Two people passed away today. No connection between them, really, except there was, or I wouldn’t be writing about them collectively. The connection is not in what they did, or in what they were known for, but precisely in how completely unknown they were.
One was the actor who played Tinky-Winky on the Teletubbies. He was only in his 50s. That bothers me, when people die who are younger than me, I think “That’s way too young.”
The other was a woman in her 90s, just a couple years shy of the century mark. She was the model for Rosie the Riveter, the popular poster girl of the 1940s, working in a factory, supporting the war effort. Up until the 1960s, nobody even knew there was one specific model.
Both of them affected many people’s lives. Both of them were almost totally anonymous. Teletubbies was still on TV, and still popular, when my kids were little. I never thought for a second about the actors inside the costumes, and really didn’t see any significant personality differences between Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, La-La, and Po, also known as the purple one, the green one, the yellow one, and the red one. So, the guy who just died was not exactly Boris Karloff, even though he may have had a few more lines of dialogue.
Rosie the Riveter not only fulfilled her WWII function and helped defeat Hitler, she also became a symbol for women in the workplace. The struggle is ongoing, of course, but I think a lot of women between then and now, who’ve done jobs which were previously thought of as men-only, felt grateful to Rosie.
Just two average people, with a very tenuous link to fame, but they were positive forces in our lives, and their passing deserves to be noted.
RIP Naomi Parker Fraley, 1921-2018
RIP Simon Shelton, 1966-2018