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How many greats have we lost this year? Heath Ledger. Bernie Mac. George Carlin. Charlton Heston. Arthur C Clarke. Michael Crichton. Jenny, the world’s oldest Gorilla. When these luminaries pass, the media stops and heaps on praise.

But then there are the unsung deaths, the people whose passing went largely unnoticed, but deserved better.

15
January 7: The Greatest Competitive Eater of All Time

Who:

Edward Abraham ‘Bozo’ Miller, Gastronomical Champion of competitive eating

How:

"Natural causes"

The Legacy:

This is a man who weighed 300 pounds, ate up to 25,000 calories per day, once ate 1000 packets of potato chips (flavor unspecified) and one time drank a lion under the table. Yet he lived until the age of 89 and married a former Princess of the Pasadena Rose Bowl (basically, a beauty queen). He was what all of America aspires to be.

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14
January 10: Vampira

Who:

Maila Nurmi, the actress known for her "Vampira" character, the inspiration for both Elvira and the Simpsons' Booberella and immortalized in Tim Burton's Ed Wood biopic.

How:

Again, natural causes. DAMN YOU, NATURE!

The Legacy:

She was perhaps the first to combine horror and huge boobies, a combination that many believe should never be separated.

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13
January 24: Jahna The Show "Girl"

Who:

Jahna Steele, a Las Vegas showgirl who was voted "Sexiest Showgirl on the Strip" in 1991, and "Most Beautiful Showgirl" in 1993. She also happened to have a penis.

How:

Unknown. She was working on her tell-all autobiography at the time, entitled Always a Lady (until you see the bulge, of course).

The Legacy:

Jahna passed himself off as a woman for years, draining the strip-club funds of countless unsuspecting bachelor parties. She-males now flock to the strip to try their luck as a dancer. Thus, Jahna turned getting drunk and trying to take a showgirl back to your room into just another way to gamble in Vegas.

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12
January 26: Marlon Brando's Son

Who:

Christian Brando, murderer and wife beater. His parents had a bad divorce, and at 13 his mother gained sole custody. The same year he was pulled out of school to travel in Mexico. Around the same time he was kidnapped by a group of his mom's hippie friends. Marlon Brando got it fixed and was awarded custody.

In 1990, he shot his half-sister Cheyenne’s boyfriend. Cheyenne was pregnant at the time. She committed suicide five years later. They’re not exactly the happiest showbiz family we’ve ever heard about.

How:

Pneumonia.

The Legacy:

Cautionary tale for celebrity babies everywhere. Think before you make any bad choices, Maddox Jolie-Pitt.

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11
March 10: Inventor of SpaghettiO's

Who:

Kurt Eberling, Sr. After fighting with Germany in the Korean War, he got a job at the Campbell Soup Company. One day he was just chillin’ at his house, staring at his kitchen, when he saw a piece of spaghetti curled up in the sink. This gave him a thought: he approached his supervisor with the concept of tinned spaghetti and meatballs, and SpaghettiOs were born.

Being that this was the forties, we assume this was after he beat his wife for keeping a dirty kitchen, but before his six post-work martinis.

How:

Cancer.

The Legacy:

This is the kind of story that desperate middle aged salesmen, a la Gil from The Simpsons, dream about until their dying day. They wind up scouring their house for that one idea that will make them rich ... then finally go to their boss with, "um, what if ... we sold dust, spider webs and broken dreams in a bottle?"

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10
March 25: The Daddy of the Egg McMuffin

Who:

Herb Peterson, Food Scientist. March was a bad year for guys who invented convenient meals. Two days before Peterson, Al Copeland, founder of Popeye’s Chicken also died.

Peterson invented the Egg McMuffin in 1972, a process that surely involved eating every combination of bread, eggs, cheese and bacon. It's every fat kid's dream (up there with "finding witch dead in her gingerbread house, with no living relatives").

