As the ongoing viral infection is taking over the news, I’d hoped not to have to mention it here, but alas that’s nigh on impossible. All news that isn’t Coronavirus related has been binned and anything and everything is now associated with said infection. This is the first week that I have noticed a rise in notable deaths from the virus, mainly celebrities in Spain and Italy and a few in America, however, since Trump is mishandling the situation more than Boris is, I suspect a few of us will be scoring quite soon.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Eric Weissberg, 80, American folk musician (“Dueling Banjos“, The Tarriers), complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
- David Collings, 79, British actor (Scrooge, The Thirty Nine Steps, The Invisible Woman).
- John Campbell-Jones, 90, British Formula One driver.
- Albert Uderzo, 92, French comic book artist (Asterix, Oumpah-pah), heart attack.
- Mark Blum, 69, American actor (Crocodile Dundee, Mozart in the Jungle, Desperately Seeking Susan), COVID-19.
- Bob Andy, 75, Jamaican reggae singer (The Paragons, Bob and Marcia), songwriter and actor (The Mighty Quinn).
- John Callahan, 66, American actor (All My Children, Falcon Crest, Days of Our Lives), stroke.
- Matthew Faber, 47, American actor (Welcome to the Dollhouse, The Pallbearer, Natural Born Killers).
In Other News
First the coronavirus outbreak shuttered entertainment venues and events around the world. And now it is starting to claim the lives of artists, entertainers and other celebrated figures. First to succumb is actor Mark Blum, known for roles in “‘Crocodile’ Dundee” and “Desperately Seeking Susan,” who died on March 25th from complications of COVID-19. He was 69. Terrence McNally, a four-time Tony Award-winning playwright, died on March 24th at the age of 81 of complications from the coronavirus. His works included “Master Class,” “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” which later became a film with Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino. Italian actress Lucia Bosè, who starred in such films as Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Story of a Love Affair” (1950) and Juan Antonio Bardem’s “Death of a Cyclist” (1955), died on March 23rd of pneumonia after contracting COVID-19. She was 89. Chef Floyd Cardoz, winner of “Top Chef Masters” Season 3, died at the age of 59 of coronavirus complications on March 25th. I suspect this section of The Dead Pool to take over the newsletter, if I’m still here to write it…
The Newly Infected
- Boris Johnson: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he tested positive for coronavirus. In a video posted to Twitter Friday, the conservative leader said he was tested after showing mild symptoms, including a cough.
- Harvey Weinstein: The 68-year-old former film producer tested positive for the coronavirus at a state prison in New York while serving a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault, the head of the state correctional officers union said March 23rd.
- Prince Charles: the Prince of Wales and heir to the British throne tested positive for the coronavirus on March 25th. The 71-year-old is displaying mild symptoms “but otherwise remains in good health”.
- Rand Paul: The Republican of Kentucky is first United States senator to test positive for coronavirus.
- Matthew Hancock: Britain’s Health Secretary Matthew Hancock announced on March 27th he tested positive for the coronavirus.
- Alister Jack: Scottish Secretary and member of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has developed symptoms of COVID-19.
- Placido Domingo: On March 22nd, the Spanish opera singer said he had tested positive for coronavirus and had gone into self-isolation with his family.
- David Bryan: The Bon Jovi keyboardist announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 after feeling sick for a week.
On This Day
- 845 – Paris is sacked by Viking raiders, probably under Ragnar Lodbrok, who collects a huge ransom in exchange for leaving.
- 1886 – John Pemberton brews the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta.
- 1974 – Terracotta Army was discovered in Shaanxi province, China.
- 2014 – The first same-sex marriages in England and Wales are performed.
- 1891 – Georges Seurat, French painter (b. 1859)
- 1972 – J. Arthur Rank, English businessman, founded Rank Organisation (b. 1888)
- 1982 – Carl Orff, German composer and educator (b. 1895)
John Spenkelink was a convicted American murderer. He was executed in 1979, the first convicted criminal to be executed in Florida after capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Spenkelink was a drifter who was convicted in California for armed robbery and had been sentenced to five years-to-life. He had just escaped from the Slack Canyon Conservation Camp when he shot and killed a small-time criminal named Joseph Szymankiewicz in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1973. He claimed that he acted in self-defence —that Szymankiewicz had stolen his money, forced him to play Russian roulette, and sexually assaulted him. However, evidence and witness testimony from a co-defendant indicated that Spenkelink left their shared motel room, returned with a gun, and shot Szymankiewicz in the back. He turned down a plea bargain to second-degree murder that would have resulted in a life sentence. In 1976 he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
Spenkelink’s case became a national cause célèbre, encompassing both the broader debate over the morality of the death penalty and the narrower question of whether the punishment fitted Spenkelink’s crime. His cause was taken up by former Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, actor Alan Alda, and singer Joan Baez, among many others. Also at issue was the assertion that capital punishment discriminated against the poor and underprivileged — Spenkelink often signed his prison correspondence with the epigram, “capital punishment means those without capital get the punishment.”
Prior to his execution Spenkelink split a flask of Jack Daniel’s whiskey with his prison superintendent. The execution was carried out on May 25th, 1979, on “Old Sparky”, the Florida State Prison electric chair. That morning, Doug Tracht, a popular Jacksonville disc jockey, aired a recording of sizzling bacon on his radio program and dedicated it to Spenkelink.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ed Skrein (36), Marina Sirtis (64), Lucy Lawless (51), Brendan Gleeson (64), Christopher Lambert (62), Elle Macpherson (55), Eric Idle (76), Julia Stiles (38), Vince Vaughn (49), Orla Brady (51), Nick Frost (47), Lady Gaga (33), Dianne Wiest (71), Chris Barrie (59), Quentin Tarantino (56), Nathan Fillion (48), Julian Glover (84), Fergie (44), Mariah Carey (49), Jessie J (31), Keira Knightley (35), Jennifer Grey (60), James Caan (80), Martin Short (70), Diana Ross (76), Steven Tyler (72), Lee Pace (41), Sarah Jessica Parker (55), Elton John (73), Paul Michael Glaser (77), Richard O’Brien (78), Jessica Chastain (43), Alyson Hannigan (46), Lara Flynn Boyle (50), Jim Parsons (47), Kelly LeBrock (60), Mary Berry (85), Amanda Plummer (63), and Joanna Page (42).