The above is a scan of my hand-scrawled Celebrity Death List.
Scratching out the names became too labor-intensive after a time, so I stopped. Just for fun though, I’m going to go through the entire thing to illustrate just how good I am at this little parlor game. What, you’ve never heard of it?
If you check out www.deathlist.net you will discover a very active community that seeks to predict which celebrities are going to die.
Okay, the first of my three names:
1) Andy Griffith
2) Don Knotts
3) Peter Falk
Dead, dead, and DEAD!
Right out the gate, I’m three for three. Spooked yet? Do yourself a favor and remove your socks, because as we continue they’re probably going to fly off on their own.
Okay, at this point my average takes a bit of a nosedive, because if you notice, celebrities 4 through 7 are (incredibly) still among the living.
But, as I tastefully noted in the margin:
8) Legendary Tonight Show Host Johnny Carson? DEAD!
9) Reviled Pontiff Pope John Paul II? DEAD!
Sean Connery (10) is still alive, but he has officially retired from acting, and as everyone knows, that’s tantamount to announcing, “I’ll be dead soon, everybody! Put me on the list!” Consider it done, Dr. Jones.
11) Hugh Downs (b. 1921) you may remember as the man who put Barbara Walters in her place on 20/20 for many years whenever she interviewed a First Lady, princess, or an actor of “Penn-Level” pretentiousness and would run off to buy hat a size or two larger. After growing sick of being outshined night after night, she went on to become the executive producer of The View. According to insiders, her original working title was “Big Fish, Small Pond.”
Anyway, he famously had a double-knee and spine replacement surgeries, and after celebrating his 93rd birthday in February, well…let me put it another way. When this guy was born, Prohibition had recently come into being and Woodrow Wilson was still the president. Technically.
Look, I’ll spare you the historical ramble this time, but remember the seemingly sentient guy in the wheelchair at the end of Dead Silence (2007)? No? The actor who played the corrupt warden who blew his brains out rather than face the music at the end of The Shawshank Redemption (1994)? [Warning: Spoiler!] Anyway, that.
Okay, Doc Watson (12), the legendary (and totally blind!) flatpicking folk guitarist of the Appalachians? Recently deceased. He was one of the good ones, unfortunately. YouTube him if you’ve never heard of the guy and thank me later. I saw him live in Tennessee one time and was blown away. As a matter of fact, the man played under a tent in the pouring rain, and the youthful crowd he could only hear in front him? Well, we stood calf-deep in mud listening to the guy absolutely kill it with his renditions of 100 year-old traditional bluegrass. You don’t even need to hear his music to understand how impressive that is. The same day? Bob Dylan, a much talked about headliner, totally phoned it as he mumbled even more than usual through his performance, and I’m proud to say I hiked right the hell out of that sweaty crowd of stupid hippies. “Blowin’ in the Wind”? Let’s just say the anthem has taken on an entirely different meaning. Key word: Blowin’.
13) Kirk Douglas.
Listen, I don’t even know what to say here because the fact he is still alive defies all earthly logic, wouldn’t you say? If he eventually does die, I’ll be very tempted to dig him up and sell my “Douglas Ointment” (Patent Pending) as an Age-Defying skin cream to middle-aged women at county fairs across North America. I’ll be a millionaire overnight! Seriously, the guy was born just after the Battle of the Somme ended in 1916 and certain (idiotic) regiments were still charging European trenches on horseback, their sabers glinting in the sunshine. Like…what?! BE GONE, DEMON! I command it!
14) Ernest Borgnine, best known as “Manny the Doorman” on Johnathan Silverman’s hit sitcom The Single Guy (1995 – 1997), is…DEAD!
15) Bea Arthur, the most masculine of The Golden Girls? DEAD!
16) Les Paul, inventor of the iconic Fender Stratocaster guitar? DEAD!
Larry King (17), Bob Dole (18) and Dick Cheney (19) have all announced plans to die “very shortly,” but have yet to commit, unfortunately.
And finally, at number 20, we end on a high note with Hollywood legend and bitter 60 Minutes pundit Mickey Rooney, who left us most recently at the ripe old age of 93, and reportedly used his final breath to cackle that he would “BE BACK!”
We’ll see, Mr. Rooney. We’ll see.
For anyone keeping track, 10 (or 50%!) of the names I listed—Ahem! In 2005—are now DEAD! Still, by my rough calculations, that’s almost the same as playing Russian Roulette with a round in three of the six chambers. Right? Worse still if you count Kirk Douglas, who could totally still get work as an extra on The Walking Dead. You know what, I’ve decided — he’s dead too. 55% accuracy, folks! Slightly better than a coin toss.
And now, without further ado, I leave you with the musical styling of teen sensation, the late Doc Watson!