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Dead Pool 25th February 2024

A surprisingly deadly week, and we have points to award! Well done to Abi who correctly predicted that American supercentenarian Edith Ceccarelli would die this year. As Abi had her down as her Cert, she scores a wonderful 134 points!!

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News 

Emmerdale actor Dean Andrews has shared a health update after he was taken into hospital for surgery. The star, known for playing Will Taylor on the ITV soap, said he was “glad to have woken up” and thanked staff at Sheffield’s Thornbury Hospital in a recent social media post. The 60-year-old shared a picture of himself to his Instagram page wearing a hospital gown and a wristband. He was connected to what appeared to be an IV drip as he gave a thumbs-up and smiled. “Surgery went well. Very happy to have woken up. Many thanks to my surgeon Chris and all the staff at Thornbury Hospital,” he wrote as a caption. Support poured in from well-wishers as they wished him a “speedy recovery” and hoped he would “get well soon”. Others were surprised at the seemingly sudden information, with some concerned users saying, “Oh no! What has happened? I hope you’ll be feeling better super soon.” One made a joking reference to the actor’s seminal role in the hit BBC series, Life on Mars, and remarked: “Did you wake up and the year was 1973 and your detective chief inspector kept calling you Raymondo by any chance?” The actor did not share the nature of his health condition or the procedure that was undertaken.  

Pete Doherty has shared an update on his health months after revealing he is “a very sick man”. The Libertines singer has returned for a new album alongside his bandmate Carl Barat and, in a new interview, the pair reflected on the drug-fuelled public antics he was notorious for in the Noughties and 2010s. Doherty also addressed concerns surrounding his health after telling interviewer Louis Theroux he feels “death is lurking” after years of drug and alcohol abuse took their toll on his body, “I’ve battered it, haven’t I? I’ve fucking caned it,” he told Theroux on BBC series Louis Theroux Interviews…, adding: “The heroin and the crack… I surrendered to that, and then it was cocaine and the smoking and the alcohol, and now it’s cheese and the saucisson, and the sugar in the tea.” Doherty said doctors have told him he needs to change his diet as it would lead to “diabetes and cholesterol problems” – and, while speaking to the Flying Monkeys on Saturday, the musician revealed that he has now been “diagnosed with type two diabetes”. He told them: “Yeah, I am a bit of a glutton. It’s not a joke. I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. And at the moment, I’m lacking the discipline to tackle cholesterol.” Doherty said he is sober and that Barat created a strict no-alcohol rule while making the new Libertines record. “Carl insisted on there being no alcohol even. He wanted it to be pure. It’s not like I want to get pissed, but I like a glass of cider. And he’s like, no. It was pressure. We’d never done it before. The studio had always been a time of merriment and celebration.” However, Doherty was “relieved” and “proud” to realise he could make music without drinking. Doherty previously revealed he currently takes blocker injections to prevent drugs from taking effect, stating: “I like to think I could do without it, but that level of trust has to be earnt, doesn’t it?” In the new interview, he said the blockers have been “transformative”, saying: “With all the will in the world, I don’t think I’m ready to lose it. People around me definitely prefer me to have it.” Elsewhere in the interview, Barat said he was “not surprised” that Doherty survived his colourful past, stating: “No, he’s too smart to die. He never intended to die.” 

Vladimir Putin is likely to have something “fundamentally wrong” with his health and may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a former head of MI6 has been told. Sir Richard Dearlove, who headed the British intelligence service between 1999 and 2004, said his sources in Europe believe Mr Putin’s health is deteriorating. He said one suggestion is that the Russian president is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, one of the symptoms of which can be delusions. Sir Richard said this might explain Mr Putin’s “paranoia” and the death of prominent opposition figure Alexei Navalny. It comes after much speculation about Mr Putin’s health in recent years, with some unsubstantiated theories including him having cancer or using a body double. Asked on LBC about the state of Mr Putin’s health, Sir Richard replied: “I do not have a clear answer to that but I have contacts and friends still in Eastern Europe who think there is something fundamentally wrong with him medically. But I’m not a clinician.” Expanding on what illness Mr Putin may have, he said: “Probably Parkinson’s which of course has different representations, different variations, different seriousness. But if the man is paranoid, and I think the murder of Navalny might suggest a certain paranoia, that is one of the symptoms.” Since his political opponent’s death, Mr Putin was seen taking flight on a new nuclear-capable bomber plane on Thursday. The move has been seen by the West as a bid to send a reminder of Russia’s nuclear might amid soaring tensions with the West over the fighting in Ukraine. Referring to this, Sir Richard told LBC: “Putin is always postured – that’s part of his character and the rumours of his illness maybe make it more important now that he postures in a way that suggests he isn’t ill, if he is.

On This Day

  • 1836 – Samuel Colt is granted a United States patent for his revolver firearm.
  • 1932 – Hitler, having been stateless for seven years, obtains German citizenship, This does not go well. 
  • 1994 – American-Israeli extremist Baruch Goldstein commits a mass shooting at the Cave of the Patriarchs mausoleum, leaving 29 dead and over 100 injured before he was disarmed and beaten to death by survivors.

Deaths

  • 1723 – Christopher Wren, English architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral (b. 1632).
  • 1983 – Tennessee Williams, American playwright, and poet (b. 1911). 
  • 2001 – Don Bradman, Australian  cricketer; holder of world record batting average (b. 1908). 
  • 2017 – Bill Paxton, American actor and filmmaker (b. 1955).

Cachi the Killer Poodle 

It will never be known what inspired Cachi the poodle to jump, but on the afternoon of October 24, 1988, that is exactly what he did, plummeting thirteen floors from the balcony of a Buenos Aires apartment building. The unexpected death of a family pet is certainly a tragic thing, however, in Cachi’s case, the tragedy was just beginning. At the time of Cachi’s fateful leap, seventy-five-year-old Marta Espina happened to be passing by on the sidewalk below and was struck by the poodle, killing both Marta and Cachi instantly.

In the gruesome aftermath, spectators gathered to try to piece together exactly what had happened. Soon the sidewalk was so filled with onlookers that they began spilling into the street, clambering for a view of the fatal scene. Forty-six-year-old Edith Sola was so focused on trying to catch a glimpse of Cachi’s wreckage that she failed to notice an oncoming bus, which struck and killed her, making her Cachi’s second victim.

Unfortunately, Cachi’s work was not finished. An unidentified man, who had witnessed both the plunging poodle and the bus impact, suffered a heart attack on the scene. While he was rendered first aid and treated by paramedics, the man died on the way to the hospital, mercifully ending Cachi’s body count at three.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Anson Mount (51), Sean Astin (53), Rashida Jones (48), Jameela Jamil (38), Lee Evans (60), Daniel Kaluuya (35), Edward James Olmos (77), Ben Miller (58), Emily Blunt (41), Dakota Fanning (30), Kelly Macdonald (48), Josh Gad (43), Aziz Ansari (41), Kyle MacLachlan (65), Dichen Lachman (42), Jeri Ryan (56), Drew Barrymore (49), Thomas Jane (55), James Hong (95), Julie Walters (74), Sheila Hancock (91), Nigel Planer (71), Elliot Page (37), Jennifer Love Hewitt (45), Jordan Peele (45), Sophie Turner (28), Kelsey Grammer (69), Tyne Daly (78), Anthony Daniels (78), Anthony Head (70), Brenda Blethyn (78), Benedict Wong (54), Cindy Crawford (58), Rihanna (36), Trevor Noah (40), Millie Bobby Brown (20), Benicio Del Toro (57), Ray Winstone (67), Jeff Daniels (69), and Leslie Ash (64).


Dead Pool 18th February 2024

This weeks big news it the untimely passing of DJ Steve Wright. Got to say, the radio will not be the same without him. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Six-time Olympic cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy says he is “optimistic, positive and surrounded by love” after revealing he was diagnosed with cancer last year. The former Great Britain track cyclist, 47, posted on Instagram that his treatment, which includes chemotherapy, “is going really well”. “I am continuing to work, ride my bike and live my life as normal,” he added. Hoy won six Olympic golds between 2004 and 2012. The Scot, also an 11-time world champion and the second most decorated Olympic cyclist of all time, said that his diagnosis came as a “huge shock, having had no symptoms”. He did not disclose the type of cancer, and added: “For the sake of my young family, I had hoped to keep this information private but regrettably our hand has been forced. Whilst I’m thankful for any support, I’d like to deal with this privately. I’m optimistic, positive and surrounded by love for which I’m truly grateful. As you might imagine, the last few months have been incredibly difficult. However, I currently feel fine. It’s an exciting year of work ahead, not least with the Paris Olympics in July. I can’t wait to get stuck in, have fun and share it with you all.” Hoy won Olympic team sprint silver at Sydney 2000 and his first gold in the 1km time trial at Athens 2004, before three golds at Beijing 2008 and two more at London 2012. He retired from cycling in 2013, with his record of 17 global titles across four disciplines making him the most successful track cyclist of all time. Only Sir Jason Kenny, with seven, has won more Olympic golds for Britain than Hoy, who was knighted in 2009. 

Former BBC newsreader Moira Stuart collapsed at her friend Angela Rippon‘s birthday party on Monday night. The birthday party was brought to a sudden halt when an ambulance rushed to her aid at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, London, according to reports. Stuart, 74, was reportedly helped by her colleagues including Louise Minchin and Michael Buerk after she fell while standing at the bar among other party guests. A source told the Flying Monkeys that the room was cleared for Stuart after hotel staff called an ambulance to check over the newsreader. Stuart reportedly insisted that she was feeling fine shortly after the incident. An onlooker told us: “Moira took a funny turn when Angela’s party was in full swing. She had been in great spirits on the night and spent time with Angela and Lulu, who was also a guest, at the Hilton. It all happened very quickly and out of nowhere, Moira, who was standing at the bar, had fallen to the floor.” Stuart was among the celebrities at Rippon’s belated 79th birthday celebrations, which she had postponed until she had finished her stint on the Strictly Come Dancing live tour. Pictures taken during the night show Stuart in high spirits as she chatted to Rippon and other guests. Later pictures show her leaving the venue in a taxi. Stuart, who is widely acknowledged as the UK’s first female African-Caribbean TV newsreader, joined the BBC in the late Seventies as a production assistant and then a newsreader for Radio 4 and BBC Radio 2. She went on to present virtually every BBC bulletin, with the exception of the Ten O’Clock News.  

Crystal Palace say manager Roy Hodgson is stable in hospital after he was “taken ill” during training on Thursday morning. Palace cancelled a news conference after the 76-year-old became unwell. It was widely reported on Thursday morning that Palace are set to sack Hodgson, with the club 15th in the Premier League and five points clear of the relegation zone. “Following news that Roy Hodgson was taken ill during today’s training session, we can confirm that he is now stable and is currently undergoing tests in hospital,” the club said on Twitter. “Everybody at the club sends their best wishes to Roy for a speedy recovery.” Everton boss Sean Dyche, whose team are playing Palace on Monday, said: “I wish him well and sent a message out. I briefly spoke to Ray Lewington, so I believe things are OK at the minute. Great guy. Someone I respect greatly. So we are hoping that he recovers. Bigger than the game is certainly his health. I hope he comes through it with no problems.” Danny Murphy shared messages he exchanged with Roy Hodgson after he was rushed to hospital. “I messaged him after the worrying news that he’d been taken ill at Crystal Palace’s training ground and was reassured by his replies. He said he was feeling fine, taking stock and prioritising his health. It was good to hear. At 76, he’s absolutely right to put himself first – and he indicated he’s starting to realise that himself. I’m sure he felt an enormous sense of responsibility in a tough campaign for Palace, but if this is a full stop on his managerial career, he should step away with full peace of mind.” 

On This Day

  • 1930 – Elm Farm Ollie becomes the first cow to fly in a fixed-wing aircraft and also the first cow to be milked in an aircraft.
  • 1957 – Walter James Bolton becomes the last person legally executed in New Zealand.
  • 1977 – The Xinjiang 61st Regiment Farm fire: started during Chinese New Year when a firecracker ignited the wreaths of late Mao Zedong, killing 694 personnel. It remains the deadliest fireworks accidents in the world.
  • 2003 – 192 people die when an arsonist sets fire to a subway train in Daegu, South Korea.
  • 2004 – 295 people, including nearly 200 rescue workers, die near Nishapur, Iran, when a runaway freight train carrying sulphur, petrol and fertiliser catches fire and explodes.
  • 2010 – WikiLeaks publishes the first of hundreds of thousands of classified documents disclosed by the soldier now known as Chelsea Manning.

Deaths

New Zealands Last Execution

Walter James Bolton was a New Zealand farmer who was found guilty of poisoning his wife. He is known as the last person to be executed in New Zealand before the abolition of capital punishment.

Jim Bolton was born in Wanganui and grew up in nearby Mangamahu. He married Beatrice Mabel Jones in 1913, but Beatrice died in July of 1956 after a long and debilitating illness. An autopsy found traces of arsenic in her body, and a police investigation was launched. Bolton was formally charged with her murder in September.

The prosecution claimed that Bolton was having an affair with Beatrice’s sister, Florence, who had moved in to help look after Beatrice, and that Bolton had poisoned his wife with arsenic he possessed for use on his farm. It also alleged that he and Florence had destroyed Beatrice’s diary. Bolton’s defence argued that Beatrice could have been poisoned accidentally, by arsenic entering the water supply. Water on the Bolton’s farm was tested and found to contain arsenic, and traces of arsenic were also found in Bolton and one of his daughters.

Despite this evidence, a jury quickly found Bolton guilty of murdering his wife, and he was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Mount Eden Prison in Auckland on 18th February 1957, aged 68. According to a contemporary newspaper account, his execution was allegedly botched – instead of breaking his neck instantly, he was slowly strangled to death. Shortly afterward, the New Zealand Labour Party won the 1957 New Zealand General Election and in effect, the practice of capital punishment ended with Bolton’s execution. Due to bipartisan support for abolition, the death penalty faced statutory abolition for homicide and most other crimes when Parliament passed the Crimes Act 1961. (The last vestiges of the death penalty in New Zealand – for treason and similar acts – were abolished with the passage of the Abolition of the Death Penalty Act 1989).

But was there enough reasonable doubt in the case for the last state-ordered death to be considered an unjustified murder?

New evidence shows that Bolton made statements to police at the time which were not shared with the jury – admitting he suffered from erectile dysfunction. This would have affected the relationship he may have had with Florence. 

Bolton paid large sums of money for his wife’s healthcare (he even placed her in a private hospital); and was the only member of the family to agree to an autopsy, which then revealed Beatrice’s organs were riddled with poison. 

Ultimately, Bolton may have been the victim of small-town judgement, rather than having been convicted on the evidence to hand. He was probably convicted as much for his sexual morals as for whether he had killed his wife or not… Perhaps Jim Bolton deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Molly Ringwald (56), John Travolta (70), Matt Dillon (60), Cybill Shepherd (74), Dr. Dre (59), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (43), Dominic Purcell (54), Bonnie Wright (33), Lou Diamond Phillips (62), Rene Russo (70), Rory Kinnear (48), Paris Hilton (43), Patricia Routledge (95),  Brenda Fricker (79), Ed Sheeran (33), Christopher Eccleston (60), Elizabeth Olsen (35), LeVar Burton (67), Amanda Holden (53), John McEnroe (65), Jane Seymour (73), Matt Groening (70), Simon Pegg (54), Andrew Robinson (82), Meg Tilly (64), Teller (76), Neal McDonough (58), Stockard Channing (80), Kim Novak (91), Tony Dalton (49), Hugh Dennis (62), Michael Ironside (74), Annette Crosbie (90), Maud Adams (79), Josh Brolin (56), and Christina Ricci (44).


Dead Pool 11th February 2024

Welcome all to another weekly round up. Sadly no points to award this week but plenty to read up on.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

OJ Simpson invoked Donald Trump after reports suggested he was in hospice care after undergoing chemotherapy for prostate cancer. “Hey X world, hospice? Hospice? You talking about hospice?” the former American football running back – who was acquitted in 1995 of murdering his wife and her friend – said in a video posted to X on Friday. “No, I’m not in any hospice. I don’t know who put that out there,” he continued. “I guess it’s like Donald Trump says, ‘You can’t trust the media.’ In any event, I’m hosting a tonne of friends for the Super Bowl here in Las Vegas. All is well, you know. So take care, have a good Super Bowl weekend.” The Flying Monkeys reported on Friday, citing sources, that Simpson had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was currently undergoing chemotherapy in Las Vegas. However, when approached for comment, the NFL star’s lawyer directed us to an old tweet shared by Simpson on 30th May 2023, in which he revealed that in “really recent years, I unfortunately caught cancer”. “So I had to do the whole chemo thing,” he said at the time, adding: “I’m over the chemo… I’m healthy now. It looks like I beat it – I’m happy about that.” Simpson didn’t specify what kind of cancer he had been treated for. 

Rick Stein has admitted that he ‘isn’t going to last that  much longer’ after his health woes.  The chef, 77, had open heart surgery at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London last year after struggling with breathlessness. Now 18 months on from the operation, despite describing his future in a matter if fact way, he had said he feels ‘optimistic’ and won’t lose sleep ‘pondering how little life he’s got left’.  Rick’s aorta wasn’t working properly and was advised by doctors to go under the knife. He’s now told the Flying Monkeys: ‘Having had the operation and recovered, the improvement in my health has left me tremendously optimistic. Even though at my age and with the normal realities of life I’m not going to last that much longer. I think as long as you’ve got your health and you’re optimistic generally and enjoying your life, you don’t tend to ponder too much about how little life you’ve got left.’  He said previously of his operation: ‘It was scary before I went into the operation. Afterwards you realise if you had died you wouldn’t have noticed, because you were under the anaesthetic. An operation like that stops you in your tracks and makes you think about who you are. It’s time to review your life. You’ve been through a very life-threatening experience. The surgeon says it’s no more dangerous than the appendix these days, but to have your heart taken out, repaired and put back in, personally I’d say that’s big!’ There was no alternative for a chef who has loved the good life, including lashings of butter, cream and wine in his cooking and travel shows.

King Charles “is doing extremely well under the circumstances” following the start of his cancer treatment, Queen Camilla has said. Asked how the King was doing at an event at Salisbury Cathedral on Thursday evening, she said: “He is very touched by all of the letters and messages the public have been sending from everywhere. That’s very cheering!” Buckingham Palace announced the King’s cancer diagnosis on Monday. It was detected while the monarch was undergoing treatment for an enlarged prostate last month, the Palace said. The type of cancer has not been disclosed, though it has confirmed it is not prostate cancer. The King has stepped back from all public-facing duties while he undergoes treatment, the Palace said. Senior royals, including the Queen and the Prince of Wales will take on his duties for some events. On Wednesday, the King was pictured for the first time since his diagnosis was made public alongside the Queen in a car leaving Clarence House in London to catch a helicopter to Sandringham in Norfolk. Buckingham Palace has said the monarch will continue with paperwork and his constitutional duties during the unspecified treatment. Before the King left London, Harry travelled from the US to visit him. He was seen at Heathrow Airport the following day returning to Los Angeles.

On This Day

  • 1812 – Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry is accused of “gerrymandering” for the first time.
  • 1990 – Nelson Mandela is released from Victor Verster Prison outside Cape Town, South Africa after 27 years as a political prisoner.
  • 1990   Buster Douglas, a 42:1 underdog, knocks out Mike Tyson in ten rounds at Tokyo to win boxing’s world Heavyweight title. 

Deaths

  • 1650 – René Descartes, French mathematician and philosopher (b. 1596). 
  • 1986 – Frank Herbert, American journalist and author (b. 1920). 
  • 2000 – Roger Vadim, French director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1928). 
  • 2006 – Matilda, American chicken and stage magician, oldest known chicken (h. 1990).
  • 2010 – Alexander McQueen, English fashion designer (b. 1969).
  • 2012  Whitney Houston, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress (b. 1963).

The Sad Demise of Peter Pan

Disney fairy tales don’t often end this way. In March of 1968, a pair of children playing in an abandoned, Greenwich Village tenement in New York City discovered a young man dead on a cot, surrounded by beer bottles and religious handouts. There were no obvious signs of foul play. He had no identification. The body was unknown and went unclaimed.

After failing to locate his next of kin, authorities declared the man dead from hardening of the arteries – a common side effect of longtime heroin abuse – and buried him in a mass, unmarked paupers’ grave on the Bronx’s Hart Island alongside other unidentified bodies and indigent souls who had fallen on hard times. And somewhere, although nobody is sure exactly where, is the final resting place of Peter Pan.

It’s also the final resting place of Bobby Driscoll, who became a household name at the age of 9 with a starring role in Disney’s controversial Song of the South. He won an Oscar at 12, and then, at 16, went on to voice the title role in Disney’s classic animated film about a boy who never wants to grow up. In this case, that boy’s twisted road to manhood ultimately detoured into (and out of) jail, through multiple marriages (and divorces) to the same woman, and finally winding through Andy Warhol’s Factory to a tragic end.

So how to explain a former child star who worked alongside Tinseltown greats like Charles Boyer, Alan Ladd, Roy Rogers, and Joan Fontaine falling so far from a life of lights and Academy awards to become just another indigent in an unmarked grave on Hart Island, where his body remains today? Fifty years after his death, it’s a question that continues to trouble some of his oldest friends.

“He didn’t really recover from being abandoned by Hollywood,” reflects actor Billy Gray, who played Bud Anderson on the classic sitcom Father Knows Best and later befriended Driscoll. “It hit him hard. He was a heroin addict. It was tragic and there wasn’t much you could do about it. He was strong, he had a good intellect and he should have known better. But that was a choice he made, and you couldn’t talk him out of it.”

The only son of an insulation salesman and former schoolteacher, Driscoll was discovered at the age of 5 while getting a trim. “A barber in Pasadena told me I should be in the movies, so one Sunday he invited us out to his home and his son  was there,” recalled Driscoll during a 1946 radio interview. “We found out his son was in the movies, and his son got me an appointment with his agent. His agent took me out to a part.”

It was only a bit role opposite Margaret O’Brien in the 1943 film Lost Angel, but it led to a succession of movies that capitalised on Driscoll’s pert nose and freckled face. Driscoll made nine films in a three-year span before his breakout role as Johnny, a 7-year-old boy who visits his grandfather’s plantation in Song of the South. 

Though the live-action/animated musical (which featured the Oscar-winning “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”) would ultimately represent an embarrassing chapter in Disney’s storied history because of its offensive stereotypes and candy-coated depiction of slavery, it marked the start of a successful relationship between the studio and Driscoll, who became the first male actor to ever secure a Disney contract. “What Disney saw in Driscoll was the perfect, wholesome, all-American kid who dreams of being with pirates and all that, Bobby was Disney’s live-action Mickey Mouse.” explains Hollywood biographer Marc Eliot. 

The budding star made four movies for Disney, including Treasure Island, Peter Pan, and So Dear to My Heart – which, together with his role in The Window for RKO Pictures, earned Driscoll the Juvenile Academy Award in 1950. 

By the time Driscoll voiced Peter Pan at 16, however, he no longer had the impish face that kept him gainfully employed as a youth. He was just another teen boy with a bad case of acne. In today’s world, it’s a familiar and predictable narrative—a star who began his or her career on the Disney lot grows up and out of the squeaky-clean confines of the studio. But contemporary actors like Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez willingly left the Mouse House; Driscoll didn’t have a choice when the studio unexpectedly dropped its golden child in 1953. 

