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Dead Pool 10th January 2021

Welcome to a bumper edition of the Dead Pool. This week we learn the Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Hospital is the place to be to look out for ailing celebrities! Bet the staff there could tell a few stories! And because I don’t thank her enough, big shout out to Nickie who keeps sending interesting stories she’s found for the newsletter. Very much appreciated, as is all the donations so far. You all rock! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Tom Parker has revealed his stage 4 brain tumour has ‘significantly reduced’ and is ‘responding well’ to treatment. The Wanted singer, 32, took to Instagram on Thursday to update fans on his progress after receiving his terminal diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, in October. In a lengthy post, Tom said it was a ‘good fucking day’ after receiving the positive news about his battle and vowed to ‘keep fighting’ for the sake of his wife Kelsey Hardwick and their two children. He wrote: ‘SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION These are the words I received today and I can’t stop saying them over and over again. I had an MRI scan on Tuesday and my results today were a significant reduction to the tumour and I am responding well to treatment. Everyday I’m keeping on the fight to shrink this bastard! I can’t thank our wonderful NHS enough. You’re all having a tough time out there but we appreciate the work you are all doing on the front line.” Last month Tom has admitted his world was turned ‘upside down’ after he was told he has a stage four brain tumour. Thanking his wife Kelsey and their family for the support they have given him, Tom said he has ‘come a long way’ since being given the heartbreaking news. Tom revealed he’d reached the end of his latest day of treatment, admitting it had taken its toll. He also revealed he’d been suffering with bad short term memory loss after having chemotherapy and radiotherapy amid his brain tumour battle. Glioblastoma is considered the most aggressive tumor that can form in the brain. Patients have a 10 percent chance of surviving five years after their diagnosis, according to figures. The average lifespan is between 14 and 16 months.  

A representative of London Zoo has responded to Ricky Gervais’s wish that his body be consumed by lions in the aftermath of his death. The comedian and long-time animal rights campaigner had made the proposal to Conan O’Brien on the US late night chat show Conan, saying he wanted to “give back”. “I thought it would be good to be just fed to the lions at London Zoo,” said Gervais. “That would be useful, isn’t it? We never give anything back. We take everything from this world…everything we do is for us, we’re not even food for other things. At least then…I’d like the look on the tourists’ faces when they throw this dead, fat, naked, 73-year-old, maybe, if I’m lucky, to the lions, and as it lands some people go, ‘is that the bloke from The Office?’” London Zoo’s chief operating officer Kathryn England said: “I suspect Ricky may be a bit gristly for our lions.” She added: “We are struggling financially because of lockdown so if anyone wants to ‘give something back’ we welcome donations that will help us keep our lions fed on a more suitable diet.” We’re wondering why he wants to wait until he dies, feed the fucker to them right now!  

After days of false reports, it’s been confirmed that Tanya Roberts has died at the age of 65. Her partner, Lance O’Brien, told us that Roberts’ doctors called him just after 9:00 p.m. on January 4th to notify him of Roberts’ passing. The actress had been hospitalised for complications of a UTI that he claimed spread to her kidneys, liver and gallbladder before it “got into her blood.” The news comes shortly after a premature death announcement was made. The star was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after collapsing on Christmas Eve. Her rep, Mike Pingel, said that O’Brien claimed to have been asked by hospital staff to come in and say his final goodbyes on Sunday. Apparently O’Brien watched her close her eyes and assumed she had passed away. O’Brien reportedly called Pingel afterwards and told him Roberts had died. But during an interview with Inside Edition that morning, O’Brien received a phone call from the hospital informing him that Roberts had not passed away. “Now you’re telling me that she’s alive?” he said at the time. “Oh, thank the lord! Thank god.” O’Brien began to cry. “The hospital’s telling me she’s alive, and they’re calling me from the ICU,” he said, later adding, “I’m so happy.” However, the joy didn’t last long, it appears that Roberts is now dead, again. Roberts starred in many films over the course of her lifetime, including the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. She also acted on a number of popular TV shows, including That ’70s Show and Charlie’s Angels.   

Dr Dre says he is ‘doing great’ after being hospitalised in California for a suspected aneurysm. The rap mogul posted on Instagram that he hopes to leave Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and return home soon. “Thanks to my family, friends and fans for their interest and well wishes,” he wrote. “I’m doing great and getting excellent care from my medical team. I will be out of the hospital and back home soon. Shout out to all the great medical professionals at Cedars. One Love!!” Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, was taken to the hospital’s ICU on Monday where doctors ran tests to find what caused the bleeding on his brain. Luckily he wasn’t declared dead by his better half as he’s in the middle of a divorce from his wife, Nicole Young, who filed to end their marriage of more than 20 years. The rapper, who was born in Compton, California, rose to fame in the rap group NWA in the 1980s. After leaving the group he went on to huge solo success and won a Grammy for his 1993 album The Chronic. He went on to work as a hit music producer, and played an influential role in the careers of rappers such as Eminem and 50 Cent before selling his soul to Apple Inc. for $3 billion. Yup, you read that right, three billion dollars. The boy from Compton did good! 

On This Day

  • 1776 – American Revolution: Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense. 
  • 1863 – The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s oldest underground railway, opens between Paddington and Farringdon, marking the beginning of the London Underground.  
  • 1927 – Fritz Lang‘s futuristic film Metropolis is released in Germany.   

Deaths

  • 1862 – Samuel Colt, American engineer and businessman, maker of guns (b. 1814). 
  • 1917– Buffalo Bill, American soldier and hunter (b. 1846). 
  • 1971 – Coco Chanel, French fashion designer, founded Chanel (b. 1883).   
  • 2016 – David Bowie, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (b. 1947)

Last Meals

George Junius Stinney Jr., was a 14-year-old African-American boy who was convicted, of murdering two white girls, Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 7, in his hometown of Alcolu, South Carolina. He was executed by electric chair in June 1944. Stinney is the youngest American to be sentenced to death and executed since Hannah Ocuish in 1786.  

A re-examination of the Stinney case began in 2004 after a judicial review. Stinney’s conviction was overturned in 2014, seventy years after he was executed, when a court ruled that he had not received a fair trial. 

In March 1944, Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7, were riding their bicycles in Alcolu looking for flowers. When they saw Stinney and his younger sister Aime during their journey, they stopped and asked if they knew where to find maypops, the yellow edible fruit of passionflowers. That was reportedly the last time the girls were seen alive. 

Binnicker and Thames, who were white, never made it home that day. Their disappearance prompted hundreds of Alcolu residents, including Stinney’s father, to come together and search for the missing girls. It wasn’t until the next day when their dead bodies were discovered in a soggy ditch. When examined, their bodies, there was no clear sign of a struggle, but both girls had met violent deaths involving multiple head injuries. 

