Yet another week passes and a handful of ‘celebrities’ depart this plane of existence. Unfortunately, no points this week… again…
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Paul Grant, 56, British actor (Return of the Jedi, Labyrinth, The Dead) and stuntman.
- Terry Norris, 92, Australian actor (Homicide, Cop Shop) and politician.
- Dafydd Hywel, 77, Welsh actor (Coming Up Roses, Off to Philadelphia in the Morning, The Crown).
- Gordon Moore, 94, American businessman, engineer (Moore’s law), and philanthropist, co-founder of Intel and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
- Nick Lloyd Webber, 43, English composer (Love, Lies and Records, Fat Friends The Musical, The Last Bus) and record producer, gastric cancer.
In Other News
Dick Van Dyke crashed his car into a gate in Malibu after it skidded in wet weather conditions, according to reports. The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang actor, 97, lost control of the car before smashing into a gate, leaving him with a bloody nose and possible concussion. It is understood that he did not need hospital treatment. The accident occurred on Wednesday morning and police officers arrived at the scene to find the star behind the wheel of his Lexus LS 500. This is not the first time Van Dyke has been involved in an incident involving a car. In 2013, the actor escaped unhurt after his car burst into flames on a motorway. Van Dyke was pulled from the vehicle, having not realised the Jaguar was on fire on a Los Angeles highway. He told the Flying Monkeys at the time: “It just started making a noise, and I thought I had a flat at first, then it started to smoke, then it burned to a crisp.” He said he escaped unscathed and “there was a fireman, a nurse and a cop just happened to be passing by. Somebody’s looking after me”. While the actor has mostly taken a step back from acting in recent years, he has continued to appear in occasional projects across film and TV. In 2018, he made a cameo in the Disney musical Mary Poppins Returns, a follow-up to the popular 1964 musical starring himself and Julie Andrews. He is set to appear in a new comedy film, Capture the Flag, about a group of elderly veterans who play a spirited game of “capture the flag” for the privilege of raising Old Glory every morning in their community.
Former tennis great Martina Navratilova says she is “cancer-free” after fearing she “would not see next Christmas”. The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, who previously had breast cancer in 2010, was diagnosed with throat and breast cancer late last year. In January, she said both cancers had been caught at an early stage. “As far as they know I’m cancer-free,” the 66-year-old said on Piers Morgan’s TalkTV show on Tuesday. “I still need to deal with the right breast, probably need to have radiation but that’s a couple of weeks and that doesn’t even count. That’s more preventative than anything else. I should be good to go. It’s 99% solvable.” Navratilova noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during November’s WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas. A subsequent biopsy revealed stage one throat cancer. During the tests, a lump was also discovered in her breast, which was later diagnosed as an unrelated cancer. “I was in a total panic for three days thinking I may not see next Christmas,” she told Morgan. “The bucket list came into my mind of all the things I wanted to do. And this may sound really shallow, but I was like, ‘OK, which kick-ass car do I really want to drive if I live like a year’?'” Navratilova said her friend and former rival Chris Evert, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in December 2021, supported her “so much” through her treatment. The pair, who dominated women’s tennis during the 1970s and 80s, received cancer treatment in the same New York clinic. “Our careers are always intertwined and then we follow each other this way,” Navratilova said. “You can’t just make it up. The parallels are unbelievable. Same place. Some of the same nurses. Chris has been just a star. She has supported me so much through this as I supported her a year ago.”
