Step aside Summer of Love, the Summer of Death has arrived

by M-Gillies

David Carradine was found dead in his room at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. He was found hanging by a rope naked in the room's closet, which seemed to be suicide but autopsy results suggested that his death was the result of autoerotic asphyxiation.

From a distance, and in comparison to deaths in particular, the summer of 2009 was like any other, with one exception, the slew of celebrity deaths that followed.

While these death clusters are not rare – with death occurring regularly and daily – the summer of 2009 earned the title of the Summer of Death, simply for the number of big name celebrity deaths which followed in an eerily consecutive manner, sparking many tabloids to comment on the tinseltown curse of celebrity deaths happening in threes.

It began with the biggest name in pop culture. Earning a reputation for his eccentric behaviour and recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by the Guinness Book of Records, Michael Jackson’s premature and tragic death seemed to have been the catalyst to the celebrity bump-offs.

With Jackson’s death coinciding with Farrah Fawcett and preceding Ed McMahon, it was enough to cause an unusually profound outpouring of grief amongst fans.

However, as the summer went on without missing a beat, not even an oscar-winning actor could act their way out of the impending deaths to come. With Jackson’s death sparking the trend of superstition amongst celebrities, between May and September, the summer saw, almost like clockwork, notable celebrities dropping off this mortal coil, beginning with Dom DeLuise on May 4.

By the end of the summer, the death toll had reached upwards to 21 notable celebrities, among them Billy Mays, Walter Cronkite, John Hughes, Les Paul, Patrick Swayze, and others. To further cement 2009′s moniker as the Summer of Death, no other year has seen as many famous deaths during the period of May through September, going as far back as 1997.

However, in terms of celebrity deaths, the only other summer to rank close to 2009s’ Summer of Death was the summer of 2003, which saw the loss of 15 notable celebrities, from Gregory Peck and Katherine Hepburn to Barry White and Johnny Cash.

Deaths in the Summer of 2009:

May: Dom DeLuise, Chuck Daily;

June: Ed McMahon, Ed Thomas, Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, David Carradine;

July: Karl Malden, Steve McNair, Robert McNamara, Dash Snow, Walter Cronkite, Frank McCourt, Merce Cunningham, Gidget the Chihuahua;

August: John Hughes, Les Paul, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Robert Novak, Don Hewitt, Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein

September: Patrick Swayze

Deaths in the Summer of 2003:

May: Robert Stack, June Carter Cash;

June: Ronald Reagan, Gregory Peck, Hume Cronyn, Leon Uris, Strom Thurmond, Katherine Hepburn;

July: Barry White, Bob Hope;

August: Charles Bronson;

September: Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash, George Plimpton, Althea Gibson,

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