They say famous people die in threes. It appears this week is no exception:

The real tragedy is that two of these people where just experiencing real resurgences in their careers — Cash was being rediscovered by a new generation of young people thanks to his deeply moving cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” (a performance for which, just two weeks ago, he won an MTV Video Music Award), and Ritter, after decades of typecasting thanks to his lead role in the iconic 70s TV series “Three’s Company”, was finally coming into his own again as an actor with roles in the movie “Tadpole” and the TV series “Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter“. For both to be struck down just as fate smiled on them again seems cruel even for this vale of tears — especially for Ritter, who was a relatively young man with no idea he had a ticking time bomb in his chest.

As for Riefenstahl — well, she’s another kettle of fish altogether. She’s the documentarian who made such epic Nazi propaganda films as “Triumph of the Will” and “Olympia“, and then spent the rest of her life violently denying that she was a Nazi and claiming that she was just a working filmmaker who was doing her job (which, as it happened, was to glorify the Nazi state). Was she telling the truth, or retroactively trying to wriggle out of the noose that was prepared for Nazism at Nuremberg? Who knows? (The documentary film “The Wonderful Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl” does a good job of examining both sides of the argument.) Now she’s gone, and she gets to be judged by someone who can’t be fooled by retroactive justifications. It’s just too bad we don’t get to find out what the verdict is.

UPDATE: Well, it appears the “famous people die in threes” trope didn’t hold true, at least for this particular week — I forgot when I posted this that singer/songwriter Warren Zevon died of lung cancer last Sunday at age 56. Sorry for the omission.



September 13, 2003
2:10 pm

My only comment is that I’d put Riefenstahl with the “did a deal with the devil” trio of Strom Thurmond and whats-his-name from Alabama.
Hell will be viewing some really well-shot movies. Except that the projector will always break right at the most interesting part, and they will all star Kianu Reeves as soon as he kicks off.
“Ein Reich, like, Ein Volk, and, um, Ein Fuhrer? Whoah!”


September 14, 2003
10:52 pm

Hmmm…I just realized this was also a case of selective memory in terms of supporting a myth (celebrity deaths occur in 3s).
Warren Zevon also kicked off this week (Monday), but has been overshadowed.

Jason Lefkowitz

September 14, 2003
11:53 pm

Yeah, Warren Zevon occurred to me just yesterday too. Not sure why I forgot him when I posted this… I’ll update it to add his obit as well.