A council has apologised to a recent widower after sending him a letter telling him he was dead. South Norfolk Council told Stuart Dobson, 77, it was “sorry to hear” he had died and informed him he could get a council tax exemption. It came just one month after his wife of 54 years, Ann, had died. Replying to the letter to convince them he was alive had caused him “distress”, he said, for which the council apologised. Mr Dobson said the letter had added to his stress at a time when he was already grieving. Mr Dobson responded to the council, calling officials “ill-informed”. “I have been up there to give them a letter, I’ve hand-delivered it to the council, telling them, ‘Do I look dead to you?’ “It’s an utter shambles, they’re asking me to fill in forms when they think I’m dead, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t need this at all,” he said. In his letter to the council, Mr Dobson (deceased), wrote: “I have today received an ill-informed letter from you telling me that I have passed away. It occurs to me that only the [council] would write to a deceased person and ask them to fill in a council tax form. One doubts their sanity and rational thinking when taking such an action.” A council spokesman said: “The council has apologised to Mr Dobson for the mistake made when updating our records following the death of Mrs Dobson, and we regret that our mistake has caused Mr Dobson upset at this difficult time. “We have reviewed what happened and unfortunately this was a case of human error for which we are deeply sorry.”
On This Day
- 1934 – The United Kingdom driving test is introduced.
- 1981 – Social Democratic Party (SDP) is founded as a party.
- 1997 – Thirty-nine bodies are found in the Heaven’s Gate mass suicides.
- 1827 – Ludwig van Beethoven, German pianist and composer (b. 1770).
- 1945 – David Lloyd George, English-Welsh lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1863).
- 1973 – Noël Coward, English playwright, actor, and composer (b. 1899).
- 2005 – James Callaghan, English lieutenant and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1912)
- 2011 – Diana Wynne Jones, English author (b. 1934).
Celebrities Who’ve Survived Murder Attempts
Celebrities who have survived murder attempts range from rappers embroiled in deadly beefs to stars who were in the wrong place at the wrong time to A-listers with vicious stalkers. In some cases, the celebrities knew their attackers. In others, unknown assailants plotted to commit murder for financial gain. There are also accounts of mentally unstable individuals with celebrity fixations conducting murder attempts. While many celebrities – like John Lennon and Marvin Gaye – died from attacks, the celebrities in this list reflect those who either survived an actual attempt on their life or happened to avert one.
George Harrison: On December 30th 1999, Liverpool native Michael Abram jumped the fence at George Harrison’s Oxfordshire estate, carrying a large knife. He smashed a window and made his way inside, where Harrison and his wife, Olivia, confronted him. Abram began screaming at the ex-Beatle, who charged at him and tried to knock the knife out of his hand. Abram stabbed Harrison several times in the chest, then went after Olivia and tried to strangle her with a lamp cord. Police arrived and took Abram into custody. In court, Abram revealed he believed the Beatles were witches and he was on a mission from God to kill Harrison, whom he believed to be the Devil. The courts found Abram not guilty by reason of insanity and committed him. Harrison died less than two years later of cancer. The institution released Abram in 2002!!!
Björk: In 1996, obsessive stalker Ricardo Lopez sent a letter bomb to Icelandic pop singer Björk. Lopez, 21, had been infatuated with Björk for several years, writing a diary of over 800 pages devoted to her – which included dozens of references to suicide and murder. Upon learning she was in a relationship, Lopez reportedly snapped. He filmed over 20 hours of footage that consisted mostly of him ranting, then sent the singer a hollowed-out book with a bomb in the middle. Afterward, he shot himself on camera – while a Björk song played in the background. The police intercepted the bomb, which never reached the singer.
Gordon Ramsay: The chef and TV star Gordon Ramsay is also a crusader against illegal shark fishing. As part of a BBC documentary – Gordon’s Shark Bait – he went to Costa Rica to uncover illicit shark fin trade. A gang, which authorities believe have ties to an illegal drug network, confronted Ramsay and poured gasoline on him and his film crew. The “thugs” then held the group at gunpoint and told Ramsay to stop filming the shark fishing crews – or else they’d be shot. Reportedly, local police recommended Ramsay and his crew leave Costa Rica.
