Sic Transit Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967 – 2014


Philip_Seymour_Hoffman_2011

So apparently I’m the only person who was unaware that Philip Seymour Hoffman had a drug problem. This became a very serious problem today, when he was found dead of an apparent drug overdose.

Hoffman first came to the public eye in a big way in 1997 when Boogie Nights was released. From there his career slowly, steadily, improved, culminating in his 2005 Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor in the title role in Capote. He also received numerous other awards and nominations, including three more Oscar nominations.

Hoffman was known for a largely quiet acting style. His characters seldom screamed or acted out. Even his villain characters, such as Owen Davian in the under-rated Mission Impossible III, tended to be quiet characters.

But that quiet apparently hid some serious demons. Hoffman went public with drug problems last year when, after a long span of sobriety, he checked into a rehab center. It seems, sadly, that the rehab was ineffective, as it is believed he died from a heroin overdose.

Hoffman was a brilliant and talented actor who will be severely missed.

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Sic Transit Barbara Billingsley – 1915 – 2010


Now she's speaking jive in Heaven...

Barbra Billingsley, best to known to the world as June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver has died. She was 94.

Billingsley had been a minor, if somewhat popular, movie actress until landing her most famous role in 1957. From there her fame skyrocketed, if only for a little while. After Leave it to Beaver went off the air in 1963, she went on to a series of smaller roles, including a memorable appearance in Airplane! and most recently in an episode of My Name Is Earl.

I remember watching and enjoying Leave it to Beaver back in the day. It was an ok show, but does not hold up well, as it presents a very unrealistic vision of life in the 1950’s/1960’s; one that’s undermined quite well by shows like Mad Men and books like The Way We Never Were. But it had its moments, and seeing her on Earl was wonderfully fun.

From all accounts Billingsley was a nice woman and certainly talented. She will be missed.

Sic Transit Teddy Kennedy – 1932 – 2009


I'm making damn sure this picture is positioned well to the left of center.

I'm making damn sure this picture is positioned well to the left of center.

Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy has died. He was the brother of Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy and the senior Senator from Massachusetts.

Kennedy was a controversial character at times. Like all the more notable Kennedys he’s had his problems, but no one can doubt that he was a dedicated, hard-working man who did his best by his state and his country.

He was the last of the great Kennedy figures; the Tier One Kennedys, if you will. Like Robert before him he tried for the Presidency and unlike John he didn’t succeed. He was a hell of a Senator, though, and will be missed.

Sic Transit Walter Cronkite – 1916 – 2009


And that's the way it was...

And that's the way it was...

Next up on the Great Celebrity Die-Off of ’09, Walter Cronkite, the venerable CBS newsman and American institution. He died today at the age of 92. We should all last that long.

I don’t remember seeing any of Cronkite’s broadcasts live. I know I’ve seen footage of things like the Kennedy assassination coverage and the Apollo 11 coverage, and I probably saw him doing The CBS Evening News, but I don’t remember any news people prior to Dan Rather.

Despite not having seen him doing his show, I’m still aware of the huge impact he had on the American public and on journalism in this country. He was often called “The Most Trusted Man in America” and during his time on the air, he certainly was. If Uncle Walter said something, you knew it was true.

There’s no one in American journalism these days that even comes close to reaching the levels that Cronkite reached, which is a pity. When I look at TV news today, I see a field dominated by the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Keith Oberman. Cronkite was the last great lion of news and though he’s not been on the air in nearly thirty years, he will still be missed.