Dead Pool 4th June 2023

A very quiet week indeed! As the continued hounding of Philip Schofield for being gay continues, I stand here quite surprised that he’s not listed! Well, there’s plenty of time for that, I doubt the media have had their pound of flesh just yet. Since no-one worthy of note has died in the last week, I’ll keep this edition very short.

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A woman won the cheese rolling competition despite knocking herself unconscious during the event. 19-year-old Delaney Irving fell whilst pursuing a 3kg Gloucester cheese wheel down Coopers Hill in Brockworth, near Gloucester. Irving said she didn’t realise she had won the race until she woke up in the medical tent. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, the 19-year-old said “I remember running, then bumping my head, and then I woke up in the tent. I still don’t really believe it, but it feels great.” Hundreds took part in the event during the last bank holiday, coming from all over the world. Irving, who is from Vancouver Island in Canada said that the race was “good… now that I remember it.” Matt Crolla, 28, from Manchester won the first race of the day, telling the Flying Monkeys that there is no way to “train” for the sport, saying “it’s just being an idiot.” Some viewers called participants “mad,” whilst others congratulated Irving on her win, seeing the fun side of the sport. Contestants suffered injuries including broken ankles, a concussion, a broken leg, and a suspected seizure. The Tewkesbury Borough Safety Group (SAG) said police and fire services would no longer staff the event until organisers came up with a safety plan, which sounds a bit churlish as there’s nothing safe about the event, so one could argue that they themselves put more people at risk by refusing to attend the event. Double-crewed ambulances and rapid response vehicles needed a police escort to gain access to the site, in order to clear a path through the crowds, which could have been avoided if SAG pulled their heads from their arses. “This put a strain on the resources of both Gloucestershire Constabulary and South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for a considerable time,” the SAG added. The group, which advises on safety at events, said it had “no desire or power” to stop the event but called for organisers to come up with a decent safety plan. “In the interim, police, fire and ambulance services will not be in attendance at the event, though of course will respond to any emergencies,” the SAG statement added. The annual event attracts thousands of spectators, including some from across the world. 

Jonnie Irwin has revealed that he has been admitted to hospital as he deals with terminal cancer. The Escape to the Country presenter, 49, said in November that he “doesn’t know how long” he has left to live, after first being diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2020, which later spread to his brain. He went public with his diagnosis in November 2022, after keeping it a secret from his fans for more than two years. Since his announcement, Irwin has been keeping his social media followers up to date with his condition. In the latest update, the father-of-three revealed he has gone into hospital to be “monitored” but hopes to be released in time for a scheduled appearance at A Place In The Sun Live in London this weekend.. He wrote in an Instagram post: “In hospital this week monitoring a changeover in my pain management regime. Fingers crossed I’ll be out in time to make an appearance on Sunday for this weekends @aplaceinthesunofficial LIVE event at @olympialondon in Kensington.” If he is released from the hospital and attends the event, Irwin will be joined on stage by fellow presenters Jasmine Harman, Ben Hillman and Laura Hamilton. He concluded the post: “Hope to see you there…x.” In a new podcast OneChat released last week, Irwin said that he was living under a “dark cloud” for the two years he hid his cancer from the world, adding that he kept his condition a secret so that he could continue working and “provide” for his family. Irwin and his wife Jessica have three children; three-year-old son Rex and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac. Elsewhere in the interview revealed that he had been close to death’s door “at least twice”, emphasising that he prefers to think of his situation as “living with cancer, rather than dying from cancer”. Irwin explained how he began to feel “alive” again after going public with his illness, but noted that didn’t mean his journey had been easy. “I have been close to death’s door, twice at least,” he said. He added: “You lose your memory, you lose your patience. I have got a very short temper. It’s not made me a better person, that’s for sure.” In March, Irwin gave a health update, telling The Flying Monkeys: “I’m weak now, fragile and my memory is terrible… but I’m still here.”

