Death and cancer can be fickle, especially this week with the shocking – practically devastating – news of chameleon-like musician and occasional actor David Bowie and thespian Alan Rickman’s deaths.
David Bowie, perhaps best known for his genre-defying musical career and for playing Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, died Monday at age 69 after privately living with liver cancer for 18 months that spread and went terminal late last year. The timing was eerie, as he had just celebrated his birthday and released Blackstar, his 26th and final album (unless there are any posthumous EP or LP releases). It and the subsequent music video for “Lazarus” were intended as a parting gift, as Bowie had been working on the project since his diagnosis and finished it in November, according to a Rolling Stone article.
Bowie’s other notable roles include Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth, Jon Blaylock in The Hunger, Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, a cameo in Zoolander, and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. He leaves behind his first wife Angela Bowie, their child and director Duncan Jones (a.k.a. Zowie Bowie), his second wife Iman, and their child Alexandra “Lexi” Zahra Jones.
Alan Rickman, the noted British actor of stage and screen known to many as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films and to others as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, died on Thursday at age 69 – also after a private battle with cancer. His last film, A Little Chaos, was released this past summer, and his final live-action film, Eye in the Sky, hits US shores on March 11th. It’s followed shortly by a CG appearance as Absolem the Caterpillar in Alice Through The Looking Glass on May 27th.
Other notable roles of Rickman’s include Metatron in Dogma, Marvin The Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. His stage career was limited, but included the recent production Seminar, a revival of Private Lives, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
He leaves behind Rima Horton, his wife and partner of just over 50 years.
Both of these deaths – and two other perhaps minor but still notable deaths (David Margulies – the mayor in the Ghostbusters movies – and Brian Bedford – the voice of Disney’s 1973 Robin Hood) – left me devastated. 2016 clearly isn’t off to a good start.