September 3rd, 2009
12:17 PM ET

The Summer of Death

"Ooooh, that smell / Can't you smell that smell / Ooooh, that smell / The smell of death surrounds you..."      - Lynyrd Skynyrd

At first, I told myself it was a combination of coincidence and getting older: the longer you cover celebrities, the more of them you know and the more you know about them, so the more you notice.  But it can't be denied any longer: celebrities have dropped at an alarming rate this summer.  We lost Dom DeLuise on May 4 - you may not consider early May to be summer, but Hollywood does: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, this year's first "summer blockbuster," opened May 1 - and ever since, it's been an incredibly funereal season.  With both Michael Jackson's funeral and DJ AM's memorial service tonight, it seemed a good time to recap the Summer of Death.  In order of expiration:

  • Dom DeLuise
  • veteran basketball coach Chuck Daly
  • basketball star turned jazz artist Wayman Tisdale
  • blues legend Koko Taylor
  • actor David Carradine
  • guitarist Bob Bogle of the Ventures
  • Ed McMahon
  • Farrah Fawcett
  • Michael Jackson
  • TV huckster Billy Mays
  • comedian/impressionist Fred Travalena
  • actor Karl Malden
  • NFL star Steve McNair
  • Walter Cronkite
  • author Frank McCourt
  • dance legend Merce Cunningham
  • writer/director/producer John Hughes
  • guitar innovator Les Paul
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver
  • political pundit Robert Novak
  • "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt
  • Sen. Edward Kennedy
  • author Dominic Dunne
  • Adam Goldstein aka DJ AM

Anyone who reads an entertainment news blog certainly remembers most of these figures, if not all of them, and while you can't equate the loss of a celebrity to that of a friend or loved one, their fame makes their passing something we can share as a society.  With hundreds of television channels, nearly as many genres of music, and the entire Internet increasingly fragmenting our common entertainment experience, I think it's worth noting the things we still share - and sadly, this summer's celebrity death toll fits that bill.


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soundoff (103 Responses)
  1. axoxivestooda

    трэба праверыць:)

    June 5, 2011 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. MB

    whitney...the fact the bush administration killed over 1 million innocent iraqi civilians and the american public, for the most part, dopesn't know about it, needs to be magnified...the criticism is for the fact we care more about celebrity deaths than over 1 million innocents killed by our government...if more people knew about it and thoght about how they'd feel if their families were killed by missile strikes, then maybe our priorities would shift to something more meaningful than a celebrity who couldn't care less if we died, it's a mindset that we idolize people who aren't necessarily good people, and ones that are good, that die, are forgotten or ignored

    September 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Whitney

    To all the critics of this article...why did you click on the link? It's entitled "The Summer of Death"...under the ENTERTAINMENT heading/links. Exactly what was going through your mind when you clicked on it? What did you think it was going to be about? I'm sure the main reason anyone was compelled to write this article was out of sheer shock that so many celebrities (some more well known than others) have seemingly dropped like flies (seemingly back to back, within weeks of each other) in such a short period of time. Yeah, people die everyday but when you're famous it is definitely more magnified.

    September 18, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alice

    Jim Carrol, poet, musician and author of "The Basketball Diaries" died on September 11th. He was 60 years old.

    September 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Flavour

    YOu can add Patrick Swayze to the list now...
    :| Meh ppl die...why not celebreties too ?

    September 15, 2009 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Tara

    Oh my goodness! What is wrong with some of you. When I saw the headline, of course, the first thing to pop into my mind was MJ, because he was both beloved and belittled in thisworld. But when I start reading some of these posts I wonder this (say it with me now).... You say "WHO CARES" or "WHY doesnt CNN do real news"? You clicked on the link too!!! YOU and only YOU are responsible for your actions so if you dont like what you're about to read.....WHY DID YOU CLICK ON IT? And need we forget what our KINDERGARTEN teacher taught us (and THUMPER)....If you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all!