On This Day

  • 1784 – Élisabeth Thible becomes the first woman to fly in an untethered hot air balloon. Her flight covers four kilometres in 45 minutes, and reached 1,500 metres altitude (estimated).
  • 1913 – Emily Davison, a suffragist, runs out in front of King George V‘s horse at The Derby. She is trampled, never regains consciousness, and dies four days later.
  • 1940 – World War II: The Dunkirk evacuation ends: the British Armed Forces completes evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk in France. To rally the morale of the country, Winston Churchill delivers, only to the House of Commons, his famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech.
  • 1977 – JVC introduces its VHS videotape at the Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago. It will eventually prevail against Sony’s rival Betamax system in a format war to become the predominant home video medium.
  • 1989 – The Tiananmen Square protests are suppressed in Beijing by the People’s Liberation Army, it leaves an estimated 10,000 dead.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Angelina Jolie (48), Bruce Dern (87), Noah Wyle (52), Russell Brand (48), Sean Pertwee (59), Bradley Walsh (63), Imogen Poots (34), James Purefoy (59), Bill Paterson (78), Suzi Quatro (73), Awkwafina (35), Morena Baccarin (44), Jewel Staite (41), Justin Long (45), Wentworth Miller (51), Zachary Quinto (46), Dominic Cooper (45), Dana Carvey (68), Liam Cunningham (62), Brian Cox (77), Tom Holland (27), Morgan Freeman (86), Jonathan Pryce (76), Heidi Klum (50), Amy Schumer (42), Alanis Morissette (49), Robert Powell (79), Clint Eastwood (93), Colin Farrell (47), Brooke Shields (58), Lea Thompson (62), Tom Berenger (74), Sharon Gless (80), Colm Meaney (70), Stephen Tobolowsky (72), Keir Dullea (87), Harry Enfield (62), Ted Levine (66), Annette Bening (65), Laverne Cox (51), and Danny Elfman (70).

Dead Pool 28th May 2023

Let’s dish out the points! With the celebrated passing of Rolf Harris, I can award 157 to Liz who had him listed as her Cert, and 57 points to Ian, Lee, Paul G, Paul C, Neil, and Abi. Well done all of you, certainly makes the top of the league table look very interesting. Unsurprisingly, nobody had Tina Turner, as much-loved celebrities are rarely listed, probably why so many of you had Rolf ‘The Destroyer of Childhoods’ Harris on your lists.

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A Chinese live-streamer was found dead in his house hours after he live-streamed himself drinking an excessive amount of alcohol on the Chinese TikTok-like app Douyin. The Douyin user named Brother Three Thousand drank at least seven bottles of alcohol on the 16th May in his last livestream before he was found dead. The man, who was identified as Wang Moufeng by local media, was a 34-year-old resident of Lianyungang, in Jiangsu province. A video going viral on social media showed him drinking several bottles of baijiu spirits, a traditional clear grain spirit that contains up to 60% alcohol. The man was seen pouring out a small amount on the table and lighting it on fire to prove that it was indeed alcohol and not any other liquid. Unsurprisingly, he was found dead after 12 hours of the live broadcast, a funeral for him was held on Saturday. A man named Zhao, who knew about the incident, told the Flying Monkeys: “When his family found him, he was already gone, he didn’t even get a chance for emergency treatment.” The incident was widely discussed on Chinese social media, with people debating the safety regulations of apps that have billions of users. Mr Wang, who had 44,000 followers, was earlier penalised for posting drinking videos. The app prohibits content that shows drinking, with penalties including a ban following warnings. He had previously shared similar videos of drinking Chinese alcohol. On 16th May he took on a challenge in which users competed with each other by drinking alcohol to earn gifts. 

Television legend Esther Rantzen, 82, has revealed that her lung cancer has reached Stage 4 after announcing her diagnosis in January – but says she is ‘grateful’ for her long life and six-decade career. The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-five said at the time she had decided to announce the news because she found ‘it difficult to skulk around various hospitals wearing an unconvincing disguise. She is currently being treated with a new cancer medication and is due to have a scan ‘soon’ which will show whether or not the treatment is working. Dame Esther became a household name as she blazed a path for female broadcasters, most famously as presenter of That’s Life! from 1973 to 1994. Speaking for the first time about her cancer treatment, she told the Flying Monkeys: ‘I’m on one of the new medications, and nobody knows if it’s working or not. But I will have a scan fairly soon which will reveal one way or another.’ She added that her stage four diagnosis has made her realise ‘how very lucky I’ve been in my life’. She continued: ‘I’m not good at regrets. What I treasure most are the fantastic friendships I have made thanks to That’s Life! during the last 50 years, the people I met, and the team who worked so hard, and laughed so hard, together for so long.’  


