This is an obituary I wrote on David Lynch for my Media Writing class.
(Assignment: write an obituary on a living, famous person you admire)
I recieved an A- (yay!) and the "facts" surrounding his death are
Brittney Lynn Gilbert
7 July 1999
David Lynch Obituary Take 1
David Lynch, film director, television producer, artist and eccentric visionary best
known for his dark and irreverent portrayals of life’s enigmatic qualities, was found dead
yesterday morning around 8:00 on the banks of the very waterfall so majestically
displayed in his cult television hit “Twin Peaks” in North Bend, Wash. He was 53 years
The cause of death is as mysterious as the works to which he dedicated his life.
His body was found wrapped in clear plastic and tied with ropes face down at the
water’s edge. Police on the scene found multiple stab wounds to the chest.
Leads indicate this extraordinary filmmaker’s murder may be in connection to the still
unsolved death of longtime friend and actor who appeared in most of Lynch’s
productions, Jack Nance. Nance was found dead at his home of what autopsy reports
claim to be severe blows to the head in 1997.
Lynch had been investigating the cause of his dear cohort’s demise, the reason for his
trip to the “Twin Peaks” filming site, according to anonymous sources.
David Lynch, best known for his only truly mainstream success Blue Velvet and “Twin
Peaks”, his trippy trek into mainstream television, was somewhat reclusive and lived his
life as uniquely as his film’s might suggest.
Lynch was born in Missoula, Mont., a small town reproduced in many of his works, on
Jan. 20, 1946 to Donald, a now retired research scientist with the Department of
Agriculture, and Sunny, a language tutor. His father’s job moved the family around the
Northwest, from Sandpointe, Idaho, to Spokane, Wash., and finally east to Alexandria,
David Lynch Obituary Take 2
Va., where he went to high school.
He began taking art classes at Washington's Corcoran Gallery School of Art while still
enrolled in secondary school.
Upon graduation, he enrolled in and quickly dropped out of the Boston Museum
School and set off to Europe to study with the expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka.
Planning to spend four years, he stayed only 10 days.
After moving back to Alexandria, he was fired from several low-paying jobs before
enrolling at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It was there in 1966 that he made
his first film, Six Figures Getting Sick, a short loop of film projected onto sculptures.
Lynch had the idea for this project after visualizing art springing to life. The four
minute, silent piece was featured at a local art exhibition.
The artist who liked to “go into the other world of film that is a magical medium that
makes you dream” soon became engrossed in making movies. His credits include
director, producer, actor, screenwriter, editor, cinematographer and composer.
His next films included (all shorts): The Alphabet, a one-character film featuring one
character, The Grandmother, in which a boy plants a seed that grows into a grandmother,
and The Amputee.
He made his first full-length feature, Eraserhead, in 1977 on a skimpy budget and
black and white film and called it a “dream of dark troubling things.”
Elephant Man, his 1980 full-length, and most critically lauded movie about a man who
attempts deal with his hatred for his grotesquely disfigured infant, garnered eight
Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (John Hurt) and Best
Lynch turned down George Lucas’ offer to direct Return of the Jedi instead opting for
a screen adaptation of Dune. This decision proved to be a dreadful mistake.
David Lynch Obituary Take 3
When asked about this critical and box-office disaster, Lynch claimed that he had
“sold out.” Unauthorized, lengthier television versions were accredited to “director” Alan
David Lynch redeemed himself in 1984 with Blue Velvet, his most widely accepted
film. This disturbing peek into sexual obsession was a risky move but, "...the concept of
absurdity is something I'm attracted to." Audiences responded with wild praise.
