Monday, November 28, 2016


Much has been said by so many people about why so many famous people have passed away in 2016; seemingly much more than in any other year in our history. This may or may not be true, but I have some theories.

Of course, I am the purveyor of bad news and virtually every day this year, I have posted the death of someone or other, but why? Why this year? People die all the time. Granted there are more people alive on this planet now than at any other time in this planet's history, so the odds are that much greater that more people will also die each year, simply due to that fact.

A MAJOR factor is that the 1960s as a decade is now 50 years old. I, myself will be reaching that milestone on December 15th. About a month ago, I posted that NBC was the first television network to broadcast a full-color primetime programming line-up and that fact alone was a game changer, although no one really knew it at the time.

Let's go back to the 1960s. My grandfather turned 50 in 1964. When he turned 50, there was probably some nostalgia for things that happened in the 1910's, and people that were prominent back then were dying off in the 1960s and 70s. People like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin and others, but the number of deaths of famous people were fewer and farther between compared to now since the amount of famous people who retained their fame for over 50 years was far fewer than now, so if someone who was big in the 1910s, they weren't necessarily still big in the 1960s.

Why? The difference is that in the 1960s, precious little material from the 1910s was still being shown as it was black and white and SILENT. Also, much material was not even archived as Vaudeville was still all the rage, so all of those performers and performances who never appeared on film was lost except to the memories of those who lived back then.

Now, because of color and the omnipresence of television, color TV shows and series (especially the more popular ones) have been aired endlessly since their debuts. Prior to the color transition, there were black and white series, but the ones that kept getting reran were ones that were filmed instead of done live and filmed as kinescopes. So, shows like "I Love Lucy" and the 39 episodes of "The Honeymooners" were and still are reran endlessly, while the kinescopes fell by the wayside.

Then, in recent times, with the advent of digital technology, the color masters (and even the black and white ones) have been digitally remastered and cleaned up so that they look like they were shot today. Coupled with that, the shows have aired in syndication, have been issued on tape and DVD, have been resurrected for oldies TV stations like MeTV and are now streaming.

Because of this, the aging stars who were in their 20s and 30s in the 1960s are now in their 70s and 80s, but because they appear on TV every day in their youth, they don't seem to have aged and are always on our TVs. So when they die, it's more of a hard hit because we all grew up with these people and they still look so young and vibrant.

Granted, some of the deaths this year have been a true shock like David Bowie, Prince and Florence Henderson who were still being very active and making regular appearances in concert and on TV.
So, will this stop now that 2016 is over? I'm afraid not. 2017 will probably continue to be the demise of more of our favorite celebrities from the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s and the remainder of those from earlier times, and it will only get worse as these people will continue to be shown in our homes on a regular basis making them also seem like they are eternally young. Fortunately, we have the memories and the footage so they will continue to live on.