Glynn Moore: The death of strangers, celebrities can hit us hard

Sometimes we are affected by the deaths of complete strangers as much as we are of loved ones.


Think back to the death of Princess Diana; 20 years later we were still drawn to a few weeks ago to events and programs commemorating her life.

More recently, it was difficult to keep a dry eye when hearing of the victims of guns in Las Vegas and the civilians and the first responders who helped prevent more deaths and injuries.

Last week, many of us were hit hard by the death of musician Tom Petty. I felt a personal loss, even though all I knew about him came from the songs he wrote and sang. They were distinctive, as was his voice, and mirrored many of our own feelings. Knowing he died too young and we would hear no more songs from him made me feel I had lost someone close to me.

Another personality who died last week was far less famous, at least to younger people. Anne Jeffreys lived a long, productive life and was 94 when we lost her. Even though she performed in scads of movies and all sorts of television shows, I remember her solely from a 1953-55 sitcom called Topper that I watched in reruns a few years later.

She played Marion Kerby, a ghost – “the ghostess with the mostess,” in fact, if you believed announcements for the show. Her real-life husband, Robert Sterling, played her husband, George.

The ghosts haunted a stuffy banker named Cosmo Topper, who was the only person who could see and talk with the Kerbys. The TV series lifted the concept of Topper and the Kerbys from a classic 1937 film, Topper, that starred Roland Young as the banker and Cary Grant and Constance Bennett as the freshly crossed-over Kerbys. (They were done in by a car crash in the movie and by a skiing accident in the show; apparently, the world was a dangerous place back then.)

Topper and its two movie sequels are shown on the Turner Classic Movies channel from time to time, but I haven’t seen the TV series since I was a kid. All the actors I laughed at are gone now, Anne Jeffreys being the last. In their times, they entertained us as though they were our relatives at a family gathering.

I go into detail about the closeness of celebrities to our personal lives because a young woman and I were talking recently about TV programs we like when one of the best ever, The Andy Griffith Show, came up. She loves that family-centric 1960s comedy but can’t bear to watch it, she said, because all the time she would be remembering that most of its actors are gone now.

I understood what she meant. It can be difficult to enjoy the talents of a favorite performer when we know that the actor is no longer with us. We just have to appreciate what we had before the people slip into the fog of ghosts and ghostesses.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419




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