“When Howard Hughes bought RKO, he, in effect, became the owner of the Disney studio,” explains Eliot. “He controlled the money and he hated Bobby Driscoll. He hated Hollywood kids. He thought they were precocious, weren’t real, and were incredibly annoying. He didn’t want Bobby Driscoll to be with Disney anymore.” 

The split was devastating. “The way I understand it, it was a rather rude dismissal,” says Gray. “I heard that he was informed that he was no longer under contract through them by driving up to the entrance and being refused entrance into the studio. That was his notification that he was no longer needed there.” 

Though his big-screen career fizzled, Driscoll found fairly steady work in TV shows like Dragnet and Rawhide and attempted to settle into a life of domesticity with Marilyn Jean Rush, a 19-year-old he met in Manhattan Beach. After eloping to Mexico five months after they met, the young couple had one son and two daughters before splitting for good three years, two marriages, and two divorces later. “I became a beatnik and a bum,” Driscoll said in the 1961 magazine article. “I had no residence. My clothes were at my parents house but I didn’t live anywhere. My personality had suffered during my marriage and I was trying to recoup it.”

While hanging out on Los Angeles beaches, Driscoll befriended a group of young Hollywood turks like Gray, Robert Blake (Baretta), Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap), and Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story). “We used to play pool together,” remembers Tamblyn of their days living and carousing in Pacific Palisades. Driscoll also engaged in a more dangerous form of recreation – heroin. “It wasn’t a secret,” says Gray. “He liked heroin. That’s just the way it was.” 

Driscoll was arrested multiple times for drug possession,  assault, burglary, and check kiting before he was finally committed for drug rehabilitation at Chino Men’s Prison in 1961. “I had everything,” he said in an interview after his sentence. “Was earning $50,000 a year…working steadily with good parts. Then I started putting all my spare time in my arm. I’m not really sure why I started using narcotics. I was 17 when I first experimented with the stuff. In no time at all, I was using whatever was available…mostly heroin, because I had the money to pay for it.” 

No one seems to know how the then 31-year-old Driscoll spent his final days in New York City and why he ended up in an abandoned apartment where those kids found his body. Unlike the celebrity missteps that are chronicled hourly on news sites and social media today, Driscoll’s demise happened in complete and total silence. 

Driscoll’s mother, Isabelle – who had not heard from her son in years – found out about Bobby’s death nearly a year and a half later after placing advertisements about his disappearance in New York newspapers. It would take even longer for word to reach the public at large, as news of the Disney star’s passing only surfaced four years after the fact, during the rerelease of Song of the South in 1972. 

Regrettably, Driscoll’s children will never see the exact spot where their father was laid to rest: Burial records from 1961 through July 1977 that had been kept in the old hospital were destroyed by a fire. “He’s somewhere on the northern part of the island, we just don’t know where.” 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Jennifer Aniston (55), Natalie Dormer (42), Damian Lewis (53), Taylor Lautner (32), Thomas Turgoose (32), Sheryl Crow (62), Chloë Grace Moretz (27), Elizabeth Banks (50), Keeley Hawes (48), Laura Dern (57), Robert Wagner (94), Philip Glenister (61), Holly Willoughby (43), Rose Leslie (37), Tom Hiddleston (43), Ciarán Hinds (71), Michael B. Jordan (37), Joe Pesci (81), Ziyi Zhang (45), Mia Farrow (79), Mary Steenburgen (71), Nick Nolte (83), Seth Green (50), John Williams (92), James Spader (64), Deborah Ann Woll (39), Ashton Kutcher (46), Chris Rock (59), Eddie Izzard (62), Kevin Whately (73), Jennifer Jason Leigh (62), Michael Sheen (55), Charlotte Rampling (78), Christopher Guest (76), Tony Jaa (48), and Raymond Lee (37).


Dead Pool 4th February 2024

With the tragic passing of Jonnie Irwin, let’s dole out some points! 100 points go to Julia, Christine, Lee, Paula, Abigail, Dave, Rachel, Mark K, and Ian. The following who had him as their Cert get 200 points! Well done to Myself, Laura, and Mark W. Well done everyone! Amazingly I’m in joint second place, but I’d like to assure you that I have not been cheating, even though I hold the reins to the Flying Monkeys. 

If anyone would like to donate towards the running costs, this will be the last week I’ll be leaving it open. We’re 85% of the way there, so roughly about £20 short of the target. Thank you all who have donated so far, you’re all wonderful people! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A Bollywood star and model who lied about her death says she is ‘proud’ of the ill-advised publicity stunt, saying it has helped raise greater awareness around cervical cancer. Poonam Pandey, 32, was announced as having died from the disease on Friday, in a social media message to her 1.3 million fans posted by her management team. The Instagram post read: ‘This morning is a tough one for us. Deeply saddened to inform you that we have lost our beloved Poonam to cervical cancer. Every living form that ever came in contact with her was met with pure love and kindness.’ The news was confirmed by her manager Nikita Sharma, who told local media: ‘Poonam Pandey, the beloved actress and social media personality, has tragically passed away this morning due to cervical cancer, leaving the entertainment industry in shock and mourning. Sharma also highlighted the ‘critical need for increased awareness and proactive measures against preventable diseases like cervical cancer’. News of her death was reported in media outlets around the world. But just a day later, the actress  set the record straight with a video revealing she was still alive! Apologising to her fans, Pandey said: ‘Yes, I faked my demise. Extreme, I know. But suddenly we all are talking about cervical cancer, aren’t we? I am proud of what my death news has been able to achieve. Unlike some other cancers, cervical cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease. Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take.’ Pandey, from Kanpur, India, garnered considerable notoriety when she vowed to strip for Team India if they won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. She made her Bollywood debut in the film Nasha in 2013, in which she played the lead role of Anita – a tempestuous drama teacher who engages in a disastrous romance with a teenage student.   

Shannen Doherty is holding out hope as she undergoes different treatments for stage IV brain cancer. During the latest episode of her “Let’s Be Clear” podcast, Doherty, 52, explained how recent results influenced a positive outlook on her health. “I’m not gonna say what it is, I’m on a new cancer infusion, and after four treatments, we didn’t really see a difference and everybody wanted me to switch, and I just kinda was like, ‘We’re gonna keep going with this and see,’” she told her radiation oncologist Dr. Amin Mirhadi on the podcast. “And yeah, after the sixth or seventh treatment, we really saw it breaking down the blood-brain barrier.” Doherty called her body’s response to the new treatment a “miracle,” adding, “For me, that happens to be a miracle right now. That I sort of rolled the dice and said, ‘Let’s keep going.” After receiving support from her medical team, Doherty chose to continue the infusions. “That it’s actually breaking down that blood-brain barrier is actually a miracle of that drug, a miracle of maybe God intervening and saying, ‘I’m gonna give her a break,’” she added. “Sometimes you’re looking for miracles in all the wrong places, and they’re right in front of your face.” The blood-brain barrier is “a protective network of blood vessels and cells that filters blood flowing to the brain.” This barrier “makes it hard for some substances — such as anticancer drugs — to enter the brain. It prevents many chemotherapy drugs from reaching brain tumour cells in large enough amounts to destroy them.” Based on Doherty’s insight into her treatment, the new infusion is seemingly getting past the blood-brain barrier and properly entering the brain. Doherty revealed her cancer diagnosis in 2015, and after two years of chemotherapy, she was in remission. The cancer returned in 2020 as stage IV breast cancer. In November 2023, the Beverly Hills, 90210 alum confirmed that the cancer has spread to her bones. “I don’t want to die,” she told the Flying Monkeys that same month. “I’m not done with living. I’m not done with loving. I’m not done with creating. I’m not done with hopefully changing things for the better.” 

Baywatch star Nicole Eggert has expressed regret over her decision to get breast implants at the tender age of 18, following a sombre diagnosis of breast cancer. Diagnosed with  stage 2 cribriform carcinoma in December 2023, the 51-year-old actress confessed she believed she was going through menopause when she experienced distressing symptoms including gaining significant weight and enduring intense pain in her left breast. Nicole, renowned for her role as Summer Quinn on the popular TV show Baywatch from 1992-1994, decided to have breast implants whilst in her teenage years due to the pressure of having to wear a bathing suit for her role. Sharing her thoughts with the Flying Monkeys, she voiced her remorse about the hasty decision she made during her youth. “It was a stupid 18 year old decision.”, she confessed. Continuing her story, she says: “I look at all these younger girls doing it and think, ‘God, leave your bodies alone! But when you have to put on that one-piece and it’s like you’re so flat that it’s like pleating – you got pleats across the front…” she expresses. “You’re like, ‘What is this?’ Nothing you can do. You can’t stuff it with anything. You can’t do anything.” Nicole, who’s had various breast augmentation surgeries since the show ended, had one of these procedures showcased on the E! reality programme, ‘Botched‘. She went on that show in 2015 to reduce her breast size. Now a single mum of two, she’s focusing primarily on her cancer diagnosis. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, she said: “I think that experience definitely hindered me a bit and my mental health and my self-awareness and how I felt about myself. I think it was damaging and made me very insecure and just not comfortable in my own skin.” To diagnose her cancer, Nicole underwent a mammogram and three biopsies, but it’s unknown whether the disease has spread or metastasised to other parts of her body. Following surgery, she’ll receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy as recommended by her oncologist.

On This Day

  • 1703 – In Edo (now Tokyo), all but one of the Forty-seven Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) as recompense for avenging their master’s death.
  • 1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.
  • 1999 – Unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo is shot 41 times by four plainclothes New York City police officers on an unrelated stake-out, inflaming race relations in the city. 
  • 2004 – Facebook is founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. 

Deaths

  • 1983 – Karen Carpenter, American singer (b. 1950).
  • 1987 – Liberace, American singer-songwriter and pianist, (b. 1919).
  • 2018 – John Mahoney, English-American actor, voice artist, and comedian (b. 1940).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Gabrielle Anwar (54), Natalie Imbruglia (49), Alice Cooper (76), Jim Jefferies (47), Isla Fisher (48), Aimee Lou Wood (29), Morgan Fairchild (74), Nathan Lane (68), Warwick Davis (54), Paul Mescal (28), Gemma Arterton (38), Brent Spiner (75), David Jason (84), Shakira (47), Michael C. Hall (53), Sherilyn Fenn (59), Ronda Rousey (37), Harry Styles (30), Minnie Driver (54), Jonathan Banks (77), Justin Timberlake (43), Dexter Fletcher (58), Marcus Mumford (37), Olivia Colman (50), Christian Bale (50), Gene Hackman (94), Vanessa Redgrave (87), Phil Collins (73), Jordan Prentice (51), Heather Graham (54), Tom Selleck (49), Oprah Winfrey (70), Marc Singer (76), and Tim Healy (72).


Dead Pool 28th January 2024

A surprisingly deadly yet pointless week, with loads to  read. We also discover that the kid from The Exorcist is now old enough to collect her pension, or would be if they hadn’t changed it! (The Bastards!).

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Morrissey is “receiving medical supervision” after cancelling two arena gigs at short notice. The former frontman of The Smiths, 64, had been set to play a pair of dates in Southern California this week, but the venues announced that “unforeseen circumstances” had led to the cancellations. In a statement shared to social media, a spokesperson for Morrissey revealed that the singer was getting medical care after suffering “physical exhaustion”. “He has been ordered to rest for two weeks, and he will remain in Zurich,” wrote Donnie Knutson. The concerts had been set to take place at the Honda Center in Anaheim and Kia Forum near Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday respectively. It has not yet been announced whether the performances will be rescheduled for later dates. Morrissey is still expected to perform seven planned performances in Mexico and South America next month. During his last show in Los Angeles, Morrissey walked off stage at the city’s Greek Theater after just 20 minutes, with a bandmate telling the audience: “Sorry, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the show is not going to continue. Very sorry. We’ll see you next time. Apologies.” This week’s cancelled shows would have seen the British artist perform his 2004 album You Are the Quarry in its entirety, to mark the 20th anniversary of the record. Back in August, Michael Imperioli, star of The Sopranos, claimed that Morrissey had been “abandoned” by the music industry, comparing him to late Irish musician Sinead O’Connor. Following O’Connor’s death last year, Morrissey shared a comment on his personal website, lamenting the singer’s treatment by media. “She was dropped by her label after selling seven million albums for them. She became crazed, yes, but uninteresting, never. She had done nothing wrong,” he wrote. “… You praise her now ONLY because it is too late. You hadn’t the guts to support her when she was alive and she was looking for you.”  

Alabama has carried out the first execution of a death row prisoner in the US using nitrogen gas, an untested procedure which the prisoner’s lawyers had argued amounted to a form of cruel and unusual punishment banned under the US constitution. Kenneth Smith, 58, was pronounced dead at 8.25pm on Thursday evening at an Alabama prison after breathing pure nitrogen gas through a face mask to cause oxygen deprivation. The execution took about 22 minutes. Alabama claimed that the new nitrogen gas method was “perhaps the most humane method of execution ever devised”. But eyewitness statements from reporters present in the death chamber suggested that Smith’s death was anything but humane. Marty Roney of the Montgomery Advertiser reported that between 7.57pm local time and 8.01pm, “Smith writhed and convulsed on the gurney. He took deep breaths, his body shaking violently with his eyes rolling in the back of his head.” Roney’s report continued: “Smith clenched his fists, his legs shook … He seemed to be gasping for air. The gurney shook several times.” The Rev Jeff Hood, Smith’s spiritual adviser, was at Smith’s side for the execution, and said prison officials in the room “were visibly surprised at how bad this thing went. What we saw was minutes of someone struggling for their life,” Hood said. It appeared that Smith was holding his breath as long as he could,” the Alabama corrections commissioner, John Hamm, later told a press conference. The White House declared the execution “very troubling”, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying on Friday afternoon that Joe Biden has “deep concerns about the death penalty and whether it’s consistent with our values”.  

Sarah Ferguson was seen smiling and greeting well-wishers outside King Edward VII’s Hospital in London following her skin cancer diagnosis. The Duchess of York, 64, gave a brief update on her health in Marylebone after she left the hospital on Wednesday. After visiting her consultant dermatologist Catherine Borysiewicz, she told well-wishers: “I’m fine, thank you.” Fergie’s skin cancer diagnosis came only six months after she underwent a single mastectomy for breast cancer. In July last year, the duchess had an eight hour operation where she had one of her breasts removed after the disease was discovered in a routine mammogram. After her visit to the hospital, the duchess stopped to talk to members of the public before being led away by her driver. A spokesperson for the duchess has said that Fergie is “very resilient” and is determined to carry on following the second medical diagnosis. On Sunday, the spokesperson announced: “Following her diagnosis with an early form of breast cancer this summer, Sarah, Duchess of York has now been diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Her dermatologist asked that several moles were removed and analysed at the same time as the Duchess was undergoing reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy, and one of these has been identified as cancerous.” Throughout both cancer diagnoses the duchess has encouraged women to keep getting checked for any forms of cancer. A friend of Fergie’s spoke fondly of the duchess stating: “She is simply amazing, always looking for the positive in any situation and rarely thinking of herself. She is going to beat this disease, just like she faced her breast cancer diagnosis, with bravery and good humour and working out a way she can use her experience to help others.” The duchess released her own statement on Instagram thanking everyone who sent messages of support following her diagnosis. She stated: “Naturally another cancer diagnosis has been a shock but I’m in good spirits and grateful for the many messages of love and support. I am incredibly thankful to the medical teams that have supported me through both of these experiences with cancer and to the MARYLIFE Clinic for taking gentle care of me in the past weeks, allowing me time for recuperation.” The news comes at a time when King Charles is recovering after surgery on an enlarged prostate and Kate is recuperating after abdominal surgery.  

Josef Fritzl, our favourite Austrian who raped and held his daughter captive in the basement of his family home, has won his bid to be moved from a prison psychiatric unit. Fritzl, 88, who was pictured for the first time in 15 years on Thursday morning while being driven to court, was reportedly close to tears on hearing the decision by a panel of three female judges at Krems regional court, in Austria. It comes after his lawyer Astrid Wagner announced he was applying for early release from jail on the grounds of old age and dementia, paving the way for his eventual move to a nursing home. He has been in a prison for “mentally abnormal” inmates since his conviction in 2009 for incest, rape, enslavement, coercion and the murder, by neglect, of his newborn son. “He was a bit close to tears as he said once again that what he did was a terrible thing, and that he feels incredibly sorry for these people and that he wishes that he could undo it,” Ms Wagner said. Despite suffering from dementia, the rapist was able to follow proceedings. It followed a psychiatric assessment that he no longer posed a threat of reoffending, according to reports. From regular prison he can request to be released from prison altogether. Ms Wagner said she planned to submit such a request next year. “His everyday life will remain similar. Prison is prison,” Ms Wagner said, adding that he would continue to receive psychotherapy.   

A British base jumper has died after his parachute failed to open as he plunged to the ground from a tower block in Thailand. Nathy Odinson, 33, from Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, illegally climbed to the top of the 29th floor in an apartment building in the coastal resort of Pattaya, on Saturday night before falling to his death. Horrifying footage shows the tattooed daredevil counting down ‘three, two, one, see ya’ before leaping into the night sky – only to go into a deadly tailspin with the small parachute flailing through the air. Mr Odinson can then be heard landing in a tree before hitting the ground with a sickening thud. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene. Tourist police in Pattaya were alerted to the accident at 7.30pm and rushed to the condo building in Tambon Na Klua in Bang Lamung district of Chonburi province and found Odinson’s body on the ground. A round blue parachute was found on his body and was not fully deployed. Traumatised security guard Kanet Chansong, 33, said: ‘I heard the sound of the tree and I thought it was a fallen branch hitting the ground. ‘A woman screamed so I walked over and realised it was person. They were dead. I saw that they had jumped from the building.’ Mr Odinson was a regular daredevil and had performed skydives and base jumps around the world. He ran a ‘sky photography’ company and took customers on private skydives. 

On This Day

  • 1591 – Execution of Agnes Sampson, accused of witchcraft in Edinburgh.
  • 1896 – Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent, becomes the first person to be convicted of speeding. He was fined one shilling, plus costs, for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thereby exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h). 
  • 1922 – Knickerbocker Storm: Washington, D.C.’s biggest snowfall, causes a disaster when the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre collapses, killing over 100 people.
  • 1958 – The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks.
  • 1986 – Space Shuttle program: STS-51-L mission: Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on board.

Deaths

  • 1547 – Henry VIII, king of England (b. 1491).
  • 1996 – Jerry Siegel, American author and illustrator, co-created Superman (b. 1914).
  • 2009 – Billy Powell, American keyboard player and songwriter (b. 1952).

Windy Witch

Agnes Sampson was a Scottish healer and purported witch. Also known as the “Wise Wife of Keith”, Sampson was involved in the North Berwick witch trials in the later part of the sixteenth century.

Sampson lived at Nether Keith, a part of the Keith Marischal barony in East Lothian, Scotland. She was considered to have healing powers and acted as a midwife. The indictment against her indicated that she was a widow, with children. 

By the autumn of 1590, Scotland was aflame with witch hunts, and many of those sent to trial were questioned by the King himself. Agnes Sampson was accused by Gillis Duncan and arrested along with others, and questioned regarding her role in a storm raising. She was put to torture and confessed and her body was shaved to reveal a “privy mark” or witches’ mark. These proceedings were described in the 1591 London publication Newes from Scotland:

This aforesaid Agnes Sampson which was the elder Witch, was taken and brought to Holyrood Palace before the Kings Majesty and sundry other of the nobility of Scotland, where she was straightly examined, but all the persuasions which the Kings majesty used to her with the rest of his counsel, might not provoke or induce her to confess any thing, but stood stiffly in the denial of all that was laid to her charge: whereupon they caused her to be confined away to prison, there to receive such torture as hath been lately provided for witches in that country: and for as much as by due examination of witchcraft and witches in Scotland, it has lately been found that the Devil does generally mark them with a privy mark, by reason the Witches have confessed themselves, that the Devil doth lick them with his tongue in some private part of their body, before he doth receive them to be his servants, which mark commonly is given them under the hair in some part of their body, whereby it may not easily be found out or seen, although they be searched: and generally so long as the mark is not seen to those which search them, so long the parties that has the mark will never confess anything. Therefore by special commandment, Agnes Sampson had all her hair shaven off, in each part of her body, and her head “thrawen” (constricted) with a rope according to the custom of that Country, being a pain most grievous, which she continued almost an hour, during which time she would not confess any thing until the Devil’s mark was found upon her privates, then she immediately confessed whatsoever was demanded of her, and justifying those persons aforesaid to be notorious witches. 

According to the Newes from Scotland, Agnes Sampson confessed to causing the storm that drowned Jane Kennedy on 7th September 1589 when ferry boats collided during a sudden storm on the Forth. She had made a charm by sinking a dead cat, to which her companions had attached parts of a dead man, into the sea near Leith. The same charm raised the storm and weather effects that threatened the king on his return voyage from Denmark in 1590.

Agnes Sampson used the phrase “contrary wind”, and this frequently appears in contemporary correspondence describing voyages, but Agnes Sampson used it in a special sense. She said that the king’s ship experienced “a contrary wind to the rest of ships, then being in his company, which thing was most strange and true, as the King’s Majesty acknowledges, for when the rest of the ships had a fair and good wind, then was the wind contrary and altogether against his Majesty”. The rest of the fleet were able to sail ahead, 

while the king’s ship alone was becalmed or driven back.

This weather condition was perhaps not uncommon in the Forth, in May 1583 a ship belonging to James Gourlay carrying Manningville, a French ambassador, was driven back to Burntisland by a “contrary wind”.

Agnes Sampson was interviewed by James VI, who was sceptical of the material in the confessions, however she told him things about the conversation he had on his wedding night with Anne of Denmark in Oslo, that she could not have known: 

Item, the said Agnis Sampson confessed before the Kings majesty sundry things which were so miraculous and strange, as that his Majesty said they were all extreme liars, where at she answered, she would not wish his Majesty to suppose her words to be false, but rather to believe them, in that she would discover such matter unto him as his majesty should not any way doubt off. And thereupon taking his Majesty a little aside, she declared unto him the very words which passed between the King and his Queen on the first night of their marriage, with their answer each to other: whereat the Kings Majesty wondered greatly, and swore by the living God, that he believed that all the Devils in hell could not have the same: acknowledging her words to be most true, and therefore gave the more credit to the rest which is before declared.

James VI had not been convinced of Sampson’s guilt prior to this last confession, but afterwards changed his mind. On 27th January 1591 the  charges of witchcraft against her were drawn up with fifty three points or “articles of dittay” (that is, articles of indictment).

Agnes Sampson was taken to the scaffold on Castlehill, where she was garrotted then burnt at the stake on 28th January 1591.

Edinburgh Burgh treasurer’s accounts itemise the cost of Agnes Sampson’s execution, giving the date of the purchases as the 16th January 1591 and the cost as £6 8s 10d. Scots. Robert Bowes wrote that her execution took place on 28 January 1591.

