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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Remembering Those We Lost In 2010

Every year we lose some remarkable people and their talents from the world. One of the sad rituals for me used to be watching the lists of people who had died in the last twelve months. I remember sitting there one year as Donald O'Connor flicked over the screen feeling absolutely heartbroken.

2010 feels like it's been a rollercoaster of obituaries and several have kicked me right in the stomach. For me, some of these announcements remind me how little our modern 'celebrities' offer. Unless they do it quickly some of the modern tripe won't be remembered when they die. So I just wanted to put together a brief list of people I'll particularly miss who have passed on this year.

Lena Horne
What do I think of when I think of Lena? Well, words that stem from her singing - feisty, sultry, sexy - and maybe have nothing to do with her as a person. But the public persona she held was unbelievably powerful. It came across in her famous renditions of Stormy Weather and Love Me Or Leave Me but also her lesser tracks. She had a great knack for telling a story through a song, she had an exceptional close and conversational style. My personal favourite song of hers is Poppa Don't Preach To Me, about a woman who finds a postcard from a girl to her father and (naturally) reads it. It's a wonderful number and it makes me smile every time I hear it.

Leslie Nielsen
I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of all his type of humour but he certainly had a way on camera that was incomparable. Personally, I remember him in one of his more sentimental roles, Chance of a Lifetime playing opposite Betty White. Oh, he still got the chance to flex his comedic muscles but it was the kind of movie I could watch with my grandmother and us both enjoy it equally.

Blake Edwards
I'm not familiar with much of Edwards' work. However, as he directed one of my favourite films, Victor/Victoria, it would be remiss not to mention him. That movie alone was beyond compare as a piece of cinematic pleasure. Add Breakfast at Tiffany's to a resume and that's a legacy without question.

Rue McClanahan
I adored Rue. Along with the other Golden Girls she was a foundation of my childhood. Again, I watched her with my grandmother. In the days when Living had a double bill on a Saturday morning I would listen for the theme music and pray it woke me up. I have memories of galloping down the stairs just in time to see four women sat around their table talking. Rue's character, Blanche, wasn't my favourite at the time but I don't think I was old enough to quite get her. After writing an essay on her and Dorothy I began to realise how fantastic a character she was, and Rue played her with such warmth. There were moments of genuine pain in The Golden Girls and they all pulled them off marvellously.

I realise that all my choices are from the world of entertainment but those are the deaths that have touched me this year. Of course, I've experienced jolts when other names have popped up in the obituaries but these four represent a loss to me.

So... RIP.

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