As Prince Philip dies just two months shy of receiving a telegram from his wife; for us he instigates a points avalanche! Some of you scored 51 points, but most of you had him down as a Cert, so 151 points. I’ll not list you all, but well done everyone! Commiserations to Martin, myself and Sarai as the only ones neglecting to put the lizard overseer on our lists this year. Interestingly, the old duke scores a grand total of 2930 points. In comparison, Maggie Thatcher scored 1882 points, Nelson Mandela 1315 points, and Bruce Forsyth 2486 points, so the old fella has punched out at the top. I suspect the only person to beat his score could be The Queen herself!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Paul Ritter, 54, English actor (Friday Night Dinner, Chernobyl, No Offence), brain cancer.
- James Hampton, 84, American actor (F Troop, The Longest Yard, Teen Wolf) and director, complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 99, Greek-born British royal, consort of the British monarch (since 1952).
- DMX, 50, American rapper and actor.
- Nikki Grahame, 38, English television personality (Big Brother, Princess Nikki, Big Brother Canada), anorexia nervosa.
In Other News
Tracey Emin has declared she’s passed a “big milestone” in her battle with bladder cancer as her last scans gave her the “all clear”. She went public with her health battle back in October, revealing she’d undergone treatment and the disease was in remission. The artist, 57, has now opened up about her condition in a new interview on BBC Newsnight, explaining her last three-monthly scan last week showed she was “all clear”. She added: “I’m not painting because I’m using my willpower to stay alive. That’s what I’m doing. I never realised how much I wanted to live until I thought I was going to die.” Tracey – famed for her messy bed art installation – also revealed she’s undergone life-saving surgeries in a bid to beat the cancer including a full hysterectomy. She also had her bladder and urethra, lymph nodes, part of her vagina and intestine removed. In the Newsnight interview, she explained she now has a urostomy bag to take the place of the bladder and urinary system, calling it a “major disability”. She had been undergoing scans every three months to keep a check on the cancer, but after being given the all clear she will now only have to be checked once a year.
Sarah Harding has revealed her joy at being told her brain and lung tumours had reduced in size following her cancer treatment at the back end of last year. The Girls Aloud singer was first diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in the year but received the devastating news that it had quickly spread to other parts of her body.The 39-year-old has since been undergoing chemotherapy treatment and ahead of this week’s release of her debut autobiography called Hear Me Out, it has been revealed that some of the tumours have reduced in size. She shared “MRI scans at the end of December revealed that the tumours in my brain and in my lung have shrunk a bit with the treatment.” While she admitted that she didn’t know “exactly what this means” she was happy to announce that it’s moving in the right direction. She continued: “Right now, every little victory feels momentous”.
Max George has revealed his pal Tom Parker has “shocked” doctors with how well he’ been response to brain cancer treatment. The Wanted star, 32, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and has been undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a bid to prolong his life. Speaking on the Dangerous Dinners podcast, Max, also 32, gave the good news that the cancer has been “suppressed”. He explained: “Tom’s got something called glioblastoma, which is quite an aggressive form of brain tumour, but he’s had his first bout of chemo and radio therapy, which he has responded to unbelievably. “Doctors were actually shocked by how well he’s responded – all of his tumours have been suppressed, so he’s in the best hands.” Max went on to insist dad-of-two Tom is being his usual cheerful self and just wants to keep his life as normal as possible. He added: “In himself, Tom… Nothing puts Tom down, nothing. When you talk to him it’s like everything’s normal, and he just wants that – he wants normality. “He’s just had his second child, so he’s got so much to focus on – he’s doing great, he’s doing really well.”
On This Day
- 1951 – The Stone of Scone, the stone upon which Scottish monarchs were traditionally crowned, is found on the site of the altar of Arbroath Abbey. It had been taken by Scottish nationalist students from its place in Westminster Abbey.
- 1965 – The Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965: Fifty-one tornadoes hit in six Midwestern states, killing 256 people.
- 1976 – The Apple I is created.
- 1240 – Llywelyn the Great, Welsh prince (b. 1172).
- 1890 – Joseph Merrick, English man with severe deformities, The Elephant Man (b. 1862).
- 1985 – John Gilroy, English artist and illustrator (b. 1898).
- 2001 – Harry Secombe, Welsh-English actor (b. 1921).
- 2007 – Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1922).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tricia Helfer (47), Matt Ryan (40), Jeremy Clarkson (61), Charlie Hunnam (41), Daisy Ridley (29), Haley Joel Osment (33), David Harbour (46), Brad William Henke (55), Steven Seagal (69), Peter MacNicol (67), Kristen Stewart (31), Elle Fanning (23), Dennis Quaid (67), Mark Pellegrino (56), Cynthia Nixon (55), Valerie Singleton (84), Katee Sackhoff (41), Robin Wright (55), Emma Caulfield Ford (48), Patricia Arquette (53), Dean Norris (58), Russell Crowe (57), Jackie Chan (67), Francis Ford Coppola (82), Michael Rooker (66), Paul Rudd (52), Zach Braff (46), John Ratzenberger (74), Billy Dee Williams (84), Lily James (32), Mitch Pileggi (69), Jane Asher (75), and Pharrell Williams (48).
A lacklustre week for famous deaths, but a few interesting reads below to amuse the morbid amongst you. If you see any news snippets of fancy a go at writing for the newsletter, please forward anything you feel that’s interesting or newsworthy.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Myra Frances, 78, British actress (Doctor Who), cancer.
- Evelyn Sakash, 66, American production designer (Mermaids), heart disease.
- Valerie Pitts, 83, British television presenter (Play School).
- April, 20, American giraffe, euthanised.
In Other News
The music world is reacting to the reports that DMX is in critical condition after taking a drug overdose. It’s been claimed that the overdose, which was said to have been taken on Friday, triggered a heart attack. According to reports, the rapper, 50, was rushed to hospital, where a source says he is in a “vegetative state”. Reports of DMX’s overdose has sent shockwaves throughout the rap community. Among those to have sent “prayers” to the rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, are Ja Rule and Missy Elliott. DMX has previously spoken about his addiction to crack cocaine, which he said began when he was 14. He has been in and out of rehab over the years, the most recent time occurring in 2019 when he checked himself in. In 2013, he told American TV personality Dr Phil that he was “always going to be an addict until I die”, two years after he claimed to have “let the cocaine go” so he could focus on raising his children. As of this morning, DMX has been taken off life support and he is now breathing on his own.
Evelyn Sakash, an Emmy-winning production designer and scenic artist, has been found dead in her home six months after she was reported missing. Sakash worked in the art department of series including Orange is the New Black and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as films such as Mermaids and Still Alice. The 66-year-old’s body was found beneath a pile of debris in the kitchen of her home in Queens, New York. A spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed that Sakash died of natural causes, as a result of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Sakash was first reported missing in September, and a GoFundMe campaign was set up by a friend in December to raise funds to find her. On Tuesday, Sakash’s body was found by cleaners hired by her sister, Ellen Brown, to clear the production designer’s home. Brown addressed claims that Sakash was a hoarder and that her sister’s body was found beneath “an avalanche of trash”. “This is just devastating. She had a full life. She was so extraordinarily talented. She was a brilliant mind … I don’t want my sister to be remembered like that, like the way she was found.” In the wake of Sakash’s death, another GoFundMe has been set up in her name to raise money for funeral costs. You have to wonder how smelly her house was to hide a rotting corpse for six months…
Peter Egan has revealed his wife of 45 years, actress Myra Frances, has passed away. The screen star, 74, took to Twitter on Wednesday to share the tragic news about his ‘friend and soulmate’, admitting: ‘My heart is broken’. The grieving actor said: ‘This is the saddest post I will ever have to make. My wonderful wife Myra, my friend & soulmate lost her battle with cancer at 1.30am on Tuesday. This message is for all her followers on her FB & Twitter @EganMyra. She was the most amazing human being. My heart is broken.’ Peter also recorded an emotional video revealing he’d be taking a break from social media as he came to terms with his wife’s tragic death. Peter met fellow thespian Myra in 1972 when they were both in TV drama The Organisation, and they married four years later. The couple moved from London into their Surrey home in 2016 with their five rescue dogs, and have both campaigned tirelessly for animal welfare. While Peter has had a slew of acting roles in series including Downton Abbey, Hold the Sunset and Afterlife, Myra had been retired for many years. The news comes after Peter appeared in Unforgotten’s heartbreaking series finale on Monday night, before ITV confirmed that show would return for a fifth season.
April, a giraffe from Animal Adventure Park in New York whose delivery of a new baby calf was live-streamed in 2017, has been euthanised due to advancing arthritis, the zoo has announced. The live-stream became the second most-watched stream in YouTube’s history at the time of broadcast, garnering more than 232 million views and 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time over the course of several months. It was also sponsored by the retailer Toys R Us, in a nod to its official mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe. In a statement shared to social media, Animal Adventure Park said that April’s latest vet exam revealed that her arthritis had accelerated, leading them to conclude that euthanasia was the “humane and appropriate course of action”. “Beginning in the summer of 2020, the staff at Animal Adventure Park began reporting changes in April’s mobility. The park’s veterinarians radiographed April’s feet in July 2020 and noted the onset of osteoarthritis. The park began multi-modal management of osteoarthritis including measures such as pain medications, anti-inflammatories, hoof trimming, installation of padded flooring and dietary changes in hopes of slowing down the progression of her condition. Unfortunately, over time, what we saw was April increasingly shifting her weight from limb-to-limb, a continual decline in mobility and spending a lot more time laying recumbent,” the post reads. With the irreversible condition advancing “at a rapid rate”, it was decided that euthanasia would be the “most humane decision” to take, and she died on Friday aged 20. Following the completion of an animal autopsy – known as a necropsy – April will be cremated, with her ashes returned to Animal Adventure Park to fertilise the roses.
On This Day
- 1721 – Sir Robert Walpole becomes the first British prime minister.
- 1841 – William Henry Harrison dies of pneumonia, becoming the first President of the United States to die in office, and setting the record for the briefest administration.
- 1925 – The Schutzstaffel (SS) is founded under Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi party in Germany.
- 1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
- 1969 – Dr. Denton Cooley implants the first temporary artificial heart.
- 1975 – Microsoft is founded.
- 1968 – Martin Luther King Jr., American minister and activist (b. 1929).
- 1983 – Gloria Swanson, American actress (b. 1899).
- 1993 – Alfred Mosher Butts, American game designer, invented Scrabble (b. 1899).
- 1995 – Kenny Everett, English radio and television host (b. 1944).
- 2013 – Roger Ebert, American journalist, critic, and screenwriter (b. 1942).
On Thursday, April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was staying in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The motel was owned by businessman Walter Bailey and was named after his wife. Reverend Ralph Abernathy, a colleague and friend, later told the House Select Committee on Assassinations that he and King had stayed in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel so often that it was known as the “King–Abernathy Suite”.
According to biographer Taylor Branch, King and Abernathy enjoyed a catfish lunch and iced tea at the Lorraine Motel’s grill and King’s last words were to musician Ben Branch, who was scheduled to perform that night at a planned event. King said, “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord‘ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
According to Rev. Samuel Kyles, who was standing several feet away, King was leaning over the balcony railing in front of Room 306 with Rev. Jesse Jackson when the shot rang out. King was struck in the face at 6:01 p.m. by a single .30-06 bullet fired from a Remington Model 760 rifle. The bullet entered through King’s right cheek, breaking his jaw and several vertebrae as it traveled down his spinal cord, severing his jugular vein and major arteries in the process, before lodging in his shoulder. The force of the shot ripped King’s necktie off. King fell backward onto the balcony, unconscious. Everyone first believed King was dead, but found he still had a pulse.
King was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where doctors opened his chest and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He never regained consciousness and died at 7:05 p.m. According to Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that his heart was in the condition of a 60-year-old man rather than that of a 39-year-old such as King, which Branch attributed to the stress of King’s 13 years in the civil rights movement.
The Rev. Kyles had planned to take King to dinner at his home after the balcony speech, the meal, which was to be cooked at the church by a number of female members, included many of King’s favourite dishes: fried chicken, ham, sweet potatoes, two kinds of greens, crowder peas, sweet potato pie. Sadly, although the meal was prepared, the news of King’s death meant that none of it was cooked.
Shortly after King was shot, witnesses saw a man, later believed to be James Earl Ray, fleeing from a rooming house across the street from the Lorraine Motel. Ray had been renting a room in the boarding house. Police found a package dumped close to the site that included a rifle and binoculars, both with Ray’s fingerprints. Ray had purchased the rifle under an alias six days earlier. A worldwide manhunt was triggered that culminated in Ray’s arrest at London’s Heathrow Airport two months later. On March 10th, 1969, he pleaded guilty to the first degree murder of Martin Luther King Jr., which was later recanted.
The King family and others believe that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, the mafia, and the Memphis police. They believe that Ray was a scapegoat. Ray died in prison on April 23rd, 1998, at the age of 70 from kidney and liver failure caused by Hepatitis C.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Robert Downey Jr. (56), Natasha Lyonne (42), Hugo Weaving (61), Graham Norton (58), Xenia Seeberg (53), Eddie Murphy (60), Amanda Bynes (35), Alec Baldwin (63), Paris Jackson (23), Pedro Pascal (46), Michael Fassbender (44), Clark Gregg (59), Linda Hunt (76), Penelope Keith (81), Mackenzie Davis (34), Asa Butterfield (24), Ali MacGraw (82), Ewan McGregor (50), Christopher Walken (78), Richard Chamberlain (87), Rhea Perlman (73), Daniel Mays (43), William Daniels (94), Robbie Coltrane (71), Warren Beatty (84), Donna D’Errico (53), Piers Morgan (56), Céline Dion (53), Eric Clapton (76), Lucy Lawless (53), Brendan Gleeson (66), Ed Skrein (38), Marina Sirtis (66), Christopher Lambert (64), Elle Macpherson (57), and Eric Idle (78).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- George Segal, 87, American actor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Goldbergs, A Touch of Class), complications from bypass surgery.
- Beverly Cleary, 104, American children’s author (The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ramona, Dear Mr. Henshaw).
- Larry McMurtry, 84, American novelist and screenwriter (Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show, Brokeback Mountain), Oscar winner (2006), heart failure.
- muMs da Schemer, 52, American actor (Oz, She’s Gotta Have It, Hightown) and poet.
- Jessica Walter, 80, American actress (Arrested Development, Archer, Play Misty for Me).
- Houston Tumlin, 28, American child actor (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), suicide by gunshot.
In Other News
People have been left confused after BBC News published breaking news reports that Mary Tyler Moore had died, four years after the actor’s actual death. The Oscar-nominated actor and US sitcom star died aged 80 in January 2017. Users on social media were baffled after the BBC announced the news on their social media channels. A post from their official BBC Breaking News Twitter account has since been deleted. “Peculiar announcement by the BBC a few moments ago. Considering Mary Tyler Moore already died back in 2017,” commented one person. Another user added: “Who’s going to tell them that Mary Tyler Moore has been dead since 2017?” Someone else wrote: “Mary Tyler Moore’s died again I see…” A fourth person said: “Well this is odd… @BBCBreaking is tweeting that #MaryTylerMoore has passed away… Ummmm you are right, she did, but it was 4 years ago on January 25, 2017!!!” Tyler’s cause of death was cited as cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia. The seven-time Emmy Award winner battled diabetes over the years and had been breathing through a respirator for more than a week.
BJ Thomas has revealed he is fighting stage four lung cancer. The singer, best known for the hit Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, released a statement breaking news of his diagnosis to fans. In the post shared to social media, BJ, 78, began by thanking his loved ones for their support. “I just wanted to take this unique opportunity to share my gratitude to Gloria, my wonderful wife and my rock for over 53 years, my family, friends, and fans. I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to record and perform beautiful songs in pop, country, and gospel music, and to share those wonderful songs and memories around the world with millions of you.” BJ then asked for prayers during this difficult time and revealed his hope that his “music can live on’ with his fans. A representative for the Grammy-winning vocalist said he was hopeful for a complete recovery. Among BJ’s first hits were the 1966 cover of the Hank Williams song I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and the 1968 song Hooked on a Feeling. His biggest hit came in 1969 with Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, which topped the charts for an entire month. The track was featured in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and named the Best Song at the Oscars.
Jeff Lowe has been airlifted to hospital after suffering a suspected stroke in an Oklahoma casino. The 54-year-old star of Netflix hit series Tiger King allegedly had his drinks spiked, according to his wife Lauren Lowe. She found her husband unconscious at 3am at the WinStar World Casino, where they were staying, on March 18th, and said that he was not breathing when she found him. Lauren has publicly stated that she thinks someone slipped something into his drink and have poisoned him in the process. Lauren said she thought Jeff was “dying in my arms” after she had called emergency services. Paramedics determined that Jeff was having a stroke, when they arrived at the scene, and decided to have him airlifted to a hospital. Lauren said that she was suspicious of the cause of Jeff’s stroke because the paramedics were unable to determine what had triggered the stroke after performing tests on him. Lauren told us about what happened that evening, saying they were enjoying a dinner date when they were approached by a stranger. The man claimed that he knew who there were and had knowledge of their usual drinks order. She believes that this could have been the moment that Jeff’s drink was spiked. Despite the claims, blood and urine tests on her husband have come back negative when being checked against commonly abused drugs. Lauren is still maintaining that the man who approached them could have contaminated Jeff’s drink and brought on the stroke. Despite their fears as to what happened, the couple have not as yet reported the incident to the police.
On This Day
- 1933 – The Imperial Airways biplane City of Liverpool is believed to be the first airliner lost to sabotage when a passenger sets a fire on board.
- 1979 – A coolant leak at the Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania leads to the core overheating and a partial meltdown.
- 1979 – The House of Commons passes a vote of no confidence against James Callaghan’s government by 1 vote, precipitating a general election.
- 1584 – Ivan the Terrible, Russian king (b. 1530).
- 1941 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and critic (b. 1882).
- 1969 – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (b. 1890).
- 2004 – Peter Ustinov, English-Swiss actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921).
- 2013 – Richard Griffiths, English actor (b. 1947).
They’re Sill Alive?!?!
Better known professionally as Charlie Sheen, with a list of films and TV roles as long as your arm; he was once the highest paid actor on television, earning US$1.8 million per episode of Two and a Half Men, that is, until Tiger blood happened….
To say that Sheen’s personal life has made headlines is a slight understatement. He’s been linked to reports of alcohol and drug abuse and marital problems, as well as allegations of domestic violence.
Sheen’s love life has been somewhat up and down, he has been married three times and has five children and one grandchild. In January 1990, Sheen accidentally shot his fiancée, Kelly Preston, in the arm. Unsurprisingly, she broke off the engagement soon after. In the 1990’s, Sheen subsequently dated a number of porn film actresses, including Ginger Lynn and Heather Hunter. He went on to marry his first wife, Donna Peele in September 1995.
That same year, Sheen was named as one of the clients of an escort agency operated by Heidi Fleiss. Sheen and Peele divorced in 1996.
Sheen then met actress Denise Richards on the set of Good Advice in 2000. They dated and soon married in 2002 and had two daughters together, however by 2005 Richards filed for divorce, accusing Sheen of alcohol and drug abuse and threats of violence as well as accusations of Sheen looking at gay pornography featuring “boys who looked underage” and being “attracted” to underage women. Sheen would later deny these claims, and stated that the FBI was “aware” of the allegations and had searched his computers.
In 2008, Sheen married his third wife, Brooke Mueller and had twin sons. Two years later Mueller obtained a restraining order against Sheen, had the social services take the children and commented that she was concerned that “Sheen is currently insane.” Strangely, he was the one who filed for divorce this time.
Since then he’s had a few relationships with more adult film stars, including Bree Olson, Georgia Jones, and Brett Rossi, the latter was hospitalised for an apparent drug overdose one month after leaving Sheen. You could assume that Sheen’s issues arose from the time he suffered a stroke after overdosing while using cocaine and was hospitalised. Sheen was found in his seaside home by a friend, after which paramedics rushed him to hospital. He was described as being in a “serious condition” after his stomach was pumped. Sheen subsequently checked into a rehab clinic days later but told doctors within hours that he did not intend to stay. Sheriffs later forced Sheen back into the clinic after he fled only hours after arriving. Sheen admitted that the overdose was caused by his injecting of cocaine.
In 2009, Sheen was arrested for assaulting his wife at the time, Brooke Mueller. He was released the same day from jail after posting an $8,500 bond. Sheen was charged with felony menacing, as well as third-degree assault and criminal mischief. Around the same time he was forcibly removed from the Plaza Hotel after he reportedly caused $7,000 in damage in a drug and alcohol bender.
Sheen publicly revealed that he was HIV positive in 2015, having been diagnosed roughly four years earlier. In an interview, he referred to the acronym HIV as “three hard letters to absorb”. He manages his condition with a triple cocktail of antiretroviral drugs, and said that it was impossible that he could have infected any of his partners. Sheen noted that since 2011, he had paid extortionists approximately $10 million to keep his HIV status secret. Sheen stated that he was upfront about his HIV positive condition with all of his past partners.
In 2017, Sheen sued the National Enquirer over a story alleging that, in 1986, the then 19-year-old actor raped his 13-year-old co-star Corey Haim on the set of Lucas. The case was settled in 2018. Haim’s mother, Judy Haim, identified a different actor as her son’s rapist on The Dr. Oz Show, and told Entertainment Tonight that Sheen never raped her son, calling the claims “made up”. Two years later, actor Corey Feldman repeated the claim that Sheen raped Haim in his documentary (My) Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys, corroborated by Feldman’s ex-wife Susie Feldman and his Lost Boys co-star Jamison Newlander. Sheen, through his publicist, denied the allegations, calling them “sick, twisted and outlandish”.
During 20001, at the height of his television career, Sheen underwent a substance rehabilitation program in his home, his third attempt at rehab in 12 months. At this time, Sheen publicly made derogatory comments about the series’ creator, Chuck Lorre, so Warner Bros. banned Sheen from entering its production lot and canceled the remaining episodes of season four of Two and a Half Men. Sheen, already the highest-paid actor on television, responded by publicly demanding a 50 percent raise, claiming that in comparison to the amount that the series was making, he was “underpaid”. CBS and Warner Bros. terminated Sheen’s contract. He was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.
In the wake of the dismissal, Sheen had highly publicised events which were broadcast on television and the Internet. He made statements in television interviews, suggesting that he was a “warlock” with “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA”, and that he was “winning”. He also posted videos to YouTube showing himself smoking cigarettes through his nose, and cursing out his former employers. He told one TV interviewer, “I’m tired of pretending I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”
His life and career hasn’t really recovered since, however, somehow, Charlie Sheen is still alive!
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dianne Wiest (73), Julia Stiles (40), Lady Gaga (35), Vince Vaughn (51), Nick Frost (49), Chris Barrie (61), Quentin Tarantino (58), Nathan Fillion (50), Julian Glover (86), Michael York (79), Fergie (46), Mariah Carey (52), Jessie J (33), Keira Knightley (36), Jennifer Grey (61), James Caan (81), Martin Short (71), Diana Ross (77), Steven Tyler (73), Lee Pace (42), Sarah Jessica Parker (56), Paul Michael Glaser (78), Richard O’Brien (79), Elton John (74), Jessica Chastain (44), Louie Anderson (68), Alyson Hannigan (47), Jim Parsons (48), Lara Flynn Boyle (51), Kelly LeBrock (61), Amanda Plummer (65), Joanna Page (44), Reese Witherspoon (45), Lena Olin (66), and William Shatner (90).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Yaphet Kotto, 81, American actor (Live and Let Die, Alien, Homicide: Life on the Street).
- Henry Darrow, 87, American actor (The High Chaparral, The Hitcher, Zorro).
- Sabine Schmitz, 51, German motor racer and television presenter (Top Gear), cancer.
- Glynn Lunney, 84, American aerospace engineer (Project Mercury, Project Gemini, Apollo program).
In Other News
Prince Philip has left King Edward VII’s Hospital in London where he has been recovering after heart surgery. The Duke of Edinburgh spent 28 nights as an in-patient – his longest ever stay – after he was admitted on 16th February. He was initially taken to King Edward VII’s Hospital after feeling unwell at Windor and was moved to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London two weeks later. He underwent surgery for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew’s on 3rd March, before being transferred back to King Edward’s to recover and continue treatment. The duke left the private hospital in the back of a black BMW on Tuesday morning. Philip has been treated for heart problems in the past and in 2011 was rushed to hospital by helicopter from Sandringham after suffering chest pains as the royal family was preparing for Christmas. In the serious health scare, he was treated for a blocked coronary artery at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire and underwent a minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting.
The last male member of an indigenous Amazonian tribe has died from Covid-19, marking the permanent loss of his people’s traditions and rituals. Aruká Juma, of the Juma tribe, died on 17th February due to complications caused by the virus in a hospital in Pôrto Velho, the capital of state of Rondônia in western Brazil. The coronavirus crisis has hit indigenous people in the Amazon hard, believed to have been spread by non-indigenous people entering their areas to carry out illegal activities such as logging and mining. Mr Juma, who was believed to be aged between 86 and 90, had three daughters, all of whom married into a different tribe and will be unable to carry on his lineage as it is descended from fathers. In the 18th century, there were an estimated 15,000 people in the Juma tribe, but the numbers shrank drastically due to disease and massacres. By 1934, only around 100 members remained. 30 years later, a massacre left just six members of the tribe alive, including Mr Juma. After the death of his brother-in-law in 1999, he became the last living male member of the tribe. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Rondônia said in a statement on Mr Juma’s death: “In the mid-60s, the Juma people were almost extinct due to the massacres that other relatives suffered in the previous decades by rubber tappers, loggers and fishermen in the territory, which is on the banks of the Assuã River, in Canutama. Aruká was one of the survivors of his ethnicity. The indigenous man leaves three daughters, the last people of the Juma ethnic group.” Groups advocating for the rights of indigenous people said Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro’s denial of Covid-19 and lack of policy, coupled with geographic challenges, pose a substantial threat to the survival of indigenous populations.
Five-time world darts champion Raymond van Barneveld is being monitored by medics after collapsing at the Players Championship 8 on Friday. The Dutchman, 53, required medical assistance after becoming unwell soon after his first-round defeat at the event in Milton Keynes. Raymond collapsed as he marked a match between Jeffrey de Zwaan and Zoran Lerchbacher. He was seen by paramedics but did not require hospital treatment and returned to his hotel to be monitored. A spokesperson for the PDC said: “Raymond van Barneveld received medical treatment after being taken ill at Friday’s competition. He was treated by paramedics but has not required hospital treatment, and returned to his hotel room at the Marshall Arena to be further monitored. Play was suspended whilst Van Barneveld received treatment before resuming at 14:45 GMT.” Van Barneveld retired from the sport in 2019 but made his return earlier this year and won a two-year card through Q School.
