Maverick film maker, columnists and television chat show host, in which he got his guests to kiss a cactus. Van Gogh (the painter was his great uncle) was murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist on November 2 2004. He had aroused the ire of the loony Islamic fringe by making a 10-minute film about Islam and women called Submission - featuring a naked woman with verses from the Koran written on her body. Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote the 'script'.
Van Gogh made a string of successful and not so successful Dutch language films. He was an overweight, chain-smoking loud mouth who revelled in calling Muslims "goat-fuckers" and wishing cancer on politicians he disliked. But people I know who knew him said he was a complete sweetie as well.
His murder came to be associated with the right to free speech - a right interpreted by his friends to mean the right to say vile things about everyone who did not agree with them - especially foreigners. The 'friends of Theo' continue their campaigns in their newspaper columns to this day.