Monday Roundtable: The Celebrity Deaths That Hit Us Hardest

Sometimes we have ideas that just don’t work out. For example, when our editors were brainstorming Birthday Issue roundtable ideas we started out talking about parties and cakes and gifts, and then moved to aging, and before the thread was done we’d definitely moved all the way to death. Specifically, which celebrity death’s was the first to affect the way we thought about life? And why? Laneia rightly decided after we’d already solicited answers that the whole death thing was probably going to bring down the Monday morning birthday vibe, so we put a pin in this roundtable. But on Friday, as the internet remembered the death of Kurt Cobain, this roundtable became relevant again and so here we are. As always, we’d treasure your answers in the comments.

Heather Hogan, Senior Writer + Editor

John Lennon was killed the day before my birthday, which was definitely the most shocking and resounding death of my parents’ generation (up until that point). I feel like I spent all of my childhood aging in juxtaposition to the death and legacy of John Lennon. He was everywhere on and near my birthday, what all the adults always talked about while I shoveled cake into my mouth. I actually spent an extraordinary amount of time thinking about him as a kid, listening to the Beatles and wondering about how to live a life that matters. My great-grandmother, Annie B. Cox, one of the most compassionate, brilliant, hard-working women to ever walk this earth, passed away when I was 12. She was the first person close to me who died, and one of the things I remember most about her funeral was standing at her grave, which was covered in daffodils (mine and her favorite flowers), and thinking about how my dad had been sad always a little about John Lennon on the anniversary of his death, but he was crushed by the loss of our B. That’s when I realized that losing B was about losing B, her warmth and grace and generous spirit that had permeated all of our lives; and losing John Lennon was about something else. His death, to my dad, was a reminder that even legends die, and that he’d die one day too. We all would. That seems like a bleak thing to be thinking in sixth grade, but it was very freeing to me. I was born in the world feeling responsible for everyone and everything. It was good to learn there were some things I wasn’t expected to control.

Riese , Editorial & Strategy

Most pre-teens are sad, to some degree, at least in my experience. I mean, there’s nothing pleasurable about puberty (or the lack thereof while everybody else goes through it), all those hormones, the inevitable divorce of your parents or your fumbling attempts to understand sex in general let alone your own sexuality. So I think we were sad and needed something we cold touch, something to point to, to explain why we were sad because it was weird as a 12-year-old to be in the throes of unbearable depression over a boy not liking you. It was easier to say you were sad about Kurt Cobain. After all, our parents had been very sad about John Lennon — devastated, honestly — and spoke with great reverence towards their sadness over JFK and MLK. Plus Kurt Cobain had killed himself, an act we’d all discussed ourselves, at some point, in hushed tones. So I remember that. I remember feeling very sad about Kurt Cobain. I loved Nirvana, had all their albums. Wore those chunky flannels, felt those feelings, wanted more music. We felt sad for Courtney and for Frances Beane. But depression was stronger than all of it, it turned out. It seemed like his life was going okay, just like it seemed like our country was doing okay, but it wasn’t. Darkness is like that. Impossible to see through.

Erin , Writer

The two celebrity deaths that had me laid out staring at a wall were Aaliyah’s and Whitney Houston’s, when I was 15 and 26. Both were significant to me in a way that I couldn’t fully wrap around at the time, and actually when Whitney Houston died I remember involuntarily saying aloud, to no one, “What’s the point?” Ahaha, as in, “What’s the point in continuing on with our lives?” Collectively. Hello? An angel has died? Both felt like they shouldn’t have happened, like whoever’s controlling the matrix fucked up for a second, so there’s this nagging element to each of them. I believe this is what people refer to as the bargaining phase of grief!

Rachel Kincaid, Former Managing Editor

My favorite memory of a celebrity death (using the words “favorite” and “celebrity” both pretty generously here) was early in my college career when I left a college class to find I had three voicemails in a row from my mom. Obviously I assumed there was an emergency and checked them in a panic; the first one was a langorous, chatty message from my mom that she had left while driving; it covered a few different bases but included that she had been listening to NPR while driving and they had mentioned that writer I loved as a kid, Madeleine L’Engle, and maybe I should look for the segment they were promoting later if I wanted to. The second voicemail was a slight correction, saying “I thought they had said they were going to have her on for an interview, but I think maybe they’re just going to talk about her.” The third voicemail said “Oh, so actually the reason they’re going to talk about her is that she just died. Sorry!” I had really, truly loved L’Engle’s books growing up (I wept like a baby seeing Wrinkle in Time in theaters) but I wasn’t devastated exactly at the news — it was more that it put into focus how I had never considered her someone who could die, because in my head she had existed in the sort of gray area between “already dead” and “eternal” that famous grownups have in your childhood. Being reminded that someone who seemed like a bigger-than-life concept to me as a young child was just a person, one who had had a normal life in a fallible human body and who had died on a random Tuesday felt like a specific part of my childhood was ending.

