So here are the carefully selected candidates for DeathList 2005. To summarise the idea behind DeathList: The DeathList committee draws up the DeathList at the end of each year with the objective of 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. The 2004 list had 12 successes, but was unable to overhaul the record of 14 set in 2003. How will the 2005 runners and riders fare?
|1||Pope John Paul II||85||Pope|
|3||Max Schmeling||100||Hitler's Boxer (or maybe not)|
|4||Simon Wiesenthal||97||Nazi Hunter|
|7||William Rehnquist||81||US Chief of Justice|
|8||Albert Hofmann||99||Creator of LSD|
|10||Sister Lucia||98||Fatima visionary|
|11||Edward Heath||89||ex PM|
|13||John Kenneth Galbraith||97||Economist|
|15||Ernest Gallo||96||Wine maker|
|17||Al Lewis||95||Grandpa Munster|
|18||Gretchen Franklin||94||Eastender (Ethel)|
|20||Joseph Barbera||94||Cartoonist (Hanna-Barbera)|
|22||Maharishi Mahesh Yogi||94||Guru|
|23||Claire Rayner||75||Agony Aunt|
|25||Lord James Callaghan||93||ex-PM|
|28||Rosa Parks||92||US civil rights figure|
|29||Hamed Karzai||48||Afghan President|
|31||Diego Maradona||45||Hand of God|
|33||Gerald Ford||92||ex US President|
|38||James Doohan||85||Engineer (Star Trek Scotty)|
|41||Les Paul||90||Guitar maker|
|42||Olivia De Havilland||89||Actress|
|43||PW Botha||89||Dictator (deposed)|
|46||Betty Ford||87||Clinic owner|
|48||Peter O'Sullevan||87||UK horse racing commentator|
Richard Pryor, black actor/comedian, has died of a heart attack aged 65, following a long illness and an even longer period of abusing his body to the extreme. Pryor managed to chalk up some impressive figures during his life, being married seven times to five different women and having seven children. Pryor first appeared on the 1995 DeathList and however his reappearance for the 2005 list was well rewarded. Pryor was this year’s number 26 selection and becomes the 12th success of the year.
Rosa Parks, the US civil rights figure, has finally given up her seat on the bus to give DeathList 2005 its 11th success of the year. 92-year-old Parks is credited with starting the modern civil rights movement in the United States after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, contravening the city’s segregation law. The aftermath of the incident brought Martin Luther King Junior to prominence and the rest is history. Parks was selected at number 28 on the 2005 list and was making her first appearance.
Simon Wiesenthal, the celebrated Nazi hunter, has passed away and taken his hunt to pastures new. The 96-year-old holocaust survivor was a highly-tipped number 4 on DeathList 2005 and is the 10th success of the year. Presumably Wiesenthal will be able to rest in the afterlife, as his foes will be safely out of sight enduring eternal damnation in the downstairs apartment. That is unless, of course, he finds no. 47 selection, Kurt Waldheim, trying to blag his way through the Pearly Gates in the near future.
William Rehnquist, the US Chief Justice, has died aged 80, giving DeathList its 9th hit of the year. Rehnquist was a key figure in reducing the time taken for the appeals to be completed in death penalty cases in the US. It is therefore somewhat appropriate that he checked out on his first appearance on the DeathList, selected at the number 7 slot this year. DeathList 2005 now seems poised for a respectable score this year, with several high quality candidates still eluding the Reaper…
Finally the dilithium crystals have run out for James Doohan, better known as Star Trek’s Scotty, who has passed away aged 85 giving DeathList 2005 its eighth success of the year and, more significantly, the third in the last eight days. Star Trek produced catchphrases galore for just this occasion but perhaps “He’s dead, Jim” is the most appropriate. Let’s hope that William Shatner isn’t tempted back into the studio for a tribute single to the long-suffering engineer of the Enterprise.
Sir Edward Heath, former British Prime Minister, has died aged 89 to give DeathList 2005 its seventh success. No doubt Maggie Thatcher will be breathing a sigh of relief that doubt Ted wasn’t able to reuse his famous “Rejoice, Rejoice, Rejoice!” phrase again on hearing of her demise. This is the second score for DeathList in the last few days and perhaps Mrs T will now be ready to join this rapidly growing group of 2005 successes.
Gretchen Franklin, better known as Eastender’s Ethel Skinner, has finally abandoned her Willy (her carefully named dog) to join the great soap opera in the sky. 94-year-old Franklin was this year’s number 18 selection and is the sixth score of the year for DeathList 2005. Apparently 15 million people watched her funeral when her character in Eastenders died so let’s hope she’s not expecting such a big turnout for the real thing. With six gone at a little over half way through the year, DeathList 2005 will be looking to move up through the gears in the remaining months.
Veteran British actor, Sir John Mills, has passed away to give DeathList 2005 its fifth score. The 97 year old was appearing on the DeathList for the tenth time, this year in the number 14 slot. The book of Mills’ memoirs was entitled ‘Up in the Clouds’ and finally he has fulfilled that promising title. With five successes before the end of April, those predicting a poor performance by this year’s list must be starting to reconsider.
Perennial DeathList all-star, Pope John Paul II, is finally kissing the tarmac outside the Pearly Gates and taking up his luxury suite inside. The 84 year old Pope, has been hotly tipped on DeathList for many a year, but always seemed to have mysterious forces working in his favour preventing that elusive success. However, with his fourth appearance in the number one spot, he has finally succumbed, giving DeathList 2005 its fourth death of the year.
Lord James Callaghan, former British Prime Minister, has finally died giving DeathList 2005 its third success of the year. 92 year old Callaghan was number 25 on this year’s list and 2005 was his 7th appearance on the list. His reign as PM covered the “Winter of Discontent” and, pleasingly, his death has ended a growing winter of discontent for DeathList with a low level of successes in the early months of 2005. With a few DeathList selections clearly right on the brink, we look forward to a DeathList Summer of Success.
Sister Lucia, aka Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, has died in Portugal aged 97, to give DeathList 2005 its second success of the year. Lucia was the last surviving member of the group of children who reckon they saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1917. She was apparently given three secrets, the third of which was given to the Pope in 1960 but never revealed. For DeathList readers, I’m sure the more important information is that she was number ten on this year’s list in what was her first appearance.
1930’s German heavyweight boxing hero, Max Schmeling, has finally been counted out at age 99 to give DeathList its first success of the year. Schmeling was most famous for defeating Joe Louis and the attempts of the Nazis to adopt him as their own sporting icon. Schmeling, however, was knocked out in the first round by Louis in the rematch and went on to show his true colours with courageous anti-Nazi acts. Plans may already be underway for Louis-Schmeling 3 at the great Mandalay Bay in the sky. Schmeling was number 3 on this year’s DeathList and brings to an end a slow start to year so far.
Well, the list for 2005 is up and running. No news to report...yet.