With the sad passing of Olivia Newton-John, I can award 77 points to Neil and 177 points to Iwan who had her listed as his Woman. Well done both of you but especially to Iwan as he’s catapulted himself into third place on the league table! And a fun fact from Nickie; as of 8 years ago – when Lauren Bacall died – everyone listed in the spoken section of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ is now dead.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Carlo Bonomi, 85, Italian voice actor (Pingu, La Linea) and clown.
- Roger E. Mosley, 83, American actor (Magnum, P.I., Leadbelly, Terminal Island), injuries sustained in a traffic collision.
- Lamont Dozier, 81, American songwriter (“You Can’t Hurry Love“, “Reach Out I’ll Be There“), record producer and singer.
- Darryl Hunt, 72, English musician (The Pogues).
- Dame Olivia Newton-John, 73, British-Australian singer (“I Honestly Love You“, “Physical“) and actress (Grease), breast cancer.
- Raymond Briggs, 88, British children’s writer and illustrator (Father Christmas, The Snowman, Fungus the Bogeyman), pneumonia.
- Sir Ralph Halpern, 83, British fashion industry executive, founder of Topshop.
- Anne Heche, 53, American actress (Another World, Volcano, Donnie Brasco), injuries sustained in a traffic collision.
- Denise Dowse, 64, American actress (Beverly Hills, 90210, The Guardian, Coach Carter), complications from meningitis.
- Robyn Griggs, 49, American actress (One Life to Live, Another World, Zombiegeddon), cervical cancer.
In Other News
Sir Salman Rushdie’s agent has confirmed that he’s been taken off the ventilator and is talking as the man accused of stabbing him pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of attempted murder and assault. Andrew Wylie said that the author, 75, may lose one eye after the attack at an event in New York state. Mr Rushdie went into hiding with police protection in the UK in 1988 after Iran’s top leader called for his murder over his novel, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims deemed blasphemous. Police detained a suspect named as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey. New York State Police said the suspect ran onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie and an interviewer at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state. Mr Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and in the abdomen, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” his agent said. No motive or charges have yet been confirmed by police, who are in the process of obtaining search warrants to examine a backpack and electronic devices found at the centre. Police told a news conference that staff and audience members had pinned the attacker to the ground where he was arrested. A doctor in the audience gave Mr Rushdie first aid. The interviewer who was with Mr Rushdie, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury and was taken to a local hospital. Mr Reese is the co-founder of a non-profit organisation that provides sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of persecution. Linda Abrams, an onlooker from the city of Buffalo, told The Flying Monkeys that the assailant kept trying to attack Mr Rushdie after he was restrained. “It took like five men to pull him away and he was still stabbing,” Ms Abrams said. “He was just furious, furious. Like intensely strong and just fast.” Indian-born novelist Mr Rushdie catapulted to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone. But his fourth book, published in 1988 – The Satanic Verses – forced him into hiding for nearly 10 years. The surrealist, post-modern novel sparked outrage among some Muslims, who considered its content to be blasphemous and was banned in some countries. Several people were killed in anti-Rushdie riots in India and in Iran the British embassy in the capital, Tehran, was stoned. In 1991 a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death, while a few months later, an Italian translator was also stabbed and the book’s Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard, was shot – but both survived. A year after the book’s release, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for Mr Rushdie’s execution. He offered a $3m reward in a fatwa – a legal decree issued by an Islamic religious leader. The bounty over Mr Rushdie’s head remains active, and although Iran’s government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, a quasi-official Iranian religious foundation added a further $500,000 to the reward in 2012. There has been no reaction from the Iranian government to Mr Rushdie’s stabbing. Iranian media were describing Mr Rushdie as an apostate – someone who has abandoned or denied his faith – in their coverage. Rushdie, a British-American citizen – who was born to non-practising Muslims and is an atheist himself – has become a vocal advocate for freedom of expression, defending his work on several occasions. Rushdie has faced death threats for more than 30 years since the publication of The Satanic Verses. Mr Rushdie said the main thrust of his novel was to examine the immigrant experience, but some Muslims were offended by portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad and the questioning of the nature of the revelation of the Quran as the word of God. The Satanic Verses was banned first in the author’s country of birth, India, and then several other countries before Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued his infamous fatwa. The fatwa called for the killing of anyone involved in the publication of the book and offered rewards to those who took part in the murders. Surprised by the widespread nature of the protests, Salman Rushdie apologised to Muslims but went into hiding. When Mr Rushdie was knighted in 2007 by the Queen, it sparked protests in Iran and Pakistan, where one cabinet minister said the honour “justifies suicide attacks”. Several literary events attended by Mr Rushdie have been subject to threats and boycotts – but he continues to write. His next novel, Victory City, is due to be published in February 2023. Fellow authors such as JK Rowling and Stephen King have written messages of support. Booker-prize winning author, Ian McEwan, called it an “appalling attack” that “represents an assault on freedom of thought and speech. Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world. He is a fiery and generous spirit, a man of immense talent and courage and he will not be deterred,” he added. Writer Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to flee her home in Bangladesh after a court said her novel Lajja offended Muslim’s religious faith, said she now feared for her own safety in the wake of Mr Rushdie’s attack.