Thames had a hole boring straight through her forehead into her skull, along with a two-inch-long cut above her right eyebrow. Meanwhile, Binnicker had suffered at least seven blows to the head. It was later noted that the back of her skull was “nothing but a mass of crushed bones.” The wounds were likely caused by a round instrument about the size of the head of a hammer.  

A rumour floated around town that the girls had made a stop at a prominent white family’s home on the same day of their murder, but this was never confirmed. And police certainly didn’t seem to be looking for a white killer. 

When Clarendon County law enforcement officers learned from a witness that Binnicker and Thames were seen talking to Stinney, they went to his home. There, George Stinney Jr. was promptly handcuffed and interrogated for hours in a small room without his parents, an attorney, or any witnesses. Police claimed that Stinney confessed to murdering Binnicker and Thames after his plan to have sex with one of the girls failed. At the time, 14 was considered the age of responsibility – and Stinney was believed to be responsible for murder. 

About a month after the girls’ deaths, George Stinney Jr.’s trial began at a Clarendon County Courthouse. Court-appointed attorney Charles Plowden did “little to nothing” to defend his client. During the two-hour trial, Plowden failed to call witnesses to the stand or present any evidence that would cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. The most significant piece of evidence presented against Stinney was his alleged confession, but there was no written record of the teen admitting to the murders. 

By the time of his trial, Stinney hadn’t seen his parents in weeks, and they were too afraid of getting attacked by a white mob to come to the courthouse. So the 14-year-old was surrounded by strangers — up to 1,500 of them. 

Following a deliberation that took less than 10 minutes, the all-white jury found Stinney guilty of murder, with no recommendation for mercy. On April 24th, 1944, the teen was sentenced to die by electrocution. 

On June 16th, 1944, George Stinney Jr. walked into the execution chamber at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia with a Bible tucked under his arm. 

Weighing in at just 95lbs/43kg, he was dressed in a loose-fitting striped jumpsuit. Strapped into an adult-size electric chair using a Bible as a booster seat because Stinney was too small for the chair. The state electrician also struggled to adjust an electrode to his right leg due to his size. A mask that was too big for him was placed over his face. 

An assistant captain asked Stinney if he had any last words. Stinney replied, “No sir.” The prison doctor prodded, “You don’t want to say anything about what you did?” Again, Stinney replied, “No sir.” 

When officials turned on the switch, 2,400 volts surged through Stinney’s body, causing the mask to slip off. His eyes were wide and teary, and saliva was emanating from his mouth for all the witnesses in the room to see. After two more jolts of electricity, it was over. Stinney was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. In a span of just 83 days, the boy had been charged with murder, tried, convicted, and executed by the state. He was buried in an unmarked  grave in Crowley. 

In 2004, George Frierson, a local historian who grew up in Alcolu, started researching the case after reading a newspaper article. His work gained the attention of South Carolina lawyers Steve McKenzie and Matt Burgess. Together they filed for a re-trial. 

Frierson stated in interviews, “There has been a person that has been named as being the culprit, who is now deceased. And it was said by the family that there was a deathbed confession.” Frierson said that the rumoured culprit came from a well-known, prominent white family. A member, or members, of that family had served on the initial coroner’s inquest jury, which had recommended that Stinney be prosecuted. 

New evidence in the court hearing in 2014 included testimony by Stinney’s siblings that he was with them at the time of the murders. In addition, an affidavit was introduced from the “Reverend Francis Batson, who found the girls and pulled them from the water-filled ditch. In his statement he recalls there was not much blood in or around the ditch, suggesting that they may have been killed elsewhere and moved. 

Rather than approving a new trial, on December 17, 2014, circuit court Judge Carmen Mullen vacated Stinney’s conviction, thus not exonerating Stinney, but voiding the verdict. She ruled that he had not received a fair trial, as he was not effectively defended and his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Jemaine Clement (47), William Sanderson (77), Evan Handler (60), Fran Walsh (62), Rod Stewart (76), Imelda Staunton (65), Joely Richardson (56), Rachel Nichols (41), Michelle Forbes (56), Amber Benson (44), Nicolas Cage (57), Jeremy Renner (50), Erin Gray (71), Linda Kozlowski (63), Brett Dalton (38), Steven Williams (72), Helen Worth (70), Eddie Redmayne (39), Kate McKinnon (37), Norman Reedus (52), Rowan Atkinson (66), Angus Deayton (65), Clancy Brown (62), Bradley Cooper (46), January Jones (43), Diane Keaton (75), Robert Duvall (90), Shea Whigham (52), Hayao Miyazaki (80), Vinnie Jones (56), Marilyn Manson (52), Mandip Gill (33), Dafne Keen (16), Julia Ormond (56), Graham McTavish (60), Matt Frewer (63), Emma Mackey (25), and Julian Sands (63).

Dead Pool 3rd January 2021

Here we are folks! We made it through 2020!! Thank you all who have contributed to The  Cause, you have been very generous indeed! We’re fairly close to the goal, in fact the closest we’ve been to breaking even ever!!! I suppose we’d better get on with it! 

Look Who You Could Have Had 2020:

Look Who You Could Have Had 2021:

In Other News

Eighteen care home residents in Belgium have reportedly died after contracting coronavirus, following a visit from a man dressed as Santa Claus, Ho ho ho! Scores were infected at the nursing home in early December, with an outbreak emerging in the days after the visit. The visitor was reportedly among the first to test positive after his trip to the Hemelrijck home in Mol, a town in Antwerp province. It is yet unclear whether his visit was the cause of the outbreak, which authorities are still looking into. The city council said on Christmas Eve that 13 residents had died at the care home, after being infected with coronavirus. Five more people have since died at the nursing home, Mol’s mayor Wim Caeyers said. On Christmas Eve, Mol city council said a total of 121 residents at the Hemelrijck nursing home had tested positive for Covid-19, and the number showing serious symptoms was increasing. Six members of staff had also tested positive for the virus. “The residential care centre will face a very difficult period in the next seven to ten days,” the council said in a statement on Christmas Eve. After the outbreak emerged following the Santa visit, a company spokesperson told us: “The team is very shocked by what happened, but that also makes them very motivated to get the virus out again.” In hindsight, one wonders who thought it was a good idea to bring a Santa to see a bunch of geriatric non-believers in the first place??  