    I love real news stories, but entertainment is kinda like the escape from the REAL world, we ALL are intrigued by celebrities whether you admit it or not, and that why we ALL clicked on the link to this page! Stop trying to put others down because you carry around some sort of shame because YOU CLICKED ON THE LINK!!!!!

    September 6, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eldonaldo

    Sen. Edward Kennedy wasn't the only Ted Kennedy to die this summer. The other Ted Kennedy was an NHL Hockey Hall of Famer, who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1942 to 1957. He passed away on August 14 at age 83.

    September 6, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris PJ, UK

    Every year sometime in Jan in the UK we have a breakdown on TV of who we lost in celeb terms during the previous year. I am at that age when the celebs who I grew up with and who entertained and inspired me have died or are now too old to appear.

    As the author points out their comes a time when you start to miss these people especially when it comes as a rush and it appears no one is taking their place.

    Thanks for the article and reminding us that we will miss these folks but thankfully due to the media we still be able to watch and hear them and they will be available for future generations.

    300,000 people die every day in this world

    cpj

    September 5, 2009 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Daniel

    I lost my grandfather in January, lost my job in April, then lost my grandmother in August. During my months of unemployment I've been at home watching all of these CNN public memorials/funerals/and the occasional 'EMT wheeling out the stretcher' moment.

    Yes this has been a terrible year. Here's hoping it gets better.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Khepura

    " We all die...it is how we are remembered that matters"

    We all leave lasting memories regardless of social standing or celebrity status. No matter how short or how long of a life you live....your footprints are left on this planet and in your loved ones heart.

    May God bless all of us and thank you for leaving us with wonderful memories!

    September 4, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. YOU'RE READING ENTERTAINMENT

    HEY COMPLAINT POSTERS: You have clearly missed 2 important facts here: (1) this is an item from the ENTERTAINMENT section, and (2) this is only referring to the period of Summer '09. Learn to read ALL the words before you comment. Sheesh.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nordstrom

    Sky Saxon!

    September 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    How about listing someone who has actually done something worthwhile during their lives. Perhaps John Q Public , you know, the guy who gets up every morning and goes to work to support his family and never gets the adulation or attention that those "celebrities" receive. It is a shame when anyone dies but I think it is time that we put things into perspective and stop the idol worship of people who get payed way too much to imitate "real people".Fat , overindulgent, lazy,egotistical hedonistic people should not be celebrated upon their deaths however John Q. and Jane Q. should be celebrated every day- after all he/she is the ones who are really paying the bills not some "lets pretend" person.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JJ

    Adam Goldstein (aka DJ AM) does not deserve a mention on a list of notable passings, anymore than I would. He contributed nothing to society.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. DeAnna

    I don't understand why people are complaining the deaths in middle east are not mentioned in this article, found in the entertainment section. If my husband, who's in the Army, was killed in Afghanistan, I wouldn't want it published in the entertainment section of CNN.com anyway. As a side note, the troops are some pretty amazing people to go over there to protect us, and many of them, like my husband, joined after the war started.

    To me, it feels like the "Summer of Death" because every other day it's like I find out some celebrity has died. And I just found out that Dom Deluise passed! That bothers me the most because I just saw him in a really old movie last month, and he had the best part, even though he was a minor character. I know a bunch of celebrities die every year, but maybe it's all coming like an avalanche because we're just getting more and more connected each year.

    This is a good article, and it definitely serves to remind us of our mortality. No day is ever guaranteed, and we should make the most of our time here.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  16. really???

    Really? Soldiers are dying at an accelerated rate to protect us so we can read these blogs and hardly get a mention. Really? Children are dying of disease and hunger and we stuff our faces and read these columns. Really? Darfor genocide is still raging, and it is allowed. Really? Fires and hurricanes rage and wipe out towns and homes but Michael Jackson's memorial are all over the headlines, when in fact he OVERDOSED. Does that deserve front page? Really? REALLY.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  17. marie

    Aw man, I forgot about Bea Arthur. We come and go and live in between. RIP to everyone who died. Live your life to lthe fullest, enjoy your time on earth, for we all will parrish one day.