JK Rowling has told fans that police are involved after a tweet about Salman Rushdie prompted a death threat on Twitter. The not so controversial Harry Potter author had expressed sympathy for Rushdie after he was stabbed onstage the other day at a literary event in New York. On Saturday, it was reported that Rushdie was on a ventilator, having been rushed to hospital after the attack. Following the attack, Rowling tweeted: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.” Shortly after posting the message, Rowling shared the image of a reply she had received which read: “Don’t worry you are next.” The author initially tagged in Twitter’s support account, writing: “Any chance of some support?” Later, she gave fans an update and thanked them, writing: “To all sending supportive messages: thank you. “Police are involved (were already involved on other threats).” Rowling is one of several authors to have reacted following the shocking attack on Rushdie this week. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Nigella Lawson are also among the voices to have expressed shock and send messages of support to the Midnight’s Children author.
June Spencer, the last original cast member of The Archers, has retired from the BBC Radio 4 drama aged 103. The actress has played matriarch Peggy Woolley (formerly Archer) since 1951. Her last appearance was aired during the omnibus edition on Sunday, when she discussed getting a stained glass window commissioned of her two great-grandchildren. In a statement, Spencer said it was “high time” she retired from the show. Peggy was often viewed as a traditionalist, conservative character in the long-running drama charting the ups and downs of life in fictional Ambridge. Spencer reportedly recorded recent episodes from a custom studio at her Surrey home, to save her commuting to the show’s Birmingham base. “In 1950 I helped to plant an acorn. It took root and in January 1951 it was planted out and called The Archers,” Spencer recalled. “Over the years it has thrived and become a splendid great tree with many branches. But now this old branch, known as Peggy, has become weak and unsafe so I decided it was high time she ‘boughed’ out, so I have duly lopped her.” Among Peggy’s many fans was the Duchess of Cornwall, who last year invited Spencer and her co-stars to Clarence House for a reception marking the show’s 70th anniversary. She called Peggy “a true national treasure who has been part of my life, and millions of others, for as long as I can remember”. Although Peggy has not yet been written out of the show, Spencer has her own ideas on how best to manage her character’s exit. She told the Flying Monkeys: “The simplest thing is if she a fall or something and goes into The Laurels [the fictional care home in Ambridge]. She can languish for years there.” Jeremy Howe, editor of The Archers, said: “I think working with June Spencer has been one of the greatest privileges of my many decades in drama. Her Peggy is one of the great creations of broadcasting – utterly charming, utterly ruthless, sharp as a knife and witty in spades. To think that June has commanded the airwaves over an Archers career of over 70 years beggars belief.” Sonny Ormonde, who plays Lilian Bellamy, Peggy’s daughter in the soap, said: “I am truly devastated I won’t be having any more scenes with her. Not only will I miss her as a work colleague but I will miss her as a good friend in the studio – I will miss her presence.” In the mid-1950s, Spencer took a break from playing Peggy and the role was taken over by Thelma Rogers. Spencer returned to the role in the early 1960s, when Rogers departed. Spencer has been made both an OBE and CBE and in June 2010 she received the Freedom of the City of London.
On This Day
- 1893 – France becomes the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.
- 1936 – Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last known public execution in the United States.