Carrie Wade, Writer

I never could have predicted that Cory Monteith’s death would hit me hard, but it makes sense in retrospect. I was working in the cottage industry of a cappella at the time — yes, really — and from 2009 until about 2014, Glee was the dominant cultural force in that field. That glorious mess of a show provided the backdrop for what so many groups wanted to do, and it was therefore part of my job to stay on top of whatever new music the cast put out. That meant a lot of time listening to those albums and, by extension, a pretty extensive familiarity with Cory Monteith’s voice. What I always appreciated, as someone working with young musicians he inspired, was that he was clearly not a trained singer to start with. That made him a solid vocal stand-in for a lot of a cappellites who also aren’t seasoned Broadway stars. So when he died, it not only came as a shock for all the understandable reasons — it still seems like it came out of nowhere, even though he’d been so open and honest about his past issues with addiction — but also because a significant figure in my professional life disappeared. I’ve changed careers since then, and I absolutely would have done that even if he’d lived. But with hindsight, I think in some ways his passing was the beginning of the end.

Valerie Anne, Writer

Entertainer Shari Lewisís poses with Lamb Chop outside her house, March 29, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

I remember exactly where I was when I found out Shari Lewis died. I was standing in the kitchen at the end of the table, not intending to be there long, maybe hanging my backpack on the end of the chair, when I looked up and the news my parents had been watching on the tiny TV on top of the refrigerator announced it. I remember crying, though I don’t recall if I burst into tears right then and there or mourned her quietly in my room later. I was only 11, but I think that was the first time I realized that anyone could die. The only death I had really been exposed to so far was my paternal grandmother, but Grammie was “old” and I was only five when she died so I hadn’t really internalized it quite the same way. Plus my parents had sat me down and told me gently, I didn’t have the information randomly thrown at me before my afternoon snack. And Shari Lewis wasn’t old! I watched her week after week, jauntily making puppets sing catchy songs with fun voices on Lamb Chop’s Play-Along. And even though by then I was claiming to be watching it for my younger brother because I was “too old” for such shows, I loved it and I came to find Shari a comforting presence in my life. And then she was just…gone. Of course, I had no way of knowing she had been sick, and that technically a lot of the episodes of Lamb Chop we watched were just reruns, and no one ever explained any of it to me. One day she was there, and then she wasn’t. It was a lot for my tiny brain to process, and it definitely had a lasting effect on me.

KaeLyn Rich, Writer

I remember Kurt Cobain’s death because much of the music I listened to around that time was of that same 90’s alternative genre and, like, I was aware of it. Like, it was on the cover of Rolling Stone. I wouldn’t say it was a grief I shared in, though, or pretended to. It was just a sad thing and like, it kind of made sense, too, in the sense that most all of us grappled with ideas of suicide at some point. The death I remember really being shocked by was Aaliyah’s death the summer before I went to college. If Kurt Cobain’s death kind of made sense to me, Aaliyah’s seemed totally senseless. She was at the top of her game and she was just a few years older than me and she just died in a freak accident and it was the first time I fully understood that death could take any of us at any time. Like, literally any day I might die and that would be that. Also, WTF had I even done with my life yet? Definitely not gone double platinum, that’s for sure…

I’ve always been really surprised by how strong others’ reactions can be to celebrity deaths. Even when Whitney Houston, arguably my favorite celebrity of all time, died I realized my version of being devastatingly sad about it was very little compared to most. Which is why when Prince died and I learned the news via a drunk stranger in line with me at the bar where I was waiting to buy a round of shots for my best friend’s bachelorette party in Portland, Maine, I was very surprised when my reaction was to go to the bathroom and cry. Something about finding out so casually, in a very white space far from home, with my drunk white high school friends just was not…what I wanted? Especially cause then I felt obligated to put a smile on my face and get back with those shots before anyone started wondering what happened. Shortly after the news broke the DJ played Raspberry Beret. I was the only person that didn’t stop singing along when the verses came in. After the song ended everyone kept dancing and getting drunker and I was so fixated on my anger around hearing about the death of this artist I loved while I was in a room full of people that didn’t seem to care as much as I did. It felt wrong and disrespectful and I wanted to be home listening to his music and crying into a pillow and then I realized that most likely it will never be the thing that you’re where you want to be when you find out about a death. Death doesn’t give a fuck what you or I want. It’s death. It just happens anytime while the people who will be affected by this new absence are scattered all over the fucking place and it’s messy more often than not, this was just normal. Somehow this super morbid thought made me feel better, and eventually I floated back into bachelorette land to close out the night dancing with people I love.

Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor

I wanted to say that David Bowie was the celebrity death that shocked me the most, because I genuinely had not considered what it would be like to live in a world without him (or Prince), but if I’m being real the first celebrity death that hit me pretty hard was Elizabeth Taylor. Whether she was the original dreamy horse girl in National Velvet or an impetuous bitch in uh, pretty much everything else, she was a goddamn icon and I loved her like she was my kooky rich great aunt. White Diamonds forever.

lnj , Director of Operations

I was 8 years old when Rebecca Shaeffer was killed in her doorway by a stalker and I just couldn’t process it. First of all, I’d somehow been under the impression that actors lived in secret mansions with security guards, so it was shocking to learn that Rebecca had lived in an apartment and that anyone could just walk up to it and ring the doorbell. This was also my intro to stalkers in general, and the fact that some people could think they loved you so much that they had to kill you. I was inconsolable and terrified, and I remember being so confused about this guy’s motivation, because I’d also loved her in My Sister Sam and thought she was beautiful and really truly wished she could be my babysitter, but I’d never thought about killing her, so I spent a really long time worrying that I’d accidentally love someone too much and then want to kill them. My mom had to go over the details of the case with me several times because I just couldn’t get my head around it and kept being afraid someone would kill one of us when we answered the door or that one of us would decide to kill someone else. I just couldn’t understand it! Her murder really laid the foundation for my understanding of male violence and that no one was immune to it, and had me worrying about my own untimely death from then on out.

Molly Priddy, Writer

I wrote about when Princess Diana died in my journal, because I couldn’t quite wrap my 12-year-old brain around how she’d died in a totally normal, un-princessy way. It was the first time in my childhood that I realized death takes everyone. I’m not sure why this one death in particular struck me — I’m pretty sure Mother Theresa died the same year and as a kid raised Catholic, that was technically the bigger deal — but I remember writing in my journal and feeling a little bit of childhood falling away. It was one of the moments when I look back now, I can see I was growing up and growing into my pre-teen emotional depths and didn’t really know anything about Diana or her life other than it seemed like a huge waste of potential when she died.

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  1. I’m going to go with Robin Williams. He was so vibrant, and real, and part of so much of my life, from a childhood watching Mork and Mindy, through Aladdin and Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire, some serious works like The Fisher King, and even his recent sitcom with Sarah Michelle Gellar, The Crazy Ones, was a pleasant reminder of his weird genius. We had no idea of the pain he was in, and he prompted a real attempt, often botched but still an attempt, for our culture to have a talk about mental health. From all accounts he seemed like a good man who did one of a kind work, and we’re all poorer for not being able to support him like he needed.

    • Beautifully said ❤️ I remember so clearly how I found out about his death— walking through a conference center, glimpsing it on the tv in the bar, not being able to stop bc I was on the clock for work, and having to just keep going and pushing all my feelings down, and then finally getting off work hours later and the sadness being so much.

  2. I was kinda surprised that no one mentioned Amy Winehouse or Steve Irwin, and then I realized that I think I’m younger than most of you and it makes sense that celebrity deaths would impact us the most when we are young. When David Bowie died I definitely was very sad, and then it was immediately complicated by me trying to reckon with his legacy and decide whether he was a pedophile or not and having to take a break from the whole Internet because I was distraught about various things. But I definitely listened to Lazarus like, way too many times in a three-day period because I was depressed about him dying (he just seemed like one of those people who would never die!) and also because I was depressed in general and passively contemplating suicide. WOW ANYWAY THIS GOT DARK but death is real and coming for us all and also I am so glad to be alive!

    • I am still so devastated by Amy Winehouse’s death. My parents played her CDs in the car every time we were driving my Stepdad to work at a Retail Park just off the M1 which is one of the biggest motorways (highways) in England. I grew up knowing every lyric. She always seemed so invincible to me. Some of my relatives had died by then so I knew that people died, but they were all so old. Amy was so vibrant and full of life, until she simply wasn’t anymore.