50 Cent: In 2000, an unknown assailant shot rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson – shortly before his ascent to fame – nine times outside his grandmother’s house in Queens. Jackson spent 13 days in a hospital and the next five months recovering with wounds in his hand, arm, hip, both legs, chest, and left cheek. Neither Jackson nor police ever positively identified the shooter. Initially, police suspected Darryl “Hommo” Baum – Mike Tyson’s former bodyguard – as the shooter. The theory was local drug lord “Supreme” hired Baum to kill Jackson over a drug dispute. Three weeks after the attempted murder, an unknown assailant shot and killed Baum. Allegedly, Tyson offered someone $50,000 to take care of the parties responsible for Baum’s death. In 2005, rival rappers of Murder Inc. reportedly testified against Supreme for his involvement in the attempt on Jackson’s life.
Madonna: Madonna had multiple encounters with stalker Robert Dewey Hoskins, but in 1996, he jumped the fence of her Hollywood Hills compound. Hoskins declared he would “either marry her or slash her throat.” One of her bodyguards shot him, and police took him into custody. Madonna wasn’t home at the time but testified against him later. In 2012, Dewey escaped from a mental hospital in Los Angeles – where the courts sent him after an unrelated 2011 conviction – but authorities quickly captured and returned him.
Theresa Saldana: Saldana was an on-the-rise actress who’d appeared in Raging Bull and the Beatles movie I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Arthur Richard Jackson, a 47-year-old drifter from Aberdeen, Scotland, flew across the world and illegally entered the US with a plan to find Saldana and kill her. Reportedly, he intended to join her in the afterlife – after the state executed him for her murder. In 1982, Jackson hired a private investigator to obtain Saldana’s mother’s phone number, then called her pretending to be Martin Scorsese, looking for Saldana herself. After Saldana’s mother unwittingly provided her daughter’s West Hollywood address, Jackson drove there and stabbed her 10 times with a hunting knife. Saldana survived, thanks to a deliveryman rushing to her rescue and pulling Jackson off her. She made a full recovery, and the courts committed Jackson to a mental institution, where he died in 2004. After her recovery, Saldana became a prominent advocate for victim’s rights and founded Victims for Victims. She also played herself in a TV movie about her attack.
Ryan Seacrest: In 2009, police arrested Chidi Uzomah Jr. – an ex-soldier turned stalker – when witnesses reported him for walking the halls of the E! studio. Reportedly, Uzomah was carrying a knife and looking for Ryan Seacrest – host of E! News and later American Idol. Police had apprehended him once prior for trying to get to Seacrest in Orange County and attacking one of his bodyguards. The courts sentenced 26-year-old Uzomah to two years in prison and ordered him to stay away from Seacrest for at least a decade.
Pauley Perrette: Allegedly, a 45-year-old transient named David Merck attacked NCIS actress Pauley Perrette in November 2015. According to police, Perrette was walking in her L.A. neighbourhood when Merck grabbed her by the arm and attempted to drag her away. She persuaded him to let her go, then called the police, who found Merck at a nearby 7-11. Merck – who had a preexisting criminal record – pleaded “not guilty” to felony assault charges. The courts found Merck unfit to stand trial and sent him to a mental facility. In 2018, the state facility released him.
Larry Flynt: In 1978, a sniper shot and paralysed Hustler publisher and free speech crusader Larry Flynt. At the time of the shooting, Flynt was leaving a courthouse in Georgia, where he was on trial for obscenity. The shooter, white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin, later admitted to the attack, claiming an interracial sex photo shoot in an issue of Hustler outraged him. Missouri law enforcement eventually arrested Franklin for shooting up a St. Louis synagogue. Franklin – a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic – claimed to have killed over two dozen people. The courts found him guilty and executed him in 2013. Reportedly, Flynt opposed the execution.
Bob Marley: In 1976, unknown shooters attacked Bob Marley, his wife, and his manager two days before a concert Marley had helped organise to unite opposing political factions in Jamaica. The singer sustained minor wounds and played at the concert despite the shooting. Authorities never identified the assailants. Marley died in 1981, of cancer – which conspiracy theorists believe was a successful attempt on his life.
