The New Year always brings lots of predictions from the media.
One class of predictions that doesn’t get much coverage – because it’s frankly in bad taste – is “dead pools,” where people predict which celebrities and public figures are going to die in the coming year.
Some online dead pools allow players to bet on their choices to win cash. The Stiffs.com jackpot for first place last year was $2,008.
The winner of Stiffs.com’s 2008 Lee Atwater Invitational Dead Pool accurately predicted eight dead public figures. (The survival of Basketball Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay and politico Eunice Kennedy Shriver kept him from a perfect 10-for-10 record.)
Only one of the top 10 vote-getters in the 2008 Stiffs.com dead pool died last year – Suzanne Pleshette. Holding off the Grim Reaper were fellow top 10 picks Fidel Castro, Ariel Sharon, the Rev. Billy Graham, Farrah Fawcett and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
The top vote-getters on Stiffs.com’s dead pool are typically old or infirm or both. An exception, at No. 65 on last year’s list, is English singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, 25, who has had a very public battle with drugs and alcohol.
Pop singer Britney Spears, 27, came in at No. 87, just ahead of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, at No. 88.
Stiffs.com has not yet posted its 2009 leader board. It is sure to include several notable public figures who have had health scares or terminal diagnoses last year and didn’t even make the 2008 list. They include Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, political columnist Robert Novak and actor Patrick Swayze.
TheDeadPool.com gives players points based on the age of the deceased celebrity. Scores are 100 minus age, with a minimum of one point. Players pick 20 public figures. The more young celeb deaths you get right, the better your chances of winning.
It’s interesting to note that no one dared put 78-year-old Clint Eastwood on last year’s Stiffs.com dead pool. Maybe it’s because people remember Eastwood as police detective “Dirty” Harry Callahan in the 1988 movie “The Dead Pool.”
In the film, Eastwood’s character is investigating the deaths of celebrities on a Hollywood dead pool. He tells the manager of the game, “Maybe I’ll start my own dead pool, and put you on it.”