An Iranian woman who died of a heart attack while waiting to be executed was allegedly still hanged. The woman, named in reports as Zahra Ismaili, was reportedly made to watch as 16 men were hanged in front of her while waiting her turn at Rajai Shahr Prison, west of the capital Tehran. The mother-of-two had been convicted of killing her husband, who was a senior official in the Ministry of Intelligence. Her lawyer, Omid Moradi, claimed her husband had allegedly been abusive to both her and their daughter and that she had acted in self-defence. Mr Moradi is said to have described how the events unfolded on Wednesday in a Facebook post, which claimed his client’s body was still hanged after she collapsed, to allow her husband’s mother to kick a chair away from beneath her. According to the Iran Human Rights Monitor, the post, which has reportedly since been deleted, said Ismaili’s death certificate gave her cause of death as “cardiac arrest”. Mr Moradi reportedly wrote: “It states cardiac arrest as cause of death because yesterday 16 men were hanged before her eyes. Zahra’s heart stopped and she died before she was taken to the gallows. “They hanged her lifeless body, and the victim’s mother personally kicked the stool from under her feet so she could see her daughter-in-law’s corpse on the gallows for even a few seconds.” Ismaili was one of three women to be executed in Iran in recent weeks in the prisons of Ardabil, Sanandaj and Karaj, according to the Iran HRM. This brings the total number of women executed during Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, which began in August 2013, to 114, the website, run by human rights activists, said. Hands up who would like a mother-in-law like that?
On This Day
- 1871 – Journalist Henry Morton Stanley begins his trek to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone.
- 1963 – Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary closes.
- 1983 – The first cases of the 1983 West Bank fainting epidemic begin; Israelis and Palestinians accuse each other of poison gas, but the cause is later determined mostly to be psychosomatic.
- 2006 – The social media site Twitter is founded.
- 1617 – Pocahontas, Algonquian Indigenous princess (b. c. 1595).
- 1997 – Wilbert Awdry, English cleric and author, created Thomas the Tank Engine (b. 1911).
- 1999 – Ernie Wise, English comedian and actor (b. 1925).
- 2017 – Colin Dexter, English author (b. 1930).
- 2017 – Martin McGuinness, Irish republican (b. 1950).
The Last Man Executed in The Isle of Man
John Kewish Jr. was the last person executed in the Isle of Man. He was convicted and executed for the crime of patricide. Sentences of death would be continually issued, the last in 1992, on the Isle of Man, but Kewish’s sentence was the last to be carried out.
Prior to his arrest John Kewish Jr. lived on a farm with his elderly parents. He was the oldest of seven siblings and was unmarried. Kewish’s father, John Kewish Sr., was found dead in his home on 28th March 1872. Kewish Jr., who had a history of crime including sheep stealing, was arrested and charged with patricide. He was described as mentally disabled.
According to depositions, the body was found on the evening of 28th March by the victim’s wife, Mary Kewish, and a neighbour. The following day the family moved the body, washed it, and prepared it for burial. It was not until 30th March that someone decided to contact the police. On 31st March a police doctor examined the body and noted six wounds (four on the back and two on the chest) which he felt were caused by three thrusts from a small pitchfork. Thomas Kewish, John Jr.’s brother, also admitted there was an ongoing argument between John and his father. The police felt this was strong enough evidence to arrest John Jr.
Kewish was tried twice before a jury. At his first trial his only defence was that he had not committed the crime. After 14 hours of deliberation the jury was unable to reach a verdict. A new trial was ordered when the jury foreman became ill and deliberations could not continue. There is evidence that a majority of this first jury believed Kewish to be either innocent of the crime, or so simple-minded that he was not responsible for the act. (According to one of the jurors, seven of the twelve believed he was not guilty.) At Kewish’s second trial his advocates added the further plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, submitting that either he had not committed the crime or if he had, his mental disability freed him of responsibility. Insanity was later supported by an examining physician’s statement that Kewish’s mind was unable to comprehend the moral turpitude of such a criminal act. After an hour’s deliberation the jury convicted him of patricide. The presiding deemster, William Drinkwater, sentenced Kewish to the mandatory punishment of death by hanging.
Although convicted, Kewish hoped to receive leniency from the British Government. The Lieutenant-Governor received several sworn statements intended to encourage leniency, including from the jurors of the first trial, his examining physician, and others. Kewish’s post-trial statements were inconsistent. At one point Kewish’s gaoler stated that Kewish admitted he had accidentally shot his father and hid the weapon in the thatch of an outhouse (where a bird gun was later found). At other times Kewish repeated his claims of innocence and requested a free pardon. The pitchfork had not been clearly identified; however, the Home Secretary advised the Queen that he could not recommend mercy. He felt the crime was premeditated, and committed from greed, and added that neither the deemster nor the jury had recommended mercy at the trial.
Manx law at the time required the British Crown to order the execution by positive act. Queen Victoria was displeased with this, and she indicated this in a letter to the Home Secretary. He apologised and promised to bring Manx law into compliance with that of England, which did not require such an order. Although expressing personal doubts about the case, she took his advice and indicated that the execution was to proceed.
Locally there was reluctance to become involved in the execution. Craftsmen initially refused to build the gallows, and an executioner, William Calcraft, had to be brought over from England to carry out the sentence. Kewish was hanged in Castle Rushen at Castletown on 1st August 1872 and he is buried there. It was the only non-public execution to take place under Manx law.
After the execution, Queen Victoria was petitioned to put an end to the death penalty. She declined, and it was not until 1993 that Tynwald abolished capital punishment in the Isle of Man. Five people were sentenced to death (for murder) on the island between 1973 and 1992, but all death sentences after Kewish’s were commuted to life imprisonment by the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom using the Crown’s Prerogative of Mercy.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Gary Oldman (63), Sonequa Martin-Green (36), Matthew Broderick (59), Timothy Dalton (75), Ruby Rose (35), Holly Hunter (63), Freema Agyeman (41), David Thewlis (58), Spike Lee (64), William Hurt (71), Bruce Willis (66), Glenn Close (74), Ursula Andress (85), Harvey Weinstein (69), Abigail Cowen (23), Queen Latifah (51), Brad Dourif (71), Luc Besson (62), Irene Cara (62), Rob Lowe (57), Kurt Russell (70), Gary Sinise (66), John Boyega (29), Patrick Duffy (72), Alexandra Daddario (35), Alan Tudyk (50), Aisling Bea (37), Jerome Flynn (58), Erik Estrada (72), Judah Friedlander (52), Jimmy Nail (67), Eva Longoria (46), David Cronenberg (78), Judd Hirsch (86), and Will.i.am (46).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Trevor Peacock, 89, English actor (The Vicar of Dibley, Hamlet, Fred Claus), complications from dementia.
- Cliff Simon, 58, South African actor (Stargate SG-1), kiteboarding accident.
- Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, 72, South African royal, King of the Zulus (since 1971), complications from diabetes.
- Murray Walker, 97, British motorsport commentator (Channel 4, BBC Sport, ITV Sport).
- Marvelous Marvin Hagler, 66, American boxer, undisputed middleweight champion (1980–1987).
In Other News
For those of us of a certain age, between buying your records on vinyl and then on CD, the cassette tape was your goto for music, especially if you wanted to record the Top 40 to play in the car. Such joy and wonder was brought to you by Lou Ottens, who sadly died at the age of 94 last week. Ottens, the head of product development at the Belgian Hasselt branch of Philips during the 1960’s wanted to make something small and more user friendly than a LP record. Unsurprisingly, Ottens’ invention was a great success worldwide, especially after the release of Sony’s Walkman. More than 100 billion cassettes have been sold since its launch in 1963, but the cassette tape more or less disappeared after the release of the Compact Disc, which was also developed by Ottens and his team of engineers twenty years later. Decades later, Ottens revealed in an interview that back in the 1960s he was completely unaware of the groundbreaking research he and his colleagues were doing. “Well, no. We were little boys who had fun playing. We didn’t feel like we were doing anything big. It was a kind of sport.” How all tapes morphed into a Queen album whilst stored in your car glove compartment is still unknown, scientists believe it could be a kind of magic…
Sarah Harding was told by a doctor that Christmas 2020 “would probably be her last” following her breast cancer diagnosis. In August, the Girls Aloud star shared a selfie from hospital to social media as she announced that the cancer had advanced to other parts of her body. In an extract of her book Hear Me Out, the singer has now revealed that she underwent a mastectomy and intensive chemotherapy since her diagnosis in August. While it initially “seemed like the chemo was working”, she writes, the cancer has spread further, with a secondary tumour growing on either the base of her spine or her brain. “In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last,” Harding said. “I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that. Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now.” The 39-year-old said that while she is considering treatment options, she doesn’t want to have radiotherapy and lose her hair “with no guarantees at the end of it”. “It might seem vain thinking about my hair, but my thinking was that if there’s a chance I’ve only got six months, then I’ve got six months,” she wrote. “Losing my hair probably wasn’t going to change that, so if there’s another way to manage the disease or treat it, then let’s do that. I don’t want to feel like I have to spend whatever time I have left hiding away.” She also revealed that she nearly died of sepsis in hospital and had to be put into a coma for two weeks.
On This Day
- 1900 – The Gold Standard Act is ratified, placing the United States currency on the gold standard.
- 1926 – The El Virilla train accident, Costa Rica, kills 248 people and wounds another 93 when a train falls off a bridge over the Río Virilla between Heredia and Tibás.
- 1964 – Jack Ruby is convicted of killing Lee Harvey Oswald, the assumed assassin of John F. Kennedy
- 1883 – Karl Marx, German philosopher and theorist (b. 1818).
- 1932 – George Eastman, US inventor & businessman, founded Eastman Kodak (b. 1854).
- 1999 – Kirk Alyn, American actor (b. 1910).
- 2010 – Peter Graves, American actor (b. 1926).
- 2014 – Tony Benn, English politician, Postmaster General of the UK (b. 1925).
- 2018 – Jim Bowen, English stand-up comedian and TV personality (b. 1937).
- 2018 – Stephen Hawking, English physicist and author (b. 1942).
They’re Sill Alive?!?!
Dead Pool favourite Pete Doherty was always top of the class. Born in Hexham, Northumberland, his dad John was a major in the Royal Signals and his mum Jacqueline Michels a lance corporal in the Royal Nursing Corps. An exemplary student, despite moving around the country as a military child, he achieved 7 A*s in his GCSEs, two As at A-Level and went on a poetry tour of Russia with the British Council when he was 16 after winning a competition. After college, he moved to London to study English Literature at the University of London but quit a year in; got a flat with muso Carl Barat and co-founded The Libertines in 1997.
By 2002, their album Up the Bracket had turned the band into mainstream indie stars, but less than two years later, Pete – who turned 42 on 12th March – got kicked out of the band for abandoning rehab amid a spiralling drug addiction. Years of turbulence followed, from an explosive relationship with Kate Moss to a string of arrests and failed rehab stays and the tragic drugs deaths of some of those closest to him. But what became of Pete after his initial foray into fame….
He met Kate Moss in January 2005 at Kate’s 31st birthday party and had planned to marry in the summer 2007. Pete famously drew a picture of them using his own blood, which sold for £5,000 last year. But their split was an acrimonious one, with the star accusing his ex of burning his beloved teddy Pandy – claims she has never responded too. Then in 2012, when Kate was married to The Kills star Jamie Hince, Pete claimed she called him out of the blue to make peace and check on his welfare. “I got a call which came as a surprise as we haven’t exchanged a word since it ended. And believe me, it ended nastily. But she was friendly and just asked me what I was up to. She wanted to know why I hadn’t written any songs recently and whether I was still taking drugs. She told me that despite everything that had happened between us, she was still rooting for me and that was nice. It means a lot to me to know that.” Meanwhile, he fathered a son, with Liam Gallagher’s ex Lisa Moorish in 2003 and a daughter with South African model Lindi Hingston in 2011.
In 2015, Pete’s friend and former Libertines bandmate Alan Wass, 33, died from a heart attack after being ‘unlawfully’ given an injection of heroin, an inquest at Westminster coroner’s court ruled. Five years earlier, Goldsmith heiress Robyn Whitehead, 27, died at a Hackney flat where she had been making a documentary with Pete and his friend, fellow musician, Pete Wolfe, in January 2010. The inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court in September 2011 found she had died from heroin poisoning and recorded a verdict of misadventure. As a result of the investigation, Pete was sentenced to six months in jail for possession of cocaine. In 2006 Mark Blanco fell from the balcony of a flat in Whitechapel, east London after rowing with people inside. Pete was caught leaving the scene on CCTV as Blanco lay dying on the pavement. Pete denied any involvement in his death and said he ran away because he was in possession of drugs. He told NME: “I can understand it does look dodgy. How ashamed do you think I am that I stepped over the body and legged it down the street? The film footage made me feel sick, sick to the stomach. Completely ashamed. I’m stepping over a dying man… I was on bail at the time. I had pockets full of drugs.” The coroner ruled out suicide and ordered the Metropolitan police to reopen the investigation, but in 2011 the CPS rules that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone in relation to his death. Asked about the tragedies he has been associated with, Pete said: “I wasn’t even in the fucking country when Alan died. I saw Robyn the night before. Mark Blanco … well, fuck knows what happened to him.”
Before her death from alcohol poisoning in July 2011, tragic Amy had been good friends with Pete. But in 2012 he claimed they’d actually been lovers but said it ended badly. “This is difficult for me to admit. But, yes, it’s true. Amy and I were lovers,” he said. “I loved her then and, well, I still do today. But towards the end, as only lovers can, she became quite mean and cruel to me. She didn’t suffer fools… and believe me, she had a mean right hook.”
In his early days in London, Pete has told how he funded his addiction by working as a gay prostitute. In Libertine’s biography, Kids in Riot, he said: “I was working in a bar, selling drugs, working on a building site, writing poetry in the graveyard shift at The King’s Head – and I was wanking off old queens for like £20.”
He’s attempted rehab numerous times over the years, and EastEnders’ star June Brown, who played Dot Cotton, even once stepped in and offered him a lifeline. June, 94, ran a charity that helped pay for addicts to get treatment at a Thai monastery called Thamkrabok, which claims to have one of the highest success rates in the world. “Anyone can go,” she said at the time. “We will pay your fare, all you need is to commit to treatment. I’m a huge Libertines fan. It’d be a marvellous place for Pete to kick his addiction.” Pete signed up but sadly only lasted a few days before he fled for the bright lights on Bangkok. After a second stint in Thailand in 2014 he declared that he’d beaten his demons once and for all, but unsurprisingly relapsed within ’10 minutes’ of getting home to Margate.
During his last major interview in 2019, he admitted he was still as addicted as ever but lamented what he could be and achieve if he wasn’t controlled by his hunger for drugs. “A part of me would like to be clean. Just so I can feel things. There are so many people in my life who deserve better. It really is a mental deficiency.I’d be a force to be reckoned with! I’d have money and self-respect and clean hands.”
Pete still lives in Margate and was hospitalised in 2019 after pricking his finger on a hedgehog spike and at 42 years of age is still a very good shout as a Maverick.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jaimie Alexander (37), Michael Caine (88), Jamie Bell (35), Billy Crystal (73), Quincy Jones (88), Harry Melling (32), Annabeth Gish (50), William H. Macy (71), Danny Masterson (45), Titus Welliver (59), Aaron Eckhart (53), Liza Minnelli (75), Jodie Comer (28), Thora Birch (39), Johnny Knoxville (50), John Barrowman (54), Olivia Wilde (37), Sharon Stone (63), Jon Hamm (50), Chuck Norris (81), Oscar Isaac (42), Juliette Binoche (57), Freddie Prinze Jr. (45), Aidan Quinn (62), Cynthia Rothrock (64), and Micky Dolenz (76).
I bet those of you who listed Jimmy Greaves are kicking yourselves now that his commentating partner Ian St John has died! Anyhow, a news light edition this week, everyone must have been keeping their heads down.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ian St John, 82, Scottish football player (Motherwell, Liverpool, national team) and manager.
- Dick Sheppard, 90, British stuntman (The Italian Job, James Bond films).
- Jahmil French, 29, Canadian actor (Degrassi: The Next Generation, Soundtrack, Remedy).
- Bunny Wailer, 73, Jamaican reggae singer (Bob Marley and the Wailers) and songwriter, complications from a stroke.
- Nicola Pagett, 75, British actress (Upstairs, Downstairs, Anne of the Thousand Days, There’s a Girl in My Soup), brain tumour.
- Tony Hendra, 79, British comedian and actor (This Is Spinal Tap), complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In Other News
The Duke of Edinburgh has undergone a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition but will stay in hospital for a few more days to recuperate. The 99-year-old was treated at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London on Wednesday. He has now spent 16 nights since he first went to hospital last month, his longest ever stay. In a brief statement, Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip’s procedure was to treat a “pre-existing heart condition” but did not give any further details as to his condition. “His Royal Highness will remain in hospital for treatment, rest and recuperation for a number of days,” the statement added. The Queen’s husband was first admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London more than two weeks ago as a “precautionary measure” after feeling unwell. However, on Monday he was transferred to the NHS St Bartholomew’s Hospital – which is a specialist cardiac centre – for “testing and observation” on his heart condition, the Palace reported. On Wednesday his daughter-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, said he had “slightly improved” but still “hurt at moments”. He has also been visited by his eldest son Prince Charles, who made a 200-mile round trip and stayed for around 30 minutes. The Duke of Edinburgh has been rarely seen in public after he retired from royal duties in 2017. He has however been treated at hospital for various ailments, most recently spending four nights in December 2019 at King Edward VII’s Hospital for what was only described as a “pre-existing condition”.
The Wanted singer Tom Parker’s life fell apart last year when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at the age of just 32, but after a number of months of treatment, his wife Kelsey has given some positive news. Appearing on an episode of Loose Women, Kelsey confirmed the amazing news that Tom’s tumour has shrunk, revealing ‘we’ve had a significant reduction’. Chatting to the panel via a video stream, mum-of-two Kelsey said, “Tom’s doing really well. We had a meeting last Thursday and he’s just had another stable scan, so he’s doing so well. We’ve only just started our second round of chemotherapy, so we’ve had radio and chemo, we’ve had a bit of a break, because he had a bit of a dodgy liver, and now we’ve just started the second round of chemo. The tumour has shrunk, we’ve had a significant reduction. We were all just in tears when we got that news in January.” Speaking about her positivity, and how it’s hard to keep up, she said: “Not so much now, in the beginning yes because Tom had lost so much weight, he wasn’t eating, he was down to 8 and a half stone, Tom’s a slight person anyway, him losing weight, he couldn’t afford to. It was more the frustration, that’s what made me upset. I found it really hard to remain positive then. Now, after we’ve had this good news as well, we’re on this rollercoaster, we’re going forward and we’ve just to remain as positive as we possibly can.”
On This Day
- 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for an invention he calls the “telephone”.
- 1965 – Bloody Sunday: A group of 600 civil rights marchers is brutally attacked by state and local police in Selma, Alabama.
- 1989 – Iran and the United Kingdom break diplomatic relations after a fight over Salman Rushdie and his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.
- 1809 – Jean-Pierre Blanchard, French inventor, pioneer in balloon flight (b. 1753).
- 1988 – Divine, American drag queen and film actor (b. 1945).
- 1999 – Stanley Kubrick, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1928).
- 2004 – Paul Winfield, American actor (b. 1941).
Last Woman Executed in Canada
Marguerite Ruest-Pitre, was a Canadian conspirator in a mass murder carried out when Albert Guay bombed an airliner, killing all 23 people on the plane. She was the 13th and last woman to be hanged in Canada, she was executed on 9th January 1953 in Montreal, Quebec.
Pitre was born in Saint-Octave-de-Métis, Quebec. She ran a boarding house at Saint-Roch, and became known by her neighbours and later by the press as “Madame le Corbeau” (“Madame Raven”) because she always wore black clothes.
Self-described jeweller and watchmaker Albert Guay—although at his trial it was suggested that he was actually a watch and jewellery salesman—was having an extramarital affair with 19-year-old waitress Marie-Ange Robitaille. Marguerite Pitre helped to arrange liaisons between them. Guay decided to murder his wife, the former Rita Morel; after he considered poisoning her, he finally decided to kill her by bombing an airliner on which she was embarked as a passenger. He asked Pitre’s brother, clockmaker Généreux Ruest, to manufacture a bomb using dynamite, batteries, and an alarm clock. Pitre purchased the dynamite at a hardware store, claiming it was to be used to clear a field.
On 9th September 1949, Rita Guay was scheduled to board Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 108, a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, at L’Ancienne-Lorette, a suburb of Quebec City, where it made a scheduled stopover during a flight from Montreal to Baie-Comeau. On the day of the flight, Albert Guay purchased a $10,000 insurance policy on his wife, which he would attempt to collect three days later. Pitre delivered the package containing the bomb to the plane, supposedly for mail delivery, Albert secreted it in Rita’s luggage, and Rita boarded the plane for the flight to Baie-Comeau, unaware of the danger.
The flight was delayed five minutes at takeoff; this apparently thwarted Guay’s desire to have the explosion take place over the Saint Lawrence River, which would have made forensic examination of the crash impossible with the technology then available to forensic scientists. The bomb instead exploded over Cap Tourmente near Sault-au-Cochon in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, causing the plane to crash and killing Rita Guay and all of the other 22 people on board.
Guay was arrested two weeks after the crash and put on trial in February 1950; he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, and was executed in Montreal on 12th January 1951.
After his conviction, Guay issued a statement, claiming that Ruest and Pitre had knowingly abetted his plans; it has been speculated that Guay’s motive in denouncing his accomplices was to buy time to delay his own execution, believing that he would be called to testify at their trials. As a result, Ruest was arrested on 6th June 1950, and Pitre on 14th June 1950. Ruest maintained his innocence, claiming that he thought the bomb was to be used to clear tree stumps from a field. He was tried, with Guay testifying against him, and convicted in November 1950; sentenced to death by hanging, and he was executed in Montreal on 25th July 1952.
Pitre attempted suicide, but failed. Her trial began on 6th March 1951. She, too, maintained her innocence, claiming that Albert Guay had told her that the package she was transporting on the day of the bombing contained a statue. Albert Guay already had been executed and therefore could not testify against her, but she was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Marguerite Pitre arrived at Bordeaux Prison in Montreal at midnight on 8/9th January 1953, accompanied by two nuns, and climbed to the prison’s third floor. After a few moments with her escorts, she entered the ante-room where the hangman was waiting for her. She walked to the gallows at 12:35 a.m. on 9th January 1953, and was pronounced dead 15 minutes later. Jail authorities said she displayed no fear and that “everything was normal.”.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Bryan Cranston (65), Tobias Menzies (47), Rachel Weisz (51), Ellen Muth (40), Tom Arnold (62), Amy Okuda (32), Shaquille O’Neal (49), Alan Davies (55), Jolene Blalock (46), Eva Mendes (47), Dean Stockwell (85), Jake Lloyd (32), Matt Lucas (47), Paul Blackthorne (52), Fred Williamson (83), Penn Jillette (66), Catherine O’Hara (67), Patsy Kensit (53), Dominique Pinon (66), Julie Bowen (51), Jessica Biel (39), Miranda Richardson (63), Charlie Brooker (50), Bryce Dallas Howard (40), Daniel Craig (53), Nathalie Emmanuel (32), Rebel Wilson (41), Gates McFadden (72), Jon Bon Jovi (59), Chris Martin (44), Alexander Armstrong (51), Zack Snyder (55), Jensen Ackles (43), Ron Howard (67), Javier Bardem (52), Lupita Nyong’o (38), Jack Davenport (48), Dirk Benedict (76), Justin Bieber (27), Paul Hollywood (55), Roger Daltrey (77), and Harry Belafonte (94).
What a shit week for deaths! I struggled to find anyone noteworthy in the Wiki listings up until 11am on Sunday when Johnny Briggs was announced; you’d think that there would be one or two we’d know, especially since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic! Anyhow, read on…
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ronald Pickup, 80, English actor (Darkest Hour, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Mission).
- Peter Gotti, 81, American mobster (Gambino crime family).
- Mike Burns, 84, British-born Irish newscaster (RTÉ News at One, This Week, World Report).
- Johnny Briggs, 85, English actor (Coronation Street, Man About the House, Carry On England)
In Other News
Tiger Woods is “fortunate to be alive” following a serious car crash in California, police said on Tuesday. The golfer was conscious and had serious injuries to both legs when found at the crash scene. Authorities said the 45-year-old was in a “serious” condition but was able to communicate with them when they arrived on the scene in Rancho Palo Verdes, California. His car was going downhill on a steep and winding road when it crossed the centre, crashed into the curb and rolled over several times into brush and a tree. A neighbour who lives about 15 metres (50 ft) from the accident spot, a notoriously dangerous stretch of road in the area, called 911 at 7:12am local time. Authorities say that the airbags deployed inside the Genesis GV80 SUV, which was loaned to Woods for the week, and that he had been wearing a seatbelt. Fire chief Daryl Osby said that firefighters used pry tools and an axe to remove Woods from the car through the windscreen. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a press conference that deputies had found “no evidence of impairment” from drugs or alcohol at the crash site. “No impairment was found at this time but it will be the subject of the investigation,” he said. “It would have been a fatal if the interior of the Genesis GV80 SUV had not remained intact in the crash. The interior of the car was intact which kind of gave him the cushion to survive,” said Mr Villanueva. Mr Villanueva added that there were no signs of braking or skid marks on the road and that it appeared Mr Woods had been “going at a relatively greater speed than normal. Because it is downhill, it slopes, and also it curves. That area has a high frequency of accidents. It’s not uncommon.”
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez was the first officer on the scene and described Mr Woods as “calm and lucid” when he spoke to him. “Unfortunately, Mr Woods was not able to stand up under his own power. Mr Woods was seated in the driver’s seat, I made contact with them and made sure he was able to speak to me,” he said. “He seemed calm and lucid at that time. I kept him calm until LA County Fire arrived on the scene. I spoke to him, I asked him what his name was and he said his name was ‘Tiger’. And at that moment I immediately recognised him. I asked him if he knew where he was, what time of day, to make sure he was oriented. He seemed as though he was lucid and calm. He did not seem concerned about his injuries at the time, which is common in traffic accidents when people are in shock. It’s a traumatic experience. It’s not uncommon for people to be focused on unimportant things or even if they are in pain, they may not feel it until much later.” The deputy added that Woods was wearing a seatbelt may have contributed to saving his life. Woods was due to tape two “teaching lessons” at the Rolling Hills Country Club with NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Justin Herbert when the accident happened. Officials said there was also a second vehicle accident caused by people slowing to see what had happened, but no one was hurt.
Former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, his family have confirmed. The 68-year-old, whose career began at St Mirren, played 30 times for Scotland and won the English First Division with Leeds and FA Cup at Manchester United. McQueen went on to manage Airdrie and coach at Middlesbrough, before working as a television pundit. His family said that the former centre-back was formally diagnosed in January. “As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations,” they said in a statement. “Whilst as a family we’ve found it hard to come to terms with the changes in dad, he has no regrets about his career and has lived life to the full. He had unforgettable experiences in his playing days with Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United, and also took so much from his coaching and TV work in more recent times.” The family statement, attributed to McQueen’s wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna, and son Edward, said that McQueen “wants footballers of today’s generation to know there may be risks with persistent heading of the ball”.
