A Week of Farewells...including Tony Scott

From the desk of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

In the past week, the world has lost several icons of the entertainment business.  Phyllis Diller, whose comedy I first appreciated as a child, who lent her voice to one of the most famous villainesses of time, Cruella DeVille died.  So did Jerry Nelson.  You may not know his name but if you were a kid who watched Sesame Street or watched with your kids, his voice gave life to “The Count” as well as “Snuffleupagus” and other characters on the show.  Neil Armstrong, who made the first step onto the moon on July 20, 1969 and I watched (and millions of others watched) crossed from life too.  Each affected me in one way or another, bringing back memories.  Tony Scott’s death, however, affects me perhaps the most.  Why? Is it because as a romance novelist I flirt and flit around the edges of the entertainment industry? Or because I enjoyed his work? Or because he would rank on the short list of people I would have enjoyed to sit down and talk with over a meal or drink? Maybe it's all of the above.

For anyone who may not be aware, Tony Scott (who with older brother Ridley Scott owned Scott Free Enterprises) was a director with a solid resume.  Some of the best action films of the modern age – everything from Top Gun to Crimson Tide and Unstoppable.  He worked – with Ridley – on one of my favorite television programs, no longer airing, Numb3rs.  Just a few nights before Tony Scott took his life, I watched Unstoppable on one of the many satellite channels streaming into my home.  If you wanted edge of your seat action, edgy thrills, his work delivered.

One week ago, on August 19, Tony Scott headed for the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, Los Angeles.  He climbed and then jumped.  Although some early media reports claimed, in apparent error, he suffered from inoperable brain cancer, no one seems to understand why he took his life.  But whatever the reason, it seems he planned his death – choreographed it like a scene from one of his films.  He’d filmed scenes beneath it and planned it to have a prominent place in his long anticipated remake of The Warriors.  Scott planned to relocate the location from the original New York to Los Angeles and his vision included thousands of actual gang members posed on the bridge, the same one where he chose to end his life.

Somehow he made a statement even if no one yet understands what he wanted to say.  I’m reminded of the Gilbert O’Sullivan song from the early 1970’s, a poignant song which has haunted me since childhood, Alone Again, Naturally.  One of my grandfathers committed suicide long before my birth and my life has been touched on occasion by other suicides from those dear to me, including the late (and to me always great) Phil Clinton, known as Phil Jay and Phillip O’Neil.

From Alone Again, Naturally:

 In a little while from now
If I'm not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to
Make it clear to whoever
Wants to know what it's like
When you're shattered..

No matter what thoughts were in his mind, what inner demons plagued him, what despair may have dogged him, no one knows why Tony Scott chose to jump to his death.

And his loss is not just his family’s, his friends, his colleagues, or his co-workers.  We all lost one of the most creative talents of our time and so the world becomes a sadder place.



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