Celebrity Deaths

I’d be missing an opportunity during Ultraman Week to pay respect, if I didn’t mention the passing of Peter Fernandez, who died this past week at the age of 80. Fernandez along with Corinne Orr, and Earl Hammond among others dubbed the original Ultraman series. Of course most of that same crew were more famous for dubbing Speed Racer, but they also handled the Tsuburaya Productions.

Fernandez didn’t voice Hayata (Ultraman) but he did a whole bunch of the other voices. Dubbing often gets a bad wrap, but these people tried their hardest and helped introduce the characters to millions with their familar American voices. If you’re interested in the work of Peter and his cohorts, be sure to check out the Ultraman Series DVD set which has a great interview with the dubbing cast, including Peter Fernandez.

A slightly belated set of condolences to the family and fans of Tetsuo Narikawa. Tetsuo was the star of the famous Ultraman-like show from the 1970’s, Spectreman. Spectreman actually had it’s entire series redubbed and aired on TBS here in America. The show was quite popular here in the states, although the fan base never quite reached the size of Ultraman.

The Spectreman show also became quite popular in Mexico and Spanish speaking countries. Tetsuo Narikawa not only starred as the title character, Joji Gamou, but he also appeared in several other Sentai style shows, including Ultraman Leo and Masked Rider.

Tetsuo Narikawa was the spokesman for Panasonic in Japan for many years and more recently worked very heavily in the martial arts community, even founding a tournament. He is wildly respected in Japan, not only for his screen work, but for his karate skills. Tetsuo Narikawa was only 65 years old. While Tetsuo may have left this Earth, his legacy as the immortal Spectreman will live on forever.

You can’t run a website dedicated to pop culture and not mention this. I actually found about the death of Michael Jackson before most of the internet was even reporting it, but wasn’t sure what to post up. I am hardly the hugest fan of Jackson, but anyone who grew up in the 1980’s was a fan of at least some of his songs.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller album can still stand toe to toe with any album out there today. As a kid I even had one of those red Michael Jackson coats that could unzip at the sleeves. Good times. I’m sad to hear he died despite all the calamity that he has been caught up in the last few years. Going from pop star to freak show.

I’ve never been afraid to blast some Billie Jean or play any other of the classics in the radio. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a whole lot of MJ stuff in the weeks ahead. But if I can sum up Michael Jackson’s influence in one statement it’d be that upon his death, MTV is playing music videos again. A fitting tribute to the man who basically built the genre.

And the deaths continue in threes. Something I was eerily thinking about earlier today when I read that Farrah Fawcett had died. I wondered who would be next, but I never could have imagined.

Edit: Larry King just said it best:

“What’s coming now… Stories about what Michael Jackson did to me. The tabloids next week are going to be horror stories. In this realm that is the calmness, let’s miss what was his talent. He gave us his talent and we sure did enjoy that.”