Dead Pool 24th April 2016
Yet another brutal week, 2016 is seemingly turning out to be a celebrity cull-fest, or is it? Read the article below. So, no points this week, unsurprisingly really as nobody should have listed Prince or Victoria Wood, both were taken away from us far too early. Lots to read today, so lets get on with it!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Morag Siller, 46, British actress (Emmerdale, Memphis Belle, Casualty), breast cancer.
- Rod Daniel, 73, American film director (Teen Wolf, K-9, WKRP in Cincinnati).
- Kit West, 79, British special effects artist (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Dragonheart, Enemy at the Gates), Oscar winner (1982).
- Doris Roberts, 90, American actress (Everybody Loves Raymond, Remington Steele, Christmas Vacation).
- Chyna, 46, American professional wrestler (WWF) and actress (1 Night in China, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Cougar Club).
- Scott Nimerfro, 54, American writer and producer (Hannibal, Once Upon a Time, X-Men), cancer.
- Guy Hamilton, 93, French-born British film director (James Bond franchise, Battle of Britain, Evil Under the Sun).
- Victoria Wood, 62, British comedian and actress (New Faces, Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Dinnerladies), cancer.
- Prince, 57, American musician (“Purple Rain“, “Little Red Corvette“) and actor, Oscar (1984) and Grammy winner (1984, 1986, 2004, 2007).
In Other News
Fidel Castro has made what is likely to be his final speech to Cuba’s Congress, telling the assembled politicians that he would die soon but that the revolution’s ideals would live on. The 89-year-old spoke after his brother Raul, 84, was re-elected as head of the Communist party – a position the younger Castro has said he will hold until retiring in 2018. And Fidel Castro said the time was approaching for a younger generation to take over. His declaration appeared to be less of an announcement that he was dying – he has been suffering from intestinal problems since the early 2000s – than a statement of obvious fact. “I’ll be 90 years old soon,” he said. “Soon I’ll be like all the others.” All we can say at Dead Pool Towers is HURRY UP!!
The last surviving chimpanzee from the PG Tips adverts has died aged 48. Twycross Zoo said that Choppers, the remaining character from the “tea chimps”, was put down by staff after she began to display signs of heart and liver failure. Known for her performances as Ada in the PG Tips commercials, which ran from the 1960s though until 1980, Choppers became the last surviving member of the troop after her cohabitant at the zoo, Louis, died in 2014. The chimpanzees also appeared in a number of children’s shows, including Tiswas and Blue Peter. They were often dressed up in clothes and filmed acting out messy tea parties, with lip-syncing voice-overs recorded by the likes of actor Peter Sellers and comedian Bob Monkhouse. While the commercials proved popular with TV audiences, Twycross Zoo ended its advertising agreement in the 1980s over concerns of animal cruelty. Animal experts at the zoo later admitted that the use of the apes was wrong, but chimpanzees from abroad continued to appear in tea adverts up until 2003. Choppers was taken in by Twycross Zoo, Leicestershire, after being brought to Britain by a couple who had rescued her from poaches in Liberia. Although she spent her twilight years in a shared enclosure with other chimps, she was known to prefer solitude, often shunning other apes in favour of human company. Choppers made her final TV performance in January last year, when she featured in a Channel 5 documentary looking back on the “tea chimps” and their lives in commercials.
Paul Gascoigne has insisted he is back to his “best” after suffering another relapse in his battle with alcoholism that saw him pictured with a cut and bloodied face. The former England footballer, who has had a drink problem for more than 20 years, claimed to have suffered a “two-day blip” in his ongoing struggle. The 48-year-old was last month photographed clutching a bottle of gin and being escorted by a police officer in his home town of Poole, Dorset. And more pictures later emerged of the ex-Tottenham player with a bloodied face, showing cuts and bruising to his nose, lip and forehead. Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Wednesday, Gascoigne said that he was doing “all right” and had been clean for 11 months. Speaking openly to show presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, Gascoigne was smartly dressed, with Morgan telling him: “You look good, mate.” Shrugging off his recent relapse as nothing more than a “blip”, the 48-year-old said he had been sober for months and was “back to my best”. However, he admitted that he only realised the seriousness of his recent relapse after seeing stories in the newspapers. Asked by Morgan if he felt it was right for people to compare him to George Best – the footballer who died in November 2005 after suffering from alcoholism for most of his adult life – Gascoigne said: “He’s passed away, I’m not, I’m still here.
