Film director/screenwriter John Hughes drops dead on a New York sidewalk of a heart attack at 59. Poet/songwriter Jim Carroll working at his desk from a heart attack at 60. Carter presidential Press Secretary Jodie Powell from a heart attack at 67. Movie star and dancer Patrick Swayze from cancer at 57 (here's a sweet appreciation of Swayze on Cool Birth). Political activist and union heroine Crystal Lee Sutton aka "Norma Rae" dead of cancer at 68. Actor and poet Henry Gibson from cancer at 73. Now singer Mary Travers of Peter, Paul & Mary fame dead from leukemia at 72.
All these well known public figures and more seem to be dropping like flies in recent days and weeks. What I see happening is the same thing that happened back in the '50s with rock'n'roll and the '60s with radical politics and the spread of "recreational" drug use, and so on through the decades that the "Baby Boomers" have dominated demographically.
There are those who came just before them and pioneered some of the outstanding changes in politics and music and culture in general etc. Followed by that big population bump of the boomers who made the changes seemingly universal, at least for a while (as in "everybody's doing it" rather than the hip few among the pioneers etc.).
Now that the boomers run is heading toward the ultimate eclipse, it seems once again their immediate forerunners are paving the way for the deluge to come in the "famous deaths" department.
Gibson and Travers and Powell and Sutton were all part of the pioneer generation in culture and politics (though they weren't really trendsetters or cutting edge innovators in their fields, more like popularizers of what the innovators were doing) and Hughes, Carrol and Swazye belong to the first wave of baby boomers now heading into retirement and beyond.
So what I'm thinking is, as with everything else the boomers have had anything to do with, because of their vast numbers the number of "celebrity" deaths is going to become a trend before too long and this current run of sad departures is just the beginning.