Former tennis star Annabel Croft has been left devastated by the sudden death of her husband, a few weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer. Broadcaster Ms Croft, 56, married former professional yachtsman Mel Coleman in 1992. Around eight weeks ago after complaining of stomach pain, Mr Coleman was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. He died earlier this week, aged 60. Mr Coleman, a successful investment banker who took part in the America’s Cup and more recently ran a tennis school with his wife, was noted for his apparently perfect health and, like Ms Croft, enjoyed an active outdoors lifestyle. After Covid lockdowns, the two of them converted an old delivery van into a mobile home and took it around the country and into Europe on walking holidays. Last night, Ms Croft said: ‘My beloved husband Mel passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning after a short battle with cancer. My family and I are completely heartbroken and ask for privacy at this very sad time.’ A friend said: ‘This has come as an extreme shock to everyone – the diagnosis was out of the blue and Mel did not seem unwell at the time. Sadly the cancer progressed brutally… and he passed earlier this week. Everyone is devastated and horrified, and Annabel is absolutely shattered. The two of them have been together forever and were a wonderful couple.’

On This Day

  • 1588 – The Spanish Armada, with 130 ships and 30,000 men, sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, heading for the English Channel. It doesn’t go well…
  • 2002 – The last steel girder is removed from the original World Trade Centre site. Clean-up duties officially end.
  • 2016 – Harambe, a gorilla, is shot to death after grabbing a three-year-old boy in his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, resulting in widespread criticism and sparking various internet memes.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Kylie Minogue (55), Michelle Collins (61), Joseph Fiennes (53), Paul Bettany (52), Louis Gossett Jr. (87), André 3000 (48), Helena Bonham Carter (57), Pam Grier (74), Bobcat Goldthwait (61), Laurence Fox (45), Lenny Kravitz (59), Philip Michael Thomas (74), Stevie Nicks (75), Cillian Murphy (47), Mike Myers (60), Ian McKellen (84), Octavia Spencer (53), Frank Oz (79), Ann Robinson (94), Daisy Edgar-Jones (25), John C. Reilly (58), Alfred Molina (70), Doug Jones (63), Jim Broadbent (74), James Cosmo (75), Eric Cantona (57), Gary Burghoff (80), Tommy Chong (85), Bob Dylan (82), Joan Collins (90), Melissa McBride (58), Richard Ayoade (46), Ginnifer Goodwin (45), Maggie Q (44), and Naomi Campbell (53).

Dead Pool 21st May 2023

Another week passes by, yet more stars pass away. Short and sweet this week, let’s crack on! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Dead Pool favourite Rob Burrow has shared that the marathon held in his honour was ‘one of the best days’ of his life after emotional scenes captured the moment he was carried over the finish line by his ex-teammate. The rugby league legend, 40, who has motor neurone disease, described the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon as ‘one day in a million’. He and former team-mate Kevin Sinfield were raising money for motor neurone disease (MND) charities and used a specially-adapted chair to join 12,500 other runners in the first Leeds marathon in 20 years. Rob was pushed around the 26.2 mile route but when it came to the finish line, rugby coach Sinfield, who has raised over £8million for MND charities since his former Leeds Rhinos team-mate Burrow was diagnosed with the condition in late 2019, lifted him from the chair to carry him across. The 42-year-old, who pushed Burrow around Sunday’s course, completed his Ultra 7 in 7 Challenge in November when he ran seven back-to-back ultra-marathons, running around 40 miles each day. Sinfield gave his former teammate a kiss of affection to mark the moment they crossed the line, leading Rob to joke with the Flying Monkeys that it could make people jealous.

