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:
13January 14: KHAAAANN!!!
Ricardo Montalban, owner/operator of Fantasy Island and professional KHAAAAANN!!!
Congestive heart failure.
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!!!!"
12January 15: Glenn Close's Dad (Who May Have Saved Your Life)
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.
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!