UPDATED - see below
I dropped by the offices of the E! Entertainment universe today to see my editor friend, Giddy Golightly. I saw her in brief flashes as she zipped by, bouncing off the walls, running from desk to desk working on stories, videos and TV shows.
GIDDY: Oh. My. God. JohnnyB, this has been the most amazing week ever. Right? Do you know how many people have died?
ME: Quite a number. I just heard about a plane crash that …
She paused just long enough to give me a good look at a seriously sarcastic eye roll and cut me off mid-sentence.
GIDDY: Not people people, staaarrr people. Do you know how many stars have died?
ME: No, I’ve lost count.
GIDDY: A gazillion. (SIGH) And more every day. We can’t even keep up with the tributes and specials and interviews and updates on where to drop flowers and stuffed animals and news on how distant acquaintances are handling the grief and …
ME: Pretty weird how they are all bunched together.
GIDDY: I know. Right? I mean, we had plenty of time to cover David Carradine. Then we started in on Ed McMahon and he got pushed aside by Farrah – well, that’s no biggie; I mean let PBS or the History Channel cover the Ed, they’re his peeps. And then Michael Jackson and Billy Mays.
ME: I haven’t heard much talk about Gale Storm.
GIDDY: Oh my god, Gale Storm died? Who’s he? And what kind of name is that?
ME: It was HER stage name. Her real name was Tempest Typhoon. Here’s a photo of her. And now Fred Travalena died. Here’s a news story and a bio on him.
Giddy suddenly stopped her frantic racing around, gaped at me and sat down hard.
ME: It’s okay, Fred was getting old.
GIDDY: I don't care about Fred Tampolino or whoever. No, it’s just … the whole system is messed up,
ME: What system?
GIDDY: (ANOTHER EYE ROLL) The star death system. They are supposed to go in threes.
I mean, normally you just put names in a line and circle three at a time and those go together ..
ME: Like the way the ancient people picked a random clump of stars and just drew a picture around it and said, “look, a bear”, or “an archer” or whatever.
GIDDY: I know. Right? Wait, what? Don’t confuse me. The trouble is, we have 7 deaths.
ME: Eight - David Carradine. Ed McMahon, Sky Saxon (founder of the Seeds rock group), Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Gale Storm, Billy Mays, Fred Travalena.
GIDDY: How are we going to do our “Death Comes In Threes” feature? Golly, I can put Fawcett and Jackson your Seed man together. They all died the same day. Then …
ME: No Fawcett goes with Storm and Travalena. (GIDDY MADE A FACE). See Gale Storm and Farrah Fawcett were both pin-up girls. And Travalena once performed in a sitcom with Farrah. Now Saxon and Jackson obviously go together and, considering the way he died, you can link Michael with David Carradine. You know, "Jacks-on" and "jacks o…
GIDDY: But that leaves Mays and McMahon as a pair.
ME: Well, McMahon started out as a pitchman and Mays was a pitchman. All you need is to wait for another TV pitchman or announcer to die – or maybe a baseball pitcher. Celebrities are dropping like flies. You won’t have to wait long.
GIDDY: Ha. Ha. Coming up with another dead person is hard! You think it’s all just an easy joke.
ME: Oh no, you’ve got it backwards. Dying is easy, comedy is hard.
I just got a phone call
GIDDY: Guess what? You were right!
ME: Of course. About what?
GIDDY: Karl Malden pitched American Express!
ME: Classic commercials.
GIDDY: I know. Right? So, he just died! That completes the last threesome. Isn't it great?
ME: Giddy, you have a knack for making a positive out of tragedy. Don't leave home without it.