The naked ghost of a bald Agnes, stripped and tortured after being accused of witchcraft, is said to roam the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Will Poulter (31), Ariel Winter (26), Elijah Wood (43), Alan Alda (88), Frank Darabont (65), Rosamund Pike (45), Alan Cumming (59), Bridget Fonda (60), James Cromwell (84), Patton Oswalt (55), Frank Miller (67), Scott Glenn (85), Deep Roy (75), Ellen DeGeneres (66), Matthew Lillard (54), Mischa Barton (38), Kristen Schaal (46), Nastassja Kinski (63), Ed Helms (50), Michael Ontkean (78), Adrian Edmondson (67), Ewen Bremner (52), Gil Gerard (81), Olivia d’Abo (55), Diane Lane (59), Linda Blair (65), and Phil Wang (34).


Dead Pool 21st January 2024

We have a winner! Dave has correctly guessed that Joyce Randolph would pass away in 2024, so he gains 51 points! Which shoots him to first place by one point! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

King Charles III is set to attend hospital next week for treatment for an enlarged prostate. Buckingham Palace said the King’s condition is benign but he will undergo a “corrective procedure”. The 75 year old’s public engagements will be postponed for a short period of recuperation, the Palace said. The announcement comes shortly after it was revealed the Princess of Wales is in hospital after undergoing abdominal surgery. It is unusual for medical updates about two senior royals to be released on the same day, but it is understood it was necessary because the King had to cancel engagements scheduled for Thursday. He had been due to meet foreign dignitaries and cabinet members in Scotland on Thursday, but those meetings have been cancelled on medical grounds. It is also thought the King was keen to share his diagnosis with the public to encourage other men who may be experiencing symptoms to get checked. “In common with thousands of men each year, the King has sought treatment for an enlarged prostate,” the statement said. Benign prostate enlargement – which is non-cancerous – is common in men over 50 and is not usually a serious condition, according to the NHS website. Around one in three men over the age of 50 will have some symptoms of an enlarged prostate, which is a gland that sits just below the bladder. While it is not usually a serious threat to health, it can cause symptoms and problems, including difficulty passing urine or emptying the bladder. The condition does not mean the patient has an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. While it is unclear what corrective procedure the King will undergo, there are a few ways of managing it including surgery, lasers and even a steam treatment. The announcement from Buckingham Palace was the second significant piece of health news about senior royals to emerge on Wednesday. The Princess of Wales will spend up to two weeks in hospital recovering from abdominal surgery on Tuesday. Her procedure was planned and successful, Kensington Palace said. Further details about her condition were not disclosed, but it is understood not to be cancer-related. Details about the health of senior royals are rarely disclosed, so it is striking for two updates about two separate figures to be released on the same day. Buckingham Palace does not routinely provide a commentary on health conditions and releases limited information on the occasions when it does provide public updates.  

“Emily in Paris” star Ashley Park revealed on Instagram Friday that she went through a major health scare at the start of the new year after a case of tonsillitis turned into critical septic shock, infecting several of her organs. The actor and singer who appears in the popular television series said she was on vacation in December for the holidays through New Year’s when she fell ill.  “I hesitated to share what’s been happening as I’m still in the throes of recovery…but I now know I’m safely on the other side of the worst,” Park wrote alongside photos of her in a hospital bed. “As I sit here processing and recovering from the first few weeks of 2024, the only word I can think of is grateful.” Sepsis is a deadly condition that occurs when the body improperly over-responds to an infection, Dr. Anthony Fiore of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Flying Monkeys.  “It can be so deadly because it can lead to organ failure and death because of lack of blood flow and inflammation associated with it,” Fiore said. The condition is also time-sensitive, the longer a patient with sepsis takes to get medical treatment, the more likely it is to be fatal. Symptoms of sepsis include shivering, extreme pain, disorientation and shortness of breath. The infections that most often lead to sepsis include lung infections, urinary tract infections, gut and skin infections.  While many people can recover from the condition and go back to their normal lives, others experience long-term complications if one or more of their organs are too damaged by the infection.  In her post, Park detailed that she spent time in the ICU and several hospitals with severe pain. She thanked the medical staff that helped treat her, her family and team, and most of all her boyfriend and “Emily in Paris” cast-mate, Paul Forman, who was with her throughout the ordeal.  “You calmed my fears and held me through ambulances, three foreign hospitals, a week in the ICU, scary ERs, countless scans and tests and injections, excruciating pain, and so much confusion all while we were alone on the other side of the world far from those we know,” the 32-year-old wrote. At the end of her post, the actress assured fans that she is getting better, writing, “I’m healing and I promise I’m gonna be okay.”

On This Day

  • 1793 – After being found guilty of treason by the French National Convention, Louis XVI of France is executed by guillotine.
  • 1968 – A B-52 bomber crashes near Thule Air Base, contaminating the area after its nuclear payload ruptures. One of the four bombs remains unaccounted for after the cleanup operation is complete.
  • 2017 – Over 400 cities across America and 160+ countries worldwide participate in a large-scale women’s march, on Donald Trump’s first full day as President of the United States.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Geena Davis (68), Emma Bunton (48), David Lynch (78), Rainn Wilson (58), Tom Baker (90), Bill Maher (68), Katey Sagal (70), Dolly Parton (78), Tippi Hedren (94), Kevin Costner (69), Jason Segel (44), Dave Bautista (55), Mark Rylance (64), Jane Horrocks (60), Jim Carrey (62), Zooey Deschanel (44), James Earl Jones (93), Kelly Marie Tran (35), Lin-Manuel Miranda (44), John Carpenter (76), James May (61), Kate Moss (50), Natasia Demetriou (40), James Nesbitt (59), and Claudia Winkleman (52).


Dead Pool 14th January 2024

After last weeks points extravaganza, this week seems little bit of a let down. Never mind though, the Flying Monkeys are out and about, ready to reap a few names for next week.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Baywatch star Nicole Eggert has revealed that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer at 51 years old. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys she revealed that she was diagnosed in early December with stage 2 cribriform carcinoma breast cancer. She first noticed the symptoms after she gained 25 pounds in a three-month period. Nicole was also experiencing a lot of pain in her left breast in October, and she found a lump during a self-exam. “It really was throbbing and hurting. I immediately went to my general practitioner and she told me I had to immediately go get it looked at,” she said. “But the problem was, I just couldn’t get an appointment. Everything was booked. So I had to wait until the end of November to get it done.” Finally, she was able to get a mammogram and three biopsies on her breasts. “This journey’s been rough for me,” Nicole said. “This hasn’t been a breezy sail through life.” However, she always tried to keep a positive outlook, saying: “I always read inspirational quotes and corny stuff, but it gets me through.” Nicole plans on having the cancer surgically removed. Regarding the lump, she said: “I can definitely feel it. It’s there. It needs to be taken out. So it’s just a matter of do I have to do treatment before the surgery, or can they perform the surgery and then I do the treatment after.” The actress isn’t quite sure what her next steps are because she doesn’t know if the cancer has spread. “I have panics where I’m like, ‘just get this out of me,’” she said. “You sit there and it’s in you and you’re like, every second that passes and it’s inside of me, it’s growing, and you’re just like, you just want it out.”  

Sven-Goran Eriksson has revealed he has “at best a year left to live” after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Eriksson collapsed while on a 5km run last year, which prompted doctors to investigate. They told the 75-year-old he had suffered a stroke, and subsequently discovered advanced pancreatic cancer. “They don’t know how long I had cancer, maybe a month or a year,” the former England manager told the Flying Monkeys. “Everyone understands that I have an illness, that is not good. Everyone guesses it’s cancer and it is. But I have to fight as long as I can. I have maybe at best a year, at worst a little less, or at best maybe even longer. You can’t be absolutely sure. It is better not to think about it.” Eriksson had been working as a sporting director for Swedish side Karlstad and stepped back from his role. He said he is trying to maintain a positive mindset. “You can trick your brain. See the positive in things, don’t wallow in adversity because this is the biggest adversity, of course, but make something good out of it.” Eriksson added: “I was fully healthy and then I collapsed and fainted and ended up at the hospital. And it turned out that I had cancer. The day before I had been out running five kilometres. It just came from nothing. And that makes you shocked. I’m not in any major pain. But I’ve been diagnosed with a disease that you can slow down but you cannot operate. So it is what it is.”  

Roger Daltrey is more than ready to die. In fact, he reckons he’s ‘in the way’. The London-born musician and co-founder of The Who, 79, has had his fair share of health woes in the past, having contracted viral meningitis while touring America in 2015. After falling ill, he said he saw the ‘exit sign’ and genuinely didn’t believe he’d make it through, which appears to have shifted his attitude toward death. ‘I didn’t think I was coming back and I thought about my life,’ he said. Daltrey added in a new interview with the Flying Monkeys: ‘My dreams came true so, listen, I’m ready to go at any time. My family are all great and all taken care of. You’ve got to be realistic. You can’t live your life forever.’ He added that ‘people my age, we’re in the way. There are no guitar strings to be changed on this old instrument.’ Daltrey also admitted that he would ‘consider’ joining the assisted dying organisation Dignitas should ill health make him a ‘burden’ on his loved ones. He praised 83-year-old TV icon Dame Esther Rantzen, who revealed her stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis last year and who has since spoken about the option of assisted dying should her treatment fail to improve her condition. ‘I think she is incredibly brave to raise the subject and I’m kind of there too, so I have thought about it,’ Daltrey said. Clarifying that he is not ill himself currently, he added: ‘No, but if I became a burden on everyone I’d consider it. A good friend of mine, a lovely woodsman called Tom, he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. If I had stage 4 pancreatic cancer I wouldn’t have chemo. I’d take the morphine and go down.’ Daltrey recently announced that 2024 would be his final year as curator of Teenage Cancer Trust after 24 trailblazing years. The music star will continue as a Teenage Cancer Trust Honorary Patron, following his tireless fundraising and advocacy for the charity for nearly a quarter of a century.

On This Day

  • 1907 – An earthquake in Kingston, Jamaica kills more than 1,000 people.
  • 1969 – USS Enterprise fire: An accidental explosion aboard the USS Enterprise near Hawaii kills 28 people. 
  • 1973 – Elvis Presley’s concert Aloha from Hawaii is broadcast live via satellite, and sets the record as the most watched broadcast by an individual entertainer in television history.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Jason Bateman (55), Kevin Durand (50), Faye Dunaway (83), Mark Addy (60), Grant Gustin (34), Carl Weathers (76), Dave Grohl (55), Orlando Bloom (47), Natalia Dyer (29), Ruth Wilson (42), Liam Hemsworth (34), Michael Peña (48), Bill Bailey (59), Howard Stern (70), Jason Connery (61), Rachel Riley (38), Jemaine Clement (50), Evan Handler (63), Rod Stewart (79), Imelda Staunton (68), J.K. Simmons (69), Joely Richardson (59), James Acaster (39), Michelle Forbes (59), and Amber Benson (47).


Dead Pool 7th January 2024

What a first week for the Pool! I don’t think I remember so many points dropping so soon!

So, as we have now determined that Derek Draper was the first of the year, I can award 94  + 50 points the following: Myself, Julia, Lee, Laura, Paul G & Ian; and an amazing 194 +50 points to Debbie, Nickie, Dave, Rachel who had him as their Cert. 

Let’s not stop there! With the passing of Glynis Johns, I can award 50 points to myself, Rachel, Paul C, Nickie, Ceri & Abi; and 150 to Mark for having her as his Woman. 

So we’re already up to a flying start, those flying monkeys didn’t disappoint us! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Michael Bolton has revealed that he was diagnosed with a brain tumour late last year. The Grammy-winning 70-year-old pop singer, who has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, explained he underwent “immediate surgery” and is now “recuperating”. He will be taking a break from live performance. Writing on Facebook, Bolton said: “Just before the holidays, it was discovered that I had a brain tumour, which required immediate surgery. Thanks to my incredible medical team, the surgery was a success. I am now recuperating at home and surrounded by the tremendous love and support of my family. For the next couple of months, I will be devoting my time and energy to my recovery which means I’ll have to take a temporary break from touring. It is always the hardest thing for me to ever disappoint my fans or postpone a show, but have no doubt I am working hard to accelerate my recovery and get back to performing soon. I am beyond grateful for all the love and support you have so generously shown me through the years. Know that I’m keeping your positive messages in my heart, and I’ll give you more updates as soon as I can.” Unfortunately for Bolton, male brain tumours are usually the result of having stupidly long hair for years. Although he cut his locks in 1988 the residual strain on his brain left a lasting toll. Lets wish him well for the next year as nobody has him listed.  

I thought I’d share this tale of Rob McElhenney leaving his fans feeling sick after closing 2023 with a picture of his extreme ‘allergic reaction’. The 46-year old star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia appeared unrecognisable as he took to Instagram to share his favourite memories from the past 12 months. Alongside photos of his Wrexham AFC endeavours with pal Ryan Reynolds, the actor uploaded a shocking pic that saw his face complete swollen and deformed. “Aside from that slight allergic reaction to the nuts, 2023 was one of the best years of my life,” he wrote. “Thank you to the people and places that made it possible. My life is full of love and joy because of you. So excited for 2024. I’ll stay away from the nuts.” Rob’s followers reacted in shock, meanwhile, with one user responding: “Rob this made me almost drop my phone. My son screamed.” Another commented: “Can somebody confirm that the first picture is real and not from some scene he was doing. That is insane.” A third added: “That first slide can’t be real…is it real?? I really impressed and/or horrified.” And a fourth penned: “Oh my word sir I am so happy you are ok. Avoid all nuts please…you are a national treasure and we need you around.” Sadly, however, the father-of-two’s appearance was the result of some highly impressive prosthetic work for his comedy series. The behind-the-scenes shot was taken during filming of the sitcom’s 16th series, which sees Rob’s character Mac suffer a major reaction to peanuts, which worsens throughout an episode.  

Comedy star Bob Mortimer has shared how his health recently took a rapid decline and 2023 became the ‘worst year ever’ for his physical condition. The 64-year-old television star is best known for his work with fellow comedian Vic Reeves, as part of their Vic and Bob double act, and his Gone Fishing series with actor Paul Whitehouse. The two pals, who both suffer from heart conditions, chat candidly while fishing at various locations across the UK. In their most recent episode, Bob admitted the past 12 months have been ‘very unhealthy’ for him after being struck down with shingles – a skin infection caused by the same virus as chickenpox. Bob has had rheumatoid arthritis since childhood and also underwent triple bypass surgery in 2015. On the show, Bob explained that his health issues have caused the muscles in his body to wither and now he can no longer exercise like he once could. He estimates that as much as 80 percent of the muscles in his legs have been lost due to his illness, and fears he may never run again. Sitting on the banks, Bob explained: “It’s been a very, very, very unhealthy year for me Paul with my shingles… And you know what – it was worse than my heart period.” Nine years ago, Bob had triple bypass surgery, when his heart stopped for 32 minutes. He discovered that 95 percent of his arteries were blocked. Addressing the changes to his body and muscle mass, Bob continued: “The muscles I’ve lost, I’ve lost… But other ones can compensate for it, you know what I mean? I can make the other muscles stronger but I have a terrible feeling I’m never going to be able to run again and you know that I used to like to run Paul.” In September 2023, Bob had to drop out of co-hosting Gone Fishing after he was incapacitated by shingles – with Lee Mack stepping in. A source said: “While it was nothing serious, producers thought it might be fun to bring in one of the lads’ friends to give Paul company.” 

On This Day

  • 1927 – The first transatlantic commercial telephone service is established from New York City to London.
  • 1928 – A disastrous flood of the River Thames kills 14 people and causes extensive damage to much of riverside London.
  • 2015 – Two gunmen commit mass murder at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, shooting twelve people execution style, and wounding eleven others.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Nicolas Cage (60), Jeremy Renner (52), Linda Kozlowski (65), Erin Gray (58), Kate McKinnon (39), Rowan Atkinson (68), Eddie Redmayne (41), Norman Reedus (54), Nigella Lawson (63), Bradley Cooper (48), January Jones (45), Clancy Brown (64), Shea Whigham (54), Diane Keaton (77), Robert Duvall (92), Vinnie Jones (58), Marilyn Manson (54), Emma Mackey (27), Graham McTavish (62), Julia Ormond (58), Matt Frewer (65), Florence Pugh (27), Mel Gibson (67), Victoria Principal (73), Sarah Alexander (52), Tia Carrere (57), Kate Bosworth (40), Cuba Gooding Jr. (55), and Frank Langella (85). 


In Memoriam 2023

So that’s 2023 over and done with. Now I can declare that Nickie is our winner with 428 points!!! Congratulations, the trophy will be with you as soon as the Flying Monkeys get their act together. Well done everyone and good luck for 2024.

The past year saw a number of unexpected deaths of much-loved celebrities, along with the  loss of veterans from the entertainment industry.

Here are some of those who were mourned during the past 12 months.

January

Lisa Marie Presley: was an American singer and songwriter. She was the only child of singer and actor Elvis Presley and actress Priscilla Presley, as well as the sole heir to her father’s estate. Presley suffered a cardiac arrest at her home aged 54. 

Gina Lollobrigida: was an Italian actress, model, photojournalist, artist and politician. She was one of the highest-profile European actresses of the 1950s and 1960s, a period in which she was an international sex symbol. Lollobrigida died at a clinic in Rome at the age of 95.

David Crosby,: was an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He first found fame as a member of the Byrds, with whom he helped pioneer the genres of folk rock and psychedelia in the mid-1960’s, and later as part of the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash, who helped popularise the California sound of the 1970’s. Crosby died in his sleep from complications of COVID-19 at the age of 81. 

February

Annie Wersching: was an American actress. She was known for her television roles as Renee Walker in 24, the Borg Queen in the second season of Star Trek: Picard, and Rosalind Dyer in The Rookie, as well as the voice and performance-capture for Tess in the video game The Last of Us. Wersching was diagnosed with cancer in mid-2020, though she kept her diagnosis private and continued to act she sadly died at the young age of 41. 

Lisa Loring: was an American actress. She was best known for her work as a child actress from age six playing Wednesday Addams on the 1964–1966 sitcom The Addams Family. Loring had a stroke, possibly caused by smoking and hypertension, and died at a medical centre at the age of 64. 

Paco Rabanne: was a Spanish fashion designer. He rose to prominence as an enfant terrible of the fashion world in the 1960’s with his use of unconventional materials such as metal and plastic in his clothing, and for his incorporation of futuristic elements in his designs, gaining notoriety for his space-age style. Rabanne died at home in France aged 88. 

Burt Bacharach: was an American composer, songwriter, record producer, and pianist who is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential figures of 20th-century popular music. Starting in the 1950’s, he composed hundreds of pop songs, many in collaboration with lyricist Hal David. Bacharach died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 94. 

Raquel Welch: was an American actress. Welch first garnered attention for her roles in  such films as Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C. Welch developed a unique film persona that made her an icon of the 1960’s and 1970’s helping her break the mould of the traditional sex symbol. Welch died from cardiac arrest at her home in Los Angeles. She was 82. 

Dickie Davies: was a British television sports presenter who anchored World of Sport from 1968 until 1985. One of the very greatest presenters and a Saturday afternoon staple for all sports lovers, Davies died at the age of 94.

John Motson: was an English football commentator. Beginning as a television commentator with the BBC in 1971, he commentated on over 2000 games on television and radio. From the late 1970’s to 2008, Motson was the dominant football commentary figure at the BBC. Motson often wore a sheepskin coat (his ‘Motty’ coat) during winter months making him instantly recognisable to his audience. He died at the age of 77. 

March

Betty Boothroyd, Baroness Boothroyd: was a British politician who served as a member of Parliament for West Bromwich and West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000. A member of the Labour Party, she served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1992 to 2000. She was the first woman to serve as Speaker. Boothroyd died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital at the age of 93.

Tom Sizemore: was an American actor. Born in Detroit, Michigan, Sizemore started his career with supporting appearances in Born on the Fourth of July, Lock Up, and Blue Steel. Sizemore died from heart failure caused by a brain aneurysm at age 61. 

Chaim Topol: mononymously known as Topol, was an Israeli actor, singer, and illustrator. He is best known for his portrayal of Tevye, the lead role in the stage musical Fiddler on the Roof and the 1971 film adaptation, performing this role more than 3,500 times from 1967 through 2009. Topol succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 87. 

Mystic Meg: Margaret Anne Lake, best known by her stage name Mystic Meg, was an English astrologer who had a regular astrology column in The Sun and the News of the World. Meg lived in Notting Hill with her seven cats. She died from influenza at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, aged 80.

Jacqueline Gold: was a British businesswoman who was the executive chair of Gold Group International, Ann Summers, and Knickerbox. Gold was estimated to be the 16th richest woman in Great Britain, worth £470 million in 2019 according to The Sunday Times Rich List. Gold died  aged 62, after seven years of treatment for breast cancer.

Lance Reddick: was an American actor and musician. He played Cedric Daniels in The Wire, Phillip Broyles in Fringe, and Chief Irvin Irving in Bosch. In film, he starred as Charon in the John Wick franchise and as General Caulfield in White House Down. Reddick died from heart disease, aged 60. 

April

Max Hardcore: Paul F. Little was an American pornographic actor, producer, and director better known by his stage name Max Hardcore. He rose to prominence in 1992 with the film series The Anal Adventures of Max Hardcore. His abusive and misogynistic films and work methods had reportedly made him relatively unpopular in the porn industry. He died at the age of 66 due to complications of thyroid cancer.  

Paul O’Grady: was an English comedian, broadcaster, drag queen, actor, and writer. He achieved notability in the London gay scene during the 1980’s with his drag persona Lily Savage, through which he gained wider popularity in the 1990’s. He subsequently dropped the character and in the 2000s became the presenter of various television and radio shows, including The Paul O’Grady Show. O’Grady died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at his home in Kent at age 67, from sudden cardiac arrhythmia. 

Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby: was a British politician and journalist. A member of the Conservative Party, he served as Member of Parliament for Blaby from 1974 to 1992, and served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet from 1981 to 1989. Lawson was the father of six children, including Nigella Lawson, the food writer & celebrity cook. Lawson died at his home in Eastbourne from bronchopneumonia at the age of 91. 

Paul Cattermole: was an English singer and actor. He was best known for being a member of the pop group S Club 7 from 1998 until his departure in 2002. Cattermole returned to the band in 2014 for their reunion tour and was originally due to return in 2023 for a planned second reunion tour before his death at the age of 46. The cause of death was later revealed to be natural causes, specifically heart failure. 

Dame Mary Quant: was a British fashion designer and fashion icon. She became an instrumental figure in the 1960’s London-based Mod and youth fashion movements, and played a prominent role in London’s Swinging Sixties culture. She was one of the designers who took credit for the miniskirt and hotpants. Quant died at home in Surrey aged 93.

Barry Humphries: was an Australian comedian, actor, author and satirist. He was best known for writing and playing his stage and television characters Dame Edna Everage and Sir Les Patterson. Humphries’ characters brought him international renown. Humphries died following complications from hip surgery. He was 89 years old.

Len Goodman: was an English professional ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance competition adjudicator. He appeared as head judge on the UK television programme Strictly Come Dancing from its beginning in 2004 until 2016. Goodman died from bone cancer in a hospice in Royal Tunbridge Wells, three days before his 79th birthday. 

Harry Belafonte: was an American singer, actor, and civil rights activist, who popularised calypso music with international audiences in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Belafonte’s career breakthrough album Calypso was the first million-selling LP by a single artist. Belafonte was best known for his recordings of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”, “Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora)“, and “Mary’s Boy Child”.  Belafonte died from congestive heart failure at his home at the age of 96.  

