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This year was a monster for celebrity deaths: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, David Carradine, Patrick Swayze... even Bea Arthur and Ed McMahon are probably boning in Heaven as we speak (and if you're in Hell, you get the cam-feed).

But while you're rushing out to buy Thriller memorial parasols and Kung Fu Forever neckties, a lot of other important people kicked the bucket that the media didn't deem important enough to tell you about. Once again, these are the most overlooked deaths of 2009--a notoriously murderous year:

13
January 14: KHAAAANN!!!

Who:

Ricardo Montalban, owner/operator of Fantasy Island and professional KHAAAAANN!!!

How:

Congestive heart failure.

The Legacy:

As one of few working Hispanic actors in the 50s, Montalban was mostly used as the go-to guy when a movie about attractive white people needed a miscellaneous foreign person to laugh at or to learn inscrutable wisdom from. Examples of these roles include everything from Indians to Jamaicans, and one time even a Japanese Samurai--where he presumably infused the role with his trademark Latin suavity and almost assuredly did so with an anachronistically oiled bare chest.

Years of playing the embodiment of racism inspired Montalban to develop a foundation dedicated to raise the profile of Hispanic actors, and he even had a theater named for him in 1999. Also, "KHAAAAAANNN!!!!"

12
January 15: Glenn Close's Dad (Who May Have Saved Your Life)

Who:

William Close. Father of actress Glenn Close, doctor, and ex-air force pilot. All in all not a very exceptional man... except for that time he actually lived the plot of Outbreak... and won!

He was a doctor in Zaire in the mid-70s when Ebola broke out in a rural hospital... near the Ebola River (side note: Not for nothing, Africans, but you really should've seen that one coming. If we lived next to Black Plague Creek, for example, we'd probably just move). Shit got expectedly crazy: roads were blocked, most of the hospital staff was killed, air travel was restricted. It got so bad that the president of the country even fled to France.

Of the 318 infected people, roughly 90 percent died. And then Close flew in (possibly on the back of a giant hawk or some kind of winged lion) grabbed the remaining medic's protective gear and somehow "broke the chain of transmission," thus killing the virus off. We're far too stupid to understand complex biology, so we're going to assume he did so with a karate chop.


Judging by that badass eyepatch, we're probably right.

How:

Heart attack.

The Legacy:

You're not reading this with blood coming out of your tear ducts with 15 minutes to live while Dustin Hoffman fistfights a plague-monkey on top of your prone, melting body. So, thanks, Glenn Close's Dad!

Continue Reading Below

11
April 7: The Prince of Geeks

Who:

Dave Arneson. If Gary Gygax was the King of Geeks, then Dungeons and Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson was the Prince--or at least some sort of Arch-duke (we're not really sure how the nerd feudal system works). The pair met at a gaming convention in the late 1960s, perhaps after admiring each other's Hawaiian-shirts-and-beard combos.

How:

Cancer.

The Legacy:

His class, "Rules of the Game," taught many a budding game developer how to accurately document and create balanced rule sets, the likes of which certainly helped lead to the popularization of the role-playing game and the subsequent rise of the MMO. Without Arneson and Gygax's work, WoW would merely be an exclamation of surprise from somebody that hates punctuation, or a suffix for Sham.

10
May 18: The Voice of Mickey Mouse

Who:

Wayne Allwine voice actor and the third voice of Mickey Mouse from 1977 until his death in 2009. He is survived by his wife, Russi Taylor, the current voice of Minnie Mouse. Wait... they were actually married? Has Disney been non-fiction this whole time?! Excuse us while we go rob the shit out of Scrooge McDuck and bone us some Jasmine.

How:

Complications from diabetes.

The Legacy:

He was responsible for the defining characteristic of the single most recognizable cartoon character in history, the happiness of countless children and an impression that castratos can finally pull off at parties.

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9
May 31: The Last Remaining Survivor of the Titanic

Who:

Millvina Dean. At nine weeks old, she was the youngest passenger on board the Titanic, and would live to be its last survivor. The fact that you're picturing her as Kate Winslet, and then picturing Kate Winslet pretend-flying on the bow, and then settling on an image of Kate Winslet's breasts has nothing to do with her life.

How:

Pneumonia.

The Legacy:

Her ashes were scattered where the Titanic set sail, which kind of seems like poor taste to us. You generally don't want to be memorialized at the site of the worst disaster of your life. They didn't bury Napoleon at Waterloo and they're probably not going to sprinkle Tiger Woods's ashes on top of a bunch of whores. Show some respect.

8
September 12: The Guy Who Saved Billions of Lives

Who:

Norman Borlaug was an agronomist, humanitarian and Nobel Laureate. He was not that fire-cow thing that fought Gandalf in the Mines of Moria.


...that we know of.

Borlaug introduced a high-yield, disease resistant wheat to Mexico, Pakistan and India, and later applied himself to aiding food production in Africa and Asia. This in turn saved billions of people worldwide from starvation. That's right: billions. The man single-handedly saved an entire continent's worth of people, and you've probably already forgotten who he is twice while reading this paragraph.

How:

Lymphoma.

