Everyone is pretty aghast at the untimely death of the handsome and talented 28-year-old Australian actor Heath Ledger. He was found dead in an apartment at 421 Broome Street at 3:26PM by his masseuse and pronounced dead at 3:45PM. Moments later reports of his death, each telling augmented with bits of speculation, started to circulate. As we noted, the New York Times' Sewell Chan was strangely all over the story though Radar seemed to the first to post the news at 4:36pm. Soon Maggie posted an item on Gawker, TMZ and PageSix.com both reported, erroneously "world exclusives" and the race was on. A scrum of cameras gathered outside 421 Broome St. Yes, one was ours.
As the discovery of pills "strewn" around Ledger's naked body spread, speculation mounted that his death had been a suicide. Pareene wrote a very good on-the-fly obituary of Ledger. Lawson compiled a best-of moments and US Magazine soon began to trot out Ledger's "I knew this would happen..." friends. The cluster of cameras in front of 421 Broome grew larger and larger. Yes, we will still there too.
Buxom media demon Julia Allison mourned the loss of one of Australian's greatest talents on her tumblr page by appearing on MSNBC to discuss his death. And around the world, journalists scrambled to assemble all their old reviews into thoughtful eulogies.
Later in the evening, Ledger's body was removed from the apartment on a stretcher. Thousands of flashes illuminated the black body bag as it was loaded into a white van. Yes, we were there as well.
Suicide was widely reported as being the cause of death though this is disputed by Ledger's family and unsubstantiated by police reports. This hasn't stopped Bonnie Fuller on the Huffington Post from somewhat self-importantly write, "None of his gifts, neither talent nor family, appears to have been enough to combat the demons that apparently led Heath to take the pills that could have ended his young life," before closing with a posthumous apostrophe, "Heath, perhaps if you had just re-watched your old film you would have been inspired to stay with us and to have "changed your stars." Sheesh.
This morning, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Times, the Daily Mail, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Daily News and of course the Sydney Morning Herald all ran front-page stories. But one of the best obituaries we've read so far is from Time magazine's Belinda Luscombe who manages to touch on his dissatisfaction in life, his enormous talent and his untimely death without descending into the maudlin and sentimental.