Jerry Springer: was an American broadcaster, journalist, actor, producer, lawyer, and politician. Springer was best known for hosting the sometimes controversial tabloid talk show Jerry Springer from 1991 to 2018. Springer died at his home at the age of 79. He’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few months prior to his death. 

May

Martin Amis: as an English novelist, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter. He is best known for his novels Money and London Fields. A lifelong smoker, Amis died from oesophageal cancer at his home in Florida at the age of 73. 

Rolf Harris: was an Australian musician, television personality, painter, and actor. He often used unusual instruments like the didgeridoo and the Stylophone in his performances, and is credited with the invention of the wobble board. He was convicted in England in 2014 of the sexual assault of four underage girls, which effectively ended his career. Harris was suffering with neck cancer, unable to talk, and was being fed via a tube when he died at the age of 93. 

Ray Stevenson: was a British actor. He portrayed Titus Pullo in the television series Rome. Blackbeard in the third and fourth seasons of Black Sails, and most recently portraying Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka. Stevenson died aged 58. No cause of death has been revealed.

Tina Turner: was a singer, songwriter and actress. Known as the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, she rose to prominence as the lead singer of the husband-wife duo Ike & Tina Turner before launching a successful career as a solo performer. She was recognised for her “swagger, sensuality, powerful gravelly vocals and unstoppable energy. Turner died at her home in  Switzerland, aged 83, following years of illness.

June

Ted Kaczynski: also known as the Unabomber, was an American mathematician and domestic terrorist. He was a mathematics prodigy, but abandoned his academic career in 1969 to pursue a primitive lifestyle. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski murdered three individuals and injured 23 others in a nationwide mail bombing campaign against people he believed to be advancing modern technology and the destruction of the natural environment. Kaczynski was found unresponsive in his jail cell. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at the age of 81. Prison officials believe his death to be a suicide. He was also in the late stages of cancer. 

Silvio Berlusconi: was an Italian media tycoon and politician who served as the prime minister of Italy in four governments from 1994 onwards. With a net worth of $6.8 billion, Berlusconi was the third-wealthiest person in Italy at the time of his death aged 86. 

Cormac McCarthy: was an American writer who authored twelve novels, two plays, five screenplays, and three short stories, spanning the Western and post-apocalyptic genres. He was known for his graphic depictions of violence and his unique writing style, recognisable by a sparse use of punctuation and attribution. McCarthy died at his home in Santa Fe at the age of 89

Glenda Jackson: was an English actress and politician. She was one of the few performers to achieve the American Triple Crown of Acting, having won two Academy Awards, three Emmy Awards and a Tony Award. Best known for her role in Women in Love Jackson died at her Blackheath home at the age of 87 following a brief illness.

July

Julian Sands: was an English actor. His break-out role was as George Emerson in A Room with a View, and he also appeared in The Killing Fields, and Warlock. In January, Sands went missing while hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles. His remains were discovered in  July. 

Tony Bennett: was an American jazz and traditional pop singer. He received many accolades, including 20 Grammy Awards, a Lifetime Achievement Award, and two Primetime Emmy Awards. Bennett died aged 96 at his home in New York City following a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

George Alagiah: was a British newsreader, journalist and television presenter. From 2007 until 2022, he was the presenter of the BBC News at Six. From 2014, Alagiah was being treated for colorectal cancer, which eventually spread to his lungs, liver and lymph nodes. Alagiah died at the age of 67.

Sinéad O’Connor: was an Irish singer, songwriter, and activist. Her debut studio album, The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987 and achieved international chart success. However her cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U” is what she was most known for. O’Connor was found unresponsive at her flat in South London, and confirmed dead at the age of 56. 

August

Paul Reubens: was an American actor and comedian, widely known for creating and portraying the character Pee-wee Herman. Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theatre in 1991. The arrest set off a chain reaction of national media attention which postponed Reubens’s involvement in major projects until 1999. Reubens died aged 70 from cancer which he had been suffering from for six years. 

Mark Margolis: was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the character Hector Salamanca in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. His performance in Breaking Bad was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2012. Margolis died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City following a short illness at age 83. 

William Friedkin: was an American film director, producer, and screenwriter who was closely identified with the “New Hollywood” movement of the 1970’s. He is best known for his crime thriller film The French Connection and the horror film The Exorcist. Friedkin died from heart failure and pneumonia at his home in the Bel Air just 22 days before his 88th birthday. 

DJ Casper: William Perry Jr., better known as DJ Casper, was an American disc jockey. Born and raised in Chicago, he was known as “Casper” due to frequently being clad in all white attire on stage. Perry’s first and only hit record, “Cha Cha Slide” hit No1 in the UK charts. He died of kidney and liver cancer at the age of 58. 

Sir Michael Parkinson: was an English television presenter, broadcaster, journalist and author. He presented his television talk show Parkinson from 1971 to 1982 and from 1998 to 2007. Parkinson died at home following a brief illness, aged 88. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin: was a Russian mercenary leader and oligarch. He led the Wagner Group private military company and was a close confidant of Russian president Vladimir Putin until launching a rebellion in June 2023. Prigozhin died in an airplane crash which was orchestrated by Putin’s right-hand man Nikolai Patrushev.

September

Mohamed Al-Fayed: was an Egyptian businessman whose residence and chief business interests were in the United Kingdom from the mid-1960s. His business interests included ownership of the Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Harrods department store and Fulham Football Club. Al-Fayed died of old age in London at the age of 94, almost exactly 26 years after his son Dodi. 

Mike Yarwood: was an English impressionist, comedian and actor. He was one of Britain’s top-rated entertainers, regularly appearing on television from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Yarwood died in hospital of an undisclosed illness at the age of 82. 

Jean Boht: was an English actress, most famous for the role of Nellie Boswell in Carla Lane’s sitcom Bread, remaining one of several actors to remain with the show for its entire seven series tenure from 1986 to 1991. Boht died from complications of dementia aged 91.

Roger Whittaker: was a British singer-songwriter and musician. His music is an eclectic mix of folk music and popular songs, the latter variously in a crooning or in a Schlager style. He is best known for his baritone singing voice and trademark whistling ability as well as his guitar skills. He died in a hospital near Toulouse aged 87.

October

David McCallum: was a Scottish actor and musician. He gained wide recognition in the 1960’s for playing secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. His other notable television roles include Simon Carter in Colditz and Steel in Sapphire & Steel. McCallum died at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital of natural causes, six days after his 90th birthday. 

Sir Michael Gambon: was an Irish-English actor. Gambon started his acting career with Laurence Olivier as one of the original members of the Royal National Theatre. He received a BAFTA Award for The Singing Detective but gained wider recognition through his role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter film series. Gambon died in Witham aged 82 following a bout of pneumonia. 

Piper Laurie: was an American actress. She is known for her roles in the films The Hustler, Carrie, and Children of a Lesser God, and both television miniseries’ The Thorn Birds and Twin Peaks. Having been unwell for some time, Laurie died in Los Angeles at age 91. 

Suzanne Somers: was an American actress, singer, author, and businesswoman in the health and wellness industry. She played the television roles of Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company. Somers died at her home in Palm Springs one day before her 77th birthday. 

Sir Bobby Charlton: was an English professional footballer who played as a midfielder or centre-forward. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, he was a member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup. Charlton died at Macclesfield District General Hospital at the age of 86, from complications of a fall he sustained at the nursing home where he resided. 

Richard Roundtree: was an American actor. He was best known for his portrayal of private detective John Shaft in the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft and four of its sequels. Roundtree died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 81.

Matthew Perry: was an American and Canadian actor. He gained fame for starring as Chandler Bing on the NBC television sitcom Friends. Perry was found unresponsive in a hot tub at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 54. Perry’s death was revealed to have occurred due to “acute effects of ketamine”. 

November

Joss Ackland: was an English actor who appeared in more than 130 film, radio and television roles, including the television serial Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the film Lethal Weapon 2. Ackland died at home in Clovelly, at the age of 95.

Rosalynn Carter: was an American writer, activist and humanitarian who served as the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter. Throughout her decades of public service, she was a leading advocate for women’s rights and mental health. She died in her home in Plains, Georgia, of natural causes, at the age of 96. 

Terry Venables: often referred to as El Tel, was an English football player and manager who played for clubs including Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Queens Park Rangers and won two caps for England. Venables died aged 80 following a long illness.

December

Henry Kissinger, was an American diplomat, political scientist, geopolitical consultant, and politician who served as the United States secretary of state and national security advisor in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford between 1969 and 1977. Kissinger died at his home in Connecticut, at the age of 100. 

Shane MacGowan: was a British-born Irish singer-songwriter and musician best known as the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of Celtic punk band the Pogues. He co-wrote the Christmas hit single “Fairytale of New York”, which the Pogues recorded as a duet between MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl; the song remains a perennial Christmas favourite in the UK. MacGowan died from pneumonia at his home in Dublin with his wife by his side; he was 65. 

Glenys Kinnock: was a British politician and teacher who served as Minister of State for Europe from June to October 2009 and Minister of State for Africa and the United Nations from 2009 to 2010. She was the wife of Neil Kinnock, who was leader of the Labour Party from 1983 to 1992. She died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease at her home in London aged 79. 

Norman Lear: as an American screenwriter and producer who produced, wrote, created, or developed over 100 shows. Lear created and produced numerous popular 1970’s sitcoms, including All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Good Times. Lear died at his home in Los Angeles from cardiac arrest, as a complication of heart failure. He was 101. 

Benjamin Zephaniah: was a British writer, dub poet, actor, musician and professor of poetry and creative writing. In his work, Zephaniah drew on his lived experiences of incarceration, racism and his Jamaican heritage. Zephaniah died at the age of 65, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks previously

Ryan O’Neal: was an American actor. Initially he trained as an amateur boxer before beginning a career in acting in 1960. In 1964, he landed the role of Rodney Harrington on the ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place. It was an instant hit and boosted O’Neal’s career.  O’Neal died at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica at the age of 82. His cause of death was congestive heart failure. 

Andre Braugher: was an American actor known for his roles as Detective Frank Pembleton in the police drama series Homicide: Life on the Street and Captain Raymond Holt in the police comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Braugher died from lung cancer, having been diagnosed with it a few months prior. He was 61.


Dead Pool 31st December 2023

With only a few hours left of the year, it looks like Nickie might have it in the bag. This years winner will be declared tomorrow, along with the yearly roundup covering some of the most notable deaths of 2023. Remember to get your list in before midnight! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Shannen Doherty says she is committed to battling stage four breast cancer, which has now spread to her bones. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, the Beverly Hills 90210 actress says she is determined to keep going with treatment. “I’m not done with living. I’m not done with loving. I’m not done with creating,” the 52-year-old said. Doherty has been sharing her health battles for several years, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. In 2016 she underwent a mastectomy, but surgery showed the cancer cells could have spread beyond the lymph nodes. She then underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy, announcing in 2017 that she was in remission. But in February 2020, Doherty revealed her breast cancer had returned at stage 4 after several years of remission. Earlier this year she posted a video of herself on Instagram receiving chemotherapy, revealing that it had spread from her chest to her brain and is now terminal. With new cancer treatments and clinical trials being offered, she hopes to get better and says “her greatest memory is yet to come”. “People just assume that it means you can’t walk, you can’t eat, you can’t work. They put you out to pasture at a very early age – ‘you’re done, you’re retired’, and we’re not,” she said in the interview. “We’re vibrant, and we have such a different outlook on life. We are people who want to work and embrace life and keep moving forward.” She is about to release her new podcast Let’s Be Clear with Shannen Doherty, which will look back on her life so far and discuss her cancer story.  

James Whale has celebrated being made an MBE in the New Year Honours list for his services to broadcasting and to charity, as he described his stage four kidney cancer being “a bit bad at the moment”. The broadcaster and talk show host has been a popular voice on radio and TV for five decades, and still hosts a regular Saturday slot on TalkTV and TalkRadio. “Nobody could have been more surprised than me, thank you to all the guys who made it possible over the years, everybody at TalkRadio and TV and everywhere,” Whale said on Twitter. “I’ve worked since the 70’s and the guys that run the charity Kidney Cancer UK, thank you, all this is for us.” Whale began his career with Metro Radio in 1974 where he pioneered the late-night radio phone-in. The 72-year-old rose to fame in the 1980’s with his frank style, dry wit and no-nonsense approach on late-night programme The James Whale Radio Show, gaining a legion of loyal listeners. Whale then spent 13 years at TalkSport before hosting the drive-time show on LBC and the breakfast show on BBC Essex. Whale was diagnosed with cancer in 2000 and had to have one of his kidneys removed. In 2018, his wife Melinda died after being diagnosed with lung cancer and in August 2020, Whale revealed cancer had returned in his kidney, spine, brain and lungs. The radio DJ’s past experience with cancer led him to form the James Whale Kidney Fund in 2006, which merged with Kidney Cancer UK in 2015. Whale now hosts a weekly podcast with his second wife Nadine Talbot-Brown talking about their journey together with his stage four kidney cancer. Appearing on TalkTV for A Lifetime Of Night-Time: The James Whale Story, which will air on Saturday at 10pm, Whale said his cancer “is a bit bad at the moment” but spoke of his desire to continue hosting his Saturday night show. His wife described the show as his “reason for being” at the moment. Whale said: “If I have a few more months that would be great, if I have until next Christmas or this coming Christmas would be nice wouldn’t it, but if I die tomorrow I’ve had an amazing time and I married an amazing lady. And I’ve had a lifetime of not having to have a job, I don’t work.”  

Slade icon Noddy Holder provided a positive update on his health amid his cancer battle. When he was first diagnosed five years ago, the 77-year-old musician was told he only had six months to live. He was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and doctors told him his only option was to take part in a clinical trial for a new form of chemotherapy, which had never been tried on someone over the age of 60. He kept his diagnosis a secret until a few months ago and fans were shocked to find out the news. And now, he opened up about how he reacted to the new drugs he’s been on as part of a trial he signed up for. Speaking to Radio 2, he said: “It was touch and go. I lost all my hair. My weight was down to about eight stone. So every cloud. I’ve just had a scan last week and everything’s on an even keel at the moment, so I hope it carries on that way. I’m fit, fit, fit… but I’m fit for nothing.” His wife, Suzan, previously said that his initial prognosis was far from good but he agreed, along with staff from The Christie Hospital in Manchester to take part in an experimental treatment. But this had no guarantees of working. Thankfully, the star reacted positively to the treatment. Noddy said: “I went to the Christie hospital in Manchester, and I said ‘Is it six months? Is that the end of the line?’” The doctor he was speaking to told him the only other option was the new intense chemotherapy. Noddy said they told him his “positive outlook” could help him if he was to try it. After a brief moment of indecision – one that frightened Suzan “to death” – he agreed to go ahead with the trial. Noddy explained he didn’t want to be ill for his last six months, but after the doctors told him more about it, he wanted to “give it a go”. 

On This Day

  • 1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness. 
  • 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time. 
  • 1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor. 
  • 2019 – The World Health Organization is informed of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause, detected in Wuhan. This later turned out to be COVID-19.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Anthony Hopkins (86), Val Kilmer (64), Ben Kingsley (80), Eliza Dushku (43), Russ Tamblyn (89), Caity Lotz (37), Tracey Ullman (64), Jude Law (51), Jon Voight (85), Ted Danson (76), Danny McBride (47), Michael Cudlitz (59), Lilly Wachowski (56), Marianne Faithfull (77), Denzel Washington (69), Maggie Smith (89), Noomi Rapace (44), Sienna Miller (42), Joe Manganiello (47), John Legend (45), Timothée Chalamet (28), Olivia Cooke (30), Gérard Depardieu (75), John Amos (84), Jared Leto (52), Kit Harington (37), Temuera Morrison (63), Sissy Spacek (74), Helena Christensen (55), and Annie Lennox (69). 


St Pepper 2023

Another year flies by and some well loved celebrities sadly passed away. Below is this years St Pepper from talented artist Clive Barker, go buy him a coffee here. You can click on the image for a larger version. If you can’t figure out who they all are, the key is behind this link.


Dead Pool 24th December 2023

With just one week to go, I hope you’re all busy working on your list for 2024! Remember to  tell your friends, the more that join the more fun it will be! The 2023 trophy is waiting to be won, although Nickie is currently in the lead, as we know, anything can happen in the next seven days! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The broadcaster Dame Esther Rantzen says she has joined the Dignitas assisted dying clinic in Switzerland. The 83-year-old told the Flying Monkeys she is currently undergoing a “miracle” treatment for stage four lung cancer. If it does not work, “I might buzz off to Zurich”, where assisted dying is legal. But she said she was looking forward to this “precious” Christmas, which she hadn’t thought she would live to see. Assisted suicide is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. While there is no specific offence of assisted suicide in Scotland, euthanasia is illegal and can be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter. Speaking about her decision to join Dignitas, Dame Esther said it was driven in part by her wish that her family’s “last memories of me” are not “painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times”. The broadcaster said if she did decide to have an assisted death at Dignitas that would put “my family and friends in a difficult position because they would want to go with me, and that means that the police might prosecute them”. Dame Esther, who is best known for presenting the BBC Show That’s Life! for over twenty years said she believed people should be given the choice about “how you want to go and when you want to go”. “I get all the arguments about… not wanting to be a burden and pressure being applied and all that. But… you can come to the wrong conclusion. If you just base everything on the worst case scenario, you’ve got to have a look at the advantages as well.”  Dame Esther’s daughter, Rebecca Wilcox, told the Flying Monkeys that there was a “legal murkiness surrounding assisting dying”. “I support mum’s decision,” she said, but added: “I’m not legally allowed to say I’d go with her, that I would hold her hand – and that is absolutely ridiculous. I should be able to sit with my mother in her last moments. I can’t go to prison, I can’t go through a court case at the worst point of my life, when I’ve lost my person and I’m suddenly being prosecuted with her death. It’s unfathomable. I can’t believe this is the situation we’re in.” Almost a year on from her diagnosis, Dame Esther said she had not expected to live with cancer for so long. “I thought I’d fall off my perch within a couple of months, if not weeks. I certainly didn’t think I’d make my birthday in June, which I did, and I definitely didn’t think I’d make this Christmas, which I am. It appears, although anything can happen,” she said.  

Madonna has opened up about the details of her latest health scare, revealing that she was put “in an induced coma for 48 hours”. In June, the “Like a Virgin” singer, 65, was due to embark on her Celebration Tour in Canada when she developed a “serious bacterial infection”, prompting her to pause all commitments. She was admitted to hospital, where she stayed several days in the intensive care unit. She later resumed her global tour in October in Europe. During her most recent stop in Brooklyn, Madonna took a moment to thank “some very important people” who were by her side in the hospital. “I passed out on my bathroom floor; I woke up in the ICU – thank you, Siobahn, she saved my life,” the Queen of Pop can be heard telling the crowd in a video posted on Twitter. She explained that she was put into “an induced coma for 48 hours”, adding that the only voice she heard was that of her Kabbalah teacher. “I heard him say, ‘Squeeze my hand’, that’s it,” Madonna said before joking that she “had to almost die to get all my kids in one room”. In previous updates, the “Material Girl” artist recalled her first hospital thoughts being about her children and not wanting to “disappoint anyone who bought tickets for my tour”. “I also didn’t want to let down the people who worked tirelessly with me over the last few months to create my show. I hate to disappoint anyone,” she said on Instagram in July.  

One time Dead Pool favourite, Charlie Sheen has been assaulted by a woman at his Malibu home, police in Los Angeles have said. The attack occurred on Wednesday afternoon. Police have arrested Electra Schrock, 47, for assault with a deadly weapon and residential burglary. Paramedics were reportedly called to Mr Sheen’s home in the aftermath, but he was not taken to hospital. Police did not share a possible motive. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department confirmed the mid-day attack on the former Two and a Half Men star in a statement to the Flying Monkeys. Ms Schrock, who is reportedly a neighbour of Mr Sheen, was also arrested for using force likely to create great bodily injury. Police did not say what weapon was used in the alleged attack. The Flying Monkeys report that Ms Schrock attempted to strangle Mr Sheen and ripped his shirt after he opened his front door. Ms Schrock had earlier this year pleaded no contest to a charge of misdemeanour elder abuse. Sheen, 58, starred for eight seasons on CBS hit sitcom Two and a Half Men, before a spectacular falling out with the show’s creator. He went on to court tabloid headlines with a series of bizarre interviews. He later said that he regretted his actions during that time and blamed his behaviour on drug and alcohol abuse. In an interview with People magazine earlier this month, Mr Sheen said that “next month I’ll be six years sober. I have a very consistent lifestyle now. It’s all about single dad stuff, and raising my 14-year-old twin boys,” the actor said.

On This Day

  • 1818 – The first performance of “Silent Night” takes place in the Nikolauskirche in Oberndorf, Austria.
  • 1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy begins that night, wrapping up the following morning.
  • 1968 – The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so.

Deaths

  • 1992 – Peyo, Belgian cartoonist, created The Smurfs (b. 1928).
  • 2008 – Harold Pinter, English playwright, screenwriter, director (b. 1930).
  • 2012 – Charles Durning, American actor (b. 1923).
  • 2012 – Jack Klugman, American actor (b. 1922).
  • 2016 – Rick Parfitt, British musician (b. 1948).
  • 2016 – Liz Smith, English actress (b. 1921).
  • 2016 – Richard Adams, English author (b. 1920).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Finn Wolfhard (21), Harry Shearer (80), Ralph Fiennes (61), Vanessa Paradis (51), Samuel L. Jackson (75), Kiefer Sutherland (57), Jane Fonda (86), Jonah Hill (40), Jenny Agutter (71), Nicole de Boer (53), Jake Gyllenhaal (43), Alyssa Milano (51), Kristy Swanson (54), Jennifer Beals (60), Brad Pitt (60), Steven Spielberg (77), Katie Holmes (45), Christina Aguilera (43), Casper Van Dien (55), Billie Eilish (22), Steve Austin (59), Robson Green (59), Keith Richards (80), and Sia (48). 


Dead Pool 17th December 2023

With just two weeks to go I hope you’re all working on your lists for 2024! Tell all your morbid friends to have a go!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Punk icon Patti Smith is reportedly “in good health” after being rushed to hospital following a “sudden illness”. The 76-year-old – who recently spoke of her long-term bronchial battle –had been due to perform at the Duse Theater in Bologna, Italy, on Tuesday, but the show was cancelled at short notice Smith was taken to the Maggiore hospital in Bologna and put under observation after falling ill. A notice was shared to the Instagram page of the Teatro Duse Bologna venue that had been due to host Smith, announcing her show had been cancelled “due to a sudden illness that struck the artist”. “We are all sorry for the inconvenience caused by this news. Our best wishes for a speedy recovery go to the artist,” the statement said. On Wednesday evening, the Local Health Authority of Bologna told the Flying Monkeys that the singer was discharged from the hospital after “a short period of observation in emergency”. Smith spoke about her health in an interview with The Flying Monkeys in 2020, where she revealed that she had struggled during the pandemic because she suffers from a lifelong bronchial condition. “To be in limbo almost 10 months, for a person like me who doesn’t like sitting in the same place, it’s been very challenging. I feel like I’m part-wolf, roaming from room to room,” she said. Known as the punk poet laureate or “Godmother of Punk”, Smith has remained active since she first rose to prominence in the early Seventies, when she released her critically adored debut album, Horses, in 1975. Her best known song, “Because the Night” written with Bruce Springsteen and hit No 13 on the US charts in 1978.  

