So with the mighty 2003 now behind us DeathList 2004 is now up and running. Just a quick recap on the basics. The DeathList committee draws up DeathList at the end of each year with the objective selecting the most celebrities who will die in the next calendar year. The list comprises 50 celebrities with no more than 25 who appeared on the previous year's list. Some vigorous debate this year, but the new record of 14 deaths in 2003 is an ambitious target, which will be tough to beat. Thanks to all the people who made suggestions on the forum and to our in-house coding team. As usual comments by email are welcomed to firstname.lastname@example.orgNow we sit and wait for them to drop...
|1||Pope John Paul II||84||Pope|
|2||Fay Wray||97||King Kong's squeeze|
|3||Max Schmeling||99||Hitler's Boxer (or maybe not)|
|5||Ronald Reagan||93||(former) Idiot|
|6||Simon Wiesenthal||96||Nazi Hunter|
|8||Ernest Gallo||95||Wine maker|
|9||Artie Shaw||94||Big Band leader|
|11||Princess Alice||103||Queen Mum's sister-in-law|
|12||Albert Hofmann||98||Creator of LSD|
|15||Estée Lauder||98||Fashion leader|
|17||Peter Ustinov||83||Writer, Actor & Raconteur|
|20||Queen Juliana||95||ex Queen of Netherlands|
|21||Maharishi Mahesh Yogi||93||Guru|
|23||Joseph Barbera||93||Cartoonist (Hanna-Barbera)|
|24||Gretchen Franklin||93||Eastender (Ethel)|
|25||Lord James Callaghan||92||ex-PM|
|27||Charles Haughey||79||ex Irish PM|
|28||Edward Heath||88||ex PM|
|29||Gerald Ford||91||ex US President|
|31||Ian Brady||66||All round Mr Nice Guy|
|34||Yitzhak Shamir||89||Ex PM Israel|
|35||General Pervez Musharraf||62||Pakistani President / Moving target|
|36||Red Adair||89||Fire Fighter|
|40||PW Botha||88||Dictator (deposed)|
|41||Dom Mintoff||88||Ex Malta PM|
|43||Vincent O'Brien||87||Horse Trainer|
|45||Arthur C Clarke||87||Scientist / Author|
|47||Cliff Michelmore||85||TV Presenter|
|50||Clive Dunn||84||DeathList Favourite|
Big band leader, Artie Shaw, has given DeathList 2004 its 12th success with just hours remaining in the year. The 94 year old clarinettist was number 9 on this year’s list and had appeared three times previously. Most famous for his hit recording of "Begin the Beguine", he will never begin it again. His other claims to fame are that he was once married to Ava Gardner and Lana Turner (reportedly not at the same time) and also wrote a book called "I Love You, I Hate You, Drop Dead!", which ultimately he did.
Lord Scarman has passed away, aged 93, to give DeathList 2004 its eleventh success. Scarman was clearly one of the more sane British judges, most famous for his official enquiry into the Brixton riots of the early 80’s, which seemed to identify the fundamental issues that created the conditions for the riots. He had made five appearances on DeathList since 1999 and was selected as number 22 this year. Now at eleven deaths for the year, this is the second best performance in DeathList’s history.
After nine appearances on DeathList, the 102-year-old Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, has finally thrown in the royal towel. Whether she was famous enough for DeathList was debated many times but the media coverage in the UK seems to have clarified that. Reaching as high as number 4 on DeathList in 1999, Alice was this year’s number 11 selection and brings the year’s total to 10. Most interesting fact about her seems to be that she had a car crash on the way back from Winston Churchill’s funeral. No doubt Winston will be keeping a careful eye on his car when she drives up to the parking lot outside the pearly gates.
