December 25, 2014 6:39 pm
Updated: December 25, 2014 8:48 pm

Death of Robin Williams top pop culture story for Canadians: poll


WATCH ABOVE: 2014 was a year of scandal, shock and celebrity cyber scoops. Mike Drolet takes a look back at the stories that had us talking the past 12 month and the year in pop culture.

Movie lovers said goodbye to one of Hollywood’s most-beloved performers, Robin Williams, this year. His death in August came as a shock and has resonated in the months since, making the loss of the actor the top pop culture story of 2014 in the minds of nearly half of all Canadians.

A Global News-Ipsos Reid poll, released on Christmas Day, indicates 44 per cent of Canadians think 63-year-old Williams’ death is far more notable than high-profile scandals that broke in the past year, celebrity bad behaviour and the marriages of A-list stars.

Williams, an Academy Award winner whose career as a stand-up comic and actor spanned nearly 40 years, took his own life on Aug. 11.

WATCH: Eric Sorensen looks back at the life and career of Robin Williams

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The story resonated most with male and female respondents of all ages, and especially with those polled in Quebec and B.C.

According to Ipsos-Reid, 56 per cent of Quebec respondents and 50 per cent of British Columbians felt Williams’ death was the biggest pop culture story of the past 12 months.

READ MORE: Robin Williams tops Google Canada’s searches of 2014 list

By comparison, the deaths of fellow comedian Joan Rivers, in September, and Academy Award-winning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman — Williams’ co-star in the 1998 film Patch Adams — did not have the same impact on Canadians. Just one per cent of those surveyed felt Rivers’ death, at age 81*, was the top story in pop culture, while less than one per cent said it was the death of 46-year-old Hoffman, in February.

READ MORE: Circle of life: 2014’s famous births and deaths

Three stories tied for a distant second place and all of them involved scandal.

Sexual assault allegations against former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi and legendary comedian Bill Cosby were the big story for 11 per cent of those polled, while 10 per cent selected former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford popping up on late-night shows — as a guest and in recurring punchlines — following his 2013 admission that he smoked crack cocaine.

READ MORE: ISIS, Ebola top international news stories in Canada

Kids may rejoice, but grownups may want to “Let it Go”: the popularity of the 2013 Disney animated film Frozen was prominent throughout 2014. It smashed box office records, reigned supreme when it came to toy sales, and its signature song, “Let it Go,” helped make the movie’s soundtrack the top-selling album of the year (unless Taylor Swift’s 1989 catches up in the next few days).

But only seven per cent of the 1,005 survey respondents said Frozen was the top of pop culture for 2014. Aforementioned Taylor Swift saw her star rise even higher this year, but that didn’t seem to mean much to Canadians. Only one per cent of respondents made Swift’s soaring popularity their pick, tying with reality star Kim Kardashian’s attempt to “break the Internet” by baring her behind on the cover of Paper magazine.

Reality star Kim Kardashian is generating headlines for appearing nude photo on the winter cover of Paper magazine.

(Jean-Paul Goude/Paper)

READ MORE: Top 10 lessons the Internet taught us in 2014

Kardashian appeared twice on the list. Her marriage to rapper Kanye West — along with the marriages of actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and actor/director George Clooney to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin — put celebrity weddings at two per cent.

While Kardashian chose to pose nude, several Hollywood stars saw their very private photos leaked online in 2014. Five per cent of the respondents said the celebrity naked photo hacking was the pop culture story of the year.

The other big hacking scandal, involving Sony Pictures and the release of the spoof film The Interview, was the big story all through December, but it was not included in the list of 14 possible top pop culture stories in the Ipsos-Reid poll conducted between Dec. 16 to 19.

Rounding out the list of Canadian picks for top pop culture stories for 2014, according to the Global News-Ipsos Reid poll, were the continued rise of online streaming service Netflix (three per cent), Canadian pop star Justin Bieber’s troubles with the law (two per cent) and Jimmy Fallon taking the reins of The Tonight Show from veteran host Jay Leno.

Here’s another look at how the stories ranked:

Death of Robin Williams (44%)
Jian Ghomeshi sex abuse scandal (11%)
Bill Cosby sexual abuse scandal (11%)
Rob Ford makes headlines on late-night shows (10%)
The popularity of kids’ movie “Frozen” (7%)
Celebrity hacking – big name stars naked photos leaked on the internet (5%)
The continued rise of Netflix (3%)
2014 celebrity marriages: George Clooney/Amal Alamuddin, Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie, Kanye/Kim Kardashian (2%)
Justin Bieber’s trouble with the law (2%)
Joan Rivers dies (1%)
Taylor Swift’s stardom (1%)
Kim Kardashian’s butt “breaks the internet” (1%)
Jay Leno leaving The Tonight Show and the rise of new host Jimmy Fallon (1%)
Phillip Seymour Hoffman dies (less than 1%)

Exclusive Global News Ipsos Reid polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll involved online interviews with a sample of 1,005 Canadians between December 16 to 19, 2014 on behalf of Global News. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points had all Canadian adults been polled.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story indicated Joan Rivers was 84 at the time of her death. This story has been updated with her correct age, 81.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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