Top 10 Deaths That Were Overshadowed By Other People’s Deaths


Some people honestly just cannot catch a break. For instance,  For instance, on a normal March 30th, 1981, people would have been talking about Indiana University claiming a National Title in Men’s Basketball over the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. What were they talking about instead? Ronald Reagan getting shot by John Hinckley. Sorry Isiah Thomas, but you should be used to being overshadowed anyhow.

Unfortunately, some people don’t even get the whole day that they died to themselves. Here are some people whose final day was overshadowed because some else died on the same day, or had recently died and was still the bigger story.

10. Christopher “Latta” Collins  (Died June 12th,  1994)


You may not remember the face of Christopher Charles Collins, also known as Chris Latta, but you would definitely remember his voice. Chris Latta, who got his start as a stand-up comedian, was the voice of such 1980’s cartoon cartoons as Starsceam and Cobra Commander. He was also the original voice of Mr. Burns, a voice Harry Shearer emulates to this day. On a slower news day, there might have been a few loving tributes on the news as word trickled out that Collins had died of a brain hemorrhage.

The More Famous Deaths:


You may happen to remember June 12th, 1994 as the day that Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found dead. Brown was the ex-wife of football player turned actor and broadcaster O.J. Simpson. The ensuing “trial of the century” was a life and a circus all its own. Somewhere, Collins would probably refer to the other story upstaging him as a “Megatron” or “Serpentor.” At any rate, the Simpson murders relegated the story of Collins passing to the point where years later, people did not even know that he was dead.

9. Eddie Matthews (Died February 18th, 2001)


On February 18th, 2001, sports shows like Sportscenter should have been full of loving tributes to Eddie Matthews. Matthews was a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, playing with the Braves through Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. From an historical perspective, Matthews was the Braves manager when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s lifetime home run record. People should have been reminded one last time who Eddie Matthews was.

The More Famous Death:


That same day though, the entire world, sports and non, was rocked by the story that Dale Earnhardt Sr. had died in a fatal crash at the Daytona 500. The story would resonate for weeks. Even today, you can see people with the #3 sticker on their car. A movie about Earnhardt’s life and death was even made, titled with the iconic number. Eddie Matthews would have to settle for being fondly remembered by fans.

8. Dick Sargent (Died July 8th, 1994)


Richard Stanford Cox (who was known professionally as Dick Sargent) is probably best known as the second Darin from Bewitched. Later in life, Sargent would come out having been a homosexual. In 1992, Sargent was Grand Marshall of a Gay Pride Parade. Notably, his co-Marshall for the event was fellow Bewitched actress Elizabeth Montgomery. Sargent’s death could have served as a springboard for a variety of discussions about not only the beloved television show, but also on gay rights.

The More Famous Death:


The death of North Korea’s “Eternal President” Kim Il Sung was not only the passing of a man, but a potentially destabilizing event on a nuclear level. Sung basically was North Korea. He was the leading force in its Communist regime, as well as the central figure during the Korean War. North Koreans still celebrate his birthday as “the day of the Sun.” More importantly, North Korea is volatile and unpredictable. The fear that Sung’s son would touch off a World War, or that there might be a chance for better relations with North Korea, dominated the news cycle as Sung passed away. This all made the death of an actor a secondary story in news cycles.

7. Roger Peterson (Died February 3, 1959)


It is one thing for your death to hardly be mentioned when someone more famous dies. It is quite another to be hardly mentioned in the story of your own death. However, that is exactly the fate of Roger Peterson. After the 21-year-old Peterson died in a plane crash, there was a small service at a local church. If Peterson is mentioned at all, it is that he was piloting on the day the music died.

The More Famous Deaths:


It was called the “Winter Dance Party” tour. The headliners were J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, Richie Valenz, and Buddy Holly. On February 3rd, 1959, the crash of a Beechcraft Bonanza in Iowa became known as The Day The Music Died. It is the event that Don McLean would sing about so passionately in “American Pie.” Music would never be the same. The crash was also the unofficial end of the 1950’s, about ten months before the calendar would say so. Even though he was the pilot, family and friends still struggle to honor the memory of Peterson in its wake.

6. Michael Chekhov (Died September 30th, 1955)


As an actor, Michael Chekhov was probably best known for his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound, for which he was nominated for an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor.) As an acting instructor, Chekhov wrote a book called To The Actor, which is still cited as a developmental tool by actors such as Johnny Depp today. Chekhov would count among his students such luminaries as Marilyn Monroe, Lloyd Bridges, Anthony Quinn, Clint Eastwood, Elia Kazan, and Yul Brynner. But on September 30th 1955, Michael Chekhov’s death was not even a news story compared to another person who would become associated with method acting.

The More Famous Death:


When James Dean died in a car crash on September 30, 1955, the world stopped and nothing else happened for the rest of the year. Dean was only 24, and had primarily been a television actor. Dean was starting to break through in movies though, with moving performances in East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. It was Rebel that catapulted Dean to icon status. He had just finished work on his final film, Giant. As a symbol of eternal youth, Dean would quickly become legend. And while even Dean himself would have probably admitted that Chekhov had the more influential career, it is his death, now Chekhov’s, that still resonates to this day.

5. C.S. Lewis (Died November 22, 1963)


Even fifty years after his death of renal failure on November 22nd, 1963, C.S. Lewis is not the lead story on the news when covering that day. Lewis was, of course, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia book series. Lewis’ work is particularly revered in the Christian community for its strong detail of Christian beliefs. Lewis was also incidentally the inspiration for the Tolkien character Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If Lewis had died on any other day, it would probably be all that day was remembered for. However, Lewis did not die on any other day.