    September 4, 2009 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  18. Tara

    I'm very sad when a person of this nature dies – mostly it's "awww man, he/she was really good at XXX. This sucks." And I move on with it.

    The point most are making here is the press, whatever you want to call them, do not let this crap die. It's always in the forefront. This is not news, they are gone, but not forgotten (which I understand) but my God. Life goes on.

    Why are we dwelling on the past? Will this bring them back? When they are looking back 10 WEEKS AFTER THEIR DEATH and we are still in *shock* (cause we actually knew these people right??? *rolls eyes). I think the majority of the people on this list would be highly upset at the way we respond if we are continuing to morn them, and not celebrate them, which is what they stood for in the 1st place.

    They are entertainers...... Their lives should be celebrated and we need to learn to move forward, not stuck in a rut and mornful for months over something we cannot control one way or the other.

    Grandma's death? Yea, I can understand if you morn that for a longer period of time. But a singer/Actor/Sports player? While tragic – this is totally blowing my mind away. I'm sick of hearing about the same crap over and over again.

    September 4, 2009 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  19. Celia

    I think that the last few years we have seem a tremendous amount of celebrity deaths. I feel that this summer is more noticeable because of some of the major celebrities that have passed. This list only shows who passed during the summer months of this year and while there are many left out, it's not a put down to those who happened to pass before summer began.

    My prayers go out to everybody (celebs and non celebs) who lost a loved one this year.

    September 4, 2009 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  20. Sharon Eastwood

    Yes it is sad that os many celebrities have lost their lives over the last few months however I hardly think it is a Summer of death. Many were older and death sadly is a natural occurance. Fair enough in some cases Farah, MJ, DJ AM E.T.C they were still young. I think the most shock of them all is Farah Fawcett, she battled bravely through cancer until she could fight no more. RIP to all who have died

    September 4, 2009 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  21. jag

    We just lost Guy Babylon, Elton John's keyboardist on Sept. 2.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  22. Alesha

    I think the writer was just trying to state what I have been feeling as if late, the older our "gen-x" generation gets, which is a foreign concept, we are seeing our "baby boomer" elders pass away-our parents, their elders, if they are lucky to be here. It puts us on another "playing field" altogether, one we have to come to grasp w as adult children, not children children. All of these deaths so bunched together, of people we "grew up" idolizing, watching, learning from, it can make it sometimes feel like a part of you is missing when they pass..I just see my mortality everytime someone passes..1 never knows....

    September 4, 2009 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
  23. lona

    Why is it that the default line to come back to is "what about the soliders" This article is not about the soldiers, it's about celebrities. GEESH!

    September 4, 2009 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  24. Lynne

    I think God is reminding us through these celebrity deaths of our own mortality. My hope is that when people hear of these deaths, it will lead them to consider that they too will die someday, and where will they spend eternity? The Bible says in Acts 9:27 that "man is destined to die once and after that, face judgment." Our only hope for salvation is in Jesus Christ alone.

    The closer I get to the Lord, I find myself wondering when I hear of deaths like these if the person was saved. Did anyone watch the 60 Minutes special on Don Hewitt? The Bible verse that kept coming to mind after the show was, "what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and yet lose his own soul?" Mr. Hewitt seemed to have it all. He travelled the world. He met celebrities and presidents. Yet they showed him cursing God. That tells me he was probably not saved, and therefore missed the whole point of life. I pray that seeds have been planted in the hearts of those who read this.

