Just as many other people, I was shocked and sadden to hear of the death of Leslie Jordan on Oct. 24. He was a funny person and I think his social media posts through the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic helped us smile when we didn’t think we could. While it’s not been released what happened, just that he had a medical emergency as of this post, I want to express my condolensces to his family, friends and loved ones.
Some celebrities have had strange deaths when you look at either their movies, TV shows or something said by characters or even how their characters died. While this might seem morbid, I think many people are often fascinated by how and when they will go. Sometimes, there’s a little bit of irony in our passings.
My stepfather was literally late to his own funeral. The church and nearby cemetery where he is buried was confused by the funeral home for another church down the road. As the funeral procession near the church, some people started turning right on a country road toward the church while the hearse kept driving on the main road. His brother was able to drive ahead and tell them they’re going the wrong way. So, by the time, the hearse had circled back, many people had already filed into the church waiting for his body in his casket to be brought in.
Redd Foxx died of a heart attack in real life
Foxx had played Fred Sanford on Sandford and Son. Part of a running gag throughout the series’ run was when Fred would grab his chest when something bad or surprising happened. Then he’d say similar to this: “This is the big one! I’m coming to join you, Elizabeth!”
On Oct. 11, 1991, Foxx was rehearsing on the set of The Royal Family, a TV sitcom created by Eddie Murphy intended to be Foxx’s comeback after some financial problems. Murhy has created the series after seeing how well Foxx and Della Reese had acted together in his crime comedy Harlem Nights. Cast members later said they thought Foxx was joking as he grabbed a chair and fell to the floor. Foxx was taken to the Queen of Angels Hollywood Prebyterian Medical Center and died later that night. He was 68.
James Dean died in a car accident shortly after filming a car safety PSA
About two weeks before his death on Sept. 30, 1955 from injuries sustained in a two-car collision, James Dean recorded a PSA on driving safety. Dean, who also raced cars, was filming Giant when he was able to briefly filmed the two-minute PSA warning people, especially young people, not to speed or drag race on the highways. In the end, he looks at the camera and says, “The life you might save might be mine.”
You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHaRys3mRMw
If that wasn’t ironic. At 3:30 p.m., on Sept. 30, 1955, Dean had been ticketed by the California Highway Patrol for speeding driving his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder south of Bakersfield, Calif. He was on his way to participate in a car racing event in Salinas, Calif. the upcoming weekend. Dean with mechanic Rolf Wutherich as passenger was driving westbound on U.S. Route 466 (now just SR 46) near Cholame, Calif. A 1950 Ford Tudor, driven by Donald Turnupseed, 23, was driving east on 466. Turnupseed was a student at California Polytechnic State University. At approximately 5:45 p.m., he had turned left onto Highway 41, north to Fresno, ahead of the oncoming Porsche reportedly going 55 mph.
Some people have speculated that at the time of day at the time of year in that location, Turnupseed mistook the Posche’s silver grey look for a mirage and didn’t think it was an oncoming vehicle in the other lane. Dean couldn’t break in time and the Porsche slammed into the passenger side of the Tudor. Wutherich was thrown from the vehicle. Dean was pinned in with injuries including a broken neck. Turnupseed exited his vehicle and reported wandered around the area stunned.
An ambulance was called and Dean was taken to the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m. He was only 24.
Mrs. Doubtfire actress dies of heart failure while her character says she’s got a healthy heart
Mrs. Doubtfire, even though some jokes are horribly dated, is still considered one of Robin Williams’ best works. Even though the character he plays is kind of a stalker and creepy when you think about it, Williams is able to pull it off.
In one of the memorable moments, he has to cover his face in cake frosting when he loses the mask as it falls out a window. This is when the social worker Mrs. Sellner (Anne Haney) is making a house visit. When Williams’ character, Daniel Hillard, as the titular character bumps into her outside his apartment building, he tries to keep her downstairs. But she has to inspect the apartment. When he asks her if she can walk up three floors and if her heart is ok, she replies, “Top notch.”
Well, maybe not so. Haney would pass away from congestive heart failure less than eight years later on May 26, 2001 at 67. And speaking of Williams…
Robin Williams’ movie has similarities with his death and aftermath
In 2009, Williams appeared in World’s Greatest Dad, a black comedy written and directed by his friend and colleague, Bobcat Goldthwait. The movie is about a high school English teacher and failed novelist whose annoying brat of a teenage son dies during autoerotic asphyxiation. So, his character stages it to look like a suicide and then the school community, which detested them both, shows outpouring of love and sympathy.
Golthwait’s movies was seen as a parody of how we never speak ill of the dead and try to make someone else’s death about us. And when it premiered, people were drawing parallels to the recent death of Michael Jackson, despite the child sexual abuse allegatins. On Aug. 11, 2014, Williams would die by suicide with a belt in a similar fashion to how the character played by Daryl Sabara hangs himself in World’s Greatest Dad.
To make it more stranger, BBC Three aired a Family Guy episode where Peter Griffin turns everyone and everything he touches into Robin Williams less than half an hour before news broke of Williams’ death. And there is a scene where Peter attempts suicide but the gun turns into Williams. The episode had started out with Peter getting upset of comic roast Williams and his poor career choices.
By 2014, that was the case with Williams who’s return to TV had been greatly promoted in The Crazy Ones had been canceled after one season. Williams had also had many movies released that were poorly received at the box office as well with critics. However, when news broke, everyone talked more positively about him. Even President Barack Obama made a statement of his passing.
It was later determined that Williams was suffering from Lewy body dementia and probably wasn’t in the right mind at the time of his death. Those closest to him said he had been acting strange and it had been reported that he took his whole collection of expensive watches to a friend’s house for safe keeping, which they found odd. In the years since his death, people have talked more positively about Williams which wasn’t the case for the 2000s and early 2010s prior to his death.
Heathers’ cast members meet unfortunate ends
Heathers is a 1989 black comedy that was supposed to be a parody of 1980s teen comedies as well as the decade in general. It is about a clique of preppy teenage girls who all have the name Heather and their newest member, Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), who isn’t like them but appears to be. After being embarrassed at at college party because Veronica didn’t have sex with a frat boy, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) tells about her how come Monday, she will spread the word all over school at what happened at the party. Veronica also got sick and threw up. There was no social media back then.
However, Veronica and her new boyfriend and badboy Jason Dean (Christian Slater) accidentally give her a cup of drain cleaner fluid calling it a hangover remedy. They thought they had gotten a cup of milk and orange juice mixed together. Heather drinks it, collapses smashing through a glass coffee table dying. They then write a suicide making it look like she killed herself.
Walker, who was 20 when the movie came out, didn’t commit suicide and didn’t drink any dangerous cleaning products. However, there’s a line she says in the movie before her character dies that seems odd. The Heathers and Veronica are playing croquet in Veronica’s backyard. Heather Duke (Shannon Doherty) is often the subject of the other’s abuse. When Heather Duke asks a simple querstion, Heather Chandler snidely remarks, “Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?”
Sadly, on March 6, 2001, Walker would die of a brain tumor at the age of 32.
A year earlier on March 23, 2000, Jeremy Applegate who plays Peter Dawson in the same movie, would die by self-inflicted gunshot. Peter would play the student who was raising money for starving kids and even says that he had briefly dated Heather Chandler. What makes it even stranger is a line of dialogue he says while praying over Heather’s body as you can see in the photo above.
What do you think? Please comment.