  3. Amy Winehouse. I can’t believe I’m older now than she’ll ever be. I hate the way mental health/addiction issues were handled by the media with regard to her.

    Like Erin, also Aaliyah and Whitney. Only in retrospect did I understand what Aaliyah meant to me as a queer person. Whitney because she was the same age as my mom and I realized I could lose her any time.

  4. Here’s one more – George Michael. He was the first gay person to teach me to question the idea of needing to be a Good Gay.

  5. Dusty Springfield! I don’t remember where I first heard ”son of a preacher man” but I remember VIVIDLY the impact it/she had.. Then she came out, and then I learnt about the anti-apartheid statements she’d made, at a time when it was not cool for pop stars to be political, and how she openly stuck to her political beliefs despite the very public crap she got for it.. and then laughed when I read that Aretha ( who I adore) refused to do Preacher Man till she heard Dusty’s version and then rushed out and cut it.. and her love of cake and fits of temper just made her more human and accessible and not less…

  6. Also, Dermot Morgan’s death hit me bizarrely hard, way more than I was expecting.. if the Derry Girls fans on here haven’t seen ”Father Ted” I very much recommend it, it was twisted and subversive, sharply-written and hysterically funny, one of those programmes that seems like a precursor to so many others in ways that you can’t quite put your finger on.

  7. someone mentioned scott hutchison from frightened rabbit in the songs to cry to in CVS post and i haven’t stopped being shaken by his death all over again since. my partner and i were lucky enough to see FR in concert for the first time about a year before his death and i was struck the whole time by what a good and gentle vibe that man gave off in person. i’d been planning on getting a tattoo from “blood under the bridge” for a long time now… i’m not a hugely emotional person but i sobbed when i first heard that song and listened to it on repeat all day. most FR fans go for the obvious “heads roll off” bittersweet revisiting, but for me, it’s how i’ll never be able to get “realize it’s not the end, it’s an uncomfortable pause” out of my head in a whole new way.

  8. Reneice! Your Prince story is so vivid 💜 I don’t remember where I was when I actually learned the news of his death, but I remember moments from the rest of that week really clearly for some reason.. Driving to the airport w/ my wife, and the radio station playing an extended dance remix of a bunch of his songs, rolling the windows down and just basking in it.

  9. I almost never get upset about celebrity deaths, I just don’t feel that much sadness about people I don’t personally know. Which is odd in some ways because I cry all the time at stuff I watch or read when people die or show love for others.

    Chester Bennington is the the only celebrity whose death truly upset me. Linkin Park got me through my teens and the idea that the man who sang Numb with the power he did wasn’t here anymore was completely impossible in my head. Maybe a part of that was being in a bad place myself at the time but it took me a while and a lot of listening to his songs to accept that.

  10. I cried All. Damn. Day. when Anthony Bourdain died. It hit me like I knew him personally. I have a bad habit of thinking that if I can change my physical surroundings, my life will change and my problems will go away. His death was a reminder to me that depression follows wherever you go, no matter how privileged or well-traveled or adored you may be. Plus I just love his work. I miss him.

  11. Both Aaliyah and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes death hit me hard. Lisa Lopes because it was a year after Aaliyah died and it was another senseless accident. I loved the 90’s hip-hop coming out of Atlanta, especially the women. Both were around my age and it made me realize life is fleeting.

    I’m surprised no one mentioned Carrie Fisher. Actually basically most of the celebrity deaths in 2016 made me want to curl up in a ball.

    • Carrie Fisher was a shock. I’d only seen her on TV on 8 out of 10 Cats a day or two before she became ill and I couldn’t wrap my head around how someone so vibrantly alive could be dead so soon after.

  12. As an adult? Alan Rickman. Listen: I LOVED (AND STILL LOVE) HIM. SO. MUCH. The best impulse splurge I ever made was actually a few months into my marriage with my ex-husband, to go see Rickman on Broadway in a new show, Seminar. I think I gripped my ex’s arm the entire time, I was just so excited to be in the same room as Rickman, to hear his voice and just take in his presence. It was my first time in New York, my first time at a Broadway show. I’d loved him since I was a kid (a weird celebrity crush that my ex-husband found extremely amusing). He did period movies and weird movies and played my favorite character in Harry Potter and he did things like read Shakespearean sonnets and I just thought he was incredible.

