Dear Hollywood: Let them die in peace

By Gus Bode

It seems like whenever a big celebrity dies, a media circus goes on for the couple of months after it happens – especially if it is an unexpected death.

This isn’t really a big deal, because it is to be expected that the public will want all the facts they can possibly get. However, when the investigation and the whoring out of the death goes on for months and years on end, it’s completely ridiculous.

In a news item that was somewhat buried in today’s avalanche of celebrity news, it was announced that an auction will be held to sell off Princess Diana’s letters to her former nanny. Another big “death” story is about how Heath Ledger’s life insurance company has not yet paid out on the $10 million life insurance policy he took out. The money is supposed to go into a trust fund for his daughter Matilda, who also inherited Ledger’s net worth of $16.6 million upon his death.


Princess Diana died in a car accident 11 years ago. There are still books being published about her death and items of hers that are still being auctioned off. Hasn’t enough money been made and enough relentless paparazzi attention been paid to this woman?

It seems like once a year some TV host gets the LATEST EXCLUSIVE SCOOP on what happened that night.

The same thing happened with Heath Ledger. Remember the rumors about Mary Kate Olsen being there, the fact that the ambulances weren’t called right away, the fact that Michelle Williams shunned “The Dark Knight” premiere and on and on and on? It’s like everyone in the world feeds on the misery of these celebrities and makes a profit off of their suffering.

This also happened after Sept. 11 (I recall getting a flier in the mail for tweezers that said “Tweeze With Pride! God Bless America!” and a big American flag on something you used to dig dirt out of your fingernails.) It’s as tasteless and offensive for celebrities as it is for national tragedies.

That brings me to a rather large event of the weekend – the death of Paul Newman at age 83. He succumbed to cancer in his home on Friday and the entertainment industry has been grieving this loss for the last few days. This was expected, because Paul Newman was one of the greatest human beings to ever come out of Hollywood, and for that matter, America.

The man raised something like $250 million for charity through his “Newman’s Own” brand of products. He was a fine actor and an unbelievably attractive sex symbol. He won one Oscar and was nominated for many more. He directed films, raced NASCAR cars and was an outspoken liberal activist who was once placed on Richard Nixon’s “Enemies List” back in the 70’s. His final film was 2006’s “Cars” and since then he has spent time with his family, quietly nearing death with dignity and grace.

The point is, because Paul Newman lived such an amazing life and touched so many people, the paparazzi will probably give him dignity in death, and because he died of natural causes, we will not hear about the possible things that could have happened to him in months to come.


This should be the example to be followed by all news organizations in the event of the death of a famous person. Let us remember what they did well in their lives instead of fretting over how they died and selling off their worldly possessions and images in order to profit from the death.

Otherwise, we won’t be much better than the current Presidential administration.

Rest in peace, Paul, Heath, Bernie Mac, George Carlin, Isaac Hayes, Brad Renfro and the numerous other celebrities who have died this year.

Wes Lawson can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275 or [email protected].