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Now that I’m getting older, I’ve started to notice that the people who were famous when I was a child, teenager, and young adult, are starting to die off in quite dramatic numbers. These are the people who provided a wider context and structure to my life in this world, and now they are leaving… rapidly! It is a strange Universe that produces so much, and then, apparently anyway, throws it all away.

Here are some of the famous people that I’ve noticed passing away over the last few years, in no particular order – but only those who made some particular impression on me.

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore in the RAF

Patrick Moore in the RAF

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore

This larger than life, eccentric astronomer died in 2012 aged 89, shortly after having made yet another weekly episode of his 55-year-old TV series, The Sky At Night, for amateur astronomers. This show began just before the beginning of the Space Age – before Sputnik, and continued right up through to 2012! He helped to get me interested in space and all that stuff when I was a kid, and I’m sure, did the same for many others. He also commented for the BBC on the US Moon landings, from Mission Control and indeed provided research that was used by both the US and the USSR in their space missions.

Here is a video compilation from his TV series, made by the BBC.

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson, creator of Thunderbirds

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson was the maker of perhaps the most exciting children’s show ever, Thunderbirds, plus Captain Scarlett and the Mysterons, Stingray, and even the live-action sci-fi series, UFO. His company, Century 21, also made some movies, including Doppelganger (1969), about an astronaut who flies to a mirror-image Earth that lies on the far side of the Sun – I remember seeing this in the cinema at some point, possibly on-board a ship as my family were emigrating to Australia at the time. He was also responsible for Space 1999 – although it is not clear whether he agreed with the choice of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain as the co-stars.

Donna Summer

Bursting onto the disco scene in the ’70s with the rather dodgy “Love To Love You, Baby”, Donna Summer quickly started singing proper songs and dominated the world of disco for a decade or more. My favourite album of hers that I’ve got is Live and More, a double-album with, as it says, some live performances, and a really good, long medley-of-sorts based on Mac Arthur Park, One of a Kind and Heaven Knows. Here, however, is a live performance, made quite some years later. Incidentally, watch out when purchasing the Live and More album in any format: some CD versions have poor sound quality and lack the “More” bits, including the 17-minute long version of the Mac Arthur Park medley, although it is also available on her “The Dance Collection” album. Anyway, I have linked below to both, including, as far as I can tell, the best (but expensive) version of Live and More.

 

Whitney Houston

Another great singer who passed away this year, some say in suspicious circumstances given that she allegedly owed a lot of money to drugs dealers, was Whitney Houston. I don’t have much to say about her, except here is her famous song, I Will Always Love You, from the film, The Bodyguard. Of course, if you haven’t seen the film, this official video will just look corny – but listen to that voice!

 

Neil Armstrong

Of course it was a massive team effort, but Neil Armstrong took that first epoch-making step onto the surface of the Moon (I understand the camera that filmed it was attached to the outside of the craft when it was constructed). Then he fluffed his famous line slightly: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”. He may have said the “a” – it is easy to say it inaudibly if you’re saying a hard r. As a child at the time, it was perfectly clear to me that this was one of the biggest events in all of human history. I wanted to be an astronaut too – but I didn’t fancy getting blown up in one of the numerous rocket accidents they tended to have (and still do). I would have liked to have been a great scientist too, so I went and studied physics, but wasn’t really as clever as I wanted to be and had to end up getting a more conventional career in the end. Well… I say “career”. More a succession of semi-random jobs, really. The world has continued to change at a rapid, even catastrophic pace during my lifetime – just about every company I ever worked for has gone out of business – not because of me, I hasten to add (although it might have been the best thing for some of them).

Anyway: here is a summary of Neil Armstrong’s astounding achievement, from a documentary made by the Kurdistan Museum, of all places. Oh – and here’s a link to a funny but true story Neil Armstrong told after his return.

Here is Neil Armstrong being interviewed by Patrick Moore.

Honourable Mentions

My original intention with this article was to look back over the last few years, but in fact, so many amazing people have died over the past year that this article would get much too long! So I’m just going to briefly summarize a few more.

  • Jack Klugman (Quincy, M.E.);
  • Ravi Shankar (Indian musician, influenced The Beatles);
  • Oscar Neimeyer (designed the city of Brasilia);
  • Dave Brubeck (jazz musician);
  • Zig Ziglar (motivational speaker);
  • Andy Williams (singer from the crooners era);
  • Hal David (songwriter, collaborated with Burt Bacharach and The Carpenters);
  • Sally Ride (astronaut, first US woman into orbit);
  • Jon Lord (composer, Deep Purple and Whitesnake);
  • Stephen R Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People);
  • Robin Gibb (of the Bee Gees);
  • Ernest Borgnine (actor, Oscar and Emmy winner);
  • Ray Bradbury (writer);
  • Davy Jones (lead singer of The Monkees).

Of course, this phenomenon of great and notable people dying at a great rate is really nothing new. Here are a few from 2011, in case we might forget:

  • Ken Russell (film director, Altered States, The Pink Panther, Tommy);
  • Steve Jobs (co-founder, saviour and evil genius of Apple Computer, inc.);
  • Nick Ashford (of Ashford & Simpson, songwriters);
  • Dan Pak (founder member of rock band America);
  • Amy Winehouse (singer);
  • Peter Falk (Columbo);
  • Elizabeth Taylor (actress);
  • Jane Russell (actress);
  • John Barry (composer of film music such as Dances with Wolves);



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Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to a member function parent() on array in /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-content/themes/custom-community/includes/template-tags.php:1369 Stack trace: #0 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-includes/class-wp-hook.php(298): cc2_bootstrap_comment_form_fields(Array) #1 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-includes/plugin.php(203): WP_Hook->apply_filters(Array, Array) #2 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-includes/comment-template.php(2213): apply_filters('comment_form_de...', Array) #3 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-content/themes/custom-community/comments.php(105): comment_form(Array) #4 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-includes/comment-template.php(1469): require('/home/alphatuca...') #5 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-content/themes/custom-community/single.php(37): comments_template() #6 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-includes/template-loader.php(74): include('/home/alphatuca...') #7 /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-blog-header.php(19): require_once('/home in /home/alphatucana/DN65N8VJ/htdocs/wp-content/themes/custom-community/includes/template-tags.php on line 1369