How:

Peacefully at home, with his family. Presumably surrounded by warm muffins, perfectly circular eggs, melted cheese and crispy, crispy bacon. The breakfasty scent being the last thing he was conscious of as he drifted off.

The Legacy:

We can’t think of one. We’re too hungry.

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9
April 9: The Fucker Who Created the Chicken Dance

Who:

Bob Kames. Polka musician, member of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry's Hall of Fame, guy who recorded over seventy albums. So we mock him for the Chicken Dance, but what the fuck have we done today?

We should tell you that the Chicken Dance single was released in Poland in 1983, and sold 300,000 copies. Not just a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Poland during the 80s was utterly retarded for polka.

How:

Prostate cancer, a symptom of which is painful ejaculation or difficulty achieving an erection. Though one of his albums was entitled Happy Organ, so at least he had some good times before it.

The Legacy:

Many ruined wedding receptions, and now you having the chicken dance stuck in your head until Easter.

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8
May 4: Pringles Can Inventor

Who:

Fred Baur, chemist and food storage technician.

How:

Alzheimer’s. At Baur’s request, he was cremated and a portion of his ashes were buried in a Pringles can.

The Legacy:

A delicious new flavor, "Sizzlin’ Smokin’ Charred Old Man." Sorry, that was wrong. Actually he did inspire us to be cremated with our greatest achievement, and we will thus be buried with several gigabytes of dick jokes.

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7
May 26: Kermit's Namesake

Who:

Kermit Scott , childhood friend of Jim Henson. Professor of Philosophy. Honored by a green felt amphibian.

Kermit the Human taught philosophy for over three decades. He then did a master’s in social work and became a counselor.

2008 was a bad year for that most common of person, "Men named Kermit who are associated with the Muppets." Kermit Love, puppeteer and costumer for the Muppets, died about a month after Scott. His name was just a coincidence. Which forces us to ask: just how many guys named Kermit were walking around in the 60s?

How:

Our team of trained monkeys couldn’t find an exact cause (the best they got was "at his home in Virginia") so we’re forced to assume it was the other Kermit seeking some sort of namesake vengeance, and that both died from injuries after a prolonged kung fu battle.

The Legacy:

Other than ruining "Kermit" as a baby name for several generations, he and his wife co-founded the Food Bank of Lafayette and the Welfare Rights Organization, among other charitable deeds that have left a strong legacy in his home town. Which, as much as we love him, is a lot more good than his amphibious namesake has ever done. Evading Miss Piggy’s come-ons won't feed the poor. Being green may not be easy, but being selfish sure is.

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6
July 12: World's Oldest Blogger

Who:

Olive Riley, nursing home resident, Australian, old woman, blogger.

She mostly just blogged about whatever your Nana talks about when you finally get around to giving her a call, you ingrate. Family trips, stories from the good old days, coloring her hair, football. Oh, and typical blogger stuff, like posting pictures in her swimsuit.

How:

From being 108.

The Legacy:

As long as she doesn’t inspire our grandparents to get a Facebook account, we’re happy. (Please, please don’t let our grandparents find out about the internet. Goatse’d kill nana. And Lemon Party’d just give grandpa... ideas).

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5
August 30: Killer Kowalski

Who:

Wladek ‘Killer’ Kowlaski. Once named WWF World Tag Team Champion with the adult film-sounding Big John Studd.

He actually legally changed his name to Killer Kowalski in 1963, which would have made for some frightened bank tellers and doctor’s receptionists. In college he majored in electrical engineering, but opted for a career in the more glamorous field of pretend-beating the shit out of people in a ring.

Reports indicate that outside the ring he was incredibly friendly, polite and vegetarian. Inside the ring, though, he ripped some guy’s ear off.

He didn’t drink milk or alcohol, and was a bachelor until he was 80. He died two years later.

How:

Heart attack.

The Legacy:

The guy lives 80 years without incident and dies just as he’s getting into the swing of married life? There must be some Al-Bundy-esque one liner in that.