82-year-old comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, has died after being in and out of a coma following heart surgery to give DeathList 2004 its 9th success. Dangerfield, selected at number 10 for this year’s list, was possibly best known (in the UK anyway) for his appearance in Caddyshack and had clearly been below par since surgery in August. Despite an endless list of witty quotes attributed to him he doesn’t seems to have come up with an appropriate one for his death, although he did once say "Life is just a bowl of pits" - so perhaps that’s the one.
96 year old Fay Wray has finally flirted with her last gorilla to give DeathList 2004 its eighth success of the year and the third in just five days. The ancient actress, most famous for her role in the 1933 version of King Kong (was this the first instance of "gorilla" warfare??), has been a DeathList regular since 1998 and was justifiably elevated to the number 2 spot this year. Not much to report about Miss Wray other than she was regarded a great actress and an even better DeathList candidate.
The world's most famous fire fighter, Red Adair, has extinguished his last flame to give DeathList 2004 its 7th success. The 89-year-old Texan, who died of natural causes made 8 appearances on the DeathList since 1992 but won't be making any more. No details yet but he'll presumably be choosing cremation. Adair is quoted as once saying "I've done made a deal with the devil. He said he's going to give me an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there, so I won't put all the fires out." We guess the installation of the air-conditioning system must now be complete.
Ancient photographer and DeathList regular, Henri Cartier-Bresson, has guaranteed one final exposure and the focus of the world's obituary writers with news of his demise at the age of 95. With five appearances on the DeathList and this year's number 14 slot, the French flasher is the 6th success for DeathList 2004. Cartier-Bresson came up with the photographical concept of "The Decisive Moment" and, frankly, his final moment appears to have been as decisive as it gets.
After appearing on DeathList for an incredible 14 times, finally our perseverance has been rewarded with news of Ronald Reagan's death. Reagan spent years suffering from a complete state of confusion and then, when his presidency ended, things got worse and he developed Alzheimer's disease. Ronnie may be remembered for many things (Reaganomics, the Star(t) Wars Project, dealing with naughty air traffic controllers etc.) but his DeathList job description of "idiot" proved to be a particularly controversial point for some forum visitors (most of them seemed fine about the prediction of his death though). So after another quiet spell, it's the fifth success for DeathList 2004 - a respectable performance so far for the first half of the year.
Cosmetics Queen, Estee Lauder, has had her final make over to give DeathList 2004 its fourth success. The 97 year old finally succumbed to the extravagantly described 'cardiopulmonary arrest'. Appearing on the DeathList for every year since 2001 and selected at number 15 this year, perseverance has finally paid off. The DeathList drought now seems well and truly over and the monsoon season is here.
Veteran broadcaster, Alistair Cooke, has lived up to recent anticipation of his imminent demise by becoming the third success of the year for DeathList 2004. Cooke, who was famous for his 'Letter from America' radio show, quit the programme a few weeks ago, prompting speculation that the 95 year old was about to quit the planet too. Cooke was this year's number 18 selection and becomes the third death in 10 days emphatically bringing to an end one of the worst barren spells in recent DeathList history.
Peter Ustinov once declared, "The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come." Well, it's with Stiff Upper Lips that we can announce that Peter has finally managed to keep his Appointment With Death, gracing us the the second success this year for the Deathlist 2004. It's fair to say that the Winds of Change are finally beginging to blow for the Deathlist. There must be a few more nervous people on the list, following this landmark death.
Its Edam all round at DeathList HQ with the news that Juliana, the former queen of the Netherlands, has picked her last tulip and triggered DeathList 2004 into bloom. The 94 year old stepped down from the Dutch throne in 1980 but took 24 years to succumb to a lung infection. She appears to have one famous quote attributed to her: "I can't understand it. I can't even understand the people who can understand it." I’m sure I speak for everyone in saying I know just what she means. Thank goodness those Dutch drug laws have been tightened up a bit in recent years! Juliana was number 20 on this year's list and will hopefully be the catalyst for plenty more DeathList activity.
So the 2004 list has been compiled to its usual high quality. Now lets see who's first for DeathList fame in 2004...