    Anyway. Cut to Norway, January 2016. I was on vacation with my now ex-partner, and we were sitting in a very fancy library in Tromso, just taking a break from the cold, and she reached over and took my hand and told me that he had passed, and I just burst out sobbing, uncontrollably. I did not know you could react that way to a celebrity death.

    • SAME! As a teen I became obsessed by Alan Rickman: I carried this admiration to my late 20s to the degree of 20 (!) people calling or writing me the day the news said he had died. My mom and my sister called to hear if I already knew and if I was ok, friends from college I had lost touch sent e-mails etc. I still haven’t seen “Eye in the sky” because I know it is his last movie…

  13. David Bowie. I cried all day. It’s sometimes hard to grasp that he’s really gone. I grew up listening to his music.

    But I have to say the one that shocked me was definitely Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer of The Cranberries. Mostly because it was so unexpected. I hadn’t kept up with the band as I kinda lost interest sometime in the late 90’s but going back and listening to all their records, they held up so well. She had such a beautiful voice.

  14. Terry Pratchett. Not his death so much since it wasn’t unexpected, but earlier when I found out that he had early-onset dementia. I don’t usually feel personally attached to celebrities, but that one felt especially cruel.

  15. Carrie Fisher. The day she died, I was driving cross-country from family holidays to college and I had to pull over in Nowhere, Tennessee and just sit and reflect on mortality. Then, because I was in a particularly stubborn phase in which I refused to use a GPS because I Can Read A Compass, I ended up two hours off my route in the Smoky Mountains by mistake!

  16. I remember being a Junior in high school and sobbing uncontrollably as several classmates lowered the flag in honor of John Lennon. Like others have noted, it was the first time I realized that anyone could die at any age.

    But the most recent one that hit me hard has got to be Robin Williams. He had been made an honorary member of my union in recognition of all the work he had brought to us and the city. His death came during the same week that a fellow stagehand had taken his own life, and I just couldn’t cope. I heard about my co-worker’s death while working a panel on mental health issues in the tech industry–no doubt prompted by Williams’ suicide. The audio guy and I proceeded to have a long conversation about the stigma of seeking therapy in African American and evangelical communities. We both had been taught that you don’t talk about your troubles with a therapist; you take that sh!t to the Lord. He and I embraced and managed to get through the work day, but more than a few tears fell on the lighting and sound boards for sure.

  17. so many of these people and stories resonate, but the death that immediately came to my mind was carrie fisher. i was (and continue to be) a fan of star wars and when harry met sally, but i also deeply loved her complete irreverence, brilliance, and wit. i cried all day when i heard the news.

  18. All of the above, but for me, I think, John Kennedy jr. It still makes me tear up, just thinking about it.

  19. Princess Diana’s death is the one I remember most from my youth. I was 21 so not even that young, but I just remember it being so shocking and plastered all over the news.

    In more recent times, the one that I had the strongest emotional reaction to was Nelson Mandela. It’s hard to lose prominent figures who are such beacons of peace and hope, in a world that seems to be devolving everyday into more divisiveness and greed.

  20. December 18th 2017, Kim Jonghyun from the Kpop group SHINee died by a very well planned and timed suicide. And it left me broken for a while.

    When I found out through Twitter I got chills and hot spikes at the same time and cried for a while. I allowed myself to be incredibly sad and grieve intensely for one day and slowly started picking myself back up.
    I spent the day online, on Twitter, trying to work through it with my friends and being there for them.

    He was so kind, so bright, so talented. His kind words and lyrics helped me and many others feel heard and understood.

    I still find it hard to hear his voice sometimes.

    It’s his birthday today.

  21. I broke down in tears multiple times after hearing about Carrie Fisher’s death and even two years later I still get really emotional about it! Luckily I was visiting my parents for Christmas whenever that happened, so I could process it with my family – we used to watch the Star Wars movies together when me and my brother were younger and it was a big part of my childhood, but I guess I didn’t realize how big until Carrie Fisher died and I was completely devastated.

  22. I grew up pretty removed from celebrity culture, so a lot of the deaths that affected other people my age didn’t hit me in the same way. The only exceptions so far have been David Bowie and Ursula LeGuin.

    Losing Bowie was so strange because he had always seemed larger-than-life; surely he wasn’t really human, couldn’t actually die. Then of course there was reckoning with his past and with what that meant, and with how that fit in with how important he was to me since childhood. I still listen to his duet with Bing Crosby every Christmastime.

