And Heath Ledger Makes Two. . . Dead Today at Age 28

A friend of mine just sent email to let me know about this one — Heath Ledger, found dead today in New York at age 28.  Drugs also are suspected to have been the cause.  (See AP story.)

Last week, Brad Renfro’s death kind of threw me for a loop, but it wasn’t like it came totally and completely out of the blue (his drug problem had been pretty widely publicized).  This one, though — I literally am just absolutely stunned.  Thankfully, I’m home sick today with some kind of not-actually-a-cold thing, and I say “thankfully” because I literally just yelled, “OH MY GOD” eighteen times in a row and then burst into tears.

Heath Ledger was one of the earliest Boyfriends of the Week, and I always liked to joke I was the one who made him famous.  When I first featured him, he was still a relative newcomer, and I had just fallen madly in love with him after seeing him be totally hilarious and sweet in Ten Things I Hate About You.  And now he’s dead!

HE’S DEAD!  FROM DRUGS!  I AM STUNNED!

You guys know that even though I call them my “Boyfriends,” I don’t really love them, right?  That it’s all just for laughs. It’s pretend.  It’s just a cute way I came up with to give myself a reason to write about movies and music and books and stuff that I really enjoyed and wanted to share with others.  I don’t know the Boyfriends.  Frankly, I don’t WANT to know them (it would just spoil the fun).  Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel like this one is just a little bit personal, in a way Brad Renfro’s death really wasn’t for me.  Heath Ledger — I really expected great things.  I’ve followed his work for nearly a decade.  I thought he was brilliant and handsome and unique and fascinating.  And now he’s dead.

They say these things come in threes.  I’m not sure I can do another one.

Shit.

11 Responses to “And Heath Ledger Makes Two. . . Dead Today at Age 28”

  1. Jessie Says:

    Meg, I feel your pain. My husband is surprised I’m so sad. I’m surprised I’m so sad. He’d never really been on the top of any list for me, but today I realized that I was expecting great, great things from him in the future. It’s such a shame.

  2. Alisa Says:

    OMG!! My husband just told me. He had so much in front of him to live for. He had a beaitful baby girl, and his role in batman would have opened so many more doors for him. This is so sad. 😦

  3. Lorraine Says:

    What a shame and very sad. He really showed his talent in “Brokeback Mountain”. That film and his performance get better on each viewing. I agree, I was expecting great things from him in the future.

  4. Liz Says:

    Meg, I was going to e-mail you too. I got home tonight and turned on the news, and heard about Heath Ledger. I’m glad I checked your blog tonight. On the news they said that they don’t even know for sure if it was drugs that caused his death. It could have been some other ailment, or an accidental mixture of drugs that weren’t compatible, so no assumptions should be made yet about cause of death. My husband and I saw him in “Four Feathers,” and wasn’t he also in the one about the Brothers Grimm, with Matt Damon? Anyway, he was really good, and it’s a real loss. I was also wondering about things happening in three’s, but let’s hope it’s just superstition.

  5. Trip Says:

    Yeah, this news was harder to take than other celebrity deaths. Ledger was young, he was successful, had a courageous project like Brokeback Mountain under his belt…only 28 years old, too.

    Too much untimely death happening these days, hard to make sense of it – especially when it happens to someone who clearly had a good and long road ahead of him.

  6. Liz Says:

    Hey, Folks – the latest reports say there were NO illegal drugs, and they don’t think it was a suicide. That leaves accidental overdose as most likely cause of death. It’s still horrible that he died, and at so young an age, but maybe we can glean a little comfort in that it’s looking more and more like a tragic ACCIDENT.

    Evidently, work on the Batman movie, and the other project he was doing, was very taxing and disturbing, plus, he was splitting from his wife (or companion, some references say), so he was going through some heavy-duty stuff, and was using prescription medication. This all just makes me feel that much sorrier for him, but I suspect that at least, we won’t have to remember him as someone who abused drugs.

    Meg, have you considered doing a tribute page on your site, for boyfriends who “left us too soon?” It might be too hard, both logistically, and emotionally, but if you did it, I would read it (that sounds a little like “Field of Dreams” doesn’t it?).

    Anyway, trite as it may sound, I’m glad we’ve all found each other in this “cyber-community.”