The mother of Lauren Harries has issued a  plea for help after doctors were unable to diagnose her daughters’ troubling medical symptoms. Harries, 45, is still in hospital after undergoing emergency brain surgery last month. On her daughter’s Twitter account, Harries’s mother wrote: “Please help: Lauren has had a number of blackouts after which the right side of her face droops. This is incredibly scary for Lauren and us. She also has a consistent headache. “Doctors haven’t been able to explain what is causing these. Have you or someone you know been through this? Any ideas or help you could give will be so helpful.” She also credited the NHS with saving her daughter’s life, but expressed concern over the “scary” new symptoms. “@NHSuk have saved Lauren but they can’t find any answers for this and it is so scary when it happens, it happened again yesterday,” she wrote. “Please help find out what’s causing these!” Harries is the TV personality who found fame as a child through appearances on Terry Wogan’s chat show Wogan, featuring as a precocious antiques specialist. She later competed on the 2013 series of Celebrity Big Brother, ultimately finishing in third place. Her mother has kept fans updated as her daughter was rushed to hospital for surgery. “Thank you for your prayers & good wishes and cards & flowers!” she wrote. “Lauren is still recovering from neurosurgery, & a chest and throat infection. Lauren would also like to thank the NHS Nurses & Doctors. Physiotherapy next, while she is fighting a permanent headache. ‘Peace and light’.”  

A private ambulance has been pictured outside the home of “gravely ill” convicted paedophile Rolf Harris. The 93-year-old disgraced star, who is suffering from neck cancer, is understood to rarely leave his home. He and his wife Alwen, 91, apparently also “very frail” and wheelchair-bound due to Alzheimer’s disease, now rely on carers and nurses on a daily basis. The ambulance, often used by undertakers, left the couple’s £5million Thameside mansion in Berkshire at 6pm on Wednesday. Harris has been living almost like a recluse since he was released from jail back in 2017, after serving time for sex offences. His daughter Bindi had no comment to make when the Flying Monkeys contacted her.e. Her husband Craig also refused to comment. Daniel Burke, the Harris family solicitor lawyer, told us he has not spoken to Rolf’s only daughter Bindi and that he had not been given any instructions to prepare or issue a statement concerning his health. Last year, neighbour Portia Wooderson told the Flying Monkeys: “Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go. I’m told he can’t eat anymore.” Author William Merritt confirmed Harris was “gravely sick” and claimed it was difficult to understand him when he communicates. Rolf was found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault (one was overturned in 2017) and sentenced to five years in prison. The disgraced star, whose victims included two girls in their early teens and his daughter’s friend, was released after three years in prison under licence. After being found guilty of crimes spanning nearly two decades – 1968 to 1986 – at London’s Southwark Crown Court, he was also stripped of his CBE.

On This Day

  • 1792 – A lava dome collapses on Mount Unzen, near the city of Shimbara on the Japanese island of Kyūshū, creating a deadly tsunami that killed nearly 15,000 people.
  • 1927 – Charles Lindbergh touches down at Le Bourget Field in Paris, completing the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1932 – Bad weather forces Amelia Earhart to land in a pasture in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she thereby becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1936 – Sada Abe is arrested after wandering the streets of Tokyo for days with her dead lover’s severed genitals in her handbag. Her story soon becomes one of Japan’s most notorious scandals.
  • 1991 – Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by a female suicide bomber near Madras.
  • 2011 – Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the world would end on this day.


Last Weeks Birthdays

Fairuza Balk (49), Judge Reinhold (66), Mr. T (71), Noel Fielding (50), Jack Gleeson (31), Cher (77), Owen Teale (62), Louis Theroux (53), Grace Jones (75), James Fox (84), Amanda De Cadenet (51), Miriam Margolyes (82), Tina Fey (53), Chow Yun-Fat (68), Toyah Willcox (65), Ginger Gonzaga (40), Paul Whitehouse (65), Megan Fox (37), Pierce Brosnan (70), David Boreanaz (54), Danny Trejo (79), Janet Jackson (57), and Stephen Mangan (55).