YouTuber Grace Victory’s family has shared an update on her condition after she was placed into an induced coma by doctors on Christmas Day. On 30th December, the family shared a second post on her Instagram page, saying: “Grace is currently stable and responding well to treatment.” They also thanked fans for their support and well wishes: “We as a family are truly overwhelmed by the amount of Love and well wishes sent to our Grace and we want to thank each and everyone of you for casting a light of hope our way. The 30-year-old influencer delivered her first child on Christmas Eve, much earlier than her due date of February, due to Covid-19 complications. After the birth, Victory, who is from High Wycombe, was then admitted to intensive care as a result of breathing difficulties. Her family shared a post on 28 December detailing what had happened. “As you guys know, Grace gave birth on Christmas Eve to a beautiful baby boy, who is currently doing so well, he’s incredible. We love him so much. Grace developed Covid-19 two weeks ago and although her symptoms were mild at first, they worsened as the days went on. Which meant they had to deliver the baby as soon as possible, as she was just too unwell to carry on with the pregnancy.” The family explained that despite the successful delivery of her son, Victory was then placed into an induced coma to “give her body the rest it needs, in order to recover”. Victory has over 200,000 YouTube subscribers and 224,000 Instagram followers. She has focused her career on body positivity, mental health and holistic healing.  That went well for her then….  

Voice actor Tom Kane, best known for his roles in Star Wars films and TV series, has suffered a stroke. According to a Facebook post by Kane’s daughter, Sam, the stroke occurred around two months ago, and left Kane unable to “efficiently communicate verbally, nor read or spell”. “Our family wanted to share why my dad has been MIA,” she wrote. “About two months ago he had a left side stroke that gave him right sided weakness and damage to the speech centre of his brain. “He is still competent and very much himself, but can only get out a few words right now… My dad still remains in good spirits and his extreme stubbornness has helped him already show improvements in speech. He is fully on board with me sharing this and he will see anything you guys post.” A prolific actor, Kane, now 58, voiced Jedi master Yoda in the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars, returning to the role in other productions. He also voiced the cult franchise favourite Admiral Ackbar in Rian Johnson’s 2017 entry Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi, and has appeared in other roles in several Star Wars video games and series. Outside of Star Wars, Kane has appeared in animations including Archer, Powerpuff Girls and Robot Chicken. In the Facebook post, Kane’s daughter revealed that his neurologist told him he may not be able to act in voice-overs again.

On This Day

  • 1833 – The United Kingdom claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. 
  • 1911 – A gun battle in the East End of London left two dead and sparked a political row over the involvement of then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill.  
  • 1961 – The SL-1 nuclear reactor is destroyed by a steam explosion in the only reactor incident in the United States to cause immediate fatalities. 
  • 1962 – Pope John XXIII excommunicates our old friend Fidel Castro. Castro still lived a full life and probably didn’t even notice. 
  • 2009 – The first block of the blockchain of the decentralised payment system Bitcoin, called the Genesis block, was established by the creator of the system, Satoshi Nakamoto.  
  • 2015 – Boko Haram militants raze the entire town of Baga in north-east Nigeria, starting the Baga massacre and killing as many as 2,000 people!! 

Deaths

  • 1795 – Josiah Wedgwood, English potter, founded the Wedgwood Company (b. 1730). 
  • 1903 – Alois Hitler, Austrian civil servant, father of Adolf (b. 1837). 
  • 1946 – William Joyce, American-British pro-Axis propaganda broadcaster (b. 1906). 
  • 1967 – Jack Ruby, American businessman and murderer (b. 1911). 
  • 1979 – Conrad Hilton, American businessman, founded the Hilton Hotels (b. 1887). 
  • 2003 – Jimmy Stewart, Scottish racing driver (b. 1931). 

Last Meals

In the weeks after the Second World War broke out, the crackly sound of a clipped English accent spouting Nazi propaganda began to filter through the wireless sets of Britain in a desperate attempt to sap morale. Radio critic Jonah Barrington was the first to brand the anonymous plummy voice he heard with the nickname “Lord Haw-Haw”. He wrote scathingly: “I imagine him having a receding chin, a questing nose, thin yellow hair brushed back, a monocle, a vacant eye, a gardenia in his buttonhole. Rather like PG Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster…” The moniker would stick when the anonymous voice was revealed as belonging to William Joyce, a scar-faced Anglo-American traitor who had begun broadcasting fascist propaganda. Over the next five years, Joyce would go on to become the scourge of the airwaves. It is estimated that, at his peak, six million Britons regularly tuned in to his transmissions.  

Now, over 80 years on from Joyce’s first broadcasts, the story of how he was finally captured and brought to justice, was, ironically, by a Jew who had fled Hitler’s Germany. 

Born in 1906 in New York to an Irish father and English mother, Joyce’s family moved to Ireland where, as a young man, he dabbled with working for British intelligence. He went on to study English at the University of London, became a teacher and once said: “From my earliest days, I was taught to love England and her Empire.” But by the 1920s, Joyce began to fall under the spell of fascism and in a spat with communist sympathisers, he was slashed from his earlobe to mouth leaving him with a distinctive scar across his right cheek. Joyce was soon giving speeches for the British Union of Fascists but believed its leader Sir Oswald Mosley was too moderate and formed his own pro-Nazi and anti-semitic organisation. 

In 1939, Joyce was tipped off that he was about to be arrested and fled for Germany with his wife Margaret just a week before hostilities broke out. He was quickly recruited by the Nazis, keen to use his background to help them wage a propaganda war through the radio. Although Joyce was of ordinary stock, he had developed a nasally, upper-class English accent that the Nazis believed would give their message credibility and authenticity. His sarcastic and sneering short-wave transmissions from Hamburg would always start with “Germany Calling” before a tirade of arguments designed to convince his British audience to surrender. The Third Reich’s head of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, would describe him as “the best horse in my stable” and Joyce was rewarded for his treachery with German citizenship.

Many Brits, bored by the stodgy wartime BBC output, admitted they listened in not because they sympathised with Haw-Haw’s message but to have a good laugh at his haughty tone. But as the Second World War began to turn against the Nazis and British resolve hardened, Joyce’s power began to wane. As the Allies closed in on Berlin, Joyce gave a final, drunken, rambling broadcast on April 30th 1945, before signing off with a final defiant, “Heil Hitler and farewell”. Joyce and his wife then went into hiding near Flensburg, on the Danish border.  

A month later, on May 28th, a dishevelled figure was spotted gathering firewood by two British soldiers, Captain Bertie Lickorish and Lieutenant Geoffrey Perry members of T-Force, the unit tasked with securing Germany’s scientific and industrial assets. They had begun to engage the man in conversation in English when Lieutenant Perry had a lightbulb moment. He knew Haw-Haw was rumoured to be in the area and thought he recognised the distinctive accent of the man in front of them. He asked him: “You wouldn’t, by any chance, be William Joyce would you?” In response to the question, Joyce reached for his pocket. Believing that he was going for a weapon, Lieutenant Perry shot him in the buttocks. In fact, Joyce didn’t have a gun, he had been reaching for his papers drawn up in the fake name of Wilhelm Hansen. 