    September 4, 2009 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  25. Marko

    I'm just rather disgusted with the 'Title' of this article...'Summer of Death'
    My God, how tasteless and classless can you get?! Typical CNN sensationalism at its best. Why couldn't have you called it something like – "In Loving Memory' or 'A Heartfelt Farewell', or "You'll Always Be Remembered" or for Pete's sakes – ANYTHING other than The Summer Of Death!!!

    Plus the fact, choosing those particular lyrics by Lynyrd Skynrd to compliment the tasteless title?? A very crass and gutter-like manner to which you the writer, supposedly chose to pay tribute to these wonderful people!

    September 3, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  26. grumpy bear

    man rip john hughes. another irreplaceable chunk of my 80s youth stolen away from me.... no wonder i'm grumpy :(

    September 3, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Report abuse |
  27. wayne

    Let's not forget about our fellow American's serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are far more relevant than actors, actresses, politicians etc. This summer has certainly been a summer of death for those serving this country.

    September 3, 2009 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Pamela

    We all know that death has an impact on millions everyday. The author has expressed the point that, as a society, we seem to come together through tragedies of a mutal understanding. This is not just what happens in the USA. Remember how the Princess Di's and the Pope's funerals were on televised worldwide? I never met Ronald Reagan, but his funeral was televised too.
    This is how it works it many families too. I just returned from my very dear Uncle's funeral, I saw my sister for the first time in 12 years, my sis-n-law I haven't seen in 15 years, nieces, nephews, and many of my cousins for the first time ever!
    Why does it take a tragedy or loss to bring people together? How many flags were flying after 9-11? Do you still see the same patriotic bumper stickers or billboards? No. Not as many...
    Wil I see my sister or cousins at any other function other than a funeral? Chances are unlikely... that's a sad truth.

    September 3, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Bernadette Derry

    I agree with what someone said. what about the people in the Canadian and American Military.why are we not talking about them. They were and are some of our true hero's That is who this blog should be about. No disrespect intended to anyone famous or not that passed this summer.

    September 3, 2009 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  30. eli

    Most of the world loves our celebrities.

    September 3, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  31. beah

    we still cannot believe it. the dr is a murderer, he was trusted and paid well to stay with MJ, why did he leave? he shold get jail time. We lost a truely gifted person. How terribly sad.

    September 3, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Andy

    Please don't forget about saxaphonist and singer Sam Butera...

    September 3, 2009 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Heathcliffe

    Yeah its been totally intense its just been death after death in the celeb world lets hope we have been dealt our final blows for a long time. I noticed some of the comments being almost jealous of the attention these great entertainers get. So what if they are admired as heroes and worshipped they have clearly earned that respect from a lot of people. Entertainers entertain a lot of people and become part of peoples lives so when one occasionaly passes away of course they are going to get a lot of attention because whether you want to admit it or not they are at the top of the chain and have usually worked hard to get there and earn their respect. They have more status, wealth and power than us but thats just the way it is and you have to accept it. Anyway rest in peace to all the celebs listed in the article they will all be missed greatly.

    September 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Hunter

    I love the people that get on here and say "Where is the real news?" You are in the entertainment section of CNN, so what do you think they will report on? This section has nothing to do with politics, crime, etc. And if the whole world hates us for writing about dead celebs in the entertainment section then let them hate us.

    I did think the writer did an excellent job not putting these celebs above the rest of those we have lost, which a lot of people do. Celebs passing away is one of the few events a mass of people share, that is why it is a unique event to cover.

    September 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Angelynn

    Gator Bait... have you been living in an isolation cell for the past 2 months? That is the only way you would ask a question like "Michael Jackson died????"

    September 3, 2009 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Hannah

    He's not famous, but he is the most amazing person I have ever met. The love of my life, James Stevens, passed away last month at 26 years old. This summer has been a summer of huge losses for so many people. I hope that people see how quickly life can go, and know to always take that extra moment to say how much you care. You never know when it will be your last time to tell someone...

    September 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Gator Bait

    Michael Jackson died????? I thought it was all internet rumor. Please confirm that this is true.

