Death has been cutting an absolute swath through the celebrity world lately. Last week it was Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett, neither of which were big surprises, considering their age and illnesses respectively, but then Joe Black dropped the mother lode of this decade and took the King of Pop unexpectedly. Then, God help us, there was Jeff Goldblum*. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that these four were supposed to have been on that ill-fated Air France crash leaving Brazil and now the Reaper is getting them to their final destinations.
Now there are two more that have met their date with destiny in the form of TV pitch god Billy Mays, 50, and impressionist Fred Travalena, 66. What’s ironic is that in Mays’ case is that he had just gotten off of a flight to Tampa that landed hard and dislodged some overhead luggage. In Mays’ own words during an interview with the local Tampa Fox news station right after the flight, some of the objects, “hit me on the head, but I got a hard head.” Mays was then reportedly not feeling well and went to sleep and never woke up. Although it looked like a possible repeat of Natasha Richardson (yet another tragic loss this year), an autopsy on Mays today revealed no head trauma and the likely cause of death to be heart disease. Like Michael Jackson, Mays was only 50 years old, and was also in the prime of his career with a television show, Pitchmen, heading into its second year, as well as seemingly a thousand commercials and infomercials recycling endlessly on TV.
In the case of Fred Travalena, the situation isn’t necessarily a surprise, but more a question of “Who?” Travalena was a contemporary of Rich Little who made his name in the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts and ABC Comedy Hour during the ’70s as an impressionist, and numerous game show appearances during the ’80s such as Match Game, The New Hollywood Squares and Password Plus, which is where I remember seeing him. Someone mentioned quite astutely in the Dead Celebrity Thread that anyone born after 1980 probably wouldn’t know Travalena whatsoever. He died after a long bout with cancer.
What’s foreboding is that this may not be the end. I still dread word of hearing that Patrick Swayze will soon be catching that last big wave. And there are any number of elderly celebrities just poised for a meeting with the coroner, to say nothing of any of the numerous troubled notables popping pills, shooting heroin, or being friends of either Liz Taylor or Elton John. So I hope that Death takes a breather in Aruba or someplace and we get a reprieve. Because really, wasn’t David Carradine enough?
* Click the link before you freak.