A rooster that had been fitted with a knife for an illegal cockfight has killed its owner in southern India. The bird’s owner was impaled in the groin by the knife as the animal tried to escape. The man died on the way to hospital from a loss of blood. Police are now searching for 15 more people involved in the event, which took place in the village of Lothunur in Telangana state earlier this week. The animal was held at a police station before being transferred to a farm. Police said the animal was being readied to take part in a fight when it tried to escape. Its owner attempted to catch it but was struck by the 7cm-long knife on the animal’s leg during the struggle. Those involved in the event face charges of manslaughter, illegal betting and hosting a cockfight. Cockfighting was made illegal in India in 1960 but fights are still relatively common in rural areas such as Telangana with many falling around the Hindu festival of Sankranti. It’s not the first time an owner has been killed by their rooster. Last year a man in Andhra Pradesh died after he was hit in the neck by a blade attached to his rooster.
On This Day
- 1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
- 1947 – February 28 Incident: In Taiwan, civil disorder is put down with the loss of an estimated 30,000 civilians.
- 1953 – James Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA; the formal announcement takes place on April 25 following publication in April’s Nature.
- 1954 – The first colour television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public.
- 1958 – A school bus in Floyd County, Kentucky hits a wrecker truck and plunges down an embankment into the rain-swollen Levisa Fork river. The driver and 26 children die in what remains one of the worst school bus accidents in U.S. history.
- 1975 – In London, an underground train fails to stop at Moorgate terminus station and crashes into the end of the tunnel, killing 43 people.
- 1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.
- 1993 – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four ATF agents and six Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.
- 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII, in 1415.
- 1998 – Dermot Morgan, Irish comedian and actor (b. 1952).
- 2011 – Jane Russell, American actress and singer (b. 1921).
- 2016 – George Kennedy, American actor (b. 1925).
- 2019 – André Previn, German-American pianist, conductor, and composer. (b. 1929).
- 2020 – Freeman Dyson, British-born American physicist and mathematician (b. 1923).
What will happen when Prince Philip dies?
After marrying in 1947, the Duke of Edinburgh has been the longest-reigning consort in British history, standing beside The Queen for over 73 years. At the age of 99, the Duke has rarely been seen in public in the past few years, but earlier this week it was reported he was admitted to hospital ‘as a precautionary measure’.
We know Buckingham Palace is prepared with two very different protocols when the Royals die. The plan in place for when the Queen passes is known as “London Bridge is Down.” But what will happen when Prince Philip dies?
The Dukes not-so-secret codename is called “Operation Forth Bridge”. The name refers to a railway bridge linking Edinburgh to Fife.
When Philip pegs it, the Lord Chamberlain will consult with the Prime Minister, and then seek the Queen’s specific wishes regarding the death announcement. The rest of the world won’t find out the news until Buckingham Palace officially announces it to the media, most likely through the BBC, probably within hours. If the death occurs overnight, it is expected the death announcement will come at 8am. The UK will then enter a period of national mourning, where flags will be lowered to half-mast.
During this time the Queen will be given an eight day period of mourning where she is able to forgo her Royal duties and let someone stand in her place if needed. Following this time, she will likely return to her role but behind closed doors. Britain will then enter a 30 day mourning period. Once this longer period of mourning is over, the Queen will return to more public Royal duties and appearances.
As he is the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh is entitled to a full state funeral. But in typical Prince Philip style, he has apparently requested for people to not ‘make a fuss’ over his funeral, so although he is entitled to a large funeral, it’s unlikely to happen.
Philip, who is currently fighting an infection, has been closely involved in the arrangements for his funeral. They are being co-ordinated by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace. Based on Prince Philip’s wishes, it is believed only family, friends and heads of state from Commonwealth countries will be allowed to attend the funeral. Once it comes to laying his body to rest, his body will be buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle in Frogmore Gardens. This is a very personal place for the Queen and Prince Philip as it’s closed off to the public and is often where she walks her dogs.
Codenames have also been used in the past relating to plans for their funerals. These codenames were first invented so that switchboard operators couldn’t learn of Royal deaths ahead of any public announcements. For example, when King George VI passed away in 1952, the phrase “Hyde Park Corner” was used to communicate with government officials about his death.
For 21st century Royals, bridges have been used as codenames. For Queen Elizabeth, Operation London Bridge will be used for her death and funeral. Operation Tay Bridge was the name used for the Queen Mother and Diana’s deaths. Operation Menai Bridge refers to the funeral plan for Charles, Prince of Wales. Let’s see if they survive the week…
Last Week’s Birthdays
John Turturro (64), Rae Dawn Chong (69), Mercedes Ruehl (73), Stephanie Beacham (74), Kate Mara (38), Adam Baldwin (59), Timothy Spall (64), Richard Coyle (49), Chase Masterson (58), Bill Duke (78), Michael Bolton (68), Téa Leoni (55), Sean Astin (50), Lee Evans (57), Daniel Kaluuya (32), Billy Zane (55), Ben Miller (55), Edward James Olmos (74), Dennis Waterman (73), Emily Blunt (38), Dakota Fanning (27), Kelly Macdonald (45), Samara Weaving (29), Josh Gad (40), Thomas Jane (52), Drew Barrymore (46), Jeri Ryan (53), Kyle MacLachlan (62), Julie Walters (71), James Hong (92), Josh Helman (35), Sheila Hancock (88), and Nigel Planer (68).
Let’s dish out some points!!! With the tragically delightful death of the first class malicious idiot known as Rush Limbaugh, 80 points are happily awarded to Abi, Lee, and to myself! But not to be outdone, Ceri listed him as her Cert, so an amazing 180 points awarded; which cements her position at the top of the table for the time being, but has she peaked too soon? Well done everyone!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Carlos Menem, 90, Argentine politician, President (1989–1999), complications from urinary tract infection.
- Doug Mountjoy, 78, Welsh snooker player.
- Rush Limbaugh, 70, American radio host (The Rush Limbaugh Show), author and political commentator, lung cancer.
- Prince Markie Dee, 52, American rapper (The Fat Boys), heart failure.
- Suzy Miller, 72, British model, Page 3 Girl, actress, dancer, & choreographer, lung cancer.
In Other News
Somehow, the Prince of Wales has managed to visit the central London hospital where his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, remains after feeling unwell. Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII’s hospital as a precaution on Tuesday. A Buckingham Palace source us the duke is likely to remain in hospital into next week. The exact reason for his admission has not been disclosed but his stay is not related to coronavirus as he and Betty had their jabs a few weeks ago. A palace source previously said the duke, who is due to turn 100 in June, had walked into the hospital in Marylebone unaided. Prince Charles, 72, spent about 30 minutes at the hospital on Saturday afternoon, regardless of us peasants not being allowed to do the same. He returned to his Highgrove residence after the visit, a local 208 mile round trip. Apparently, under England’s current coronavirus lockdown rules, visiting someone in a hospital is considered a “reasonable excuse” to leave home, although many hospitals have put significant limits on visitors. The King Edward VII’s hospital website says visitors “will only be considered in exceptional circumstances” during the pandemic. Does that mean he’s at death’s door or just privileged?
Linda Nolan has told us that she’s “so scared” of dying. The Nolans star is living with incurable breast cancer, which has now spread to her liver. “I am scared, I won’t lie. I am so scared of dying,” she shared with us at Dead Pool Towers. Linda added that she and her sisters were raised Catholic, and as such she thinks a great deal about whether there’s an afterlife – and whether she’ll get to see her husband Brian and sister Bernie again, both of which died to cancer. “I look at my great-nieces and nephews and think how much I’d love to see them growing up. That’s hard,” she continued. “I want to be here when they have fabulous moments at school and their prom. Then other times I think to myself, ‘Well, you will be here, so shut up! I am really positive, but there are some days when I just give in.” Linda currently has chemotherapy tablets, five in the morning and five at night, and heads to the hospital once every three weeks to have her bloods done and to speak with her consultant. Meanwhile, there’s “no sign” of cancer at all in her sister Anne anymore. “It’s amazing news,” Linda said bitterly, “She got that news the week before I went in and mine had fucking spread like melted butter over a toasted crumpet.” Meanwhile Linda’s launched her own gin, vowing her cancer won’t stop her from cashing in as much as she can. With that mind, you might want to read her upcoming book Stronger Together, out in April, which tells how the sisters came together to exploit the dying one for a mediocre amount of cash and media coverage.
Bob Dole, the former longtime Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, said on Thursday that he has stage 4 lung cancer. “Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. My first treatment will begin on Monday,” Dole, 97, said in a statement. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” Dole added. Dole served as a U.S. senator from Kansas from 1969 to 1996 and also served as both the Senate majority and minority leader during his long career. He was the GOP presidential nominee in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton. President Joe Biden visited his ‘close friend’ and said the former Republican Senator is ‘doing well’.
Jeanette Lee, the professional pool player often known by her nickname “The Black Widow,” is battling stage 4 ovarian cancer. Lee, 49, announced her terminal diagnosis last Wednesday. A single mother to three girls — Savannah, 10, Chloe, 11, and Cheyenne, 16 — Lee said in the release, “I intend to bring the same resolve I brought to the billiards table to this fight.” A GoFundMe has been created in Lee’s name, and its purpose is to “ensure that the girls are appropriately cared for and can afford to go to college.” “Jeanette’s largest and most pressing concern is the well being of her three young girls,” the fundraiser’s description reads, in part. “The future care, well-being and education of her girls is the biggest cause of anxiety for her.” It also went into more details about her diagnosis: “The cancer has fully metastasized into her lymph nodes and the prognosis is dire. At this stage, her doctors say she has a few months to a year left to live.” Lee began playing pool in 1989, and has been in the sport professionally for 30 years. She was ranked the world’s No. 1 female pool player in the ’90s and has come out on top of various competitions over the years.
On This Day
- 1804 – The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.
- 1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera”, the Polaroid Land Camera.
- 1952 – The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolishes identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.
- 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated while giving a talk at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
- 1965 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (b. 1925; assassinated).
- 2002 – John Thaw, English actor and producer (b. 1942).
- 2018 – Billy Graham, American evangelist (b. 1918).
- 2019 – Peter Tork, American musician and actor (b. 1942).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Elliot Page (34), Jennifer Love Hewitt (42), Sophie Turner (25), Tuppence Middleton (34), Kelsey Grammer (66), Tyne Daly (75), Tituss Burgess (42), Anthony Daniels (75), Martha Hackett (60), Charlotte Church (35), Chelsea Peretti (42), Anthony Head (67), Sidney Poitier (94), Brenda Blethyn (75), Rihanna (33), Cindy Crawford (55), Trevor Noah (37), Millie Bobby Brown (17), Benicio Del Toro (54), Jeff Daniels (66), Ophelia Lovibond (35), Ray Winstone (64), Leslie Ash (61), John Travolta (67), Molly Ringwald (53), Matt Dillon (57), Cybill Shepherd (71), Dr. Dre (56), Yoko Ono (88), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (40), Rene Russo (67), Bonnie Wright (30), Lou Diamond Phillips (59), Dominic Purcell (51), Paris Hilton (40), Rory Kinnear (45), Alejandro Jodorowsky (92), Barry Humphries (87), Patricia Routledge (92), Brenda Fricker (76), Michael Jordan (58), Ed Sheeran (30), Elizabeth Olsen (32), The Weeknd (31), Christopher Eccleston (57), LeVar Burton (64), Ice-T (63), Amanda Holden (50), June Brown (94), John McEnroe (62), Jane Seymour (70), and Matt Groening (67).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dai Davies, 72, Welsh footballer (Wrexham, Everton, national team), pancreatic cancer.
- Rynagh O’Grady, 66, Irish actress (Far and Away, Father Ted, Breakfast on Pluto).
- Anthony Sowell, 61, American serial killer.
- Mary Wilson, 76, American singer (The Supremes), hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
- Larry Flynt, 78, American publisher (Hustler), founder of Larry Flynt Publications, heart failure.
- Rowena Morrill, 76, American fantasy illustrator.
In Other News
Ashley Judd has been taken to hospital following a “catastrophic” accident in the Congo after suffering a shattered leg.. The actress, 52, revealed the news during an an Instagram Live that she was resting in a “trauma unit in beautiful South Africa” after sustaining “massive catastrophic injuries” during a rainforest excursion. Judd said that she had been travelling in the Congo when she tripped over a fallen tree. She recalled lying on the forest floor for five hours, and “howling like an animal” while being carried back to her camp by her “Congolese brothers”. She added that she faded in and out of consciousness during the journey out of the rainforest and to the capital of Kinshasa, and had kept herself awake by reciting Bible passages. She was finally taken to hospital in South Africa after what she described as an “incredibly harrowing” experience. In the Instagram Live, Judd, said that the accident was a reminder of her privilege as a person of means travelling in the Congo, explaining: “The difference between a Congolese person and me is disaster insurance that allowed me, 55 hours after my accident, to get to an operating table in South Africa.”
Fernando Alonso suffered a broken jaw after he was involved in a road accident while cycling, his Formula One team have confirmed. The 39-year-old suffered the accident while riding in Switzerland on Thursday. The Spanish driver was due to return to the grid this season following two years away. And while his injuries are understandably serious, Alpine F1 expect him to be “fully operational” by the time the season begins in Bahrain next month. A statement from the team read: “Following his cycling accident yesterday Fernando Alonso was kept under observation in hospital in Switzerland. “Medics discovered a fracture in his upper jaw and conducted a successful corrective operation. The attending medical team are satisfied with his progress. Fernando will remain under observation in hospital for a further 48 hours. Looking forward, after a few days of complete rest, he will be able to progressively resume training. We expect him to be fully operational to undertake preparation for the season.” In 2018, Alonso quit the sport and set his sights on becoming only the second driver since Britain’s Graham Hill to complete the so-called Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500. Although he won the famous sportscar endurance race in 2018 and 2019 he has not been able to crack the Indy 500, despite a remarkable effort on his first appearance back in 2017.
As you all know, I had written a piece on Capt. Tom Moore for last weeks edition, but I chickened out publishing it because I felt it was edging on going a little too far. Well, somebody didn’t listen to their own inner monologue and has now been charged in connection with an offensive social media tweet about the dead Captain. The 35-year-old man is due to appear in court in Lanarkshire later this week! A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “On Friday 5th February 2021, we received a report of an offensive tweet about Sir Captain Tom Moore who died on Tuesday 2nd February. A 35-year-old man has subsequently been arrested and charged in connection with communication offences and is due to appear at Lanark Sheriff Court on Wednesday 17th February.” I have no idea what was tweeted, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t as bad as what I wrote last week! Maybe I did make the correct judgement call? Looks like you can’t make offence online nowadays without finding yourself cancelled or arrested.
On This Day
- 1779 – James Cook is killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii.
- 1849 – James Knox Polk becomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.
- 1852 – Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children, the first hospital in England to provide in-patient beds specifically for children, is founded in London.
- 1924 – The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company changes its name to International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
- 1929 – Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre: Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone‘s gang, are murdered in Chicago.
- 1989 – Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issues a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.
- 1990 – The Voyager 1 spacecraft takes the photograph of planet Earth that later becomes famous as Pale Blue Dot.
- 2005 – YouTube is launched.
- 1779 – James Cook, English captain, cartographer, and explorer (b. 1728).
- 1975 – P. G. Wodehouse, English novelist and playwright (b. 1881).
- 1996 – Bob Paisley, English footballer and manager (b. 1919).
- 2010 – Dick Francis, Welsh jockey and author (b. 1920).
- 2018 – Morgan Tsvangirai, 2nd Prime Minister of Zimbabwe (b. 1952).
Anthony Sowell was an American serial killer and rapist known as the Cleveland Strangler. He was arrested in October 2009 after the bodies of eleven women were discovered by police at his home, in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Cleveland, Ohio.
Sowell was one of seven children born to single parent Claudia “Gertude” Garrison. Seven other children belonging to Sowell’s sister also lived in the household, having moved in after her death following a chronic illness. According to Sowell’s niece, Leona Davis, Garrison subjected them to physical abuse while her own children watched from adjacent rooms. In one incident, Garrison forced Davis to strip naked in front of the other children, then whipped her with electrical cords until she bled. Sowell himself began raping his niece on an almost daily basis for two years, starting when she was 10. It was also reported by Davis that the other males in the household also participated in the rapes.
In 1989, Sowell attacked Melvette Sockwell, who was three months pregnant at the time, when she attempted to leave his home. He tied her up and choked her so badly that she thought that she was going to die. He was charged with kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder for which Sowell pled guilty and served a 15-year sentence. He was released from prison in 2005.
Unfortunately, this did not serve as a deterrent for his murderous actions. He said he was a master looking for a submissive partner to “tame” and neighbours complained of a foul odor coming from his home. He also, somehow, dated the niece of the Cleveland Mayor Frank G Jackson for a time, who smelled the decaying bodies but was told various different stories by Sowell. Somewhere between 2007-2008, she moved out.
No one knew about the bodies until 2009 when Latundra Billups was invited to Sowell’s home for a drink. After he had a couple of drinks, he assaulted, choked, and raped her. Billups went to the police who arrived with an arrest warrant. Sowell had fled, but he was captured two days later. Either way, police went inside which is when they started to find the bodies.
Much like John Wayne Gacy, Sowell’s 11 murder victims were found in and around his home. Bodies were found in the basement, in crawl spaces, in the backyard. One skull was found in a bucket. Most victims were killed by manual strangulation, leading to the name the Cleveland Strangler. Some of the bodies still had the ligatures used to kill them on them.
In addition to the murders, Sowell also raped three women. He would invite them home to smoke crack cocaine with him and then assault them. He would be charged with 11 counts of aggravated murder and 74 counts of rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. Initially, he pled “not guilty by reason of insanity”, but later changed it to just “not guilty”. Sowell was convicted of his crimes and sentenced to death. He was still exhausting his appeals as late as May 2020.
On January 21st 2021, he began receiving end-of-life care at the Franklin Medical Centre for a terminal illness and died on the 8th February. His last meal has not been released.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Simon Pegg (51), Danai Gurira (43), Andrew Robinson (79), Neal McDonough (55), Mena Suvari (42), Stockard Channing (77), Kim Novak (88), Josh Brolin (53), Christina Ricci (41), Michael Ironside (71), Arsenio Hall (65), Maud Adams (76), Natalie Dormer (39), Jennifer Aniston (52), Damian Lewis (50), Thomas Turgoose (29), Sheryl Crow (59), Chloë Grace Moretz (24), Elizabeth Banks (47), Keeley Hawes (45), Laura Dern (54), Robert Wagner (91), Philip Glenister (58), Holly Willoughby (40), Tom Hiddleston (40), Michael B. Jordan (34), Rose Leslie (34), Joe Pesci (78), Ciarán Hinds (68), Mia Farrow (76), Mary Steenburgen (68), Seth Green (47), Nick Nolte (80), and Ethan Phillips (66).
Goodness me, what a week! A points avalanche!!!! Let’s start with Capt. Tom Moore, 50 points to Ceri and Paul C, but an exceptional start for newb Sarah as she had him as her Cert, 150 points!! Onto Christopher Plummer, Sarai had him as her Cert, 159 points and Paul G also gets 59 points. Now Leon Spinks, Laura and Ron had him as their Cert, 183 points each, and 83 points to Paul C. who managed to guess two people in one week, that doesn’t happen very often! Well done all of you. A strong start to the year so far.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dustin Diamond, 44, American actor (Saved by the Bell), small-cell carcinoma.
- Hal Holbrook, 95, American actor (Mark Twain Tonight!, All the President’s Men, Into the Wild).
- Sir Tom Moore, 100, British military officer and charity campaigner, COVID-19.
- Haya Harareet, 89, Israeli actress (Ben-Hur, The Secret Partner, The Interns).
- Millie Hughes-Fulford, 75, American astronaut and molecular biologist.
- Robert A. Altman, 74, American video game executive, co-founder and CEO of ZeniMax Media.
- Christopher Plummer, 91, Canadian actor (The Sound of Music, Beginners, All the Money in the World).
- Leon Spinks, 67, American boxer, WBA, WBC & Olympic heavyweight champion, prostate cancer.
In Other News
Jennifer Lawrence has sustained minor injuries after a glass explosion stunt went wrong on the set of Don’t Look Up. The forthcoming Netflix comedy – which stars Lawrence opposite Leonardo DiCaprio – has been forced to temporarily suspend production following the disruption. Lawrence had been shooting a scene with Timothee Chalamet when the controlled glass explosion sent shards of glass flying, causing minor injuries to the Hunger Games star. While the details of her injuries aren’t entirely clear, but a malfunction resulted in “shards of glass flying.” As a result of the incident, production on Don’t Look Up has been paused as of Friday, though Lawrence is expected to return to the film’s Boston set on Monday. Don’t Look Up stars Lawrence and DiCaprio as two low-level scientists who attempt to warn the world’s population of an impending meteor strike due in six months.
Jazz legend Tony Bennett has revealed that he has been living with Alzheimer’s Disease for the last four years. The singer, who is 94, made the announcement in AARP Magazine, which focuses on issues affecting people over the age of 50. The article conveys how the condition has affected Bennett’s memory and ability to recognise everyday objects. His wife Susan told the magazine that the star is “not always sure where he is or what is happening around him”. However, Bennett has so far been spared many of the worst characteristics of the disease – including the disorientation that can cause patients to wander from home and episodes of terror, rage or depression. Bennett has been a star since 1951, scoring hits with songs like I Left My Heart In San Francisco and The Shadow Of Your Smile. Some of his biggest successes have come in the last decade, including the chart-topping duets album with Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek, which won a Grammy in 2015. The singer’s neurologist Gayatra Devi, told us that, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett’s touring schedule “kept him on his toes and also stimulated his brain in a significant way. However, the decimation of the live music industry has been a real blow from a cognitive perspective, his memory, prior to the pandemic, was so much better. And he’s not alone. So many of my patients are negatively affected by the isolation, the inability to do the things that matter to them,” he said. “For someone like Tony Bennett, the big high he gets from performing was very important.” said Devi. However, Devi stressed that Bennett was still “doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder,” he added.
Michael Schumacher’s family are set to release rare footage of the F1 legend in a new documentary. The German F1 legend was involved in a devastating skiing accident in the French Alps in 2013 that has left him in a medically-induced coma. Out of respect and eventual disinterest, the world’s media has given him and his family privacy. Only a small handful of people have been allowed to visit the seven-time World Championship winner. His condition has been kept a close-guarded secret by his family. According to PlanetF1, a new documentary titled ‘Schumacher’ is set to be released that will contain private recordings that the German’s family has provided. The documentary is the work of Award-winning German filmmakers Michael Wech and Hanns-Bruno Kammertons. Sabine Kehm, Schumacher family spokesperson, said: “The film portrays Michael’s impressive career, but also many of the facets of the complex man. Many fans will be desperate to see the new documentary with Schumacher such a popular figure in and out of Formula One.
On This Day
- 1301 – Edward of Caernarfon (later king Edward II of England) becomes the first English Prince of Wales.
- 1497 – In Florence, Italy, supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burn cosmetics, art, and books, in a “Bonfire of the vanities”.
- 1900 – A Chinese immigrant in San Francisco falls ill to bubonic plague in the first plague epidemic in the continental United States.
- 1940 – The second full-length animated Walt Disney film, Pinocchio, premieres.
- 1984 – Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart make the first untethered space walk using the Manned Manoeuvring Unit.
- 1991 – The Troubles: The Provisional IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street in London, thirty years later, bet they’re planning some troubles again!
- 1992 – The Maastricht Treaty is signed, leading to the creation of the European Union, Farage shits himself.
- 2013 – The U.S. state of Mississippi officially certifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.
- 1823 – Ann Radcliffe, English author (b. 1764).
- 1979 – Josef Mengele, German SS officer and physician (b. 1911)
- 2017 – Richard Hatch, American actor (b. 1945).
- 2019 – Albert Finney, English actor (b. 1936)
The Early Days of Plymouth, New England
Graunger became one of the first people hanged in the Plymouth Colony (the first hanged in Plymouth or in any of the colonies of New England being John Billington) and the first known juvenile to be sentenced to death and executed in the territory of today’s United States. Graunger, at the age of 16 or 17, was convicted of “buggery with a mare, a cow, two goats, five divers sheepe, two calves, and a turkey”, according to court records of 7th September 1642.
Basically, someone walked in on Granger, a teenage servant, while he was engaged in “lewd practice towards the mare,” and the young man eventually confessed to having sex with the horse regularly, along with several other farm animals.
Then, as now, bestiality was a serious crime. But back in 1642, the punishment was strange by modern standards: The authorities worked to determine which animals Granger had had sex with, following the laws set down in Leviticus 20:15 (“And if a man shall lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast”), then killed them in front of him before executing Granger himself by “hanging until he was dead”. They then buried the animals, as opposed to eating them, because their bodies had been defiled.
The killing and burying of the animals would have been a hardship for the colonists and was therefore another indicator of how seriously this crime was viewed: For an agricultural society this slaughter of all the farm animals was a substantial economic sacrifice.
Granger’s acts were extreme, but there are other examples from that period of the Pilgrims stuffing more than just turkeys. Plymouth court records from 1642 tell the story of Edward Michell, who was accused of “lewd and sodomitical practices tending to sodomy with Edward Preston, and other lewd carriages with Lydia Hatch,” who was also punished for sharing a bed with her brother. All this came to light because Preston apparently propositioned a man named John Keene, who turned him down and told the authorities. Keene was then ordered to watch while the two Edwards were whipped. Another, tamer, example of sexual wrongdoing was the case of John Casley and his fiancee, Alis, who were discovered to have had sex before their marriage; John was whipped while Alis was forced to look on from the stocks.
The first woman hanged on the gallows in Plymouth Colony was 32-year-old Alice Bishop in 1648 for the murder of her young daughter; an apparently motiveless crime which must have shocked her fellow settlers. Almost nothing is known about Alice’s early life, she was marry twice and had three daughters: Abigail, Martha and Damaris. By 1648, Alice was living with her second husband, the Plymouth newcomer Richard Bishop, who was Damaris’s father. The family seems to have been unexceptional, just another household trying to eke out a living in a harsh and unforgiving environment. Somewhere along the line, something went very wrong.
On July 22nd, 1648, while Richard Bishop was away from home, family friend Rachel Ramsden dropped by the Bishops’ residence and spent some time with Alice. Alice’s four-year-old middle child, Martha Clark, was asleep in bed in the loft, which was accessible by ladder. (Where the other two children were has not been recorded.) At some point, Alice gave Rachel a kettle and asked her to go fetch some buttermilk from a neighbour’s house. When Rachel returned, she noticed blood on the floor beneath the ladder. Alice was “sad and dumpish,” and when Rachel asked her what was going on, she wordlessly pointed up at the loft. Rachel climbed up to have a look: there was blood everywhere; Martha’s mattress was drenched in it.
