Cut Short: Sadly, Brittany Murphy is Not the First, and Will Not Be the Last

brittany-murphyDion sang “I just looked around and they’re gone” in his moody epic “Abraham, Martin and John”, a song about the early passing of political figures, but these names that are such a part of our lives stretch beyond the political to the world of music – where Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison’s fame overshadowed the death of Al Wilson of Canned Heat, who beat Janis and Jimi by a couple of weeks in early September of 1970, to Farrah Fawcett and Seeds lead vocalist Sky Saxon (of “You’re Pushing Too Hard” fame) getting pushed off of the front page because they died on the same day as Michael Jackson.

With Brittany Murphy the highest profile filmstar name since Heath Ledger to pass on at only 32 years of age is yet another casualty added to the list. To those not tuned in to the younger generation the name conjures up Britney Spears first and foremost…especially in light of Ms. Spears needing approximately 5 public relations firms a day to quell the gossip…but this is the other Brittney…and one must surmise that like the 23 year old River Phoenix her best work was in front of her. When creative lives are cut short the universe has no mercy…Janis Joplin was supposed to sing “Buried Alive In The Blues” on the day she died, a Nick Gravenites tune…and Joplin always transformed Gravenites’ words and music into something extraordinary. The songwriter wrote in Rolling Stone that it was the saddest story ever, her not singing on the song because of her passing…which appears decades after-the-fact to be a murder, not an ordinary overdose.


Phoenix, some say, was working on a project that would make him a superstar, and unlike Heath Ledger’s terrific Joker portrayal, Phoenix – like Joplin – left his work unfinished. Ledger is proof of how brilliant the “unfinished business” can be, his last film contained a montage of actors while he got to complete his work on Batman: The Dark Knight and provide a glimpse into his genius. Remarkable when you look at the contrast between his character in Brokeback Mountain, a dual personality that holds it all in, and the Joker, a dual personality who lashes out.

IMDB has three new Brittany Murphy movies in post-production, The Expendables, Something Wicked and The Abandoned. Shrinking Charlotte was in pre-production and Poor Things was in production. The press is on the tail of her husband in ghoulish fashion and, perhaps even more ghastly, is that when one puts Brittany Murphy in Google the first predictions are “Brittany Murphy death photo” followed by Us Weekly, Plastic Surgery, Movies, Husband, Drugs, Wiki…

Those are the “searches” the public seems to be making. Death photo, plastic surgery, husband, drugs…from Murphy Brown in 1991 to King Of The Hill in 2009 there’s a huge body of work and lots and lots of questions about drugs a la Ledger, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Janis Joplin and even Judy Garland who escaped the early death but who was always dying in front of our eyes until she finally succumbed to HBS Hollywood Burnout Syndrome. Brittany Murphy won’t be the last as the entertainment industry, despite MusiCares and other non-profits attempting to help out, is still interested in the bottom line, not the emotional welfare of those who make the art.

Goodbye Brittany Murphy, there are dozens more lined up to take your place, and what does that say about us as a society…