"By writing or reading obituaries, we can discover ways to make our time on earth more worthwhile, more productive, more meaningful to others."
Alana Baranick, "Life on the Death Beat"

"'I always read the obituaries in The Times,' I explained to her. 'They make me bloody glad to be alive.'"
John Mortimer, "Rumpole's Return"

Kissinger death watch: is this headline inflammatory?

Henry Kissinger, Nobel Peace Prize winner and/or unindicted war criminal, diplomat par excellence, advior to Presidents . . . the fact that he went to the hospital in South Korea with a sore tummy made all the major news outlets run a few paragraphs this morning.

However couched in concern it may be, reports such as this are signals the media sends to tell the home office to update the obituary summaries, dust off the photos, and reedit the timelines. Kissinger is a major historical figure (and a character in John Adams' opera "Nixon in China"), and there is something inherently vulturous about both the original report -- and this post.    

Why this fascination with the impending deaths of the famous and powerful? We will of course keep you posted.

Merlin Olsen

Hall of Fame football tackle, actor, commentator -- and FTD flower guy! Via the New York Times

Dorothy Janis

Dorothy Janis with Ramon Navarro in the 1929 film "The Pagan."

Juanita Goggins

Groundbreaking legislator dies in unhappy circumstances -- via MSNCBC

Corey Haim

The adjectives in obits for this actor will be "troubled," "teen heartthrob"  -- via the L.A. Times and KTLA

Doris Haddock

"Granny D" was a remarkable political activist -- via Yahoo News

Karl Malkames

This amazing man first made his name as a cameraman and cinematographer (he shot the car chases for "Thunder Road"); then, he saved hundreds of films as a pioneer of restoration and preservation -- including "Tillie's Punctured Romance," "Tumbleweeds," "The Iron Horse" and "The Big Trail." -- from NitrateVille

Willie Davis

Former Dodgers center fielder -- via Daily Pitch

Sir Kenneth Dover -- a life measured three ways

Sir Kenneth Dover (left) awarding a honorary Doctor of Music degree to a Mr. Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minnesota.
A renowned scholar of ancient Greece -- depending on which obituary you read, he was either a beloved academic, a bold analyst of the birth of homosexual culture . . . or a guy who wished an employee would just drop dead.

Andree Peel

World War II Resistance heroine -- via the Times of London.

Martin Benson

Benson in a signature role, Solo in "Goldfinger."
Wonderful character actor -- via the Times of London.

Dorothy Calvert

Pirate radio pioneer -- via the Times of London

Edgar Wayburn

Conservationist doubled the size of America's parks and wildernesses -- via the L.A. Times

Richard Wyler/Richard Stapley

Film actor -- via Yahoo News

Elsie Phelps

She gave birth to five children in a tent -- she riveted bombers together in WWII -- she hunted, cleaned and canned meat for her family -- and believed in the healing power of whiskey. Quite an extraordinary life -- thanks to Mike Long for pointing this out! Via the Durango Herald

Pierre Vinet

Masterful on-set still photographer -- via Ain't It Cool News

Dodie Masterman

Renowned book illustrator -- via the Guardian

Putting the fun back in funeral

 A Pittsfield, Massachusetts funeral home wants to add chili cookoffs, murder-mystery shows and a visit from the Easter Bunny to its offerings -- via the Berkshire Eagle.

Mark Linkous

Composer and performer best known for his work with Sparklehorse -- via Rolling Stone magazine