5 Real Deaths That'd Be Too Unrealistic For Hollywood Movies
Most of us are going to die in very anticlimactic ways -- cancer, car crashes, crashing a car into a cancer ward. You know, the usual. Most people aren't lucky enough to die in a professional lion wrestling accident, like dear ol' dad. But every now and then, someone exits this mortal coil so perfectly that we can only suspect that God is recycling plot twists from his rejected screenplays.
Redd Foxx Died Of A Heart Attack While Filming Chest Pains
Legendary comedian Redd Foxx was best-known for starring in the 1970s sitcom Sanford And Son. Whenever his character, Fred, was trying to weasel out of trouble with his son Lamont, he'd fake a heart attack by clutching his chest and exclaiming, "This is the big one, Elizabeth! I'm coming to join ya!" Because in the '70s, nothing was funnier than a old man repeatedly telling his son that he's about to become an orphan. Lamont eventually caught on and learned to ignore Fred's fake medical emergencies, and one episode even had him take Fred to the doctor to warn him of the dangers of crying wolf.
It was a simpler time for sitcoms.
Then, in 1991, Foxx tried to make a comeback by starring in a new sitcom called The Royal Family, which had been pitched under the title Chest Pains. You can probably guess where this is going. Foxx was being interviewed on set by Entertainment Tonight, but a producer insisted that he come back to finish rehearsing a scene. Foxx fumed about the interruption and, like he did so many times on Sanford, promptly grabbed a chair and dramatically fell to the floor. It wasn't the first time he'd done that on set, so for a moment, everyone thought that he was trying to turn the tense situation into a joke. He wasn't. He even called for his wife, exactly as he had done dozens of times in his most acclaimed role.
They managed to get Foxx to the hospital, where the 68-year-old was pronounced dead four hours later. The producers were wracked with grief ... over the fate of the show, because Hollywood is a mill and humanity is their grist.
Basketball Legend Pete Maravich Predicted His Own Death
The average NFL player plays for less than three years. Basketball players have it a little better at four and a half years, but they've still got decades of their lives to fill, trying to figure out what other profession most values slam dunks.
So it makes sense that even a Hall of Fame player like Pete Maravich feared playing professionally for a decade just to die of a heart attack at age 40. That's not speculation; that's literally what he said to a reporter in 1976, when he was 26. He had been in the league for four years and was getting some criticism for his showboating style, so he wanted to make it clear that he saw a life beyond the game.
Well, Maravich ended up playing in the NBA for exactly ten years. And then, when playing some pickup basketball at the age of 40, he collapsed and died from an undiagnosed heart condition right after saying, "I feel great." It was so sudden and so cosmically on the nose that the guys he was playing with initially thought he was joking around. He wasn't. Well, not unless he was super committed to the punchline.
The Baby Featured In Life's First Issue Died Days After Life Was Cancelled
The story of George Story's life isn't particularly storied. He spent some time as a journalist and city manager before eventually retiring to Hawaii (this was back when retirement was still a thing). But George did have one moment of fame when he was featured in the prestigious pages of Life magazine. Not only that, but it was Life's first issue after a major reboot, and it was a nude spread!
Unfortunately, it wasn't for Life's annual 100 Sexiest City Managers feature. George was only about 12 seconds old at the time. The editors thought it'd be clever to pair a photo of the newborn Story with the caption "Life Begins." Do you get it? It's pretty cerebral. You might not get it. See, his last name being "Story" could also apply to-
That 1936 magazine bought Story a fun icebreaker for Hawaiian swim-up bars, if not much else. But little did either party know that George and Life were to be intertwined forever. Life's cancellation was announced in 2000, and George's own life was cancelled mere days later, on April 4th. Life's final issue, in May, featured a quote from his widow about how he enjoyed his fame as the Life baby. This would be the part in a hacky movie where a character declares, "It's almost as if he couldn't live ... without Life," shortly before you walk out of the theater and try to argue for a refund.
