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I was a huge fan of Jimmy Stewart, who seemed to be a very sweet man and a fine actor. After his death, few people had anything original to say about him. Every single obituary either said:

"He had a wonderful life."


"Look, now another angel's got his wings."

And many, of course, said both.

A few years back when Bette Davis died, just about every obituary about her used the "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride" line to launch into a discussion of her rocky life.

It turns out, I'm not the only one so irritated by such unoriginal writing. A discussion in alt.obituaries after Stewart's death in 1997 brought a torrent of ready-made cliches for when people like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans die ("Happy trails to You") or Charles M. Schulz ("You're a Good Man, Charlie Schulz"). Naturally, when these people did die after 1997, these cliches were in full use in their obits.

There were some different takes on Princess Diana in the aftermath of her tragic death. In her case, even though she'd only been famous for 16 years, there was so much grist for the mill that I'd channel surf and find completely different clips used to discuss her life on every channel. The only constants were the wedding day carriage clips, the clip of her with her sons going down a water ride and the clip of her meeting Mother Teresa in June 1997.

Here are some other cliches about people that either have been used in the past or could be used in the future.

Actual Dead People Obituary Cliches

Bob Hope..."Thanks for the memories..."
Henry Fonda's..."every time you see..." speech from The Grapes of Wrath.
Charles Kuralt's...road trips come to an end.
Elvis...has left the building.
Gene Roddenberry...reached his final frontier.
Frank Sinatra...did it his way.

Future Dead People Unlikely Obituary Cliches

Bill longer "Waiting to Exhale"
Steve Martin....was a Wild 'n Crazy guy
Leonard Nimoy..."He's dead, Jim" (or just about any other Star Trek the original series member, except for Shatner or Kelly)