    September 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  38. michael

    Sky Saxon of the Seeds died the same day as Michael Jackson... he shouldn't be forgotten.

    September 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Rebecca

    wow it has not been a good year to be a celeb. paul harvey died on my 18th birthday. 23 people gone this summer, that's just crazy. some, like DJ AM and Michael Jackson, could have been prevented while others, like Ed McMahon and Ted Kennedy, well it was just a matter of time. others, like Billy Mays and Seve McNair, were just complete shocks. it's always sad to see people go, but death is a part of life. However, 23 people in just four months? it's scary.

    September 3, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Eric Salters ( Manhattan )

    Although I didn't know anyone on this list personally, the loss of life is always hard for the loved ones. These people were in the public eye doing what they believed in for themselves as well as for third-party perspective; it goes without say that they do deserve some type of media coverage in respect to their contributions to society as a whole. On the contrary, some of these stories have over-shadowed media coverage of crucial events that are currently taking place in our country. Our addiction to pop culture can some times blur the lines of relevant and irrelevant information. The media must prioritize what pop culture stories make headlines and for how long that story is a "hot topic".

    September 3, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Neen

    Danny Gans, RIP!

    September 3, 2009 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Benst

    Please don't forget Erich Kunzel, the musical conductor who led the Cincinnati Pops orchestra, and who was a fixture on PBS Washington D.C. holiday concerts. He died on Sept. 1, at age 74, from cancer.

    I love it when TCM does their tribute films to the dearly departed.
    Turner Classic Movies knows how to remember the people associated with the motion picture industry who have passed on.

    When the Academy Awards and the Tony Awards did their tributes this year, the TV camera focused on the musicians and Not on the small screen that showed the faces of the departed.

    September 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Caroline

    Hey David -

    Thanks for putting the list together. It's just surreal to see that many names in a row, as well as few of the others listed in the comments.

    September 3, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  44. andrea

    Natasha Richardson died in March, so I guess she cannot be included in the Summer of Death.

    September 3, 2009 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  45. terry

    Why is FARRAH'S name not BOLDED. She was an ICON and anyone who saw her act in the BURNING BED and also in the movie where she played killer of her children Diane Downs in Small Sacrifices and the other 38 movies she made besides doing a little show called Charlie's Angels and having an 80's hairstyle that was so beautiful that a large majority of women had the cut for years and still does. Not only that Farrah Fawcett is a woman who made men, boys, and women too think about their appearance by being so beautiful with perfect body and the whitest teeth ever flashed on a posted not to mention the bod. So she might not have been the greatest of actors but she was one of the great ones and deserves this typo to be fixed and an apology placed to her family by cnn.............................I feel it is quite small of whoever approved this article to not make sure she was BOLDED as she was a BOLD and BRAVE WOMAN.

    September 3, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Daniel, CNN Entertainment Senior Producer

      terry: Failing to bold Farrah Fawcett's name was an oversight, and nothing more. No disrespect was intended to her, her family, her fans, or her memory. I've fixed it - thanks for pointing it out.

      September 3, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  46. riottgirl

    And my dear kitty, Sky (aka "The Sky Pilot") passed on August 31st. While she wasn't a celebrity in the sense of those on this list, she was a star in our eyes. Sky, you will be missed. Thank you for 19 wonderful years of purring, kitty kisses, and paws to the face! Remember: You are my sunshine!

    September 3, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Beth

    I don't know how everyone else got here, but to get to this article I had to specifically click on the "entertainment" tab at the top of the page. For those lambasting the article for it's celebrity content...what foreign policy or appropriations sub-committee decisions were you expecting to read here?

    September 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  48. Tom McCown

    Abe Vigoda is still going strong, though. I will really be upset when
    (if?) he goes...