Rachel fled the house in a panic, found her parents and told them she thought Alice had murdered her daughter. Her father rushed to find the colonial governor. A posse of twelve armed men assembled and went to the Bishop house. By the time the men arrived, Alice was in hysterics. They found Martha’s body lying on her left side, “with her throat cut with divers gashes crose wayes, the wind pipe cut and stuke into the throat downward, and the bloody knife lying by the side.” Nothing could be done for her.
Alice freely admitted she had murdered her daughter and said she was sorry for it, but she claimed she had no recollection of the crime. When they asked her why she’d done it, she had no answer for them. She was tried, found guilty and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until she was dead. Today this crime would probably be attributed to Post Partum depression.
Last Week’s Birthdays
James Spader (61), Tina Majorino (36), Ashton Kutcher (43), Deborah Ann Woll (36), Chris Rock (56), Eddie Izzard (59), Garth Brooks (59), Emo Philips (65), Alice Eve (39), Mike Farrell (81), Kevin Whately (70), Axl Rose (59), Michael Sheen (52), Jennifer Jason Leigh (59), Christopher Guest (73), Charlotte Rampling (75), Tony Jaa (45), Gabrielle Anwar (51), Natalie Imbruglia (46), Alice Cooper (73), Jim Jefferies (44), Isla Fisher (45), Bridget Regan (39), Warwick Davis (51), Morgan Fairchild (71), Gemma Arterton (35), Brent Spiner (72), David Jason (81), Shakira (44), Sherilyn Fenn (56), Michael C. Hall (50), Harry Styles (27), and Lisa Marie Presley (53).
A fairly average week, no points to award but plenty to read, with a big thanks to Nickie for finding a great story for us below. Remember to message a link if you find a newsworthy tale for the newsletter!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Peter Vere-Jones, 81, British-born New Zealand actor (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Shortland Street, Xena: Warrior Princess).
- Freddy, 8, English Great Dane, world’s tallest dog.
- Cloris Leachman, 94, American actress (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Last Picture Show, Young Frankenstein), Oscar winner (1971).
- Cicely Tyson, 96, American actress (Sounder, The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, The Trip to Bountiful).
- Sophie, 34, Scottish singer-songwriter (“Bipp“, “Lemonade“) and record producer, accidental fall.
- Lai Xiaomin, 58, Chinese businessman and convicted embezzler, Chairman of China Huarong Asset Management (2012–2018), execution.
In Other News
Larry King’s widow Shawn King has shared her husband’s cause of death as well as his final words to her. The veteran TV host died on 23rd January at the age of 87. In a recent interview with Dead Pool Weekly, Shawn King, 61, said her husband died as a result of sepsis, a life-threatening condition that occurs in reaction to an infection. Earlier in January, Larry King was treated for Covid-19, but according to Shawn King, he had recovered from the illness by the time the sepsis occurred. “It was an infection, it was sepsis,” she told us. “Well, he was finally ready to go, I will tell you that. You know, he never wanted to go but his sweet little body was just, it had just been hit so many times with so many things and once we heard the word Covid, all of our hearts just sunk. But he beat it, you know, he beat it, but it did take its toll and then the unrelated infection finally is what took him, but boy, he was not gonna go down easily.” Shawn King said she and her husband were able to speak via FaceTime while he was in the hospital. “It was hard for him to talk, but the one message that he wanted to make sure I heard was, ‘I love you, take care of the boys,’” she said. The pair have two sons: Chance King, 21, and Cannon King, 20.
Rapper Martell Derouen, whose cousin is Beyoncé, has reportedly been shot dead aged 34. Derouen – who raps under the name Kardone – was discovered during a welfare check by police officers on Tuesday. Someone had called the police after not hearing from the musician in several days, with officers visiting his apartment around midday. Maintenance staff helped police access the apartment. Inside, they reportedly found Derouen dead with a gunshot wound. Speaking to local news network, Derouen’s wife said that the musician “didn’t deserve this”. Local police are said to be searching for 21-year-old Sasha Skare as a suspect, with law enforcement encouraging anyone with information to come forward. Born in San Antonio, Derouen spent much of his childhood in Louisiana, and was later signed to Sony-affiliated record label The Orchard. He released a full length album titled Trunk Bag in 2016, while his last single “Magic” came out in 2020.
One of the main suspects in the infamous unsolved hijacking of a flight from Portland to Seattle 50 years ago carried out by the mysterious “DB Cooper” has died in California aged 94. Sheridan Peterson, who passed away on 8th January was thought to possibly be the “Dan Cooper” who hijacked Northwest Orient Flight 305 on Thanksgiving eve 1971. Mr Cooper handed a flight attendant a note saying that he had a bomb and then demanded $200,000 in $20 bills and four parachutes. When the flight landed in Seattle, the hijacker exchanged the flight’s 36 passengers for the money and parachutes and ordered the flight crew to take off and head for Mexico City. Somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nevada, Mr Cooper jumped from the rear door of the aircraft with a parachute and the ransom money. The pilots landed the plane safely, but the identity of the hijacker and what happened next remains a mystery to this day. Mr Peterson was considered a chief suspect due to his experience as a smokejumper — a firefighter that parachutes into remote areas to tackle wildfires — and love of skydiving. He served as a marine during the Second World War and later worked as a technical editor at Seattle-based Boeing. Indeed he wrote about possibly being DB Cooper in an article for the National Smokejumper Association’s magazine. “Actually, the FBI had good reason to suspect me,” he wrote. “Friends and associates agreed that I was without a doubt DB Cooper. There were too many circumstances involved for it to be a coincidence. At the time of the heist, I was 44 years old. That was the approximate age Cooper was assumed to have been, and I closely resembled sketches of the hijacker.” On another occasion a photo came to light from a Boeing newsletter showing him dressed in exactly the same manner as the hijacker was said to have been during the 1971 flight. Mr Peterson insisted that he was in Nepal at the time of the hijacking, but nevertheless was still considered a prime suspect by the FBI. Eric Ullis, an entrepreneur from Phoenix, spent years trying to establish the real identity of DB Cooper. He concluded that he was “98 per cent” certain that Mr Peterson had carried out the daring heist. DNA collected from a tie Mr Cooper was wearing on the plane has been tested, but no match was found. Mr Peterson is by no means the only person identified as DB Cooper. An HBO documentary released in 2020 called The Mystery of DB Cooper profiled several contenders. Another theory is that Mr Cooper did not survive when he jumped from the aircraft as he would not have been able to steer his parachute and was over a wooded area in unsuitable clothing and footwear. In 1980, a young boy found a rotting package of $20 bills totalling $5,800 with serial numbers that matched those of the ransom money lending credence to the theory.
On This Day
- 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Four of the conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, are executed for treason by hanging, drawing and quartering, for plotting against Parliament and King James.
- 1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands and over 300 in the United Kingdom.
- 1961 – Project Mercury: Ham the Chimp becomes the first hominid to travel into outer space.
- 1606 – Guy Fawkes, English conspirator, leader of the Gunpowder Plot (b. 1570).
- 1956 – A. A. Milne, English author, poet, and playwright, created Winnie-the-Pooh (b. 1882).
- 2016 – Terry Wogan, Irish-British radio and television host (b. 1938)
The Hotel of Death
If you ever decide to stay in Los Angeles, perhaps to hang about the infamous Cedars-Sinai Hospital to see all the celebrities who are dying, you might want to stay at The Cecil Hotel. The Cecil’s a budget hotel in Downtown Los Angeles which opened in 1927. It has 700 guest rooms which were refurbished in 2017, sounds lovely! However the has a checkered history.
Almost immediately after it was built, the area where the Cecil Hotel is located began to decline, suicides and other violent deaths on the premises became more frequent. The first documented suicide at the Cecil was reported in 1931, when a guest named W.K. Norton died in his room after taking poison capsules. Throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s, more suicides at the Cecil occurred. By the 1960’s, longtime residents had begun to call the Cecil “The Suicide.”
In addition to suicides, the Cecil’s history includes other kinds of violence and disturbing happenings. It also became a notorious rendezvous spot for adulterous couples, drug activity, and a common ground for sex workers.
In 1964, a retired telephone operator named “Pigeon Goldie” Osgood, who had been a well-known and well-liked long-term resident at the hotel, was found dead in her room. She had been raped, stabbed, and beaten, and her room ransacked. A man named Jacques B. Ehlinger was charged with Osgood’s murder but was later cleared. Her death remains unsolved.
Perhaps most infamously, in the 1980s the hotel was rumoured to be the residence of serial killer Richard Ramirez, nicknamed the “Night Stalker”. Ramirez had been a regular presence on the skid row area of Los Angeles, and according to a hotel clerk who claims to have spoken to him, Ramirez is rumoured to have stayed at the Cecil for a few weeks. Ramirez may have engaged in part of his killing spree while staying there. Another serial killer, Austrian Jack Unterweger, stayed at the Cecil in 1991, possibly because he sought to copy Ramirez’s crimes. While there, he strangled and killed at least three sex workers, for which he was convicted in Austria. He hanged himself shortly after his conviction.
In 2013, the Cecil (by then re-branded as the “Stay on Main”) became the focus of renewed attention when surveillance footage of a young Canadian student, Elisa Lam, behaving erratically in the hotel’s elevator, went viral. The video depicts Lam repeatedly pressing the elevator’s buttons, walking in and out of the elevator, and possibly attempting to hide from someone. Her naked body was subsequently discovered in a water supply cistern on the hotel roof, following complaints from residents of odd-tasting water and low pressure. How she got into the cistern remains a mystery. The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled her death accidental due to drowning, with bipolar disorder being a “significant” factor. Tasty!
If you fancy reading through the whole list of suicides and murders at The Cecil, follow this link.
You might think you’ve never heard of the place before, but back in 1987, U2 performed an impromptu live concert on the rooftop of a one-story building on the corner of 7th and Main in Downtown Los Angeles, next door to the Cecil Hotel. The performance, with the hotel featured as a backdrop, was filmed and commercially released as a music video for the release of the band’s song “Where the Streets Have No Name”. The hotel was also the inspiration for Barton Fink, which should give you a good idea of the atmosphere of the place.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jonathan Banks (74), Justin Timberlake (40), Minnie Driver (51), Dexter Fletcher (55), Marcus Mumford (34), Christian Bale (47), Olivia Colman (47), Gene Hackman (91), Vanessa Redgrave (84), Phil Collins (70), Heather Graham (51), Tom Selleck (76), Katharine Ross (81), Sam Trammell (52), Marc Singer (73), Oprah Winfrey (67), Adam Lambert (39), Tim Healy (69), Ariel Winter (23), Elijah Wood (40), Tom Hopper (36), Alan Alda (85), Frank Darabont (62), Frank Skinner (64), Rosamund Pike (42), Patton Oswalt (52), James Cromwell (81), Alan Cumming (56), Bridget Fonda (57), Frank Miller (64), Sara Rue (42), Scott Glenn (82), Deep Roy (72), and Ellen DeGeneres (63).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Phil Spector, 81, American murderer of Lana Clarkson and record producer (Wall of Sound), musician (The Teddy Bears), COVID-19.
- Andy Gray, 61, Scottish actor (River City, Naked Video), COVID-19.
- Mira Furlan, 65, Croatian-American actress (Babylon 5, Lost, The Abandoned).
- Mick Norcross, 57, British reality television personality (The Only Way Is Essex).
- Randy Parton, 67, American country singer-songwriter, cancer.
- Ron Campbell, 81, Australian animator (Yellow Submarine, The Flintstones, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh).
- Larry King, 87, American broadcaster (Larry King Live, Larry King Now, Politicking with Larry King).
In Other News
Jessie J has revealed she had to spend Christmas Eve in hospital in Los Angeles after suffering from Meniere’s disease, which left her struggling to hear or walk in a straight line. Dunno about you, but I struggled to walk in a straight line on that day too! Jessie revealed: “I woke up and felt like I was completely deaf in my right ear, couldn’t walk in a straight line. Basically I got told I had Meniere’s syndrome. I know that a lot of people suffer from it and I’ve actually had a lot of people reach out to me and give me great advice, so I’ve just been laying low in silence”. Thankfully, the inner ear condition caused her to struggle to sing. “I haven’t sung for so long and when I sing loud, it sounds like there’s someone trying to run out of my ear.” Nothing new there then… She added in an Instagram live video: “It could be way worse, it is what it is. I’m super-grateful for my health. It just threw me off”. According to the NHS website, an attack of the disease may cause sufferers to feel like they or everything around them is spinning. They can also lose their balance and feel sick. So, a bit of a hangover then…
Not one to miss a profitable endeavour, Kate Garraway is set to release a new book about her husband Derek Draper’s illness battle over the last year. Derek, 53, has been seriously ill in hospital since March, 2020, after he contracted COVID-19 which caused other health complications. Kate has remained open about her family’s distress since Derek fell ill and she is due to detail some of what happened in her new book. Publishers Transworld confirmed that the book will be called The Power of Hope and it will be released in April. Kate said: ‘Whilst my experience of COVID is an extreme/extraordinary one, I am only too aware that this virus has impacted every single one of us, oh, and my husband too. We are all going through this, to a greater or lesser degree, myself to the lesser degree, my husband to the greater. By telling the story of Derek’s illness and how it has altered my life, I hope to be able to reach out to others who are suffering and make lots of cash! If writing about my experience of facing fear, coping day to day with an uncertain future and finding strength for the sake of my kids can in some way help another who is feeling lost or in despair, it will help me buy another horse. Yes, it is really all about me!
Dame Sheila Hancock has revealed that she told friend Gyles Brandreth that she likely only had months to live. The 87-year-old actress and star of stage and screen, who was recently made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours List, has spoken about a recent exchange while filming Great Canal Journeys. In addition to Great Canal Journeys, the pair also appear as regular panelists on Radio 4’s Just a Minute and also on the celebrity editions of Channel 4 hit Gogglebox. In Great Canal Journeys, Sheila shows off her exercise regime to Gyles as she must combat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and in doing so she tells him that she may only have a matter of months left to live. Shelia explains: “This wasn’t to do with my illness – although you can die of it and I do have to think about that – but just at my age, you’re unlikely to live many more years and that weighs heavily if, like me, you’re greedy to learn new things.” Being so focused on her work, Hancock revealed that she has not spent enough time focusing on other aspects of her life, saying: “I’ve been postponing living all my life!” Speaking of her condition recently: “I have dodgy days but, on the whole, I’m OK. On the days when I’m feeling all right, I get out and walk around – I’ve been doing a lot of it in lockdown.” So basically, she’s trying to make headlines because she’s old.
On This Day
- AD 41 – Claudius is proclaimed Roman Emperor by the Praetorian Guard after they assassinate the previous emperor, his nephew Caligula.
- 1536 – King Henry VIII of England suffers an accident while jousting, leading to a brain injury that historians say may have influenced his later erratic behaviour and possible impotence.
- 1939 – The deadliest earthquake in Chilean history strikes Chillán, killing approximately 28,000 people.
- 1984 – Apple Computer places the Macintosh personal computer on sale in the United States.
- 1989 – Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, with over 30 known victims, is executed by the electric chair at the Florida State Prison.
- AD 41 – Caligula, Roman emperor (b. 12).
- 1939 – Maximilian Bircher-Benner, Swiss physician, created Muesli (b. 1867).
- 1965 – Winston Churchill, English colonel and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1874).
- 1975 – Larry Fine, American comedian (b. 1902).
- 1986 – L. Ron Hubbard, American religious leader and author, founded the Church of Scientology (b. 1911).
- 1989 – Ted Bundy, American serial killer (b. 1946).
Brandon Bernard was an American man convicted for the 1999 robbery, kidnapping, and murder of Todd and Stacie Bagley. He was sentenced to death for the murders and remained on death row until his execution in December 2020. Bernard spent most of his childhood in Killeen, Texas. In his early teens, he joined a neighbourhood gang known as “212 Piru Bloods” and began burglarizing houses in early 1995. His crimes and rebellious behaviours led him to being kicked out of several schools and prosecuted in the juvenile criminal justice system, which is a shame as he received decent grades and had good attendance. Bernard even attempted to change his lot by joining the United States Army, but was rejected because of his juvenile offences.
On the afternoon of June 21st, 1999, Brandon Bernard, 18; Christopher Vialva, 19; Terry Brown, 15; Christopher Lewis, 15; and Tony Sparks, 16, approached Todd and Stacie Bagley, two youth pastors, and asked them for a ride at a gas station with plans to rob them. Once the Bagley’s agreed to give them a ride, Vialva held the couple at gunpoint and forced them into the trunk. While in the trunk for several hours driving around, the Bagley’s spoke through an opening in the backseat and urged their abductors to accept Jesus into their hearts and spare their lives, which in itself is enough to warrant killing them. The perpetrators then robbed the Bagley’s by using their ATM card to withdraw cash, stealing money, stealing jewellery, and seeking to pawn Stacie’s wedding ring. Soon after, the teens pulled to the side of the road at Belton Lake recreation area and poured lighter fluid inside the vehicle while the Bagley’s sang “Jesus Loves Us“. Vialva then shot both of the Bagley’s in the head; which in fairness is the only thing anyone can do when someone is singing Jesus songs at you; killing Todd instantly. Bernard then set the car on fire, and according to Stacie’s autopsy report, she died of smoke inhalation.
In the time preceding his execution, there was controversy over whether Bernard should have been sentenced to death and executed, in part because of Donald Trump’s lame-duck status. Bernard’s legal team filed appeals on the basis that his prosecutor withheld the information that he was a low-level gang member, making him less likely to be a future offender. This revelation, combined with concerns that Bernard’s attorneys did not adequately defend him at trial, convinced five out of the nine living jurors who voted to convict Bernard to advocate for his sentence to be commuted to life in prison. Former federal prosecutor Angela Moore, who had initially argued for upholding the death sentence on appeal, also pressed for Bernard’s sentence to be commuted to life. She cited new studies that showed 18-year-olds lack an adult’s ability to control their impulses, as well as studies that showed black teenagers are “systematically denied the benefit of their youth.” She also noted Bernard’s exemplary record in prison; in 20 years, he had never been cited for a disciplinary rules violation. Lawyers Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, who have represented Trump in the past, requested that the Supreme Court delay the execution by two weeks, but were only successful in prolonging proceedings for three hours. Bernard was executed by lethal injection of pentobarbital at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana.
While preparing for the execution, Bernard ate a Meat lover’s pizza and a brownie, then spoke his last words saying he was “sorry” to the couple he murdered, citing those words as “the only words that I can say that completely capture how I feel now and how I felt that day.” He was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. on December 10th, 2020. Shortly following Bernard’s death, both Kim Kardashian and Senator Bernie Sanders criticised the government’s decision to execute Bernard. Of his conspirators, Vialva was executed on September 24th, 2020, and the remaining teens received a range of different prison terms; some remain incarcerated.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Kristen Schaal (43), Mischa Barton (35), Matthew Lillard (51), Ed Helms (47), Tatyana Ali (41), Nastassja Kinski (60), Michael Ontkean (75), Adrian Edmondson (64), Neil Diamond (80), Richard Dean Anderson (71), Gil Gerard (78), Olivia d’Abo (52), Linda Blair (62), Piper Laurie (89), John Wesley Shipp (66), Geena Davis (65), Martin Shaw (76), Emma Bunton (45), Rainn Wilson (55), David Lynch (75), Tom Baker (87), Bill Maher (65), Katey Sagal (67), Dolly Parton (75), Tippi Hedren (91), Rob Delaney (44), Michael Crawford (79), Kevin Costner (66), Dave Bautista (52), Jason Segel (41), Mark Rylance (61), and Jane Horrocks (57).
Yay! We have a winner! First death of the year and the bonus points go to Ceri for the demise of murderer Lisa Montgomery, well done Ceri!!! Touch and go if they were going to list her, they were very slow to do so, but she is listed; even though her Wiki points to her victim which is common practice nowadays as to limit the glorification of the murderer. I’ve elaborated below on the story of Montgomery as it’s a tragic tale from start to finish.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Julie Strain, 58, American actress (Naked Gun 33⅓, Penthouse Pet of the Year in 1993), complications from dementia.
- Lisa Montgomery, 52, American murderer, execution by lethal injection.
- Gerry Cottle, 75, British circus owner and presenter, COVID-19.
- Siegfried Fischbacher, 81, German-American magician, entertainer and tiger worrier (Siegfried & Roy), pancreatic cancer.
- Joanne Rogers, 92, American pianist and puppeteer (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood), heart disease.
- Storm Constantine, 64, British fantasy and science fiction author (Sea Dragon Heir, Grigori Trilogy).
- Peter Mark Richman, 93, American actor (Dynasty, Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Poolhall Junkies).
- Dustin Higgs, 48, American convicted murderer, execution by lethal injection.
- Paul Varelans, 51, American mixed martial arts fighter (UFC) and professional wrestler (ECW), COVID-19.
In Other News
Jeff Bridges has announced that his cancerous tumour has “drastically shrunk” amid treatment for lymphoma. The Oscar winner revealed in October that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma, but that his prognosis was “good”. In a new message posted to his official website, Bridges said that he went “in for a CAT scan” on 6th January to see if his tumour had shrunk in the wake of his treatment. “Turns out it’s working beautifully,” Bridges writes in the hand-written note. “The thing has drastically shrunk. I come home elated with the news.” Bridges added that his CAT scan coincided with the Capitol riots, in which Donald Trump supporters stormed Washington’s Capitol building. “To see our country attacking itself broke my heart,” Bridges writes. “A question rose in me – what’s an individual to do in a situation like this? My mentor, Rozzell Sykes, came to mind. His mantra was ‘be love’.” Nice to see he’s not lost his lovie-ness. Lymphoma is cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body. When you have lymphoma, lymphocytes change and grow out of control.
Don’t you just hate rewrites? I was leading this week with the story of Lisa Montgomery, the only female inmate on federal Death Row and how she got a stay of execution only hours before her big moment. Well, they only went and executed her!!! She received a lethal injection at a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. The case attracted attention because her lawyers argued she was mentally ill and suffered serious abuse as a child. The 52-year-old strangled a pregnant woman before cutting out and kidnapping her baby in Missouri in 2004. Her victim, 23-year-old Bobbie Jo Stinnett, bled to death. Montgomery is the first female federal inmate to be put to death by the US government in 67 years. The execution was postponed twice – first by Covid-19, then by a judge – until a Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for it to take place in the early hours of Wednesday. In a dramatic move late on Monday, a judge in Indiana had halted the scheduled injection until a mental competency hearing could be held which was thought to be a total reprieve as had she been able to hold out until President-elect Joe Biden took office, it was widely believed that he’d put a stop to federal executions. Her lawyers argued that she had been born brain-damaged and was too mentally ill to be executed as she had no comprehension of what her punishment involved. As a child she was routinely sexually and physically abused by her father and trafficked by her mother, family members said. Her treatment was so violent that it amounted to torture, her lawyers say. Her defence team believe that at the time of her crime, Montgomery was psychotic and out of touch with reality. That opinion is supported by 41 current and former lawyers as well as human rights groups like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. But her victim’s family and friends say the murder committed by Montgomery was so horrific that she deserved to be put to death regardless of her mental health. Since 2008, Montgomery had been held in a federal prison in Texas for female inmates with special needs, where she has been receiving psychiatric care. Since receiving her execution date, she’d been placed on suicide watch in an isolated cell. Montgomery’s lawyer, Kelley Henry, said her original legal defence was woefully inadequate, and presented few of the details about her abuse, trauma and mental illness. Federal executions had been on pause for 17 years before President Donald Trump ordered them to resume earlier last year.
Former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi was rushed to hospital in Monaco on Thursday because of heart issues, his personal physician has said. It is unclear what the media tycoon’s medical emergency is. The 84-year-old has battled multiple health issues in recent years, undergoing heart surgery in 2016 and being hospitalised with Covid-19 in September, following a visit to Sardinia. Mr Berlusconi developed double pneumonia after contracting the virus and was treated for more than a week at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital. On his release from hospital, the former prime minister said he had survived “the most dangerous challenge” he had ever faced. “Each one of us is exposed to the risk of infecting others. I repeat my call for maximum responsibility from everyone,” he cautioned at the time. On the news of his current health scare, shares in his family’s broadcasting firm Mediaset leapt almost three per cent on Thursday. The jump in price was attributed to speculation about ownership changes at Mediaset were his condition to worsen.
Saved by The Bell actor Dustin Diamond has been diagnosed with cancer, his representative has said. The 44-year-old, who played Samuel “Screech” Powers in the popular 1990s US school-based sitcom, fell ill last week and was taken to hospital. His representative, Roger Paul, said the actor is now waiting for further details. “We will know the severity of it when the tests are done,” Paul said, adding they expect an update next week. Diamond reprised his role in follow-up series Saved by the Bell: The New Class, and Saved by the Bell: The College Years. But he did not appear in the recent revival series. The American was also a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother in 2013.
On This Day
- 1912 – British polar explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.
- 1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins.
- 1998 – Matt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky affair on his Drudge Report website.
- 2003 – Richard Crenna, American actor and director (b. 1926)
- 2008 – Bobby Fischer, American chess player and author (b. 1943)
- 2020 – Derek Fowlds, British actor (b.1937).
The Bullseye Killer
In May 1989, a Welshman named John Cooper filmed an appearance on the cult ITV game show Bullseye. He was skilled at darts, talked of the beauty of the Welsh coastline, and happily told presenter Jim Bowen of his love of scuba-diving. He was also a serial killer.
The unexpected significance of Cooper’s Bullseye appearance only became apparent 20 years after the episode was broadcast, and plays an integral role in a new ITV drama series about his crimes.
While Cooper appeared jovial and friendly on television, he also hid a dark side. As well as being a prolific burglar of homes across the Welsh village of Milford Haven, Cooper had killed two people four years prior to filming the episode. Less than a month after Bullseye, he killed again.
“You’ve got an unusual hobby John, haven’t you?” Bowen asked Cooper during the programme. “Oh yes,” Cooper replied. “The scuba diving … on the coast line. We’ve got deep water where you can swim over mountains and all sorts of things.” Cooper’s performance on the show was relatively short-lived. Kicked off after the first round having failed to answer a sufficient number of general knowledge questions, he was then invited back in a later round, but that also proved unsuccessful – all three darts he threw missed their target. He forced a smile for the cameras nonetheless.
Three weeks later, Cooper held a pair of holidaymakers at gunpoint before shooting them both at point-blank range.
In court, Cooper’s son would recall his father roaming the sleepy town of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with a shotgun concealed under his coat. Secretly, Cooper was looking for houses to break into, and used the skills learnt in his vast collection of SAS manuals to slip in and out undetected. Cooper is believed to have turned to crime after losing thousands of pounds attempting to break into the property market and gambling away the £90,000 he won in a 1978 newspaper competition.
In 1985, Cooper targeted a mansion in Milford Haven owned by millionaire farmer Richard Thomas and his sister Helen, who would become his first known murder victims. Prosecutors later speculated that Cooper had killed the siblings after being disturbed during the break-in, with the pair’s bodies, both bearing point-blank shotgun wounds, found in their burnt-out home days after the robbery.
