It's been four days since the news broke -- that they found Alf dead in his Southern California home -- and I still can't believe it. It's really over. It's the end of an era.
This week has been host to several celebrity deaths. Originally I was going to write about Ed McMahon after he died, but then Farrah Fawcett kicked the bucket and I changed my mind because she overshadowed him. Then freakin' ALF bought the farm, and suddenly, who the heck is gonna miss Ed or Farrah? Forget them; let them rot! ALF IS DEAD! AAAALF!!
You younger people might not understand this, but back in the 80's, Alf was the absolute HUGENESS. I mean, he was everywhere, he was on everything, he had his own Saturday Morning cartoon, he had TWO Saturday Morning cartoons. Every kid in the 80's wanted to be Alf. They practiced his laugh, they tried to imitate his waddle, they bought his dental floss -- the guy was a real role model. Sure, Alf had his eccentricities, but they seemed less of a big deal back then.
Alf was the king of comedy, and an amazing innovator. Every single TV series, scripted or non, including Dancing with the Stars, owes something to his program. He influenced everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Judd Apatow to Andy Richter. Alf was a multitalented wunderkind the likes of which comes only once a half-century.
Born Gordon Shumway on the planet Melmac in Earth-year 1960, Alf travelled to Earth in his spaceship after escaping a thermonuclear explosion that wiped his home planet off the universe completely. He was one of the only survivors of his race, along with ex-girlfriend Rhonda, buddy Skip, the Hampire, and the Uncanned X-Melmen. After crash-landing in California and obtaining American citizenship, Alf started working the stand-up circuit around Burbank until he was discovered by producer Paul Fusco, who successfully sold a TV series to NBC based around the orange-furred thing. The rest, as they say, was history.
Throughout the rest of the 80's Alf was constantly in the public eye, and many have blamed the overzealous media for encouraging his increasingly bizarre behavior. It started with the cats, a controversy that never went away. Most people in this country find eating cats an unadmirable trait, and even after Alf's death, some still can't avoid making cat-eating jokes about him. Alf's biggest fans still maintain that it was never proven he ever ate an actual cat, and there's never been filmed or documented proof of it. However, there is the fact that Alf paid a Sacramento family $20 million in hush money after their pet Mittens went suspiciously missing. This alone doesn't make his case look good.
In 1990, things really started going downhill. After four years of prosperity, Alf suddenly allowed himself to be captured by the Alien Task Force and shut his show down completely. He retreated into his mansion, where those close to him say he became addicted to painkillers. Three years later he was back in the headlines again, but only because of his marriage to Pepa of "Salt 'n Pepa" fame. They divorced within five months.
Despite the controversy, and the fact that he never regained the momentum he had during his peak, Alf managed a series of modest comebacks through his later career. He returned in POG form in 1995, and again in 1996 with the TV-movie "Project Alf." He starred in a series of commercials for a dial-around company at the turn of the century. At the time of his passing, Alf's managers were arranging his biggest comeback yet, but tragically, it was not to be.
It's hard to believe the superstar Alf of the 80's and the creepy freaky Alf of the 90's and Zero-Zeros were the same creature. But ultimately, as with Elvis, Alf should be remembered for his talent and not his later behavior. Hours after his passing, TV co-star Anne Schedeen released this statement: "It may have seemed like we didn't get along on set, but actually, Alf was a dear friend to me and to everyone who knew him. The world won't feel the same without him." Pepa was unavailable for comment, but it's been rumored she is dead as well, though no body has been found yet.
Watching the cascade of unending grief blanket all media over the last few days has really been a sight to see. Every website and blog has had something to say about him. CNN interrupted their regular programming to show "Alf" episodes. His theme song and Christmas album have been the #1 sellers on iTunes in the last three days. The last 80's superstar death that had this much gravitas was when Jem got into that car crash in 1997. Back then, though, there was less media than there is now. The Internet wasn't as huge. It makes me wonder if people would have Twittered about Jem just as fervently.
Even with the advancement in technology, some things won't ever change, and I expect the same moochers and leechers to rob the corpse of Alf just as thoroughly as they did Jem's. First will come the porcelain Alf statues for sale in Parade Magazine that play a tinkling version of his theme song when you twist the key in the back. Then we'll get the conspiracy nuts who will claim Alf's death was actually a murder and publish dozens of books about their theories. In the tabloids Alf's butler, maid and landscapist will all be accused of plotting against him multiple times until the day they die. Finally there'll be the doomsday prophets who will claim Alf's death was accurately predicted by Nostradamus and DaVinci paintings, and is the catalyst event that will ultimately result in the end of the world in 2012. In a free country, you can't really do anything to get rid of these people, you can just try to ignore them.
One thing is for sure....it will take me, and the rest of you I'm sure, quite a while to get over his passing, if we ever do. Though very few of us met him, Alf was a part of all our lives, and we will never forget him.
|EDIT: Okay, never mind
about Alf. I just heard that infomercial pitchman Billy
Mays has died. YIKES, BILLY MAYS! That's even huger than
Alf! Forget Alf; he's nobody! THIS IS BILLY MAYS!
How could he be taken from us so soon?
Who will sell us OxyClean now? I feel so empty.....
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