Is this the movie that (insert name here) dies?
Dustin Hoffman, Dolly Parton and Snoop Dogg walk into a bar ...
Never mind that this unlikely trio could be the set-up for a joke ... what could they possibly have in common?
We’ll get to that momentarily. For now though, this unfortunate and unprecedented interruption of our entertainment landscape — and, oh yeah, our lives — has created the opportunity to indulge in trivial pursuits.
One of mine is to seek out websites wherein you can learn (if you can categorize it under “learning”) all sorts of chicken feed, small potatoes and fiddle-faddle — to name three of the 741 words and phrases that powerthesaurus.org lists as direct synonyms or have similar meanings to “trivia” — about subjects of shared interest ... in this case, pop culture.
More to what passes for a point, to determine what Dustin, Dolly and Dogg are talking about in that bar.
The answer? ... Swapping stories about the times they killed Gary Busey.
In fact, according to cinemorgue.fandom.com — a great time-wasting website for movie buffs — our three barflies each shot to death a character portrayed by Busey.
Hoffman took him out in “Straight Time,” Parton did the deed in “Wild Texas Wind” (right between the eyes, obvi, because she’s Dolly Freaking Parton), and Snoop took care of business in the straight-to-video classic “Hot Boyz” or, as it’s also known, “Gang Law.”
Ain’t that a kick in the head.
Speaking of which, it was an unfortunate meeting between Busey’s noggin’ and a horse’s hoof that ultimately led to his demise in “The Busters” — the 633rd and third-to-last episode of the iconic television series “Gunsmoke.”
More memorably, Busey’s character (Harve Daley) was the final death among the hundreds Cinemorgue has compiled from the show, which ran from 1955-1975. (At least Busey only died once on “Gunsmoke”: The late Ashland resident and great character actor Jack Elam was killed FIVE TIMES over the course of the series — three time alone in Season 11.)
And that’s the thing about Cinemorgue: Each link brings you to another link to a performer or a movie or TV show — from which you can jump somewhere else. It becomes an ever expanding Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon ...
... who has been killed on screen by Betsy Palmer, Charlize Theron and Meryl Freaking Streep (in “The River Wild,” which partially was filmed on the Rogue River).
See how easy it is to get lost?
Skimming through Gary Busey’s film demises, I came across “Predator 2,” a film that features members of the Los Angeles Lakers as a hunting party of the alien species.
It also features the late Bill Paxton — and his death in “Predator 2” allowed him to become the first actor to be killed in a Predator movie, a Terminator movie and an Alien movie.
Game over, indeed.
Cinemorgue also allows you to look up character deaths in reverse. Can’t remember who survives in the original version of “The Poseidon Adventure,” type in “The Poseidon Adventure Cinemorgue” at your search engine of choice, discover who dies, and do the reverse math?
Just typing that previous paragraph make me think of one time where I couldn’t remember what happened to a particular character — not from the upside-down-ship disaster movie (hey, Leslie Nielsen was the captain!) but from “Earthquake” (which at one time had an exclamation point in its title, in case you would mistake it for a Merchant-Ivory production).
After the earthquakes, Richard Roundtree is on his motorcycle attempting to outrace the flood caused by the breaching of a dam. Roundtree gets the shaft, however, because the moviemakers never show whether he escapes.
On this matter, Cinemorgue is inconclusive — saying only that he “possibly drowns when flooding water approaches.” OK, so it’s not perfect, but the site’s “Earthquake” page did remind me that Lorne Greene had left the Ponderosa to die of a heart attack after being exposed to toxic gas and talking with his daughter, played by Ava Gardner.
Wait ... Lorne Greene played Ava Gardner’s father? How ... he was only seven years older than her?
Well, for two reasons. First, it’s Hollywood. More importantly, if Ben Cartwright could be 13 when he fathered the Boy Who Would Be Hoss, than he could do anything.
Famously doomed characters have multiple listings. Poor, sweet Beth March — who succumbed again just last year in the Oscar-nominated retelling of “Little Women” — has not only Eliza Scanlen’s recent performance, but those of Margaret O’Brien, Claire Danes, Jean Parker and Eve Freaking Plumb buried within Cinemorgue’s pages.
O’Brien actually played Beth twice — in the 1949 film with Katherine Hepburn, and in a televised version 15 years later ... a remake that not only turns “Little Women” into a musical but also lets Beth live!
“Game of Thrones” fans would be ashamed of themselves for losing their minds when Ned Stark lost his head in the HBO series’ first season. Ned was played by Sean Bean — an actor so associated with playing characters who don’t make it to the closing credits that he now rejects scripts that kill him off.
“I just had to cut that out and start surviving, otherwise it was all a bit predictable,” says Bean — whose Cinemorgue page lists 21 movie deaths, one in an animated film, another six in television roles and even two in video games.
But that’s nothing compared to the John Hurt, killed off 43 times in movies and eight on TV according to Cinemorgue — counting both times that an creature burst from his chest, in “Alien” and “Spaceballs.”
Heck, Bruce Willis even out-dies Sean Bean. His 26 movie deaths including twice by ex-wife Demi Moore (“Mortal Thoughts” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”)
But does Willis’ Cinemorgue page include “The Sixth Sense”? Hey ... NO SPOILERS!
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin is killing time at firstname.lastname@example.org