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Margot Kidder
17th October 1948 – 13th May 2018

Like many people, I remember Margot Kidder as a wonderful Lois Lane in the movie Superman with Christopher Reeve - likely to remain the best Superman movie ever.

Also like many people (I suspect), I didn't know anything about the rest of the Canadian-American actress's interesting life, which is worth reading about.

And as I get older (Margot was born not long after I was) I reflect that good movies are an enduring memorial to actors and actresses no longer with us, especially poignant when an actor's life is tragically cut short, as Reeve's was.

* A great star just burnt out *

Stephen Hawking

8th January 1942 – 14th March 2018

I will always associate Stephen Hawking with the truly wonderful opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics, which (like the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics) celebrated many things about the human spirit (sadly, things that the current leadership of the USA obviously cares nothing about).

He opened the Paralympics ceremony (click either image above for my full coverage) with this:

“Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have craved for an understanding of the underlying order of the world: why it is as it is, and why it exists at all.

“But, even if we do find a complete theory of everything, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations, and makes a Universe for him to describe?”

Stephen's indomitable spirit and his supreme intellect, and the wonderful people who supported him, have been rightly celebrated many times (see links at the bottom of this post).

I particularly enjoyed the 55-minute PBS production Stephen Hawking: A Personal Journey, which you can watch by clicking the image below, and the biographical movie The Theory of Everything featuring an astonishing performance by Eddie Redmayne.

In the screenshot above, Stephen is looking at a newspaper page carrying an advert from Channel 4's Meet the Superhumans campaign, which trailed the London Paralympics that were to change the image of disability forever (except in the USA, whose networks carried almost no coverage).

The PBS programme shows Stephen's considerable humour (I particularly liked his exchanges with Jim Carrey), and has many deep insights into his personal life.

The programme ends with Stephen's appearance at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and with his words there:

“We are all different. There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spiri. So let us together celebrate excellence, friendship and respect. Good luck to you all.”

Stephen Hawking pushed back the frontiers of our knowlege about the Universe we live (upsetting more than a few followers of anti-science religions along the way), and towards the end of his life laid the foundations for explorations of the possible existence of the Multiverse (no, he didn't prove that the Multiverse exists, although it might).

His ashes are to be interred near the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin in Westminster Abbey, a very rare honour. But the way I look at it, great as those groundbreaking scientists were, they should be honored by Stephen's company.

[Stephen Hawking Quotes]
[A Brief History of Time]
[Tributes to Stephen Hawking]

From my web site...

[London 2012: The beautiful games]
[Science vs. Religion]

Gene Wilder
11th June 1933 – 29th August 2016

Last month saw the sad death of Gene Wilder, a gentle comedian whose best-loved films included Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles and (one of several with on-screen buddy Richard Pryor) Silver Streak.

My personal favourite was the classic Young Frankenstein, one of several collaborations with writer/director Mel Brooks.

Many memories of that wonderful collaboration will be found here.

Sir Terry Wogan KBE DL
3rd August 1938 – 31st January 2016

And yet another sad goodbye... to Terry Wogan, who died this morning at the age of 77, after a short struggle with cancer.

Terry was a broadcasting legend in the UK. I woke up to him every morning on Radio 2, while at university and long afterwards. His relaxed charm and whimsical humour were the best start to any day one could wish for. I listened to him on a Heathkit valve FM tuner and amp that I had assembled myself - that was some time ago!

He is being fondly remembered in the UK for so many things in his long career. I shall remember two things in particular. The first is the long pause (several seconds) that would often follow the first part of a typical bit of Terry whimsy. It wasn't a dead pause - you could almost hear the chuckles all over the country, and see the smile on Terry's face. Among many other things, he was a master of comic timing and ad-lib speaking (he never used notes in the studio, apparently).

The second is the time when he introduced our nation to that wonderful ground-breaking TV show Hill Street Blues, with its gentle theme tune by Mike Post that took over from the noise of sirens in every wintry opening.