Matthew Perry’s cause of death has been revealed in an autopsy report released on Friday. The 54-year-old Friend’s actor was found dead seven weeks ago in the jacuzzi of his Los Angeles home, after a live-in assistant found him floating lifeless and face down in the pool. The Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s Office has concluded his death “an accident” and a result of the “acute effects of ketamine”. Contributing factors included “drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine” the report said. For those of us who don’t know, Ketamine is a general anaesthetic and reduces sensations in the body making users feel dream-like, detached, chilled, relaxed, happy but also confused and nauseated. It can be used for both humans and animals. Perry had been having ketamine infusion therapy for depression and anxiety at the time of his death, an experience he had written about in his memoir. His most recent official intake had been a week and half before he was found unresponsive at his home. But the medical examiner concluded that the ketamine found in his stomach couldn’t have been from his last infusion as it lasted only 3-4 hours in the system. The report couldn’t specify the “exact method of intake” and no needle marks were found. The levels of ketamine found are suspected to have caused “lethal effects” including overstimulation of his heart and depression of his breath which led to a “lapse into unconsciousness” and submerging in the pool where he is thought to have drowned. His coronary artery disease contributed to an “exacerbation of ketamine induced myocardial effects on the heart”- meaning it reduced his heart’s ability to pump blood around his body after the ketamine took effect.  

Kate Garraway’s husband Derek Draper is fighting for his life after suffering a heart attack.  Derek, 56, has been plagued with health woes after contracting Covid in 2020 and is now said to be in critical condition after being taken dangerously ill last Monday. Good Morning Britain presenter Kate, 56, is reportedly holding a 24/7 vigil by his bedside and has cancelled all work commitments while his family ‘pray for a miracle’. ‘It was sudden and a shock as he had been doing so well and was in great spirits, looking forward to Christmas at home with the family. This setback has been a huge blow for his family and all the people caring for him. Kate is by his side 24 hours a day and is willing him on to win this latest battle for his life. Derek has fought so many times, and always, against all odds, come out the other side.’ Derek has been in and out of hospital after he fell seriously ill with coronavirus at the very start of the pandemic in March 2020, and was left with lasting damage to his organs. Doctors put him in a medically induced coma and he became the longest-suffering coronavirus patient in the UK after spending 13 months in hospital. However, he has readmitted several times with numerous health issues, including kidney failure, brain inflammation and liver damage.

On This Day

  • 1903 – The Wright brothers make the first controlled powered, heavier-than-air flight in the Wright Flyer at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
  • 1961 – Fire breaks out during a performance by the Gran Circus Norte-Americano in Rio de Janeiro killing more than 500.
  • 1969 – Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closes its study of UFO’s.
  • 1989 – The Simpsons premieres on television with the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”.
  • 2003 – The Soham murder trial ends at the Old Bailey in London, with Ian Huntley found guilty of two counts of murder. His girlfriend, Maxine Carr, is found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Deaths

  • 1833 – Kaspar Hauser, German feral child (b. 1812?).
  • 2008 – Gregoire, Congolese chimpanzee, oldest recorded (65-66 years old) (b. 1942).
  • 2010 – Captain Beefheart, American singer-songwriter (b. 1941).
  • 2011 – Kim Jong-il, North Korean dictator, second Supreme Leader of North Korea (b. 1941).
  • 2016 – Henry Heimlich, American doctor (b. 1920).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Katheryn Winnick (46), Milla Jovovich (48), Bill Pullman (70), Giovanni Ribisi (49), Laurie Holden (54), Ernie Hudson (78), Eugene Levy (77), Bernard Hill (79), Krysten Ritter (41), Miranda Otto (56), Charlie Cox (41), Don Johnson (74), Helen Slater (60), Paul Kaye (58), Garrett Wang (55), Natascha McElhone (54), Miranda Hart (51), Ted Raimi (58), Vicki Michelle (73), Emma Corrin (28), Taylor Swift (34), Steve Buscemi (66), Jamie Foxx (56), Dick Van Dyke (98), Robert Lindsay (74), Jennifer Connelly (53), Bill Nighy (74), Mädchen Amick (53), Mayim Bialik (48), Sarah Douglas (71), and Kenneth Cranham (79).


Dead Pool 10th December 2023

Let’s begin by doling out the points!! With the death of Norman Lear, our Trish scores 49 points! Well done her! I’ve also opened up the submissions page if any of you want to get your list for 2024 in early.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Chris Evert has been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. The tennis legend, 68, revealed that her cancer has returned “in the same pelvic region” in a health update on Friday, two years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and announcing that she was in remission from the disease earlier this year. “Since I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I’ve been very open about my experience. I wanted to give all of you an update. My cancer is back,” Evert said in a statement released through the Flying Monkeys. “While this is a diagnosis I never wanted to hear, I once again feel fortunate that it was caught early,” she continued. “Based on a PET CT scan, I underwent another robotic surgery this past week. Doctors found cancer cells in the same pelvic region. All cells were removed, and I have begun another round of chemotherapy. I will be unable to join my colleagues when we return to Melbourne for the Australian Open next month. But I’ll be ready for the rest of the Grand Slam season!” the sports star said. Evert added, “I encourage everyone to know your family history and advocate for yourself. Early detection saves lives. Be thankful for your health this holiday season.” Evert had previously announced that she was free from cancer in January. The International Tennis Hall-of-Famer urged the importance of genetic testing as she also spoke about her sister Jeanne who died from the same disease in February 2020.   

Mark Sheppard, best known as “Crowley” on Supernatural, revealed on Instagram that he somehow survived six heart attacks. “You’re not going to believe this! Was on my way to an appointment yesterday when I collapsed in my kitchen,” Sheppard began. The 59-year-old actor wrote that he had “six massive heart attacks” and was “brought back from the dead four times,” before learning that he “had a 100% blockage in my LAD” (left anterior descending artery.)” Sheppard called the event “The Widowmaker,” and expressed his thanks to his medics. “If not for my wife, the @losangelesfiredepartment at Mullholland and the incredible staff @providencecalifornia St Joseph’s – I wouldn’t be writing this,” he said. “My chances of survival were virtually nil. I feel great. Humbled once more,” Sheppard added. “Home tomorrow! #spnfamily.” Sheppard’s cast-mate Misha Collins, who portrayed Castiel on the series, shared a message in the comments section of his post. “Mark! You don’t need to do the most and biggest every time! 6 heart attacks? 2 or 3 would have been impressive enough,” Collins wrote. “You’ve impressed us, okay. Now stop with this heal up and get back on the road with us,” he continued. “Love you, pal.” 

Former Celebrity Big Brother star Lauren Harries is home in time for Christmas after being in hospital for seven months. The Cardiff-born television personality had been in hospital since April and at one point was put into an induced coma after undergoing brain surgery. She was admitted to hospital after falling ill with a mystery illness and had to have the emergency surgery, but experienced a number of seizures. The good news that she has now been allowed home as Lauren described how it was good to see her family stop worrying so much. A statement said: “Lauren’s out of hospital. It’s been the most stressful seven months of our families lives. But she’s home in time for Christmas. Note from Lauren: ‘It’s wonderful not seeing the worry on my family’s faces anymore, Merry Christmas thank you to all of my stars for your love’.” Lauren, from Rumney, found fame as a child antiques expert, who appeared on the Antiques Roadshow and Wogan. After a gap from the spotlight she re-emerged to star on Channel 5 series Trust Me – I’m A Beauty Therapist and then, in 2013, starred on Celebrity Big Brother on the same channel. She finished third in the competition, with Geordie Shore’s Charlotte Crosby winning the series. Her fans were quick to welcome the good news. One said: “Brilliant news for you all. Hope you have a relaxing and lovely Christmas.” Another said: “That’s great Lauren, have a brilliant Xmas” and “Good news. Best wishes for Lauren and the family this Christmas holiday season.”  

Britney Spears’ estranged father, Jamie Spears, had his leg amputated last month, a source in the pop star’s hometown told the Flying Monkeys. “He had a knee replacement and got a terrible infection from it,” our insider shares. We hear Jamie underwent multiple unsuccessful surgeries prior to the amputation, which was “a last resort.” His lawyer had no comment. The news comes two months after the Flying Monkeys heard rumours that the 71-year-old was “seriously ill” and had been in and out of hospitals, including a facility for infectious disease patients. Sources said at the time that Jamie had “lost more than 25 pounds” while dealing with his health issues, which stemmed from a knee replacement in the mid-2000s. Britney, 42, was not considering reaching out to her dad to repair their scarred relationship before it was too late. “Britney is on a healing journey, but a reconciliation with Jamie is not in the cards,” one source told us. The “Toxic” singer became estranged from the Spears family patriarch while fighting to end the conservatorship he had placed her under in 2008. After Britney described her father as “abusive” in open court in 2021, a Los Angeles judge suspended Jamie as conservator before terminating the guardianship altogether. 

On This Day

  • 1907 – The worst night of the Brown Dog riots in London, when 1,000 medical students, protesting against the existence of a memorial for animals that have been vivisected, clash with 400 police officers.
  • 1993 – The last shift leaves Wearmouth Colliery in Sunderland. The closure of the 156-year-old pit marks the end of the old County Durham coalfield, which had been in operation since the Middle Ages.
  • 2021 – A widespread, deadly, and violent tornado outbreak slams the Central, Midwestern, and Southern regions of the United States. Eighty-nine people are killed by the tornadoes, with most of the fatalities occurring in Kentucky, where a single tornado kills 57 people, and injures hundreds of others.

Deaths

  • 1896 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish chemist & engineer, invented Dynamite & founded the Nobel Prize (b. 1833).
  • 1928 – Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Scottish architect and painter (b. 1868).
  • 1967 – Otis Redding, American singer-songwriter and producer (b. 1941).
  • 1978 – Ed Wood, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1924).
  • 2005 – Richard Pryor, American comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1940).
  • 2006 – Augusto Pinochet, Chilean general and dictator, 30th President of Chile (b. 1915).
  • 2017 – Max Clifford, British publicist (b. 1943).
  • 2020 – Barbara Windsor, English actress (b. 1937).
  • 2021 – Michael Nesmith, American musician (The Monkees), songwriter, actor, producer, and novelist (b. 1942).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Kenneth Branagh (63), Clive Anderson (71), Judi Dench (89), John Malkovich (70), Beau Bridges (82), Michael Dorn (71), Donny Osmond (66), Teri Hatcher (59), Kim Basinger (70), Dominic Monaghan (47), David Harewood (58), Nicki Minaj (41), C. Thomas Howell (57), Nicholas Hoult (34), Jeffrey Wright (58), Ellen Burstyn (91), Jennifer Carpenter (44), Kristofer Hivju (50), Colin Salmon (61), Noel Clarke (48), Catherine Tate (54), Frankie Muniz (38), Marisa Tomei (59), Jeff Bridges (74), Tony Todd (69), Pamela Stephenson (74), Tyra Banks (50), and Jay-Z (54).


Dead Pool 3rd December 2023

What a week for deaths! The first real cold snap of the year and it seemed like they were dropping like flies! 

Let’s award some points! With the passing of Henry Kissinger, 50 points to the following: Dave, Paul C, Shân, and myself. However Nickie had him down as her Cert, so an amazing 150 points go to her tally! 

But let’s not stop there!!! With Shane MacGowan’s death, I can award 85 points to each of the following: Neil, Abi, Martin, Nickie, Debbie, and Lee. 

Which means Nickie has toppled Jamie from the top the leader board, with only a few weeks to go! What excitement!!!! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The grieving family of Benidorm legend Sticky Vicky have described the performer’s last moments in hospital before she died of heart failure aged 80 last week.  The mother-of-two, 80, passed away at the Villajoyosa Hospital near the Benidorm resort where she rose to international fame. Her daughter, María Aragüés Gadea, said Vicky sadly died on her 42nd birthday, adding it was a day she will ‘remember for the rest of my life’. ‘My mum was in hospital for the last 12 days of her life and as a family we’ve been with her and have been able to say goodbye to her. I was by her bedside when she died this morning. She passed away as they were changing her morphine bottle,’ she told The Flying Monkeys. ‘She has gone, surrounded by her family, with all of our love. I thank God for being able to always be by her side, I am left with a broken heart. Vicky retired from her act in 2016, aged 72, after stunning generations with her X-rated tricks that made creative use of household objects including ping-pong balls, razor blades and beer bottles. She endured health complications as she got older, fighting cancer and undergoing at least two hip replacements. Maria, who took over her mother’s act after her retirement, confirmed two years ago that her mother had ‘won her fight against cancer with radiotherapy and chemotherapy’ but had since been diagnosed with dementia. Born in 1943 in Tenerife, Victoria María Aragüés Gadea, a trained ballet dancer, became an icon in Spain’s touristic city of Benidorm thanks to her exotic, x-rated performances of her vaginal magic show. The mother-of-two moved to the city in south-east Spain in 1980 where she became a legend of the holiday hotspot visited by millions of British tourists. Her show – which ran for move than three decades – involved pulling a variety of objects from her vagina, including ping pong balls, razor blades, eggs, handkerchiefs and machetes. It would end with the lights dimming and her producing a lit light bulb. An estimated six million people saw the show – which she would invariably perform six times in a night, six days a week – since she started it in the mid-1970s. And she once marked the third series of ITV’s comedy show Benidorm starring Johnny Vegas by officially opening Mel’s Mobility Shop before it caught fire. She was once described by a guide to Benidorm as such a ‘must-see’ that leaving without experiencing her show would be like buying fish without chips. Vicky finally retired in 2016 aged 72 after she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. 

A mortuary worker was left horrified after a 90-year-old woman appeared to come back to life in a body bag. Norma Silveira da Silva was gasping for breath when the worker found her hours after she was pronounced dead at the Sao Jose Regional Hospital in Brazil on Saturday. He rushed her back to her hospital bed to recover but tragically she died just a day later. Norma’s friend and caregiver Jessica Martins Silvi Pereira, 30, said the family plans to sue the hospital. She said: “It’s a case of neglect that I would not wish on anyone. When he opened the bag she was breathing very weakly. And, as she was no longer conscious, she couldn’t ask for help, she tried to breathe and couldn’t. I mean, from 11.40pm until 1.30am she was inside the bag almost dying asphyxiated.” Norma’s second death certificate, seen by local media, suggests she died of sepsis — a deadly reaction to an infection. Doctors initially listed an infection as the cause of death on her first death certificate before she was taken to the mortuary. After her horrific ordeal in the morgue, she was taken back to her ward. Jessica told local media: “On Saturday afternoon, I went to visit her and she opened her eye. She didn’t have much stimulation, but she managed to open her eye and saw that we were there.” Tragically she passed away the following day and Jessica said Norma’s family have still not been told what her cause of death was. Her case will be investigated by Brazil’s Medical Ethics Committee and the Death Commission, according to local media. The Regional Council of Medicine of the State of Santa Catarina said it “was aware of the situation and will institute appropriate procedures to monitor the case”.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is expected to survive a stabbing attack he suffered while serving time for the 2020 killing of George Floyd. Chauvin was attacked on Friday at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, a medium-security prison that has been plagued by security lapses and staffing shortages. A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office told the Flying Monkeys over the weekend that the convicted former law enforcement officer is expected to survive the injuries he sustained, but declined to elaborate on Chauvin’s condition. An earlier press release by the correctional facility stated that guards had initiated life-saving measures upon finding the victim at around 12.30pm on Friday and that the inmate was later transported to a hospital. Prosecutors who successfully pursued a second-degree murder conviction against Chauvin at a jury trial in 2021 condemned the attack. “I am sad to hear that Derek Chauvin was the target of violence,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement on Saturday. Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty told us that she had learned about her son’s stabbing on the news. Visiting at the facility, which has about 380 inmates, has been suspended in the aftermath of the stabbing.

On This Day

  • 1697 – St Paul’s Cathedral, rebuilt to the design of Sir Christopher Wren following the Great Fire of London, is consecrated. 
  • 1942 – During the Manhattan Project, a team led by Enrico Fermi initiates the first artificial self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. 
  • 1982 – At the University of Utah, Barney Clark becomes the first person to receive a permanent artificial heart. 
  • 1993 – Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar is shot and killed by police in Medellín. 
  • 1999 – The United Kingdom devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive following the Good Friday Agreement.  

Deaths

  • 1814 – Marquis de Sade, French philosopher, author, and politician (b. 1740). 
  • 1982 – Marty Feldman, English actor and comedian (b. 1933). 
  • 1986 – Desi Arnaz, Cuban-American actor, singer, and television producer (b. 1917). 
  • 1993 – Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord (b. 1949). 
  • 1997 – Shirley Crabtree, English wrestler (b. 1930). 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Brendan Fraser (55), Amanda Seyfried (38), Julianne Moore (63), Daryl Hannah (63), Ozzy Osbourne (75), Lucy Liu (55), Lesley-Ann Brandt (42), Britney Spears (42), Connie Booth (83), Nelly Furtado (45), Zoë Kravitz (35), Riz Ahmed (41), Sarah Silverman (53), Bette Midler (78), Ridley Scott (86), Kaley Cuoco (38), Ben Stiller (58), Woody Allen (88), Mandy Patinkin (71), Gemma Chan (41), Diane Ladd (88), Jeff Fahey (71), Don Cheadle (59), Gena Lee Nolin (52), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (39), Alan Ritchson (41), Karen Gillan (36), Ed Harris (73), Judd Nelson (64), Martin Clunes (62), Ellie Taylor (40), Armando Iannucci (60), Jon Stewart (61), Fisher Stevens (60), Sharlto Copley (50), and Robin Givens (59). 


Dead Pool 26th November 2023

Last week I threatened to send out the Flying Monkeys, and they didn’t disappoint. Even diplomatic immunity couldn’t spare Joss Ackland his chance to meet his maker.   

Look Who You Could Have Had:

 In Other News

One of the fattest men in the world has been found dead in his home just days after he vowed to shed the weight. Leonid Andreev, 60, weighed more than three baby elephants and had been trapped in his own home for five years. The 44-stone man was found at home in the village of Armizonskoye, Russia, only a day day after he told local media how he was planning a new life of losing weight and moving apartments. But on Friday, he was found dead in his home after reportedly suffering from a heart attack. He said he planned to start a new diet with just a cup of light soup for lunch. It came after a doctor warned him he had to lose at least seven stone in order to live normally again. Andreev said: ‘I tried to lose at least a little weight – I ate less and did not indulge in flour products.’ The 60-year-old was married and divorced twice and had no children. He also shocked reporters by revealing that he used to be an athlete and weighed just 11 stone. Tragically, just ten years ago Andreev was a hunter who ran his own farm and took part in harvesting the crops. Andreev said his weight problems began when he left a career in the army and in just three months, his weight nearly doubled to 16 stone and never stopped rising. His weight gain was caused by a metabolic disorder and five years ago his size was so much that he had to quit work. Then he began his reclusive life on the sofa where he lived and slept while watching TV all day as his neighbours helped clean and take care of his house. At one point, Andreev’s blood pressure soared so high that he called for an ambulance. However, after controlling his symptoms, paramedics refused further aid because of his weight. He said: ‘In the morning, I get up, cook food, eat a little, watch TV. Tried to move here, move there. I used to have porridge – the heaviest, well, and buns, potatoes, bread. That’s how I got fat, probably.’ Even though Andreev was extremely heavy, there have been fatter people in history. American Jo Brower Minnoch was the fattest man who ever lived and weighed 100 stone (see below).  

Each year, fans are left scratching their heads when I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here contestants are excused from some of the trials. Before the series kicked off, former UKIP leader Farage was asked about the trials he could avoid due to his severe injuries from a plane crash in 2010 that he sadly survived. He said: “Anything involving weightlifting, I’d be out. I’ve obviously had some quite serious physical injuries and neck reconstructions, and goodness knows what else. So they are fully aware that I’m a little bit damaged when it comes to bodily structure. But having said that, I can still do most things. I doubt any of the trials are actually going to kill me, although I don’t think they’ll all be a bag of fun. But look, I signed up for this. It’s in for a penny in for a pound. So let’s go.” Farage suffered long-lasting injuries after an aeroplane he was flying, displaying a banner with the slogan ‘Vote for your country – Vote UKIP’, crashed on polling day for the general election in 2010. He managed to escape the wreckage but suffered from a punctured lung, two chipped vertebrae, several fractured ribs and a fractured sternum. Three years later, he underwent an operation to help with the health problems caused by the crash, and told the Flying Monkeys that he had a “couple of discs removed and replaced” in his back. In 2015, he admitted that he was experiencing tremendous pain in his shoulder and back and had been prescribed the strong sleeping pill Temazepam. He had been visiting the hospital twice a week for treatment and was struggling to raise his arms above a 45-degree angle. He added: “I think I am going to have to have medical treatment for the rest of my life.” Before the accident, the 59-year-old also had a serious car crash in his 20s, and problems from the accidents combined have left him with the ‘body of a 70-year-old’. Let’s hope he does the decent thing and dies on the show. 

On This Day

  • 1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacks and sinks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) from the western coast of South America. (Herman Melville‘s 1851 novel Moby-Dick was in part inspired by this incident.)
  • 1947 – The Princess Elizabeth marries Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who becomes the Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London.
  • 1974 – The first fatal crash of a Boeing 747 occurs when Lufthansa Flight 540 crashes while attempting to take-off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 59 out of the 157 people on board.
  • 1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0, the first graphical personal computer operating environment developed by Microsoft, is released. Windows has now been shit for 38 years.
  • 1990 – Andrei Chikatilo, one of the Soviet Union’s most prolific serial killers, is arrested; he eventually confesses to 56 killings.

Deaths

  • 1910 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (b. 1828).
  • 2003 – Robert Addie, English actor (b. 1960).
  • 2006 – Robert Altman, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1925).

The Heaviest Man Who Ever Lived

Jon Brower Minnoch was an American man who was the heaviest recorded human in history, weighing approximately 635 kilograms; 100 stone at his peak. 

Minnoch was born in 1941 in Seattle, Washington, as the only child to John Minnoch and June (née Brower). Minnoch’s father worked as a machinist and died of a heart attack in 1962. Minnoch’s mother was a graduate of Seattle Pacific University and worked as a registered nurse at Providence Hospital and later as a telephone operator. June died in 1986, three years after her son. 

Minnoch suffered from obesity since childhood. At the age of 12, he weighed 133 kilograms (21 stone). By age 22, he weighed 178 kilograms (28 stone) and became 320 kilograms (50 stone) in 1963. Minnoch stood 6ft 1in in height and had a body fat percentage of about 80%. Minnoch said water retention was the primary cause of his obesity, however British obesity specialist David Haslam contends Minnoch’s water retention was a consequence of his severe weight, not the cause of it. 

Despite his condition, Minnoch tried to live a conventional life and stated that he was “in no way handicapped”. He drove taxi cabs for 17 years and married his wife, Jean McArdle, in 1963. The couple operated the Bainbridge Island Taxi Co. together, the only taxi cab on the island at the time. According to a friend, Minnoch had a reputation as a “warm and funny family man” on the island. In March 1978, Minnoch weighed twelve times his 50 kilograms; (8 stone) wife, breaking the record for the greatest weight disparity between a married couple. Minnoch and McArdle divorced in 1980 and he married Shirley Ann Griffen in 1982 and fathered two sons, John and Jason. 

