DeathList is a carefully selected list of 50 celebrities chosen by the DeathList Committee before the start of each calendar year for their likelihood to die during that year. Candidates must have be famous in their own right such that their death is expected to be reported by the UK media. Candidates are not eligible if their only claim to fame is their imminent demise and no more than 25 celebrities that appeared on the previous year’s list can be selected. With those rules in mind, DeathList 2008 has been drawn up and is presented below. 2007 was a disappointing year with ten successes so we will be looking to the 2008 list to give a better showing.
|2||Sydney Pollack||74||Actor / Film Director|
|3||Albert Hofmann||102||Creator of LSD|
|10||Chapman Pincher||94||Journalist / Investigator|
|13||Yitzhak Shamir||93||Ex PM Israel|
|15||Mark Felt||95||Deep Throat|
|17||Arthur C Clarke||91||Scientist / Author|
|20||Zsa Zsa Gabor||91||Actress|
|22||Betty Ford||90||Clinic owner|
|23||Ariel Sharon||80||Ex-Israeli Prime Minister|
|25||Dino de Laurentiis||90||Film Producer|
|30||Elizabeth Edwards||59||Senators wife|
|32||Hamed Karzai||51||Afghan President|
|33||John Demjanjuk||88||Nazi Collaborator|
|35||Suharto||87||Ex President of Indonesia|
|36||Blake Edwards||86||Movie director|
|37||Francis Pym||86||Former UK Politician|
|42||Cyril Smith||80||Former UK Politician|
|46||Bobby Robson||75||Football Manager|
|47||Levi Stubbs||72||Four Top|
|49||Charles Taylor||60||Ex Liberian president|
|50||Clive Dunn||88||DeathList Favourite|
DeathList 2008 ends with a record-equalling haul of 14 sucesses.
English playwright and poet, Harold Pinter, has given DeathList 2008 its 14th success. Pinter had been suffering from cancer for some years and had become a regular fixture on DeathList since his first appearance in 2006. He was 78 when he died and was selected in the number 43 position in 2008. Pinter received the Noble Prize for Literature in 2005 as well as numerous honorary degrees. Now he can add his DeathList success to his list of achievements.
W. Mark Felt, better known as Deep Throat, has passed away aged 95, to give DeathList 2008 its 13th success. Felt had been suffering from a heart condition for some time and was making his second appearance on DeathList, this year at the number 15 slot. The former FBI agent was revealed as Deep Throat in 2005 putting him nicely on the DeathList radar and ultimately helping this year’s list to the very respectable score.
Four Tops lead singer, Levi Stubbs, has passed away, aged 72, to give DeathList 2008 another success. Stubbs had been ill for several years but was making his first appearance on DeathList, securing 47th position. His death brings to an end a short barren spell for DeathList 2008 and marks the twelfth success of the year.
Russian author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, has passed away, aged 89, to add to DeathList 2008’s impressive total. Solzhenitsyn spent many years in Soviet labour camps but went on to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970. In 1974 he was forced into exile, finally returning to Russia in 1994. 1998 saw Solzhenitsyn making his first appearance on DeathList and, by 2008, he had chalked up seven appearances, this year at number 14 position. With 11 successes and not even midway through the third quarter, there’s no sign of the credit crunch affecting DeathList 2008.
It always sad to report the passing of a person who campaigned tirelessly to eradicate narrow minded thinking, bigotry, prejudice and generally fought to make the world a better place. Conversely, it is pleasing to report that Jesse Helms, former US right wing senator, has provided DeathList 2008 with its tenth success. 86 year old Helms passed away of natural causes following numerous illnesses having been selected in the number 34 slot in his first appearance on DeathList. Helms' extreme right stance on multiculturalism, civil rights, abortion, social welfare and gun control to name but a few topics might leave many believing his demise is a step forward for mankind. It’s certainly a further step forward for DeathList 2008. With ten successes in little more than the first half of the year leaves us wondering just how long it’ll be before the record of 14 deaths in one year is consigned to history.