The Last Of The OG Russian Communists Died As The Soviet Union Collapsed Around Him
Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich, proud owner of the most Russian name ever, was the Luigi to Joseph Stalin's Mario. He was an Old Bolshevik, meaning he had joined the Communist Party before it became cool in 1917, and found himself on the surviving end of Soviet history by becoming an early supporter of Stalin.
Often considered the number two man in the Kremlin, Kaganovich was a ruthless bureaucrat who played a large part in some of the nastiest moments in Soviet history, including the destruction of many of Moscow's historic monuments and buildings, the famine in Ukraine, and the Great Purge. Yeah, there's a reason they called him "Iron Lazar," and it wasn't because it was his DJ name.
Kaganovich showed remarkable staying power, surviving both Stalin's routine associate purges as well as his purges of Jews in the government -- Kaganovich ended up being the only high-ranking Jewish official to survive through the end of Stalin's reign. When he wasn't helping to kill millions, he took care of all the details that Stalin found tedious, like industrial management and the construction of railways.
But Kaganovich fell out of favor when Stalin died, mostly because of the whole mass murder thing. He was sidelined, then eventually expelled from the Party entirely. But he managed to kick around as a quiet, reserved pensioner until the very end, remaining a hardline communist who hated all of Gorbachev's reforms. The Soviet Union eventually fell into decline, and the last of the Old Bolsheviks died in his armchair, aged 97, on July 26, 1991, months before his beloved Soviet Union also bit the dust.
Our suggested epitaph: "He was there at the beginning, he was there at the end, and he was an asshole all the while in between."
Ulysses S. Grant Died Right After Finishing His Memoirs, Saving His Family From Financial Ruin
Former president Ulysses S. Grant fell onto hard times post-presidency, in part because a shady businessman running a Ponzi scheme suckered him out of virtually every cent he owned. To make matters much, much worse, Grant was diagnosed with throat cancer just weeks later. Realizing that time was short, the general vowed to save his family by writing the best damn memoirs in existence. He worked day and night, and in his own words, the experience was unbearable: "I do not sleep though I sometimes doze off a little. If up I am talked to and in my efforts to answer cause pain." He was racing the reaper with nothing but cocaine water to ease his constant, sleepless suffering. He couldn't even lie down because the position was too painful, so there's something to keep in mind the next time you insist you can't do any more work today because you're too depressed about an incorrect lunch order.
Despite never being considered a man of letters, Grant somehow managed to crank out his memoirs at the inhuman rate of roughly 50 pages a day. Also helpful was an unlikely ally in Grant's last battle: Mark Twain, who not only offered to publish the book with incredibly generous royalties, but also sent out an army of 10,000 subscription agents dressed in Union uniforms to sell copies across the country, which was the old-timey equivalent of the celebrity retweet.
Grant finished his memoir only days before he died, and it became a monumental bestseller. The book saved Grant's family from poverty and then some, earning $450,000 in a time when dinner out cost, like, a quarter. Twain called it a "literary masterpiece," critics compared him to Thoreau and Whitman, and even today, it's considered one of the greatest works of American writing ever. So if you're a struggling writer, remember that a first-timer in perpetual agony on his deathbed managed to crank out a more successful work than you could ever hope to produce. That probably doesn't help you, but in all fairness, we weren't trying to.
Jacopo is on Twitter, and writes books you can buy here and here. Alex Perry is a freelancer who wrote a novel about time-traveling stalker, as well as a heartwarming kid's book about a boy and his genetically modified pig/organ donor. She wants an agent to help her sell those books, and for you to follow her on Twitter. Jordan Breeding also writes for Paste Magazine, the Twitter, himself, and hopes to go out during a pickup basketball game.
Grant's works really are quite the read, check them out here.
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For more, check out The 5 Historical Figures Who Died The Weirdest Deaths and 6 Mysterious Deaths That'll Make You Believe In Conspiracies.
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