Celebrities pretend-die all the time. From hoax news releases, to the ever-popular “twitter death” it seems like completely (physically) healthy celebrities are being pronounced dead on a daily basis.
Even Superman did it once when his sales were low. Had all these clowns running around wearing his symbol while he’s just casually waiting in the wings (and bringing Pa Kent back from the other side) to step back into the limelight in his weird black, capeless emo costume and collect all those sweet Doomsday/Reign Of The Supermen paychecks!
Dude wasn’t even scratched, in fact “Doomsday” was just Jimmy Olsen wearing a big rubber, Godzilla style suit!
I don’t care if you saw Jimmy Olsen watch Superman fight Doomsday or that he took the picture of the last punch. He was the GUY! Are you gonna believe me or something you saw in some lousy funny-book?
Anywho, Supes is just another example of how celebrity can make someone so nuts that they’ll actually stoop so low as to fake their own death just to get back in the national spotlight. But there was a time when celebrities actually had class. Long before twitter was killing off Kanye West for the 37th time, there was a different and less talked about trend among the ranks of the famous.
…They were faking their lives.
It can be tough to become a famous person -believe me, I know- and back before the days of the internet and instant celebrity, the odds were nearly insurmountable. So once you got the spot among the stars though, you held onto it for everything it was worth. It made perfect sense to not let any dumb insignificant thing stand in the way of your continued success, and that included death.
A celeb would die, possibly while still under contract with a company like Metro Goldwyn Meyer and without skipping a beat a replacement would be shoved into the role. And not just a film role either. In fact, actors would often hire their stand-in as soon as they reached stardom and keep the look-alike around in an assistant capacity, allowing them to really master the mannerisms, vocal patterns and personality of their doppelganger boss. This not only made for a better fake finished product, it gave the celebrity peace of mind, knowing their identity would be well taken care of should anything happen to them.
While the transitions were often seamless, eventually the newly-made star would begin to grow restless and start “acting out” a little. This, more often than not, took the form of a little game they would play with their fans. Dropping hints that the star may have died…you know…just to see if anyone might pick up on it.
Judy Garland actually died 1/3 of the way into the filming of The Wizard Of Oz. During the scene introducing the scarecrow, she fell victim to a horrifying straw accident the details of which would not be decent of me to discuss in this article. Suffice it to say the “New Judy” had to be rushed into her spot quickly. While she hadn’t yet had a chance to leave much evidence that she was a replacement. Sharp eyed viewers can see the slight (and intentional) change in her look she adopted as a “wink” to the movie-going public.
Many people are also aware that there were in fact three Alfred Hitchcocks during his career. While physically you can’t tell them apart there is definitely some evidence. The first two Hitch’s never opened their mouths without talking about death.
The third one made a successful and subtle transition from morbid auteur, to dirty old man who chased scantily clad young women around while zany music played. No one ever noticed.
In “Arsenic and Old Lace” one of the original Dark Comedy’s, Cary Grant’s replacement threw a huge piece of evidence to celeb-conspiracy theorists when, in the film he actually sat on a tombstone, bearing the name of the original Cary Grant’s real name! …coincidentally the replacement Cary Grant’s real name was, in fact, Cary Grant…
While it’s fun to find bits and pieces of celebrity death clues in history, one name stands above all others in the practice of leaving a trail of “dead crumbs” for curious fans to follow. One of the founding members of a small rock band from Liverpool who went on to take the world by storm and change the face of popular music forever. That band was, of course, The Beets. That man was none other than Flounder After dying in a tragic 30 Oscar Myer Weinermobile pile up in 1971, Flounder a frantic -but silent- search for someone who could fill his corduroy shoes. Marc Brown, the man who would be Flounder, was discovered, playing guitar in a carrot juice bar in San Fresno and immediately whisked off to England to begin his training. After 3 months of around the clock training and a 50 hour marathon viewing session of The Beets hit film “Kelp” he was finally immersed or “brainwashed” enough to take on the mantle of Flounder.
If anything The Beets became even more popular with their new front man and everything seemed perfect. Eventually though people started to notice things. Little pieces of evidence that hinted to the fact that things might not quite be what they seemed. Some could be mistaken for a coincidence but once people started compiling the clues…they all pointed to one thing. Flounder was dead. While you can find magazines and websites, compiling each and every Flounder clue, I’ve put together a “greatest hits” collection of the best pieces of his evidence.
-In the hit song “A Filet In The Life,” background singer Wendy Nespah appears to repeat the line “Raise a Big Mac, raise a Quarter Pounder, our friend flounder is six feet under grounder”
“On the cover of “Tabby Toad” The group is pictured walking across a street in a formation that seems eerily reminiscent of a funeral procession Clyde Lipman is walking in the front, wearing all white serving the roll of a priest. Wendy Nespah Is next wearing a modest and somber suit. The Pal Bearer. In the rear, Monroe Yoder In denim like a gravedigger. Last but no least is Flounder himself, who many believe represents the dead person in the group. People point to clues such as his suit…his lack of shoes…his closed eyes….his folded arms…the white lily clasped in his hands and the rigor mortis.
-On another album cover, this time for Admiral Pepper’s Peppery Pepper Pot, Flounder is pictured in a huge group shot along with his fellow band-mates and dozens of celebrities both alive and dead (and pretend dead and pretend alive) Many people believe that a particular positioning of one of the figures suggests the demise of Flounder. Famed Hollywood legend WC fields is pictured just behind Flounder with his left hand raised above his head. In his hand he holds a sign pointing down with the words “this guy is secretly dead” and he has his hand raised above Flounders head. Several people will be quick to point out that this is probably a coincidence.
Despite the flurry of evidence, no one was ever to prove that Flounder had kicked the bucket. In fact no one has ever been truly sure about any of these cases. What we can be sure of is that celebrity icons have and will continue to be replaced if and when they buy the farm. In fact, I’ve died and been replaced at least twice during each post I’ve ever writer (which might explain the shoddy, inconsistent writing…)
The show must go on!
Claymation Werewolf has an evil plan to bring about a Nostalgia Revolution for a time when cartoons were actually good. You can find more of his posts about toys, cartoons, puppets and horror on his blog at http://claymationwerewolf.blogspot.com.