Dead Pool 14th May 2023

In the week where we all preferred to Cha Cha Cha, we also heard that Ricky Gervais is going through the “worst illness of his life.” “I’m not well today,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. “In fact I’d say I just lived through the worst 8 hours of illness of my life. Severe abdominal pains, vomiting every time I moved, (but only tiny bits of bile), hot sweats and chills, oh, and I really want to know who planted the 12 gravy bombs up my arse.” Let’s hope the 61 year old doesn’t actually get a real illness or he’d be bitching for real. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Rocky IV actor Dolph Lundgren has revealed an eight-year battle with cancer that was considered terminal prior to what he says was a more successful round of treatment. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, Lundgren says he was first diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015, information he’s sharing now for the first time. After surgery, he remained symptom-free for about five years but during a doctor visit during a trip to Sweden in 2020 was found to have additional tumours in the kidney and liver areas. At that point, the actor says, he was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer with only 2-3 years to live. He says that at the time he thought, “I’ve had a great life. I’ve lived like five lifetimes in one. So it wasn’t like I felt bitter but I felt sorry for my kids and my fiancé.” Eventually Lundgren sought an additional opinion from oncologist Dr. Alexandra Drakaki of UCLA Medical Center, and was placed on a more recently-developed medicinal treatment. Lundgren says the treatment, which he underwent while filming both The Expendables 4 and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, has proven effective in reducing the size of the tumours by 90%. According to Lundgren, he now needs to have an additional surgery, but he’s optimistic that after the operation he’ll have “no cancer activity.” Dr. Drakaki now hopes Lundgren’s survival rate will be measured in “years” rather than “months.” She continued, “My hope and goal is to try to keep him on this medication as long as possible and just keep getting biopsies as things change within his body to try to identify newer targets for treatment,” she said. Asked about his outlook now, Lundgren says, “You just appreciate being lucky enough to be alive.”

Miriam Margolyes, who played Professor Spout in the second Harry Potter film, recently announced she had been hospitalised after undergoing cardiac surgery. Margolyes, 81, gave fans an update on her health condition in separate Facebook posts. Last Friday, the veteran actor said she was being kept overnight at London’s The Royal Brompton Hospital. Her social media post reportedly read: “Have to stay overnight for Observation in the High Dependency Unit. BORING.” The following day, she informed fans she had undergone a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI), a minimally invasive procedure to replace a narrow aortic valve after it fails to open properly, adding that she would remain at The Royal Brompton “certainly till Sunday”. Alongside a photograph of herself in a hospital gown, Margolyes wrote: “I am growing energy but it’s still not quite me. I am putting this so you know how grateful I am for lovely messages.” She also expressed her desire to return to work, including embarking on a 22-city book tour later this year. The UK tour marks the release of her second book, Oh Miriam! Stories from an Extraordinary Life. Finally, on Monday, Margolyes said she had developed a chest infection and “can’t come home yet”. She added: “Probably tomorrow. But at least I’m resting. Love to all. Thank you for your lovely messages.” 

It’s been one month since Jamie Foxx was hospitalised after suffering a “medical complication”. On Friday his daughter Corinne Foxx revealed that apparently the actor had been out of the hospital “for weeks” after certain media outlets reported that his family were “preparing for the worst”. “Sad to see how the media runs wild,” she wrote on Instagram. “My dad has been out of the hospital for weeks recuperating. In fact, he was playing pickleball yesterday!” Specific details about the 55-year-old Django Unchained star’s illness remain undisclosed. “We wanted to share that my father, Jamie Foxx, experienced a medical complication yesterday,” Corinne, 29, said in a statement posted on social media on 12th  April. “Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery. We know how beloved he is and appreciate your prayers,” she added. “The family asks for privacy during this time.” Conflicting accounts of Foxx’s status emerged in the weeks since he was admitted to hospital. While most reports suggested that the actor was recovering, one source told the Flying Monkeys on Tuesday that his friends and family were “hoping for the best – but preparing for the worst”. Corinne rebuked the Monkeys report. Foxx broke his silence on social media on 3rd May, thanking fans for their support. “Appreciate all the love!!! Feeling blessed,” the actor shared on his Instagram Story. 

On This Day

  • 1796 – Edward Jenner administers the first smallpox inoculation.
  • 1878 – The last witchcraft trial held in the United States begins in Salem, Massachusetts, after Lucretia Brown, an adherent of Christian Science, accused Daniel Spofford of attempting to harm her through his mental powers.
  • 1939 – Lina Medina becomes the youngest confirmed mother in medical history at the age of five.
  • 1973 – Skylab, the United States’ first space station, is launched.