Minnoch eventually “got so tired” of being heavy that he decided to cut his food intake to “almost nothing”. Under a doctor’s prescription, he went on a 600-calorie-a-day diet of only vegetables. He also took large doses of a diuretic that failed to eliminate excess fluid in his body. After about three weeks of weakness and being bedridden, he listened to his wife’s pleas to enter a hospital. Minnoch was admitted to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in March 1978, suffering from heart and respiratory failure. Firefighters were forced to remove a window at his home and place him on a thick piece of plywood. By now Minnoch was unable to move or speak. It took over a dozen firemen, rescue personnel, and a specially modified stretcher to transport him to the hospital. There, he was placed on two beds pushed together, and it took thirteen attendants to roll him over. 

At the hospital, Minnoch was diagnosed with a massive oedema, a condition in which the body accumulates excess extracellular fluid. Due to his poor health, measuring his weight with a scale was impossible. However, endocrinologist Robert Schwartz estimated his weight to be about 635 kilograms (100 stone). According to Schwartz, he was “probably more than that. He was by at least 300 pounds the heaviest person ever reported”, and “probably the most unusual thing about Minnoch’s case was that he lived”. He reached a peak body mass index (BMI) of 186kg/m2 and spent several days on a respirator. His doctors described his medical state as “critical”. Schwartz said Minnoch displayed symptoms of Pickwickian syndrome, where insufficient breathing causes one’s level of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream to rise. 

Minnoch remained in the hospital for two years and was put on a diet of 1,200 calories day. When discharged from the hospital, he weighed 216kg (34 stone), having lost 419kg; (66 stone), the largest human weight loss ever documented at the time. He hoped to eventually reach a weight of about 95 kilograms (15 stone), stating, “I’ve waited 37 years to get this chance at a new life”. Despite this, he soon started to gain weight again. He was readmitted to the hospital just over a year later in October 1981, after his weight increased to 432kg (68 stone); he had managed to gain 91 kg (14 stone) in just seven days!!!

He died 23 months later on September 4th 1983, aged 41. At the time of his death, he weighed 362kg (57 stone). According to his death certificate, Minnoch’s immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest, with respiratory failure and restrictive lung disease as contributing factors. He was buried in a wooden casket made of plywood 34 inch thick and lined with cloth. The coffin took up two cemetery plots, and eleven men were needed to transport his casket to his burial place at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Rita Ora (33), Kristin Bauer (57), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (35), Christina Applegate (52), John Larroquette (76), Kristian Nairn (48), Bruno Tonioli (68), Sarah Hyland (33), Katherine Heigl (45), Colin Hanks (46), Stephen Merchant (49), Denise Crosby (66), Billy Connolly (81), Conleth Hill (59), Dwight Schultz (76), Kayvan Novak (45), Michelle Gomez (57), Miley Cyrus (31), Scarlett Johansson (39), Mark Ruffalo (56), Mads Mikkelsen (58), Jamie Lee Curtis (65), Terry Gilliam (83), Goldie Hawn (78), Alexander Siddig (58), Björk (58), Sean Young (64), Ming-Na Wen (60), Joe Biden (81), and Bo Derek (67).


Dead Pool 19th November 2023

Another quiet week, I believe it might be time to send out the Flying Monkeys!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Pete Doherty has admitted that years of drug and alcohol abuse have taken their toll on his body, telling documentary presenter Louis Theroux: “Death is lurking.” The Libertines frontman, 44, was notorious in the Naughties and 2010s for his drug-fuelled public antics, and was arrested multiple times for possession. Now mostly sober, Doherty is one of the subjects of new BBC series Louis Theroux Interviews…in which he discusses his colourful past and his new, quieter life in the small town of Etretat, Normandy. At one point, while the pair sit in his studio, the musician got up to take a swig from a bottle of blackcurrent rum, then proceeded to cough and clutch his chest. “Why has your voice gone like that? Are you OK?” Theroux asked, as Doherty leant over the table and appeared to groan in pain. “Did it go down the wrong way? What’s happening? How’s your health in general?” Theroux asked, once Doherty had settled back down on the sofa. “You are looking at a very sick man,” Doherty replied. “I’ve battered it, haven’t I, I’ve fucking caned it. The heroin and the crack… I surrendered to that, and then it was cocaine and the smoking and the alcohol, and now it’s cheese and the saucisson, and the sugar in the tea. It’s all gotta go. They told me a little while ago if you don’t change your diet then you’re gonna have diabetes and cholesterol problems,” he continued. “Death’s lurking, you know what I mean? That’s why I carry that stick.” Doherty seemed doubtful that he will live to see his daughter, Billie-May, grow up, telling Theroux he would love to hear her say her first words. “Maybe watch her grow up and start a family of her own. That’s 25 years,” Theroux suggested. “That’s a stretch though, isn’t it,” a doubtful-looking Doherty responded. Asked what he would tell someone curious about experimenting with drugs, he remarked: “My life in using was so chaotic and the consequences of it… you’ll be in prison and you’ll fuck your body up, and you’ll be skint, and you’ll lose your family and you’ll lose everything you love. Is it really that good? That’s beyond curiosity, that’s a right mess. I still get tingles thinking about it, but I’m able to talk to you rather than running off and scoring,” he told Theroux. Doherty also revealed he currently takes blockers that would prevent heroin from taking effect: “I like to think I could do without it, but that level of trust has to be earnt, doesn’t it,” he said. “At the moment I think I’m still reeling a bit – it’s almost like I’m still in shock from having got clean. Maybe in 10 years I’ll be able to talk with pride about being clean.”   

Shane MacGowan’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke has shared some heartfelt words for fans of the Pogues star as he continues receiving hospital care. The singer behind the Christmas anthem “Fairytale of New York” was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, an uncommon and potentially life-threatening condition that causes the brain to swell, last December. He has repeatedly been admitted to the hospital, with Clarke providing occasional updates. In June, MacGowan, 65, was admitted once again and has received inpatient care ever since. On Tuesday, Clarke shared a new image of MacGowan wearing a hospital robe and assistive breathing apparatus, while thanking his Pogues bandmates Spider Stacy and Terry Woods for visiting him. “I just wanted to say a massive thanks to everyone who has been messaging me and @ShaneMacGowan and thank you @spiderstacy and Terry Woods for coming to visit him,” she wrote alongside the picture. “Love and prayers for everyone who is struggling right now. Hang in there!” Clarke, a journalist, has been in a relationship with MacGowan for decades. They married in 2018. Last month, she shared her gratitude for improvements in MacGowan’s condition, as well as her hopes that he’d be discharged soon.

On This Day

  • 1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean land at Oceanus Procellarum (the “Ocean of Storms”) and become the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.
  • 1994 – In the United Kingdom, the first National Lottery draw is held. A £1 ticket gave a one-in-14-million chance of correctly guessing the winning six out of 49 numbers.
  • 1999 – John Carpenter becomes the first person to win the top prize in the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

Deaths

Last Meals

Just before 8pm, prison guards swarmed into the ‘death cell’ holding inmate Kenneth Smith and summarily prepared him for execution. He’d been on the phone to his wife Dee as they both waited to hear any updates on legal efforts to delay his death warrant for that day.

‘We need the phone, Kenny,’ one guard told him and he quickly said goodbye to her for what they both assumed was the last time.

The 10-strong squad of guards put handcuffs and leg irons on him for the short walk to the nearby execution chamber of the William C Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, where he was to die by lethal injection.

It was November 17th last year and, after decades of legal wrangling, the convicted killer who’d found God during his 33 years on Death Row had resigned himself to dying that night.

Over the next four hours, he’d need his faith as never before. For he was to endure what he says was searing physical pain and unbearable mental torture as bungling executioners fumbled hopelessly in their efforts to attach two intravenous lines to his body, and then ran out of time to kill him before his death warrant expired. 

Smith, 58, is in the extraordinary position of being able to describe what it is like to be executed in the U.S. — because he survived.

America’s ‘double jeopardy’ rule forbids the justice system trying a defendant twice for the same crime, but there’s nothing in the U.S. constitution to say they can’t try to execute them twice.

And so Smith is now fighting the Deep South state’s plans for him in January to become the first person in America to be executed by a new, untested method — forcing him to breathe pure nitrogen until he suffocates.

Proponents and critics argue over whether the process, known as ‘nitrogen hypoxia’ — sometimes used to kill pigs — is painless.

Opponents say killing Smith in this way is ‘astonishingly reckless’ and the equivalent of ‘human experimentation’. His lawyers claim the method would breach the U.S. constitution’s ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishment’.

Without doubt, Smith’s horrific ordeal during last November’s botched execution was inordinately cruel, whatever his crimes, and will form an important part of their case.

In a rare interview from prison this week, Smith told the Flying Monkeys that with the first anniversary of his bungled execution approaching, memories of that night have been flooding back. ‘I’ve tried to keep it out of my mind for the past year but I’ve been reliving this shit for the past week. I’ve been sick to my stomach and not eaten. And I’ve been struggling with depression and nightmares — I’m in pretty bad shape,’ he said.

The lethal injection execution of a close friend and fellow Death Row inmate there on Thursday had compounded his misery, he said. 

Astonishingly, given his circumstances, Smith revealed that one of his executioners a year ago had actually reassured him after they gave up trying to kill him that lethal injection was a much better way to die than being gassed. 

‘He was trying to comfort me and we got into this bizarre conversation. He said: “Oh, you know, man, if you got to go, this is the way to go.” Lethal injection, he said, is painless. And he said that gas is suffocation and that nobody knows what is going to happen. I’ve not been able to get that out of my head.’

Given what happened a year ago and the fears over using nitrogen, he sees little hope that his second execution attempt is ‘going to end well’ and was ‘absolutely terrified’. He added: ‘I have to deal with that and I have to find a way to comfort my family.’

In 1988, the father-of-four admitted murdering 45-year-old Elizabeth Sennett in the northern Alabama town of Sheffield.

He and another man, John Parker, were paid $1,000 each by her husband, Charles Sennett, a local church pastor who was having an affair with another woman, to kill his wife so he could collect insurance money.

Told to make it look like a robbery, the then 22-year-old Smith took home the Sennetts’ video recorder — a crucial error that led to his conviction.

Smith is being held at the Holman prison deep in  the thick marsh forests of central Alabama where, on the scheduled day of his execution, the warden laid on extra security with dog patrols around the perimeter.

Smith spent much of the day with his family and friends in Holman’s visitation area as his lawyers went through the process of last-minute legal appeals.

He had a last meal — his choice of fried catfish and shrimp — before being visited one last time by a local lay minister who has been his spiritual adviser. 

As the door of his cell is made of metal bars, that important final meeting was disrupted, Smith said, by the guards noisily feasting on sandwiches, crisps and fizzy drinks outside. But by the time they came to collect him, he had been alone for several hours. He told them he wasn’t going to fight them. ‘We know you aren’t, Kenny,’ one replied.

He would undoubtedly have resisted rather more vigorously had he known that, two minutes before he was taken into the execution chamber, an appeals court had actually agreed to stay his death sentence. 

Given Alabama’s alarming history of botched lethal injection executions, the judges suspected the team in charge of connecting him to intravenous tubes for the killer drugs would have ‘extreme difficulty’ in accessing his veins and he would consequently suffer ‘super-added pain’.

For some still-unknown reason, the message to hold the execution never got through and Smith was strapped ‘painfully tight’ to a gurney by his arms, legs and feet. There he remained for two hours, immobilised and unaware of the legal wrangling behind the scenes. All the while, two men and a woman, clearly officials, silently observed him — one clutching a file and the others armed with notepads and pens.

Feeling that his circulation was being cut off by the straps and worried that his family witnesses — his wife, son and daughter-in-law — hadn’t arrived, after an hour he asked the three guards in the room what was happening. They said they didn’t know either.

According to a court filing by his lawyers, Smith ‘started descending into hopelessness and despair’.

He was convinced he was going to die without his loved ones there to see him go. In fact, it appears the delay was because senior state officials were waiting to see if the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the appeal court ruling — even if that meant keeping Smith in agonising suspense strapped to the gurney.

At 10pm — 23 minutes before the Supreme Court did indeed approve his execution, three unidentified men wearing blue, red and green sets of surgical scrubs, entered the chamber wheeling a medical trolley. They were the team that would inject him with the cocktail of drugs — midazolam hydrochloride, rocuronium bromide and potassium chloride — that would theoretically first sedate him and then stop his heart.

‘Blue Scrubs’, who Smith remembered seeing chain-smoking outside the prison after previous executions, tied a tourniquet around Smith’s upper arm and started sticking a needle into him. When Smith protested that he was painfully stabbing into his muscle, Blue Scrubs told him: ‘No I’m not.’

After that attempt failed, it was the turn of Green Scrubs on Smith’s other side. Smith claims one of the three officials was taking photos on his phone, while Green Scrubs began slapping the inmate’s right hand to find a vein.

With each jab, the condemned man told his lawyers, he ‘could feel the needle going in and out and moving around under his skin, causing him great pain’.

Smith has since said that the ceaseless jabs became so ridiculous they turned into farce, especially when Green Scrubs eventually asked Smith to squeeze his hand to make the vein stand out better.

Smith says he had been a compliant prisoner for 35 years but that was too much.

‘I am fucked if I am going to participate in my own execution,’ he said in a recent interview.

And all the while, he says, everyone in the room ignored his pleas that he was in pain, especially when their needles regularly jabbed his muscles.

By now, he says, he’d entirely lost the composure he’d desperately wanted to maintain for his family witnesses and for expressing his final words.

Witnesses, including families of both the victim and the condemned, are allowed to watch an execution through small windows but the curtain is pulled back on the bleak scene in the chamber only when the lethal drugs are about to flow into the body.

Smith’s family, in fact, never got to the prison, instead waiting on tenterhooks at a nearby casino hotel for an official van sent to collect them — which never came.

Compounding his distress, Smith noticed other members of the prison staff — for reasons he could not fathom — were now photographing him on their phones.

Unable to find a second usable vein even after examining his feet and scanning his arms with ultraviolet light, the hapless executioners asked the guards to tilt the gurney so Smith’s feet were pointing upwards, leaving him in an inverted crucifix position.

Everyone but his guards exited the chamber, leaving Smith like that for several minutes in a deeply uncomfortable position. He believes the intention was to get blood to run towards his head so he could be injected in the neck. 

When the IV team returned, Red Scrubs — the leader — was wearing a mask and plastic face shield which Smith’s lawyers believe was to  protect him from spraying blood. They unbuttoned the prisoner’s shirt and the man plunged a huge new needle — bigger than any Smith had ever seen — under the inmate’s collarbone.

He was looking to attach a so-called central line (or central venous catheter) which is much longer than a regular intravenous line and goes all the way up to a vein near or inside the heart.

The pain became excruciating and it felt like he was being stabbed with a knife, says Smith. He shouted for them to stop, but a prison official responded by twisting Smith’s head to one side to provide a better entry point for the enormous needle.

‘Kenny, this is for your own good,’ he assured Smith. According to court papers, the inmate ‘forcefully expressed disagreement with that statement but did not resist’.

As his body writhed and shook uncontrollably, his shower shoes came off and fell to the floor.

At one point, Blue Scrubs snapped at him: ‘You can’t feel that,’ convinced he had been successfully anaesthetised.

‘I kept telling them, “Call the fucking judge. My case number is 2:22-CV-497. Somebody in this fucking room call the judge or my lawyer,” said Smith. But nobody did. He recalls Red Scrubs repeatedly jabbed him in the chest with the large needle — 10 times, he estimates — causing such pain that he could ‘hardly breathe’ and felt he had wet himself. The jabs, he said, ‘felt like an eternity’.

He told the Flying Monkeys: ‘By the end of it, I wasn’t thinking about prayer. I wasn’t thinking about God or heaven or none of that. ‘I was thinking, “please get that out of my chest”.’

But eventually they did stop and again everyone else left except the guards, leaving Smith still strapped to the gurney and ‘terrified’ as to what they would do next. He wasn’t to know they had run out of time to carry out the death warrant before a midnight deadline.

The IV team later came in to clear items that had fallen to the floor.

Green Scrubs asked him if the pain had gone. ‘No, sir,’ he replied.

The executioner stood over him and said: ‘Everything is going to be all right . . . it’s over with.’

Given there was still a needle sticking in his arm, Smith hardly felt reassured.

But, now his 90-minute ordeal was over, the IV team’s demeanour completely changed: Green Scrubs offered him some water and, holding his hand, told him he would be praying for him.

Why had he survived, he asked. ‘Legal stuff,’ said Green Scrubs who then made his extraordinary assurance about the merits of lethal injection over nitrogen.

Smith was so unsteady he had to be supported back to his cell by a prison guard on either side. They spared him the leg irons but still put him in handcuffs.

He said later that he was left ‘trembling and sweating . . . shocked, disoriented and experiencing post-traumatic stress’.

The identity and qualifications of the would-be executioners have never been revealed, though senior officials insisted some present had ‘medical’ training. Smith believes the pair in green and blue scrubs were Emergency Medical Technicians — essentially ambulance crew.

Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, blamed the failed execution not on incompetence but on last-ditch legal efforts to stay the order. But ‘attempting it was the right thing to do,’ she insisted.

However, she immediately ordered a moratorium on executions and a ‘top-to-bottom review of the state’s execution process’ so Alabama ‘can successfully deliver justice going forward’.

Smith, who says he continues to suffer lingering pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, is suing the state over its lethal injection procedures.

His lawyers have accused officials of moving him ‘to the front of the line’ for execution by nitrogen hypoxia in order to foil his potentially embarrassing legal action.

Steve Marshall, the attorney general for Alabama, has countered that Smith’s victim’s family ‘has waited an unconscionable 35 years to see justice served’.

Meanwhile, critics say the state has been worryingly opaque about how it will kill with nitrogen, beyond revealing a plan to forcibly place an airtight mask over the prisoner’s face.

Having a year ago been ‘resigned to meet my maker’, Smith told the Flying Monkeys he is now determined to live and defeat what he calls the ‘evil system’ that wants to execute him.

What happened last year had convinced him ‘that I’m here for a reason’, he said. And after 35 years and that awful night last November, he said he felt he had been punished enough for his crime.

Smith is, of course, aware of what can go wrong and says he is ‘absolutely terrified’ by the prospect.

And though he is no longer resigned to dying and convinced some higher power intended him to live, he may yet be one of the only Death Row prisoners who has to choose a last meal for a second time.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Jodie Foster (61), Meg Ryan (62), Adam Driver (40), Terry Farrell (60), Robert Beltran (70), Owen Wilson (55), Linda Evans (81), Delroy Lindo (71), Martin Scorsese (81), Rachel McAdams (45), Tom Ellis (45), Danny DeVito (79), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (65), RuPaul (63), Missi Pyle (51), Maggie Gyllenhaal (46), Martha Plimpton (53), Beverly D’Angelo (72), Jonny Lee Miller (51), Ivanna Sakhno (26), Olga Kurylenko (44), Paul McGann (64), Russell Tovey (42), Sandahl Bergman (72), Gerard Butler (54) and Whoopi Goldberg (68).


Dead Pool 12th November 2023

I think we can all be forgiven for not knowing anyone on this weeks death list. Quite a feat really, considering the amount of killing going on around the world…  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A skull that was on sale in a thrift store as a Halloween decoration turned out to be the real deal, after an anthropologist recognised it as belonging to a human. The anthropologist, who happened to be shopping in the store in the North Fort Myers area of Florida, spotted the human skull casually on display waiting to be purchased in the Halloween section of the store. Recognising it as the real article, authorities were called to the store. Lee County Sheriff’s Office said that detectives responded and recovered the skull, later confirming that the item was indeed human. The store owner told police that the skull had been found in a storage unit that they had bought years ago. While the police do not believe the case is suspicious, they will be working with the local medical examiner’s office to conduct further tests on the skull. In Florida, it is illegal to knowingly sell or buy any human organ or tissue for valuable consideration; this also includes bones. In September, another human skull was found by store employees in a Goodwill donation box in Arizona. That skull, which had a false eye in its left socket, was seized by police, but they concluded it was not associated with any crime. 

Tributes have poured in for Raymond Calvert, Britain’s oldest father who passed away aged 91 after having a baby at 78 with his 25-year-old lover. The former shop owner became a father for the seventh time in 2010 when son Jamie Rai was born to partner Charlotte, who was 54 years his junior. The pensioner described the little boy, who weighed 7lb 1oz at birth, as a ‘gift from God’. Mr Calvert passed away on December 1st last year, at Royal Preston Hospital on following a fall, with his family left ‘heartbroken’. His funeral was held just four days before Christmas at Skipton Crematorium. His former lover Charlotte, now 38, who took his surname but never married him, currently lives with their son Jamie Rai, aged 12, in his cottage in Colne, Lancashire. After the birth of his seventh child, he told the Flying Monkeys at the time: ‘I am the most fortunate man in the world. It makes me feel 10ft tall. The baby was planned and I did not use Viagra or anything like that. I didn’t actually think at my age that it would be possible to have a child, but he’s a beautiful little fella. I feel blessed. I look at that baby and I think, ‘He’s so bloody healthy and good-looking – how did I make that?’’ Mr Calvert has six other children who are all older than his partner and range in age from 51 to 64. He raised them alone after his wife died 41 years ago. He told the Flying Monkeys he first met Miss Calvert following a three-year relationship with her mother. She was 16 at the time and joined him on caravan holidays with his children. The pair only saw each other occasionally until she became friends with his daughter Denise. Five years later, romance blossomed. Mr Calvert, from Winewall, Lancashire, told the Flying Monkeys that the age gap was never an issue. He said: ‘As time went by, Charlotte said she wanted a baby – and that she wanted it with me. I was delighted when Charlotte told me she was pregnant. It was a wonderful, wonderful feeling.’ Raymond noted that he’s always gone out with women who are 20 to 25 years younger than him. Charlotte left school with three A-levels and was on a childcare course before falling pregnant. Recalling the moment she realised she wanted the baby, she said: ‘I realised it would be nice to have a baby with Raymond. He has such a lot of nice qualities.’  

Brazilian singer Darlyn Morais died on Monday of complications from being bitten in the face by a spider! Morais fell ill after he was bitten by the spider at his home in the northeastern city of Miranorte on October 31st. His 18-year-old stepdaughter also suffered a spider bite and is currently hospitalised and in stable condition, Morais’ wife Jhullyenny Lisboa told our Brazilian Flying Monkeys. Lisboa said that Morais experienced body fatigue and that the colour of the bruise on his face started to change as a result of the bite. Morais developed allergic reactions later during the week and visited a hospital in Miranorte, where he was treated and discharged Friday. ‘He felt weakness in his body and his face started to darken on the same day,’ Lisboa said. ‘He went to the hospital and was admitted to Palmas General hospital this Sunday.’ Morais immersed himself into the music world at the age of 15 and sang forró, a popular genre of music in Brazil’s northeast region that is based on a combination of the accordion, zabumba and metal triangle. His small, three-man band included his brother and a friend. Morais, who had six-year-old girl and one-year-old year boy with his wife, was planning planning a live show in January 2024 that was going to be recorded  and released on DVD. 