Lynch then traversed into the genre of television with his 1990 “Industrial Symphony
No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted.” His entrance into the small screen was
“Twin Peaks”, the 1990 cultural phenomenon, was Lynch’s namesake. This ABC
mystery/comedy/fantasy/drama had anyone who was anyone asking “Who killed Laura
Palmer?”. The show was hyped by the media as “different from anything you’ve ever
People planned their Thursday nights around the quirky hit that according to Rolling
Stone’s Mikal Gilmore was like “an experience akin to dropping LSD and then flipping
through a book of Norman Rockwell paintings”, as not to be left out at the water cooler
on Friday. “Twin Peaks” gave viewers a new use for their VCRs, with “Tweakies” taping
every episode only to replay it frame by frame later to deconstruct its hidden meanings.
Message boards and discussion groups on-line sprung up almost instantly to ponder
the meaning of the backwards speak or the identity of “Diane”.
It was Lynch’s hope that fans would fall in love with the aura of “Twin Peaks”. And
while many did, others lost interest once Laura’s murderer had been revealed.
“Twin Peaks” was canceled after two seasons and swiftly plunging ratings.
Opposition groups popped up, such as COOP (Citizens Opposed to the Offing of
‘Peaks’), a reference to the show’s main character.
David Lynch Obituary Take 4
Fans’ devotion can still be seen at the annual David Lynch Twin Peaks Fan Festival held
every year at the show’s taping site.
David Lynch also made Wild at Heart, starring Nicholas Cage and Laura Dern the year
of “Twin Peaks’” premiere, a film that one him the coveted Palme D’Or at the 1990
Cannes Film Festival.
After another television stint with the British flop “On the Air”, Lynch returned to
“Twin Peaks” to make the prequel feature Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. The film was
booed at it Cannes opening and was a box-office dud. Many devoted “Peakers” found the
film to be sub-par, lacking the comical stylings of the series, while others were
disappointed that it didn’t wrap up the series finale’s questions.
Lynch’s director’s version of Fire Walk with Me was four hours in length and there is
a healthy web campaign to have this version released on DVD.
“Hotel Room” was his third attempt at the medium of television, that too, caused no
success like that of “Twin Peaks.”
Lynch jumped back into film with his 1997 release Lost Highway. This strange and
thrilling movie had a lukewarm reception and only opened in selected cities.
That would be Lynch’s last film to ever see the big scene before his death.
He had completed Straight Story, a heart-warming G-rated drama about an old man
who rides across country on his lawnmower at five miles per hour to patch things up with
his brother. Lynch’s final work made headlines when it was picked up by a Disney
David Lynch was heralded by many as a genius ( “one of the few fully original
visionaries to emerge in postwar American cinema”) and a visionary (“When you watch
the films of Quentin Tarantino, Gus Van Sant, Tim Burton, the Coen brothers, Jim
Jarmusch, Jane Campion and Todd Haynes, you are seeing talented directors working
David Lynch Obituary Take 5
with a sense of permission and stylistic nerve that David Lynch helped make possible.”).
But he was often criticized for degradation of women and glorification of violence in
his films. His conclusive production was to be a television series, “Mulholland Drive”,
but it was ousted by the networks due to its graphically violent nature (due also to the
recent Columbine school shooting).
The unconventional director also delved into the world of art and furniture design
stating, “I have to make what I see, whether it's a painting, a table, or a movie, or it's like
a death and what would be the point of that?". Lynch once claimed his hobbies were
painting, furniture and architecture, ricky board/bee board, animal kits (reassembling
dead animals), and building sheds.
The quiet man with the southern drawl and a fondness for flannel shirts left us with a
sobering comment in the wake of passing: “Death in my mind isn't a finality. There's a
continuum: It's like at night, you go to sleep and in the daytime you wake up, or whenever
you wake up, and it's a new day."
David Lynch is survived by his long-time companion May Sweeny, the mother of their
son Riley. He also leaves behind his first wife Peggy Reavey, mother of director/author
daughter Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer) and his
second wife, Mary Fisk mother of their son Jack.
Police have issued a statement saying that there are no new leads in the case and that
“it is a strange mystery.”
A closed funeral service will be held on July 4, 1999.