Fisher, Reynolds, Bowie, Prince – why celebrity deaths hit us so hard

Johnny Taylor opened his Facebook feed Wednesday to news that film icon Debbie Reynolds had died, just one day after her daughter, “Star Wars” star Carrie Fisher, had died after collapsing on a plane days earlier. He immediately flashed back to the living room of his childhood home.


He was 5 or 6, snuggled on the couch with his mother – a hair stylist who adored musicals and sang all over the house. They were watching “Singin’ in the Rain,” the 1952 classic that made Reynolds a Hollywood star, and his mom was putting on a show of her own.

“I remember her watching it with me on some old movie station, and I remember her getting up and dancing and singing to it,” said Taylor, now 39. “I just remember her being such a big Debbie Reynolds fan. My mom has passed and (Debbie Reynolds’ death) made me have all these memories of my mom. It was just bizarre.”

Taylor, a Sacramento comedian who can still call up the words to much of the film’s soundtrack, is taking in Reynolds’ and Fisher’s deaths with a heavy heart, and like millions of others this week he took to Facebook to mourn. At the end of a year marked with celebrity deaths, experts say fans are sharing a media-induced grief that, while nothing like losing a loved one, comes with its own rituals.

“Debbie Reynolds always had a really special place in my heart,” Taylor’s Facebook status read Wednesday. “Rest easy.”

Deaths of movie stars, musical greats and other public figures, especially when sudden, awaken memories of first concerts,…

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