Two Hollywood legends passed this week — Robin Williams, 63, on Monday morning, and Lauren Bacall, 89, on Tuesday night. They died in extremely different ways, but both were household names who’d been in numerous iconic films. These two deaths are being handled very differently — Bacall’s obituaries and remembrances are far more focused on her sex appeal than her career.
It’s understandable to mention an iconic actress’ beauty in an obituary, especially one who was discovered while working as a fashion model. I’m not suggesting that Lauren Bacall’s great beauty should be off-limits entirely. And to a certain extent, the emphasis on Bacall’s old Hollywood glamour is also understandable — her scandalous romance with Humphrey Bogart is far more interesting to most people, I’m sure, than Robin Williams’ three marriages. Yet the way some of her obits have been written make it seem as though Bacall was more famous for her looks and her husbands than for her over-half-a-century-long career in which she appeared in some of Hollywood’s biggest films, like “The Big Sleep,” “How To Marry A Millionaire,” and “Misery.” Writes blogger Tracy McVeigh in the UK’s Guardian, “It’s often the case with beautiful women that their achievements can be undone by people transfixed by their smouldering celluloid gaze.”
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On Saturday night, I learned that someone very important to me died last week. Deb Powell Simons was my therapist throughout my teen years and early 20s. I had known she had been sick many years ago; learning of her death came as a complete shock. She leaves behind a husband and four young children. She was only 44. Keep reading »
Maya Angelou, a poet and civil rights activist, has died at 86. Angelou is most well-known for her memoir I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings about growing up poor and Black in the South and she leaves behind a trove of poetry, plays, and other books. Angelou was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King and James Baldwin. She was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for a book of poetry in 1971, read a poem at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2011, and a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2013. In her later life, Angelou was an educator at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her death was confirmed by her literary agent this morning. [Charlotte.TWCnews.com; New York Times]
Karyn Washington, the founder of the site For Brown Girls and the #DarkSkinRedLip project, has died at age 22, Clutch Magazine is reporting. On the #DarkSkinRedLip website, Washington posted photographs of Black women proudly wearing red lipstick; the project came about after the rapper A$AP Rocky said that women of color can’t wear red lipstick. With her site For Brown Girls, Washington sought to fight colorism within the Black community by embracing women of all complexions. In an interview last year with Jane Thang Productions, she called herself “empowered by other strong women and girls, even those who don’t know they are inspiring.” Washington continued: “Women who are doing what they can to uplift others around them and make a difference in their community motivate me to do the same. I think it is so important for women no matter what complexion, race, or religious background to be united in making sure our voices are heard – that we are being leaders and positive role models to the younger generation.” We are sad to hear about Karyn Washington’s death and hope she knew many women looked to her as a role model. [Clutch Magazine] [Image via AliyahMonea.Wordpress.com]
Peaches Geldof, a writer, model and designer who is the daughter of musician Bob Geldof, has died at 25, the BBC is reporting. A London-based “It Girl,” Peaches —whose full name was Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof — most recently wrote for Nylon magazine and penned a column for Elle as a teenager. She is the daughter of Geldof and TV host Paula Yates, who died from a drug overdose when Peaches was just a girl. According to the BBC, emergency personnel responded to a call from her home in Kent and announced her death was “unexplained and sudden.” Peaches was married to musician Thomas Cohen from the punk band S.C.U.M. and has two children under the age of two. She was briefly married to Max Drummey from the band Chester French. Our thoughts go out to the Geldof family. [BBC, Daily Mail UK] [Image via WENN]
Update, 1:45p.m.: Her father, Bob Geldof, released a statement: “We are beyond pain. She was the wildest, cleverest, wittiest and most bonkers of all of us.” [Mirror UK]