On This Day

  • 1961 – Terry Jo Duperrault is the sole survivor of a series of brutal murders aboard the ketch Bluebelle.
  • 1970 – The Oregon Highway Division attempts to destroy a rotting beached sperm whale with explosives, leading to the now infamous “exploding whale” incident.
  • 1990 – Tim Berners-Lee publishes a formal proposal for the World Wide Web.
  • 2021 – The Los Angeles Superior Court formally ends the 14-year conservatorship to pop singer Britney Spears

Deaths

  • 1981 – William Holden, American actor (b. 1918).
  • 2014 – Warren Clarke, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1947).
  • 2018 – Stan Lee, American comic book writer, editor, and publisher (b. 1922).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ryan Gosling (43), Anne Hathaway (41), Wallace Shawn (80), Max Grodénchik (71), Neil Young (78), Leonardo DiCaprio (49), Stanley Tucci (63), Demi Moore (61), Richard Dormer (54), Calista Flockhart (59), Taron Egerton (34), Hugh Bonneville (60), Neil Gaiman (63), Tracy Morgan (55), Robert Duncan McNeill (59), Lou Ferrigno (72), Tara Reid (48), Parker Posey (55), Gretchen Mol (51), Matthew Rhys (49), Richard Curtis (67), Jack Osbourne (38), Gordon Ramsay (57), Adam Devine (40), Emma Stone (35), Ethan Hawke (53), Rebecca Romijn (51), Sally Field (77), Thandiwe Newton (51), and Nigel Havers (72).


Dead Pool 5th November 2023

Not a lot to say this week, so let’s crack on!  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Michael J. Fox has revealed he’s not afraid of death in a candid interview about his health. The Back to the Future star was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, and in a recent interview on Thursday, he has discussed his relationship with death, saying he ‘doesn’t fear it’. Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged. The main symptoms of the condition usually revolve around movement, with the person experiencing tremors in the hand or arm, slowness of movement and muscle stiffness. In his documentary, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, the star recalled the first time he noticed the signs of the disease. He recounted waking up one morning to find his pinky finger twitching uncontrollably, and described the finger as ‘auto-animated.’ However, Fox didn’t open up about his diagnosis until several years later in 1998. In the documentary, he also added that ‘no one outside of the family knew’ about his diagnosis. And now, in an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he’s discussed his ‘complicated’ view of Parkinson’s. He said: “It’s very complicated. I’ve said Parkinson’s is a gift. It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but it has changed my life in so many positive ways.” The 62-year-old previously spoke about how life was ‘getting harder’ since his diagnosis – with him breaking bones in his body and almost losing a finger due to an infection. He’d told us in April that he didn’t think he’d live to be 80. “Its banging on the door. I’m not gonna lie. It’s gettin’ hard, it’s gettin’ harder. It’s gettin’ tougher. Every day it’s tougher. But, that’s the way it is.” he said. Adding: “You don’t die from Parkinson’s. You die with Parkinson’s. So I’ve been thinking about the mortality of it … I’m not gonna be 80. I’m not gonna be 80.” However, it seems that Fox has accepted the possibility of death. “One day I’ll run out of gas,” he said. “One day I’ll just say, ‘It’s not going to happen. I’m not going out today. If that comes, I’ll allow myself that. I’m 62 years old. Certainly, if I were to pass away tomorrow, it would be premature, but it wouldn’t be unheard of. And so, no, I don’t fear that.”  

Linda Nolan has bravely opened up about her fear amid living alongside incurable cancer and shared her memory is beginning to deteriorate. The Nolan Sisters singer, 64, was first diagnosed with cancer nearly 20 years ago. She’s had incurable secondary breast cancer since 2017 which has since spread to the brain and caused her to experience hair loss for the fourth time in her life. Writing in her latest column this week, Linda reveals her nephew and his family are moving overseas – something that has proven to be difficult and bittersweet for the singer, as she knows she may never seem them again. “You’re over the moon for them and yet, when I say goodbye, I know I might not see them again,” Linda writes. “That’s the elephant in the room.” Linda continues to share with readers her fears about living alongside her cancer diagnosis, admitting: “I’m not going to panic because, if I panic, cancer wins.” She realises she needs “to be realistic” as “the reality is, my memory seems to be getting worse.” She adds: “My memory has been lapsing for a while. You can imagine the comments about my age… But I didn’t, because deep down it doesn’t feel right. As I said, I won’t panic. My balance is still better than it was, I’m not having headaches. I have some scans arranged and I’ll wait for them. Alone sometimes in my bedroom I’ll just lie there and think I wonder if I’ll be here in a month? Will it all happen very quickly?”   

Comedian Mark Steel has shared an update with his followers, sharing that he’s now using a tube to feed himself through his nose. Last month, Mark announced he had been diagnosed with a cancer that “can be got rid of”. At the time of sharing his news, he said he had noticed that his neck was “looking much bigger than normal”. Now, he has shared an update with his online followers regarding his condition. Taking to Instagram, Mark was seen in the kitchen of his home and said: “Now, because of something to do with an epiglottis which has gone wrong during some surgery for the time being, I’ve got to feed myself through this tube, with this peculiar drink.” Demonstrating how the contraption worked, he added: “It goes in there and I’ve learnt how to do it, I have to do it every three hours. “And this is me eating, this is me having a meal. I’ve never felt so English. I’ve had a couple of people come round while I was doing it and I was thinking ‘Oh it’s quite rude not to offer them any, ain’t it.’ All I’ve got to do is fix you up with a tube that goes down through your throat and oesophagus and into your stomach and then get the syringe, you’ve got to flush out the pipes first, lock that off, there’s all techniques to doing it, squirt it out, pump it into your tube and directly into your stomach. It’s no trouble honestly, honestly, there’s plenty to go around, I felt really, I’d had a couple of mates round and I felt really bad, you can’t eat and not offer your guests any food.” Mark added: “They don’t tell you that do they? When they say you’ve got cancer.” His upload which has raked up hundreds of likes was soon flooded with support.  Having visited his doctors for an initial check-up, Mark was sent for a biopsy on his ever-growing swelling. Following his biopsy, he was told he would hear back from them within a week. However, there were no updates after almost 14 days and the hospital explained they lost the biopsy in transit. Not long after, he received a phone call about his cancer diagnosis. Mark said: “Then a completely new person called me, and said I had to go in for a repeat biopsy the next day ‘to see what stage of cancer you have’. ‘Hang on,’ I said, ‘No one has said it’s definitely cancer, are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ She paused. ‘Yes. Had no one told you?'” Despite this, he urged his blog readers to be polite to NHS staff due to their increased workload and “appalling” salaries.

On This Day

  • 1605 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is arrested in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament, where he had planted gunpowder in an attempt to blow up the building and kill King James I of England.
  • 1925 – Secret agent Sidney Reilly, the first “super-spy” of the 20th century, is executed by the OGPU, the secret police of the Soviet Union.
  • 1940 – Franklin D. Roosevelt is the first and only President of the United States to be elected to a third term.
  • 1983 – The Byford Dolphin diving bell accident kills five and leaves one severely injured.
  • 2006 – Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq, and his co-defendants are sentenced to death.
  • 2007 – The Android mobile operating system is unveiled by Google, causing 16 years of frustration.

Deaths

A dinner party for dead guests

My friends came to a silent supper with their dead friends and relatives so that we could grieve our loved ones together.

I don’t normally feel worried about having my friends over for dinner. Usually, I’ll be covered in splashes of soup and partially dressed when they arrive, but tonight I feel nervous.

Figuring out who to invite was complicated. Not only did they have to be available at short notice, but they had to be up for it, open to something different. Because this evening everyone has been asked to bring a plus-one … someone who has died.

As my living guests begin to arrive, bringing in the dark and subtle nip of the October air, I have the strong sense that they are not alone. I take their coats and ask them for the photo of their guest. Out of their pockets come snapshots. Smiling portraits, a moment of laughter on the stairs, a child on the beach, the ruffled ears of a French bulldog, a matriarch blurred by clouds of cigarette smoke.

In the other room, it’s quiet. The table is laid with candles, autumn leaves from the park and bright flowers, and there are twice as many plates laid at the table as there will be people in the room. I put each photo in its place. Because this is where we will serve food to the dead. We will eat, sometimes in silence, but we’ll talk and remember and, probably, cry. This is a silent supper. A feast for the dead.

It isn’t something I’d even have thought to do if I hadn’t been hanging out with witches for the series Witch for BBC Sounds and Radio 4. I’ve rarely felt comfortable or at ease talking about the dead or talking to someone who’s grieving, but for witches this seems to be different. Over the past year I’ve taken part in seances, been to an ancestor ritual and made an ancestor bottle for the spirit of a loved one. Most witches have regular rituals and altars for their ancestors and, of course, they have a dedicated season for remembrance. Witches believe that on 31 October, or Samhain, the “veil” is thin. It’s a skin between life and death that becomes more porous throughout October until, on this night, life and death can pour into each other – a lot like the world we see around us.

There are twice as many plates at the table as people in the room.

This is the idea we play with at Halloween when ghouls and night terrors come knocking at our door. There’s a playfulness and joy at the idea of the afterlife being present, but in reality it’s so far out of reach. This year, I’ve decided to search for meaningful ways to remember the dead.

I decided that hosting a silent supper – historically known as a “dumb supper” – could be a good start. Eating in silence and feasting for the dead has been part of life for centuries. In England, there used to be a tradition called “chesting”.

Prof Diane Purkiss, author of English Food: A People’s History, explains: “This was even more of an Irish wake than an Irish wake. It involved having a feast that was laid out on the coffin of the deceased person. A massive blowout meal with huge treats and sugary goo. It’s honouring the dead, but it’s also quite visceral because you’re doing it on the coffin and it almost brings them physically into the feast.”

A silent supper is one step further. “What you’re describing is a ritual around the scariest and most taboo thing, which is the dead,” she says, “and this is because witches have a very special relationship with them. I define a witch as someone who doesn’t see the dead the way other people do.”

That’s certainly true. Last year my friend, colleague and witch Tatum Swithenbank reached the age at which a much loved and needed auntie had died. So their coven held a silent supper. “Sometimes we just want a space to talk about the people who have passed and there’s not really any great comfort you can give in words,” they told me. “What’s better than listening in a neutral space? That was the power of it. I don’t think you have to be a witch or be practising to do that.” They ate cheese, skull-shaped pizzas and a pumpkin pie.

Feeling under-qualified to host my own silent supper, I ask for advice. “Making it dark, with only candles, really helps because people feel they are not as exposed,” says Tatum. “And it’s important to say something at the beginning. I acknowledged that grief is messy and complicated.” Another witch who loves a silent supper is Emma Griffin, who shares the ritual with her children. “It’s really nice for them to know their heritage,” she says. “We’ll have supper and talk about death, look through photos and also talk about death bringing changes. This year we are making food that my dad would like – meat and potato pie, mash and gravy.”

She advises me to make the space sacred and gentle. “I suggest giving people a dress code. When they come over your threshold, give them a little tea-light. Remember, it’s a celebration of life. And you want to burn myrrh,” she says, gently but firmly as she talks me through my first ever online myrrh purchase. “It will smoke a lot, so don’t panic.”

The most pressing question of all is what on earth am I going to feed the dead? “Traditionally, the dead seem to want luxury foods,” says Purkiss. “They tend to eat dessert first, you know, life is short, eat dessert first. The dead always feel undervalued and in a way it makes them shirty so you are trying to get them to a position where they feel you value them.”

So, before the event, I threw myself (and my partner) into planning a six-course feast, my guests constantly in mind, especially the dead ones. What would they want? What would we give them if we had the chance again?

I bring Grandma Suzette. The family rarely talks about her

Purkiss approves. “Isn’t that what we all want?” she says. “When someone dies, virtually the first thing you feel is, ‘Oh, if only. If only I’d done this, or if only I’d found the time’. And the whole point of the ceremony is to give yourselves the healing chance to show great aunt Sarah you did really care.”

On the night itself, I choose to bring Grandma Suzette, who I have never met. She died when my dad was a baby. The family rarely talk about her. As my own son turned one, the loss of her for my dad and his siblings, and for me, started to ring loudly in my body. I am desperate to grieve for her.

And that’s what we’re here to do tonight. There’s a lot of normal party noise in the kitchen, but when we enter the dining room, absolutely brimming with myrrh smoke, everything softens. First, we light a candle and welcome our dead guests to the table. It feels a little strange, but maybe it should be normal. After all, eating for – and even with the dead – was once a living tradition, one that’s been purposefully rubbed away.

“There was this way of seeing the dead as beings that you interact with,” says Purkiss, adding that Catholic death rituals, such as kissing ornately decorated bones of saints, or praying in huge ossuaries stacked with bodies, went out during the Reformation. “Protestants threw all of that out, partly because they thought it had become a bit of a scam and it probably had in some cases. But the phrase throwing out the baby with the bathwater comes powerfully to mind.”

And she might be right, because it’s only minutes into the evening when it becomes painfully, joyfully clear that everyone around the table needs this communion with the dead. The phrase “I haven’t allowed myself to grieve” comes up time and again. One friend hasn’t allowed herself to grieve for her mum for 11 years. Another drifted from someone she adored and never felt she had permission to mourn them. A pal describes her love and grief for her dog Buddy as tied up with her longing for a baby. We also share joy and memories. My sister brings my other hilarious, powerful granny. A friend shares the story of a grandad who brought him pure and uncomplicated joy.

The talking is a release, but so is acknowledging the empty places. “People did that a lot after the First World War,” Purkiss says. “They would lay places at Christmas dinner for people who had died. It makes sense.” There are three mini courses that we eat without speaking. We reflect or we write, and then we burn things we wished we could say to them.

As the courses continue to roll out, my guests talk about how much their plus-ones would have loved the feast, the wine. The chance to eat dessert again and again. We make them feel loved through food. Buddy the dog would have had a field day.

We eat too much, raise glasses of sweet mead to everyone, say the names of people out loud many, many times. We look each other straight in the eyes. No one shies away from death. By the end we all stink of myrrh, but it is as though something had shifted, for all of us. For me, I know how to talk about my grandma now, and I cannot wait to keep celebrating the people I miss in my life.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Famke Janssen (59), Tilda Swinton (63), Sam Rockwell (55), Robert Patrick (65), Elke Sommer (83), Armin Shimerman (74), Tamzin Outhwaite (53), Matthew McConaughey (54), Olivia Taylor Dudley (38), Ralph Macchio (62), Dolph Lundgren (66), Kate Capshaw (70), Roseanne Barr (71), Dylan Moran (52), David Schwimmer (57), Stefanie Powers (81), Toni Collette (51), Peter Jackson (62), Stephen Rea (77), Clémence Poésy (41), Fiona Dourif (42), Henry Winkler (78), Juliet Stevenson (67), and Jessica Hynes (51).


Dead Pool 29th October 2023

The shocking news this week is the passing of Matthew Perry. Although he had his personal  demons, I don’t think anyone expected to wake up this morning to hear of his death. As the outpouring of grief unfolds, we can at least look back at his career with great joy. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The world’s oldest dog ever has died at the age of 31 years and 165 days. Guinness World Record holder Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, passed away at his home in Portugal on Saturday. His death was announced on social media by a veterinarian who met Bobi several times. “Despite outliving every dog in history, his 11,478 days on earth would never be enough, for those who loved him,” wrote Dr Karen Becker. Bobi became both the world’s oldest living dog and the oldest dog ever in February, beating an almost century-old record for the latter title. The previous oldest dog ever was Australia’s Bluey, who died in 1939 at the age of 29 years and five months. Bobi’s grand old age was validated by the Portuguese government’s pet database, which is managed by the National Union of Veterinarians. The identity of Bobi’s successor to the title of world’s oldest living dog has not yet been revealed. Bobi lived his whole life with the Costa family in the village of Conqueiros, near Portugal’s west coast, after being born with three siblings in an outbuilding. Leonel Costa, who was eight years old at the time, said his parents had too many animals and had to put the puppies down, but Bobi escaped. Mr Costa and his brothers kept the dog’s existence a secret from their parents until he was eventually discovered and became part of the family, who fed him the same food they eat. Apart from a scare in 2018 when he was hospitalised after suddenly collapsing due to breathing difficulty, Mr Costa said in February that Bobi had enjoyed a relatively trouble-free life and thought the secret to his longevity was the “calm, peaceful environment” he lived in. However, he had experienced trouble walking and worsening eyesight prior to his death. Bobi was not the only dog owned by the Mr Costa to live a long life. Bobi’s mother lived to the age of 18 while another of the family’s dogs died at the age of 22.  

Comedian Rhod Gilbert has received his first clear cancer scan after undergoing treatment. The 55-year-old Welshman announced in July that he had cancer and was being treated at the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where he had been a fundraising patron for a decade before the diagnosis. He underwent surgery for metastatic cancer of the head and neck, followed by sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Gilbert told the Flying Monkeys discovering his cancer hadn’t spread was “the best day of my life”. “I was back on the road earlier this year, I got a call to say my latest scan had shown the cancer was in the areas they knew about, but it wasn’t in my lungs or my brain,” he said. The news was later followed by his first clear scan, to which Gilbert said: “The best thing was that the tumour had gone, and it was once again an ordinary blood vessel.” Days before his treatment was set to begin, Gilbert approached a documentary team to film his experience. “I was lying in bed on the Friday, with my treatment due to start the following Monday, I rang the team I knew – there was no broadcaster on board, it was all on spec – and I asked, ‘How would you fancy joining me on this journey?’ It was partly for me. I’d cancelled all my TV work and tours, and I wanted to have something other than ‘cancer’ in my diary. I knew I wouldn’t be well enough to go on stage or TV, but I thought I might be well enough to lie in bed and talk to a documentary team about how ill I was. I thought, ‘It will give me something to do’.” Gilbert said it all began when “a tumour popped up on my neck” on the day of a fundraising walk for the Velindre Cancer Centre, and the following months of treatment meant he “wasn’t well enough even to read or watch television”.  

Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin may have suffered a “cardiac arrest” on Sunday evening according to a statement posted on a Telegram channel which regularly says the war-mongering leader is terminally ill. The channel – General SVR – suggests all recent appearances by the Russian dictator, including foreign visits, have been carried out by a body double or doubles. It claimed that doctors had to resuscitate Putin before taking him to a special intensive care facility located within his official residence. “Doctors performed resuscitation, having previously determined that the president was in cardiac arrest,” reported the channel. “Help was provided on time, the heart was started and Putin regained consciousness.” There was no immediate response from the Kremlin to the claim but officials have previously strongly denied Putin, 71, suffers from health problems. The post on General SVR – which claims, without having ever provided any proof, to have an inside source on his entourage – continued: “At about 21:05 Moscow time, security officers of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who were on duty at the residence, heard noise and sounds of falling coming from the president’s bedroom. Two security officers immediately followed into the president’s bedroom and saw Putin lying on the floor next to the bed and an overturned table with food and drinks. Probably, when the president fell, he hit the table and dishes and knocked them onto the floor, which caused the noise. Putin convulsively arched while lying on the floor, rolling his eyes. The doctors who were on duty at the residence and located in one of the adjacent rooms were immediately called.” The channel alleged that “the president was moved to a specially equipped room in his residence, where the necessary medical equipment for resuscitation had already been installed”, adding that the president’s condition was “stabilised” and he is “under constant medical supervision”. It said: “We have already repeatedly talked about the deterioration of Putin’s health due to oncology and a number of other diseases. This case of cardiac arrest seriously alarmed the president’s inner circle, despite the fact that the attending doctors had already warned that Putin was very ill and was unlikely to live until the end of autumn. Recently, all official meetings and events have been conducted by the president’s double. After news of the evening incident, several people close to Putin contacted each other by telephone and agreed to hold consultations on Monday regarding possible actions if the president dies in the coming days.” Adding weight to the claims, footage of an unexplained late-evening dash to the Kremlin – the seat of Russian power – by Putin’s motorcade on Sunday evening, have surfaced. The president normally resides outside of Moscow and not in his official apartment in the vast government building. The channel is supposedly run by a former Kremlin lieutenant-general, known by the alias Viktor Mikhailovich. It claims his top apparatchiks and security henchmen control the activities of the doppelgängers. A recent Japanese TV report used AI to analyse Putin’s face, walk and voice in multiple appearances, and concluded that he does use body doubles. The head of Ukrainian military intelligence Lt-Gen Kyrylo Budanov has made the same claim, alleging the real Putin has not been seen since June 2022. He alleged last month: “The one, who everyone used to know, was last seen around June 26, 2022.” Putin was recently reported to have made trips to Kyrgyzstan and China, and to have been unusually active in travelling inside Russia. Last week he visited Perm, and held talks with his war commander General Valery Gerasimov in Rostov-on-Don after making a “detour” to visit the military headquarters. The channel says all these are by body doubles who underwent plastic surgery and years of training by Russian secret services to perform as Putin stand-ins. The claims were reported by the Ukrainian media.

On This Day

  • 1618 – English adventurer, writer, and courtier Sir Walter Raleigh is beheaded for allegedly conspiring against James I of England.
  • 1901 – In Amherst, Massachusetts, nurse Jane Toppan is arrested for murdering the Davis family of Boston with an overdose of morphine.
  • 1969 – The first-ever computer-to-computer link is established on ARPANET, the precursor to the Internet.

Deaths

  • 1618 – Walter Raleigh, English admiral, explorer, and politician, Lieutenant Governor of Jersey (b. 1554).
  • 1911 – Joseph Pulitzer, Hungarian-American publisher, lawyer, and politician, founded Pulitzer, Inc. (b. 1847).
  • 2011 – Jimmy Savile, English radio and television host, nonce (b. 1926).

The Godfather of Bungee

The maverick godfather of bungee jumping, who took the world’s first leap clutching a bottle of champagne and without testing the rope, has died peacefully in his bed. 

Born in 1945 as the eldest of seven children, David Kirke birthed the worldwide phenomenon some 34 years later on April Fool’s Day, when, dressed in a top hat and fresh from all-night party, he and his friends decided to bungee jump from Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. 

Describing Kirke as an “anarchic buccaneer” who was “Byronesque in thrall of living life to the full”, a friend of the family told The Independent that the septuagenarian “would have been shocked that he died quietly in his own bed”. 

But while undoubtedly his most influential exploit, bungee jumping was but one extraordinary stunt pioneered by Kirke and his friends in the name of good fun. 

Against the bleak backdrop of 1970s Britain, Kirke and several friends co-founded the Dangerous Sports Club, a group largely based in Oxford and London that gained notable attention in the ensuing decade for their daredevil activities, often donning top hats and coattails, and swigging champagne. 

The idea for their bungee jump had been inspired by a rite of passage on the island of Vanuatu known as “land diving”, which saw young men leap from high towers and use vines to break their fall before landing on the ground. 

While a demonstration of land diving for the late Queen during her visit to the Pacific island in 1974 went fatally wrong, that same year Kirke and his friends decided to attempt a similar feat, instead using elastic ropes used to help fighter jets land on aircraft carriers. 

“We hadn’t tested it, or anything like that,” Kirke told the Bristol Post in 2019. “We were called the Dangerous Sports Club, and testing it first wouldn’t have been particularly dangerous. 

“I was confident though. We had some very clever guys with us – Alan Weston went on to be head of development at Nasa – and they told me it was going to be okay, they had worked out the false extension curves of these ropes.” 

Being the first of his friends to jump that morning, while police officers staking out the bridge on the advice of concerned friends and family members had briefly “wandered off”, Kirke later recalled to ITV: “When the other guys came down, I thought, ‘whoopee, nobody’s dead’. 