    September 3, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  49. drew

    you might wanna figure out where micheal jackson belongs on that list.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Caren

    What about Natasha Richardson

    September 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  51. MB

    Tiffany – the problem with the World, Politics, etc. sections is none of them have shed light to Americans and the rest of the world that we (Bush/Cheney) killed over 1 million innocent civilians in the Middle East through our carpet bombing and missile strikes, and maimed thousands more for life through burning and disfigurement, not to mention our depleted uranium that kids over there are playing with and dying from and which also causes birth defects. We really need to hold our government accountable for these human lives lost and ask ourselves if killing innocent human beings, who had nothing to do with terrorism, is acceptable.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Dee

    My dog Pablo of 12 yrs passed away on Aug. 16th

    September 3, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Carole

    And don't forget Capt' Paul Corne......he will be greatly missed in Va. Mass. California Sc. he was a heck of a guy ....Commercial Fisherman and not to mention the best brother a sister could ever have!!!!!!! Long live Capt' Paul......

    September 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  54. photogirl

    How about that guy from Vegas...the one that wore lots of makeup...

    September 3, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Crystal

    I was way out of the loop about a month ago. I was reading the last E Lynn Harris book when I decided to google him. That's when I found out he died. That was about 2 weeks ago.

    Shocked does not even describe my reaction. RIP.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  56. WAY TO CRITISIZE

    I can not believe that people would be so critical of a thread of information that points out the obvious; this summer has seen a great deal of loss in regard to the entertainment industry. Some of them were missed, yes, but the main "headliners", if you will, were pointed out nicely.

    The writer made his point. All people can do is point out who is missing, talk about the dead dog they saw on the way to work or yell about this being the reason other countries hate us???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    Maybe the reason they hate us is that we fail to show compassion, we are over critical and down right mean. This thread is the perfect example and I applaud the writer for supporting his article. If you don't want the information don't read it, and if you do don't complain about the fact that you did.

    Just some food for thought.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Queen 822

    I am a Golden Girls fan so let us not forget about Bea Arthur who played Dorothy. She was one of the funniest, her and Sophia.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  58. santi

    Vernon Forrest . . . and Arturo Gatti and Alexis Arguello . . .

    September 3, 2009 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  59. Nick

    The same day that Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died, Sky Saxon (of '60s garage rockers The Seeds, famous for the pre-punk smash "Pushin' Too Hard") died. That death hit me harder than the others. He lived here in Austin and was still playing club shows.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Carrie

    Just me thought, but as long as we label more and more people as "celebrity" then we have to assume that with the population increase, there will also appear to be more deaths.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  61. Igloomaster

    John Travolta's son. Tragic.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  62. RS

    It's sad to see a lot of these well known folks passing. I don't think I'd necessarily call this the summer of death though. To me, I think if there was a longer list, I might agree with the title "Summer of Death". But to each his own. I'm sorry to see a lot of these people that I grew up watching, pass away. Dom DeLuise was always one of my favs and boy could he make you laugh. Bea Arthur was another, especially when her character Dorothy Zbornak would shoot off a smart comment to either Rue McClannahan's Blanche Devareaux, or Betty White's Rose Nylund. Even when she had a sharp comeback for Estelle Getty's Sophia Petrillo, I'd start cracking up...As for those that passed earlier, like Natasha Richardson, that really broke my heart. She was definitely one of a kind, and I know I'll never forget her. And if I had to pick on this year, that completely stunned me, I'd have to say it was the passing of DJ AM. I was just shocked because after he had survived that plane crash, it seemed like he was getting his life back to normal, and then this happened, and we find that his life was nowhere near getting back to normal. Just goes to show that looks can be deceiving.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  63. ajk68

    This is ridiculous. Take any summer since television became widespread and you would be able to pick out 24 celebrities of equal caliber who died.