The Legacy:

The savior of billions dying barely rated a mention in the news this year. Farrah Fawcett wore a bikini well back in the 70s and she got international coverage. Good job, society.

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7
September 16: Not Peter, Not Paul, but Mary

Who:

Mary Travers, singer for 1960s folk pop group Peter, Paul and Mary--whose name is now a euphemism for being the only woman in a threesome, thanks to that gross Britney Spears song ("1, 2, 3, Peter, Paul and Mary, Gettin' down with 3P, Everybody loves, Ooh").

How:

Leukemia.

The Legacy:

She was partially responsible for Puff the Magic Dragon, and therefore roughly half of the stoned conversations in the entire world, tied only with retarded theories about religion and the decision as to whose turn it is to get Fritos.

6
September 21: The Voice of Wilbur the Pig

Who:

Henry Gibson, also known as "oh yeah, that guy!" was an actor and songwriter who was in pretty much everything--from The Blues Brothers to Magnolia to the voice of Wilbur in the 1973 version of Charlotte's Web.

Oh god, Wilbur's dead?

That's like finding out the guy who voiced Mickey Mouse di- oh, right. There you go, folks. 2009: The year that murdered childhood.

How:

Cancer, a week before his 74th birthday.

The Legacy:

He was, truly, "Some pig!"

That seems somehow less respectful than we meant it.

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5
September 22: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Who:

Lucy O'Donnell Vodden, the inspiration for the Beatle's Song, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," was a classmate of John Lennon's son Julian in 1966. Julian supposedly drew a picture of her flying in the sky, surrounded by diamonds, and there was absolutely no further subtext.

How:

Lupus.

The Legacy:

Following Lennon's example, many modern artists now look to the darling antics of children for their inspiration. For example, Afroman's song "Because I Got High" is understood to be about his young nephew's prohibitive vertigo. Placebo's "Special K" was written after Brian Moloko's niece's love for cereal. And Cypress Hill even composed a song in the same vein, called "Hits from the Bong" about how much B-Real's daughter loves playing her bongo drums.

4
October 13: Johnny Fontane

Who:

Al Martino: singer, actor, purveyor of horse heads.

He was a popular crooner from the 50s to the 70s, but we mostly remember him as Johnny Fontane--the Frank Sinatra-esque character from The Godfather.

How:

Natural causes.

The Legacy:

The Godfather did more harm to Italian stereotypes than anyone else we can think of. Except for maybe...

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3
October 14: "Captain" Lou Albano a.k.a. Super Mario

Who:

Lou Albano was a professional wrestler. His successful career in that field led to attention from Hollywood, cameos in four Cyndi Lauper videos and eventually the starring role as Super Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Thereby permanently scarring children all across the world, who didn't have a mental picture of Mario as a giant, filthy, bearded psychopath who beats people with chairs on the other channels.

How:

Natural causes.

The Legacy:

For better or worse, to us he will always be an Italian plumber with a penchant for stomping non-threatening animals to death. God rest your soul, good sir, and may there be no turtles in Heaven; only fields of Fire Flowers as far as the eye can see.

2
October 22: No More Lunch with Soupy

Who:

Soupy Sales comedian and host of the children's show Lunch with Soupy Sales.

Sales is literally the only reason that a pie to the face is now a comedy cliche. Throughout his career, he claims to have been hit with over 20,000 pies. Take that, starving children of the world!

How:

Cancer.

The Legacy:

The introduction of the idea that it is OK to hit a person in the face with foodstuffs for laughs. For modern day jokes that would be impossible without Sales ground-breaking work, see Paula Dean; Ham hock.

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1
November 5: Pop Culture John Wilkes Booth

Who:

Evan Chandler, also known as the father of the first child to accuse Michael Jackson of molestation.

So he was some kind of hero, right? He took down the biggest figure in pop culture for sexual perversion, so surely this was all for the positive. Except for the rumor that immediately after Evan's death his son, Jordan Chandler, came clean and admitted that none of it ever happened.

How:

Apparent suicide.

The Legacy:

So what if that was true? Without Chandler's accusations, Michael Jackson's life could have unfolded completely differently. He may have wound up just being the weird looking King of Pop, and a good deal of the shame and stigma that surrounds his name would be non-existent. We're not necessarily dismissing the validity of the other cases that later came up against Jackson, but Chandler was the one who first put the idea out there (and Jackson would frequently go on record afterward protesting that subsequent charges were only brought against him because people saw that he would settle after Chandler's case).


"THESE CLAIMS ARE OUTRAGEOUS!"

So it's possible that it's only because of Evan Chandler that today every hack makes a knee-jerk child molestation joke whenever they hear syllables that even remotely resemble "Michael Jackson."




Lisa-Skye Ioannidis is an Australian writer and comedian. Her next show, Supermanchild, will be at the Melbourne Comedy Festival.

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And check out some people whose cojognes are larger than life (and death), in 7 People Who Cheated Death (Then Kicked It In The Balls). Or find out about some folks who probably wish they had died, in 6 People Who Faked Their Own Death (For Ridiculous Reasons).

And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 12.29.2009) to see the Cracked intern deaths we overlooked right until now (when we discovered the source of that weird smell).

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