A Wilde way to go


As Slate points out today, the rich are different from you and me: They die more glamorously.

If you survive paycheck-to-paycheck, you can also rest easy about dying while fleeing paparazzi (Princess Diana); at the hand of a servant jealous of your other servants (Edmund Safra); at the hand of the president of your fan club (Selena); at the hand of a lunatic stalker (John Lennon); at the hand of an impatient heir (the royal family of Nepal); from a face lift (Olivia Goldsmith); in your Porsche, while drag racing (basketball player Bobby Phills); in pursuit of a speed-boat record (Stefano Casiraghi, husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco); while diving off your yacht (Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys); after fighting with Christopher Walken (Natalie Wood); while trying to buzz Ozzy Osbourne's tour bus (Randy Rhoads); from injuries sustained in a cross-country riding event (Christopher Reeve); in staged violence on a film set (Brandon Lee); as a former vice president, atop your mistress (Nelson Rockefeller); or of a disease that subsequently gets named after you (Lou Gehrig).

Being rich and famous, of course, doesn't guarantee a dazzling death. Indeed, plenty of the R & F have died of what the Slate writer calls "diseases of poverty." Take Oscar Wilde, who used to consort with minor royalty before, shall we say, consorting a little too closely with the son of the Marquess of Queensberry:

He was found guilty of "gross indecency" and sentenced to two years hard labor. Three years after his incarceration, Wilde died penniless in Paris from acute meningitis. His humor was with him to the end, though. In his last days, he was quoted as saying, "My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has got to go."

Of course, regular mental_floss magazine readers already knew that -- it's from the latest issue's Dead Guy Interview.