Saturday, January 30, 2021

Dammmmmn, 2021, Slow Down!

Man, I thought 2020 was a brutal year for celebrity deaths. Hah! So far 2021's been even more merciless! Jesus Christ, 2021! It's only January. You'd better pace yourself or you're gonna get side cramps and throw up.

Anyway, here's just a sampling of the famous deaths that've occurred so far in this miserable new year.

Tanya Roberts— died January 4 at age 65.

Roberts was a staple of the 1980s, and first gained fame as one of Charlie's Angels. She followed that up with roles in genre films such as The Beastmaster and Sheena, in which she played scantily clad warrior women. She also had a recurring role on That '70s Show.

Sadly, great confusion surrounded Roberts' death, as both her manager released a press statement announcing she'd died, but her partner Lance O'Brien claimed she was still alive. Ultimately her death was eventually confirmed.

Gregory Sierra— died January 4 at age 83.

A staple of 1970s sitcoms, Sierra had a recurring role as Julio Fuentes on Sandford And Son. I loved him on that show, especially his run-ins with Fred Sandford. He was also a regular on Barney Miller, playing Detective Sergeant Chano Amengual.

In the 1990s Sierra guest starred on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, playing a Cardassian. Unlike other actors who're unrecognizable under prosthetic makeup, he ended up looking exactly like Julio as a Cardassian!

Siegfried Fischbacher— died January 13 at age 81.

Nothing much to say about him, other than he was one half of the famed Vegas act Siegfried and Roy. Sadly, his partner Roy Horn died last May of Covid.

Mira Furlan— died January 20 at age 65.

This one definitely hurts, as I always liked Furlan's performances. She was born in Croatia, and frequently appeared in Yugoslavian films and TV series, as well as the theater. 

During the Croatian War Of Independence, Furlan was fired by the Croatian National Theater for continuing to appear in Belgrade productions. This led to a public smear campaign against her and her husbandGajic. After she began receiving death threats, she and Gajic packed up what they could carry and fled the country, eventually residing in New York City.

Furlan's best known in the U.S. for playing Ambassador Delenn for five seasons on Babylon 5

Furlan's demise is another in a shockingly long string of early deaths among Babylon 5's main cast. She's now the SEVENTH lead actor from the show who's died in their early sixties. Among the ones who've passed away:

Michael O'Hare, who played Commander Jeffrey Sinclair. Died in 2012 at age 60.
Jerry Doyle, who played Chief Of Security Michael Garibaldi. Died in 2016 at age 60.
Richard Biggs, who played Doctor Stephen Franklin. Died in 2004 at age 44 (!).
Andreas Katsulas, who played G'Kar. Died in 2006 at age 59.
Stephen Furst, who played Vir Cotto. Died in 2017 at age 63.
Jeff Conaway, who played Zach Allen. Died in 2011 at age 60.

In comparison, the casts of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise have lost a grand total of one cast member! Rene Auberjonois died in 2019 at age 79.

Heck, even the original Star Trek has only lost four of its main cast members!

With stats like that, it's no wonder that some fans believe there's a Babylon 5 Curse that's affecting the cast.

After Babylon 5 ended its run, she had a sporadic role as Danielle Rousseau on LOST

Oddly enough, Furlan's cause of death was listed at the West Nile Virus (!).

Hank Aaron— died January 22 at age 86.

I don't know anything about baseball, but even I've heard of Aaron and why he's famous. His 755 career home runs broke the long-standing MLB record set by Babe Ruth. A record that stood for thirty three years.

Amazingly, as Aaron neared Ruth's record, he began receiving tons of hate mail and even death threats from fans who didn't want to see the Babe's record broken. There's no doubt that some of that animosity stemmed from the fact that Aaron was black.

Aaron was publicly vaccinated for Covid in early January. He did so in an effort to promote the vaccine and prove it was safe. He died of natural causes.

Larry King— died January 23 at age 87.

King was of course the, er, king of radio and TV hosts, as he conducted an estimated 60,000 interviews during his lengthy career. His show Larry King Live debuted in 1985, and became one of the longest running shows on TV, running until 2010. 

King was famously married a whopping EIGHT times, to seven different women. Oy vey!

Bruce Kirby— died January 24 at age 95.

You may not recognize his name, but if you've definitely seen his face. Kirby was a prolific character actor, and one of the best "It's That Guys" in the business, racking up nearly 150 guest appearances in movies and TV in a career that spanned over fifty years.

Cloris Leachman— died January 27 at age 94.

This is another one that hurts, as I've been watching Leachman my entire life. She had quite a lengthy career, starting out in dramas such as The Last Picture Show. It was in comedies that her talent really shone though.

Leachman was probably best known for two roles: As Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein.

Before that though she played Timmy's mother in the first season of Lassie (before being replaced by June Lockhart), as well as the mother of the superpowered Anthony Fremont in the It's A Good Life episode of The Twilight Zone.

Leachman had nearly 300 credits in her resume, and amazingly she was still working right up to the time of her death. Her final credit was as Gran in 2020's The Croods: A New Age. Sad that she's gone, but 94's a pretty good run.

Cicely Tyson— died January 28 at age 96.

Tyson started out as a fashion model, before making the transition to acting. 

She guest starred on numerous TV shows for nearly two decades. Her big breakthrough came when she starred in the theatrical film Sounder, as well as the TV movie The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman.

I vividly recall seeing Miss Jane Pittman on TV as a kid, but sadly I've not seen a lot of her other work. She always impressed me though, as she seemed very regal and elegant.

OK, 2021. That's way too many deaths for one month. Knock it off a while, why don't you?

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