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By David Bachelor, PhD
There was a story in the headlines last week about the death of a celebrity. What made this man a celebrity? He hung out with real celebrities. The man’s name was Mark Fleischman. Mark was granted his status back in the 1980’s for the four years his nightclub, Studio 54, was the East Coast party capitol of the celebrity world. Like a one-term President, those four years defined the rest of Mr. Fleischman’s life. And now in 2022 Mark Fleischman is a celebrity again. Like the 80’s, his celebrity status is based on his friends. Mark’s new friend is Death.
Mr. Fleischman’s return to notoriety began prior to his elopement with Death. On June 25th the New York Post headline announced, “Studio 54 Club Owner Mark Fleischman: ‘I’m Ending My Life by Suicide.’” Since many of the Post’s readers were not alive during Mark’s quadrennial reign, the article had to explain his fame, “A king of 1980s nightlife, Mark Fleischman caroused with the likes of Ron Wood, Keith Richards, Rick James and John Belushi.” The article failed to mention that, apart from Keith Richards, the other three celebrities had already succumbed to the excesses they modeled at Studio 54. The piece does note, “Come July 13, however, Fleischman will drop his final drug: a lethal dose of barbiturates.”
Last Wednesday was July 13th, and by Thursday, the New York Post continued their terminal series with the headline, “Widow Reveals What It Was Like Watching Mark Fleischman Die by Legal Suicide.” Fleischman had traveled to Switzerland and placed himself under the “care” of a company that specialized in assisted suicides. The article states, “Fleischman, who paid $15,000 to die, was wheelchair-bound and afflicted with a debilitating disease that could not be diagnosed or treated.” His widow remarked, “[B]y the time we got on the plane to Zurich, he was adamant. . . Mark wanted to die on his own terms.”
There are seven suicides in the Bible. Saul wanted an assisted suicide, but his chosen assistant balked (1 Sam 31:4). So, Saul completed his suicide himself. After Saul’s suicide his reluctant assistant took his own life (1 Sam 31:5). Of the five remaining suicides, only the warlord Abimelech died by assisted suicide. In the Book of Judges, Abimelech was besieging a town when he was mortally injured by a mill stone hurled from the town walls. The person who launched the stone at Abimelech was a woman. Abimelech was worried about his tough guy image, so he chose assisted suicide. Abimelech said to his armor bearer, “Take out your sword and put an end to me straight away, so that men may not say of me, ‘His death was the work of a woman.’ So the young man put his sword through Abimelech, causing his death” (Judg 9:54). Abimelech’s troops were not impressed with their leader’s manly death. Once Abimelech was dead, everyone just went back home (Judg 9:55).
Abimelech was going to die of his closed-head injury regardless of someone else’s coup de grace. This was not the case for Mark Fleischman. Even though his ailment was debilitating and undiagnosed (the lack of diagnosis, by definition, made it untreatable), Mr. Fleischman still had the ability (and resources) to travel and enjoy the good things of life. The problem was that he judged his life at 82 by the standards of 1982.
If there is a bright side to this necrotic tale, it comes from DailyMail.com which had the headline, “Studio 54 Owner Mark Fleischman Turned from a ‘Complete Atheist’ To Believing in God Before He Died.” Let’s hope Mark Fleischman let one more celebrity into his life, the Messiah Jesus Christ.