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4
September 10: The Shark Hunter

Who:

Frank Mundus, rumored to be the inspiration for Quint in the movie (and book) Jaws.

This guy was so fucking badass it actually makes our balls implode in a cloud of pink glitter.

He originally wanted to fish for bluefish. He decided that hunting twenty-pound sea creatures was a pussy’s game, and moved on to sharks. He once harpooned a 4,500 pounder. With a hand-held harpoon, none of this pansy-ass harpoon gun business. In 1986 he caught a 3,427 pound great white... with a rod and reel. Though some say he actually killed the whale the shark was feeding off, then fucked up the shark.

Also, he walked around wearing a slouch hat, a shark-tooth necklace, and a gold hoop earring. So basically, he looked like the pirate version of this:

You know what he was doing all summer of his 83rd birthday? Hanging out on his boat, making sharks wish they were never born, sandy-fleshed cowards they are. He returned home, and, deciding it was enough that generations of young shark folk would hear the ghost stories told in his honor, had a heart attack at Hawaii Airport.

Oh, and once he bought a dead whale to a New Jersey port. People weren’t cool with that.

How:

Heart Attack.

The Legacy:

Sharks now tremble in fear at the sight of a gold hoop earring, which is why they avoid suburban malls and time travel to the 1980s.

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3
October 25: The Man Behind Deep Throat

Who:

No, not Watergate whistleblower Mark Felt, he died two months later. We're talking about porn director Gerard Damiano, the guy known for directing the Deep Throat porno. Prior to that, his career path went in the usual way: shoe shine boy, navy, then x-ray technician, then hairdresser, set hand on a horror film, pornographer. He also appeared in many of his films, in non-sexual roles.

How:

Stroke.

The Legacy:

It's hard to get accurate counts, but there are claims that it took in $100 million or more. It was said to be one of the first porno films with a plot and high production values, setting an example that not a single subsequent porno would bother to follow.

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2
November 20: The Mother of the Slinky

Who:

When we think of people who invent toys, we think of a Wonka-esque magical character, full of fun and surprises, but with none of Gene Wilder/Jonny Depp’s unsettling undertones. Betty James, namer of the slinky, didn’t really fit this image.

Instead, she was leafing through a dictionary one day, as all care-free, fun-loving people will do, and saw the word "slinky." This reminded her of an upturned torsion spring her husband had mentioned offhand about a year earlier. When your life is constant thrills and joy, we’re assuming you don’t remember shit like "honey, this spring fell over today, and it was super weird!"

Anyway, he had the idea to sell it as a toy, but she had the idea to name it the Slinky, which was actually more important because the toy itself sucked. Though it does appear her husband had all the wackiness that she lacked, leaving the family in 1960 to join a religious cult in Bolivia.

How:

Congestive heart failure.

The Legacy:

That guy we talked about earlier, desperately searching his house for the next tinned spaghetti-esque million-dollar idea? He’s now reading a dictionary, highlighting and muttering to himself.

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1
December 18: The "First Lady of Star Trek"

Who:

Majel Barrett has appeared in every incarnation of the Star Trek franchise. She’s also the widow of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.

Seriously, if you've seen any of the movies or TV shows, you've seen her. Or at least heard her - she was the voice of the ship's computer. She also played Deanna Troi's flamboyant mom in The Next Generation.

How:

Leukemia.

The Legacy:

She almost killed Spock.

In the original Star Trek pilot, she played the "Number One" on the bridge, and was the cold, logical character while the character Spock was just some weird alien guy in the background. We're sure the fact she was banging the producer had nothing to do with her getting the role. Test audiences hated her, and so they dropped her character and instead fleshed out Spock to become the unfeeling Vulcan we all know and love.

For people you've kinda heard of who aren't dead, check out Where Aren't They Now: The 7 Strangest Post-Sitcom Careers and Where Aren’t They Now?: 5 Post-Star Wars Careers Almost as Pathetic as Mark Hamill's.

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