  • 1987 – Rita Hayworth, American actress and dancer (b. 1918).
  • 1998 – Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor (b. 1915).
  • 2015 – B.B. King, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1925).
  • 2017 – Powers Boothe, American actor (b. 1948).
  • 2019 – Grumpy Cat, American cat and internet meme celebrity (b. 2012).


On the anniversary of the first inoculation against smallpox, I thought we’d have a look at the history of the virus. 

Smallpox is one of two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest in 2011. The term “smallpox” was first used in England in the 16th century to distinguish the disease from syphilis, which was then known as the “great pox”. 

Smallpox is an acute contagious disease caused by the variola virus, a member of the orthopoxvirus family. It was one of the most devastating diseases known to humanity and caused millions of deaths before it was eradicated. It is believed to have existed for at least 4000 years, with the earliest evidence of the disease dating to around 1500 BC in Egyptian mummies.

Early symptoms of smallpox include high fever, fatigue and severe back pain, and less often, abdominal pain and vomiting. Two to three days later the virus produces a characteristic rash with bumps full of a clear liquid, which later fill with pus and finally develop a crust that dries and falls off. The rash begins on the face and hands, then spreads to the rest of the body. Lesions develop in the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth and ulcerate soon after formation.

Smallpox is transmitted from person to person via infective droplets during close contact with infected people who have symptoms of the disease, or in some cases through contaminated clothing and bedding. It has an incubation period of 7–17 days after exposure and only becomes infectious once a fever develops. People remain infectious until the last scabs fall off. Smallpox was fatal in up to 30% of cases. 

The disease historically occurred in outbreaks. In 18th-century Europe, it is estimated that 400,000 people died from the disease per year, and that one-third of all cases of blindness were due to smallpox. Smallpox is estimated to have killed up to 300 million people in the 20th century and around 500 million people in the last 100 years of its existence. As recently as 1967, 15 million cases occurred a year.

The earliest procedure used to prevent smallpox was inoculation with variola minor virus, which likely occurred in India, Africa, and China well before the practice arrived in Europe. The idea that inoculation originated in India has been challenged, as few of the ancient Sanskrit medical texts described the process of inoculation. Accounts of inoculation against smallpox in China can be found as early as the late 10th century, and the procedure was widely practiced by the 16th century, during the Ming dynasty. 

The smallpox vaccine as we know it was created by Edward Jenner in 1796, was the first successful vaccine to be developed. He observed that milkmaids who previously had caught cowpox did not catch smallpox and showed that a similar inoculation could be used to prevent smallpox in other people. 

In 1959, the World Health Organisation announced an audacious goal, the eradication of smallpox. Although no human disease had ever been eradicated, smallpox was a good candidate: it was easily diagnosed, had an effective vaccine and did not live in any other animal host. The effort began slowly, but after a second resolution in 1966, international cooperation grew and the campaign accelerated. Technological innovations such as the freeze-dried vaccine and the bifurcated needle made vaccination more effective and simpler to administer. Initially, health workers conducted mass vaccinations, but over time they switched to a more targeted strategy. Teams would quickly track down new cases, isolate the infected, and vaccinate all of those who may have had contact with the infected person.  

In late 1975, three-year-old Rahima Banu from Bangladesh was the last person in the world to have naturally acquired variola major. She was also the last person in Asia to have active smallpox. She was isolated at home with house guards posted 24 hours a day until she was no longer infectious. 

Janet Parker was the last person to die of smallpox. In 1978, Parker was a medical photographer at England’s Birmingham University Medical School. She worked one floor above the Medical Microbiology Department where staff and students conducted smallpox research.

The global eradication of smallpox was certified, based on intense verification activities, by a commission of eminent scientists on 9th December 1979 and subsequently endorsed by the World Health Assembly on 8th May 1980.

Unbelievably, two live samples of variola major virus remain, one in the United States at the CDC in Atlanta, and one at the Vector Institute in Koltsovo, Russia. Research with the remaining virus samples is tightly controlled, and each research proposal must be approved by the WHO and the World Health Assembly.  The genome of variola major virus was first sequenced in its entirety in the 1990s. The complete coding sequence is publicly available online, in case you amateur scientists fancy a go at making it. 

The WHO currently bans genetic engineering of the variola virus, however the public availability of the variola virus sequence has raised concerns about the possibility of illicit synthesis of infectious virus. 