The killings cast a dark shadow over Milford Haven, but police were unable to apprehend a suspect. It would be four years before Cooper struck again just as violently.
Peter and Gwenda Dixon were a Oxfordshire couple holidaying on the Pembrokeshire coast when they encountered Cooper. Before killing the pair, again at point-blank range with a shotgun, Cooper tied them up close to a cliff edge and demanded their bank details. He would spend the rest of the day travelling from cashpoint to cashpoint, withdrawing money from the couple’s accounts. Police, meanwhile, were able to deduce that the same 12-bore shotgun was used in both the Thomas and Dixon murders. They had a serial killer on their hands.
Cooper, however, remained at large. In 1996, he held a group of Milford Haven teenagers hostage during a robbery, raping one girl and sexually assaulting another. In 1997, he held a woman at gunpoint in her home in the small Pembrokeshire village of Sardis. The woman was bound and gagged, but managed to flee. It was this crime that eventually exposed him, with police arresting Cooper in 1998 in connection with a series of home invasions in the area.
During a raid on Cooper’s home, police recovered jewellery, silverware and photo frames, some still bearing the photos of his victims. A pair of shorts were also recovered. Cooper was sentenced to 16 years in prison on 30 counts of robbery and burglary, but it wasn’t until advancements in technology occurred that police were able to officially link him to the Thomas and Dixon murders, as well as the 1996 assaults.
Police would identify traces of Gwenda Dixon’s blood on the recovered shorts, believing Cooper kept them as a trophy. A sock that once belonged to Richard Thomas was also recovered from Cooper’s home, while traces of Peter Dixon’s blood were found beneath a fresh lick of paint on Cooper’s shotgun.
In his 2013 book The Pembrokeshire Murders: Catching the Bullseye Killer, retired chief superintendent Steve Wilkins, recalled the moment of truth.
Having learnt that Cooper appeared on Bullseye, Wilkins partnered with ITV presenter Jonathan Hill to unearth a copy of the episode. Once a copy was found, Wilkins was floored by what he saw – notably Cooper casually telling Bowen his knowledge of the exact spot in which the Dixons were killed weeks later. It was also quickly made clear that the unknown man in the police sketch bore an uncanny resemblance to Cooper as he appeared on television, with ITV’s camera capturing him in the exact same stance as that in the sketch.
“You could hardly make it up,” Wilkins writes in his book. “For the first time we could see Cooper as he would have looked at the time of the Dixons’ murder. In my 30 years service, I had seen many artist’s impressions and photo-fit efforts, but I had never seen as close a match as this.”
The Bullseye tape, and the discovery of small traces of blood found on items of clothing retrieved from Cooper’s home, proved pivotal to Wilkins’s case. Cooper has always protested his innocence, but his attempts at appealing the verdict have proved unsuccessful. Since his imprisonment, Cooper has been linked with at least five other possible deaths in the Pembrokeshire area.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Zooey Deschanel (41), Jim Carrey (59), Betty White (99), Kelly Marie Tran (32), James Earl Jones (90), Lin-Manuel Miranda (41), John Carpenter (73), James May (58), Eva Habermann (45), Kate Moss (47), James Nesbitt (56), DJ Jazzy Jeff (56), Claudia Winkleman (49), Jason Bateman (52), Carl Weathers (73), Kevin Durand (47), Faye Dunaway (80), Grant Gustin (31), Mark Addy (57), LL Cool J (53), Dave Grohl (52), Ruth Wilson (39), Orlando Bloom (44), Michael Peña (45), Liam Hemsworth (31), William B. Davis (83), Bill Bailey (56), Rachael Harris (53), Kirstie Alley (70), Howard Stern (67), Jeff Bezos (57), Pixie Lott (30), Zayn Malik (28), Amanda Peet (49), Mary J. Blige (50), Jason Connery (58), and Melanie Hill (59).
Welcome to a bumper edition of the Dead Pool. This week we learn the Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Hospital is the place to be to look out for ailing celebrities! Bet the staff there could tell a few stories! And because I don’t thank her enough, big shout out to Nickie who keeps sending interesting stories she’s found for the newsletter. Very much appreciated, as is all the donations so far. You all rock!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Gerry Marsden, 78, English musician (Gerry and the Pacemakers), heart infection.
- Tanya Roberts, 65, American actress (A View to a Kill, That ’70s Show, Charlie’s Angels).
- Colin Bell, 74, English footballer (Bury, Manchester City, national team).
- Alexi Laiho, 41, Finnish death metal composer, guitarist and vocalist (Children of Bodom, Sinergy, The Local Band).
- Albert Roux, 85, French restaurateur and chef.
- Barbara Shelley, 88, British actress (Village of the Damned, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Quatermass and the Pit).
- Marion Ramsey, 73, American actress (Police Academy, Return to Babylon, Lavalantula) and singer.
- Deezer D, 55, American rapper and actor (ER, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, CB4).
- Michael Apted, 79, English filmmaker (Up, Coal Miner’s Daughter, The World Is Not Enough).
- American Democracy, 245, the storming of the Capitol by ‘very special’ Trump supporters.
In Other News
Tom Parker has revealed his stage 4 brain tumour has ‘significantly reduced’ and is ‘responding well’ to treatment. The Wanted singer, 32, took to Instagram on Thursday to update fans on his progress after receiving his terminal diagnosis of glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain cancer, in October. In a lengthy post, Tom said it was a ‘good fucking day’ after receiving the positive news about his battle and vowed to ‘keep fighting’ for the sake of his wife Kelsey Hardwick and their two children. He wrote: ‘SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION These are the words I received today and I can’t stop saying them over and over again. I had an MRI scan on Tuesday and my results today were a significant reduction to the tumour and I am responding well to treatment. Everyday I’m keeping on the fight to shrink this bastard! I can’t thank our wonderful NHS enough. You’re all having a tough time out there but we appreciate the work you are all doing on the front line.” Last month Tom has admitted his world was turned ‘upside down’ after he was told he has a stage four brain tumour. Thanking his wife Kelsey and their family for the support they have given him, Tom said he has ‘come a long way’ since being given the heartbreaking news. Tom revealed he’d reached the end of his latest day of treatment, admitting it had taken its toll. He also revealed he’d been suffering with bad short term memory loss after having chemotherapy and radiotherapy amid his brain tumour battle. Glioblastoma is considered the most aggressive tumor that can form in the brain. Patients have a 10 percent chance of surviving five years after their diagnosis, according to figures. The average lifespan is between 14 and 16 months.
A representative of London Zoo has responded to Ricky Gervais’s wish that his body be consumed by lions in the aftermath of his death. The comedian and long-time animal rights campaigner had made the proposal to Conan O’Brien on the US late night chat show Conan, saying he wanted to “give back”. “I thought it would be good to be just fed to the lions at London Zoo,” said Gervais. “That would be useful, isn’t it? We never give anything back. We take everything from this world…everything we do is for us, we’re not even food for other things. At least then…I’d like the look on the tourists’ faces when they throw this dead, fat, naked, 73-year-old, maybe, if I’m lucky, to the lions, and as it lands some people go, ‘is that the bloke from The Office?’” London Zoo’s chief operating officer Kathryn England said: “I suspect Ricky may be a bit gristly for our lions.” She added: “We are struggling financially because of lockdown so if anyone wants to ‘give something back’ we welcome donations that will help us keep our lions fed on a more suitable diet.” We’re wondering why he wants to wait until he dies, feed the fucker to them right now!
After days of false reports, it’s been confirmed that Tanya Roberts has died at the age of 65. Her partner, Lance O’Brien, told us that Roberts’ doctors called him just after 9:00 p.m. on January 4th to notify him of Roberts’ passing. The actress had been hospitalised for complications of a UTI that he claimed spread to her kidneys, liver and gallbladder before it “got into her blood.” The news comes shortly after a premature death announcement was made. The star was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after collapsing on Christmas Eve. Her rep, Mike Pingel, said that O’Brien claimed to have been asked by hospital staff to come in and say his final goodbyes on Sunday. Apparently O’Brien watched her close her eyes and assumed she had passed away. O’Brien reportedly called Pingel afterwards and told him Roberts had died. But during an interview with Inside Edition that morning, O’Brien received a phone call from the hospital informing him that Roberts had not passed away. “Now you’re telling me that she’s alive?” he said at the time. “Oh, thank the lord! Thank god.” O’Brien began to cry. “The hospital’s telling me she’s alive, and they’re calling me from the ICU,” he said, later adding, “I’m so happy.” However, the joy didn’t last long, it appears that Roberts is now dead, again. Roberts starred in many films over the course of her lifetime, including the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill. She also acted on a number of popular TV shows, including That ’70s Show and Charlie’s Angels.
Dr Dre says he is ‘doing great’ after being hospitalised in California for a suspected aneurysm. The rap mogul posted on Instagram that he hopes to leave Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and return home soon. “Thanks to my family, friends and fans for their interest and well wishes,” he wrote. “I’m doing great and getting excellent care from my medical team. I will be out of the hospital and back home soon. Shout out to all the great medical professionals at Cedars. One Love!!” Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, was taken to the hospital’s ICU on Monday where doctors ran tests to find what caused the bleeding on his brain. Luckily he wasn’t declared dead by his better half as he’s in the middle of a divorce from his wife, Nicole Young, who filed to end their marriage of more than 20 years. The rapper, who was born in Compton, California, rose to fame in the rap group NWA in the 1980s. After leaving the group he went on to huge solo success and won a Grammy for his 1993 album The Chronic. He went on to work as a hit music producer, and played an influential role in the careers of rappers such as Eminem and 50 Cent before selling his soul to Apple Inc. for $3 billion. Yup, you read that right, three billion dollars. The boy from Compton did good!
On This Day
- 1776 – American Revolution: Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet Common Sense.
- 1863 – The Metropolitan Railway, the world’s oldest underground railway, opens between Paddington and Farringdon, marking the beginning of the London Underground.
- 1927 – Fritz Lang‘s futuristic film Metropolis is released in Germany.
- 1862 – Samuel Colt, American engineer and businessman, maker of guns (b. 1814).
- 1917– Buffalo Bill, American soldier and hunter (b. 1846).
- 1971 – Coco Chanel, French fashion designer, founded Chanel (b. 1883).
- 2016 – David Bowie, English singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (b. 1947)
George Junius Stinney Jr., was a 14-year-old African-American boy who was convicted, of murdering two white girls, Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 7, in his hometown of Alcolu, South Carolina. He was executed by electric chair in June 1944. Stinney is the youngest American to be sentenced to death and executed since Hannah Ocuish in 1786.
A re-examination of the Stinney case began in 2004 after a judicial review. Stinney’s conviction was overturned in 2014, seventy years after he was executed, when a court ruled that he had not received a fair trial.
In March 1944, Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7, were riding their bicycles in Alcolu looking for flowers. When they saw Stinney and his younger sister Aime during their journey, they stopped and asked if they knew where to find maypops, the yellow edible fruit of passionflowers. That was reportedly the last time the girls were seen alive.
Binnicker and Thames, who were white, never made it home that day. Their disappearance prompted hundreds of Alcolu residents, including Stinney’s father, to come together and search for the missing girls. It wasn’t until the next day when their dead bodies were discovered in a soggy ditch. When examined, their bodies, there was no clear sign of a struggle, but both girls had met violent deaths involving multiple head injuries.
Thames had a hole boring straight through her forehead into her skull, along with a two-inch-long cut above her right eyebrow. Meanwhile, Binnicker had suffered at least seven blows to the head. It was later noted that the back of her skull was “nothing but a mass of crushed bones.” The wounds were likely caused by a round instrument about the size of the head of a hammer.
A rumour floated around town that the girls had made a stop at a prominent white family’s home on the same day of their murder, but this was never confirmed. And police certainly didn’t seem to be looking for a white killer.
When Clarendon County law enforcement officers learned from a witness that Binnicker and Thames were seen talking to Stinney, they went to his home. There, George Stinney Jr. was promptly handcuffed and interrogated for hours in a small room without his parents, an attorney, or any witnesses. Police claimed that Stinney confessed to murdering Binnicker and Thames after his plan to have sex with one of the girls failed. At the time, 14 was considered the age of responsibility – and Stinney was believed to be responsible for murder.
About a month after the girls’ deaths, George Stinney Jr.’s trial began at a Clarendon County Courthouse. Court-appointed attorney Charles Plowden did “little to nothing” to defend his client. During the two-hour trial, Plowden failed to call witnesses to the stand or present any evidence that would cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. The most significant piece of evidence presented against Stinney was his alleged confession, but there was no written record of the teen admitting to the murders.
By the time of his trial, Stinney hadn’t seen his parents in weeks, and they were too afraid of getting attacked by a white mob to come to the courthouse. So the 14-year-old was surrounded by strangers — up to 1,500 of them.
Following a deliberation that took less than 10 minutes, the all-white jury found Stinney guilty of murder, with no recommendation for mercy. On April 24th, 1944, the teen was sentenced to die by electrocution.
On June 16th, 1944, George Stinney Jr. walked into the execution chamber at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia with a Bible tucked under his arm.
Weighing in at just 95lbs/43kg, he was dressed in a loose-fitting striped jumpsuit. Strapped into an adult-size electric chair using a Bible as a booster seat because Stinney was too small for the chair. The state electrician also struggled to adjust an electrode to his right leg due to his size. A mask that was too big for him was placed over his face.
An assistant captain asked Stinney if he had any last words. Stinney replied, “No sir.” The prison doctor prodded, “You don’t want to say anything about what you did?” Again, Stinney replied, “No sir.”
When officials turned on the switch, 2,400 volts surged through Stinney’s body, causing the mask to slip off. His eyes were wide and teary, and saliva was emanating from his mouth for all the witnesses in the room to see. After two more jolts of electricity, it was over. Stinney was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. In a span of just 83 days, the boy had been charged with murder, tried, convicted, and executed by the state. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Crowley.
In 2004, George Frierson, a local historian who grew up in Alcolu, started researching the case after reading a newspaper article. His work gained the attention of South Carolina lawyers Steve McKenzie and Matt Burgess. Together they filed for a re-trial.
Frierson stated in interviews, “There has been a person that has been named as being the culprit, who is now deceased. And it was said by the family that there was a deathbed confession.” Frierson said that the rumoured culprit came from a well-known, prominent white family. A member, or members, of that family had served on the initial coroner’s inquest jury, which had recommended that Stinney be prosecuted.
New evidence in the court hearing in 2014 included testimony by Stinney’s siblings that he was with them at the time of the murders. In addition, an affidavit was introduced from the “Reverend Francis Batson, who found the girls and pulled them from the water-filled ditch. In his statement he recalls there was not much blood in or around the ditch, suggesting that they may have been killed elsewhere and moved.
Rather than approving a new trial, on December 17, 2014, circuit court Judge Carmen Mullen vacated Stinney’s conviction, thus not exonerating Stinney, but voiding the verdict. She ruled that he had not received a fair trial, as he was not effectively defended and his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jemaine Clement (47), William Sanderson (77), Evan Handler (60), Fran Walsh (62), Rod Stewart (76), Imelda Staunton (65), Joely Richardson (56), Rachel Nichols (41), Michelle Forbes (56), Amber Benson (44), Nicolas Cage (57), Jeremy Renner (50), Erin Gray (71), Linda Kozlowski (63), Brett Dalton (38), Steven Williams (72), Helen Worth (70), Eddie Redmayne (39), Kate McKinnon (37), Norman Reedus (52), Rowan Atkinson (66), Angus Deayton (65), Clancy Brown (62), Bradley Cooper (46), January Jones (43), Diane Keaton (75), Robert Duvall (90), Shea Whigham (52), Hayao Miyazaki (80), Vinnie Jones (56), Marilyn Manson (52), Mandip Gill (33), Dafne Keen (16), Julia Ormond (56), Graham McTavish (60), Matt Frewer (63), Emma Mackey (25), and Julian Sands (63).
Here we are folks! We made it through 2020!! Thank you all who have contributed to The Cause, you have been very generous indeed! We’re fairly close to the goal, in fact the closest we’ve been to breaking even ever!!! I suppose we’d better get on with it!
Look Who You Could Have Had 2020:
- Phil Niekro, 81, American baseball player (Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians), cancer.
- Pierre Cardin, 98, French-Italian fashion designer.
- Romell Broom, 64, American convicted murderer.
- Giovanni La Penna, 111, Italian supercentenarian, oldest living man in Italy.
- Samuel Little, 80, American serial killer.
- Dawn Wells, 82, American actress (Gilligan’s Island, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, Return to Boggy Creek), COVID-19.
- Adele Rose, 87, English television writer (Coronation Street, Z-Cars, Byker Grove), pneumonia.
- Tommy Docherty, 92, Scottish football player (Preston North End) and manager (Chelsea, national team).
Look Who You Could Have Had 2021:
- Mark Eden, 92, English actor (Coronation Street, Quatermass and the Pit, The Prisoner), complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Steve Brown, 62, British music producer (Manic Street Preachers), The Cult, Wham!).
- Barry Austin, 52, British record holder, nation’s heaviest man.
In Other News
Eighteen care home residents in Belgium have reportedly died after contracting coronavirus, following a visit from a man dressed as Santa Claus, Ho ho ho! Scores were infected at the nursing home in early December, with an outbreak emerging in the days after the visit. The visitor was reportedly among the first to test positive after his trip to the Hemelrijck home in Mol, a town in Antwerp province. It is yet unclear whether his visit was the cause of the outbreak, which authorities are still looking into. The city council said on Christmas Eve that 13 residents had died at the care home, after being infected with coronavirus. Five more people have since died at the nursing home, Mol’s mayor Wim Caeyers said. On Christmas Eve, Mol city council said a total of 121 residents at the Hemelrijck nursing home had tested positive for Covid-19, and the number showing serious symptoms was increasing. Six members of staff had also tested positive for the virus. “The residential care centre will face a very difficult period in the next seven to ten days,” the council said in a statement on Christmas Eve. After the outbreak emerged following the Santa visit, a company spokesperson told us: “The team is very shocked by what happened, but that also makes them very motivated to get the virus out again.” In hindsight, one wonders who thought it was a good idea to bring a Santa to see a bunch of geriatric non-believers in the first place??
YouTuber Grace Victory’s family has shared an update on her condition after she was placed into an induced coma by doctors on Christmas Day. On 30th December, the family shared a second post on her Instagram page, saying: “Grace is currently stable and responding well to treatment.” They also thanked fans for their support and well wishes: “We as a family are truly overwhelmed by the amount of Love and well wishes sent to our Grace and we want to thank each and everyone of you for casting a light of hope our way. The 30-year-old influencer delivered her first child on Christmas Eve, much earlier than her due date of February, due to Covid-19 complications. After the birth, Victory, who is from High Wycombe, was then admitted to intensive care as a result of breathing difficulties. Her family shared a post on 28 December detailing what had happened. “As you guys know, Grace gave birth on Christmas Eve to a beautiful baby boy, who is currently doing so well, he’s incredible. We love him so much. Grace developed Covid-19 two weeks ago and although her symptoms were mild at first, they worsened as the days went on. Which meant they had to deliver the baby as soon as possible, as she was just too unwell to carry on with the pregnancy.” The family explained that despite the successful delivery of her son, Victory was then placed into an induced coma to “give her body the rest it needs, in order to recover”. Victory has over 200,000 YouTube subscribers and 224,000 Instagram followers. She has focused her career on body positivity, mental health and holistic healing. That went well for her then….
Voice actor Tom Kane, best known for his roles in Star Wars films and TV series, has suffered a stroke. According to a Facebook post by Kane’s daughter, Sam, the stroke occurred around two months ago, and left Kane unable to “efficiently communicate verbally, nor read or spell”. “Our family wanted to share why my dad has been MIA,” she wrote. “About two months ago he had a left side stroke that gave him right sided weakness and damage to the speech centre of his brain. “He is still competent and very much himself, but can only get out a few words right now… My dad still remains in good spirits and his extreme stubbornness has helped him already show improvements in speech. He is fully on board with me sharing this and he will see anything you guys post.” A prolific actor, Kane, now 58, voiced Jedi master Yoda in the Star Wars animated series The Clone Wars, returning to the role in other productions. He also voiced the cult franchise favourite Admiral Ackbar in Rian Johnson’s 2017 entry Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, and has appeared in other roles in several Star Wars video games and series. Outside of Star Wars, Kane has appeared in animations including Archer, Powerpuff Girls and Robot Chicken. In the Facebook post, Kane’s daughter revealed that his neurologist told him he may not be able to act in voice-overs again.
On This Day
- 1833 – The United Kingdom claims sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.
- 1911 – A gun battle in the East End of London left two dead and sparked a political row over the involvement of then-Home Secretary Winston Churchill.
- 1961 – The SL-1 nuclear reactor is destroyed by a steam explosion in the only reactor incident in the United States to cause immediate fatalities.
- 1962 – Pope John XXIII excommunicates our old friend Fidel Castro. Castro still lived a full life and probably didn’t even notice.
- 2009 – The first block of the blockchain of the decentralised payment system Bitcoin, called the Genesis block, was established by the creator of the system, Satoshi Nakamoto.
- 2015 – Boko Haram militants raze the entire town of Baga in north-east Nigeria, starting the Baga massacre and killing as many as 2,000 people!!
- 1795 – Josiah Wedgwood, English potter, founded the Wedgwood Company (b. 1730).
- 1903 – Alois Hitler, Austrian civil servant, father of Adolf (b. 1837).
- 1946 – William Joyce, American-British pro-Axis propaganda broadcaster (b. 1906).
- 1967 – Jack Ruby, American businessman and murderer (b. 1911).
- 1979 – Conrad Hilton, American businessman, founded the Hilton Hotels (b. 1887).
- 2003 – Jimmy Stewart, Scottish racing driver (b. 1931).
In the weeks after the Second World War broke out, the crackly sound of a clipped English accent spouting Nazi propaganda began to filter through the wireless sets of Britain in a desperate attempt to sap morale. Radio critic Jonah Barrington was the first to brand the anonymous plummy voice he heard with the nickname “Lord Haw-Haw”. He wrote scathingly: “I imagine him having a receding chin, a questing nose, thin yellow hair brushed back, a monocle, a vacant eye, a gardenia in his buttonhole. Rather like PG Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster…” The moniker would stick when the anonymous voice was revealed as belonging to William Joyce, a scar-faced Anglo-American traitor who had begun broadcasting fascist propaganda. Over the next five years, Joyce would go on to become the scourge of the airwaves. It is estimated that, at his peak, six million Britons regularly tuned in to his transmissions.
Now, over 80 years on from Joyce’s first broadcasts, the story of how he was finally captured and brought to justice, was, ironically, by a Jew who had fled Hitler’s Germany.
Born in 1906 in New York to an Irish father and English mother, Joyce’s family moved to Ireland where, as a young man, he dabbled with working for British intelligence. He went on to study English at the University of London, became a teacher and once said: “From my earliest days, I was taught to love England and her Empire.” But by the 1920s, Joyce began to fall under the spell of fascism and in a spat with communist sympathisers, he was slashed from his earlobe to mouth leaving him with a distinctive scar across his right cheek. Joyce was soon giving speeches for the British Union of Fascists but believed its leader Sir Oswald Mosley was too moderate and formed his own pro-Nazi and anti-semitic organisation.
In 1939, Joyce was tipped off that he was about to be arrested and fled for Germany with his wife Margaret just a week before hostilities broke out. He was quickly recruited by the Nazis, keen to use his background to help them wage a propaganda war through the radio. Although Joyce was of ordinary stock, he had developed a nasally, upper-class English accent that the Nazis believed would give their message credibility and authenticity. His sarcastic and sneering short-wave transmissions from Hamburg would always start with “Germany Calling” before a tirade of arguments designed to convince his British audience to surrender. The Third Reich’s head of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, would describe him as “the best horse in my stable” and Joyce was rewarded for his treachery with German citizenship.
Many Brits, bored by the stodgy wartime BBC output, admitted they listened in not because they sympathised with Haw-Haw’s message but to have a good laugh at his haughty tone. But as the Second World War began to turn against the Nazis and British resolve hardened, Joyce’s power began to wane. As the Allies closed in on Berlin, Joyce gave a final, drunken, rambling broadcast on April 30th 1945, before signing off with a final defiant, “Heil Hitler and farewell”. Joyce and his wife then went into hiding near Flensburg, on the Danish border.
A month later, on May 28th, a dishevelled figure was spotted gathering firewood by two British soldiers, Captain Bertie Lickorish and Lieutenant Geoffrey Perry members of T-Force, the unit tasked with securing Germany’s scientific and industrial assets. They had begun to engage the man in conversation in English when Lieutenant Perry had a lightbulb moment. He knew Haw-Haw was rumoured to be in the area and thought he recognised the distinctive accent of the man in front of them. He asked him: “You wouldn’t, by any chance, be William Joyce would you?” In response to the question, Joyce reached for his pocket. Believing that he was going for a weapon, Lieutenant Perry shot him in the buttocks. In fact, Joyce didn’t have a gun, he had been reaching for his papers drawn up in the fake name of Wilhelm Hansen.
The captured Joyce was sent back to Britain to stand trial for high treason because of his British passport. In September, he was found guilty at London’s Old Bailey and hanged by the famed executioner Albert Pierrepoint, on January 3rd 1946, at Wandsworth Prison, making him the last person to be executed for treason in the United Kingdom. He was 38. Sadly we don’t know what his last meal was but Joyce’s unrepentant last words are said to have been: “May the swastika be raised from the dust.”
The scar on Joyce’s face split wide open because of the pressure applied to his head upon his drop from the gallows. As was customary for executed criminals, Joyce’s remains were buried in an unmarked grave within the walls of HMP Wandsworth. In 1976 following a campaign by his daughter, Heather Landalo, his body was reinterred in Bohermore, Galway, Ireland.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Mel Gibson (65), Florence Pugh (25), Victoria Principal (71), Dabney Coleman (89), Sarah Alexander (50), Tia Carrere (54), Kate Bosworth (38), Cuba Gooding Jr. (53), Frank Langella (83), Li Gong (55), Anthony Hopkins (83), Val Kilmer (61), Ben Kingsley (77), Jane Badler (67), Eliza Dushku (40), Tracey Ullman (61), Fred Ward (78), Tiger Woods (45), Michael Nesmith (78), Jude Law (48), Jon Voight (82), Ted Danson (73), Lilly Wachowski (53), Danny McBride (44), Bernard Cribbins (92), Marianne Faithfull (74), Denzel Washington (66), Maggie Smith (86), Noomi Rapace (41), Sienna Miller (39), Joe Manganiello (44), John Legend (42), and Nichelle Nichols (88).
This year has been rather exceptional with the coronavirus picking off celebrities of all ages. However, it doesn’t seem as deadly as 2016, where it felt like anyone who wasn’t listed were dying just to spite us; I’m thinking of you David Bowie!!!
Anyhow, we have a winner to declare! Congratulations to Louise for topping the table with 467 points from 4 deaths. If you could send me your contact details I can send off the trophy to you! Honourable mentions go to Laura for the most deaths (7) and to Stu and myself for not scoring a bean throughout the year. Well done all of you!
