In a previous article it was opined that Paul Walker could be seen as the modern equivalent of James Dean, it would probably be more accurate to think of the 40 year-old actor as the Marilyn Monroe of the new millennium. While Walker’s passing was the result of a car accident and Monroe’s “probable suicide” via overdose can only be used as a parallel because of the intense public interest in the two celebrity deaths.
The late Paul Walker, star of the Fast & Furious franchise, died on Nov. 30, 2013. Bizarrely, the actor had been the subject of an internet death hoax the day before his death in a fiery crash on a California road. Ironically his rep had just released a statement saying that Walker was not dead, when he had to then release another statement announcing his client’s death.
The Fast & Furious actor did not have the “high-class” connections that Monroe did, she was having affairs with both the United States President – John F. Kennedy – and his brother – Robert – as well as mafioso Sam Giancana. Since the film star had such lofty connections, and not so lofty ones, she was under surveillance from multiple agencies before her death. This was not the case for Walker; at least not that has been acknowledged.
When the 36 year-old actress was found dead of an apparent drug overdose, media had a field day, or more accurately, a lot of field days. Since the initial public announcement of her passing, Monroe has been the subject of numerous books which attempt to prove that the star was either murdered by the White House, or the mafia, or by committing suicide on purpose. Hollywood attempted to circle their collective wagons to keep a lid on the incident, but, the interest in learning the truth of what actually happened to Monroe stubbornly continued.
Authors have claimed to know the truth of what happened on the day that Monroe was found dead in her home, but, these are all theories and cannot be proven for one reason or another. The sex symbol star was close to Walker’s age when she died and theories of murder and skullduggery were bandied about as the years passed after her lonely death.
Paul Walker’s sudden death as a passenger in a red Porsche Carrera GT outside his charity’s fundraiser has also been shrouded in mystery. Investigators have not come up with any solid leads as to what caused the car to veer out of control. Plastic speed bumps combined with excess speed is the sanest theory broached thus far. Several other theories range from the fantastic to the ludicrous.
Monroe was, at the time of her death, vulnerable and possible mentally unstable. She spent years in psychoanalysis and relied on pharmaceutical combinations to function. Because of her romantic links with the U.S. President and his brother Bobby, she was under close scrutiny from the FBI and local law enforcement. The late Peter Lawford, who belonged to the legendary Rat Pack chaired by Frank Sinatra, went to his grave being privy to information that led him to believe that the sex symbol had been murdered.
Walker, on the other hand, was not receiving psychotherapy; known to take pills to function; mentally unstable, or, dating a criminal or a prominent politician. The late actor was well known for his philanthropic practices and his popularity with colleagues who knew him. No one, it seems, has a bad thing to say about the deceased star.
Like Marilyn Monroe’s demise, however, Paul Walker’s death has been treated as being something much darker, deeper and deadly than a “simple” car accident. Rumors of murder, subterfuge and complex international plots have been paraded in front of the world’s netizens each purporting to be news rather than idle, and sometimes malicious, gossip.
Walker was not a sex symbol mirroring the iconic presence of Marilyn Monroe, but, his death has a disturbing parallel to the Seven Year Itch star in the amount of nefarious activities that have been associated to his death. While he could be seen as the Marilyn Monroe of the new millenium, the biggest difference is that the iconic film star’s death took years for conspiracy theories to mount up. Walker’s death started with conspiracies almost from the moment his death hoax was publicised.
Before the internet, the public had to rely on printed newspapers along with radio and television broadcasts to get news. Go back far enough and news was also transmitted in movie theatres as part of the entertainment line up. Now, news can be read almost as quickly as it happens. Not just via news sites either. Social networking has replaced the “man-in-the-street” reports of yesteryear.
Twitter has become the fastest source of news on the planet. The microblogging site has become an almost instantaneous transmitter of news both serious, as in shootings or natural disasters, and not so serious, as in just how much flesh Miley Cyrus is showing in her latest music video.
In terms of popularity, Paul Walker can be seen as a modern version of James Dean. The main difference being the obvious age difference and the stage of their respective film careers. In terms of publicity and the public’s serious interest in how the actor died, the Fast & Furious star mirrors the intense media focus that Monroe generated with her death. He was both closer in age to the 36 year-old actress and close to becoming an icon himself through the wildly popular Fast & Furious franchise.
What is staggering to contemplate is the idea of press coverage being so different between the two film stars. Paul Walker could definitely be the Marilyn Monroe of the new millennium with the question being that if the internet did not exist, would he have been such a keen object of conjecture and conspiracy. Years after Monroe died, her story was told and retold and investigated almost religiously. In the days before the digital instant transmission of information, the whole process moved much slower and consequently lived longer in the imagination. News transmission was slower and, perhaps, less satisfactory. A difference that may mean that Walker’s conspiracies may not continue years after his death.
The other difference of course is family. Paul Walker had a family, along with a daughter, who were his support system and a part of his life. Monroe was alone. Walker could be seen as the new millennium’s Marilyn Monroe, but, only in the amount of interest that his death has generated. While Monroe only had friends and former lovers/husbands to mourn her passing, Walker has a family who loved him and were close to him. The rabid curiosity of his fans and the press must be difficult for them to live with. Hopefully the family will be allowed to “move on” without any sensationalist news coverage.