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Tim Wilson: RIP Frank The Knife

opinion Tim Wilson

By Tim Wilson

Published: 1:02PM Wednesday August 18, 2010 Source: ONE News

If you've admired the - um - curves of ex-The Hills starlet Heidi Montag, or pitied the phizog of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, then you were responding to the work of Dr Frank Ryan, now deceased.

Ryan drove his 1995 Jeep Wrangler off the Pacific Coast Highway yesterday afternoon at around 1.00pm New Zealand time. He was pronounced dead at the scene, with "blunt force trauma" to the head.

I'd like to call Dr Ryan one of Hollywood's leading plastic surgeons, only Heidi Montag is hardly Angelina Jolie, and Gene Simmons, though he has fashioned himself into an entertainment empire, isn't really an A-lister either. Just stand him beside Justin Bieber. Why are those young girls screaming? Put some pants on, please Gene.

The information that Dr Ryan worked on Vince Neil, of 80s glam rock band Motley Crue, once famously described as "savages with cash", only compounds the impression of Dr Ryan as a kind of low-level courtier, someone present at the moments of struggle to ascend, or to arrest decline, on the great golden ladder of celebrity.

But Ryan became a public figure earlier this year after slicing, nicking and siliconing his way through 10 cosmetic procedures on Ms Montag, during an otherwise pleasant day in November 2009. She wanted to be "the best me" she could. Ms Montag was then 23 years old. The story made the front page of People, bolstered by the headline, "Addicted to Plastic Surgery!"

"I'm not addicted," Ms Montag proclaimed.

Many questioned the wisdom of 10 nips and tucks in one day, but Dr Ryan seems to have held himself up as a pillar of ethics. A post from his blog warns about the falsity of before and after photos. Gene Simmons tweeted that he was a gentleman. Heidi Montag is disconsolate. She wrote, "He was the most brilliant talented surgeon who will ever exist. Dr Frank Ryan changed the world."

The truth is, Dr Frank Ryan changed Heidi Montag. But this is exactly the kind of silly, excessive plaudit that people offer when grieving. It sounds like normal celebrity talk, though. A more sentimental correspondent might suggests that the obsession for celebrity, even at its most banal, may be seen as a mourning of qualities absent in contemporary western society. Or the caprice of fate. I am not that correspondent.

Ryan's vehicle crashed onto the rocks below the Pacific Coast Highway. Lifeguards tried to rescue him, but to no avail. He was trapped inside the vehicle. A helicopter was summoned to the scene, to no avail.

Thanks to Twitter and TMZ, we have learned that Dr Frank Ryan had just climbed the big sand dune overlooking the PCH as it's called by locals after 25 years of driving by it. That's an achievement. The last photo on his Twitter account shows his border collie Jill looking over the sand dune's edge, the Pacific wind streaming though her fur.

Jill survived.

Read more of Tim Wilson's articles