2016 has been a tragic year for celebrity deaths leading many people to ask, what is going on? From David Bowie on January 10 to Muhammad Ali on June 4, this year has claimed some of the worldâs most treasured stars. These are often people we have grown up, even growing alongside and itâs made people wonder if they are next.
Muhammad Ali was a living legend but instead of fighting for titles, he had spent his last years fighting a very different battle with cancer. This is a running theme across many of the celebrity deaths this year with the Big C claiming many lives. Not surprisingly, for many others drug addiction and substance abuse has been alluded to as contributing to their deaths, most notably for the artist, Prince. Both are illnesses that can affect the lives of everyday people so perhaps this is why so many of us are worried!
Alan Rickman, famous for his villain-roles in blockbuster movies like Die Hard as well as playing the unconventional love interest to Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility, Rickman has been a staple in many of our lives, no matter what movie genre you happened to be into. Most recently, his role as the misunderstood professor, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise firmly placed Rickman in the center of many a heart.
It was not to end there and the first three months of the year left me worrying what news I was going to wake up to in the morning. Instead of the sinister threat of World War Three through our obsession with terrorism, I was now more worried about who was going to die next in the celebrity world. It seemed endless with Glenn Fray of The Eagles, Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, the novelist, Harper Lee and Frank Sinatra Junior all popping their clogs before I could make my morning coffee.
Of course Princeâs death dominated the media in April but he was not the only celebrity to lose his life that particular month. We also lost the troubled yet talented wrestler, Chyna and singer, Billy Pauls.
Theories of Death
As well as Cancer and substance abuse, another couple of theories have emerged to explain why it seems like so many celebs are dying this year.
Nick Serpal, Editor for the BBCâs obituaries has suggested that itâs a generational thing:
âPeople who started to become famous in the 1960âs are now entering their 70s and starting to die.â
Just like the rest of the normal population. So if you are around this age group or your parents are, it might be something youâre also experiencing in your own lives too.
Serpal also noted that the celeb generation of the 1960âs is also a lot larger than the generation before it which means more celeb deaths. This is in part due to the rise in popularity of both TV as a leisure activity and the media boom encouraging an interest in the lives of people on TV and film.
Other research has suggested that the actors of this generation were products of the post-war âbaby boomâ which translated into laymansâ terms, simply means there are more people in that generation to begin with so it will automatically seem like more celebs are dying.
Drugs and Celebs, a Marriage
Drug and substance abuse often seems like it goes hand-in-hand with celebrity status with countless celebs, young and old appearing in the paparazzi âoff their facesâ on drugs or completely intoxicated by alcohol. Remember Amy Winehouse? Well, like her, many celebs never recover from their addiction and it seems like itâs pretty hard to escape drugs in celeb-land where money, power and status so the talking.
Jamie Lee Curtis is among the actors to speak up about addiction during the time of Princeâs death, drawing attention to the âtoxicâ life one can lead as a celebrity. Prescription drugs seem to be more readily available but taking painkillers to dull emotional or physical pain does not seem to kill the demon inside. In a powerful essay, paying homage not just to Prince as an established artist but to all of those whose potential was lost, Curtis wrote:
âI like all of you, mourn the passing of a great artist but I also mourn the passing of potential artists past and present, caught in this deadly viceâ
Addiction is such a dirty word in everyday life and celebrity land, I mean in both, accusations of addiction can ruin your life and your career pretty damn fast. No one wants to be seen as someone who is out of control and lacking willpower to be strong enough to resist these kind of pathologies. As addiction specialist, Clare Wasimann founder of the Waismann Method Treatment Center states:
âThis stigma that society has created keeps the ones that need help alone, hopeless and ashamed.â
The Big C
On the other side of the coin, we have cancer, the disease that everyone seems to be fighting these days. With recent research showing that 1 in 2 of us will have to say the words âIâve got cancerâ itâs not surprising so many celebs are also victims of the disease. Alan Rickman and Victoria Wood are among those who fell victim to the Big C.
Even though life expectancy is ever increasing and now 3 out of 4 people will survive cancer rather than die for it, these are pretty high stats. Essentially it means, for every 5 celebs, one will die of cancer, just as it means for every 5 people you know, one will die from cancer. Of course stats are generalized and donât work exactly in this way but you get the picture. Think about how many celebs you know and think about 1 in 5. This also means that there are a lot of celebs out there who have fought the cancer battle and survived. Artists like Kylie for example went public on dealing with cancer.
June Celeb Deaths
Most recently, we have lost veteran actor and director, Nyembezi Kuene who suffered a long illness and the boxing legend, Muhammad Ali showing that itâs not just cancer we have to worry about in the modern world.
Ali had been battling with Parkinsonâs disease and contracted a respiratory illness which was made a lot worse due to his pre-existing condition. So at 74 years old, Ali has said farewell to the world.
And if these theories are anything to go by, we should expect a lot more in the celeb obits.