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They had it all, but sometimes it isn't enough
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
I was shocked (as the rest of the world was) when I heard about Robin Williamsís death. And the next day, Lauren Bacall died. Bad things happen in threes, so when Joan Riverís was off life support, I figured sheíd be next. And she was.
I broke down and bought People magazineís issue with Williamsís death coverage. His passing was heartbreaking and shocking to me. He was so funny, his mind probably spinning a thousand miles a minute, and yet the memorable roles, fame, fortune, wives, children and being beloved by millions wasnít enough. There are people who seemingly have troubled lives who die natural deaths, yet he decided it wasnít worth it to go on. Seemingly he had it all, then he didnít. Perspective is everything, I guess.
Lauren Bacall got short shrift. I think she might have had one magazine cover after her death, but that was it. I didnít see any special tribute issues, certainly nothing like what Williamsís got. People, Life, Time all devoted space to Williams and some came out with issues focusing just on him, but there wasnít much on Bacall. It could be because she was part of another era, the golden age of Hollywood, which was mercifully captured on film. Scandals were squashed, pregnancies described as ďrest periods,Ē and money changed hands to keep secrets. Was that the better way to go? Sometimes I think the answer to that is ďhell yes.Ē However, dirty laundry is worth big money, and thatís why we know what the Kardashians, Lindsay Lohan, and Miley Cyrus are doing 24/7. Bacall was a class act, and todayís Hollywood scene enjoys wallowing in the mud like some sort of bony, malnourished sow. I donít mean to say Williams wasnít a class act, but being considerably younger than Bacall (63 to her 89) and still active in the industry and being brilliantly funny and dramatic, perhaps he was more relevant to our times than Bacall. But I still feel bad she didnít get more coverage. Not that she cares, but I admire her for a number of reasons.
Then thereís Joan Rivers. I canít say I was her biggest fan, but I did get a kick out of her from time to time. She was a pioneer for every female stand-up still working the circuit in hopes of getting her own sitcom. Perhaps fittingly, People magazine got my recent check and the first issue I received after several months of interruption had Rivers on the front. At least she was one celebrity that I did recognize. Not sure if she deserves an entire Time/Life retrospective on her life, but she does deserve recognition.
I just wish Bacall had received a little bit more of it. I have her autobiography and the updated version, but still. She was sexy without being a bimbo, earthy without being crude. To me she represented something classy, stylish and true. I suppose I can go hunting for magazine and newspaper articles about her, and piece together my own personal tribute, if the current publishers donít think itís necessary. And from the looks of things, they donít. But if I can watch the Academy Awards next year, I have no doubt that all three will get a few seconds of tributeóWilliams, who could wear the masks of comedy and tragedy equally well, Rivers, who paved the way for women comics (and made award show fashion commentary an industry) and Bacall, who could ask a man if he knew how to whistle, and set them on fire while doing it.
All three of them brought something to the world. And Iím thankful all three of them believed enough in themselves and what they wanted to do so they could share it.