The captured Joyce was sent back to Britain to stand trial for high treason because of his British passport. In September, he was found guilty at London’s Old Bailey and hanged by the famed executioner Albert Pierrepoint, on January 3rd 1946, at Wandsworth Prison, making him the last person to be executed for treason in the United Kingdom. He was 38. Sadly we don’t know what his last meal was but Joyce’s unrepentant last words are said to have been: “May the swastika be raised from the dust.” 

The scar on Joyce’s face split wide open because of the pressure applied to his head upon his drop from the gallows. As was customary for executed criminals, Joyce’s remains were buried in an unmarked grave within the walls of HMP Wandsworth. In 1976 following a campaign by his daughter, Heather Landalo, his body was reinterred in Bohermore, Galway, Ireland.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Mel Gibson (65), Florence Pugh (25), Victoria Principal (71), Dabney Coleman (89), Sarah Alexander (50), Tia Carrere (54), Kate Bosworth (38), Cuba Gooding Jr. (53), Frank Langella (83), Li Gong (55), Anthony Hopkins (83), Val Kilmer (61), Ben Kingsley (77), Jane Badler (67), Eliza Dushku (40), Tracey Ullman (61), Fred Ward (78), Tiger Woods (45), Michael Nesmith (78), Jude Law (48), Jon Voight (82), Ted Danson (73), Lilly Wachowski (53), Danny McBride (44), Bernard Cribbins (92), Marianne Faithfull (74), Denzel Washington (66), Maggie Smith (86), Noomi Rapace (41), Sienna Miller (39), Joe Manganiello (44), John Legend (42), and Nichelle Nichols (88).

Dead Pool: Round up of 2020

This year has been rather exceptional with the coronavirus picking off celebrities of all ages. However, it doesn’t seem as deadly as 2016, where it felt like anyone who wasn’t listed were dying just to spite us; I’m thinking of you David Bowie!!!  

Anyhow, we have a winner to declare! Congratulations to Louise for topping the table with 467 points from 4 deaths. If you could send me your contact details I can send off the trophy to you! Honourable mentions go to Laura for the most deaths (7) and to Stu and myself for not scoring a bean throughout the year. Well done all of you! 

Right, let’s have a quick look at who we lost in 2020. 

January:

  • Derek Acorah – The self-styled spiritual medium, whose real name was Derek Johnson, died right at the beginning of the year aged 69. It was revealed he had been treated in intensive care following a “brief illness”. So far he’s refused to contact the living world since his departure.  
  • Terry Jones – The Welsh actor and Monty Python star passed away aged 77. His family said he died at his home in London after battling a rare form of dementia. In a statement, the actor’s family said: “His work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programmes, poems and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath.” 
  • Kobe Bryant – The basketball legend and his 13-year-old daughter died in a helicopter crash that killed nine people in total. The five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist was 41. 
  • Nicholas Parsons – The Just a Minute host died aged 96 after a short illness. He was best known for the show, where panellists have to speak for one minute without hesitation, deviation, or repetition. He first fronted the show on its inception in 1967. BBC director general Tony Hall said: “Very few people have done so much to entertain audiences over the decades and no-one deserves to be called a broadcasting legend more than Nicholas Parsons. 

February:

  • Kirk Douglas – The actor died at the age of 103. The venerated star, patriarch of an acting dynasty was one of the few remaining survivors of Hollywood’s golden age, was best known for films including Spartacus, Paths of Glory and The Vikings. His eldest son, Michael Douglas, a two-time Oscar-winner, announced his father’s death with a touching tribute that failed to address his aggressive and murderous personality and the likelihood he was a paedo rapist. 
  • Caroline Flack – The former Love Island TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing winner was found dead at the age of 40 at her London home after taking her own life. Flack, who was described as “vulnerable” by her management, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton at her former flat. Her death came just weeks before the trial was due to begin. 
  • Dieter Laser – The German actor who played sadistic surgeon Josef Heiter in 2009 shock horror film The Human Centipede. He died at the age of 78, with The Human Centipede director Tom Six describing him as a “force of nature, an unique human being and an iconic actor”. 

March:

  • Max von Sydow – Swedish actor Max von Sydow died at home in France aged 90. He’s mostly lnown for his roles in Flash Gordon, Game Of Thrones, The Exorcist and The Seventh Seal. He once said of his most famous role “The film you hear about the most is The Exorcist. When people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you scared me!’ I was the good guy in that film!” 
  • Michel Roux – Chef Michel Roux died aged 79. He opened the first Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, in Britain in the ’70s alongside his brother Albert. 
  • Roy Hudd – Comedian and actor Roy Hudd died at the age of 83 after a short illness. His agent said he had passed away peacefully with his wife Debbie at his side. Hudd was born in Croydon and started his career as a messenger for an advertising agency, window dresser and a commercial artist before his professional debut in 1957.  
  • Kenny Rogers – The Country music legend with a career that spanned six decades, with hits including Coward Of The County, The Gambler and Islands In The Stream, with Dolly Parton. The Houston-born singer, known for his trademark husky voice and silver beard, broke through into the world of pop to sell more than 100 million records. He also gained fame as an actor, starring in TV movies based on The Gambler and other songs, making him a superstar in the 1970s and 80s. He died peacefully in a hospice, surrounded by family, aged 81.

April:

  • Eddie Large – Comedian Eddie Large died at the age of 78 after contracting coronavirus while in hospital. The comedian, famous for his double act with Syd Little, had a long-running comedy sketch show on BBC One in the 1970s and 1980s. 
  • Lord Bath – Lord Bath of Longleat was 87 when he died after testing positive for coronavirus. The “gloriously” eccentric Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, ran Longleat Safari Park. The flamboyant aristocrat was known for his colourful dress sense and was a regular feature of the Animal Park television show about his estate.  
  • Honor Blackman – Actress Honor Blackman, best-known for playing Pussy Galore, died at the age of 94. She died peacefully of natural causes at home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. Her numerous and varied roles included Cathy Gale in The Avengers and Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. 
  • Sir Stirling Moss – The motor racing great died at the age of 90 following a long illness. His wife Lady Moss said: “It was one lap too many. He just closed his eyes.” Though Moss famously never won the Formula One title, he finished runner-up four times and came third three times in a career during which he won 16 Grands Prix. 
  • Tim Brooke-Taylor – The Goodies star died aged 79 after contracting coronavirus. The actor, best known as part of the 1970s comic trio, was survived by his wife Christine. Alongside Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, The Goodies TV show attracted millions of viewers in its heyday. 
  • Bill Withers – Famous for timeless classics including Lean On Me, Lovely Day, Just The Two Of Us and Ain’t No Sunshine. His death from heart complications at the age of 81. 