Right, let’s have a quick look at who we lost in 2020.
- Derek Acorah – The self-styled spiritual medium, whose real name was Derek Johnson, died right at the beginning of the year aged 69. It was revealed he had been treated in intensive care following a “brief illness”. So far he’s refused to contact the living world since his departure.
- Terry Jones – The Welsh actor and Monty Python star passed away aged 77. His family said he died at his home in London after battling a rare form of dementia. In a statement, the actor’s family said: “His work with Monty Python, his books, films, television programmes, poems and other work will live on forever, a fitting legacy to a true polymath.”
- Kobe Bryant – The basketball legend and his 13-year-old daughter died in a helicopter crash that killed nine people in total. The five-time NBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medallist was 41.
- Nicholas Parsons – The Just a Minute host died aged 96 after a short illness. He was best known for the show, where panellists have to speak for one minute without hesitation, deviation, or repetition. He first fronted the show on its inception in 1967. BBC director general Tony Hall said: “Very few people have done so much to entertain audiences over the decades and no-one deserves to be called a broadcasting legend more than Nicholas Parsons.
- Kirk Douglas – The actor died at the age of 103. The venerated star, patriarch of an acting dynasty was one of the few remaining survivors of Hollywood’s golden age, was best known for films including Spartacus, Paths of Glory and The Vikings. His eldest son, Michael Douglas, a two-time Oscar-winner, announced his father’s death with a touching tribute that failed to address his aggressive and murderous personality and the likelihood he was a paedo rapist.
- Caroline Flack – The former Love Island TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing winner was found dead at the age of 40 at her London home after taking her own life. Flack, who was described as “vulnerable” by her management, had pleaded not guilty to assaulting her boyfriend Lewis Burton at her former flat. Her death came just weeks before the trial was due to begin.
- Dieter Laser – The German actor who played sadistic surgeon Josef Heiter in 2009 shock horror film The Human Centipede. He died at the age of 78, with The Human Centipede director Tom Six describing him as a “force of nature, an unique human being and an iconic actor”.
- Max von Sydow – Swedish actor Max von Sydow died at home in France aged 90. He’s mostly lnown for his roles in Flash Gordon, Game Of Thrones, The Exorcist and The Seventh Seal. He once said of his most famous role “The film you hear about the most is The Exorcist. When people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, you scared me!’ I was the good guy in that film!”
- Michel Roux – Chef Michel Roux died aged 79. He opened the first Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, in Britain in the ’70s alongside his brother Albert.
- Roy Hudd – Comedian and actor Roy Hudd died at the age of 83 after a short illness. His agent said he had passed away peacefully with his wife Debbie at his side. Hudd was born in Croydon and started his career as a messenger for an advertising agency, window dresser and a commercial artist before his professional debut in 1957.
- Kenny Rogers – The Country music legend with a career that spanned six decades, with hits including Coward Of The County, The Gambler and Islands In The Stream, with Dolly Parton. The Houston-born singer, known for his trademark husky voice and silver beard, broke through into the world of pop to sell more than 100 million records. He also gained fame as an actor, starring in TV movies based on The Gambler and other songs, making him a superstar in the 1970s and 80s. He died peacefully in a hospice, surrounded by family, aged 81.
- Eddie Large – Comedian Eddie Large died at the age of 78 after contracting coronavirus while in hospital. The comedian, famous for his double act with Syd Little, had a long-running comedy sketch show on BBC One in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Lord Bath – Lord Bath of Longleat was 87 when he died after testing positive for coronavirus. The “gloriously” eccentric Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, ran Longleat Safari Park. The flamboyant aristocrat was known for his colourful dress sense and was a regular feature of the Animal Park television show about his estate.
- Honor Blackman – Actress Honor Blackman, best-known for playing Pussy Galore, died at the age of 94. She died peacefully of natural causes at home in Lewes, Sussex, surrounded by her family. Her numerous and varied roles included Cathy Gale in The Avengers and Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.
- Sir Stirling Moss – The motor racing great died at the age of 90 following a long illness. His wife Lady Moss said: “It was one lap too many. He just closed his eyes.” Though Moss famously never won the Formula One title, he finished runner-up four times and came third three times in a career during which he won 16 Grands Prix.
- Tim Brooke-Taylor – The Goodies star died aged 79 after contracting coronavirus. The actor, best known as part of the 1970s comic trio, was survived by his wife Christine. Alongside Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, The Goodies TV show attracted millions of viewers in its heyday.
- Bill Withers – Famous for timeless classics including Lean On Me, Lovely Day, Just The Two Of Us and Ain’t No Sunshine. His death from heart complications at the age of 81.
- Little Richard – Sir Mick Jagger led tributes to Rock ‘n’ Roll singer Little Richard following his death at the age of 87. Little Richard, who inspired musicians including The Beatles, David Bowie and Sir Elton John, was a Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer and renowned for hits such as Tutti Frutti and Long Tall Sally.
- Florian Schneider – Co-founded Kraftwerk alongside Ralf Hutter in 1970 after meeting as students in Dusseldorf. The band’s pioneering use of drum machines and synthesisers influenced countless musicians who came after them. Schneider died after a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday.
- Roy Horn – Best known as part of the Las Vegas performing duo of Siegfried & Roy, who were world renowned for their shows involving white lions and tigers, alongside Siegfried Fischbacher. However, the act unravelled in October 2003 when a tiger named Mantecore mauled him during a live performance, severing his spine and inflicting several other injuries, permanently affecting his ability to move, walk and speak. Horn died at the age of 75 after contracting coronavirus.
- Willie Thorne – The snooker legend died in hospital in Spain after a short battle with leukaemia. He was 66. He had been in an induced coma in the intensive care ward at Torrevieja Hospital, Spain, after suffering respiratory failure. Thorne was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier in the year and had several health issues while undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
- Dame Vera Lynn – Forces’ Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn died at the age of 103. A statement said: ”The family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers at the age of 103.‘’
- Ian Holm – The Lord Of The Rings star was remembered as “charming, kind and ferociously talented”, following his death at the age of 88. The actor, who was acclaimed for his roles in Chariots Of Fire, Alien and Brazil, was also a prolific and accomplished star of the Royal Shakespeare Company and was described as Harold Pinter’s favourite actor. He died peacefully in hospital after a Parkinson’s-related illness, with his family and carer at his bedside.
- Ennio Morricone – The legendary movie composer died at the age of 91 after breaking his hip in a fall. The Italian composer created music for more than 400 films, but was best-known for the soundtrack to 1966 Spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Morricone was rated as one of the world’s most influential composers after writing scores for cinema – including 70 award-winning films – television and 100 classical works.
- Jack Charlton – The former Leeds and England defender who won a World Cup winner’s medal in 1966, died in July. He was 85. Charlton had been diagnosed with lymphoma in the last year and was also battling dementia. He spent his entire 21-year playing career at Leeds, making a joint club record 773 appearances, before retiring as a player in 1973 and going on to enjoy a successful and colourful career as a manager.
- Kelly Preston – the wife of John Travolta, died aged 57 after battling breast cancer for two years. The actress starred in films such as Mischief, Twins and Jerry Maguire. Alongside a photograph of her, Travolta announced her death saying: “It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you that my beautiful wife Kelly has lost her two-year battle with breast cancer. She fought a courageous fight with the love and support of so many.“ The couple had been married for nearly 30 years. Their son, Jett, died at the age of just 16 after suffering a seizure during a family holiday in the Bahamas in 2009.
- Naya Rivera – Tributes were paid to the former Glee star, after her death was confirmed at the age of 33. The actress went missing during a boating trip at Lake Piru in Southern California with her four-year-old son, Josey Hollis, and her body was found days later. Demi Lovato, who played Rivera’s on-screen girlfriend on the show, said she will “forever cherish” starring alongside her.
- Dame Olivia de Havilland – The two-time Oscar winner and for decades the last surviving star of Gone With the Wind, died at the age of 104. The actress died of natural causes at her residence in Paris, where she had lived for more than six decades. She emerged as a star during the classic movie era – first as a romantic partner for Errol Flynn in swashbucklers such as Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood and then as Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone With the Wind.
- Chadwick Boseman – The actor, best known for playing superhero Black Panther, died at the age of 43 after a battle with cancer. In an announcement that stunned Hollywood, Boseman’s family said he had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and died surrounded by his loved ones, including wife Taylor Simone Ledward. He never discussed the illness publicly and films including Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods and Avengers: Endgame were all filmed “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the family said.
- Dame Diana Rigg – The actress, known for roles from The Avengers to Games of Thrones, died at the age of 82. Her daughter Rachael Stirling said: “My Beloved Ma died peacefully in her sleep, at home, surrounded by family. She died of cancer diagnosed in March, and spent her last months joyfully reflecting on her extraordinary life, full of love, laughter and a deep pride in her profession. I will miss her beyond words.”
- Jackie Stallone – The mother of Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone, died at the age of 98. The famous celebrity astrologer and women’s wrestling promoter had a memorable – although brief – stint in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2005. A surprise contestant, Stallone entered much to the shock of co-housemate and former daughter-in-law Brigitte Nielsen, with whom she had a frosty relationship.
- Michael Lonsdale – Best known for his role as James Bond villain Hugo Drax in 1979’s Moonraker, Lonsdale made more than 100 films and performed on stage in a career in entertainment that spanned 60 years. Lonsdale died peacefully at his home in Paris, aged 89, with his agent of 20 years saying it was simply old age. “His spirit was alive but his body was tired,” he said.
- Eddie Van Halen – The world of rock and roll mourned the “Mozart for guitar” Eddie Van Halen following his death at the age of 65. The revered guitarist was Van Halen’s creative force as they blurred the line between hard rock and heavy metal on their way to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world in the 1980s. Van Halen died after a “long and arduous” battle with cancer.
- Frank Bough – The former TV presenter died at the age 87. A family friend told the BBC Bough died in a care home. Bough was one of the best-known TV hosts in the 1970s and 1980s and was part of the launch of the BBC’s Breakfast TV show in 1983. His career with the BBC ended in 1988 when he was sacked over a sex-related scandal.
- Bobby Ball – The 76-year-old comedian died of coronavirus in hospital. One half of the duo Cannon & Ball, Bobby’s death was confirmed by his manager and wife Yvonne said: “I will always miss him, he was so joyful, full of fun and mischievous.” The Cannon and Ball Show ran for nine years from 1979 and in more recent times they found success on the panto circuit and cameos on TV.
- Sean Connery – The film star, most famous for playing James Bond, passed away at the age of 90. Sean, who played 007 in the likes of Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, won an Oscar in 1988 when he was named best supporting actor for his role as an Irish cop in The Untouchables and also starred in films like The Rock and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
- Johnny Nash – Best known for the 1970s reggae hit I Can See Clearly Now, which sold more than a million copies and sat at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks. He largely dropped out of the spotlight in the late 1980s. He died of natural causes, aged 80, his son said.
- John Sessions – The actor and comedian died at the age of 67 after suffering a heart attack. He was best known for his work on Spitting Image and Whose Line Is It Anyway?
- Des O’Connor – The much loved entertainer died at the age of 88. The TV legend passed away in hospital a week after suffering a fall in his Buckinghamshire home. He will be best remembered for shows such as Take Your Pick, Countdown, The Des O’Connor Show and Today with Des and Mel. The presenter was also a singer and recorded 36 albums as a singer, five of which made it to the UK Top 40.
- Geoffrey Palmer – The actor, known for his roles in such sitcoms as Butterflies, As Time Goes By and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, died aged 93. Versatile and prolific, he was known and loved for his hangdog expression and the often testy demeanour he gave to his characters.
- Ray Clemence – Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence was hailed as a “true legend” and “a giant of a man” after his death at the age of 72. Clemence, who won three European Cups and five First Division titles during a trophy-laden spell at Anfield, was without question one of the greatest of his generation.
- Diego Maradona – The Argentinian football legend famous for his Hand of God, died aged 60. He was regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and helped Argentina win the World Cup in 1986, the pinnacle of an illustrious career.
- David Prowse – The British actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, died aged 85. The weightlifter-turned-actor, who also earned an MBE for playing the Green Cross Code Man to promote road safety, died after a short illness. Prowse won the role playing Vader due to his impressive 6ft 6in physique, but with his West Country accent deemed not quite suitable, the part was instead voiced by James Earl Jones.
- Peter Alliss – The “voice of golf” died at the age of 89 after a successful playing career where he won more than 20 tournaments during and played on eight Ryder Cup teams. His move into broadcasting came about after he was overheard by the BBC’s Ray Lakeland talking to a friend on a flight back from a tournament in Ireland in 1960.
- Dame Barbara Windsor – Babs died aged 83 in a care home. Best known for her roles in EastEnders and the Carry On films, she was considered a national treasure in the UK after finding fame as a buxom blonde in the Carry On films. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014, she made the news public in 2018. Her husband Scott Mitchell said her final weeks were “typical of how she lived her life” and “full of humour, drama and a fighting spirit until the end”.
- John le Carré – Cold War espionage author David Cornwell, known by his pen name John le Carré, died aged 89 after a battle with pneumonia. Among his 25 novels were acclaimed best-sellers including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and The Night Manager. His most well-known character was the career intelligence officer George Smiley – made even more famous by Alec Guinness in the TV series of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
- Eileen Pollock – Was a star of stage and screen who appeared in films including Far And Away in 1992, alongside Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and Angela’s Ashes in 1999. But she was best known for playing “tart” Lilo Lill, mistress of Freddie Boswell, in Bread, the TV comedy that centred around the working class Boswell family in Liverpool, which ran from 1986 to 1991. She died peacefully in her sleep at home in London, aged 73.
Here we are again, the last newsletter of the year. Comes around so quickly!! With just a few days to go, anything could happen! I’ve already had about a dozen 2021 lists and they’re all fantastic! You will have to think deeply if you haven’t submitted yours already.
Just so you know, the winner will be declared on Friday 1st January, which will also be the day I’ll send out the 2020 review, a copy of everyone else’s list and a new email address list if you want to send the group a klaxon for instance.
Donations to keep us running will be the same as usual, PayPal page on the website. The page will be opened on 1st January for four weeks, and as always, you’re not obliged to contribute as 2020 has been a shit year for all of us. But if you think a years worth of newsletters, a trophy, a few giggles and a cool website is worth a couple of quid, your contribution will be thankfully received; running costs for 2021 will be roughly £140, about the price of a pint each if we have our usual numbers taking part, although that usually ends up being the price of a night out and a taxi for me to make up the shortfall.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Pelle Alsing, 60, Swedish drummer (Roxette).
- Rosalind Knight, 87, British actress (Carry On, Tom Jones, Gimme Gimme Gimme).
- Eileen Pollock, 73, Northern Irish actress (Bread, Far and Away, Angela’s Ashes).
- Margaret Tebbit, Lady Tebbit, 86, English nurse.
- K. T. Oslin, 78, American country singer-songwriter (“80’s Ladies“, “Do Ya“, “I’ll Always Come Back“).
- Stella Tennant, 50, British model.
- James E. Gunn, 97, American science fiction author (The Road to Science Fiction, Star Bridge, The Listeners).
- Rebecca Luker, 59, American actress (Mary Poppins, Show Boat, Not Fade Away), complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Kay Purcell, 57, English actress (Emmerdale, Tracy Beaker Returns, Waterloo Road), liver cancer.
- Brodie Lee, 41, American professional wrestler (AEW, WWE, ROH), lung disease.
In Other News
In a candid recent interview comedy legend Billy Connolly confessed he feels close to death, and thinks about it “quite a lot”. Connolly was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013, “I don’t think I’ve got that long”, he said to us. “I don’t want to be a comedian you feel sorry for”, said the performer who has chosen to remain off the stage as he doesn’t feel comfortable with the symptoms of the disease showing. “There’s an American boy who says, ‘Shaking is the new cool.’ He’s got it on a T-shirt. And bless him, but I don’t want to do it,” said Connolly. In 2019, the Glaswegian comic announced his poignant, provocative last tour The Sex Life of Bandages, in which he joked about the disease “Drooling has taken over my life,” he mused. “It’s so unattractive.” The Sydney Opera House date of the final tour was released as a film. Connolly explained how his condition is getting worse. “Nothing’s working,” he said, revealing that his condition is affecting his mood. “I’m having a bit of a sad time”. The comic has tried alternative treatments to curb symptoms of the brain disorder, which causes shaking, stiffness, affects balance and causes difficulty walking. Some research suggests Cannabis helps: “but I get bombed out of my head”, said Connolly on trying the remedy in Florida, where he now lives and there is a Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. “I don’t like it. My daughter bought me cigarettes with CBD. It helped a little, but not enough to write home about.” Voted “most influential comedian of all time” in a 2012 poll, the comic also received a special recognition National Television Award in 2016, and was knighted in 2017.
Tom Parker, 32, has shared on Instagram that since beginning radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, he has been suffering from “bad” memory loss. The Wanted singer explained how the brutal hospital sessions have left him forgetting what he has “just done” throughout the day. Tom said: “As some of you know, I have been through chemo and radio, haven’t I? “Which was pretty god-damn brutal, but some of the side effects from the chemo and radio are you get bad memory loss.” He then asked his wife Kelsey Harwick: “Mine was already bad, wasn’t it? His spouse responded: “Horrendous already, so now I’m like… literally, it’s even worse!” Tom elaborated that he struggled to remember daily activities, but would sometimes recall “weird” things, such as a present he bought for his daughter Aurelia. He continued: “But it’s the weirdest thing because like, I’ll go to her [Kelsey], ‘What did I just do?’ But I can remember stuff like this…” Tom is best known for being in boyband The Wanted, who achieved fame in the early 2010s with singles including All Time Low and Glad You Came.
Australian golfer Greg Norman is in hospital after suffering from coronavirus. The 65-year-old, who won two Open championships in 1986 and 1993, confirmed on his Instagram page that he had been admitted to hospital on Christmas Day due to contracting Covid-19. The former professional golfer posted a picture from his hospital bed, along with a second image of a doctor standing behind a protective screen that showed Norman in isolation from other patients. Norman added: “This sums it all up. My Christmas Day. On behalf of millions, fuck CoVid. This get this shit behind us never to experience it again.” Several golfers sent their best wishes to Norman, with British trio Justin Rose, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter among those to wish the Australian golfing great a “speedy recovery”. Norman, who earned the nickname The Great White Shark, spent more than 300 weeks at the top of the world golf rankings, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
Johnny Ruffo recently announced the heartbreaking news his brain cancer had returned after he experienced “an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches.” The 32 year old former Home And Away actor kicks off another round of chemotherapy over the festive season. The actor and talented singer first battled the illness in 2017, and had since been given the all clear after brain surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. Johnny wrote on social media “After an unexpected week of seizures and excruciating headaches it is with a heavy heart that i have to let you know i now have another huge battle ahead of me as my brain cancer has returned,”. He added: “though i will dig deep and beat this s*hit disease again #f***cancer.” The former X factor Australia’s doctors had actually discovered his first tumour by chance when he headed to hospital suffering from migraines. At the time, the star underwent life-saving surgery to have the 7cm tumour removed before undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
On This Day
- 537 – The construction of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is completed.
- 1831 – Charles Darwin embarks on his journey aboard HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate his theory of evolution.
- 1836 – The worst ever avalanche in England occurs at Lewes, Sussex, killing eight people.
- 1939 – The 7.8 Mw Erzincan earthquake shakes eastern Turkey with a maximum Mercalli intensity of XI (Extreme). At least 32,700 people were killed.
- 2007 – Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto is assassinated in a shooting incident.
- 1923 – Gustave Eiffel, French architect, co-designed the Eiffel Tower (b. 1832)
- 1958 – Harry Warner, Polish-American film producer, co-founded Warner Bros. (b. 1881)
- 1982 – Jack Swigert, American pilot, astronaut, and politician (b. 1931)
- 1994 – Fanny Cradock, English author and critic (b. 1909)
- 2003 – Alan Bates, English actor (b. 1934)
- 2007 – Benazir Bhutto, 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan (b. 1953)
- 2012 – Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., American general and engineer (b. 1934)
- 2016 – Carrie Fisher, American actress, screenwriter, author and producer (b. 1956)
Last Female on Death Row?
A ruling by a federal judge to delay the execution of the only woman on federal death row could push the new date into the early days of the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he would work to end federal capital punishment. The woman, Lisa Montgomery, had been scheduled to be executed the 8th of December, but that date was delayed after two of her lawyers tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after travelling to a federal prison in Texas to visit her in November. Should Montgomery’s life be spared as a result of the series of delays caused by the infection of her lawyers, it would be a rare reprieve for a prisoner from a virus that has swept through prisons, infecting inmates crammed into shared spaces.
But if the Department of Justice appeals the decision, a higher court would most likely overturn it. Since the Supreme Court paved the way for federal executions to proceed in June after a 17-year hiatus, the justices have been largely unreceptive to requests for reprieve from federal inmates scheduled for execution. The Justice Department had rescheduled her execution for January 12th, but Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Thursday that the January execution date had been unlawfully rescheduled because a stay order, which was issued because of her lawyers’ illnesses, was still in effect.
Montgomery, of Melvern, Kansas, was convicted in 2008 of killing Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was 23 years old and eight months pregnant at the time, and cutting a baby from her abdomen. She tried to pass off Stinnett’s baby as her own before admitting to the crime. A jury convicted her of kidnapping resulting in death in federal court in Missouri.
Montgomery’s lawyers have said that she has severe mental illness, which was inherited from both of her parents and worsened by the abuse she endured as a child, including being sex-trafficked by her mother and gang-raped by men.
Federal execution rules state that a prisoner will receive notice of his or her execution date at least 20 days in advance. However, when the rescheduled date is fewer than 20 days from the earlier execution date, the prisoner must be notified only “as soon as possible.” The stay in Montgomery’s case barred the government from executing her before December 31st. How long the government will wait to execute her after that point remains unclear. Once Biden is sworn in on January 20th, the chances of Montgomery’s execution become increasingly unlikely. Representatives for Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether he would intervene in Montgomery’s case should her execution fall under his purview. A spokesperson for the president-elect told us that Biden “opposes the death penalty now and in the future.”
If Montgomery is executed, it would be the first federal execution of a woman since 1953, when Bonnie Heady was killed in a gas chamber for the kidnapping and murder of a 6-year-old boy in Kansas City, Missouri. The Trump administration resumed federal executions in July for the first time since 2003.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Timothée Chalamet (25), Wilson Cruz (47), Gérard Depardieu (72), John Amos (81), Maryam d’Abo (60), Jared Leto (49), Kit Harington (34), Temuera Morrison (60), Shane Meadows (48), Phil Spector (81), Sissy Spacek (71), Helena Christensen (52), Annie Lennox (66), Nadiya Hussain (36), Anil Kapoor (64), Ricky Martin (49), Finn Wolfhard (18), Harry Shearer (77), Carla Bruni (53), Ralph Fiennes (58), Vanessa Paradis (48), Samuel L. Jackson (72), Jane Fonda (83), Kiefer Sutherland (54), Steven Yeun (37), Julie Delpy (51), and Michael Horse (71).
Afternoon all. Now that Christmas has been cancelled you have even more time to think about your list for 2021. Remember, you need to choose 13 names altogether; 1 Dead Cert, 1 Woman, and 1 Maverick (anyone under 50yo not expected to die). The rules can be seen if you click on this link. You can e-mail your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org With only 11 days to go, you better get your thinking caps on. Between eating sprouts and crying about not seeing your much despised siblings, the time will soon fly by. Tell all your friends if you have any!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ann Reinking, 71, American choreographer and actress (Chicago, Fosse, Annie).
- John le Carré, 89, British author (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager, The Little Drummer Girl), pneumonia.
- Gérard Houllier, 73, French football manager (Liverpool, Lyon, national team), complications from heart surgery.
- Jeremy Bulloch, 75, English actor (Star Wars, The Spy Who Loved Me, Mary, Queen of Scots).
- Donato Bilancia, 69, Italian serial killer, COVID-19.
In Other News
Jeff Bridges has given fans an update on his health while he undergoes treatment for cancer. The 71-year-old actor revealed he had been diagnosed with Lymphoma in October. “Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good,” he wrote in a statement shared on Instagram. “I’m starting treatment and will keep you posted on my recovery,” he added. Now, Bridges has revealed that his treatment is progressing well and that he has shaved his head and bought a new puppy. On Monday, the Big Lebowski star uploaded a photograph of himself reclining on a chair on what appears to be the balcony of a beachfront flat. Dressed in a zip-up jumper, Bridges is pictured with a towel on his chest while his puppy lies on top. “Here’s the latest,” he wrote in the caption before listing a series of bullet points. “Feeling good, shaved my head, got a puppy – Monty, had a birthday – 71, man,” Bridges wrote. It’s not clear which type of lymphoma Bridges has, but around 15,000 people are diagnosed with a type of Hodgkin lymphoma in the UK each year.
Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O have been sent to hospital after just two days of filming Jackass 4. The actors and stunt performers, known for their work on previous Jackass films, were reportedly jumping on a full speed treadmill while carrying “band equipment”, including a tuba, when they sustained injuries. Jackass star Bam Margera posted about the incident, saying in a video: “It’s the second day of filming Jackass already and Steve-O and Knoxville were hospitalised by jumping on a full-speed treadmill with band equipment – like a fucking tuba. So yeah, I’m here are the clinic now, taking a piss test. Rock’n’roll, oh yeah – I’ve got the scars too. Yeah man.” The fourth Jackass film was originally due to be released in cinemas next March, but has been pushed back until 2nd July 2021 because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Jackass 4 will be the first film involving the whole Jackass cast to be made since the death of cast member Ryan Dunn in 2011, at the age of 34. Earlier this year, Jackass 3D star Stevie Lee also died “unexpectedly” at the age of 54. Yeah, I was just as surprised as you that Jackass is still a thing, but I suppose if watching a bunch of 50 year olds doing stupid things was boring, Top Gear would have been cancelled years ago.
Ian McKellen has become one of the first prominent public figures to receive the coronavirus vaccine, with the actor getting his injection at a London hospital on Wednesday. The 81-year-old McKellen said he felt “euphoric” after rolling up his wizards sleeve and receiving his first dose, which was made possible by meeting the criteria for Britain’s eligible groups. “I would have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. It’s a very special day! Anyone who has lived as long as I have is alive because they have had previous vaccinations.” While technically older than the NHS, McKellen still remembered the impact that public health care had on his life, saying he “wouldn’t be alive if it hadn’t been for the NHS.” He went on to note that “we’re all equal under the vaccination.” He went on to ramble a bit and wanting to hug clinicians before he was returned to his home. Great British Baking Show judge and necklace icon Prue Leith, who is 80 years old, also received the coronavirus vaccine this week, allowing herself to be filmed and assuring people that it was a “painless jab.” Two excellent candidates for our game, possibly gambling with their futures if you are inclined to think that way?
