Death. It comes to us all apparently. Now, I’m not about to go off on a complete downer and fill the pages of my blog with morbid fascination, but there does seem a sudden spate of famous deaths. I can’t look in the newspaper recently without seeing some new obituary! But as that may be, I’m not about to turn this site into…er…the opposite of ‘Serendipity’; what is that exactly?!
However, my tribute to actor Nicolas Courtney was warranted I think, as he was an icon in a TV show I’d loved since childhood. Jane Russell was also an icon, but worry not, as sad as her recent passing is, I’m not actually going to just sing her praises.
One thing’s for sure though, I’m going to stop checking people’s names on Wikipedia! I was reading Nick Courtney’s page just the other week, and composer John Barry’s. I had a look at Jane Russell’s as well, to see what films she had been in. This was all a coincidence, surely. Either that or there is some “Wikipedia death curse” been applied, where each name I search for meets an imminent demise! Maybe I should start looking up the names of Al Queda or whichever guys in the government are supposed to be lizard people from outer space (Allegedly!) Although, I expect I should start with some real evil names first- the members of Westlife perhaps? Haha, only joking there fellas, I’m sure you’re all lovely!
So what is alarming is the amount of celebrities that I actually think the world will miss, are the ones dropping off their proverbial perch. Alright, so Ms Russell was pushing ninety, but I only had a chat with my Mum about her last week, prior to the Wikipedia investigation! She was a current concern in my eyes; I happened upon a repeat of Gentlemen prefer blondes on the Film4 channel and thought she was far more fanciable than Marilyn Monroe. At this point, incidentally, anyone who doesn’t know who Jane Russell is…was, dammit…can hang their culture poor head in shame and go and look her up. On-line I mean, not via a spiritualist.
Anyway, one of THE sex symbols of the ‘40s and ‘50s is no more, so let’s get over it. It sounds like she had a good life. However, what lingers from these thoughts is why someone such as myself (who wasn’t even born the last time Jane Russell made a film) actually gives a shit.
Would I care as much if Megan Fox came to an untimely end? Probably not, although I’d lament her tragically young demise. What I’m saying is, she’s not shown herself to be in the same league, but perhaps that’s not Megan’s fault, it’s just the creative culture she’s working in. If we’re talking about Lindsay Lohan, I wouldn’t be so forgiving. Have you seen I know who killed me? Don’t know about that, but I think I know what killed her film career! Anyhow, my point is, that there’s a very sexy glamour that came with Russell’s era, that is almost missing from the modern Hollywood fare of rampant shagging and horrendously destructive explosions. The new Nicolas Cage film looks like the epitome of this. The productions Russell’s contemporaries appeared in had far more class, and have survived the decades to become must see classics.
Now maybe I’m living in the past? A fair question and accusation. I’m sure some people were calling Jane Russell for not being in the same league as Clara Bow or Lillian Gish; who knows, I wasn’t there. (Although on reflection Clara Bow and Lindsay Lohan have a lot in common; both were/are pint sized, red haired, crazy ladies who seem intent on airing their dirty laundry in public. Wonder if Lohan would be interested in a remake of It?)
So, here’s the frustration, I know who Lillian Gish is, and some of her films are nearly a hundred years old (if they survive at all)! But a fair few thirty-somethings wouldn’t have a clue, regardless of how historically important Gish is, and the guy she was most professionally associated with (director DW Griffith). But the fact is that if you can shift your mind-set to a different era, as myself and many others can, you see and hear the brilliance in the work of those creative sorts who have been and gone. An art gallery is a prime example of where such a feeling can arise. A walk through the Louvre is like a walk through a cemetery of beauty.
You could go your whole life without seeing the work of Leonardo De Vinci, for example, and you might be one of the rare few who don’t even know his name, but it’d be a huge shame. We should be thankful that art is hung there for us to marvel at, and that it exists at all. We can only imagine what the first night performances of Shakespeare’s plays were like, so we should think ourselves lucky some creative results do survive. The world is full of wonderful things, and a fair few of them are the product of our creativity. Perhaps that is why myself and others feel the pang of disappointment when another icon of the arts leaves this finite reality. There’s a good reason why we miss them.
Muammar Gaddaffi is currently claiming column inches in the press, but if his latest drama turns out to be his last, will we really miss him? Nat Lofthouse, John Barry, Gary Moore, Nicholas Courtney and Jane Russell have all passed away recently, but they are going to be missed because they brought joy and not strife. In that sense, if Gaddaffi meets his end soon, he won’t be missed at all. Now, when the sad day comes that Nelson Mandela dies, for example, that’ll envoke a very different reaction; the difference between a dictator and a liberator. When war makers die we realise how much we miss the ones bringing joy and hope.
You see, it doesn’t matter if you make the world a more interesting place by…. scoring few goals on a football field, making sure your looks and acting skill light up a movie screen, doing jaw dropping things with a guitar, shooting fake bullets at an extra in a Cyberman suit or writing something wonderful for Shirley Bassey to sing to. Just to thine own self be true, in a way that will ensure a happier life. But don’t be causing grief, whether to your neighbour or a whole country, otherwise no one will miss you when you’re gone.
Death. It may be inevitable, but the eventual memory of your passing is entirely down to you.
And incidentally, with regard to Ms Russell, gentleman may well prefer blondes , but Gentlemen marry brunettes. It’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years. Plus, don’t even get me started on those crazy redheads. Rusty locks are like catnip.