May:

  • Little Richard – Sir Mick Jagger led tributes to Rock ‘n’ Roll singer Little Richard following his death at the age of 87. Little Richard, who inspired musicians including The Beatles, David Bowie and Sir Elton John, was a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer and renowned for hits such as Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally. 
  • Florian Schneider – Co-founded Kraftwerk alongside Ralf Hutter in 1970 after meeting as students in Dusseldorf. The band’s pioneering use of drum machines and synthesisers influenced countless musicians who came after them. Schneider died after a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday.
  • Roy Horn – Best known as part of the Las Vegas performing duo of Siegfried & Roy, who were world renowned for their shows involving white lions and tigers, alongside Siegfried Fischbacher. However, the act unravelled in October 2003 when a tiger named Mantecore mauled him during a live performance, severing his spine and inflicting several other injuries, permanently affecting his ability to move, walk and speak. Horn died at the age of 75 after contracting coronavirus. 

June:

  • Willie Thorne – The snooker legend died in hospital in Spain after a short battle with leukaemia. He was 66. He had been in an induced coma in the intensive care ward at Torrevieja Hospital, Spain, after suffering respiratory failure. Thorne was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier in the year and had several health issues while undergoing chemotherapy treatment. 
  • Dame Vera Lynn – Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn died at the age of 103. A statement said: ”The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103.‘’  
  • Ian Holm – The Lord Of The Rings star was remembered as “charming, kind and ferociously talented”, following his death at the age of 88. The actor, who was acclaimed for his roles in Chariots Of Fire, Alien and Brazil, was also a prolific and accomplished star of the Royal Shakespeare Company and was described as Harold Pinter’s favourite actor. He died peacefully in hospital after a Parkinson’s-related illness, with his family and carer at his bedside.

July:

  • Ennio Morricone – The legendary movie composer died at the age of 91 after breaking his hip in a fall. The Italian composer created music for more than 400 films, but was best-known for the soundtrack to 1966 Spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Morricone was rated as one of the world’s most influential composers after writing scores for cinema – including 70 award-winning films – television and 100 classical works. 
  • Jack Charlton – The former Leeds and England defender who won a World Cup winner’s medal in 1966, died in July. He was 85. Charlton had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia. He spent his entire 21-year playing career at Leeds, making a joint club record 773 appearances, before retiring as a player in 1973 and going on to enjoy a successful and colourful career as a manager.  
  • Kelly Preston – the wife of John Travolta, died aged 57 after battling breast cancer for two years. The actress starred in films such as Mischief, Twins and Jerry Maguire. Alongside a photograph of her, Travolta announced her death saying: “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.“ The couple had been married for nearly 30 years. Their son, Jett, died at the age of just 16 after suffering a seizure during a family holiday in the Bahamas in 2009. 
  • Naya Rivera – Tributes were paid to the former Glee star, after her death was confirmed at the age of 33. The actress went missing during a boating trip at Lake Piru in Southern California with her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis, and her body was found days later. Demi Lovato, who played Rivera’s on-screen girlfriend on the show, said she will “forever cherish” starring alongside her. 
  • Dame Olivia de Havilland – The two-time Oscar winner and for decades the last surviving star of Gone With the Wind, died at the age of 104. The actress died of natural causes at her residence in Paris, where she had lived for more than six decades. She emerged as a star during the classic movie era – first as a romantic partner for Errol Flynn in swashbucklers such as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood and then as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone With the Wind. 

August:

  • Chadwick Boseman – The actor, best known for playing superhero Black Panther, died at the age of 43 after a battle with cancer. In an announcement that stunned Hollywood, Boseman’s family said he had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and died surrounded by his loved ones, including wife Taylor Simone Ledward. He never discussed the illness publicly and films including Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods and Avengers: Endgame were all filmed “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the family said. 

September:

  • Dame Diana Rigg – The actress, known for roles from The Avengers to Games of Thrones, died at the age of 82. Her daughter Rachael Stirling said: “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep, at home, surrounded by family. She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words.”  
  • Jackie Stallone – The mother of Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone, died at the age of 98. The famous celebrity astrologer and women’s wrestling promoter had a memorable – although brief – stint in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2005. A surprise contestant, Stallone entered much to the shock of co-housemate and former daughter-in-law Brigitte Nielsen, with whom she had a frosty relationship. 
  • Michael Lonsdale – Best known for his role as James Bond villain Hugo Drax in 1979’s Moonraker, Lonsdale made more than 100 films and performed on stage in a career in entertainment that spanned 60 years. Lonsdale died peacefully at his home in Paris, aged 89, with his agent of 20 years saying it was simply old age. “His spirit was alive but his body was tired,” he said.

October:

  • Eddie Van Halen – The world of rock and roll mourned the “Mozart for guitar” Eddie Van Halen following his death at the age of 65. The revered guitarist was Van Halen’s creative force as they blurred the line between hard rock and heavy metal on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world in the 1980s. Van Halen died after a “long and arduous” battle with cancer.  
  • Frank Bough – The former TV presenter died at the age 87. A family friend told the BBC Bough died in a care home. Bough was one of the best-known TV hosts in the 1970s and 1980s and was part of the launch of the BBC’s Breakfast TV show in 1983. His career with the BBC ended in 1988 when he was sacked over a sex-related scandal. 
  • Bobby Ball – The 76-year-old comedian died of coronavirus in hospital. One half of the duo Cannon & Ball, Bobby’s death was confirmed by his manager and wife Yvonne said: “I will always miss him, he was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous.” The Cannon and Ball Show ran for nine years from 1979 and in more recent times they found success on the panto circuit and cameos on TV. 
  • Sean Connery – The film star, most famous for playing James Bond, passed away at the age of 90. Sean, who played 007 in the likes of Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, won an Oscar in 1988 when he was named best supporting actor for his role as an Irish cop in The Untouchables and also starred in films like The Rock and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. 
  • Johnny Nash – Best known for the 1970s reggae hit I Can See Clearly Now, which sold more than a million copies and sat at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks. He largely dropped out of the spotlight in the late 1980s. He died of natural causes, aged 80, his son said. 

