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Celebrity Death - 2008


Charlton Heston (84), actor - pneumonia

Heston, best known for iconic roles in Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes, and Wayne's World 2, passed away on April 5th. Offscreen, He (I capitalize only because Heston would have wanted it that way) was a staunch conservative, campaigning for Reagan and both of "them thar Bush boys", and a big-time gun advocate serving as the president of the NRA from 1998 - 2003. In a speech on gun control, he is quoted as having said that "God blessed us with guns" - a fact he no doubt learned while playing Adam the never-released "Natural Born Sinners - Escape from Eden".

Heath Ledger (28), actor - accidental overdose

Ledger was an award-nominated actor (he never actually won anything), best known for playing a tough-skinned gay cowboy alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in "Brokeback Mountain", which is a brutal thing to have etched on your tombstone for all of eternity. Not that there's anything wrong with being a tough-skinned gay cowboy. In fact, many people have made a good living doing just that. But Jake Gyllenhaal? Isn't that a little... obvious?

Ledger's untimely death has provided more publicity than Warner Bros. could ever have dreamed for this summer's new Batman Movie "The Dark Knight", in which he plays a very tormented Joker character made famous by Jack Nicholson.

Herb Peterson (89), inventor of the Egg McMuffin

The fast food executive owned a chain of McDonald's franchises in California and in 1972 came up with the signature breakfast food known the world over as a miracle cure for hangovers. Protestors lined the streets outside Peterson's memorial service claiming he was solely responsible for America's obesity problem while they force-fed their fat-ass kids Whoppers and French fries.

George Carlin (71), comedian / actor - heart failure

Carlin is best known for his routine entitled "The 7 Words You Can't Say on Television", in which he utters all sorts of words and phrases that would get my article flagged for indecency. Carlin was arrested for performing the bit and his case eventually went in front of the Supreme Court, who in a 5-4 ruling decided Carlin was "indecent" but not "obscene", and therefore protected under the First Amendment. When asked about the verdict in an interview, Carlin said, "F*#k yeah! Suck on that m*$&!r f#$%&ers!"

Sydney Pollack (73), director/producer, actor - cancer

The award-winning (suck on that, Ledger) director helmed several classics, including "The Way We Were", "Tootsie" and "Out of Africa". While directing "Tootsie", Pollack's arguments with the film's star Dustin Hoffman were legendary. Hoffman eventually persuaded Pollack to star alongside him in the film, playing his character's agent. This jump-started the director's second career as an actor. He went on to star as a character actor in several films, many of which he also directed and/or produced.

Tim Russert (58), political journalist - heart failure

One of the more shocking deaths of the year so far, Russert collapsed while rehearsing for an airing of "Meet the Press", for which he had served as moderator since 1991. Russert was NBC's Washington bureau chief and was a regular on almost every NBC political program. He also served as moderator for several Presidential debates. Born in Buffalo, NY, Russert was an avid sports fan and would often make guests on his shows uncomfortable by asking them about Buffalo sports teams to which the guests would inevitably respond with nervous smiles and generic answers. Russert was fond of using a hand-held dry erase board to outline his points, including calculating the possible electoral college outcomes during the 2000 Presidential election. That dry erase board now sits in the Smithsonian, leading CNN to seriously question the millions of dollars they spent on their fancy interactive maps that nobody understands anyway.

Roy Scheider (75), actor - cause of death not released

Scheider was a veteran film actor, best known for his role as Chief Brody in the "Jaws" franchise. Scheider appeared in more than 50 films. His famous line in "Jaws" - "You're gonna need a bigger boat" - was actually ad-libbed. While the cause of Scheider's death was not released to the press, it is widely believed that the shark that inexplicably returned to hunt his family down despite being killed in each of the four "Jaws" films, and being fictional, finally gunned him down with a semi-automatic rifle at his home in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Allan Melvin (84), Sam the Butcher from The Brady Bunch - cancer

Melvin appeared in several popular programs in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but really does anyone remember him as anything other than Sam the Butcher? He probably really only appeared in about 3 episodes, but Alice talked about him so freakin' often we feel like we knew him way too intimately. Personally, I think Alice's obsession with the butcher was totally one-sided. Dude was tapping every maid in town. Way to go, Sam. Way to go.

Sir Edmund Hillary (88), beekeeper, adventurer - heart failure

Hillary was the first man to reach the top of Mount Everest. He was knighted immediately upon his return, proving once again (along with Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones) that just about anybody can get people to call them "Sir". Hillary led some incredible philanthropic pursuits in his life in addition to his mountaineering, but I include him in this list just so I can include this picture in which I think he looks remarkably like the mountain-climbing uncle in "Mr. Deeds".


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