In 2016, a group synthesised the horsepox virus using publicly available sequence data. The researchers argued that their work would be beneficial to creating a safer and more effective vaccine for smallpox, although an effective vaccine is already available. The horsepox virus had previously seemed to have gone extinct, raising concern about potential revival of variola major and causing other scientists to question their motives. Critics found it especially concerning that the group was able to recreate viable virus in a short time frame with relatively little cost or effort. 

Famous historical figures who contracted smallpox include Lakota Chief Sitting Bull, Pharaoh Ramses V, Peter II of Russia, and Louis XV of France. Prominent families throughout the world often had several people infected by and/or perish from the disease. For example, several relatives of Henry VIII of England survived the disease but were scarred by it. These include his sister Margaret, his wife Anne of Cleves, and his two daughters: Mary I in 1527 and Elizabeth I in 1562. Elizabeth tried to disguise the pockmarks with heavy makeup. Mary, Queen of Scots, contracted the disease as a child but had no visible scarring. 

U.S. Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln all contracted and recovered from the disease. Washington became infected with smallpox on a visit to Barbados in 1751. Jackson developed the illness after being taken prisoner by the British during the American Revolution, and though he recovered, his brother Robert did not. Lincoln contracted the disease during his presidency, possibly from his son Tad, and was quarantined shortly after giving the Gettysburg address in 1863. 

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin fell ill with smallpox at the age of seven. His face was badly scarred by the disease. He later had photographs retouched to make his pockmarks less apparent. 

So there we are, a quick look at smallpox. We are all exceptionally lucky we don’t have to deal with it nowadays, but given that there are two examples of the virus sill around and that people are generally very stupid, we could easily be facing an outbreak soon enough. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Cate Blanchett (54), Tim Roth (62), George Lucas (79), Danny Huston (61), Francesca Annis (78), Greg Davies (55), Siân Phillips (90), Martine McCutcheon (47), Robert Pattinson (37), Samantha Morton (46), Harvey Keitel (84), Zoë Wanamaker (74), Iwan Rheon (38), Mark Heap (66), Stephen Colbert (59), Rhea Seehorn (51), Rami Malek (42), Malin Akerman (45), Emilio Estevez (61), Ving Rhames (64), Gabriel Byrne (73), Jason Biggs (45), Shohreh Aghdashloo (71), Tim Blake Nelson (59), Pam Ferris (75), Holly Valance (40), Jadyn Wong (38), Bono (63), Rosario Dawson (44), Grace Gummer (37), Glenda Jackson (87), Billy Joel (74), Stephen Amell (42), Vicky McClure (40), Phyllida Law (91), and David Attenborough (97).

Dead Pool 7th May 2023

Short and sweet this week; I was holding space for the potential celebrity killing explosion at Westminster Abbey for HRH’s coronation, however the lack of body parts flying about means nobody gets to score a huge amount of points! You may have seen our representative there, ready to pounce, but all we got in the end was a yawning princelet and Katy Perry trying to park her arse. So here’s to a £100 million well spent at a time where most of us can’t afford to eat. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Actress Vicky Wright, the fiancée of comedian Bobby Davro and daughter of England footballer Billy Wright, has died. Last week, the comedian explained opened up about the “absolute agony” of watching Vicky battle the disease after he proposed to her in 2022, having been together for 12 years. Although not famous enough for our ends, Vicky, 63, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which is difficult to detect until it reaches an advanced stage. Discussing her battle, he said: “It’s extremely, extremely, extremely painful.” Taking to Twitter, Kelly Wright-Warhurst, Vicky’s daughter, penned: “Hello everyone. Some incredibly devastating news to share as my wonderful mum Vicky has sadly passed away this morning. I wanted to use this platform to let you all know, as I know how much she valued all your love and support in so many ways.” Vicky’s dad, Wolverhampton Wanderers and England footballer Billy Wright had also battled the disease, passing away in September 1994 aged 70, just months after his diagnosis. Fans have since flocked to Twitter to share tributes, with one writing: “This is incredibly sad news; I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Sending lots of love to you all.” Loose Women star Denise Welch penned: “So very sorry,” alongside three heart emojis. BBC Midlands’ Nick Owen commented: “Oh no. Shattering news. I had known Vicky for more than 40 years and loved her company. Her dad Billy gave me my first job in television. I feel terribly sad tonight. Thoughts with all the family.”  