Glenn Close has pulled out of a performance of Sunset Boulevard over ill health. Close, 69 – who plays Norma Desmond in the West End musical – was replaced by Ria Jones for the performance. The news was announced on Twitter by the English National Opera just hours before the show was due to start at the London Coliseum. Close returned to the role of Desmond earlier this month, marking 20 years since she first played the character. Speaking about the role she said: “She is one of the great parts ever written for a woman, it is infinite in the possibility of exploration and I feel totally new in this role, I feel like I’ve never done it before except I’m wearing these old clothes.” No news on what was actually wrong with Close though…
And finally, in a slight over-reaction, a furious gran has been spared jail for attacking her husband of 50 years with a meat hammer after catching him watching pornography. Lynda Holmes, 70, repeatedly bashed 78-year-old Gordon Holmes over the head at their Lancashire home after she thought he was trying to destroy the material. Burnley Crown Court heard how Mr Holmes ran out into the street bleeding and told neighbours his wife had gone ‘mad’. When police asked Mrs Holmes what happened she said: “I caught him with porn. He tried to get rid of it. I’ve seen red and attacked him. I wanted to kill him. “He hasn’t touched me for over 10 years and now he’s watching porn. How dare he? How do I go about getting 10 years of my life back?” Mr Holmes told police that he feels ‘partly responsible because of his selfishness’ by playing in a band, playing golf and ‘spending considerable time away from home and not supporting his wife’. Grandmother-of-three Mrs Holmes pleaded guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm at the couple’s home on Hornby Street in Oswaldtwistle. She was given a 10 month jail sentence suspended for 18 months.
On This Day
- 1184 BC – Traditional date of the fall of Troy.
- 1918 – First tank-to-tank combat, at Villers-Bretonneux, France, when three British Mark IVs meet three German A7Vs.
- 1923 – In Vienna, the paper Das Ich und das Es (The Ego and the Id) by Sigmund Freud is published, which outlines Freud’s theories of the id, ego, and super-ego.
- 1953 – Winston Churchill is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
- 1957 – The BBC first broadcast The Sky at Night presented by Patrick Moore
- 1967 – Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov dies in Soyuz 1 when its parachute fails to open. He is the first human to die during a space mission.
- 1990 – STS-31: The Hubble Space Telescope is launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery.
- 1731 – Daniel Defoe, English journalist and spy (b. 1660)
- 1974 – Bud Abbott, American comedian and producer (b. 1895)
- 1986 – Wallis Simpson, American wife of Edward VIII (b. 1896)
- 2004 – Estée Lauder, American businesswoman, co-founded Estée Lauder Companies (b. 1906)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Sean Bean (57), Jennifer Garner (44), Rooney Mara (31), Victoria Beckham (42), Conan O’Brien (54), Andy Serkis (52), George Takei (79), Ryan O’Neal (75), Jessica Lange (67), Carmen Electra (44), Iggy Pop (69), The Queen (90), Andre MacDowell (58), James McAvoy (37), Charles Grodin (81), Tony Danza (65), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (50), Jack Nicholson (79), Glen Campbell (80), John Waters (70), Lee Majors (70) and Michael Moore (62).
Why are so many celebrities dying in 2016?
It certainly seems the case. The death of the musician Prince, at the age of 57, just a day after Victoria Wood died from cancer, aged 62, has shocked their millions of fans. But it also appears to prove that 2016 is cursed in some way. The two entertainers are the latest in a long line of celebrities to die in 2016, following Ronnie Corbett, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Sir Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, David Gest, Garry Shandling, Johan Cruyff among others.
But is it true? Are more celebrities dying than normal?
Theory 1: More people are dying
This would seem highly unlikely, unless there was a flu epidemic or a particularly harsh winter, which often causes spikes in mortality rates. According to the Office for National Statistics, which measures all the deaths registered in England and Wales on a weekly basis, 156,041 people have died between the start of this year up until the week ending April 8th. This is indeed slightly higher – just over 3 per cent – than the average over the last five years, which is 151,801. But a spokesman for the ONS says: “This is within the bounds of normal variance.”
