John Pinette died this week. For those of you who don’t know of him he was a stand-up comedian. A great one. He mostly did fat jokes (at his own expense), and he made millions from a bad experience at a Chinese Buffet. I know as an HR professional, I’m not supposed to find humour in jokes at the expense of others, but with him I couldn’t help myself. The expression “you scare my wife” has been quoted in many a family conversation over the years. I will miss his avoidance of political correctness.
I don’t know why but I’ve been itching to write a blog for some time that focuses on famous deaths that make me angry, so John Pinette’s gives me a good reason to write this.
In our organizations we have great talent and sometimes hasn’t achieved its full potential. In the case of the people on my list, their lives simply ended too soon and for the wrong reasons. I tried to pick people who have died in my lifetime, and who left shoes to fill. This was difficult because I was too young to have been impacted by some of the obvious ones who might be on other people’s lists like Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, etc. Here goes:
- John Candy. Who in Canada didn’t love the precious John Candy? Underneath the larger-than-life genius was a complex and deep person. His death never should’ve happened and he died way too soon. When I think of him, I think of this scene in the movie Stripes:
- Karen Carpenter. Karen was a beautiful songbird, with a range that should be the envy of most modern divas. I can listen to her all day. She died of complications from Anorexia Nervosa at age 32, which at the time was a newly diagnosed disease. How someone with so much talent could die so young is beyond me.
- Jim Croce. Many of you will know Jim Croce by his hit records. What you may not know is how many times he made attempts to “make it”, unsuccessfully before recording “the ones”. Sadly, he died in a plane crash before he ever got to feel the benefits of his success. The fact that he was cheated is what makes me angry.
- Freddy Prinze. For me, Freddy Prinze was a trailblazer in terms of helping America move toward racial integration. I was just a kid when Chico and the Man was a hit TV show, and perhaps back then I didn’t appreciate the significance of the show, but I loved the interaction between Prinze and Jack Albertson. His death of suicide by Russian Roulette left a gaping hole that took years to fill. It was a stupid way to die. I once read that George Lopez personally paid for the induction fee for his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That’s a lot of impact for so young a person.
- John Belushi. I suppose this one is obvious for the list, in that he died from something stupid and way too early. I was a teenager when Belushi died, learning the skill of juxtaposition from skits like “Little Chocolate Donuts”. That we lost someone so irreplaceable at the peak of his career is what makes me angry. What would’ve been next?
- SS Edmund Fitzgerald. Ok, a ship is not a person, so I will add here Captain McSorley and his crew. There is no other story I’ve studied more thoroughly than the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I feel like the wreck is part of my genetic makeup. The Fitz was lost on one of my birthdays. Strangely, I remember that terrible storm, and I remember sitting at the kitchen table the next morning, listening to Wally Philips on the radio and hearing that a major boat had been lost. For the rest of my life I have come to see the Great Lakes as an extension of me and a testament to the power of mother nature and the necessity for following naval procedures. Simply stated, the Fitz should’ve never wrecked and it makes me mad that it did.
Are there other deaths that make you more angry than sad? If yes, why?