    Ursula LeGuin, on the other hand, was already old when I started reading her. I spent my late teens and early 20s in a kind of slow dread of her death; every new book was something to be thankful for, something that might not have happened. Perhaps it’s morbid, but I had looked up to her for so long and wanted desperately to meet her, but knew it was increasingly unlikely. When she died, I cried for days.

  23. Thatcher’s death – hit me like a truckload of MDMA. It’s a good feeling when you realise the true meaning of Danse Macabre as the medieval symbolism of justice. GG next, in my queue of awesome events to look forward to – and i am seriously considering storing a couple of champagne bottles in anticipation.

    Other than the positive list – i think Bowie’s death touched me most.

  24. Heath Ledger… honestly sometimes I still forget that he’s died and then remember all over again.

    • Heath Ledger is definitely the big one for me. I was at work when I heard he’d died and immediately I thought, “I expected to grow old with him.” Not, like WITH him obviously, but like my mom with Robert Redford, he was going to be an actor I’d adored as a teen and kept on adoring as we both aged. And then suddenly he was gone. It was the first celebrity death that really surprised and shook me, and I’m still pretty sad when I think about it.

  25. Chris Cornell for me. I remember as a kid being werided out by the black hole sun video video and not understanding why I want to see what else Soundgarden has to offer. Never met him, though I once drove past him in his car stuck in traffic near Hollywood, but did see Audioslave in concert twice for their frist album. The other day Temple of Dog Hunger strike was playing, which is Cornell with Eddie Vedder as a guest vocalist. I forgot Cornell was dead and thought about how great a duet album from those two would be. It occured to me an hour later he’s dead and it wouldn’t happen as Cornell is dead.

  26. anthony bourdain. My dad died when I was young and Bourdain was the celebrity I could see my dad in. They had a lot in common they both worked in the food industry (my dad was a meat salesman), loved rock music, had addiction struggles and had very similar personalities and values overall. So when he died it felt like losing my dad again. I don’t think a celebrity death will ever effect me as much as his did.

  27. My first one was Steve Irwin (I remember my brother and I burst into tears), but the one that hit me hardest was Chris Cornell. One of my fondest concert memories is the time I crowdsurfed while Soundgarden was playing “Spoonman” back when I was 16. I remember being dropped off at the front of the stage and just staring at him, in awe of how talented and cool and larger-than-life he was (and then a security guard told me to stop staring and move along). I was a big grunge kid (still am), but I didn’t really experience Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley’s deaths in real time. Chris was the first icon I “watched” die, and that was a lot for me.

  28. My mom talks about John Lennon and Walt Disney dying as celebrity deaths that mad em her sad

  29. Jonathan Gold the LA Times food critic was a tragic loss, in the prime of his career.

  30. I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan, and I was too young to have seen him when he was really in his prime, but I have such a strong memory of the day he died, and I think it was the first one to really hit me. I was 14, and I was at sleepaway camp, and we were celebrating my friend’s 15th birthday on the porch of our cabin, and one of our counselors just came running up yelling “MICHAEL JACKSON DIED” and we all thought she was joking because he was SO famous that it just… didn’t make sense. For some reason I remember thinking about how they had done a Michael Jackson tribute on American Idol that season, just a few months earlier, so it’s not like he was some old guy that we kids had never heard of. I think it was probably the first BIG celebrity death of my lifetime. A few months prior to that, a girl I went to school with and had known since kindergarten had died unexpectedly (we were in 9th grade) and I was so shaken that someone my age could just die like that. I think hearing that Michael Jackson died was maybe another lesson that no one’s immune to death, regardless of if you’re a celebrity or if you’re just a kid.

  31. One of mine is Victoria Wood. She was an absolutely wonderful British comedian, and her career spanned decades and lots of hit TV shows. My favourite show of hers is Dinnerladies which I watch with my Mum. Every year we watch the Christmas episode when I visit her for the holidays and we both cry every single time.

  32. i’ve never been really affected by celebrity deaths but i was crushed when mary oliver died.

  33. Lou Reed. I was in my first year of PhD and that morning I was walking to my supervisor’s apartment so we could get a cab to fly to Morocco for fieldwork.

    I remember putting earphones in and listening to Pale Blue Eyes, Sunday Morning and Perfect Day and arriving at his door with tears in my eyes. Had never cried for a celebrity death before but his hit me really hard and I totally felt like I needed to mourn for a while.

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