On This Day
- 1924 – Adolf Hitler is released from Landsberg Prison. Despite being sentenced to five years, Hitler was granted early release and ended up only serving about nine months. Possibly the worst case of early release parole ever!
- 1946 – The popular Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life is first released, concentrating on James Stewart’s real life PTSD and suicidal tendencies! Merry Xmas!
- 1955 – Cardiff is proclaimed the capital city of Wales. Yay!
- 1987 – In the worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry Doña Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker ‘MT Vector in the Tablas Strait of the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).
- 1968 – John Steinbeck, American novelist and short story writer. (b. 1902)
- 1995 – Madge Sinclair, Jamaican-American actress (b. 1938)
- 1996 – Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, and cosmologist (b. 1934)
Last Friday, child killer Alfred Bourgeois became the tenth inmate of 2020 to be executed by the federal government since the Trump administration ended a 17-year hiatus on executions earlier this year. An administration which has insisted it stands for law and order is doing all it can to bring ‘justice to victims of the most horrific crimes’ before Joe Biden, who has pledged to attempt to phase out capital punishment, takes over the reins on January 20th. Trump has scheduled more executions than any president for at least a century, after reinstating the death penalty in July. His administration has already carried out more than double the number of executions America had seen over the previous three decades. Not only that, in the last weeks of his presidency, Trump’s administration is encouraging officials to use execution methods that are widely condemned as barbaric.
His Justice Department recently published new rules expanding permissible execution methods to include electrocution, poison gas, hanging and even death by firing squad if lethal injection is unfeasible or the necessary drugs are not available. The wording also suggests that if the state where the crime was committed does not have the death penalty, a judge can designate another state to carry out the execution.
So many of Trump’s boasts — from his ‘record’ inauguration crowd to his ‘record’ economy — have proved to be hollow, but he looks certain to enter the record books for the number of executions he can pack into his last months in office. Most presidents spend this time finding people to pardon, but Trump — determined to execute ten people in a year, more than any president in this or the last century — seems set on doing the opposite.
When convicted killer Orlando Hall was executed last month, it was the first federal execution during a ‘transition period’ between one president and the next since 1889.
The federal system’s preferred execution method is lethal injection, usually by a dose of a cocktail of drugs that first sedates the prisoner and then stops the heart. However, a spate of cases of condemned prisoners apparently suffering in agony after being injected prompted the drugs’ makers to refuse to supply them and juries to be more hesitant about demanding the death penalty. The Trump administration has tried to get round drug shortages by using a single one — pentobarbital, a widely available sedative often used to euthanise pets — for executions, after all, what’s good enough for Fido is good enough for a rapist! Whatever the public’s misgivings about pentobarbital, they’re nothing on the widespread disgust among activists that the U.S. may now, once again, shoot, hang or electrocute people.
Nine states still authorise the electric chair as an execution alternative, eleven permit lethal gas, while three have hanging and three have death by firing squad on their books. Death penalty experts say that given the locations of the current inmates of federal Death Row, the most likely of these gruesome alternatives to end up being used would be electrocution, as 17 prisoners committed their offences in states that have it as a back-up execution method. Lethal gas would be the next most likely. Oklahoma is the only firing squad state with prisoners on federal Death Row but it’s a last resort there, only to be used after the three other options have been ruled out.
The U.S. remains the only country in the world to use the electric chair, but Tennessee is the only state that still uses ‘Old Sparky’ regularly. Since 2018, five men have died there, strapped to a wooden chair, a metal skullcap-shaped electrode covering the head and another electrode attached to an ankle. They are then given two lengthy jolts of 1,750 volts. Although death should be instantaneous, it is a notoriously grisly spectacle — sometimes with flames several feet long leaping from the condemned man’s mask-covered head as his over-heating body swells and turns bright red. Experts say it isn’t painless, chiefly because the current sends the muscles into uncontrollable and agonising spasms.
The firing-squad method started to be used in the mid-19th century. The convicted person is usually hooded and strapped to a chair, with a white cloth pinned over the heart which either five or eight riflemen must shoot at simultaneously. Up to three of the squad will be firing blanks so that none of them can be certain they discharged the fatal bullet.
Lethal gas, allegedly a humane method, was first adopted by Nevada in 1922 and last used in 1999. The prisoner is seated inside an airtight room and hydrogen cyanide gas is pumped in. Again, unconsciousness and death should be painless, but witnesses have reported seeing eyes popping and skin turning purple.
Opponents of capital punishment, who say that more than 70 per cent of the world’s countries have abolished the practice — including every close ally of the U.S. — had hoped America might soon follow suit. But it certainly won’t while Trump is in the White House.
Trump’s enthusiasm for capital punishment is hardly new, going back at least as far as 1989, when five young black and Latino men were arrested for the vicious rape of a woman in New York’s Central Park. Mr Trump paid for a full-page advert in the New York Times that demanded ‘Bring Back The Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police!’ In the event, the five served their prison sentences only to be exonerated after a fellow inmate confessed.
There are currently 52 offenders on federal Death Row, most of them at Terre Haute, Indiana, each one crossing their fingers that they’ll be spared until Binden takes power in January.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jonah Hill (37), Jenny Agutter (68), Nicole de Boer (50), Lucy Pinder (37), Annie Murphy (34), Jake Gyllenhaal (40), Kristy Swanson (51), Alyssa Milano (48), Jennifer Beals (57), Richard Hammond (51), Sarah Paulson (46), Milla Jovovich (45), Katheryn Winnick (43), Eugene Levy (74), Bill Pullman (67), Laurie Holden (51), Ernie Hudson (75), Bernard Hill (76), Krysten Ritter (39), Miranda Otto (53), Billy Gibbons (71), Michelle Dockery (39), Don Johnson (71), Charlie Cox (38), Helen Slater (57), Garrett Wang (52), Vanessa Hudgens (32), Natascha McElhone (51), Miranda Hart (48), Ted Raimi (55), and Vicki Michelle (70).
With a great sense of loss we had to say goodbye to Barbara Windsor at the good old age of 83, but for the following who listed her, a fantastic 67 points! Lee, Laura, Iwan, Nickie, Rachel, Ceri, Louise, Doug, Ron, and Abigail. Well done all of you! But Debbie trumps you all as she had Babs down as her Woman, so 167 points! A round of applause for Debbie! Almost everyone has scored this year, apart from Stu and myself! I think both of us need to go back to the drawing board. I don’t know about you lot, but I was super surprised to learn that Chuck Yeager was still alive!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Doug Scott, 79, English mountaineer and philanthropist, cerebral lymphoma.
- Chuck Yeager, 97, American pilot, first person to exceed the speed of sound.
- Tom Lister Jr., 62, American actor (Friday, The Fifth Element) and professional wrestler.
- Dame Barbara Windsor, 83, English actress (EastEnders, Carry On, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Kim Ki-duk, 59, South Korean film director (The Isle, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, 3-Iron), complications from COVID-19.
- Charley Pride, 86, American Hall of Fame singer (“Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’“, “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone“) and baseball player (Memphis Red Sox), complications from COVID-19.
In Other News
England Rugby World Cup winner Steve Thompson has been diagnosed with dementia at the age of 42. The former Northampton Saints and England hooker is part of a group of players taking legal action against the RFU over brain injuries they say were brought on from playing the game, obviously not taking any responsibility themselves. Thompson was part of the 2003 team that won the William Webb Ellis trophy after Jonny Wilkinson’s drop goal against Australia, but he says he no longer remembers anything about the tournament or the final itself. “I have no recollection of winning the World Cup in 2003, or of being in Australia for the tournament. Knowing what I know now, I wish that I had never turned professional,” he said. “It was not uncommon for me to be left dazed, seeing white spots and not knowing where I was for a few seconds, sometimes I would pass out completely. It was just an accepted part and parcel of training. I really wished that I had ended my career earlier, maybe my diagnosis might not be so bleak.” However, Matt Dawson, the 48 year old former England captain says he won’t be joining the negligence claim, even though he has been “worried for a while” about his cognitive functions. Speaking on the Rugby Union Weekly podcast, Dawson says it was his choice to play the game, and he “knew what he was getting into”. “No one forced me to do this,” he said. “In my era they acted with their best knowledge of the scenario. I don’t feel the game has let me down. The whole of my life is because I chose to play rugby, I’m a big boy, I made that decision. I picked my vocation and I will take the consequences, I’m owning up to them, I’m having them so I’ve got to deal with them.
In another blatant disavowal of responsibility, Simon Cowell is reportedly considering legal action against the manufacturers of his electric bike after breaking his back in a terrifying accident back in August which was by no means his own fault. The TV mogul, 61, and his team are said to be ‘weighing up’ legal options and have been ‘pressing’ the manufacturers, Swindon Powertrain. One lawyer claimed that a successful lawsuit could see Simon get up to £10million for medical bills and loss of earnings!! It comes as a whistleblower from the manufacturers reportedly claimed the £20,000 electric bike an ‘accident waiting to happen’ due to Simon’s lack of training. The former employee claimed the Swind EB-01 bike, which can reach up to 60mph and is banned on public roads in the UK, should not be used without specialist training. Simon broke his back in August after falling from his electric bike, leaving him forced to undergo a six-hour surgery to try and fix the injuries. The accident occurred when the powerful machine ‘flew up in the air and did an accidental wheelie’ after he tired to change gears. The music boss is thought to have been ‘surprised by the power’ of the bike and knew immediately that he ‘was in trouble’ even though he knew he bought a 60mph super-electric bike! Following the accident, Simon tweeted: ‘Some good advice… If you buy an electric trail bike, read the manual before you ride it for the first time.’ More or less admitting he’s a knob. Thankfully his recent injuries and ongoing recovery saw him sit out of the resumed 2020 series of Britain’s Got Talent after it returned following England’s first lockdown.
Linda Nolan, 61, has addressed her health concerns after being diagnosed with cancer during the coronavirus pandemic. The Nolans band member has been battling the disease at the same time as her sister Anne Nolan, 70. Linda and Anne were diagnosed within days of each other, with Anne suffering from breast cancer and Linda with secondary cancer. Linda opened up after receiving a warning from her doctors saying that if she contracts Covid or the flu this winter she “will die”, as her immune system is depleted from chemotherapy. “That’s what me and my sister Anne were told, we will die because we have nothing to fight it with, because chemotherapy depletes your immune system.” Linda then took the opportunity to encourage those who are in the same position as her to get the free flu jab this year to protect themselves. She added: “So it is vitally important that you get the jab and the thing is it’s so easy, it takes 10 minutes out of your day.” The star divulged: “I’ve finished my chemo and I’ve had some scans and I’m actually getting the results of them soon. So fingers crossed the chemo’s worked and we get good news. I feel okay, I get tired, and both Anne and I are suffering with neuropathic pain in our fingers and feet, my feet are really bad actually. It doesn’t even describe it because it’s 10 times worse than ordinary pins and needles. But apart from that we’re okay, we’re doing well.”
On This Day
- 1577 – Sir Francis Drake sets sail from Plymouth, England, on his round-the-world voyage.
- 1972 – Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt begin the third and final EVA or “Moonwalk” of Apollo 17. To date they are the last humans to set foot on the Moon.
- 2003 – Iraq War: Operation Red Dawn: Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit.
- 1784 – Samuel Johnson, English poet and lexicographer (b. 1709)
- 2007 – Floyd Red Crow Westerman, American actor and activist (b. 1936)
- 2016 – Alan Thicke, Canadian-American actor and composer (b. 1947)
It is supposed to be a season of goodwill and celebrating, a time to relax with the family. However for some, Christmas can be a great time to murder a relative or two just like Justin Lee Klopp who hacked his wife to death on Christmas Day – hitting her repeatedly in the head with an axe and cutting her throat with the chopper after an argument. Klopp had been married to Stephanie Kilhefner, 34, for three years when he turned to murder. After the brutal slaughter he wrapped her body in a bag, put it in an outbuilding and took their two children to his parents to celebrate Christmas. The children, aged five and two, were marking the holiday with their grandparents when he phoned police to confess to the killing. He later hanged himself in prison.
Bruce Pardo, 45, killed nine people including his ex wife after going on the rampage dressed as Santa Claus with four handguns and a flame-thrower at a Christmas Eve party. A recording of a woman caught in the conflict calling police, revealed her saying: “He’s shooting my whole family. My mum’s house is on fire.” She goes on: “We need someone immediately. My daughter’s been shot. She was shot in the face.” Former aerospace engineer Pardo had recently gone through a bitter divorce with ex-wife Sylvia, 43, who died alongside her parents and three of her four siblings. He later shot himself dead.
It took more than two decades for the murder of Ed, 81, and 83-year-old Minnie Maurin to be solved. The couple’s dead bodies were found in woodland on Christmas Eve 1985 after they had been shot dead. Their surviving children had worked tirelessly to find their killers, and finally got justice for their parents in 2012. The couple were reported missing on 19th December and found five days later. It transpired they had been kidnapped and driven to a cash point by Rick and his now dead brother, John Riffe, and forced to withdraw $8500 in cash. They were then forced to drive to a rural road, shot inside their car and dragged into woodland. It is believed many witnesses remained quiet after seeing the brothers for fear of retribution from the pair, who were known drug dealers. The Riffe brothers did not know the elderly couple but targeted them because they were wealthy. Two of the couple’s surviving children got to see the killers of their parents brought to justice.
In 2011 Aziz Yazdanpanah is believed to have killed seven members of his own family while dressed in a Santa suit. He targeted his family, which included his children and his wife, just after they had opened their presents and then turned the gun on himself. It is believed Yazdanpanah turned up at the apartment in the morning because he hadn’t been invited to the party, after separating from his wife in March of that year. Ho Ho Ho!
Last Week’s Birthdays
Steve Buscemi (63), Jamie Foxx (53), Christopher Plummer (91), Dick Van Dyke (95), Taylor Swift (31), Tony Curran (51), Robert Lindsay (71), Jennifer Connelly (50), Mädchen Amick (50), Bill Nighy (71), Sarah Douglas (68), Kenneth Cranham (76), Ben Browder (58), Kenneth Branagh (60), John Malkovich (67), Judi Dench (86), Beau Bridges (79), Michael Dorn (68), Donny Osmond (63), Kim Basinger (67), Teri Hatcher (56), Dominic Monaghan (44), Nicki Minaj (38), Jennifer Carpenter (41), Ellen Burstyn (88), C. Thomas Howell (54), Jeffrey Wright (55), and Kristofer Hivju (42).
A quiet week on the deaths front, plus a bad week if you co-founded a major chain of restaurants. Apologies for the briefness of this weeks newsletter, I’ve been a bit busy and there’s been a lack of worthy deadly news.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Betty Bobbitt, 81, American-born Australian actress (Prisoner, Crocodile Dundee II, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles), stroke.
- Ben Bova, 88, American science fiction writer (Grand Tour), complications from COVID-19.
- Hugh Keays-Byrne, 73, English-Australian actor (Mad Max: Fury Road, Stone, Farscape).
- Warren Berlinger, 83, American actor (The Joey Bishop Show, The Cannonball Run, The World According to Garp).
- Bill Palmer, 70, American restaurateur, co-founder of Applebee’s, pancreatic cancer.
- Frank Carney, 82, American restaurateur, co-founder of Pizza Hut, pneumonia.
- Peter Alliss, 89, English professional golfer, television presenter and commentator.
In Other News
Everyone’s favourite tax dodger, Lewis Hamilton, is “not great”, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, as the F1 world champion battles with ‘mild’ symptoms of coronavirus. Hamilton was ruled out of this weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix earlier this week after testing positive for Covid-19 and has been self-isolating ever since. His Mercedes seat has been taken up by fellow Briton George Russell, the young Williams driver, who was the fastest man in Bahrain during Friday practice, which makes you wonder if it’s talent or machine that makes a winner. “He is not great,” Wolff said. Covid-19 is something you mustn’t take lightly and he is in safe hands. That is the most important. But it is those early days that are always not so nice.” He added: “Mild symptoms and then obviously, as you can imagine, a race driver out of his car and combine it with Covid, he would rather sit in there [the team garage].” I think the rest of us would rather he paid the £3.3m in tax he owes from buying his own private jet for £16.5m amongst other dodges he’s thought to have made.
Staying in the world of F1, I’m sure most of you would have seen the amazing scenes as Romain Grosjean suffered a work related accident. Grosjean’s accident at Bahrain was horrific. His Haas car crashed at 137mph, with an impact force of 53G. It split in two and speared through the metal barriers. The halo cockpit protection device had been decisive in keeping him alive but he was swiftly engulfed in a huge fireball. Incredibly, he ultimately escaped with only burns to his hands. On Friday, Grosjean related how time appeared to slow down for him as the events, which lasted 28 seconds, unfolded. He had undone his seatbelt, and attempted to extricate himself from the wreckage but could not do so. “I sat back down and then thought about Niki Lauda, his accident, thought it couldn’t end like this, it couldn’t be my last race, couldn’t finish like this. No way,” he said. “I tried again and I’m stuck. So I go back and then there is the less pleasant moment where my body starts to relax. I am at peace with myself and I am going to die. I ask the question: ‘Is it going to burn my shoes or my hand? Is it going to be painful? Where is it going to start?’. To me, that felt like two, three, four seconds. I guess it was milliseconds at the time. Then I think about my kids and they cannot lose their dad today.” The 34-year-old tried again and, finally able to raise himself, had to push up and out of the twisted metal. As Grosjean climbed from the car he was helped by the occupants of the medical car. taken to hospital, he was examined and discharged on Wednesday. “What is the hardest is not what I went through but what I put people through: my family, my parents, my wife and kids, my friends,” he said. “For two minutes 43 seconds they thought their friend, their father and husband was dead and that is what makes me cry, that I made people suffer to that extent.”
On This Day
- 1897 – London becomes the world’s first city to host licensed taxicabs.
- 1917 – Halifax Explosion: A munitions explosion near Halifax, Nova Scotia kills more than 1,900 people in the largest artificial explosion up to that time.
- 1953 – Vladimir Nabokov completes his controversial novel Lolita.
- 1988 – Roy Orbison, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1936)
- 1993 – Don Ameche, American actor (b. 1908)
- 2015 – Nicholas Smith, British actor (b. 1934)
- 2016 – Peter Vaughan, British actor (b.1923)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Noel Clarke (45), Nick Park (62), Andrew Flintoff (43), Frankie Muniz (35), Jeff Bridges (71), Marisa Tomei (56), Tony Todd (66), Tyra Banks (47), Pamela Stephenson (71), Jay-Z (51), Amanda Seyfried (35), Brendan Fraser (52), Julianne Moore (60), Daryl Hannah (60), Holly Marie Combs (47), Jean-Luc Godard (90), Ozzy Osbourne (72), Lucy Liu (52), Britney Spears (39), Nelly Furtado (42), Bette Midler (75), Woody Allen (85), Emily Mortimer (49), Sarah Silverman (50), Riz Ahmed (38), Elisha Cuthbert (38), Ridley Scott (83), Ben Stiller (55), Richard Brake (56), and Mandy Patinkin (68).
Welcome all, let us begin with dishing out some points! Congratulations to Abigail for correctly guessing that Darth Vader himself would finally succumb and truly pass to the Dark Side! 65 points!! Which makes it intensely interesting at the top of the table.
Seeing that we only have a month to go, I decided to do some housekeeping. I went through all of your lists and found that I have missed a few deaths, so here’s some belated points! Trish gets 49 points for the passing of Marge Champion back in October; Iwan gets 57 points for the demise of Geoffrey Palmer in early November and Dave J. gets 50 points for the death of Javier Perez De Cuellar back in March! Well done everyone!!!
You now have just over FOUR weeks to work on your 2021 lists, but knowing you lot, half of you will be rushing to get them done at New Years Eve.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Patrick Quinn, 37, American disability activist, co-founder of Ice Bucket Challenge, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Diego Maradona, 60, Argentine football legend (Barcelona, Napoli, national team), World Cup winner (1986), heart attack.
- Colin Newell, 47, British television personality (Storage Hunters, Celebrity Big Brother).
- i_o, 30, American techno DJ (“Violence“).
- Christophe Dominici, 48, French rugby union player (Toulon, Stade Français, national team), fall from a tall building.
- David Prowse, 85, English bodybuilder, weightlifter and actor (Star Wars, A Clockwork Orange, Jabberwocky).
In Other News
Remember the chap who lead you all like a Judas Sheep to slaughter to dump a bucket of cold water over your head for charity? Well, his name was Patrick Quinn, he was one of the men responsible for driving the insanely popular Ice Bucket Challenge fundraising campaign, has died on Sunday morning aged 37. Quinn, a New Yorker, was diagnosed with the incurable neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2013. His viral campaign raised $220m (£163m) for ALS research. The Ice Bucket Challenge did not begin with Quinn, but he and his family and friends helped it become a global social media phenomenon in the summer of 2014. To complete the challenge, people would dump a bucket of ice water over their heads and post the video to social media, challenging others to do the same or make a donation to ALS research. Most people didn’t get the idea of the challenge, they donated money and did the challenge, that’s how idiotic the genre populace is. The challenge drew high-profile participants like former President George W Bush, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and even the twunt Donald Trump, although I never saw that video and I wonder how his wig took the punishment, and one wonders how he took part in a charitable event as he hasn’t got one decent charitable atom in his whole blobby body!
Although not famous enough for our purposes, John Gilbert Getty, grandson of J. Paul Getty and heir to an oil fortune has been found dead. The 52-year-old heir was found dead in a hotel room in Texas, according to reports. Apparently “John was a talented musician who loved rock and roll. He will be deeply missed.” Getty is said to have been found unresponsive in a hotel room in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday. His death was not believed to be suspicious, but the cause is yet to be confirmed. Getty’s death is one of several tragedies to recently befall the family – his mother Ann died in September and his older brother Andrew died of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage in 2015. Andrew was also found to have a toxic level of methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death. In the same year, Forbes ranked the Getty family as the 56th richest in America with a $5.4bn (£4bn) fortune. Looks like billions of dollars doesn’t help keep you alive.
Again, not famous enough for our use, rapper 21 Savage wrote a heartbreaking tribute to his British brother who was stabbed to death on a south London estate. Terrell Davis – a 27-year-old drill rapper known as TM1way – was killed on the Blenheim Gardens estate in Brixton. He had been taking some shopping to his grandmother when he got into an argument with an old friend, who suddenly lunged forward and stabbed him, a family source said. Don’t you wish you had friends like that? Mr Davis and 21 Savage – who was born in Plaistow, east London before emigrating to the US as a child – have the same father, Kevin Emmons. The Grammy-award winning artist wrote on Instagram: ‘Can’t believe somebody took you baby bro. I know I took my anger out on you I wish I could take that shit back.’ He also posted a picture of him and his brother as young boys – as well as a series of more-recent images of Mr Davis. The source said: ‘They are brothers. They used to speak on the phone quite a bit and on WhatsApp. I don’t think Savage has been back to Britain for a while because he’s had some legal problems in the US.’
A 93-year-old woman who at 88 was the oldest competitor in the 2016 London Marathon has died. Iva Barr, from Bedford, was a member of Bedford Harriers Athletics Club from its early days and ran marathons for “30-odd years”. She took part in the first London Marathon in 1981 and only stopped running a few years ago. The club said she “encouraged and was an inspiration to many of our older and younger runners” and would be missed. The 2016 London run was her 20th marathon and afterwards she confirmed it had been her last. She tackled the first 14 miles before taking the Underground to Westminster, and walked the final part to the finish at The Mall. At the time she said she would “never forget” her final attempt, despite not quite completing the route. “I rather wanted to go out in a blaze of glory,” she said. “That didn’t happen, but I still had a great day.” Ms Barr was not the oldest person to have ever taken part in a London Marathon. Fauja Singh, from Ilford, east London, ran in the event in 2012 at the age of 101 and was believed to be the world’s oldest marathon runner when he completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 2011.
On This Day
- 1781 – The crew of the British slave ship Zong murders 133 Africans by dumping them into the sea to claim insurance.
- 1877 – Thomas Edison demonstrates his phonograph for the first time.
- 1972 – Atari releases Pong, the first commercially successful video game.
- 1872 – Mary Somerville, Scottish astronomer, mathematician, and author (b. 1780)
- 1924 – Giacomo Puccini, Italian composer and educator (b. 1858)
- 1975 – Graham Hill, English race car driver and businessman (b. 1929)
- 1981 – Natalie Wood, American actress (b. 1938)
- 1986 – Cary Grant, English-American actor (b. 1904)
- 2001 – George Harrison, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and former Beatle (b. 1943)
Natalie Wood was an American actress who began her career in film as a child actor and successfully transitioned to young adult roles. She was the recipient of four Golden Globes, and received three Academy Award nominations. She starred in a host of well known films in the 60’s & 70’s, including Miracle on 34th Street, Rebel Without a Cause, The Searchers, West Side Story and many more.
During the 1970s, Wood began a hiatus from film and had a child with husband Robert Wagner, whom she had previously married and divorced.
Wood famously drowned off Catalina Island on November 29th, 1981, at age 43. She died in mysterious circumstances during the making of Brainstorm while on a weekend boat trip to Catalina Island on board Wagner’s yacht Splendour. Outside of drowning, many of the circumstances are unknown; it was never determined how she entered the water.
Wood was with her husband Robert Wagner, Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken, and Splendour‘s captain Dennis Davern on that evening. Shortly after docking their boat, at Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island, Wood, Wagner and their guest Walken went ashore to do some shopping. Later that evening, the threesome ate dinner together in the dining room of Doug’s Harbor Reef Restaurant. The meal would be Natalie’s last. Although what they ate is a mystery, they did consume two bottles of Soave Bolla wine, Margaritas, a joint and Quaaludes.
From Davern’s witness statement he stated that the mood was tense when thy returned to the Splendour. A bottle of wine was opened after Wood lit some candles. Shortly after a conversation began between Wood and Walken, Wagner grabbed the open wine bottle and with rage crashed it upon the coffee table and screamed out to Walken, “Do you want to fuck my wife, is that what you want?” The glass shattered throughout the salon. After the bottle smashing, Walken retreated to his cabin and closed the cabin door. He remained there until morning. Wood was mortified and went immediately to the master bedroom. Wagner followed her within minutes, and then a terrible argument proceeded. Davern knocked on their bedroom door from the main salon to try to calm the situation. Wagner answered to tell him to go away and to not interfere. The loud arguing continued and Davern heard things (objects, possibly people) hitting the walls and things being thrown at the ceiling of the master bedroom, directly beneath where he stood.
