Which Celebrity Deaths Do You Already Know Will Make You Cry?

Their deaths will hopefully be many years down the line, but just the thought of these famous strangers being gone puts a lump in your throat.
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Their deaths will hopefully be many years down the line, but just the thought of these famous strangers being gone puts a lump in your throat.

My mother and I have a somewhat morbid tradition. Whenever a celebrity dies, whoever hears the news first texts the other with just the name; the recipient immediately knows what it means.

We do it regardless of if either of us were fans of the deceased celebrity. Our reactions range from empathetic indifference to ambivalence to sadness, just like anyone might feel on their own upon learning about a celebrity death, except we share that moment with someone we know won't judge that reaction. Sometimes it's just a way to share news, and sometimes, if the celebrity did have an impact on one of us, it's a way to say, Oh no, how sad, do you feel like talking about it? without actually having to say it.

On average, my reactions to celebrity deaths have hovered somewhere around sincere but distant sympathy. Even in the case that I've met the celebrity who has died, grief isn't necessarily the natural response. But just because a famous person isn't a friend doesn't mean their loss can't have a profound impact on us. After all, many celebrities are talented artists, and their art may be a huge part of our lives.

Or maybe you just think someone's really hot and you get sad when a really hot person dies. Whatever. Grief shouldn't be judged.

I already know that I will be devastated when certain famous musicians die -- especially those that had influence on my love of music when I was kid. 

Clockwise from left: Paul McCartney (by Wikimedia user Anna'sfarm), Jenny Lewis (by Flickr user pinkbelt), Ben Folds (by Kim Tonelli), and Billy Joel (by David Shankbone) [Creative Commons]

Clockwise from left: Paul McCartney (by Wikimedia user Anna'sfarm), Jenny Lewis (by Flickr user pinkbelt), Ben Folds (by Kim Tonelli), and Billy Joel (by David Shankbone) [Creative Commons]

I owe my ability to sing, in large part, to listening to Billy Joel throughout my childhood. The Beatles covered my bedroom walls like a forcefield during my super-bummed-out high school years, even though I graduated in 1997 (as opposed to 1967), and much of Paul McCartney's solo stuff gives me goosebumps on the inside of my skull. And Ben Folds and Jenny Lewis are among the more contemporary singer-songwriters that I'm pretty sure have altered my brain chemistry in a major way.

I, for one, will lose my innermost shit when I learn about their eventual deaths. OH GOD, I HOPE THEY DON'T ALL GO AT ONCE. Please don't carpool, guys.

I asked my fellow xoJane regulars which future celebrity deaths will no doubt make them cry as though they've lost a good friend, because I like forcing people to face the unavoidability of mortality when they casually check their inboxes. Here's what they told me.

Emily

Dolly Parton is the only one I will never get over. (Loretta Lynn will be rough, too.)

[Photo by Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby - Creative Commons]

[Photo by Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby - Creative Commons]

Rachel

This literally happened TODAY: I called my dad to cry because I imagined Dolly Parton dying. She means so, so, so much to me. I look up to her and depend on her.

[Photo by Steve Jurvetson - Creative Commons]

[Photo by Steve Jurvetson - Creative Commons]

I also cry when I think about Garth Brooks dying, because I grew up on Garth and I associate him with my dad. There are a lot of male celebrities who remind me of my dad (awkward, dorky, goofy dad types) who I need to live forever because I also need my dad to live forever.

Lesley

Stephen Hawking. Also John Waters.

[NASA/Creative Commons]

[NASA/Creative Commons]

Hannah

When Leonard Cohen goes I will need a week in isolation.

[Photo by Wikimedia user Rama - Creative Commons]

[Photo by Wikimedia user Rama - Creative Commons]

Laura

Madonna and Morrissey -- because no other celebrities had such a crazy profound effect on making me who I was then, and am today. STEVIE NICKS. Because she's fucking everything. I used to literally see her when I tried to imagine God. Liv Tyler, because she is everything perfect, sweetness and light. Kathleen Hanna because. Just because. No explanation necessary.

[Clockwise, photos by: David Shankbone, Wikimedia user Artiquities, Matt Becker, Flickr user lichtmaedel2, Denis Gray - Creative Commons] 

[Clockwise, photos by: David Shankbone, Wikimedia user Artiquities, Matt Becker, Flickr user lichtmaedel2, Denis Gray - Creative Commons] 

Claire

I cry really easily over death, so I'll keep it short by naming the big ones: Mick and Keith, probably Charlie Watts as well. Bowie will also be tough. As will Stevie Nicks. Oh fuck. Leonard Cohen, too.

[Larry Rogers, Elmar J. Lordemann - Creative Commons]

[Larry Rogers, Elmar J. Lordemann - Creative Commons]

Somer

I echo all David Bowie, Stevie Nicks, and Leonard Cohen sentiments. And I add Prince, because he is just everything.

[Flickr user penner - Creative Commons]

[Flickr user penner - Creative Commons]

Mandy

Dustin Hoffman, as I adore "The Graduate." And anyone who dies young. That always gets me even if I barely know the person. 

[Gorup de Besanez - Creative Commons]

[Gorup de Besanez - Creative Commons]

Tynan

This question has got me STRESSED. Missy Elliott, Pharrell, and Gwen Stefani.

[Wikimedia user kallerna, Flickr user jelizen - Creative Commons]

[Wikimedia user kallerna, Flickr user jelizen - Creative Commons]

Rebecca

I CAN'T EVEN THINK ABOUT ANGELA LANSBURY DYING WITHOUT GETTING REALLY UPSET.

[Andreas Praefcke - Creative Commons]

[Andreas Praefcke - Creative Commons]

Marianne

Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner.

[Christopher Stadler - Creative Commons]

[Christopher Stadler - Creative Commons]

Olivia

IGGY POP.

[Alex Const - Creative Commons]

[Alex Const - Creative Commons]

Caitlin

Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston. Despite their "brutal love affair," I'm obsessed with them both (separately) as actors. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" are two films that had the strongest impact on me when I started writing fiction (as an angsty pre-teen, of course). Sad!

[Franz Richter, Wikimedia user Popperipopp - Creative Commons]

[Franz Richter, Wikimedia user Popperipopp - Creative Commons]

Courtney

BEYONCÉ.

[Nat Ch Villa - Creative Commons]

[Nat Ch Villa - Creative Commons]

Louise

Steve Martin. I had a crush on him AND I wanted him to be my dad. It was complicated. Also Martin Short. I saw him in "The Goodbye Girl" musical when I was a kid and I memorized all his songs. And "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" is my favorite movie ever, so Chevy Chase can't die either. 

I really don't want any of the Three Amigos to die. 

[Orion Pictures]

[Orion Pictures]

Eugenia

Shakira!! 

[Andres Arranz - Creative Commons]

[Andres Arranz - Creative Commons]

Your turn! Which celebrities are you saving tears for upon hearing of their demise?