- 1994 – Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as “Carlos the Jackal“, is captured
- 2021 – A magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes southwestern Haiti, killing at least 2,248 people and causing a humanitarian crisis.
- 1951 – William Randolph Hearst, American publisher and politician, founded the Hearst Corporation (b. 1863)
- 1988 – Enzo Ferrari, Italian race car driver and businessman, founded Ferrari (b. 1898)
- 2006 – Bruno Kirby, American actor (b. 1949)
- 2018 – Jill Janus, American singer (b. 1975)
Rainey Bethea was the last person publicly executed in the United States. Bethea, who confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old woman named Lischia Edwards, was convicted of her rape and publicly hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky. Mistakes in performing the hanging, and the surrounding media circus, contributed to the end of public executions in the United States.
Little is known about Bethea’s life before he arrived in Owensboro in 1933. Born around 1909 in Roanoke, Virginia, Bethea was an African-American man orphaned after the death of his mother in 1919 and his father in 1926.
Bethea’s first run-in with the law happened in 1935, when he was charged with breach of the peace and then fined $20. In April of the same year, he was caught stealing two purses from the Vogue Beauty Shop. Since the value of the purses exceeded $25, Bethea was convicted of a felony, grand larceny, and consequently sentenced to one year in the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville.
Upon returning to Owensboro upon release, Bethea continued to work as a labourer and earned about seven dollars per week. Less than a month later, he was arrested again for house breaking. On January 6th, 1936, the court amended this charge to being drunk and disorderly in public and imposed a $100 fine (equivalent to $2000 today). Because he could not afford to pay, he was incarcerated in the Daviess County Jail.
Two months after his release, in the early morning of June 7th, 1936, Bethea entered the home of Lischia Edwards on East Fifth Street by climbing onto the roof of an outbuilding next door. From there, he jumped onto the roof of the servant’s quarters of Emmett Wells’ house, and then walked down a wooden walkway. He climbed over the kitchen roof to Edwards’ bedroom window.
After removing a screen from her window, he entered the room, waking her. Bethea then choked Edwards and violently raped her. After she was unconscious, he searched for valuables and stole several of her rings. In the process, he removed his own black celluloid prison ring, and failed to later retrieve it. He left the bedroom and hid the stolen jewels in a barn not far from the house.
The crime was discovered late that morning after the Smith family, who lived downstairs, noticed they had not heard Edwards stirring in her room. They feared she might have been ill and knocked on the door of her room, attempting to rouse her. They found the door locked with a key still inside the lock from the inside, which prevented another key from being placed in the lock from the outside. They contacted a neighbour, Robert Richardson, hoping he could help, and he managed to knock the key free, but another skeleton key would not unlock the door. Smith then got a ladder. He climbed into the room through the transom over the door and discovered that Edwards was dead.
The Smiths alerted Dr. George Barr while he was attending a service at the local Methodist Church. Dr. Barr realised there was little he could do and summoned the local coroner, Delbert Glenn, who attended the same church. The Smiths also called the Owensboro police. Officers found the room was otherwise tidy, but there were muddy footprints everywhere. Coroner Glenn also found Bethea’s celluloid prison ring.
By late Sunday afternoon, the police already suspected Rainey Bethea after several residents of Owensboro stated that they had previously seen Bethea wearing the ring. Since Bethea had a criminal record, the police could use the then-new identification technique of fingerprints to establish that Bethea had recently touched items inside the bedroom. Police searched for Bethea over the next four days.
On the Wednesday following the discovery of the murder, Burt “Red” Figgins was working on the bank of the Ohio River, when he observed Bethea lying under some bushes. Figgins asked Bethea what he was doing, and Bethea responded he was “cooling off.” Figgins then reported this sighting to his supervisor, Will Faith, and asked him to call the police. By the time Faith had returned to the spot on the river bank, Bethea had moved to the nearby Koll’s Grocery. Faith followed him and then found a policeman in the drugstore, but when they searched for Bethea, he again eluded capture.
