Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Big Bad Hollywood Machine: It Munches You Up And Spits You Out!

Are People Better Remembered If They Die Young? Do you think it has something to do with their life styles..or were they just unfortunate? The cliché "live fast, die young" According to a BBC report, performers were twice as likely as civilians to die young, with drug and alcohol problems accounting for a quarter of those deaths. The problem is that stars often spend the first years of their careers struggling to get by and then get everything really quickly. From Actors and actresses to high-profile rappers, it's a sad commentary on the Hollywood machine. Some die from sel-inflicted causes, other's a tragic natural experience. And this list just keeps going on...and on...and on...

And yesterday, it happened again. Heath Ledger, the talented 28-year-old actor who gravitated toward dark, brooding roles that defied his leading-man looks, was found dead Tuesday in a Manhattan apartment, facedown at the foot of his bed with prescription sleeping pills nearby, police said. There was no obvious indication that the Australian-born Ledger had committed suicide, but I'm sure something just wasn't right there. And the list goes on...and on...and on...and on...

Just look at this brief list. Brad Renfro, Kevin Dubrow, former lead singer of Quiet Riot, Anna Nicole Smith, Marilyn Monroe, R&B singer Aliyah, America's Prince, John F. Kennedy Jr. and his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, James Dean, John Denver, John Ritter, Notorious B.I.G, Chris Farley, Tupac Shakur, The Man of Steel, Christopher Reeve, Dana Reeve, Jimmy Hendrix, River Phoenix, Mitch Hedburg, Dana Plato, John Belushi, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Prinze, Princess Diana, Barbaro (hey, it's a horse but it died young!),Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee, Freddie Mercury, Michael Landon, Gianni Versace, Jayne Mansfield, Gilda Radner, Janis Joplin, and Selena, the popular Tejano singer, just to name a few.

And it seems when you get your star in the Hollywood machine, you get your obituary too! I read that the Associated Press has prepared an obituary for 26-year-old Britney Spears and has now put the spotlight on a debate transpiring within the business of reporting death: With people grabbing the celebrity spotlight at a younger age, and some of them living lives of obviously dangerous excess, is it time for news organizations to begin preparing for early exits from celebritydom's under-30 crowd? That's a sad commentary, hunh?

It's never been a secret that when people die after long or short, distinguished or undistinguished careers, detailed stories about their passing are produced almost instantaneously. Some in the Hollywood machine have actually turned their lives around. Robert Downey Jr. and Courtney Love as two prime examples of once troubled people who seem to have worked through their problems. But it's another sad day in Hollywood and I now ask myself how did Keith Richards would have outlasted John Denver or Michael Landon? It's unbelievable!