November:

  • John Sessions – The actor and comedian died at the age of 67 after suffering a heart attack. He was best known for his work on Spitting Image and Whose Line Is It Anyway? 
  • Des O’Connor – The much loved entertainer died at the age of 88. The TV legend passed away in hospital a week after suffering a fall in his Buckinghamshire home. He will be best remembered for shows such as Take Your Pick, Countdown, The Des O’Connor Show and Today with Des and Mel. The presenter was also a singer and recorded 36 albums as a singer, five of which made it to the UK Top 40. 
  • Geoffrey Palmer – The actor, known for his roles in such sitcoms as Butterflies, As Time Goes By and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, died aged 93. Versatile and prolific, he was known and loved for his hangdog expression and the often testy demeanour he gave to his characters. 
  • Ray Clemence – Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence was hailed as a “true legend” and “a giant of a man” after his death at the age of 72. Clemence, who won three European Cups and five First Division titles during a trophy-laden spell at Anfield, was without question one of the greatest of his generation. 
  • Diego Maradona – The Argentinian football legend famous for his Hand of God, died aged 60. He was regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and helped Argentina win the World Cup in 1986, the pinnacle of an illustrious career. 
  • David Prowse – The British actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died aged 85. The weightlifter-turned-actor, who also earned an MBE for playing the Green Cross Code Man to promote road safety, died after a short illness. Prowse won the role playing Vader due to his impressive 6ft 6in physique, but with his West Country accent deemed not quite suitable, the part was instead voiced by James Earl Jones. 

December:

  • Peter Alliss – The “voice of golf” died at the age of 89 after a successful playing career where he won more than 20 tournaments during and played on eight Ryder Cup teams. His move into broadcasting came about after he was overheard by the BBC’s Ray Lakeland talking to a friend on a flight back from a tournament in Ireland in 1960. 
  • Dame Barbara Windsor – Babs died aged 83 in a care home. Best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, she was considered a national treasure in the UK after finding fame as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, she made the news public in 2018. Her husband Scott Mitchell said her final weeks were “typical of how she lived her life” and “full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end”. 
  • John le Carré – Cold War espionage author David Cornwell, known by his pen name John le Carré, died aged 89 after a battle with pneumonia. Among his 25 novels were acclaimed best-sellers including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and The Night Manager. His most well-known character was the career intelligence officer George Smiley – made even more famous by Alec Guinness in the TV series of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. 
  • Eileen Pollock – Was a star of stage and screen who appeared in films including Far And Away in 1992, alongside Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and Angela’s Ashes in 1999. But she was best known for playing “tart” Lilo Lill, mistress of Freddie Boswell, in Bread, the TV comedy that centred around the working class Boswell family in Liverpool, which ran from 1986 to 1991. She died peacefully in her sleep at home in London, aged 73.

Dead Pool 27th December 2020

Here we are again, the last newsletter of the year. Comes around so quickly!! With just a few days to go, anything could happen! I’ve already had about a dozen 2021 lists and they’re all fantastic! You will have to think deeply if you haven’t submitted yours already. 

Just so you know, the winner will be declared on Friday 1st January, which will also be the day I’ll send out the 2020 review, a copy of everyone else’s list and a new email address list if you want to send the group a klaxon for instance. 

Donations to keep us running will be the same as usual, PayPal page on the website. The page will be opened on 1st January for four weeks, and as always, you’re not obliged to contribute as 2020 has been a shit year for all of us. But if you think a years worth of newsletters, a trophy, a few giggles and a cool website is worth a couple of quid, your contribution will be thankfully received; running costs for 2021 will be roughly £140, about the price of a pint each if we have our usual numbers taking part, although that usually ends up being the price of a night out and a taxi for me to make up the shortfall. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

In a candid recent interview comedy legend  Billy Connolly confessed he feels close to death, and thinks about it “quite a lot”. Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, “I don’t think I’ve got that long”, he said to us. “I don’t want to be a comedian you feel sorry for”, said the performer who has chosen to remain off the stage as he doesn’t feel comfortable with the symptoms of the disease showing. “There’s an American boy who says, ‘Shaking is the new cool.’ He’s got it on a T-shirt. And bless him, but I don’t want to do it,” said Connolly. In 2019, the Glaswegian comic announced his poignant, provocative last tour The Sex Life of Bandages, in which he joked about the disease “Drooling has taken over my life,” he mused. “It’s so unattractive.” The Sydney Opera House date of the final tour was released as a film. Connolly explained how his condition is getting worse. “Nothing’s working,” he said, revealing that his condition is affecting his mood. “I’m having a bit of a sad time”. The comic has tried alternative treatments to curb symptoms of the brain disorder, which causes shaking, stiffness, affects balance and causes difficulty walking. Some research suggests Cannabis helps: “but I get bombed out of my head”, said Connolly on trying the remedy in Florida, where he now lives and there is a Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. “I don’t like it. My daughter bought me cigarettes with CBD. It helped a little, but not enough to write home about.” Voted “most influential comedian of all time” in a 2012 poll, the comic also received a special recognition National Television Award in 2016, and was knighted in 2017.   

Tom Parker, 32, has shared on Instagram that since beginning radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, he has been suffering from “bad” memory loss. The Wanted singer explained how the brutal hospital sessions have left him forgetting what he has “just done” throughout the day. Tom said: “As some of you know, I have been through chemo and radio, haven’t I? “Which was pretty god-damn brutal, but some of the side effects from the chemo and radio are you get bad memory loss.” He then asked his wife Kelsey Harwick: “Mine was already bad, wasn’t it? His spouse responded: “Horrendous already, so now I’m like… literally, it’s even worse!” Tom elaborated that he struggled to remember daily activities, but would sometimes recall “weird” things, such as a present he bought for his daughter Aurelia. He continued: “But it’s the weirdest thing because like, I’ll go to her [Kelsey], ‘What did I just do?’ But I can remember stuff like this…” Tom is best known for being in boyband The Wanted, who achieved fame in the early 2010s with singles including All Time Low and Glad You Came. 

Australian golfer Greg Norman is in hospital after suffering from coronavirus. The 65-year-old, who won two Open championships in 1986 and 1993, confirmed  on his Instagram page that he had been admitted to hospital on Christmas Day due to contracting Covid-19. The former professional golfer posted a picture from his hospital bed, along with a second image of a doctor standing behind a protective screen that showed Norman in isolation from other patients. Norman added: “This sums it all up. My Christmas Day. On behalf of millions, fuck CoVid. This get this shit behind us never to experience it again.” Several golfers sent their best wishes to Norman, with British trio Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter among those to wish the Australian golfing great a “speedy recovery”. Norman, who earned the nickname The Great White Shark, spent more than 300 weeks at the top of the world golf rankings, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.  

Johnny Ruffo recently announced the heartbreaking news his brain cancer had returned after he experienced “an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches.” The 32 year old former Home And Away actor kicks off another round of chemotherapy over the festive season. The actor and talented singer first battled the illness in 2017, and had since been given the all clear after brain surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Johnny wrote on social media “After an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches it is with a heavy heart that i have to let you know i now have another huge battle ahead of me as my brain cancer has returned,”. He added: “though i will dig deep and beat this s*hit disease again #f***cancer.” The former X factor Australia’s doctors had actually discovered his first tumour by chance when he headed to hospital suffering from migraines. At the time, the star underwent life-saving surgery to have the 7cm tumour removed before undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 

On This Day

  • 537 – The construction of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is completed. 
  • 1831 – Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate his theory of evolution.  
  • 1836 – The worst ever avalanche in England occurs at Lewes, Sussex, killing eight people.  
  • 1939 – The 7.8 Mw  Erzincan earthquake shakes eastern Turkey with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). At least 32,700 people were killed.  
  • 2007 – Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated in a shooting incident.

