This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Death of an Actor

Dipping my pizza crust in garlic butter didn't stop me from thinking about the tragic death of Yanis Chimaras during the shooting of "Ciudad Bendita." I think it's interesting to see how television deals with not only the death of an actor, but the death of a real human being. In the case of "Ciudad Bendita," it was a simple farewell at the end of the final episode.

But this also made me think of Phil Hartman's death during the period in his career when he was making TV audiences roll in laughter with his character Bill McNeal in "NewsRadio." It was one of my dad's favorite shows, and I remember how stunned he was when the world learned that Hartman's wife shot him in the head after a heated argument, spelling an end for Hartman's life as well as the end of Bill McNeal.

And rather than just a simple written message to Phil Hartman, the actor, "NewsRadio" did an episode titled "Bill Moves On," where Bill McNeal's coworkers discover that he's died of a heart attack.

I just find it interesting to look at "Ciudad Bendita," where Yanis had one death, and the show addressed one death, which was that of Yanis, not his character. In contrast, "NewsRadio" gave Phil Hartman a second death, the death of Bill McNeal.

I'm sure there are similar cases other than those of "Ciudad..." and "NewsRadio," but those are the two I'm familiar with, and I think it's interesting to see that just as different shows take different angles on final episodes, they also take different approaches to to the death of an actor.


  1. Seeing the tribute to Yanis was shocking because it's a reminder that these telenovela stars are actual people living amongst society. Hearing about the violence in Caracas was emotional for me because I hate to hear about any city or country in turmoil. I remember how I reacted to the drug trafficking violence happening in Mexico. Then I began to think about all of the crime and violence that takes place here in's all unfortunate.

  2. I think that's an interesting point, but it was also a different situation. Yanis' tragic death happened to be the day before the final episode, whereas I am assuming Phil Hartmann's death must have come more in the middle of the show (I don't know anything about it so I am just making assumptions). Everyone was probably in such shock filming that last day of Ciudad Bendita and there wasn't time to let it settle in before writing off the character. Also, he was not the main character, but a side character. In that situation it was best to just leave it alone and do a small tribute. With Phil Hartmann, if it was in the middle of the show and he was a main character, they couldn't just have him disappear. It is kind of sad to me that they have to, as you said, give him a second death though. As it if wouldn't have been hard enough losing the man himself...