Next, Wagner and Wood were on the open back deck arguing loudly. By then it was 11:00p.m. The arguing sounded fast and furious. The only full sentence Davern could completely decipher during the entire argument was “Get off my fucking boat” said by Wagner. Davern was terribly concerned but waited about 15 minutes before going to the deck. When he arrived on the rear open deck, only Wagner was present, and he stood near the far rear wall of the yacht. Wagner appeared sweaty, flushed, anxious, nervous, and disheveled. He told Davern “Natalie is missing” and asked him to search the yacht. He immediately went to Walken’s cabin and opened his door. He appeared to be sound asleep. He then went to the bedroom, but it was empty. He met up with Wagner in the wheelhouse and he informed Davern the dinghy was missing, too. Davern immediately wanted to radio for help and to turn on the searchlight, but Wagner told him, sternly, “We are not going to do that. We will wait and see if she returns.” His choice led Davern to presume that he knew his wife was in the dinghy and had taken off in it. While they waited, Wagner opened a bottle of scotch and discussed with Davern the repercussions of bringing any immediate attention to the situation and Wagner claimed he did not want to tarnish his image. After an hour passed, Wagner began crying and repeated, “She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone” which Davern believed a strange thing to say. Over two hours passed before Davern finally convinced Wagner to make a call for help.
Natalie Wood was found floating facedown at 7:45 a.m., a mile away from the boat, with a small Valiant-brand inflatable dinghy beached nearby. The autopsy report revealed that she had bruises on her body and arms, as well as an abrasion on her left cheek, but no indication as to how or when the injuries occurred.
In his memoir Pieces of My Heart, Wagner admitted that he had an argument with Wood before she disappeared. The autopsy found that Wood’s blood alcohol content was 1.4% and that there were traces of a motion-sickness pill and a painkiller in her bloodstream, both of which increase the effects of alcohol.
At the time, Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi ruled the cause of her death to be accidental drowning and hypothermia. According to Noguchi, Wood had been drinking and she may have slipped while trying to re-board the dinghy. Her sister Lana expressed doubts, alleging that Wood could not swim and had been “terrified” of water all her life, and that she would never have left the yacht on her own by dinghy.
In 2011, the Los Angeles County Chief Coroner amended Wood’s death certificate and changed the cause of death from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors”. The addendum stated that Wood might have sustained some of the bruises on her body before she went into the water, but that this could not be definitively determined, however the bruises were substantial and fitting for someone who had been thrown out of a boat.
One thing is for certain, we will never find out what truly happened aboard the Splendour that fateful evening, unless we gat a deathbed confession from Wagner, whom at the age of 90 might be sooner than you think.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Gemma Chan (38), Diane Ladd (85), Don Cheadle (56), Tom Sizemore (59), Jeff Fahey (68), Gena Lee Nolin (49), Karen Gillan (33), Ed Harris (70), Ryan Kwanten (44), Judd Nelson (61), Martin Clunes (59), Jon Stewart (58), Armando Iannucci (57), Sharlto Copley (47), Robin Givens (56), Bill Nye (65), Kristin Bauer van Straten (54), Mark Margolis (81), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (32), Rita Ora (30), Tina Turner (81), Christina Applegate (49), John Larroquette (73), Bruno Tonioli (65), Katherine Heigl (42), Sarah Hyland (30), Shirley Henderson (55), Colin Hanks (43), Stephen Merchant (46), Denise Crosby (63), Billy Connolly (78), Dwight Schultz (73), Conleth Hill (56), Ricky Whittle (39), Miley Cyrus (28), and Michelle Gomez (54).
If you thought you were big and tough and Covid wasn’t going to get you, today I can share that a 34yo contender to be the Worlds Strongest Man died of the virus. So it doesn’t matter how tough you think you are, everyone is still a target. So with that in mind and that the vaccine is still a few months away for most of us, you have less than 6 weeks to come up with a list of potentials who are still friends with Donald Trump for instance.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ray Clemence, 72, English footballer (Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, national team), prostate cancer.
- Vincent Reffet, 36, French BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer and jetpack pilot, training accident.
- Kirby Morrow, 47, Canadian voice actor (Dragon Ball Z, Inuyasha, Ninjago).
- Jan Morris, 94, Welsh historian and travel writer.
- Aaron Page, 34, Australian strongman, COVID-19.
In Other News
A French stuntman famous for airborne feats using jetpacks and carbon-fibre wing packs has been killed in an inevitable training accident in Dubai. Vincent Reffet was part of the company Jetman Dubai. The 36-year-old went viral for flights over the Gulf city’s waterfront and the Alps. A statement said Reffet died “during training in Dubai” but did not give any further details. An investigation into his death is now under way and is expected to disclose that he went splat on the ground somehow. “Vince was a talented athlete, and a much-loved and respected member of our team. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who knew and worked with him.” Reffet was the child of skydivers and had performed numerous stunts throughout his career, including BASE-jumping off the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Reffet’s exploits often went viral on social media, including one occasion when he jumped from a mountain into a moving plane!
My apologies beforehand, there’s a lot of Bobby’s in this tale. Bobby Brown’s son, Bobby Brown Jr, has died aged 28 – five years after the singer lost his daughter Bobbi Kristina and eight years after the death of her mother Whitney Huston. Bobby Jr was the half-brother of Bobby’s daughter with Whitney Houston, Bobbi, who passed away aged 22, in 2015. Bobby Jr was reportedly found dead at his home, cause of death is yet to be established but foul play is not suspected, so we can rule out Bobby Brown offing his family one by one. However, going from family history, we can suspect drowning and/or toxic levels of alcohol and cocaine to be a factor in his death. Bobby Jr is one of Bobby Brown’s seven children, most likely they are also called Bobby. He was involved in the family’s reality show on Bravo – Being Bobby Brown – when he was 13, starring alongside Bobbi Kristina. Bobby Jr’s mother is Kim Ward, who had dated Bobby for 11 years on and off, before he sparked a relationship with Whitney, leading to them getting engaged.
If you thought Wipeout was just a bit of fun and games, think again! An unidentified male Wipeout contestant died shortly after completing the show’s obstacle course. “We are devastated to have learned of his passing and our deepest sympathy goes out to the family,” a TBS spokesperson said in a statement. Apparently, he contestant suffered an undisclosed medical emergency on the show’s Santa Clarita set and was being treated by on-site medical personnel before being taken to the hospital, where he ultimately died. In order to participate in the show, contestants must pass a medical examination in order to proceed, so a death on-set was very unexpected. Hosted by John Cena, Nicole Byer, and Camille Kostek, Wipeout is a TBS reboot of the original, which ran for seven seasons on ABC between 2008 and 2014. The show’s official description reads, ”Each game is three rounds, with each round featuring a jaw-dropping, multi-stage obstacle course with numerous strategy and decision points designed to further challenge the stamina of the competitors and deliver hilarious and surprising wipeouts. And of course, the iconic staple of the show—the big balls!”
On This Day
- 1307 – Pope Clement V issues the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Knights Templar and seize their assets.
- 1963 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
- 1977 – British Airways inaugurates a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
- 1986 – Mike Tyson from Brooklyn, New York becomes the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history at age 20.
- 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdraws from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her Prime-Ministership. The world rejoices!
- 2005 – Angela Merkel becomes the first female Chancellor of Germany.
- 1718 – Blackbeard, English pirate (b. 1680)
- 1963 – Aldous Huxley, English novelist and philosopher (b. 1894)
- 1963 – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States (b. 1917)
- 1963 – C. S. Lewis, British writer, critic and Christian apologist (b. 1898)
- 1980 – Mae West, American actress, singer, and screenwriter (b. 1893)
- 1986 – Scatman Crothers, American actor and comedian (b. 1910)
- 1993 – Anthony Burgess, English novelist, playwright, and critic (b. 1917)
- 1996 – Mark Lenard, American actor (b. 1924)
- 1997 – Michael Hutchence, Australian singer-songwriter (b. 1960)
On the last night of his life, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, dined on Chicken Virginia, bread rolls, green beans and pumpkin pie. The meal was simple because the chefs from the Rice Hotel didn’t have the correct equipment for an elaborate dinner for 3200 covers at the Sam Huston Coliseum for the testimonial dinner JFK was residing over. Once done, he and his entourage boarded Air Force One on a flight to Fort Worth. On arrival at 11:35pm, despite the late time and rainy weather, the President and Mrs. Kennedy take some time to shake hands with well-wishers gathered outside the hotel before retiring to their assigned suite (Room 850) for the night.
On the morning of November 22nd, 1963, JFK ate breakfast in his room at the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. According to the hotel’s executive chef, Otto Druhe, he served the president “coffee, orange juice, two boiled (five-minute) eggs, some toast, and marmalade on the side.” Nothing too substantial as President Kennedy was scheduled to deliver a speech and share a steak luncheon with local government, business, religious, and civic leaders and their spouses at the Trade Mart in downtown Dallas at 1pm, however unbeknownst to him, he would never make it.
What happened next is indelibly etched on everyones mind, even if you weren’t born yet. At 12:29 p.m. CST, the presidential limousine entered Dealey Plaza after a 90-degree right turn from Main Street onto Houston Street. Over two dozen known and unknown amateur and professional still and motion-picture photographers captured the last living images of President Kennedy. Witnesses recalled the shooting occurred shortly after the limousine made the sharp left-hand turn from Houston onto Elm Street. Most of the witnesses thought that the first shot was fired after the president had started waving with his right hand. Several onlookers recalled hearing at least three shots, with the second and third shots bunched distinctly much closer together than the first and second shots. The assassination complete the limousine began speeding up, Mrs. Kennedy was heard to scream “I have his brains in my hand!” The limousine driver and police motorcycles turned on their sirens and raced at high speeds to Parkland Hospital, passing their intended destination of the Dallas Trade Mart along the way, and arriving at about 12:38 p.m, unfortunately, way too late for Kennedy.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Scarlett Johansson (36), Jamie Lee Curtis (62), Mads Mikkelsen (55), Mark Ruffalo (53), Michael Kenneth Williams (54), Terry Gilliam (80), Goldie Hawn (75), Alexander Siddig (55), Björk (55), Liza Tarbuck (56), Sean Young (61), Ming-Na Wen (57), Bo Derek (64), Joe Biden (78), Jerry Hardin (91), Jodie Foster (58), Meg Ryan (59), Adam Driver (37), Terry Farrell (57), Robert Beltran (67), Chloë Sevigny (46), Owen Wilson (52), Linda Evans (78), Delroy Lindo (68), Alan Moore (67), Rachel McAdams (42), Tom Ellis (42), Martin Scorsese (78), Danny DeVito (76), Sophie Marceau (54), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (62), RuPaul (60), Jonathan Ross (60), Missi Pyle (48), Maggie Gyllenhaal (43), Martha Plimpton (50), and Gigi Edgley (43).
A quiet week for famous deaths, but the ones that did die have thrown quite a few points towards us. With he passing of Alex Trebek I can award 70 points to Doug, Abigail, Lee, and Paula; Laura steals 170 points for listing him as her Cert. In addition I can dole out 62 points to Gwenan for correctly guessing that Des O’Conner would sadly die this year. Plus, with the joyful demise of Peter Sutcliffe, only Nickie scores 76 points as he hurtles towards hell! The league table looks very interesting at the top end, several of you could easily win this year! I must remind you that causing the deaths of any of your listed celebrities will result in a disqualification.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Alex Trebek, 80, Canadian-American game show host (Jeopardy!, High Rollers, Classic Concentration), seven-time Emmy winner, pancreatic cancer.
- John Hays, 71, British travel agency executive, founder of Hays Travel. Cardiac arrest.
- Peter Sutcliffe, 74, English serial killer, COVID-19.
- Des O’Conner, 88, English comedian, singer and television presenter, complications from a fall.
In Other News
McFly star Dougie Poynter took a “lethal dosage” of Valium after feeling responsible for the band splitting up. Poynter found himself struggling without McFly despite being the one who suggested they come to an end in 2016. The musician, who attempted suicide in 2011, relapsed after falling out with his bandmates and friends Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones and Harry Judd. Speaking in new documentary McFly: It’s All About Us, Poynter said: “On the one hand, I felt inspired because friends in LA would take me to see other bands and stuff. “On the other hand, I was like, ‘But my band’s broken and it’s all my fault’.” Poynter said that “Valium was a way of just making all that disappear”. Fletcher, Jones and Judd soon realised that Poynter was “taking something”, with Judd saying: “He sort of told me what he’d been taking – he was like, at that lethal dosage”. In an attempt to repair their friendship, Poynter asked his bandmates to join him at group therapy. Judd acknowledged that, while there may have been hard feelings initially, “we realised Dougie did nothing wrong – and that’s the biggest lesson from all this”. Speaking about being a part of McFly, Poynter, who won I’m a Celebrity in 2011, said: “It’s all I really know and all I really want to know.”
Jesy Nelson has sparked further concern this week after pulling out of two big Little Mix events with ill health. The ‘talented’ 29-year-old singer is feared to have secretly quit the group by worried fans who received their copies of the band’s new album missing her signature. While Perrie Edwards, Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Jade Thirlwall had all signed the special copies of Confessi, Jesy’s distinctive handwriting had been left off the cover. Fans were quick to point out Jesy has recently been unwell, so may not have been with her bandmates during the signing session. Little Mix’s rep told Mirror Online: “We’re not making any further comment on Jesy currently for private medical reasons.” It comes after Jesy pulled out of last Friday’s Little Mix: The Search final after falling ill. She also turned down Sunday’s MTV EMA, leaving her three co-stars to host the virtual event instead. Last week fans thought Jesy looked “over it” in a since-deleted Little Mix video promoting their sixth studio album. While Leigh-Anne, Jade and Perrie were full of beans speaking about Confetti, Jesy was seen rolling her eyes and looking downbeat. Just hours after the video vanished from the band’s socials, a Little Mix rep said: “Jesy is unwell and will not be appearing on tonight’s final of Little Mix The Search. “She will also not be hosting or performing at tomorrow’s MTV EMA’s.” No further information was given about Jesy’s condition.
Sinéad O’Connor is entering a year-long rehab program following “a very traumatic six years.” In a Twitter-thread on Tuesday announcing the postponement of her shows originally scheduled for next year to 2022, the 53-year-old singer-songwriter revealed to fans that she’ll be seeking treatment for “trauma and addiction.” Declaring that “recovery starts now,” the “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer wrote that “this year was the end” of her trauma and suffering. O’Connor, reflecting on the struggles she has faced, revealed that this year she lost someone “beloved,” which cause her to “become briefly addicted to a drug other than weed.” O’Connor explained she has been addicted to marijuana for 34 years, which she called a “lifetime.” The Grammy winner also revealed that “the last year has been very traumatic” as one of her children – she’s mom to sons Jake, 32, Roisin, 25, and Shane, 15 – was “unwell.” O’Connor did not detail that scenario, though she confirmed that her child “is thriving now.” “I grew up with a lot of trauma and abuse. I then went straight into the music business. And never learned really how to make a normal life,” she wrote. “Never took proper time to heal. Wasn’t ready to either.” Asking fans to be “supportive and understanding,” she encouraged them to hold onto their tickets, promising that she will “be back with a new album and tour.” She apologized “to anyone this causes inconvenience to.” She also requested that her music business partners support her in “taking this step toward making a life I am happy in. So that we can all make some money !!!”
On This Day
- 1943 – German SS leader Heinrich Himmler orders that Gypsies are to be put “on the same level as Jews and placed in concentration camps”.
- 1949 – Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte are executed for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.
- 1971 – Intel releases the world’s first commercial single-chip microprocessor, the 4004.
- 1958 – Tyrone Power, American actor, singer, and producer (b. 1914)
- 1983 – John Le Mesurier, English actor (b. 1912)
- 2015 – Saeed Jaffrey, Indian-British actor (b. 1929)
A seventh-grade dropout, Woods was so illiterate that he had to refer to a spelling list just to write simple notes to his family. He had IQ scores of 80 and 78 during elementary school. His IQ score right before his murder trial was 70, and another in 2002 returned 68. Woods also worked as a short-order cook and roofer.
In the early morning of April 30th 1997, Woods went to the home of his ex-girlfriend, Schwana Patterson, 35, who had had kicked him out a few days earlier. Her two children, 11-year-old Sarah and 9-year-old Cody, were sleeping inside. Woods crawled through an open window into the children’s bedroom. He grabbed Sarah’s foot and began beating her chest, then sexually molested her. Woods then forced both children to leave through the window in their nightclothes, put them in his car, and drove to a cemetery. There, he beat and stomped Cody on the head and strangled him. With Cody left for dead, Woods drove away with Sarah and found a secluded area where he raped her and cut her throat, resulting in her death. Cody survived and managed to raise the alarm.
Based on Cody’s statement, police found Woods and asked him where Sarah was, hoping to find her alive. Woods answered, “You will not find her alive. I cut her throat.” He then led them to her body.
Because the Woods case was heavily reported in Dallas-area media, Woods’s trial was held in Llano, Texas. During his trial Woods admitted to kidnapping Patterson’s children and beating Cody Patterson unconscious. A psychologist representing the defence testified that Woods was mentally retarded and was not a threat to society. In response, a psychiatrist representing prosecution testified that Woods was not mentally retarded and could commit future violent crimes.
Woods received a 40-year sentence for the abduction and assault of Cody Patterson and was sentenced to death for Sarah Patterson’s rape and murder. Schwana Patterson was also tried on charges of child neglect and was found guilty. She was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Prior to his execution, Woods last meal consisted of two chicken fried steaks, two fried chicken breasts, three fried pork chops, two hamburgers with lettuce, tomato, onion and salad dressing, four slices of bread, half a pound of fried potatoes with onion, half a pound of onion rings with ketchup, half a pan of chocolate cake with icing and two pitchers of milk.
Woods was executed by lethal injection at 6:48 p.m. local time on December 3, 2009 in the Huntsville Unit state prison. His final words were “Bye. I’m ready.”
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jonny Lee Miller (48), Edward Asner (91), Beverly D’Angelo (69), Petula Clark (88), Olga Kurylenko (41), Russell Tovey (39), Sandahl Bergman (69), Paul McGann (61), Gerard Butler (51), Whoopi Goldberg (65), John de Lancie (72), Jimmy Kimmel (53), Anne Hathaway (38), Ryan Gosling (40), Gustaf Skarsgård (40), Wallace Shawn (77), Max Grodénchik (68), Neil Young (75), Leonardo DiCaprio (46), Demi Moore (58), Stanley Tucci (60), Calista Flockhart (56), Taron Egerton (31), Hugh Bonneville (57), Neil Gaiman (60), Tracy Morgan (52), Robert Duncan McNeill (56), and Lou Ferrigno (69).
A fairly standard week with a few recognisable faces departing the mortal world. Despite their passing we can all be happy due to the news that the despicable Wotsits Hitler has been deposed. Yes, we can now breathe a little easier, even with Covid, as Trump is a loser!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- John Sessions, 67, British actor and comedian (Stella Street, Spitting Image, Whose Line Is It Anyway?), heart attack.
- Luis Troyano, 48, Graphic designer (The Great British Bake Off finalist, series 5), oesophageal cancer.
- Eddie Hassell, 30, American actor (The Kids Are All Right, Surface, Devious Maids), shot.
- Carol Arthur, 85, American actress (Blazing Saddles), Alzheimer’s disease
- Elsa Raven, 91, American actress (Back to the Future, Amen, Titanic).
- Geoffrey Palmer, 93, British actor (The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Butterflies, Mr. Men and Little Miss).
- Joy Westmore, 88, Australian actress (Prisoner, Neighbours, Blue Heelers), dementia.
- Jonathan Sacks, 72, British Orthodox rabbi, former Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue and member of the House of Lords, cancer.
In Other News
Diego Maradona, 60, was in recovery after a “successful” surgery to treat a subdural hematoma, a blood clot on the brain, a source close to the former World Cup winner said late on Tuesday. The operation was to address the clot, often caused by a head injury, and which can put pressure on the brain. “The operation proceeded normally and without complications and was successful,” the source told us, adding that the diagnosis was a chronic subdural hematoma. The person did not give details on the potential recovery period. The intervention, which was risky due to the ex-footballer’s delicate general health, lasted about two hours and was carried out by a team led by Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s neurosurgeon and personal physician. Luque said earlier that the procedure was a “routine surgery” and that Maradona had been “lucid” and understood and agreed with the procedure. Maradona was admitted to the Ipensa clinic in La Plata, Argentina, on Monday for anaemia and dehydration, before being transferred to Olivos Clinic in Buenos Aires province.
Jeff Bridges, the acclaimed actor who became a cult icon with his role in “The Big Lebowski,” shocked his legions of fans when he announced Monday he has been diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. Bridges, 70, said his prognosis was “good,” adding that he was starting treatment. But he did not specify whether he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the two main subtypes of lymphoma. “As the Dude would say,” the actor tweeted, referring to his “Lebowski” character, “New SHIT has come to light. Although it is a serious disease, I feel fortunate that I have a great team of doctors and the prognosis is good,” Bridges said. Bridges expressed gratitude to his family, friends and medical team and promised to keep fans posted on his recovery. Bridges is a seven-time Oscar nominee known for his roles in Starman, True Grit, The Last Picture Show and many other films. He won an Academy Award in 2010 for Crazy Heart and was most recently nominated for playing a grizzled lawman in Hell or High Water. Bridges is the son of the former actors Lloyd and Dorothy Bridges, who died in 1998 and 2009, respectively.
Al Roker shared on “Today” that he will undergo surgery following a prostate cancer diagnosis. The beloved American weatherman said it was discovered after a routine medical checkup in September. “It’s a good news-bad news kind of thing,” he said. “Good news is we caught it early. Not great news is that it’s a little aggressive, so I’m going to be taking some time off to take care of this.” Roker said he wanted to go public with his illness because 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime “but for African American men that number’s 1 in 7 and is more deadly.” “So if you detect it early this is a really treatable disease and it’s why I wanted to take you along my journey so we can all learn together how to educate and protect the men in our lives,” he said. Roker is scheduled to have surgery next week at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Dr. Vincent Laudone is his surgeon and said the cancer “appears somewhat limited or confined to the prostate” but given that it’s aggressive the decision was made to remove the prostate. Roker said his wife, journalist Deborah Roberts, has been his fiercest advocate and later added he doesn’t want people feeling sorry for him. Roker’s colleagues rallied around him Friday and he said he’s feeling optimistic about his cancer battle. “We’ll just wait and see, and hopefully in about two weeks, I’ll be back” on “Today,” he said.
On This Day
- 1519 – Hernán Cortés enters Tenochtitlán and Aztec ruler Moctezuma welcomes him with a great celebration. This went well…
- 1605 – Robert Catesby, ringleader of the Gunpowder Plot, is killed.
- 1895 – While experimenting with electricity, Wilhelm Röntgen discovers the X-ray.
- 1939 – In Munich, Adolf Hitler narrowly escapes the assassination attempt of Georg Elser.
- 1965 – The Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 is given Royal Assent, formally abolishing the death penalty in the United Kingdom, except in cases of high treason, “piracy with violence” (piracy with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm), arson in royal dockyards and espionage, as well as other capital offences under military law. The death penalty would be abolished in all cases in 1998.
- 1973 – The right ear of John Paul Getty III is delivered to a newspaper outlet along with a ransom note, convincing his father to pay $2.9 million.
- 1987 – Remembrance Day bombing: A Provisional IRA bomb explodes in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland during a ceremony honouring those who had died in wars involving British forces. Twelve people are killed and sixty-three wounded.
- 1999 – Bruce Miller is killed at his junkyard near Flint, Michigan. His wife Sharee Miller, who convinced her online lover Jerry Cassaday to kill him (before later killing himself) was convicted of the crime, in what became the world’s first Internet murder.
- 2016 – Donald Trump is elected the 45th President of the United States, defeating Hillary Clinton, the first woman ever to receive a major party’s nomination. This went well…
- 1674 – John Milton, English poet and philosopher (b. 1608)
- 1887 – Doc Holliday, American dentist and poker player (b. 1851)
- 1978 – Norman Rockwell, American painter and illustrator (b. 1894)
1st Internet Murder
Miller’s husband, Bruce Miller, was killed by a shotgun blast inside his junkyard office on the evening of November 8, 1999. Believing at first the death was a result of a botched robbery, police failed to find a credible lead and the case went cold for months. In February the following year, Sharee Miller’s online lover, ex-cop Jerry Cassaday, killed himself in Missouri and left a suicide note in which he admitted to carrying out the murder and accused Miller of planning the deed. Cassaday’s accusation, and Fb instant chat message logs left behind by the former police officer as evidence of the set-up, eventually led Miller to be thrown in prison for life on conspiracy and second-degree murder charges.
The confession noted “I drove there and killed him. Sharee was involved and set it up, I have all the proof and I am sending it to the police, she will get whats coming. I have been so stupid, but now you know the real story of why I went into such a state of depression… because I just couldn’t tell anyone the truth… She just wanted all her money and no more husband, well she got her wish, but she is soon to learn that she cant do that to people… Now I know it was all just more lies and games from Sharee, she didn’t care what it took or who she hurt to get what she wanted.
In 2008, Miller won an appeal and was released from prison the following year, after a judge agreed with her lawyers’ argument that the suicide letter should not have been admitted as evidence against her because Cassaday was not available for cross-examination.
In December 2009, Sharee Miller was found using Facebook again. Miller’s lawyer David Nickola said that there was no reason for his client to be barred from using a computer, but Sharee’s Facebook page was temporarily deactivated when it attracted publicity. “I don’t think there’s anything inappropriate about it,” Nickola said. He states that Sharee used Facebook to keep in touch with her family members and her son who is overseas in the military. “She’s an innocent person out in society and she’s doing positive things,” Nickola said.
In 2012, still pleading innocence, Miller was sent back to prison to continue to serve her original sentence after a court re-interpreted the admissibility of the suicide letter. However 16 years after the murder, a remorseful letter was sent to Genesee Circuit Judge Judith A. Fullerton, where Miller admitted to arranging for her husband to be killed by her lover. “Judge Fullerton, I did it. Almost the way the prosecutor said I did,’ Miller wrote in a letter. “I knew it was going to happen and I allowed it. I allowed a man to kill another man based on my lies and manipulation.”
In her letter, Miller also accused three different attorneys, including her current lawyer, David Nickola, of refusing to listen to her admission of guilt. Nickola denied the accusation, and said that if Miller’s confession had come sooner, she could have taken a plea deal offered before the trial, served 15 years in prison, and been a free woman by now, the Flint Journal reported. Miller is currently still serving her live sentence at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Parker Posey (52), Tara Reid (45), Matthew Rhys (46), Gretchen Mol (48), Alfre Woodard (68), Richard Curtis (64), Gordon Ramsay (54), Jack Osbourne (35), Adam Devine (37), Ethan Hawke (50), Emma Stone (32), Rebecca Romijn (48), Thandie Newton (48), Taryn Manning (42), Sally Field (74), Lori Singer (63), Michael Cerveris (60), Maria Shriver (65), Nigel Havers (69), Conchita Wurst (32), Famke Janssen (56), Sam Rockwell (52), Tilda Swinton (60), Robert Patrick (62), Tatum O’Neal (57), Armin Shimerman (71), Tamzin Outhwaite (50), Elke Sommer (80), Eric Menyuk (61), Matthew McConaughey (51), Ralph Macchio (59), Olivia Taylor Dudley (35), Loretta Swit (83), Dolph Lundgren (63), Kate Capshaw (67), Tom Savini (74), Roseanne Barr (68), Dylan Moran (49), David Schwimmer (54), Stefanie Powers (78), and k.d. lang (59).