Terry seemed immortal in life - he has passed into another kind of immortality now, and will be sorely missed.

Alan Rickman
21st February 1946 – 14th January 2016

Another sad goodbye... to Alan Rickman, who for many people will be Professor Snape, has died of cancer, aged 69.

He was a superb actor who played many different kinds of role, from the RSC's As You Like It to Galaxy Quest to Truly, Madly, Deeply, but his comic villains (like the Sheriff of Nottingham) will perhaps be best remembered.

Not so many people will remember one of his first roles, as the oily Obadiah Slope in that sublime period comedy, The Barchester Chronicles (click the image for a link in my movies page), one of my all-time favourites.

[Reflections‘ farewell to Alan Rickman]

David Bowie
8th January 1947 – 10th January 2016

David Bowie will be remembered for so many things... I still remember him with Jennifer Connelly (two very beautiful people) in Jim Henson's “Labyrinth”... here dancing together to his wonderful “As the World Falls Down”.

Click the image for one last dance...

[Gatorindo‘s farewell to David Bowie]
[Through My Eyes‘ farewell to David Bowie]

Sir Terry Pratchett OBE
April 28th, 1948 - March 12th, 2015

The world has suffered the loss of an almost universally loved fantasy writer, humanist and campaigner for the right to die with dignity and for Alzheimer's research.

He was an enormously prolific author, filling the bookshelves of people all over the world with many treasured possessions. As years went by his output became seriously funny, in every sense, and was often deeply humane.

Not all of his work was fantasy - for example “Dodger”, one of his finest works, is a gripping story set in historical London. As with many of his books for younger readers, “Dodger” can be (and is) enjoyed equally by adults.

He was knighted by the Queen in 2009 for services to literature.

He will live on in so many ways (a good number of which are described here). One of these ways is through his daughter Rhianna, already an author, who (with his blessing) will take over writing the Discworld series.

Click the image of Sir Terry for a superb tributes page (thanks, Karenak), and click the quotation for many of his best quotes.

Neil Armstrong
August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012

Picture from NASA's Biography of Neil Armstrong

Like many people, I will always remember what I was doing at 02:56 UTC (GMT) on July 21st, 1969, when Neil Armstrong made his famous "one giant leap for mankind" in the Sea of Tranquility (I was watching a very small black and white TV in a small flat in London).

A true American hero of the "final frontier", he was a shy and modest man as well as a superb and very brave pilot. I am sure that he would want people also to remember Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, his companions in Apollo 11, and the many, many people who worked together in the extraordinary endeavour that was the Apollo Program.

I don't suppose that I will live long enough to see manned spaceflight again, other than this variety (which is going to become really interesting in the next few years, I think).

For now, JPL's Curiosity Rover is doing a fantastic job on Mars.

Karen Carpenter
March 2nd, 1950 - February 4th, 1983

Requiem in Pace

When Karen died in 1983, the world lost both a lovely woman and one of the most beautiful voices on the planet.
Karen lives on in memories and in many wonderful recordings.
The words of this song have always seemed to me to be a fitting epitaph.

A Song For You

I've been so many places in my life and time
I've sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhyme
I've acted out my love in stages
With ten thousand people watching
But we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you

I know your image of me is what I hope to be
I've treated you unkindly but darling can't you see
There's no one more important to me
Darling can't you please see through me
'Cos we're alone now and I'm singing this song for you

You taught me precious secrets of the truth witholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now I'm so much better and if my words don't come together
Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding

I love you in a place where there's no space or time
I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you

You taught me precious secrets of the truth witholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
But now I'm so much better and if my words don't come together
Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding

I love you in a place where there's no space or time
I love you for in my life you are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song for you

We were alone and I was singing this song for you.

Click the picture to play the video.

Karen Carpenter (Wikipedia Article)

More on Karen Carpenter's story...