MasterChef judge Jock Zonfrillo was secretly dealing with recurrent bowel cancer in the years before his death, it’s been reported today. The Flying Monkeys report that Zonfrillo, who was found dead by police making a welfare check at 2am on Monday in a property on Lygon St, Carlton, kept his cancer battle a secret and received treatment when MasterChef was not filming. Police said Zonfrillo’s death was not being treated as suspicious and a report will be made for the coroner. While there is no suggestion Zonfrillo died of cancer, the Flying Monkeys said that the much-loved TV chef was first treated for bowel cancer with chemotherapy and radiotherapy some years ago, before going into remission in 2016. The cancer was then reportedly detected again in May 2021, with Zonfrillo entering new rounds of chemotherapy the following month – which the outlet quotes an unnamed friend as saying he was “coping poorly” with. Zonfrillo made no mention of ever having had cancer in his 2021 memoir Long Shot. The Monkeys claim that he was receiving cancer treatment as recently as September last year, while on a sailing holiday in Italy. “I was told the reason why he hasn’t disclosed his medical condition was because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him, or treating him any different,” a source told the outlet in 2021, a quote that went unpublished until today.   

Jamie Foxx is still in hospital after a sudden medical emergency three weeks ago – with family asking for fans’ prayers to help him through. The Spider-Man: No Way Home star, 55, was rushed to hospital in Atlanta, Georgia on April 11th following a “serious medical complication” while filming Netflix film, Back In Action. While the family have chosen not to disclose what exactly happened to the star, he has remained in hospital ever since. On Monday, close friend Charles Alston posted an update on Instagram asking for prayers as the star continues to recover. “We need you back Bro,” the message read. “As I always state a true champion isn’t the one that wins, it’s the one that meets & overcomes adversity!! You’re test becomes your testimony!! We all can’t wait to receive you back home to celebrate, laugh with and applaud you!!” The message comes after Jamie’s daughter, Corinne, confirmed her dad had been taken ill and was currently seeking medical attention. “We wanted to share that, my father, Jamie Foxx, experienced a medical complication yesterday,” she wrote shortly after the incident. “Luckily, due to quick action and great care, he is already on his way to recovery. We know how beloved he is and appreciate your prayers. The family asks for privacy during this time.” It’s since been reported by RadarOnline that it was “touch and go” for the star and that he was “very lucky to be alive” following the incident. A week after being first admitted into the hospital, it was claimed doctors were “stumped” over what caused the medical emergency. However, as of last week, it was claimed that he was doing well, awake and active, and being supported by his family while doctors run tests and ensure he is safe to be discharged.

On This Day

  • 1840 – The Great Natchez Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. It is the second deadliest tornado in United States history.
  • 1915 – World War I: German submarine U-20 sinks RMS Lusitania, killing 1,198 people, including 128 Americans. Public reaction to the sinking turns many former pro-Germans in the United States against the German Empire.
  • 1946 – Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (later renamed Sony) is founded
  • 1952 – The concept of the integrated circuit, the basis for all modern computers, is first published by Geoffrey Dummer.
  • 2000 – Vladimir Putin is inaugurated as president of Russia.


Last Week’s Birthdays

Richard O’Sullivan (79), Adrianne Palicki (40), George Clooney (62), Naomi Scott (30), Pippa Haywood (62), Alan Dale (76), Henry Cavill (40), Lance Henriksen (83), John Rhys-Davies (79), Zach McGowan (43), Richard E. Grant (66), Adele (35), Marc Alaimo (81), Michael Palin (80), Will Arnett (53), Rachel Zegler (22), Pom Klementieff (37), Christina Hendricks (48), Bobby Cannavale (53), Rob Brydon (58), Sandi Toksvig (65), Ellie Kemper (43), Dwayne Johnson (51), Matt Berry (49), Kumail Nanjiani (45), David Suchet (77), Lily Allen (38), David Beckham (48), Engelbert Humperdinck (87), Jamie Dornan (41), and Joanna Lumley (77).