that they were scared to say his name in case it was a racial slur. But they should have. He was one of the great henchmen of all time in the underrated The Last Boy Scout as Milo, who looked kind of like a fey Anton Chigurh and was in his own way just as creepy. In addition to being a familiar face during the 1980s stand-up comedy boom, his cousin is the singer from Three Dog Night, he was a frequent guest on The Dating Game even though he was openly gay, and he was so nice that he got along with everyone in Hollywood, even Ben Stiller!
7. Ann Mara/Anne Meara (tie)
Speaking of Ben Stiller, he probably got a lot of mistaken letters of condolence after New York Giants matriarch Ann Mara died, and let’s hope he held on to them for just three months, until the death of his mother, comedian Anne Meara, whom you probably best and incorrectly remember as Seinfeld‘s Estelle Costanza. Maybe it’s a little confusing to lose Ann Mara and Anne Meara so close together—as well as BB King and Ben E. King—but it’s sort of neat and tidy, isn’t it? Like, don’t you sort of hope Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney die in the same car? Or that they crash into Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton? Or that they run over Guy Fieri and the guy from Smash Mouth as they lie down in the middle of the road in some kind of suicide pact? Of course you do.
6. Yogi Berra
The sports world used to be rich in great nicknames. Just to pick from those who left us in 2015, there’s Moses “The Chairman of the Boards” Malone, Darryl “Chocolate Thunder” Dawkins, and Frank “Win One For The” Gifford. But baseball great Lawrence Peter Berra completely lost his given name and was known universally as “Yogi”, a nickname he acquired (and this is true) for his habit of sitting with arms and legs crossed, pouting after losing ball games. And like many mystics (and like Coach from Cheers, who was basically the same guy) he was known for his nonsensical, strangely wise sayings, such as his famous tautology “It ain’t over till it’s over.” “Boy, I hope I never see my name up there,” he once said while watching an in memoriam tribute to dead ball players. “Always go to other people’s funerals,” he advised. “Otherwise they won’t go to yours.” But when asked what he’d like his own epitaph to be, he replied simply, “That’s easy: It’s over.”
5. Robert Z’Dar
Honestly, Robert Z’Dar’s appearance on this list is really just an excuse to print his picture. Just look at this guy. You have to be one weird-looking guy not to have the name “Z’Dar” be the weirdest looking thing on your driver’s license. A sufferer of cherubism—aka Rumer Willis Disease—Z’Dar looked like the model for Family Guy’s Quagmire, or maybe a bloated Steven Seagal, which is really saying something when you think about it.
With the possible exception of John Wayne Gacy, it’s always depressing when a beloved children’s entertainer dies. For instance, the very idea of getting the news about Raffi’s inevitable passing is so terrifying that sometimes you’re afraid to answer the bananaphone when it rings late at night. Although Sharon, Lois & Bram were never the same after Lois Lilienstein retired from touring—arguably, they were finished when food allergy and anaphylaxis-related hysteria forced them to stop performing that “Peanut Butter” song in schools—they were a great influence on generations of schoolchildren, not least in how casually they paved a path for mainstream acceptance of polyamorous lifestyles. Probably there were some tense times where an angry Bram shouted “How about you skinnamarinky don’t, for once, Sharon?!” but for the most part, things seemed pretty hunky-dory among the triad.
3. John Nash
If you never got around to watching A Beautiful Mind in theaters, 2015 was your last chance to see it—splattered all over the windshield of a taxi.
2. Christopher Lee
Pilot. Champion fencer. Heavy metal singer. Englishman.
Just one man can claim to be all of these things, and that’s Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson. But before his death, so too could Sir Christopher Lee. Lee had a fascinating career, onscreen and off. The stories he must have had. Imagine how the star of Hammer’s Dracula films must have bonded with Martin Freeman on the set of The Hobbit, the former spinning tales of starring in a British series about a Godless, hideous, fang-toothed monster, and the latter talking about doing exactly the same thing when he worked with Ricky Gervais. Perhaps best known as the Sith Lord Count Dooku from Star Wars, Lee was part of the great generation of British thespians that also produced Alec “Obi Wan Kenobi” Guinness and Peter “Grand Moff Tarkin” Cushing. Among his other villainous roles were Scaramanga, James Bond’s titular nemesis from The Man with the Golden Gun, as well as a member of the band on the run on the cover of Paul McCartney and Wings’ Band on the Run. You may also remember Lee as the white wizard Saruman of The Lord of the Rings, during the filming of which Lee set Peter Jackson straight about what kind of noise his character should make when fatally stabbed in the back because Lee, a veteran of the Winter War, SAS officer during WWII, and post-war Nazi hunter, knew exactly what that sounds like. If you wanted to know what it sounded like when somebody’s head got chopped off, well, Lee knew that too, having been there for the last public execution by guillotine in France. Lee packed more life into his 93 years than just about anyone, and now that he’s gone, he’s more dead than just about anyone. Just about.
1. Scott Weiland
It all came to an end for one faux-grunge frontman this year. But let’s forget about Bush singer Gavin Rossdale’s marriage; no doubt his wife would like to, after his years of philandering and openly admitting to not liking her music. Speaking of shitty husbands, there’s Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, who was promptly lionized to a surprising degree, although give Weiland credit for predicting this posthumous adulation way back on the first album; he is smelling like a rose precisely because he’s dead and bloated. History will eventually judge STP accurately, as a competent content generator of grunge-like music, up there with the guys who did Raven’s WCW entrance theme. But where STP were originally written off as fakes and copycats and lamestain cob nobblers, even Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell implicitly endorsed Weiland as a Seattle OG with a rewritten version of his tribute to dead Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” (which officially makes that song the grunge “Candle in the Wind”). It took his ex-wife to remind people that, beyond merely being a charming scamp who’d occasionally get so high he’d accidentally sing an entire concert through a megaphone, Weiland actually really was such a disaster as a husband, father, and human being that maybe Art Alexakis should have been the one writing songs about him. Once dismissed as an Eddie Vedder clone, methadone for Ten addicts, Weiland was really more of another Layne Staley, consuming the heroin of ten addicts, as well as coke, and booze, and MDA, and the patience of everyone around him. The tragic thing about Weiland isn’t that he died so young. It’s that he so vastly outlived his life expectancy.
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