Heath Ledger, 1979-2008
2008 is not turning out to be a good year so far for male heartthrobs. Two of my childhood crushes have died within the past week. First, Brad Renfro last Tuesday (admittedly, not entirely unexpected).
But then today the devastating news that Heath Ledger was found dead in an apartment in Soho completely floored me.
Both were talented actors in their 20s (although Renfro's career kind of peaked while he was a tween, I believe Ledger's was just getting started). Both had small children. Both deaths were supposedly drug-related.
I don't think I've ever been as in shock over a celebrity death as I was when I heard the news about Heath Ledger. I went online at work, saw the headline on MSNBC, and literally felt my jaw drop. After I left work, I discovered that I had three text messages and two voicemails about the news. I'm not sure what this says about me that my obsession with celebrity gossip is so well-documented that friends and relatives felt it necessary to immediately get in touch with me with updates like this. Oh well.
I passed Ledger walking around in Union Square a couple of months ago. He looked slightly disheveled, but definitely not like a junkie on death's door or anything. It's so sad that we'll never get to see the full potential of his talent.
His death drew my mind immediately to the criticism AP writers have faced recently after admitting they've already prepared an obituary for Britney Spears. Seeing how quickly some Heath Ledger bios went up this afternoon, and assuming that editors had no prior warning about this one, I can only imagine all the multimedia packages that have been put together for Batshit Britney's inevitable end. I don't think the AP's being callous or insensitive in preparing the obit, but merely realistic. Reporters have a responsibility to do whatever they can to give themselves a jump start on what will be "breaking news." I don't think anyone's going to be shocked if she turns up dead one of these days. Ashamed for feverishly following her downfall for personal amusement, perhaps. But shocked? No.
Heath Ledger, on the other hand ... well, that's a different - and truly tragic - story.