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Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 6:20:00 PM
Wednesday December 4, 2013 MYT 7:21:06 PM
by lennard gui
The Grim Reaper must have a strange sense of humour when calling on the famous.
The irony that actor Paul Walker, star of the Fast & Furious movie franchise, died in a car crash while riding shotgun in a speeding sports vehicle isn’t lost on the world. But he’s not the first celebrity to meet his demise in a somewhat similar manner to what made him famous. Here are six people who perished in a parallel way to their popularity.
In October 2006, Rehab made torch song singer Amy Winehouse a superstar. She’d said no, no, no to professional help for her drug habit, but kicked her addiction by developing a liquor obsession instead. By 2011, she was on a yo-yo pattern of abstaining for a few weeks and then going on a binge drinking bender. In July that year, she took one last swig from the bottle and died of accidental alcohol intoxication while watching her own music videos. According to the coroner, her blood alcohol content was five times higher than the legal limit. She was only 27.
Steve Irwin lovers, like Jacques Cousteau’s grandson, championed his dramatic methods to show people that dangerous and deadly monsters were actually not. Crocodile Hunter haters, like Cousteau’s son, were critical of his gotcha tactics and called him a cheap reality TV star who provoked frightened beasts. In September 2006, Irwin’s hands-on approach while filming Ocean’s Deadliest at the Great Barrier Reef saw a fish accomplish what hundreds of reptiles failed at. As Irwin, 44, snorkelled close to a stingray, it suddenly turned and stabbed him in the chest with its tail spine in a defensive response. Just before the accident, he’d told the cameraman, “Don’t worry, they usually don’t swim backwards.”
In 1988, 72-year-old retired actress Myra Davis (also known as Myra Jones) was attacked in the shower by a dazed and confused handyman who killed her like he was Norman Bates. Along with the rest of the world, Kenneth Hunt believed she was the nude body double for actress Janet Leigh in the 1960 thriller Psycho during her shower scene. But Alfred Hitchcock kept such a tight lid on the film that it wasn’t until 2010 when author Robert Graysmith discovered Leigh’s real body double was actually Marli Renfro, who was alive and well in California. Davis, unfortunately, was only Leigh’s stand-in for lighting checks.
Circus performer Bobby Leach was no stranger to stunts, so in July 1911 he boxed himself in a barrel and threw himself from 167ft high into Niagara Falls, becoming the second daredevil to do it after Annie Taylor. He lived to make a nice living from his tale, after spending six months in hospital with broken kneecaps and a fractured jaw. Then in 1926, at age 68, while on a publicity tour in New Zealand, he slipped on a fruit peel, plunged 4ft to the ground, and broke his leg. Two months later, after an infection that led to gangrene and finally amputation of his leg, he died.
In his 44 years, singer Marvin Gaye survived three suicide attempts brought on by depression. He tried shooting himself, he tried to OD on cocaine, and he jumped in front of a speeding car. By 1982, he was wearing a bulletproof vest and his bodyguards were armed because he was paranoid about an assassination plot. So for Christmas 1983, he gave his dad – who he had an abusive relationship with all his life – a loaded gun to protect them against intruders. In April ’84, after Marvin got in the middle of another row between his parents, Gaye Sr. burst into his son’s room and shot him twice with his Christmas gift.
Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys
Though the Beach Boys were created on the wave of California’s surfing culture in 1961, drummer Dennis Wilson was the only real surfer. But he wouldn’t have been in the band if his mum hadn’t forced his older brother Brian to include him. Arguably, it was Dennis’ idea for them to write about surfing, and his personal life exemplified the beach lifestyle their early songs celebrated. His later years saw him drowning in booze, however, and in December 1983, shortly after turning 39, he drowned in the LA marina after drinking all day and then going diving for things he'd chuck into the ocean.
Additional reporting by Olivia Lee
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Lifestyle, Entertainment, ironic deaths
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