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Fifty Is The New Dead For Men

Updated on June 30, 2009

It started over a month ago when beloved Vegas performer, Danny Gans died in his sleep. He was in his early fifties and seemed to be the picture of health then suddenly…dead. And now with both Michael Jackson and Billy Mays (Oxi-Clean Paid Programming Guru) passing away at the exact age of fifty, I started doing what any Jewish gay man getting closer to his fifties would do…I started getting worried, really worried. Fifty is the new dead for men – Don’t Get Me Started!

Although I’ve never been a paranoiac conspiracy theorist, I have to wonder why all these fifty year old men are dying, why now? Do we really all have bad hearts or are we all just so dependent on drugs (thank you pharmaceutical companies) that we’re over medicating ourselves into the grave? Although I don’t have multiple doctors writing prescriptions for me and I’m not on addictive pain killers I found myself getting really worried that neither of those things mattered. That the new die at fifty was what was going to happen to me regardless of my lack of addiction to painkillers, not using steroids or being a celebrity. It seems as though it’s only celebrities that are dying at fifty which is even more pressure because now I have to get to be famous in the next five years so that when I die at fifty someone will care. If that’s not enough pressure to give someone a heart attack, I don’t know what is.

The good news is that I’ve never bleached my skin or had a lot of plastic surgery and maybe those things attributed to Mr. Jackson’s death as much as whatever he was on or rehearsing a show to do what you did at twenty at fifty. And I haven’t built my house on cleaning products. (Although I did have a relative that was heavily into Amway and while he didn’t physically build his house with Amway products he found that he had to buy so many of the products to stay on whatever level he was on  that you couldn’t walk into that place without finding Amway products everywhere you looked. I mean he had so many boxes of Amway products in his house that if he had been more creative he would have made the boxes into the furniture. But I digress.) I don’t find myself screaming like Billy Mays…maybe it was all the screaming that caused Billy Mays to pass away.

Now for those of you who might thing that I’m insensitive I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. I feel horrible for the families of these celebrities but come on, Michael Jackson will have memorials to beat the band and his sales are going to go through the roof. Billy Mays has become such a part of the culture that he managed to do what no one before him was able to do (which is make the world forget about Ron Popeil and the Ronco products – thought – Ron, get yourself a facelift and a trainer, here’s your chance to take back the infomercial and since you’re way past fifty, you’ve managed to make it past the die at fifty curse so you’re good for at least another ten to twenty years.).

But back to me, I think it’s definitely time to go to the doctor and at least get an EKG or something. I don’t know if I need to get on heart medication but maybe it is time to start listening to my mother who recently told me and my brother that we need to start taking aspirin every day for our hearts. She’s very worried about my current stress levels and convinced that a baby aspirin is going to cure all of it. I don’t know if that’s a modern panacea that everyone says it is but I did always like taking those St. Joseph aspirins when I was a kid. But maybe it was because I was the only kid who watched (and was reenacting scenes of it in my living room) the movie, Valley of the Dolls at eight years old. I do remember reading an article once in my twenties or something that you could die if you ate too many kids’ vitamins. I imagined myself biting off the heads of Dino and chewing one Barney after the other (who I always sort of had a crush on from the Flinstones, I think it was that surfer boy do he managed to sport way ahead of his time) eating Wilmas until I fell into a sugary kids’ vitamin coma. But as I’ve said before, once I realized I couldn’t be a teenage suicide statistic, it held no attraction to me.

Look, I don’t have any answers here I just have questions like everyone else. I don’t understand why it seems so many men are dying at fifty but there’s a part of me that thinks the cosmos is just trying to get rid of the over -population we have any way that it can and it’s starting with celebrities. Now that we seem to have enough medication to keep everyone alive almost forever, maybe nature is taking its course to get rid of us since we won’t go quietly like they did in Soylent Green when they went to the sleepotorium at a certain age and then become food for the masses that were younger. But whatever it is that’s happening I’ll be watching like everyone else but there’s a part of me that feels we’re all doomed, that fifty is the new dead for men – Don’t Get Me Started!

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      Raye 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Did you ever hear the bit where spoken word performer Spaulding Gray said that the ages of 50-53 were the "Bermuda Triangle of Health?" I think he was on to something...

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      pgrundy 8 years ago

      LOL! Scott, too funny. Are you sure all these guys are really dead? I mean, a conspiracy theory would go farther and have them faking their own sudden deaths and retiring in the Canadian north woods with Elvis and Mariyn. I'm not saying that is what is happening, I'm just saying. (It's cold up there. Bring food.)

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      Jamie 8 years ago

      Hello . My name is Jamie and I work at the film production company, Steakhaus Productions. Our credits include the Sundance winner, "By Hook or By Crook" and the Dolly Parton doc, "For The Love of Dolly". Our next project, Wade Gasque’s “Half Truth”, was just chosen out of 2000 entries as 1 of 10 semifinalists in the Netflix/Find Your Voice Competition. One winner will receive $350,000 to make his/her feature. Gasque is a gay filmmaker originally from rural South Carolina. He’s written a smart, quirky and bittersweet movie about a black, gay teen outcast from the south and his journey to find his voice. We’ve got LESS THAN A WEEK to make it into the finals. If you go to, you can check out our 2 minute trailer for “Half Truth” and then rate it 5 stars. Gasque’s photo and short bio are there as well. The top 5 projects with the most stars move to the finals which are then judged by Dustin Lance Black, Josh Brolin, John Sayles and other indie film icons. “Half Truth” is such a fresh and unique story and it deserves to be in the top 5. You could really help up get there by posting this on your blog. If you twitter, that would drive even more traffic to the site. The VOTING ENDS THIS SUNDAY, JULY 5th! We are down to the wire and are reaching out to other LGBT blogs and organizations like yourself with an interest in quality LGBT cinema. Please check out the trailer and let me know if you’d like to learn more. I've included a short blurb below as well. Thanks so much! Cheers, Jamie