They say that death is the ultimate equalizer, which means that after we die, we are all the same. Is it really true? What about those people whose star is so bright in life, that when they die, they are never forgotten? Those whose work helped, and will continue to help thousands across the globe? Those whose actions reverberate through the ages, or whose words colour the lives, perceptions, and emotions of generation upon generation of human beings?
Perhaps these geniuses, masters and giants never truly die, since their bright light continues burning long after their earthly body collapses. Great names come to mind – William Shakespeare, Gandhi, Amadeus Mozart, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, Pablo Picasso, Michael Jackson. There are too many to count. People who have made a difference, whose presence is still a household name, and whose contributions to the world sparked new notions, ideas, inventions and artistic explorations.
Image: William Shakespeare (April 1564 – April 23, 1616)
New concepts, however, usually tend to provoke a negative backlash, which is what happened when certain innovators, geniuses and inspirational persons were born during certain time periods. Their notions were ridiculed, their theories condemned and some of them were hounded into poverty. Others were harassed and persecuted by the authorities and others were excommunicated or forced to flee. Needless to say, there are times when we do not know what we’ve got until it’s gone, which is why in many cases, these creative innovators were only appreciated after their death.
Image: Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)
During the last six months, a number of esteemed and brilliant persons bodily left this world, and though their work, their vision and their inspiration still permeates the globe, no epitaph is enough to describe the emptiness they’ve left behind. Nonetheless, I cannot stand by without remembering a few of these magnificent individuals, whom I never met or knew, and yet whom I personally still think about fondly and admire, for various reasons.
Leonard Nimoy (March 1931 – February 2015) – American actor, director, photographer, writer. He was most well-known for his famous characterisation of the alien hybrid Dr Spock in the ‘Star Trek’ franchise, yet his life and career comprised of so much more. He directed and acted in a number of other films and theatrical productions, was in the army, studied photography, wrote two autobiographies and several books of poetry, had two children, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild. He died at 83 years of age due to a pulmonary disease.
Image: Leonard Nimoy
Sir Terry Pratchett (April 1948 – March 2015) – British writer of fantasy novels and comic works, he is especially known (and revered by millions of fans) for his Discworld series, which is made up of officially 41 books. Pratchett was the UK’s best selling writer in the 90s. He was awarded a knighthood for services to literature in 2009 and received the World Fantasy Award for Literary Achievement in 2010. In 2007, after having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he became an active funder and advocate for research on Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as speaking up in various interviews, documentaries and other media in favour of assisted suicide. His works were and continue to be adapted to comic books and graphic novels, feature films, radio, music, T.V, role-playing games, video games and board games. He died of his disease at the age of 66, leaving behind a daughter, who is also a writer, an unfinished last novel, which is to be published later on this year, and an enormous fan-base.
Image: Sir Terry Pratchett
John Forbes Nash Jr (June 1928 – May 2015) – American Mathematical genius whose theories are used in economics, biology, artificial intelligence, accounting, computer science, politics and military theory. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Science in 1994, despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia early on in life, at 31 years of age. His struggles and breakthroughs are portrayed in the movie A Beautiful Mind (1998). He died in a car crash with his wife at 82 years, leaving behind two sons.
Image: John Forbes Nash Jr
Sir Christopher Lee (May 1922 – June 2015) – English actor, singer and author, known by many as the Master of Horror due to his portrayal of Count Dracula in the Hammer Horror films (1957-1976). Lee’s career spans nearly 70 years, during which he also portrayed Saruman in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. He was also a James Bond villain in The Man with the Golden Gun, as well as a main character in two films in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In 1997, he was appointed a Commander of the Venerable Order of Saint John, and in 2009, he was made a Knight Bachelor for services to drama and to charity. Lee was also known for his deep strong voice, an operatic bass with which he took part in various operas, musical pieces, voice-overs and even heavy metal albums. He died of heart failure at 93 years of age.
Image: Sir Christopher Lee