Tupac Shakur: Shakur survived the first attempt on his life, a 1994 shooting in the lobby of a recording studio in Manhattan. Shakur believed the attack was a set-up, as opposed to a robbery since the three shooters didn’t take his Rolex. He accused rappers Notorious BIG and Puff Daddy of orchestrating the attack – which took place just before Shakur was due to receive a verdict for a sexual assault case he was facing. Later, in 1996, an unknown shooter killed Shakur in a Las Vegas drive-by. In 2011, shooter Dexter Isaac admitted to authorities former talent agent James Rosemond – AKA Jimmy Henchman – hired him to attack Shakur in 1994. He alleged no connection to the fatal shooting in 1996. Shakur’s murder still remains unsolved.
Andy Warhol: On December 3rd 1968, activist Valeria Solanas shot artist and filmmaker Andy Warhol. Reportedly, Solanas – who was the sole member of an organisation she founded called Cutting Up Men – wanted Warhol to produce her play. Earlier on the day of the shooting, security removed Solanas from the Factory after allegedly trying to get her script back. She shot Warhol and art critic Mary Amaya when she saw Warhol on the street. Warhol sustained major physical and psychological injuries from the attack. As a result, he developed an intense fear of hospitals, which subsequently factored into his 1987 death. Although psychiatrists later diagnosed Solanas as schizophrenic, she pled guilty to the attack on Warhol and served three years in prison.
Mick Jagger: In 1969, following the alleged Hell’s Angels stabbing of a man at the Altamont Free Concert, Jagger and the other Rolling Stones publicly pilloried the biker gang’s behaviour and refused to ever hire them again. The Angels responded with a plan to storm Jagger’s Long Island mansion – from the sea – and murder him. Armed, the gang allegedly got in a boat and sailed toward Jagger’s home. A storm sank the boat before they could reach the estate. The wreck didn’t injure any gang members, but they decided to call off the attack. The Angels denied culpability in the Altamont stabbing.
Jackie Chan: Jackie Chan was involved in a long-running feud with the Hong Kong Triads that had infested the local film industry and routinely shook down producers for money. Reportedly, when Chan first came to America from Hong Kong, a triad sniper shot at him on the airport tarmac. In 2012, Chan said triad men armed with machetes later surrounded him when he was out to dinner. In response to the attacks, Chan armed himself with guns and grenades and hired muscle from mainland China. Eventually, he paid them off, and they left him alone.
Joss Stone: In 2011, Junior Bradshaw and Kevin Liverpool scouted British soul singer Joss Stone’s house. Reportedly, they were armed with a sword, hammers, knives, gloves, rope, and masks with the intention to rob and behead her. Neighbours spotted their banged-up vehicle idling in her wealthy neighbourhood and called the police, who searched the car’s trunk and arrested the two men. British courts sentenced Liverpool – who organised the plan – to 10 years in prison. The courts sentenced Bradshaw, a diagnosed schizophrenic, to a psychiatric facility.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Keira Knightley (38), Jennifer Grey (63), Amy Smart (47), Martin Short (73), Diana Ross (79), Steven Tyler (75), Roisin Conaty (44), Lee Pace (44), Sarah Jessica Parker (58), Paul Michael Glaser (80), Richard O’Brien (81), Elton John (76), Jessica Chastain (46), Tig Notaro (52), Jim Parsons (50), Alyson Hannigan (49), Lara Flynn Boyle (53), Kelly LeBrock (63), Amanda Plummer (66), Joanna Page (46), Reese Witherspoon (47), William Shatner (92), Carter Wong (76), Gary Oldman (65), Timothy Dalton (77), Matthew Broderick (61), Sonequa Martin-Green (38), Jaye Davidson (55), Ruby Rose (37), Holly Hunter (65), David Thewlis (60), Freema Agyeman (44), Spike Lee (66), John de Lancie (75), and Theresa Russell (66).