I’ll be honest with you—the main reason I didn’t do an obituary of Diana Rigg was that the air outside here is so bad that it’s kind of a struggle to get my scheduled stuff done. We don’t have the worst air quality in the country right now, but we should, inasmuch as our air is terrible and no one should have to deal with air this bad, to say nothing of how much worse it is in a lot of other places. I’ve had at least a low-level headache for a week. But there are other people, other stories, that I missed, because they were minor stories that were overshadowed by [gestures vaguely].
I came to think about this because I was watching Intolerable Cruelty recently and came across Mary Pat Gleason. She was a minor character actress probably most notable as Ida from The Middleman, and seeing her in the movie made me perk right up. I looked for her on IMDb and discovered, to my shock and dismay, that she died of cancer in June, and I’d known nothing about it. Ian Holm, Joel Schumacher, and Carl Reiner made a lot more impact, and actor Chris Trousdale died of Covid that same day, and the death of a character actress slipped through the cracks.
It’s unfortunate that it happens, but there we are. Galyn Görg also died this summer, which I only found out because a friend of mine was friends with her family. You may not even know the name. To be honest, I didn’t, either. But she was in Robocop 2, which is how she came up in conversation with me and my friend. But I would’ve noticed her anyway, as I’m on a Twin Peaks revisit right now, and she plays a minor character on a couple of season two episodes. She was never a major actress, though she was fourth-billed on M.A.N.T.I.S.?
The fact is, we aren’t capable of knowing everything that happens. And there’s a lot going on right now. Outside my bedroom window right now, it looks like a lovely, foggy morning . . . but that’s not fog. (Well, it might be some fog. I’m writing this fairly early in the morning on a day where they’re suggesting morning fog. But it looked about the same yesterday afternoon, when there wasn’t any.) I read an article of mine from six months ago lamenting that our schools would be closed for six weeks, and my son started second grade via distance learning last week. It’s been busy.
And, of course, while my friend knew Galyn Görg, I didn’t. Not personally. I didn’t know Mary Pat Gleason. In practical terms, my life is no different now, knowing she is dead, than it was before I knew or even before she died. In fact, I will still run across her work now and again, having forgotten that she is in assorted things. I will continue to see her. I’ll have mild moments of sadness that we’ve run through the limit of her kind of entertaining, acerbic performance, and I’ll probably get to her for Attention Must Be Paid in five years, when she qualifies. Maybe I’ll compare her to Thelma Ritter; there are definite similarities there.
I’ll continue to seek out the lesser stories, because it’s important to me that I see them when I can. And I will continue to know that I can’t find them all. No one can. It’s also true that in the weeks since Mary Pat Gleason died, thousands of people have died unnecessarily of a disease we should’ve been on top of before her death. Chris Trousdale shouldn’t have died, and neither should the other people this disease has taken. That’s a big story, and we should definitely be talking about it. I don’t mean to take away from the big stories. Just make room for a few of the little ones.