Steve Eighinger

Another unkind year for Baby Boomers, Silent Generation

Posted: Oct. 6, 2017 8:45 am

Remember not so long ago when we were discussing what a tragic year 2016 was when it came to losing so many of our favorite celebrity figures?

It seemed as if almost every day we lost another iconic figure -- David Bowie, Merle Haggard, Muhammad Ali, Prince, Carrie Fisher and dozens of others.

Well, don't look now, but 2017 -- unfortunately -- is more than holding its own. The most recent passing was Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Tom Petty, 66, who died earlier this week of cardiac arrest.

The coming years promise to be even worse. It's simple math.

The celebrities we are losing in such rapid fashion are -- for the most part -- members of the generation of what was once 78 million baby boomers, or 25 to 28 percent of the U.S. population.

Boomers are generally considered those born between 1946 and 1964, and statistics show we have already lost about 8 million from that age group, mostly from the natural aging process. That simple math I spoke of would allow for a certain percentage of those boomers to have been "celebrities."

Couple the math with the age in which we live -- the era of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle -- and we find ourselves constantly bombarded with breaking news and updates, especially when a public figure passes. There are times when the death of a celebrity or well-known personality is so overpublicized it seems as if he or she has died a hundred times.

This is quite different than, say, when Jim Morrison died in 1971. It was a week or more before many Americans knew the Doors lead singer had passed in Paris. By the time news had reached the U.S., Morrison's death merited little more than a paragraph in most publications.

Another dwindling generation is the one that preceded the boomers, the silent generation, or those born between 1921 and 1945. This silent generation is losing its remaining celebrities at a brisk pace, too. Iconic figures Hugh Hefner, the founder of the Playboy empire, and Monty Hall, of "Let's Make a Deal" fame, were two of the most recent passings. Both men were in their 90s when they died.

In case you've missed some of the dozens of high-profile passings from these two generations this year, here are a few more:

º Roger Moore, arguably the second-most popular actor behind Sean Connery to play James Bond. (Daniel Craig fans may say Moore is No. 3.)

º Mary Tyler Moore, America's sweetheart and star of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

º Chuck Berry, St. Louis-born musician whose career covered parts of seven decades.

º Adam West, the original "Batman."

º Don Rickles, the king of insult comedy who had a huge following in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of his appearances with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."

º George Romero, the filmaker who introduced us to the zombie apocalypse through his legendary series of "Dead" movies.

Unfortunately, we'll be adding to this list as the year winds down.

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