Later that afternoon, Bethea was again spotted. This time, he was cornered on the river bank after he tried to board a barge. When police officers questioned him, he denied that he was Bethea, claiming his name was James Smith. The police played along with the fabricated name, fearing a mob would develop if residents were to learn that they had captured Bethea. After his arrest, Bethea was identified by a scar on the left side of his head. Judge Forrest A. Roby of the Daviess Circuit Court ordered the sheriff to transport Bethea to the Jefferson County Jail in Louisville. While being transferred, Bethea made his first confession, admitting that he had raped Edwards and strangled her to death. Bethea also lamented the fact that he had made a mistake by leaving his ring at the crime scene, stating that he had removed the ring in order to try on Edwards’s rings.
On the night before the trial, Bethea announced to his lawyers that he wanted to plead guilty, doing so the next day at the start of the trial. The prosecutor still presented the state’s case to the jury in spite of the guilty plea, requesting a death penalty for Bethea.
After a closing statement by the prosecutor, the judge instructed the jury that since Bethea had pleaded guilty, they must “…fix his punishment, at confinement in the penitentiary for not less than ten years nor more than twenty years, or at death.” After only four and a half minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with a sentence of death by hanging. Bethea was then quickly removed from the courthouse and returned to the Jefferson County Jail. In all, Bethea’s trial lasted for three hours.
While the crime was infamous locally, it came to nationwide attention because the sheriff of Daviess County was a woman. Florence Shoemaker Thompson had become sheriff on April 13, 1936, after her husband, sheriff Everett Thompson, unexpectedly died of pneumonia on April 10th. Florence became sheriff through widow’s succession, and as sheriff of the county, she was tasked with hanging Bethea.
Arthur L. Hash, a former Louisville police officer, offered his services free of charge to perform the execution. Thompson accepted this offer. He asked that she not make his name public. Hash arrived at the site intoxicated wearing a white suit and a white Panama hat. At this time, no one but he and Thompson knew that he would pull the trigger.
On August 6th, the Governor of Kentucky, Albert Chandler, signed Bethea’s execution warrant and set the execution for sunrise on August 14th. Thompson requested the governor to issue a revised death warrant because the original warrant specified that the hanging would take place in the courthouse yard where the county had recently planted, at significant cost, new shrubs and flowers. Chandler was out-of-state, so Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky Keen Johnson, as acting governor, signed a second death warrant moving the location of the hanging from the courthouse yard to an empty lot near the county garage.
Rainey Bethea’s last meal consisted of fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, cornbread, lemon pie, and ice cream.
Bethea left the Daviess County Jail and walked with two deputies to the scaffold. Within two minutes, he was at the base of the scaffold. Removing his shoes, he put on a new pair of socks. He ascended the steps and stood on the large X as instructed by the hangman Phil Hanna. After Bethea made his final confession to Father Lammers of the Cathedral of the Assumption, officers placed a black hood over his head and fastened three large straps around his ankles, thighs, arms, and chest.
Hanna placed the noose around Bethea’s neck, adjusted it, and then signalled to Hash to pull the trigger. Instead, Hash, who was drunk, did nothing. Hanna shouted at Hash, “Do it!” A deputy then leaned onto the trigger, which sprang the trap door. Bethea fell 8 feet, and his neck was instantly broken. Afterward, two doctors confirmed he was dead.
Bethea wanted his body to be sent to his sister in South Carolina so that she could arrange for him to be interred next to his father, but against these wishes, he was buried in a pauper’s grave at the Rosehill Elmwood Cemetery in Owensboro.
It was estimated that a crowd of about 20,000 people gathered to watch the execution. Afterwards, Hanna complained that Hash should not have been allowed to perform the execution in his drunken condition. Hanna further said it was the worst display he experienced in the 70 hangings he had supervised.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Steve Martin (77), Mila Kunis (39), Halle Berry (56), Joseph Marcell (74), Sebastian Stan (40), Cara Delevingne (30), Jim Beaver (72), Bruce Greenwood (66), George Hamilton (83), Chris Hemsworth (39), Anna Gunn (54), Ian McDiarmid (78), Hulk Hogan (69), Antonio Banderas (62), Rosanna Arquette (63), Bill Skarsgård (32), Ashley Johnson (39), Rhona Mitra (46), Sam Elliott (78), Gillian Anderson (54), Anna Kendrick (37), Eric Bana (54), Melanie Griffith (65), Dan Levy (39), Audrey Tautou (46), Dustin Hoffman (85), Katie Leung (35), and Connie Stevens (84).