Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Burn Out or Fade Away?

The song says it's better to burn out than to fade away. I'm not sure about that. This morning, very recent two celebrity deaths had me pondering that.

At the beginning of the week, it was reported that Suzanne Pleshette died at age 70. She had been dealing with lung cancer for a number of years and died due to respitory failure on Sunday. Yesterday, it was reported that Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York City apartment at age 28. While the autopsy is just beginning, there were sleeping pills on the nightstand which is suggesting a possible drug overdose.

Suzanne had a long career which began in the late 50's on Broadway. From there she moved to both television and film work. She is most likely remember, fondly, by many of us television fans for her role as Emily Hartley for six seasons on the Bob Newhart Show. She even reprised that role years later in the final episode of the Newhart show, where Bob wakes up after having the "most strangest of dreams". Her dark features, raspy voice and sarcastic wit gave her an enduring place in the halls of sitcom history. Her last acting role was a few years back, playing Karen Walker's estranged mother on Will & Grace.

Heath started his career on television but his breakthru came in the late 90's in movie roles. He went from 10 Things I Hate About You to the Patriot to Monster's Ball to A Knight's Tale. The role that got him probably the most attention, and some controversy, was in the film Brokeback Mountain. Of his work, the only film I've actually seen is that last one on. It was on that film that he met Michelle Williams and fathered a daughter with her. (The most tragic thing in my eyes is that he left behind a two year old girl who will never get to grow up to know her father. To me, as a father, that hits home and is very saddening indeed.) He just wrapped filming the role of the Joker in the upcoming Batman: the Dark Knight film (of which I've seen promotional images and, I must say, I'm not as impressed with how they have "re-imagined" the Clown Prince of Crime this go-round).

So, here we have two careers that both ended permanently this week. One long and one short. Which will endure the most across time? Which will have fans who fondly remember the body of work? Hard to say. Does quantity have any bearing against quality? I like to think if the quantity includes quality work then quantity will win out.

Another song says "only the good die young". I don't buy that completely either.

1 comment:

KC said...

Two celebrities, two different lives. Fast burnout or steady flame. Huh.
I'm not so sure that Heath died of drugs, but they probably wre a factor. Who knows, maybe he just died of pneumonia - it's possible.
But what it comes down to is the old "live well, for you don't know when you're going to be called" mantra.
Going to miss them both, but at least they leave behind a good life on film.