Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009 - A Month Like Any Other?

This may seem like a morbid idea for a post, but recent events spurred me to search for a list. A lot of people have been repeating the statistical meme that “deaths occur in threes.” This can be difficult to disprove, as our brains like to categorize and group things, and three is a number that comes naturally when we group items together. Other people seem to think something is 'weird' about the number of notable deaths that have occurred recently. (Which actually is an opposing meme, because if deaths did occur in threes, it wouldn't be weird.)

Of course it is Wikipedia that comes to the rescue – with a continually updated list of recent deaths completely free from geographical biases. I think most people will come away from the list with the decision that 'deaths come in 1s'.

This random generator picks 9 dates in a month, and occasionally the results do suggest 3 in succession. It's what you'd expect from a random generator.

The list on Wikipedia may be longer than you expect, as the individuals who are Notable in America differ from those Notable in Italy or Pakistan. Wikipedia covers a worldwide audience. My selected list below is going to be geographically biased as well, though I tried to pick a handful from other nations. There will almost certainly be individuals in the list linked to above that readers will think I should have included below. That is almost the point. Almost every day of the month is represented.

By the way, in case you were under the false impression that Jackson and Fawcett once both appeared on the same Tonight Show episode, with Carson's sidekick McMahon – Snopes has debunked this rumor.

Selected Notable deaths in June 2009

June 2
  • Paul O. Williams – American Science Fiction author, and haiku poet
  • FrancEYE – (Frances Elizabeth Dean) American poet, noted perhaps most for her relationship with Charles Bukowski, with whom she had a daughter.
  • David Eddings – best-selling American fantasy author
June 3
  • David Carradine – American Actor
June 4
  • Ward Costello – American Actor
June 5
  • George Edward Whalen – American Medal of Honor recipient for actions at Iwo Jima
June 6
  • Ola Hudson – American costume designer for musicians such as The Pointer Sisters, and David Bowie. Mother of musician Saul Hudson (aka Slash from Guns n Roses)
  • Jean Dausset – French immunologist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine
June 7
  • Kenny Rankin – American singer/songwriter – song ‘peaceful’ became hit for Helen Reddy
June 8
  • Johnny Palermo – American television character actor for the past 5 years, many roles, movie debut scheduled for release in Oct 2009 – age 27
[Note: The 27 Club, another mathematical death meme, usually reserved for musicians, began with the deaths of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin within 10 months of each other. At least, they're usually the ‘three’ listed. Leaving out Brian Jones, founding member of The Rolling Stones, who died one year earlier. Our minds just like the number three better.]
  • Sheila Finestone – member of Canadian Parliament 1984-1999, Canadian Senate 1999-2002
  • Omar Bongo Ondimba – President of Gabon 1967-2009 (Gabon is a country in West Central Africa.)
June 9
  • Dave Simons – American comic book artist (best known for his work on Ghostrider)
  • Dick May – American NASCAR driver
June 10
  • Huey Long – American musician, Ink Spots
June 11
  • Frank Low – American physicist – leader in infrared astronomy - has an asteroid named after him
June 12
  • Felix Malloum – President of Chad – 1975-1979
June 13
  • John Saville – British economic and social historian
June 14
  • Bob Bogle – American musician, founding member of The Ventures
June 17
  • Dusty Rhodes – American Major League Ballplayer for the Giants in the 1950s.
June 18
  • Iz the Wiz – American graffiti artist, featured in the 1983 documentary Style Wars
  • Hortensia Bussi – First lady of Chile 1970-1973, widow of President Salvador Allende
June 19
  • Shelly Gross – American Broadway producer, and promoter of concerts
June 20
  • Neda Agha-Soltan – Iranian student who’s shooting during election riots was captured on video
June 22
  • Sam B Williams – American inventor of the fan-jet engine
  • Eddie Preston – American Jazz trumpeter
June 23
  • Ed McMahon – American actor
  • Ismet Güney – Cypriot artist, designer of the Cyprus national flag.
June 24
  • Roméo LeBlanc – Governor General of Canada 1995-1999
  • Tim Krekel – American musician, songwriter
June 25
  • Michael Jackson – American singer/songwriter
  • Farrah Fawcett – American actress
  • Sky Saxon – American musician (The Seeds)
  • Don Coldsmith – Prolific American author of Westerns – Redefined Westerns by adopting Native American point of view.
June 26
  • Jo Amar – Moroccan born Israeli singer; associated with Mizrahi music
June 27
  • Gale Storm – American actress, star of My Little Margie and The Gale Storm Show
June 28
  • Billy Mays – American television ‘direct response salesperson’, and host of “Pitchmen”
  • A. K. Lohithadas – Indian screenwriter, director.
June 29
  • Mohammad Hoqouqi - Iranian poet
June 30
  • Pina Bausch - German modern dance choreographer
June 25, 2009 will likely be a day remembered by many music fans, similar to August 9, 1995; December 8, 1980; August 16, 1977, and February 3, 1959. In that way, June 2009 is not a month like any other.

However, the overall list of notable deceased is significantly longer than the American press spend the time to mourn. June 2009 had several American Entertainers. Other months will have less entertainers, and more of something else. That's how statistics work. It doesn't make June 2009 any more or less unique. There is nothing 'weird' about it. This shouldn't detract from our memories of any of the individuals who have died. Their lives are of course equally worthy of mourning regardless of when they happen to die.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Last week was definitely a morbid week for me. My uncle died, my boss's mother died, and my sister's grandmother-in-law died. Not to mention all the famous people.