Influential blues rocker, Bo Diddley, has struck his last chord to give DeathList 2008 yet another success. 79 year old Diddley suffered a stroke leading to heart failure following which the “Bo Diddley beat” finally ceased. Probably one of those artists considered to be a musician’s musician, Diddley was perhaps as famous for his square guitars rather than any one track. This was Diddley's first appearance on DeathList, checking out from the number 41 slot. Sadly it now seems Diddley’s UK tour planned for June is unlikely to go ahead – refunds available from point of purchase. No “money back” requests for DeathList 2008 though – nine down and not even at the halfway point. Encore!
Sydney Pollack, US actor and film director, has succumbed to cancer aged 73 to push DeathList 2008’s total further forward. Pollack was a popular personality whose famous output included Tootsie, The Way We Were, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and Out of Africa, which won seven Oscars in 1986. Rumours of ill health had been circulating for some time, enough so for Pollack to receive this year’s number two spot on his first appearance on DeathList. The 2008 list continues its unrelenting onslaught. With eight deaths before the end of May, it remains well ahead of record pace and still contains plenty of quality selections who can make that ultimate contribution.
After a few hours of rumours, it now looks to be confirmed that Albert Hofmann, creator of LSD, has had his final doors of perception opened by dying to give DeathList 2008 its seventh success. The 102 year old Hofmann had become a Deathlist favourite, making seven appearances on the list, being in the top ten since 2005 and selected at a career-high number three this year. Hofmann first created LSD in 1938, took his infamous bike ride in 1943 and published his book “My Problem Child” in 1980. It’s sad to see a DeathList favourite go but, with the scoreboard showing seven before the end of April, it’s onwards and upwards!
Hollywood Legend and the top selection on DeathList 2008, Charlton Heston, has died aged 84. Heston was famous for his portrayals of Ben Hur, Moses and an astronaut lost on the Planet of The Apes. In the 60’s Heston was a strong supporter of gun controls, but he was later to become a very vocal president of the NRA and produced his obituary-ready quote that gun control campaigners could have his gun when they pry it from “his cold, dead hands”. No doubt the prying is already well underway. Heston’s demise marks the sixth success for Deathlist 2008, continuing its phenomenal early year pace.
Richard Widmark, iconic American actor, has died to give DeathList 2008 its fifth success. 93 year old Widmark’s most famous movie was his first, the appropriately named “Kiss of Death”. This was Widmark’s first appearance on DeathList being nominated in the number 28 slot. With five deaths in the first three months DeathList 2008 is setting a ferocious pace.
Arthur C Clarke, science fiction author, has joined the communications satellites in the sky to give DeathList 2008 its fourth success. Clarke was most well-known for his book “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which a computer famously malfunctions and pretty much destroys all that come in contact with it – a visionary piece of work and the blueprint for Microsoft software for decades afterwards. The “nonagenarian” (no, that’s not Sri Lankan for “one who is friendly with young boys”) was selected at number 17 on this year’s list, with this being his fourth appearance. With four deaths before the end of the first quarter, DeathList 2008 is setting a very hot pace.
Francis Pym aka Lord Pym of Sandy, Tory politician from the Thatcher years, has died aged 86 to give DeathList 2008 its third success. Pym held the post of Defence Secretary and then was Foreign Secretary during the Falklands war, but was perhaps most famous for being one of the so-called “wets”. Pym passed away after a prolonged illness, which led to his first appearance on DeathList, being selected at No. 37. So with just over two months of 2008 gone, it’s the lower order selections that have set the pace. This should, of course, leave the more fancied candidates with plenty of time to deliver results as the year progresses.
After several nerve-wracking weeks of “will he, wont he?”, the former dictator of Indonesia, Suharto, has gone with the popular vote and joined the great democracy in the sky. Suharto chalked up some impressive stats during his time on earth, being responsible for the deaths of upwards of half a million people (many more by some estimates) and also embezzling upwards of 15 million US dollars (much more by many estimates). His DeathList stats are also respectable, appearing on the list five times, this year in the number thirty five slot and being the second success of the year for DeathList 2008.
Edmund Hillary has planted the first New Zealand flag firmly on DeathList by clocking up 2008’s first success. The 88 year old mountaineer/adventurer was the first man to conquer Everest when he arrived at the summit in 1953, although this achievement is only just overshadows his DeathList performance in checking out just ten days into the year in what is the first time he has appeared on the list in over a decade. Hillary was the year’s number 27 selection. Onwards and upwards!
Here's to a successful DeathList 2008