The death of William F. Buckley yesterday made me think — it seems like a lot of prominent people have died so far in this year. After a little checking around, it appears that I was right. In only two months we’ve seen an unusually large number (or so it seems to me) of well known folk leave this world. I recall one of the statements I read in one of the Slave Narratives, where one former slave observed, “I notice that if I live through March, I usually live the rest of the year.” It is said that more deaths occur in the first three months of the year than in any of the other three quarters. Whether that’s so or not, there have been quite a few notable deaths. Here are a few of the famous (and infamous) who have died so far this year:
Roy Scheider (the police chief in the movie “Jaws”) died February 10.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (famous guru to the Beatles) died February 5 (showing my age here)
Margaret Truman Daniel (the only child of President Harry Truman and his wife, Bess) died January 29
Suharto (former president of Indonesia, who, in spite of his wickedness and brutality, had the support of the US for his opposition to communism during the Cold War) died January 27
Richard Darman (former budget director under George Bush the elder, was the principal figure in persuading Bush to renounce his “no new taxes” pledge) died January 25
Heath Ledger (best known for his Oscar-nominated role as a sodomite ranch hand in the movie “Brokeback Mountain.”) died January 22.
John Stewart (musician, for seven years played in the Kingston Trio) died January 20 (yep, I’m really old).
Suzanne Pleshette (actress, became well-known as the wife of Bob Newhart in his ‘70s sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show”) died January 19
Bobby Fischer (one of the greatest chess players in history) died January 17
Richard Knerr (cofounder of Wham-O Inc., the company which introduced both the Hula Hoop and the Frisbee) died January 15
Sir Edmund Hillary (a New Zealand beekeeper who became the first person climb to the summit of Mount Everest in 1953) died January 10