Actually lots of famous people die in Idaho

Steve Harwell died Monday morning in Boise of liver failure at the age of 56. He was the lead singer of the pop/rock band Smash Mouth for the first 27 years of their so-far 29-year existence. Harwell was the voice of “All Star”, a song now regarded as the anthem of outcasts. He also sang Smash Mouth’s hits “Walkin’ on the Sun”, “Then the Morning Comes” and “I’m a Believer”. Many Boiseans watching the news on Labor Day were amazed to hear that Harwell died in Boise and that he was a resident here. Someone wrote on Facebook that he had never heard of a celebrity dying in Idaho before. But they have. Not in great numbers, of course. More celebrities probably pass away in Los Angeles and New York in a month than have died in Idaho in its entire history, but Harwell is just the latest in at least a medium-length line of stars. Maureen O’Hara, who starred in movies like “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, “How Green Was My Valley”, “Miracle on 34th Street”, “The Quiet Man” and “The Parent Trap”, died in Boise in 2015 at the age of 95. She had moved to Boise from her native Ireland a few years earlier to live near her grandson. George Kennedy, who won an Oscar for “Cool Hand Luke”, passed away at 91 in 2016 after a short stay in an assisted-living facility in Middleton. He was a resident of Eagle, where he had moved more than a decade before his death to take care of grandchildren. Kennedy also starred in movies like “Charade”, “The Sons of Katie Elder”, “The Dirty Dozen”, “Airport” and “The Naked Gun” and the television shows “Sarge”, “The Blue Knight” and “Dallas”. Patty Duke was also an Oscar recipient. She won for the movie “The Miracle Worker”, playing the young Helen Keller. She then starred in the sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” and the movies “Valley of the Dolls” and “The Swarm” and acted in 65 made-for-television movies. She died in 2016 in Coeur d’Alene, where she was an advocate for people with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Ann Sothern was in movies like “Cry Havoc”, “A Letter to Three Wives” and “The Whales of August” and was the star of “The Ann Sothern Show” from 1958 to 1961. She was also the voice of the 1928 Porter Touring Car in the sitcom “My Mother the Car”. Sothern passed away in 2001 in Ketchum, not far from the site of the Ann Sothern Sewing Center, which she opened in Sun Valley in the 1950’s. She was also the owner of an Idaho ranch called the A-Bar-S Cattle Company. Reginald Owen was a British actor who starred in movies like “Of Human Bondage”, “Anna Karenina”, “A Tale of Two Cities”, “The Great Ziegfeld”, “Mrs. Miniver” and “Random Harvest”, but is best known as Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 version of “A Christmas Carol” and as Admiral Boom in “Mary Poppins”. Owen died in 1972 in Boise only a few months after moving here to be close to his stepson. And there are many others. Ernest Hemingway shot himself at his home in Ketchum in 1961. Baseball player Bill Buckner died in Boise in 2019. Katharine Graham, the longtime publisher of the Washington Post, fell and hit her head on a rock during a conference in Sun Valley in 2001 and died three days later in a Boise hospital. And Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders passed away in Garden Valley in 2014. There are many people, obviously, who believe Idaho is a great place to live. And it may be a great place to die, but don’t expect the Idaho Department of Commerce to advertise that anytime soon.