The Sad Last Days

Les Marcott | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Les Marcott

No one leaves a star.  That's what makes one a star. 
Norma Desmond (Sunset Blvd.)

Clint Eastwood has "signaled" that's he's too old for aging gracefully in front of a camera.  After all he's 91 years old and has had a hell of a career.  The same can be said of one of my all-time favorite actors Robert Duvall.  While continuing to act, when recently asked about what he loved about being 90, he replied "I don't know if I love any of it".  It appears they are ready to throw in the towel while in relatively good health for men of their age.  Some of their longevity appears to be attributed to "good" genes. Eastwood's mother lived to the ripe old age of 97. Even the tireless, tenacious Betty White seems to be slowing down at 99.

But for every Eastwood, White, and Duvall, there are countless other octogenarians and nonagenarians who are not so fortunate. And every time I end up at the supermarket checkout line, I see their frailties, mental breakdowns, and loss of dignity displayed on the front covers of the tabloids.  One such tabloid revels and specializes in the misery of some of our most beloved entertainers.  They always use the headline grabbing THE SAD LAST DAYS.  Of course, they publish the most unflattering photos…stolen shots of their decline.  One of their favorite targets currently is Barbara Walters.  The trailblazing journalist at this point in her life appears to look like your typical 91-year-old nursing home resident.  But to be fair, she doesn't look a day over 89.  A little gallows humor for sure but the tabloids are counting on your morbid curiosity which in time turns into a death watch…and sells more tabloids.

Some geriatric celebrities from the past have lent themselves not only to sad, last, days but bizarre ones as well.  Ted Williams, the great Major League Baseball player, passed away in 2002 from heart disease at the age of 82.  But instead of Williams having a proper burial, his son decided that dad's remains needed to be frozen.  Cryonics is the low temperature freezing (liquid nitrogen) of a human corpse with the anticipation that future science will be able to reanimate the deceased.  In the "Splendid Splinter's" case, the head was purposefully severed from the rest of the body and stored at a cryonics facility in Arizona.  A gruesome rumor has persisted that employees used Williams's head for batting practice. My guess is that if he ever wakes up, he's going to have a hell of a headache.

Casey Kasem, the iconic radio personality and voice actor, also died at 82 in 2014 after succumbing to Lewy body dementia.  His death recalls the old saying that if there's a will, there's a lawyer.  Especially when you have a widow and squabbling children from a previous marriage involved.  Kasem's body reportedly went on a cemetery tour before achieving eternal rest in Oslo, Norway.  

Hunter Thompson, the inimitable gonzo journalist, was a mere youngster (67) when he passed away in 2005. Thompson frankly didn't know how to handle aging gracefully.  Also, various health issues and depression led him to commit suicide in 2005.  But always the showman, even in death, as per his wishes his ashes were shot out of a gonzo fisted cannon at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado to the tune of Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum.  Among those in attendance were many of his friends from the fields of politics, journalism, and entertainment.  As he once said, "some may never live, but the crazy never die".

As I leave our most beloved personalities to fend for themselves as they reach the point of no return, I would at least like to see a stolen shot on the cover of those dreadful tabloids with your celebrity du jour extending the middle finger.  It will make my checkout experience so much better.

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Les Marcott | Scene4 Magazine | www.scene4.com

Les Marcott is a songwriter, musician, performer and a Senior Writer and columnist for Scene4.  For more of his commentary and articles, check the Archives.

©2021 Les Marcott
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