Columnist: Fond farewell to the King of Dudeism

Man, these celebrity deaths aren't letting up, are they?

Saturday, 13th August 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:36 pm
The Big Lebowski

There’s been a seemingly never-ending slew of them this year, one theory being that as there’s so much easy access to media nowadays it therefore follows that there are simply more famous people and that the rate that they are dying off isn’t that unusual.

Perhaps, but it does seem to have been quite an unusual year for it. At the start of 2016 it was become an almost daily event. By the time Terry Wogan, a ubiquitous presence on TV and radio for my entire lifetime, died at the end of January, he barely got more than a shrug of the collective shoulder. We were getting used to it already.

Some have been shocking (Prince? Prince died? Really? How could Prince die?), and some desperately sad (Caroline Aherne). Then there have been those whose passing was neither, who may not have been household names, but left their mark in their own brilliant way.

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David Huddleston

On August 2 the American actor David Huddleston died at the age of 85, a good innings by any standards. But still I was rather saddened because though not hugely famous, he did leave behind a solid body of work, including one performance in particular that made him immortal in my eyes: David Huddleston played the title role in The Big Lebowski – the greatest film ever made.

That’s right, The Big Lebowski is the best film of all time. Not opinion – fact. If you don’t agree, you’re wrong. You can take me to court over the matter if you feel strongly enough about it but you’d lose. And if you’ve not seen it, go and do so immediately and you’ll undoubtedly agree with me.

I’ll admit, its genius isn’t immediately apparent. After going to the pictures to see it I came away having enjoyed the performances more than the film. It wasn’t until it came out later on video and after another couple of viewings that I finally understood how brilliant it is.

And I wasn’t alone. It was actually a box office flop when it came out, eventually becoming maybe the most unique of all cult films thanks to the efforts of thousands of Achievers (the official name for Lebowski fans) worldwide.

David Huddleston

It’s spawned ‘Lebowski Fest’, which has been running for over a decade, countless books, academic papers written by American brainiacs (‘No Literal Connection: Mass Commodification, U.S. Militarism, and the Oil Industry in The Big Lebowski’), it’s been performed on stage as a Shakespearean tragedy (‘Two Gentlemen of Lebowski’) and, most incredibly of all, even spawned its own religion.

Dudeism was founded by a former American journalist, Oliver Benjamin, in 2005 and now more than 250,000 followers have become priests (yeah, I’ve done that too), ordained by the Church of the Latter Day Dude. Beat that, Napoleon Dynamite.

So, RIP David Huddleston and I pay a final tribute in the only way that someone who once dressed up as an eight-year-old schoolboy to go to Lebowski Fest possibly can, quoting nerd-like from the film.

“Good night, sweet prince”