Dan Gordon-Levitt, the older brother of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was found unresponsive in his Hollywood home on Monday, Oct. 4, according to People.com. The LA County Coroner states that the 36-year-old was pronounced dead after being taken to the hospital. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known for his roles on “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Inception,” announced his brother’s death on his Twitter page. As of Thursday, Oct. 7, the cause of death is unknown and an autopsy is expected. Joseph Gordon-Levitt affectionately called his brother “Burning Dan” because of the fire-spinning art he presented at the Burning Man Festival in Nevada.
The sudden death of Dan Gordon-Levitt calls to mind other cases of celebrities who experienced the sudden death of a loved one, and how they coped with the situation.
British actress Natasha Richardson, 45, fell and suffered a head injury on a ski trip in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada on March 18, 2009. She was flown to Manhattan’s Lenox Hill Hospital, where she died. She left behind her husband, actor Liam Neeson, as well as two young children. Richardson’s other famous family members left to grieve her death included her mother Vanessa Redgrave, aunt Lynn Redgrave and sister Joely Richardson, known for her role in “Nip/Tuck.”
The family grieved privately after her death and displayed their sense of charity. When Richardson died, the family donated her organs to other patients in need of transplants as a tribute to her work in charitable causes. Her husband of 14 years focused on raising their two children and getting back to work. After her death, he appeared in more than six films, including “Clash of the Titans.” Her mother Vanessa, too, went back to work, appearing in “Letters to Juliet.” Sadly, Aunt Lynn Redgrave succumbed to cancer on May 2, 2010.
Emma Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg’s Mother
Emma Johnson, Whoopi Goldberg’s mother, died on Aug. 29, 2010, of complications from a stroke. At the time of her mother’s death, Goldberg was in London performing in “Sister Act: The Musical.” A week after her mother’s death, “The View” began its season. Instead of keeping her mother’s death to herself, Goldberg talked about it on the show. She told viewers about talking to her mother and the encouragement her mother provided throughout the years. According to People.com, Goldberg said, “We didn’t leave anything unsaid.”
Goldberg will deal with her mother’s death by working. In addition to her job at “The View,” she will be promoting two movies, she has a new book and she will serve as a producer on the Broadway production of “Sister Act: The Musical.”
Jett Travolta, son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Jett Travolta died on Jan. 2, 2009, in the Bahamas of an epileptic seizure. He was only 16 years old. His death was a shock to family and fans alike because of his age. The Travoltas never talked about the various ailments he suffered from since the time he was a small child, so no one knew he had any sicknesses. The family, though, thought his seizures were under control. The family maintained their privacy throughout the ordeal, although the public and the media made numerous speculations about the cause of death.
The death of a child causes pain whether you are a celebrity or not. Sadly, the paparazzi tried taking pictures of the family, often finding pictures in which Travolta and Preston looked like they were about to cry or had just been crying. When the family finally started making public appearances, they announced that Preston was pregnant with a baby boy. This new baby will not replace Jett, but it will be a source of happiness for the family.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Grief
Joseph Gordon-Levitt can learn a lot from these examples. Basically, he should maintain his privacy as long as he wants. The paparazzi will bug him and the media will speculate about his brother’s cause of death. He should not let that sway his decision to grieve as he wishes, whether that means going back to work or taking a hiatus.
“Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Brother Dies at Age 36,” People.com, http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20432153,00.html
“Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Brother Dead: Dan Gordon-Levitt Dies,” The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/06/joseph-gordonlevitts-brot_n_752346.html