Unworthy confession. When the NPR news reporter adopted that funereal tone and began "Veteran British actress and Oscar-winner Dame . . ." my mind was already racing ahead. "Oh, please, not Judi Dench, not Maggie Smith." (Two of my favorite actors of all time.)
And then it turned out to be Elizabeth Taylor. Phew.
Oh, I'm very sorry, of course, but the news was tinged with a little relief after my assumptions. Well, Dame E's only a couple of years older than the other two (who were born just three weeks apart), but she had long retired from our screens, and her frequent bouts of ill-health had culminated in a hospital confinement since the beginning of the year, so although still sad, this development wasn't unexpected; while M and Professor McGonagall are still going strong, and have, in fact, made another movie together, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which is due out later this year.
By the way, at what point did "legendary" become a legitimate term for news agencies, synonymous with "well-known"? Is it another "miraculous"? (The Catholic Church, despite its vested interest, is scrupulously cautious and thorough about granting the status of a miracle. New York's eleven o'clock news broadcast seems to think they happen every day. "Well, truly a miraculous escape for a Bronx mother after a taxi goes out of a control . . .") Okay, it may be a shade of hyperbole that's crept into the dictionary definitions, but shouldn't a journalist be the last to adopt it?