  7. megwood Says:

    I’ve sometimes refeatured Boyfriends who have died, or done another tribute-type thing for them (Gregory Peck, e.g.), but I’m desperately trying to get a NEW Bf up this week, so I don’t know what I want to do about Heath. I’ve often thought about a tribute page for people who died before I could make them Boyfriends though (Burgess Meredith died 6 weeks before I was going to put him up on the site, for example, way way back in the early years). I guess I could do one big Page o’ Death and make categories. Did that sound crass and unfeeling? I’m having kind of a rotten day today so far. . .

    Incidentally, I never assumed Heath died from suicide or “illegal” drugs — only that I’d heard drugs of some sort may have been the cause (though one should note that just because he had a prescription for the multiple medications in his apartment doesn’t mean those prescriptions were A) valid/legal or B) valid/necessary). I definitely know it’s VERY easy to accidentally OD on sleeping pills when you’re utterly and completely exhausted — I almost did it once myself, thinking if 2 only got me 30 min of sleep, 20 would get me a few hours (that was after five straight nights of ZERO moment’s rest, though, and I was NOT thinking clearly). So, if that’s what happened to Heath, I . . . ugh. Is really all I can say about that.

    It’s sad when any young person dies, regardless of the cause. I mean, I think we can also assume Brad Renfro’s death was accidental as well, legal or illegal substances or not — unfortunately, this is not an assumption that brings me a whole lot of peace about either one of them.

  8. Eva Says:

    My dad called me at work to tell me, just as I found out online, a couple of hours after he was discovered. I was touched that my dad would realize it would affect my feelings and that he took that seriously.

    When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2001, A Knight’s Tale was in theaters, and I had just seen it and had fallen in love with the whole experience and all the actors. In the coming weeks, I saw it three more times – it was an escape from the stress and pain of adjusting to the horrible news in our family. I can remember that Tylenol didn’t ease the tension headache, but sitting down in the darkness to watch the happy, plucky peasants made an actual physical pain go away for a while.

    Even though he already had a fan base and a track record of good work, Heath Ledger was just then becoming widely known, so I always felt like I, in a very small way, was among those who “discovered” him. Thereafter, when he would appear in other films or in celebrity magazines, I would always pause to look, with a little feeling like he was an old friend from high school, a distant cousin, somebody that I had some kind of connection to, could take some pride in, from a distance.

    I was so startled by the news. It’s hard to accept that it’s real; I want him to come back and pick back up with his projects and his family and his life.

    Meg, I hope you decide not to do a Page o’ Death. Your site is an escape from bad stuff, the way A Knight’s Tale was (hopefully still is) an escape for me when I feel bad. I would love it if it could remain light and silly and happy.

  9. megwood Says:

    Awww, that’s a great story, Eva. I still haven’t seen A Knight’s Tale, but I think I feel a trip to the video store a’comin’ on. . .

    I feel the same way about the Page o’ Death, incidentally. When I’ve thought about a tribute page, it’s always been for people that died before I could make them Boyfriends of the Week, and they are, all of them, OLD MEN. It would be okay to be lighter about a tribute to an OLD MAN who died at the end of a long, successful, and happy life. That’s why I did a tribute to Gregory Peck the minute I heard he’d passed, but couldn’t do one for Heath Ledger. I’m not okay with Heath Ledger’s death — I’m still just totally and completely STUNNED. There’s no way to be sort of “light” and accepting of his death the way I could be about, say, Burgess Meredith (who I still desperately want to make a Boyfriend From Beyond the Grave, because I ADORED Burgess Meredith soooooo much as a kid!!). It’s just different. And really, no fun at all.

    Hoping to have the new Boyfriend write-up posted by the end of the day, by the way. Watch the blog for a post announcing that it’s up. And Eva, I will definitely watch A Knight’s Tale this weekend and think of you (and your mom!) when I do.

  10. megwood Says:

    Oops, I just realized I still had one more movie to watch for the new Boyfriend — might take me until tomorrow to get it finished instead of today. But still, new Boyfriend coming soon!

  11. Speff Says:

    It is so sad that Heath Ledger has died; and, yes, on the scale of tragedies that are happening on a daily basis, the death of one human being shouldn’t necessarily provoke more distress than any other. Fact is, though, Ledger’s skills as an actor gave me some very happy, very emotional times in the cinema or on the DVD player, particularly as a dopey wannabe crim in “Two Hands”, and as Ennis. I was so looking forward to seeing him as the Joker later this year, and that will now be a tinged experience. I feel so sorry for his family.

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