As drag queen extraordinaire Alaska 5000 croons in her song “Legendary,” she was in a plane that almost went down and, although the people around her screamed in panic, she remained calm because: “[she’d] be a legend if [she] died today.” Lana del Rey has a similar sentiment in her song “Driving in Cars with Boys,” where she says: “I was born to live fast, die young/ Leave a beautiful corpse, live my life on the run.”
In 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy (played by Alec Baldwin), asserts that the rule of celebrity deaths in threes is “a myth… like going bald with dignity.” Although he was referring specifically to hair loss, Donaghy’s claims about indignity apply more widely to the irrepressible progression of aging and irrelevance.
Mariah Carey, when she was young and lithe, used to dominate the charts. Today, Ariana Grande does, with similar songs and endless comparisons. Had Mariah died young, never would she have been replaced and never would she have had to react before the public. Since she’s still alive, we’re all eager to hear her comment on “the young Mariah’s” records going #1 while Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse sells barely a hundred thousand copies.
Back to the Jack Donaghy quote: no matter how the elusive chanteuse handles to obsolescence, be it with stately silence or childish hissy fits (it’s hissy fits), there is no dignity. To live it is axiomatically to detest it and suffer public embarrassment.
The following twelve celebrities, who died younger than nature would have had it, will carry on eternally as relevant, attractive, mythically effortless icons of American culture.
12 Amy Winehouse
11 River Phoenix
10 Notorious B.I.G.
9 James Dean
8 John F. Kennedy
7 Marilyn Monroe
6 Anna Nicole Smith
5 Tupac Shakur
4 Heath Ledger
2 Edie Sedgwick
1 Chris Farley
SNL alum Chris Farley died on December 18th, 1998 from an overdose of drugs and alcohol. A friend of his has said that his anxiety and intense self-loathing were his “death sentence.” Farley said himself that he never sure whether his fans were laughing at his jokes or at him, period. Even though he commanded $6 million per picture, he believed that people only went to see his “Fat Guy Falls Down” shtick. Chris Farley was known for his appetite for drugs, booze, and food. At the time of his death, he was almost three hundred pounds, despite being only 33 years old and barely 5’8”.
Sources: DailyMail, Telegraph, NYMag, Independent, ABCNews
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