Sep 10, 2011

What dies when famous people die?

The past days have been really sad here, in the most southern country in the world. Last Friday, a plane with 21 passengers aboard went from the continent to an island. When they tried to land, something happened, and the plane crashed in the sea. 21 people missing.

And you know why they were trying to get to Juan Fernández island? 

Because they were in a social campaign to rebuild Chile after the 2010 earthquake. They had been there before and the small population living there was grateful. Some of the passengers were part of the Air Force, some of them were part of the Ministry of Culture, some of them were part of a social movement dedicated to rebuild the country, and some of them were part of a popular TV morning show.

By now, they have found 14 victims. Some of them were not even the complete bodies. The accident was too violent, the plane was smashed to smithereens.

One of the most famous passengers, 44 years old TV show presenter, Felipe Camiroaga was identified yesterday (I think he looked a bit like Clark Gable). TV viewers have felt his death in a very deep way, like he was a relative or something.  Hundreds of people have visited the TV station building and lit candles, left flowers and letters. I've seen women and men crying for him: for more than 20 years Felipe was part of their lives, bringing good vibes, humor and a natural presence to their daily routines.

That's the power of TV and cinema.

In the way I see things, when you die, your existence just stops. No more emotions, no more worries, no more happiness, no more sadness, no more nothing. So, the people that stays is really crying for something they have lost. For something they're missing. For something they fear. A sense of impotence and injustice is also there.

And when famous people perish, you also feel that death is something real, that it can reach everybody, no matter how ubiquitous the screens seem to make them.

This accident has made me think in Carole Lombard's death, who died in a mission, fighting for her beliefs and what she thought it was correct and right. Death was waiting for her too, in the heights, in the mountains. 

When famous people die, a bit of hope dies with them. But we, the survivors, can extend their existence with the memory. And, in the end, famous people are lucky: the screens help us to make them somehow immortal.

PS: In the last show Felipe did, a few hours before his death, he interviewed Nick Vujicic, an Australian guy that was born without arms and legs and now he travels the world giving a message of hope. You can watch the interview here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.


  1. I am sorry for the sad time. It is especially upsetting when so much good was coming from the people involved.

    You expressed your thoughts very well concerning the death of celebrities. We lose a sense of permanence, and although we haven't really lost the person - we have what we always had, it is very unsettling.

  2. That's really awful, Clara -- I'm so sorry it happened!

    I agree with what you said about famous people dying. Actors in particular -- they can become immortal because we can watch a movie starring them perhaps some fifty years after their death, but at that moment when we watch them on the screen they seem to be alive once more; at least, that's how I feel! You make some good and valid points.

  3. Yes,the screen already recorded the most valueable moments of their life. It's like they'were still alive...

  4. When people close to me have have passed away I have a felt a personal loss. I can deal with that. But it's different when somebody who wasn't close to you, but meant a lot to your ** life ** such as an actor passes away. Its like part of you was taken away. When James Doohan and Deforest Kelly of the original Star Trek series pass away part of me passed away too. I never met them. They never heard of me. Yet the impact they had on my life is something that can never be caculated.

    When Spencer Tracy passed away in 1967 part of me died. I knew he would never make films again. When John Lennon passed away an important part of my life was ripped away. His music would be the thing hundreds of thousands would have.

    To have someone that made you the person you are taken, or ripped away without warning can leave a hole that only film can fill.

    This is for Jimmy,De, John and Felipe.

  5. Clara, te doy mis condolencias por el accidente que sufrieron tus compatriotas. Todos merecen un recuerdo, aunque es cierto que cuando es un famoso el que muere parece que el dolor es más grande.
    Ojalá las familias de los fallecidos puedan encontrar la suficiente serenidad en estos tristes momentos.
    Un abrazo,
    P.D. El presentador me recuerdo a Franco Nero más que a Clark Gable, pero estas cosas a veces son bastante subjetivas.

  6. qué fuerte, escuché mucho de este caso y de este conductor de tele, aquí en México trabaja otro chileno famoso, Rafael Araneda y él estaba muy conmovido con esto en el programa q verdad un momento muy triste para tu país =(

  7. Sí, la verdad es que él era muy querido acá en Chile, todos los días lo veían miles de personas...Oh, no sabía que Rafael Araneda era tan conocido allá, me enteré que estaba haciendo un programa, pero no de que era tan famoso :) Gracias por tu comentario, Rena.

  8. Gracias Lola. Hoy fueron los funerales de Felipe y una multitud salió a despedirlo. Sí, tenía un parecido a Franco Nero tb :) Muchas gracias de nuevo.

  9. Thanks Tom, great reply. I agree with you, it's strange how you can connect with people you've never met. I remember when I was 10 and Princess Diana died, I really felt her loss, even as a kid.

  10. Totally. Thanks for your reply, Sharon.

  11. Thanks Rianna :) The screen is a very magical medium.

  12. Thank you, Caftan Woman. Yes, it's so sad when good people die.



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