2017 saw the deaths of many beloved entertainers from the worlds of stage and screen. Those performers will be paid tribute to in obituaries in major media outlets and in award-show “In Memoriam” segments. But whither the fictional celebrities, the ones who exist only in my fevered, Adderall-fueled imagination? Who clangs the town crier’s bell for them? Here are three fictional famous people I made up completely who I am pretending passed on in 2017. Their memories would surely live on in the hearts of their fans, if they or their fans were real.
1) GARY CULLIVER, STAR OF LONESOME STEVE
Gary Culliver was best known as the star of the NBC series Lonesome Steve, which aired from 1951 to 1960. Each episode of the show featured Culliver, as the titular Steve, sitting in front of a bright white background weeping and crying out, “Who? Who will come?” The show was notable for featuring guest appearances from a young Robert Redford, who accidentally wandered into the studio and walked in front of the camera in 1957, and a pre-stardom Jack Nicholson, who accidentally wandered into the studio and walked in front of the camera in 1959. After the show ended, a typecast Culliver found himself unable to transition to roles that required him to move around, talk to people, and remember lines longer than three words, and he retired from acting in the late 60’s. On December 8, he passed away at 93 of an exploded stomach after unhinging his jaw and swallowing an entire goth teen.
2) SHELLEY ARRIAGA, SINGER OF “LOVE’S LIKE A GAME OF CURLING AND I’LL KEEP SWEEPING UNTIL MY ROCK PULLS UP TO THE BUTTON OF YOUR HEART”
Shelley Arriaga was a Canadian pop singer whose sole hit, 1986’s “Love’s Like a Game of Curling and I’ll Keep Sweeping Until My Rock Pulls Up to the Button of Your Heart”, hit #2 on the Canadian single charts and #98 in America. The single sold millions of copies and received constant airplay despite being 12 minutes long and featuring lyrics exhaustively outlining the rules and history of curling. (Sample line: “At first, river stones with a flat bottom were used as curling rocks, and were of varying sizes and shapes.”) Unfortunately, subsequent singles like the 24-minute “Love’s Even More Like Curling Than It Was Before” and “Shot-Rock Shawna” (a collaboration with Gordon Lightfoot and Maestro Fresh-Wes) failed to reach the same heights. Arriaga died on April 24 of complications from eating a goth teen.
3) TIM SHAW, STAR OF NEVER TOO MUCH: THE LUTHER VANDROSS STORY
Shaw was a stage veteran with hundreds of credits to his name on both Broadway and London’s West End, including Momorebothabagunza, The Hatless Worm, and The Hereford-Hasboro Latrine Killings. His most famous part was the title role in 2008’s Never Too Much: The Luther Vandross Story, a one-man show in which Shaw portrayed the R&B legend at various points in his life. The play famously lacked a script, instead relying on Shaw to fill up 90 minutes a night with improvised and entirely fictional stories about Vandross. One performance that found Shaw as Vandross taking credit for the 1977 Son of Sam murders led to the late singer’s estate threatening legal action against the production. As a result, later performances featured a lawyer seated onstage who would stand up and offer corrections whenever Shaw’s improvisations bordered on defamation. Shaw died on July 30 after being gunned down by a goth teen that he was attempting to affix to a six-foot skewer and eat like a kebab.