The world (or maybe just my collection of Facebook friends) was stunned and saddened last night by the fiery, car-crash demise of actor Paul Walker, famous (pretty much solely – let’s face it) for riding shotgun in the series of Vin Diesel Fast and the Furious films. Not surprisingly, this instantly vaulted him to the top of the hastily re-polled survey, “The Most Ironic Deaths in the History of Everything.” Congratulations, Paul Walker!
Previous title holders include:
Redd Foxx, who suffered a fatal heart attack on the set of his early ’90s sitcom The Royal Family. Foxx famously would imitate a heart attack in his role as Fred Sanford on Sanford and Son, so the cast and crew present at his demise thought this was a gag.
Harry Houdini, magician/illusionist/escape artist, was renowned for his peak physical conditioning, yet an errant punch to the stomach is reputed to have led to his early death, from a ruptured appendix.
Vic Morrow, on the set of the movie version of Rod Serling’s eerie, supernatural television show The Twilight Zone, died through a freak accident wherein a helicopter crashed during filming and decapitated him. He was not in the helicopter – he was on the ground.
Dancer Isadora Duncan, who would wear long, flowing togas and scarves as part of her routines, let this costume predilection carry over into her daily life. She was killed when her humongous scarf got tangled up in the rear wheel well of the convertible she was driving, breaking her neck.
Steve Irwin, the “Crocodile Hunter,” was killed during the production of his show, not by a crocodile but by a stingray, deaths from which are exceedingly rare.
While not fatal, singer Jan Berry of the 60’s duo Jan and Dean spent two months in a coma in 1966 after he wrecked his Corvette Sting Ray on Whittier Drive in Beverly Hills, not far from the famous Dead Man’s Curve. Two years prior, Jan and Dean’s song “Dead Man’s Curve” detailed a race involving a Sting Ray at the location.
John Kendrick, the 18th century sea captain of the American Revolution, died after firing a salute to a neighboring vessel, which naturally responded, but mistakenly with loaded cannons.
Jimi Heselden, inventor of the Segway and long defender of its safety, died after driving his Segway off a cliff near his home in West Yorkshire, England.
Jim Fixx, author of The Complete Book of Running and avid proponent of the health benefits of jogging and exercise, died of a heart attack while running. At the age of 52.
R.I.P. to all our winners!
(This hugely unscientific poll has a margin of error of +/- 77%, and the majority of those surveyed freely admitted they don’t have a firm grip on what constitutes irony. When asked for an example, they replied to a man “10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.”)