The More Famous Death:


The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas was an event which still resonates and is debated over, five decades later. People still argue who the killer was, and how many people on what level may have been involved. Scores of films have been made on the Kennedy Assassination, including Oliver Stone’s conspiracy theory JFK. Quite simply, it was history, and the first time television was transformed into a 24-hour news network.

4. Farrah Fawcett (Died June 25th, 2009)


Farrah Fawcett will always be primarily remembered for her role in the television show Charlie’s Angels and — let’s face it — a pretty rockin’ poster to put on your wall. Fawcett would also go on to star in some dramatic fare such as The Burning Bed, but the discussion would always manage to come back to her legacy of being one of the pre-eminent sex symbols of the 1970’s. In June 2009, Fawcett lost what had been a long struggle with anal cancer. Usually, this would have been the biggest death story of any day. The problem is that another death hit the world completely from the blind side that same day.

The More Famous Death:


It was the death that nearly shut down the Internet.  On June 25th, 2009, what sounded like another weird rumor spread like wildfire through Facebook and Twitter. When it turned out to be true, the world was left with nothing but questions, and a loss as to how to answer them. Michael Jackson was dead after a collapse at his home. Jackson seemed, in many ways, like an eternal child. It was hard for some to imagine him as an adult at all, much less one who could die. The fact that he could and did was so huge, news programs that lead off with Fawcett’s death earlier in the day actually switched to the news of Jackson’s death later on.

3. Carl Switzer (Died January 21st, 1959)


Carl Switzer was best known as Alfalfa from the Our Gang series. As an adult, the former child actor had a side job training hunting dogs. After one of the dogs got lost in the woods, Switzer offered $50 for its return.  When the dog was returned, Switzer paid the money in a combination of cash and drinks. Switzer then tried to collect the money for the dog’s return from the man whom Switzer had trained the dog for. A fight ensued between the two men, and Switzer was shot dead. In newspapers at the time, Switzer’s death was reduced to a mere footnote, even in the obituary sections. Hollywood can be a tough town like that.

The More Famous Death:


Cecil B. DeMille was one of the most influential directors of the twentieth century, having successfully made the transition to the sound era. As a matter of fact, De Mille directed versions of The Ten Commandments in both silent and sound eras. De Mille became synonymous with big productions, which frequently featured large scenes of chaos. De Mille was also famous for what came to be known as “sword and sandal” epics. Years later, whenever the subject of January 21st 1959 comes up, De Mille’s death inevitably gets mentioned first.

2. Groucho Marx (August 19th, 1977)


Groucho Marx was known not only for being the leader of the Marx Brothers comedy team, but also for the television show What’s My Line. Marx had complications after a hip surgery which led to increasingly failing health. On August 19th, 1977, the 86-year-old Marx drifted out of consciousness for the last time. Though he had essentially retired from public life in the late 1960’s, Marx should have been object of stories and adulation throughout the national media. This would have absolutely been the case, if not for the events of just a couple days earlier.

The More Famous Death:


On August 16th, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, died suddenly at the age of 42. The day before Groucho Marx passed away was Elvis’s funeral, meaning Marx’s death was simply buried in the crush of coverage. This is a fact that is actually bemoaned in Rob Zombie’s movie House of a Thousand Corpses. In the years that followed, Presley’s death would result in questions, conspiracy theories, and tabloid speculation that Elvis was still alive. Elvis’ death became almost a bigger story than his life. There was just seemingly no room in the media for more than a few words on Marx.

1. John Adams (Died July 4th, 1826)


John Adams was the second President of the United States. He was the first President to reside in the executive mansion which would come to be known as the White House. However, even in his lifetime, this Founding Father saw his life and accomplishments being somewhat sandwiched between his predecessor and his successor. With the death falling on what would become Independence Day, Adams would have suffered a near-eternal stealing of his spotlight even without somebody else dying at the same time. But, since they did, Adams is now doubly neglected.

The More Famous Death:


When you read the words of a Founding Father, you are probably not going to scramble to the letters of John Adams. People can generally get the first and third President right, and then have to think for a moment to see if they come up with Adams. The fact that Adams and Thomas Jefferson were political rivals should make this all the more galling. Jefferson died on the same exact day as John Adams, meaning that for all time, the best Adams is going to achieve is co-billing on the day of his death.

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  1. This was not a death overshadow but a news event overshadow, which was Donald Trump divorce to Ivana Trum overshadowed the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

  2. Guillermo F. Perez-Argüello on

    In Mexico, the weekly magazine which is the equivakent of TIME, called Tiempo, wanted to be holier than the Pope, by highlighteing the death of blues singer extraordinaire Ethel Waters who died two weeks after Elvis., while nor mentioning Presley’s death. LOL. Now, Elvis’ ban in Mexico lasted from 1957 to 1971, so the magazine’s decision not to print the news that REALLY went around the world, Elvis Preslkey’s death, is to this day, as puzzling as I have ever witrnessed from a top magazine.

  3. Ted Kennedy’s death was overshadowed by the death of Peewee Herman’s uncle, Jeeks “Diddley” Herman on the same day.

  4. Groucho was briefly on the old panel game show What’s My Line. The game show/comedy show that he is best know for was called You Bet Your Life.

  5. Groucho Marx’s death was actually bemoaned in the Rob Zombie film “The Devil’s Rejects” the sequel to “House of a Thousand Corpses”. “Son, if you ever say another derogatory word about Elvis Aron Presley in my presence again, I will kick the living s*** out of you!”

  6. “This all made the death of an actor a secondary story in news cycles”

    Yes, as it should have.