Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fame Fatalities

Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain fame died recently in his lower Manhattan apartment, too many pills in too little time. What is it with these people?

I remember when Chris Penn died at 40. John Belushi was found naked on the floor after doing eleven speedballs (injections of heroin and cocaine). The drugs found in Elvis could occupy a shelf at Walgreens. If I had tons of fame and fortune, would I do so many drugs? I'll never know. While no stranger to a cigar and a glass of scotch, I like to entertain the notion that if placed into a position of such wealth, I would enjoy it and find ways to use it to make the world a better place.

Ledger was 28 years old. My sympathy is somewhat limited. In a certain respect, I am almost offended. What a waste of life. He had everything. The guy was only eight years older than my daughter. If my daughter pulled that crap I'd chase her into the afterlife and trounce her proper. If she wants to die young, she can go to the University of Arizona and forget Stanford. After four years of Stanford she'd better live to 100.

Perhaps having everything isn't what it looks like to those of us who don't have it.

Update: I just learned Ledger had a two year old daughter. I have a daughter. During the darkest of the dark, and I will spare the reader, my daughter was a source of strength and purpose. For her, I toughed it out on tough terrain. Dads do that.

The guy had a fortune. Retire. Write a book. Start a blog. Get a PhD. Love your little girl and watch her grow. Isn't she worth staying on the planet?


Anonymous The Navigator said...

x4mr, you don't understand actors. They are by default pathological. They live in a non-real glitz world that distorts all perspective.

Spun into a non-real perspectives by handlers and agents and others, they have no grasp and suddenly up is down and the unimportant becomes paramount. Look at Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Anne Nichol Smith.

Counter examples exist. Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Michael Kane, Oprah, John Malkovich, and others manage to rise above the mess.

Others have close calls. Robert Deniro came closer to losing it than most know. Drew Barrymore almost lost it and still struggles. The list of close calls is long and includes most of them.

Some, like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, suffer a fate far worse than death, far worse than hell, far worse than any fate possible.

They become Scientologists.

1/22/2008 9:35 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Heh. Can't trust a religion founded by a man who made comments to numerous individuals the fastest route to wealth was to start one's own religion (or cult).

1/22/2008 9:54 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

It may have been accidental. The press tends to sensationalize things a bit. My mother in law nearly died the same way, getting confused after taking her pills, and taking them again.

1/23/2008 7:23 AM  
Blogger Getspine said...

There’s a great interview between Conon O’Brien and Jim Carrey from Feb. ’07 (tried to find a clip, but couldn’t)... both VERY smart people, as well as artists and celebrities. In it, they have this (mostly) serious discussion about Britney “Train Wreck” Spears as ideal joke fodder… with Conan noting that even mediocre one-liners about her get a solid laugh from the studio audience.

“Why are jokes about her so reliably funny?” they ask… then discuss that she’s a universal “bookmark” indicating that being average ain’t so bad. She has the dream… all the money in the world, incredible fame, and she’s self-destructing.

Though fans will argue that she’s a person and we should “Just leave Britney alone!” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvkRoEowc), she’s also an all-purpose public figure… and that makes her escapades common vocabulary for “thank God I ain’t her.” Suddenly an annoying boss, mortgage, regular marriage woes, and struggling to teach your kids right in the world doesn’t seem all that mundane. That’s a release… and a punchline.

In the 6-billion-strong global village we’ve built for ourselves, I’ll propose that this is on the of the critical roles celebrities play. They can be examples of ideals (Mother Theresa, Steve Jobs... Oprah?... okay, Mother Theresa), as well as cautionary tales. Instead of whining “He’s no different from me, how come he gets all the money and the babes…” we get to breathe a sigh of relief, stating “At least my name ain’t all over the news reporting my body lying in a pool of my own vomit… now where’s that damn credit card statement?”

Knowing you as a cigar-shop “buddy”, having enjoyed your blog for the past year (as well as knowing the truth you speak about much of the Tucson economic development scene), I always find these non-sequitur posts a pleasing diversion. In the reflection you offer via this post, I have to admire your devotion to your daughter. May she appreciate you as much as you do her. And may we all have that in our lives.

1/23/2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...


Good stuff, and I do think celebrities become symbols that represent certain concepts. Clearly, Britney is not about Britney. No one particularly cares about the actual human being, which might be part of why it gets so weird.

Good luck in California. I haven't remarked on your blog yet but I did take a look. I also passed along your regards to the fellow smokers.

The shop had a phenomenal Ashton event Friday. The place was packed. The Ashton guy passed out FREE VSG's and they had two bottles of EIGHTEEN YEAR Talisker.

I'd never even had 18 year Talisker before. Marvelous. The two bottles lasted about 40 minutes.

1/23/2008 12:05 PM  
Blogger thinkright said...

It looks like it was a terrible accident...mixing prescription drugs...anti-depressant, anti-biotics, anti-anxiety, anti-histimine...along with the flu...

I've seen a few of his interviews recently & he seemed to be very uncomfortable about criticism...it's hard to take...especially with all these tabloids on you all the time.

1/24/2008 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have also heard it was pure accident on the part of a young person with too many pills and insufficient understanding of them.

I heard he loved and doted on his daughter, x4mr. I don't think he intended to leave her.

Tragic. Movie stars crave the attention but don't receive the proper "training" for the unwritten part of the job. The system should train the aspiring on all aspects of the job. Instead, people disintegrate.

The systems eats those who cannot grasp the full list of what's involved, which includes integrity in all matters and recognizing the spotlight includes disapproval.

I am not an expert on this person, but I would guess that he was a good person, not suicidal, loved his daughter, and had a dark moment where he pushed farther than he meant with substances he did not fully understand.

I don't think this was a suicide. It was a horrible accident that could have been prevented.

1/24/2008 9:04 PM  

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