    Maybe these 24 are particularly significant to the writer, but not to me. I would have expected this article to be written by a high school senior – awash in the narcissistic view that there will never be another summer like the summer they graduated.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  64. David

    Been a good year for Celebrity Death Pools.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  65. steve

    I'm in a dead pool – what would be really helpful to me is to get NEXT year's list of celebrity deaths. . .

    September 3, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  66. Tina

    We all have demons and struggles. God gave him a second chance and he didn't walk the walk.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Diane

    How could you have forgotten Robert McNamara, 93, who died in between Karl Malden and Walter Cronkite? Especially ironic with two Kennedys dying within two weeks of one another.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Gregg

    In response to Mark's comments and in support of the writer, celebrity deaths impact is unique in that it creates a shared experience for millions of people. This is not saying that celebrity lives are more important than anyone else, it just means that we as people naturally looked for shared experiences to bond. These experiences are good like in watching a Super Bowl, horrific such as 9/11, Katrina, etc. and also can be educational such as debating health care reform. But in all instances these events provide common ties which make us more of human community.

    September 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Blake

    at the top of the list should be Harry Kalas

    September 3, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  70. Lisa

    I think Natasha Richardson (Liam's wife) didn't die in the summer though....I could be wrong...I have no track of time anymore. I'm gettin' old. :-/

    September 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  71. Dinosaurjr

    Summer of Death? Please. Many of these so-called celebrities lived long, full lives. Some brought death on themselves. Others, like Natasha Richardson and Farah, died before their time. That's how life has always worked.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Samantha

    Even with my disbelief that Michael Jackson is gone. I must agree people die. We may have season of distant deaths and a season of deaths close to home. Death is a part of life and no matter how much money, success, or talent you have as sure as your living today. You will die.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Lily

    After all these news, I purchased additional life insurance and created a will for my family and kids.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Mouse

    You forgot about Bea Arthur!

    September 3, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  75. tim

    I agree...Dont forget two world champions Arturo Gatti and Vernon Forrest. Two greats who deserve mention over "celebrities" like "DJ AM"....we wont forget the viper Verrnon and thunder Gatti

    September 3, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Tiffany

    If you don't care, then stop reading the ENTERTAINMENT NEWS and read about the World, Politics, US, Sports, etc.

    I think it's funny you all are complaining about cnn reports about this, yet you are the ones who clicked on the link, took the time to write a comment, which inevitably, shows cnn (by number of hits & comments) that a lot of people are actually interested in this. Which means, more articles getting published.

    The critics are always the fools.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Avery

    Please don't forget about E. Lynn Harris, Auturo Gatti and Vernon Forrest

    September 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Brent

    Did you forget Bea Arthur??

    September 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Daniel, CNN Entertainment Senior Producer

      Brent: No, she passed away a bit earlier, in late April. As has been noted, people die all the time, and I had to draw my (admittedly arbitrary) line somewhere.

      September 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  79. After the Summer of Death, the Fall of Falling Down Dead

    Let's not forget the dead dog I saw on the street here in Bangkok just a few days ago. A summer of death indeed. Just what is the world coming to? Or to put it another way, when is CNN going to go back to writing real news stories. Oh I forgot, people don't want to read real news anymore, just stupid stuff about semi-celebrities.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Meat

    Anybody else happen to see the Billy Mays infomercial where he was hawking Magic 8 Balls?

    September 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  81. tom tac

    Ironic that you lead off with the quote from the song "That Smell".

    I was hit had by the death of Lynyrd Skynrd's piano man, Billy Powell, last January. Of course, he was a survivor of that plane crash.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Lolita

    Don't forget the boxer Arturo Gotti!

    September 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Denise

    What about Danny Ganz (Las Vegas Comedy Star)?

    September 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Jeanine

    They are all sad....but what is even worse is that some of them were perventable.....RIP to all of the ones we lost in Hollywood and elsewhere in the world.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  85. G

    Looking at this list would break anyone's heart....as it does mine. However, is anyone keeping a list and publishing the list of soldiers who have died in these two wars while defending our country? I'm not trying to take anything away from this list of people who have passed on, it's just food for thought!

