Dead Pool 18th October 2020
A distinct lack of deathly news this week, maybe we’re experiencing a calm before a storm… As we are slowly nearing the end of the year, maybe this is the time to think about next years list. Personally, I keep a notebook of potentials I stumble upon throughout the year, but I usually pick a theme, this year was Star Trek actors, maybe next year will be Sitcom stars from the 80’s or Tory politicians of 2020…. Anyhow, start thinking!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Roberta McCain, 108, American political matriarch.
- Ronald Forfar, 81, English actor (Bread).
- Margaret Nolan, 76, English actress (Goldfinger, Carry On at Your Convenience, A Hard Day’s Night), model, and artist.
- Conchata Ferrell, 77, American actress (Two and a Half Men, Edward Scissorhands, Network), complications from cardiac arrest.
- Rhonda Fleming, 97, American actress (Spellbound, Serpent of the Nile, The Buster Keaton Story), aspiration pneumonia.
In Other News
The Wanted singer Tom Parker has been diagnosed with an inoperable and terminal brain tumour – just weeks before he is due to become a father for the second time. The 32-year-old boy band member announced the news to fans on Monday morning. In a shared message posted on Instagram, Parker and wife actor Kelsey Hardwick wrote: “Hey guys, you know that we’ve both been quiet on social media for a few weeks and it’s time to tell you why. “There’s no easy way to say this but I’ve sadly been diagnosed with a brain tumour and I’m already undergoing treatment.” They continued: “We decided, after a lot of thought, that rather than hiding away and trying to keep it a secret, we would do one interview where we could lay out all the details and let everyone know the facts in our own way. “We are all absolutely devastated but we are gonna fight this all the way. “We don’t want your sadness, we just want love and positivity and together we will raise awareness of this terrible disease and look for all available treatment options. “It’s gonna be a tough battle but with everyone’s love and support we are going to beat this. Tom and Kelsey” Parker said that the diagnosis came after he suffered a series of unexplained seizures. Following a number of tests, doctors broke the news he had a tumour known as a grade four glioblastoma, adding that it was “the worst case scenario”. The singer added that he has already begun radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment in an effort to prolong his life. I’m still in complete shock, it’s so much to take in,” he said. “I knew something wasn’t right, but I never expected it to be this. You never think this will happen to you.”
On This Day
- 1851 – Herman Melville‘s Moby-Dick is first published as The Whale.
- 1867 – United States takes possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million.
- 1922 – The British Broadcasting Company (later Corporation) is founded by a consortium, to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service.
- 1929 – The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overrules the Supreme Court of Canada in Edwards v. Canada when it declares that women are considered “Persons” under Canadian law.
- 1954 – Texas Instruments announces the first transistor radio.
- 1963 – Félicette, a black and white female Parisian stray cat becomes the first cat launched into space.
- 2019 – NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch take part in the first all-women spacewalk when they venture out of the International Space Station to replace a power controller.
- 1871 – Charles Babbage, English mathematician and engineer, invented the mechanical computer (b. 1791)
- 1931 – Thomas Edison, American engineer and businessman, invented the light bulb and phonograph (b. 1847)
- 2007 – Alan Coren, English journalist and author (b. 1938)
- 2012 – Sylvia Kristel, Dutch model and actress (b. 1952)
Last of the Space Animals
As you saw above, today is the anniversary of the first cat launched into space! Félicette was one of 14 female cats trained for spaceflight by the French space program. The cats ‘training’ included having electrodes implanted onto their skulls so their neurological activity could be monitored throughout the flight. Electrical impulses were applied to the brain and a leg during the flight to stimulate responses. Most of the data from the mission was of good quality, and Félicette survived the 14 minute flight, the only cat to have survived spaceflight! A second feline was launched on 24th October, but the mission resulted in a fatality. The boffins don’t like to advertise is that most animals blasted off into space don’t survive.
Sadly, Félicette was euthanised two months after the launch so that scientists could perform a necropsy to examine her brain. Of the remaining 12 cats that were trained, the fate of 11 is known. One cat’s health was deteriorating after the electrode surgery, so the scientists had them removed. The group adopted her as their mascot and gave her the name Scoubidou, as she had a scoubidou braid around her neck, a popular style at the time. The other nine cats were ‘decommissioned’ at the end of the program. France continued its biological payload research, changing to monkeys. A monkey known as Martine was launched on 7th March 1967 and Pierrette six days later. They were both successfully recovered.
France’s feline biological rocket payloads were preceded by rats and followed by monkeys. According to an article in Space.com on 8th November 2017, the participation of Félicette in the space race, “… was certainly not voluntary, but it was a huge milestone for France, which had just established the world’s third civilian space agency (after the Soviet Union and the U.S.). Félicette’s mission helped bring France into the space race.” Although Félicette’s flight was much less popular than other spaceflights at the time, probably due to photos of her with electrodes implanted on her skull and the new animal rights movement.
While some non-human animals which traveled in space were celebrated as heroes—the chimpanzee Ham was buried at the International Space Hall of Fame in New Mexico, U.S.A., and the Soviet dog Laika has a bronze monument at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre near Star City in Russia; but for more than 50 years after her mission, there was no monument for Félicette. Then, in 2017 a crowdfunding campaign was started by Matthew Serge Guy to erect a bronze statue of Félicette to commemorate her contribution to science. In April 2019, Guy announced that the statue was to be located in Eastern France at the International Space University. It is 5ft tall and depicts Félicette “perched atop Earth, gazing up toward the skies she once traveled”. Guy wrote in a Kickstarter update, “It’s crazy to think a video I put online has resulted in this. The internet’s an alright place sometimes.” Félicette has since been commemorated on postage stamps around the world.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Zac Efron (33), Jean-Claude Van Damme (60), Pam Dawber (69), Felicity Jones (37), Michael McKean (73), Mark Gatiss (54), George Wendt (72), Eminem (48), Angela Lansbury (95), Tim Robbins (62), Suzanne Somers (74), Peter Bowles (84), Gary Kemp (61), Dominic West (51), Steve Coogan (55), Lesley Joseph (75), Cliff Richard (80), Sacha Baron Cohen (49), Himesh Patel (30), Paul Simon (79), Chris Carter (64), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (31), Hugh Jackman (52), Robin Askwith (70), and Les Dennis (66).