Sunday, January 15, 2012

People Are Dying Now who Never Died Before

When Irving Berlin died in 1989 at 101, I remember Herb Caen saying how it used to be that people famous for being old were never famous for anything else.  Wasn't true of Berlin (which was Caen's point) and these days, it isn't true at all.  Consider Frederica Sagor-Maas, the Hollywood silent-movie script writer whose obit is up at the NYT this morning; she was 111, by one credible account the 44th oldest person in the world.

An outlier, but not by much.  Survey the other recent obits still up at the Times:   Here's ceramic artist Eva Zeisel (105).  Here's photographer Eve Arnold (99).  Here's population geneticist James F. Crow (95); Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov (94); desegregation strategist Robert Carter (94)  and half a dozen or so until you come down to   Jerzy Kluger, Pope John Paul II's childhood buddy and  Judge Joel J. Tyler, who gagged on "Deep Throat" both 90.  Shame to think of them snuffed out in their prime.

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