At a certain point in my twenties I had a knack for meeting famous people who were about to die. I can only remember a few of them -- my friend Bob kept a running list, he would sometimes amuse himself by dodging my glance or getting strangers to shake my hand, in case it was me what was giving out the whammy. I walked out halfway through a revival of Joe Orton's "Loot" starring Leonard Rossiter and he was dead a week later.
I was standing at the make-up counter in Bloomingdale's when Andy Warhol came gliding through with a posse of musclemen who were holding stacks of Interview magazine that Himself was signing and handing out to wowed salesgirls at the Chanel counter. The Interview gang seemed harmless, if a little unearthly, so I went up to a tall, blond, expressionless specimen and asked for a Charlie Sheen issue; Warhol stood in front of me, Sharpie poised. I pointed at Charlie's forehead. Warhol wrote his name there. I said thank you. Their little bubble of blank self-consciousness hovercrafted away. At the time I had been staying on my friend Pam's couch for more than a month while I looked for an apartment of my own and, much as she loved me, she wanted me out, so I made a peace offering of the Warhol-signed Interview. It sat on her toilet tank below a pair of fake plastic breasts for a long time. She may still have it. Warhol was dead about two weeks later.
It didn't work for everyone. The Talking Heads are still alive. So is Eli Wallach. Kevin Costner is, too, though I can hardly take credit for the petrification of his career.
You have to believe me, there were more, but I can't find Bob's phone number.
I had forgotten about this dark little talent, but suddenly it's showing signs of reblooming in blog form. I came close to going with Donald O'Connor in the big Singin' in the Rain post of 9/6, but instead opted for an already-interred Gene Kelly. So that was a close call, but with all due respect I nailed George Plimpton right between the eyes in the Kate Moss post of 9/2.
I can't promise that everyone I mention will die soon, but I can try. I'm open to linkage suggestions.