The death of a loved one is always a tragic event, but it is made worse when that person is someone as famous or well-known as Christopher Hitchens or Robert Pattinson. The death of those two literary greats is certainly a major story that the media will be covering, but there are countless others whose stories may go untold or, at least, not fully explored due to time constraints.
Here are a few of those stories that may be worthy of a retelling, especially now that the famous author and journalist is no longer with us to bring them to life for us:
It’s well known that Christopher Hitchens and Robert Pattinson were very close friends; they even acted in a movie together once. What is less well known is that they were both close friends with Dylan Moran as well. He may appear to be just another generic, run-of-the-mill celebrity these days, but his celebrity stemmed from his being an extremely funny and clever comic; he was also well-known for impersonating public figures, including Hillary Clinton and even Donald Trump. His impersonations were so spot on that people often mistook him for the real thing. He used this talent for good when he decided to use his act to help raise funds for charity by impersonating some of the most well-known figures in the history of literature and humor – and it worked!
In the wake of the pandemic, the Dylan Moran Celebrity Impersonators Fund was set up to help those in need during this time. The fund donated £100,000 to the NHS and other similar organizations.
Like Christopher Hitchens, Michael Palin is another great writer who died just this year. The former Monty Python member was perhaps best known for his witty speeches and one-liners, but he also wrote books, including Children of Men – a stark look at the future of humanity in the wake of global warming. He was only 62 years old.
Despite his best efforts, his most recent book, Skilling My Students, was only a moderate success. Like many others, he used social media to give updates on his health, revealing that he had been recently diagnosed with cancer. He kept working right up until the end, and he passed away just a few days before his birthday on April 12th.
The legendary comedian and social commentator William Hicks died shortly after the end of March this year. Known for his cynical and caustic humor, Hicks dedicated much of his life to ridiculing celebrities and the famous. In the wake of his passing, many comedians have been inspired to write and comedy albums about Hicks, paying tribute to his incredible life and work. While he was never short of work, Hicks only ever took on a few projects at a time, as he felt that focusing on one thing to the exclusion of everything else was how you end up as an also-ran.
Hicks was born in Texas in 1962 but grew up in England. He was a graduate of Oxford University’s prestigious St. Peter’s College. While at Oxford, he joined the Footlights comedy troupe and was later elected president of the Oxford University Footlights. He went on to found the William Hicks Company, devoted to the proposition that genius is not exclusive to one gender or race. For the past few years, he had been very open about his battles with depression. The day before he died, he posted on his Instagram account, “It’s been an incredible journey being scared to death of missing deadlines & anxious about whether or not this material will be ‘good enough’…& then, just a few days ago, feeling completely re-energized by some brilliant ideas.”
It’s been a while since we’ve heard from the great actor and comedian Robin Williams, who died in August this year at the age of 63. Williams was best known for his work in films like Good Will Hunting, Aladdin, and The Birdcage, for which he won an Oscar. He was also a successful stand-up comedian and a gifted writer who dabbled in both comedy and drama. He was respected not just for his work, but also for the warmth and honesty of his personality. In 2019, a lot of his old comedy routines were uploaded to YouTube and have since gained a significant following.
Williams’s passing was followed fast by that of his friend and fellow comedian Albert Brooks. They had been friends since the 1970s and maintained a close friendship right up until Brooks’s death in 2019 as well. The two of them formed a comedy tandem known as Brooks and Williams, regularly appearing together at comedy gigs and festivals. Since the start of this year, there have been several tributes and memorials in honor of Williams and Brooks, as well as a number of one-off movies and TV specials centered on their friendship. It is safe to say that neither man would have considered themselves the exclusive property of one particular genre or form of comedy; they were essentially masters of modern comedy, and they will be sorely missed.
The great American humorist and social commentator Richard Simmons passed away in November 2019 at the age of 88. A true pioneer in the world of comedy fitness, Simmons rose to fame in the 1960s and ’70s as the “Pornographic Prince of Physical Comedy” for his risqué routines and his unique view of sexuality and body positivity. He was one of the first people to recognize the link between good humor and physical fitness and used that link to promote his work and that of the I Love To Workout comedy tour he founded in 1972. The tour was a great success and still runs today. Simmons’s fans will remember him not just for his physical comedy or his fitness-related books, but also for his unique sense of humor and the catchphrases he is known for.
Simmons published his first book, The New Age of Entertainment, in 1973 and continued to release occasional books throughout his life. Just this year, his autobiography, The Simmons Coaching Manual, was released posthumously. As with many great comedians, the man behind the curtain was indeed a very humorous individual; his work will be treasured by his fans for many years to come.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
The British composer and producer Andrew Lloyd Webber sadly passed away in December 2019 at the age of 83. Lloyd Webber is best known for his work on the musicals The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard. Both are considered among the greatest of all time, and his scores are still performed around the world. He also composed and produced the TV musical Fame, which was loosely based on his own life. His music can be incredibly beautiful, but it is often described as “poignant” and “sad,” which truly does describe much of his work. He is survived by his second wife, Flora, and their four children: Sarah, Louis, Jack, and Maggie.
Lloyd Webber was born in London in 1933 and studied music at the Royal College of Music. He began his professional career composing music for the theater and for films. He took a year off to serve in the British Army in 1956, during which he composed his first opera, The Boys from Syracuse. He returned to the UK and continued to compose and produce some of the most memorable scores in musical history.
Lloyd Webber remained a busy man right up until his death. He composed music for a Broadway adaptation of Les Misérables, as well as for a West End production of the musical, and he won a Tony Award for Best Original Score for Sunset Boulevard. He was also known for his lavish lifestyle and penchant for expensive hobbies, such as painting and stamp collecting. His estate is valued at over £200 million. He will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved him.
It’s only natural that after such a long break, audiences are craving more from Harry Potter. The franchise has been responsible for some incredible financial success and critical acclaim, and rightly so. The final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, became only the third book ever to be translated into more than a million copies within a week of its British publication in July 2011. Since then, the Harry Potter series has remained a bestseller, with the most recent novel, Prisoner of Azkaban, going back into print after being out of print for fifteen years. It is safe to say that J.K. Rowling’s creation has never been more popular or lucrative.
The final film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, premiered in movie theaters across the world on April 20th and was seen by more than one billion people. In the wake of this phenomenal success, the franchise now boasts an annual revenue of more than a billion dollars.