The 2016 cull of celebrities continues with brutal ruthlessness, reminding us all of our fragile mortality. In the past two days boxing legend Muhammed Ali and British author and celebrated screenwriter, Carla Lane, have left us, in both cases leaving behind proud, dramatic legacies. Is 2016 a cursed year, or are there simply too many celebrities in our narcissistic media-driven age that demands role models?
The only thing I can think of that these two very different celebrities have in common is the word ‘butterfly’. Mohammed Ali would ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’, as he jabbed and hooked his way to three world heavyweight titles, whilst Liverpool’s Carla wrote four hit TV series, including ‘Butterflies’.
On a recent visit to Liverpool’s new museum at the Pier Head, I wandered up to the top floor devoted to popular culture, showcasing the plethora of musical, comedic and writing talents that the city has produced. I took this photo of the Carla Lane display board, as ‘The Liver Birds’ are a part of my own upbringing and cultural identity.
Carla passed away peacefully in a Liverpool care home at the age of 87. “We were lucky that her wit, determination and passion brought Liverpool to life on screen for others to share,” a family statement said. Yep, agree with that. RIP Carla Lane.
Ali, the sixteen-stone butterfly that floated around a boxing ring, died in an Arizona hospital at the age of 74 after losing his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. His death has dominated the global news for the past two days, and rightly so, as he was voted the most popular sports star of the 20th century. The self-proclaimed ‘greatest’ found himself in the centre of America’s civil rights struggle in the 1960s, but managed to transcend politics with his devastating talent, charm and wit.
“Service to others is the rent we pay on earth for our room in heaven,” said Muhammed in one of his more modest moments, reflecting on his humble roots. RIP, The Greatest.