    September 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Mark

    The Summer of Death?!! Are you kidding me? 2 dozen celebrities die in 4 months and this qualifies as the Summer of death? I wonder how many other people died in the same period of time. I can't understand our sick obsession with celebrities. They are just human like everyone else and ALL humans die. None of these people were any more significant or special than any to the other THOUSANDS that perished in the same period of time yet we glorify and deify because they were actors or performers. Wake up America. this (among many other reasons) is why the world hates us so much.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • David Daniel, CNN Entertainment Senior Producer

      Mark: I agree with much of what you wrote, but I ask you to consider:

      1. The context. This is an entertainment news blog. While we touch on larger issues as they relate to the subject matter, we're talkin' showbiz here.

      2. If you read all the way through, you'd see I noted that you can't compare celebrity deaths to those of people we actually know, and I wasn't trying to do so. Nor did I indicate that the celebs who died this summer were "any more significant or special" than anyone else, save that their fame made their passings subject to wider interest and discussion. You may be reading more into the blog entry than is actually there, but I appreciate your comments.

      September 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Chris

    What about Asian director Choa Mie Chin?

    September 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  88. Sue C

    Wow, yeah, Natasha Richardson. That was heartbreaking.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  89. valarie

    A few more:
    Gale Storm ("My Little Margie")
    Harve Presnell ("The Unsinkable Molly Brown")
    Budd Schulberg ("screenplay for "On the Waterfront")

    September 3, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Lucia

    You forgot Danny Ganz – Las Vegas entertainer.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Triny

    Yes it has been a horrible summer in the way of celebrity deaths, the biggest being Michael Jackson's. I've been waiting to come up for air from this but celebrity deaths has been much too noticeable this year.

    May all those we have lost rest in peace.

    September 3, 2009 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  92. soulew

    Harve Presenel – Actor also passed June of this year 2009

    September 3, 2009 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Lorin

    what about Liam Neeson's wife?

    September 3, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  94. diashana anthony

    also author E Lynn Harris

    September 3, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  95. Alex

    Sadly, time marches on. While a few of the deaths (Jackson, Mays, DJ AM) sound like they could have been prevented and clearly occurred prematurely, those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s are now entering a time when many of the people we knew from TV and movies and music are going to begin going away, simply on the basis that the 1970s ended three decades ago. Anyone who was in their 30s in 1979 is in their 60s now, and pushing 70. Go back to the 1960s and they're heading for their 80s. It's going to be increasingly depressing as time goes on, especially since, frankly, today's generation has yet to produce another Cronkite or another Ed McMahon or another Les Paul. Some have come close (maybe in 30 years Ryan Seacrest will be as revered as Ed) but the absence of these replacements makes the loss of "the originals" hit that much harder.

    September 3, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  96. CK

    Also, Ellie Greenwich, who wrote or cowrote so many pop songs, such as Leader of the Pack and Be My Baby, gone at 68. And Larry Knechtel, the keyboardist who played with so many artists, and was a member of the pop band Bread in the '70s, gone at 69. And Gordon Waller, of the Peter and Gordon pop duo of the '60s, gone at 66. It has been a summer of loss, as the article says. But then again, such losses are happening all the time in every season.

    September 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  97. marie

    Every summer is the summer of death. People die every summer.

    September 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Pam

    While sad since most of us do not know any of these people coping really isn't hard. I loved Charlies Angels and Michael Jackson and while I was sad that they died it didn't affect my life other than I watched way too much CNN and spent too much time on TMZ for a few days. Other than that I'm good.

    September 3, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Micah B

    I know it was pre-summer but we also lost Paul Harvey (28 Feb. 2009).
    This has not been a good year to be a celeb.

    September 3, 2009 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  100. Matt

    Don't forget boxing star Vernon Forrest

    September 3, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |

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