Deaths

  • 1923 – Gustave Eiffel, French architect, co-designed the Eiffel Tower (b. 1832)  
  • 1958 – Harry Warner, Polish-American film producer, co-founded Warner Bros. (b. 1881)  
  • 1982 – Jack Swigert, American pilot, astronaut, and politician (b. 1931)  
  • 1994 – Fanny Cradock, English author and critic (b. 1909)  
  • 2003 – Alan Bates, English actor (b. 1934)  
  • 2007 – Benazir Bhutto, 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan (b. 1953) 
  • 2012 – Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., American general and engineer (b. 1934)  
  • 2016 – Carrie Fisher, American actress, screenwriter, author and producer (b. 1956)

Last Female on Death Row?

A ruling by a federal judge to delay the execution of the only woman on federal death row could push the new date into the early days of the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he would work to end federal capital punishment. The woman, Lisa Montgomery, had been scheduled to be executed the 8th of December, but that date was delayed after two of her lawyers tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after travelling to a federal prison in Texas to visit her in November. Should Montgomery’s life be spared as a result of the series of delays caused by the infection of her lawyers, it would be a rare reprieve for a prisoner from a virus that has swept through prisons, infecting inmates crammed into shared spaces.

But if the Department of Justice appeals the decision, a higher court would most likely overturn it. Since the Supreme Court paved the way for federal executions to proceed in June after a 17-year hiatus, the justices have been largely unreceptive to requests for reprieve from federal inmates scheduled for execution. The Justice Department had rescheduled her execution for January 12th, but Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Thursday that the January execution date had been unlawfully rescheduled because a stay order, which was issued because of her lawyers’ illnesses, was still in effect. 

Montgomery, of Melvern, Kansas, was convicted in 2008 of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was 23 years old and eight months pregnant at the time, and cutting a baby from her abdomen. She tried to pass off Stinnett’s baby as her own before admitting to the crime. A jury convicted her of kidnapping resulting in death in federal court in Missouri.

Montgomery’s lawyers have said that she has severe mental illness, which was inherited from both of her parents and worsened by the abuse she endured as a child, including being sex-trafficked by her mother and gang-raped by men. 

Federal execution rules state that a prisoner will receive notice of his or her execution date at least 20 days in advance. However, when the rescheduled date is fewer than 20 days from the earlier execution date, the prisoner must be notified only “as soon as possible.” The stay in Montgomery’s case barred the government from executing her before December 31st. How long the government will wait to execute her after that point remains unclear. Once Biden is sworn in on January 20th, the chances of Montgomery’s execution become increasingly unlikely. Representatives for Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he would intervene in Montgomery’s case should her execution fall under his purview. A spokesperson for the president-elect told us that Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future.”

If Montgomery is executed, it would be the first federal execution of a woman since 1953, when Bonnie Heady was killed in a gas chamber for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Kansas City, Missouri. The Trump administration resumed federal executions in July for the first time since 2003.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Timothée Chalamet (25), Wilson Cruz (47), Gérard Depardieu (72), John Amos (81), Maryam d’Abo (60), Jared Leto (49), Kit Harington (34), Temuera Morrison (60), Shane Meadows (48), Phil Spector (81), Sissy Spacek (71), Helena Christensen (52), Annie Lennox (66), Nadiya Hussain (36), Anil Kapoor (64), Ricky Martin (49), Finn Wolfhard (18), Harry Shearer (77), Carla Bruni (53), Ralph Fiennes (58), Vanessa Paradis (48), Samuel L. Jackson (72), Jane Fonda (83), Kiefer Sutherland (54), Steven Yeun (37), Julie Delpy (51), and Michael Horse (71).

Dead Pool 20th December 2020

Afternoon all. Now that Christmas has been cancelled you have even more time to think  about your list for 2021. Remember, you need to choose 13 names altogether; 1 Dead Cert,  1 Woman, and 1 Maverick (anyone under 50yo not expected to die). The rules can be seen if you click on this link. You can e-mail your submissions to mail@thedeadpool.rip With only 11 days to go, you better get your thinking caps on. Between eating sprouts and crying about not seeing your much despised siblings, the time will soon fly by. Tell all your friends if you have any!

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Jeff Bridges has given fans an update on his health while he undergoes treatment for cancer. The 71-year-old actor revealed he had been diagnosed with Lymphoma in October. “Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good,” he wrote in a statement shared on Instagram. “I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery,” he added. Now, Bridges has revealed that his treatment is progressing well and that he has shaved his head and bought a new puppy. On Monday, the Big Lebowski star uploaded a photograph of himself reclining on a chair on what appears to be the balcony of a beachfront flat. Dressed in a zip-up jumper, Bridges is pictured with a towel on his chest while his puppy lies on top. “Here’s the latest,” he wrote in the caption before listing a series of bullet points. “Feeling good, shaved my head, got a puppy – Monty, had a birthday – 71, man,” Bridges wrote. It’s not clear which type of lymphoma Bridges has, but around 15,000 people are diagnosed with a type of Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK each year.  

Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O have been sent to hospital after just two days of filming Jackass 4. The actors and stunt performers, known for their work on previous Jackass films, were reportedly jumping on a full speed treadmill while carrying “band equipment”, including a tuba, when they sustained injuries. Jackass star Bam Margera posted about the incident, saying in a video: “It’s the second day of filming Jackass already and Steve-O and Knoxville were hospitalised by jumping on a full-speed treadmill with band equipment – like a fucking tuba. So yeah, I’m here are the clinic now, taking a piss test. Rock’n’roll, oh yeah – I’ve got the scars too. Yeah man.” The fourth Jackass film was originally due to be released in cinemas next March, but has been pushed back until 2nd July 2021 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Jackass 4 will be the first film involving the whole Jackass cast to be made since the death of cast member Ryan Dunn in 2011, at the age of 34. Earlier this year, Jackass 3D star Stevie Lee also died “unexpectedly” at the age of 54. Yeah, I was just as surprised as you that Jackass is still a thing, but I suppose if watching a bunch of 50 year olds doing stupid things was boring, Top Gear would have been cancelled years ago.  