Indeed, Wikipedia lists all the deaths of people who merit a Wiki entry. These people include celebrities, as well as far less famous people, such as academics and clergymen. Between January 1st and April 21st this year, there have been 2,109 deaths listed. Last year in the same period there were, in fact, more: 2,202 – despite there being being one fewer days because 2015 was not a leap year.
Theory 2: Celebrities are cursed
This might be possible, bearing in mind that some of the people who have died were counter culture figures of the 1960s and 1970s, who epitomised the sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle of that era: David Bowie, who supposedly spent a year surviving on nothing more than cocaine, milk and red peppers; Howard Marks, the drugs dealer; Keith Emerson, one of the founding members of progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer; and Paul Kantner, the co-founder of Jefferson Airplane and prolific user of LSD. Andrew Brown, the Telegraph obituaries editor, says: “It’s possible there are more pop stars coming into their 60s and 70s. Even if they corrected their lifestyles in later life, years of hard living might have made them more vulnerable to death now.” There was even an Australian academic study in 2014, which looked at 13,000 different rock and pop stars, and found that on average they die 25 years younger than average.
Theory 3: There’s been a strange statistical blip
It is dubious there has been a glut of celebrity deaths, it’s a couple of strangely busy weeks – Bowie died the same week as Alan Rickman; Gary Shandling and Johan Cruyff both died on March 24th; Ronnie Corbett died on the same day as Dame Zaha Hadid a week later – has skewed our perception. It should even itself out later this year.
Theory 4: The bar for ‘celebrity’ has been lowered
This is possible. David Gest famous for being the fourth husband of Liza Minelli and a contestant on I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here, merited a 1,120-word obituary in the Telegraph. Though this newspaper’s obituary page has always revelled in celebrating quirky lives, it’s fair to say he would not have appeared a decade or so ago. Jade Goody, who died from cervical cancer in 2009 at the age of 27 – after forging a remarkable career as the archetypal modern reality television star – did have a Telegraph obituary, but it was decided by the editor at the time not to run it in the newspaper. But Gest is about the only one of 2016’s celebrity deaths to fit this category.
Theory 5: There are just more celebrities per head of population
The pop music boom of the 1960s and the arrival of television in people’s sitting rooms from the mid-50s onwards has increased massively the pool of household names. In the era of just three TV channels the likes of unassuming, bank-manager lookalike Cliff Michelmore became woven into families’ weekly lives. The Paul Daniels magic show regularly attracted viewing figures of 15 million; the Two Ronnies hit 18 million viewers in 1980 – giving these light entertainment stars a recognition factor that would be impossible in the period before television and celebrity magazines. It would also be far more difficult to replicate in today’s era of countless terrestrial channels, Netflix and iPlayer and YouTube, which has spawned thousands of “celebrities” but few genuine household names, known and loved by two or even three generations in the way that Victoria Wood, Prince or Ronnie Corbett were. BBC Radio 4’s excellent More or Less programme, which looks at statistics behind the headlines, examined the theory that more celebrities had died this year than normal. Nick Serpell, BBC’s obituary editor, calculated that in the period January to March the corporation had run 24 obituaries on its radio stations and online, double the figure for the same period in 2015. There had been 5 in 2012, 8, in 2013 and 11 in 2014. Mr Serpell told the programme: “All these people, and the rise and growth of celebrity if you like, are reaching that period in their seventies and eighties where they are going to start to die and I think that is what’s causing this.”
Theory 6: Social media amplifies the deaths
This is a popular theory. In the old days, a celebrity death was announced on the radio, or in the obituary section. We digested the news in private. Now, within seconds of the news breaking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter is deluged with #RIP and other hashtags as we try to out-bid each other in our public statements of grief. Also, we are now more aware of the demise of celebrities with whom we have no affinity, be they a footballer, an American stand up or British television presenter. It is possible, as a result, that we now have a greater appetite for reading about the deaths of famous people. Facebook, in particular, seems to particularly encourage users to post clips or quotes of their favourite stars – a chance to wallow in a bit of childhood nostalgia. In some ways, we have all become citizen obituary writers.
So, what’s the reason for all the deaths?
The theory that there are just more celebrities – per 1,000 head of population – combined with the fact that many had a terribly unhealthy lifestyle is the most compelling reason why so many have died in recent months. This will be of no comfort to their millions of fans.
The Last Word
Go on, get out – last words are for fools who haven’t said enough. – To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity. – Karl Marx, revolutionary, d. 1883
Next week peeps!