Barry King/ Getty Images
Barry King/ Getty Images
A year ago, Farrah Fawcett's passing was the biggest entertainment news of the day. For about four hours.
It's nobody's fault our heads were turned by the sudden death of Michael Jackson. The truth is, these things happen. And they've happened to these star-crossed notables, too:
1. Mother Teresa: When Princess Diana's death prompted global mourning in 1997, it was asked if the grieving would be as great for the sainted nun of Calcutta. The answer came just days after Diana's death when Teresa passed away at age 87. And, suffice to say, Elton John didn't rewrite any of his songs for her. (Not that he was obliged to, mind you. We're just saying.)
2. Brad Renfro: It was one thing for the promising actor's overdose death at age 25 to be overshadowed exactly one week later by Heath Ledger's own overdose death. It was another to be excluded from the following year's Academy Awards' tribute segment, despite solid credits and solid work in everything from The Client to Bully.
3. Vaughn Meader: If you have no idea who Vaughn Meader, that's why he's on this list. In the early 1960s, Meader released what would become the best-selling comedy album of all-time, and won two Grammys, including Album of the Year. Then on Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated, and Meader, who was famous for imitating JFK, "died," too. At least that's what Meader said right up until the day he really died—in 2004.
4. The Big Bopper: Buddy Holly got a biopic. Ritchie Valens got a biopic. The "Chantilly Lace" singer, killed in the same Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash that claimed Holly and Valens, got the short end of the fame stick.
5. Michael Jackson: One night, the King of Pop is ascendant—the focus of New York City, if not the pop-culture universe, with the closing night of an all-star celebration marking his 30th anniversary in music. The next day, Sept. 11, 2001, he is just another person trying to get out of town.
Honorable Mentions: Groucho Marx, the comic great whose only bit of bad timing might have been passing away amid the height of Elvis Presley mourning in 1977; Ed McMahon, Billy Mays and anyone else who got caught in the undertow of MJ's death; former President Gerald Ford, whose somber state funeral competed for attention against James Brown's rockin' send-offs—all three of them; Aldous Huxley, who had the foresight to write Brave New World, but then failed to predict the misfortune of dying on Nov. 22, 1963.