Ian McKellen has become one of the first prominent public figures to receive the coronavirus vaccine, with the actor getting his injection at a London hospital on Wednesday. The 81-year-old McKellen said he felt “euphoric” after rolling up his wizards sleeve and receiving his first dose, which was made possible by meeting the criteria for Britain’s eligible groups. “I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. It’s a very special day! Anyone who has lived as long as I have is alive because they have had previous vaccinations.” While technically older than the NHS, McKellen still remembered the impact that public health care had on his life, saying he “wouldn’t be alive if it hadn’t been for the NHS.” He went on to note that “we’re all equal under the vaccination.” He went on to ramble a bit and wanting to hug clinicians before he was returned to his home. Great British Baking Show judge and necklace icon Prue Leith, who is 80 years old, also received the coronavirus vaccine this week, allowing herself to be filmed and assuring people that it was a “painless jab.” Two excellent candidates for our game, possibly gambling with their futures if you are inclined to think that way? 

On This Day

  • 1924 – Adolf Hitler is released from Landsberg Prison. Despite being sentenced to five years, Hitler was granted early release and ended up only serving about nine months. Possibly the worst case of early release parole ever! 
  • 1946 – The popular Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life is first released, concentrating on James Stewart’s real life PTSD and suicidal tendencies! Merry Xmas! 
  • 1955 – Cardiff is proclaimed the capital city of Wales. Yay! 
  • 1987 – In the worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry Doña Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker ‘MT Vector in the Tablas Strait of the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).  

Deaths

  • 1968 – John Steinbeck, American novelist and short story writer. (b. 1902)  
  • 1995 – Madge Sinclair, Jamaican-American actress (b. 1938)  
  • 1996 – Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist (b. 1934)  

Trump’s Legacy? 

Last Friday, child killer Alfred Bourgeois became the tenth inmate of 2020 to be executed by the federal government since the Trump administration ended a 17-year hiatus on executions earlier this year. An administration which has insisted it stands for law and order is doing all it can to bring ‘justice to victims of the most horrific crimes’ before Joe Biden, who has pledged to attempt to phase out capital punishment, takes over the reins on January 20th. Trump has scheduled more executions than any president for at least a century, after reinstating the death penalty in July. His administration has already carried out more than double the number of executions America had seen over the previous three decades. Not only that, in the last weeks of his presidency, Trump’s administration is encouraging officials to use execution methods that are widely condemned as barbaric. 

His Justice Department recently published new rules expanding permissible execution methods to include electrocution, poison gas, hanging and even death by firing squad if lethal injection is unfeasible or the necessary drugs are not available. The wording also suggests that if the state where the crime was committed does not have the death penalty, a judge can designate another state to carry out the execution. 

So many of Trump’s boasts — from his ‘record’ inauguration crowd to his ‘record’ economy — have proved to be hollow, but he looks certain to enter the record books for the number of executions he can pack into his last months in office. Most presidents spend this time finding people to pardon, but Trump — determined to execute ten people in a year, more than any president in this or the last century — seems set on doing the opposite. 

When convicted killer Orlando Hall was executed last month, it was the first federal execution during a ‘transition period’ between one president and the next since 1889.  

The federal system’s preferred execution method is lethal injection, usually by a dose of a cocktail of drugs that first sedates the prisoner and then stops the heart. However, a spate of cases of condemned prisoners apparently suffering in agony after being injected prompted the drugs’ makers to refuse to supply them and juries to be more hesitant about demanding the death penalty. The Trump administration has tried to get round drug shortages by using a single one — pentobarbital, a widely available sedative often used to euthanise pets — for executions, after all, what’s good enough for Fido is good enough for a rapist! Whatever the public’s misgivings about pentobarbital, they’re nothing on the widespread disgust among activists that the U.S. may now, once again, shoot, hang or electrocute people. 

Nine states still authorise the electric chair as an execution alternative, eleven permit lethal gas, while three have hanging and three have death by firing squad on their books. Death penalty experts say that given the locations of the current inmates of federal Death Row, the most likely of these gruesome alternatives to end up being used would be electrocution, as 17 prisoners committed their offences in states that have it as a back-up execution method. Lethal gas would be the next most likely. Oklahoma is the only firing squad state with prisoners on federal Death Row but it’s a last resort there, only to be used after the three other options have been ruled out.  

The U.S. remains the only country in the world to use the electric chair, but Tennessee is the only state that still uses ‘Old Sparky’ regularly. Since 2018, five men have died there, strapped to a wooden chair, a metal skullcap-shaped electrode covering the head and another electrode attached to an ankle. They are then given two lengthy jolts of 1,750 volts. Although death should be instantaneous, it is a notoriously grisly spectacle — sometimes with flames several feet long leaping from the condemned man’s mask-covered head as his over-heating body swells and turns bright red. Experts say it isn’t painless, chiefly because the current sends the muscles into uncontrollable and agonising spasms.

The firing-squad method started to be used in the mid-19th century. The convicted person is usually hooded and strapped to a chair, with a white cloth pinned over the heart which either five or eight riflemen must shoot at simultaneously. Up to three of the squad will be firing blanks so that none of them can be certain they discharged the fatal bullet. 

Lethal gas, allegedly a humane method, was first adopted by Nevada in 1922 and last used in 1999. The prisoner is seated inside an airtight room and hydrogen cyanide gas is pumped in. Again, unconsciousness and death should be painless, but witnesses have reported seeing eyes popping and skin turning purple. 

Opponents of capital punishment, who say that more than 70 per cent of the world’s countries have abolished the practice — including every close ally of the U.S. — had hoped America might soon follow suit. But it certainly won’t while Trump is in the White House. 

Trump’s enthusiasm for capital punishment is hardly new, going back at least as far as 1989, when five young black and Latino men were arrested for the vicious rape of a woman in New York’s Central Park. Mr Trump paid for a full-page advert in the New York Times that demanded ‘Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!’ In the event, the five served their prison sentences only to be exonerated after a fellow inmate confessed. 

There are currently 52 offenders on federal Death Row, most of them at Terre Haute, Indiana, each one crossing their fingers that they’ll be spared until Binden takes power in January. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Jonah Hill (37), Jenny Agutter (68), Nicole de Boer (50), Lucy Pinder (37), Annie Murphy (34), Jake Gyllenhaal (40), Kristy Swanson (51), Alyssa Milano (48), Jennifer Beals (57), Richard Hammond (51), Sarah Paulson (46), Milla Jovovich (45), Katheryn Winnick (43), Eugene Levy (74), Bill Pullman (67), Laurie Holden (51), Ernie Hudson (75), Bernard Hill (76), Krysten Ritter (39), Miranda Otto (53), Billy Gibbons (71), Michelle Dockery (39), Don Johnson (71), Charlie Cox (38), Helen Slater (57), Garrett Wang (52), Vanessa Hudgens (32), Natascha McElhone (51), Miranda Hart (48), Ted Raimi (55), and Vicki Michelle (70).