“It was a sort of fairly casual easy-going recklessness. American novelists would call it the insouciance of youth, but there it was.”

While police arrested the group and took them to the cells, Kirke recalled that the “bemused” officers had “brought us in the half-drunken bottles of wine we’d left at the bridge,  and we were fined or something”. 

Soon afterwards, the Dangerous Sports Club carried out bungee jumps from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and performed a televised jump from the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado. 

Never lacking in imagination, Kirke and the growing membership of the Dangerous Sports Club would go on to perform a host of mind-bending stunts in locations across the world.

These would include Kirke sliding down the slopes of Saint-Moritz on a grand piano and an aborted bid to fly a car across Tower Bridge’s open drawbridge.

“The DSC began when I went with a fellow Oxford graduate chum, called Ed Hulton, to Switzerland to watch the Cresta Run and the bobsleigh,” Kirke told The Flying Monkeys in 1998. 

“We’d previously built a hang-glider from a 1903 design, which had crashed and smashed to pieces so we wanted to try the Cresta and the bobsleigh. We found they were a bit exaggerated so we thought we’d start something new.”

Members of the group catapulted themselves off cliffs, jumped off Cheddar Gorge, and hang-glided into 5,000ft of cloud over Mount Kilimanjaro.

“It was all just a giggle. We were the first people to ever fly off Mount Olympus on a hang glider,” said Kirke, whose father was a schoolmaster and mother was a concert pianist.

“It was amazing. We were standing at the top of the home of the Gods and as I flew down I asked myself, ‘Is this better than sex?’ It possibly is but may not be quite as good as the best passage in a Joseph Conrad novel’.”

While the club’s membership peaked in the 1980s, Kirke and his friends continued to push boundaries. In 1986, he was sponsored by Foster’s lager to fly across the Channel tied to a kangaroo-shaped cluster of helium balloons, leading to him being prosecuted for flying without a pilot’s licence. 

In a more tragic turn of events, two of Kirke’s friends were charged with manslaughter and later acquitted over the death of 19-year-old Oxford biochemistry student Kostadin Yankov, who died in 2002 after volunteering to be launched from a trebuchet and missing the safety net.

While not personally involved in the case, Kirke told the Flying Monkeys in February 2004 that it was “an extraordinary test case, about the right to experiment, at personal risk, versus social responsibility”.

Himself a student of psychology and philosophy, Kirke said: “We’re interested in new things. You make a fool of yourself, your girlfriend leaves you, you lose money, but you may have advanced things a tiny little half-inch. It’s a vocation, strangely enough, not that different from a Catholic priest.”

On Sunday, a friend of the family told The Flying Monkeys: “David upturned apple carts, always. He wanted to do things that diverted and disrupted and stretched imagination. He dared and he sometimes dare-devilled and paid the price. 

“What was non-negotiable was loyalty to his friends, and an unmovable desire to make art and literature pivotal to adventure and life.

“He was an anarchic buccaneer who left the world suddenly but he bequeathed a high bar for stretching imagination and adventure; he was Byronesque in thrall to living life to the full. He would have been shocked that he died quietly in his own bed.”

Last Week’s Birthdays

Winona Ryder (52), Rufus Sewell (56), Cleopatra Coleman (36), Ben Foster (43), Richard Dreyfuss (76), Dan Castellaneta (66), Joaquin Phoenix (49), Annie Potts (71), Julia Roberts (56), Gwendoline Christie (45), Matt Smith (41), Caitlyn Jenner (74), John Cleese (84), Robert Picardo (70), Kelly Osbourne (39), Cary Elwes (61), Seth MacFarlane (50), Jon Heder (46), Tom Cavanagh (60), Keith Urban (56), Katy Perry (39), Glynis Barber (68), Nancy Cartwright (66), Kevin Kline (76), F. Murray Abraham (84), Ryan Reynolds (47), Emilia Clarke (37), Sam Raimi (64), and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (64).


Dead Pool 22nd October 2023

Lets dish out the points!!! With Bobby Charlton kicking his last ball, Iwan, Shân, Mark and Fiona get 64 points, however Debbie gets 164 points for listing him as a Cert. Well done everyone! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sam Neill has been warned by doctors that his cancer treatment drug will stop working at some point, the actor said as he provided a health update months after revealing that he had been diagnosed with stage-three blood cancer. Earlier this year, the Jurassic Park star released his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?, in which he revealed that he was being treated for Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma. At the time, Neill shared that he had originally undergone chemotherapy, but that the cancer had soon stopped responding. He then went onto an experimental anti-cancer drug. In a new interview, Neill, 76, shared that he’d upped his dosage of the “grim and depressing” drug from once a month to every two weeks. However, he said, he has now been in remission for 12 months. Neill told the Flying Monkeys that while he would be on the treatment indefinitely, doctors have told him that, at some point, it will stop working. “I’m prepared for that,” he said, adding that he is “not remotely afraid” of death. The star said that he had first found lumps in his neck in early 2022, and soon learnt that he had cancer. “I started to look at my life and realise how immensely grateful I am for so much of it,” Neill said. “I started to think I better write some of this down because I’m not sure how long I have to live. I was running against the clock.” First sharing his cancer diagnosis in March, the New Zealand actor – who is best known for playing palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic Park franchise – said that dying would “annoy” him. “I’d really like another decade or two, you know?” he said. “We’ve built all these lovely terraces, we’ve got these olive trees and cypresses, and I want to be around to see it all mature. And I’ve got my lovely little grandchildren. I want to see them get big. But as for the dying? I couldn’t care less.” In an interview with the Flying Monkeys earlier this year, however, Neill threw out the idea of retiring. “The idea of giving up my day job? Intolerable!” he said. “I love acting. It’s really good for me to keep walking onto new sets with young actors and all that stimulation. New words, new ideas, there’s nothing like it. I never want to give that up. The idea of retirement, of having to play golf, fills me with untold dread,” he said.  

Slade star Noddy Holder has revealed he has been battling throat cancer for five years and was given six months to live when he was diagnosed.  His wife Suzan Price, 57, detailed Noddy’s secret health battle in an emotional piece written for Great British Life on Thursday. The musician, 77, started a new trial of chemotherapy which has helped to keep him alive. Suzan wrote: ‘Five years ago we were given the devastating news that he had oesophageal cancer and only had six months to live. I’m sorry if that comes as a bit of a shock; it came as a total bombshell to us too. We coped with it the only way we could, by hunkering down, sticking together and doing everything we could to survive it. We told only immediate close family and friends and I will never apologise to those we did not confide in, only to those who were forced to suffer pain and anguish alongside us as we attempted to navigate our way through this new and horrifying world.’ Suzan married Noddy in 2004 – they have a son called Django. Noddy married dress designer Leandra Russell in 1976 and they had two daughters, Jessica and Charisse. They divorced in 1984. Suzan said the Merry Xmas Everybody singer has managed to keep a positive outlook despite his health woes.  He received treatment at The Christie Hospital in Manchester and underwent a groundbreaking new form of chemotherapy which has helped keep him alive.  Suzan wrote: ‘There were no guarantees, no one knew if it would have any effect, let alone work miracles, but he responded well. As anyone who has received a cancer diagnosis will know, the experts never like to use the word “cure”, but here we are five years later and he’s feeling good and looking great.’ Noddy has been in fine form and was able to perform on stage this summer after being invited on stage by Cheshire musician Tom Seals.  Slade earned themselves six UK Number One singles during their 25-year career. Their biggest hit was Merry Christmas Everybody in 1973, with its memorable chorus. The song is reported to bring in £500,000 in royalties alone each year. 

Former Playboy model Tabby Brown has been laid to rest  after she died aged 38. The model and dancer – who grew up in South London and was said to have dated footballer Mario Balotelli – died suddenly earlier this week, with her agent confirming the news. Brown had worked for Playboy and took part in Channel 5’s reality dating show, The Bachelor, alongside appearing in a plethora of ads – including Canon, Virgin Atlantic, Lynx and AXE. She was reportedly laid to rest on Wednesday, after what her family described as her ‘sudden’ death due to an unexplained ‘heart attack.’ A source close to her agent Richard Pascoe reportedly told the Flying Monkeys: ‘It was her funeral on Wednesday. She was Muslim so the burial was very quick as per their tradition. She died from a heart attack. That’s all we know for the moment. It’s very sad. She was loved and liked by so many people.’ A family member went on to describe her as a ‘beautiful person’ and explained their shock as she was ‘very fit and healthy.’ The funeral, said to have taken place at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park Mosque, had a ‘very large turnout,’ according to her family, who expressed their appreciation for the outpouring of support they’ve received in recent days. Initial reports claimed Brown went out with England footballer Raheem Stirling, but the family have dismissed that, saying they ‘don’t know where that came from.’ News of her death spread on Instagram with shocked friends and family leaving their condolences underneath recent pictures of the late star.

On This Day

  • 1844 – The Millerites (followers of Baptist preacher William Miller) anticipate the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day becomes known as the Great Disappointment.
  • 1910 – Hawley Harvey Crippen (the first felon to be arrested with the help of radio) is convicted of poisoning his wife.
  • 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis: President Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announces that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval “quarantine” of the Communist nation.

Deaths

Last Week’s Birthdays

Bob Odenkirk (61), Christopher Lloyd (85), Jeff Goldblum (71), Derek Jacobi (85), Catherine Deneuve (80), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (48), Kim Kardashian (43), Ken Watanabe (64), Doja Cat (28), Viggo Mortensen (65), Snoop Dogg (52), Rebecca Ferguson (40), John Lithgow (78), Zac Efron (36), Jean-Claude Van Damme (63), Pam Dawber (72), Felicity Jones (40), Michael McKean (76), Mark Gatiss (57), Eminem (51), George Wendt (75), and Tim Robbins (65).


Dead Pool 15th October 2023

Another week flies by, Michael Caine retired, and we all know what happens to active people when they retire…

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Mark Steel has been diagnosed with throat cancer, the stand-up comedian has revealed in a first-person piece published on Monday 9th October. Steel, 63, described the moment his diagnosis was confirmed as “one of the happiest moments in my life” as it preceded an agonising wait for his biopsy results that were initially “lost in transit”. He shared that, while the cancer had spread to his lymph glands, it is “very treatable” and no longer “as final as being beheaded”. Steel added he hopes to return to performing onstage in around six months, in an article first shared on his website. He wrote: “I’m writing this a few days from an operation that I hope will confirm the location of the cancer, from which a programme of treatment can begin. The current estimate is that I should be able to start performing again in about six months.” The English presenter recalled he first noticed how one side of his neck was “looking much bigger than the other” somewhere around the middle of June. “I Googled ‘Why is one side of my neck suddenly much larger than the other?’” he continued. “Most of the answers suggested there’s nothing to worry about “unless it hasn’t gone down after two weeks”. After two weeks I told myself it had sort of gone down, in that it was only a bit bigger.” After an initial consultation with his doctor, Steel was booked in for a scan before being advised to undergo a fine needle aspirational biopsy – as he grappled with the fear that “that’s how cancer starts”. He continued: “A few days later I had a phone appointment with a doctor. He asked if I’d suddenly lost weight, if I had night sweats, couldn’t swallow properly, was out of breath, had blood in my mouth, did I smoke, how much did I drink? These were unsubtle cancer questions, as obvious as a detective leaning towards you in a cell and asking if you have any evidence you were alone at home on the night of the murder.” After his biopsy, Steel was told its results would be shared in “around seven days”, with the podcast host growing more optimistic that the lump wasn’t cancer when he still hadn’t heard back from the doctor’s office in five days. “Several people had told me that if the results were ominous, I would hear quickly. So when five days passed, I felt confident. When it got to 12 days, I rang the hospital cheerily and was told the biopsy was still being checked,” he said. Shortly after, he was informed that the results of his biopsy had been “lost in transit” and he would need to undergo a repeat biopsy to determine what stage of cancer he has. “’Hang on,’ I said, ‘No one has said it’s definitely cancer, are you saying it’s definitely cancer?’ Steel asked a member of the hospital staff.’ After the biopsy was found at a different hospital, Steel learned he had secondary cancer – meaning he had cancer in two places. Eventually, he learned that the primary cancer is a lump in his throat, which he had initially discovered while shaving in June. “The results of the PET scan, the Rolls-Royce of scans, showed there was no cancer in me outside the neck and throat area, so there should be no reason why a combination of treatments wouldn’t cure it all,” he concluded, adding that “it’s a cancer that can be got rid off”.  

Sharon Osbourne has reminded her children of her and husband Ozzy Osbourne’s plan to die by assisted suicide, if their physical and mental health takes a severe decline. The former music manager, 71, initially discussed her end-of-life plans while promoting her 2007 memoir Survivor: My Story – The Next Chapter. In an interview at the time, Sharon said that she and Ozzy had come to the decision to visit a euthanasia facility in Switzerland, where the practice is legal. “Ozzy and I have absolutely come to the same decision,” she told the Flying Monkeys. “We believe 100 per cent in euthanasia so have drawn up plans to go to the assisted suicide flat in Switzerland if we ever have an illness that affects our brains. If Ozzy or I ever got Alzheimer’s, that’s it – we’d be off.” Sharon confirmed that their position on the matter hadn’t changed on the most recent episode of The Osbournes Podcast, hosted alongside Ozzy, 74, daughter Kelly, 38, and son Jack, 37. “Do you remember when Mum and Dad did that interview, talking about how they were gonna go and die through assisted suicide, and we were like ‘What the fuck is this?’” Kelly asked Jack. Jack replied: “They were like, ‘If we get terminally ill, we’re going to go to Switzerland and assisted suicide ourselves.’ Is that still the plan?” “Do you think that we’re gonna suffer?” Sharon asked, before laughing. To Jack’s proposal that “we’re already all suffering”, she continued: “Yes, we all are, but I don’t want it to actually hurt, as well. “Mental suffering is enough pain without physical. So if you’ve got mental and physical, see ya.” She then clarified that if she had the chance to live longer while struggling with mental and physical issues, she’d decide against it. “What if you survived and you can’t wipe your own ass, you’re pissing everywhere, shitting, can’t eat,” Sharon said. “So, what’s different about your life now?” Kelly joked. Sharon’s strong view on having an assisted death is largely influenced by watching her father, music manager Don Arden, suffer from Alzheimer’s disease before his death in 2007. Then, in 2014, Ozzy spoke of his desire to die by medically assisted suicide in the case of any “life-threatening condition.” “If I can’t live my life the way I’m living it now – and I don’t mean financially – then that’s it…Switzerland,” he told the Flying Monkeys. “If I can’t get up and go to the bathroom myself and I’ve got tubes up my ass and an enema in my throat, then I’ve said to Sharon, ‘Just turn the machine off.’ If I had a stroke and was paralysed, I don’t want to be here. I’ve made a will and it’s all going to Sharon if I die before her, so ultimately it will all go to the kids.”  

Dorothy Hoffner, a 104-year-old Chicago woman whose recent skydive could see her certified by Guinness World Records as the oldest person to ever jump from a plane, has died. Hoffner’s close friend, Joe Conant, said she was found dead on Monday morning by staff at the Brookdale Lake View senior living community. Conant said Hoffner apparently died in her sleep on Sunday night. Conant, who is a nurse, said he met Hoffner – whom he called Grandma at her request – several years ago while he was working as a caregiver for another resident at the senior living centre. He said she had amazing energy and remained mentally sharp. “She was indefatigable. She just kept going,” he said Tuesday. “She was not someone who would take naps in the afternoon, or not show up for any function, dinner or anything else. She was always there, fully present. She kept going, always.” On 1st October, Hoffner made a tandem skydive that could land her in the record books as the world’s oldest skydiver. She jumped out of a plane from 13,500ft at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, 85 miles southwest of Chicago. “Age is just a number,” Hoffner told a cheering crowd moments after landing. It was not her first time jumping from a plane – that happened when she was a spry 100 years of age. Conant said he was working through paperwork to ensure that Guinness World Records certifies Hoffner posthumously as the world’s oldest skydiver, but he expects that will take some time. The current record was set in May 2022 by 103-year-old Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson of Sweden. Conant said Hoffner didn’t skydive to break a record. He said she had so thoroughly enjoyed her first jump that she just wanted to do it again. “She had no intention of breaking the record. And she had no interest in any publicity or anything. She wasn’t doing it for any other reason than she wanted to go skydiving,” he said. Skydive Chicago and the United States Parachute Association celebrated Hoffner in a joint statement Tuesday. “We are deeply saddened by Dorothy’s passing and feel honoured to have been a part of making her world-record skydive a reality. Skydiving is an activity that many of us safely tuck away in our bucket lists. But Dorothy reminds us that it’s never too late to take the thrill of a lifetime. We are forever grateful that skydiving was a part of her exciting, well-lived life,” they said. Conant said Hoffner worked for more than four decades as a telephone operator with Illinois Bell, which later became AT&T, and retired 43 years ago. The lifelong Chicago resident never married, and Conant said she had no immediate family members.

On This Day

  • 1888 – The “From Hell” letter allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators. 
  • 1956 – FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, is first shared with the coding community. 
  • 1970 – During the construction of Australia’s West Gate Bridge, a span of the bridge falls and kills 35 workers. The incident is the country’s worst industrial accident to this day

Deaths

  • 1917 – Mata Hari, Dutch dancer and spy (b. 1876). 
  • 1946 – Hermann Göring, German general and politician (b. 1893). 
  • 1964 – Cole Porter, American composer and songwriter (b. 1891). 
  • 2011 – Betty Driver, English actress, singer, and author (b. 1920). 
  • 2021 – David Amess, British politician, M.P. for Southend West (b. 1952). 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Ncuti Gatwa (31), Dominic West (54), Lori Petty (60), Steve Coogan (58), Cliff Richard (83), Sacha Baron Cohen (52), Christopher Judge (59), Himesh Patel (33), Chris Carter (67), Paul Simon (82), Josh Hutcherson (31), Hugh Jackman (55), Hiroyuki Sanada (63), Les Dennis (69), Robin Askwith (73), Angela Rippon (78), Dan Stevens (41), Rose McIver (35), Charles Dance (77), Sarah Lancashire (59), Manu Bennett (54), Martin Kemp (62), Guillermo del Toro (59), Scott Bakula (69), Tony Shalhoub (70), Chris O’Dowd (44), Brandon Routh (44), Brian Blessed (87), Sharon Osbourne (71). 


Dead Pool 8th October 2023

Short and sweet this week, seeing that the notable deaths were a bit thin on the ground.  

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A man has appeared in court after an alleged plot to kidnap Holly Willoughby. Gavin Plumb, a 36-year-old man has been charged over an alleged plot to kidnap and murder the TV personality. On Friday Gavin Plumb, 36, of Potters Field, Harlow, had been charged with soliciting to commit murder and incitement to commit kidnap. Superintendent Tim Tubbs said: “This was an extremely fast paced investigation, with many of our officers and national partners working overnight to secure these charges. The safeguarding of any victim is paramount and we will continue to prioritise this as the investigation proceeds.” The star’s £3 million home in London is currently under police guard and she has reported to have been left “shocked and distraught” after learning she was the subject of dark messages that threatened to kidnap the mother-of-three. 

Kevin Spacey was rushed to hospital from a film festival in  Uzbekistan after he felt his entire left arm ‘go numb for about eight seconds’, it has emerged. The House of Cards star, 64, was feared to have suffered a heart attack but after undergoing a series of tests, including an MRI, was given the all-clear by doctors. He fell ill in the ancient city of Samarkand on Monday while on a tour of the Afrasiyab Museum and was rushed to the Innova Diagnostic Clinic where he was ‘treated professionally by doctors and staff’. Mr Spacey later returned to the Tashkent International Film Festival, appeared on stage and told the audience his health was ‘normal’. The Oscar-winning actor added that the incident ‘made me really take a moment and think about how fragile life is’. Mr Spacey talked about his ‘unexpected’ health scare during his speech at the festival’s closing ceremony on Monday, festival organisers revealed. ‘I was looking at these extraordinary murals on the walls and I suddenly felt my entire left arm go numb for about eight seconds,’ he told the crowd. ‘I shook it off, but I immediately told the people I was with and we went immediately to the medical centre.’ He shared how he spent the afternoon undergoing a ‘variety of tests’, adding that ultimately ‘everything turned out to be completely normal’. The actor said he is ‘grateful’ that it was not ‘anything more serious’, adding that he was ‘pleasantly surprised’ that Samarkand had ‘such qualified doctors’. ‘Human life is very fragile and short, so everyone should live together and support each other,’ he told the audience.

Lady Cathy Ferguson, the wife of the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and the woman he called his “bedrock”, has died at the age of 84. A Glasgow native, Cathy Holding met her husband-to-be while they were working together in a typewriter factory in 1964. They were married two years later and went on to raise three children and 12 grandchildren over the course a relationship that endured for more than half a century. The Ferguson family confirmed the news in a statement released on Friday afternoon. “We are deeply saddened to confirm the passing yesterday of Lady Cathy Ferguson, survived by her husband, three sons, two sisters, 12 grandchildren and one great-grandchild,” the statement read. “The family asks for privacy at this time.” Lady Ferguson once said she had feared that the man who went on to become the most successful manager in the history of British football was a “thug” when she first met him, as he was sporting a plaster on his face due to a football injury. She also recalled their first date, a trip to the cinema and a gift of a box of liquorice allsorts “of which he ate all of them”. A Manchester United club statement said: “Everyone at Manchester United sends our heartfelt condolences to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family … Lady Cathy was a beloved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great-grandmother, and a tower of strength for Sir Alex throughout his career.”

On This Day

  • 2005 – The 7.6 Mw  Kashmir earthquake leaves 86,000–87,351 people dead, 69,000–75,266 injured, and 2.8 million homeless.
  • 2014 – Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola, dies.
  • 2016 – In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the death toll rises to nearly 900.

Deaths

  • 1967 – Clement Attlee, English politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1883). 
  • 2002 – Phyllis Calvert, English actress (b. 1915).
  • 2015 – Jim Diamond, Scottish singer-songwriter (b. 1951).

Last Week’s Birthdays

Matt Damon (53), Sigourney Weaver (74), Chevy Chase (80), Kristanna Loken (44), Ardal O’Hanlon (58), Paul Hogan (84), R.L. Stine (80), Bruno Mars (38), Aaron & Shawn Ashmore (44), Simon Cowell (64), Tim Minchin (48), Elisabeth Shue (60), Emily Mortimer (52), Ioan Gruffudd (50), Britt Ekland (81), Kate Winslet (48), Guy Pearce (56), Karen Allen (72), Jesse Eisenberg (40), Diane Morgan (48), Clive Barker (71), Stephanie Cole (82), Neil deGrasse Tyson (65), Alicia Silverstone (47), Dakota Johnson (34), Susan Sarandon (77), Christoph Waltz (67), Melissa Benoist (35), Liev Schreiber (56), Nick Mohammed (43), Neve Campbell (50), Lena Headey (50), Clive Owen (59), Seann William Scott (47), Gwen Stefani (54), Tommy Lee (61), Lorraine Bracco (69), Avery Brooks (75), and Sting (72).


Dead Pool 1st October 2023

Last week brings us the passing of two great actors and a senseless felling of a wonderful tree. Plus some points to award! Well done Vic, 68 points for correctly guessing Michael Gambon would pass away this year. 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Sir Billy Connolly’s wife Pamela Stephenson has spoken out about the star’s health troubles, revealing the comic had ‘a couple of serious falls’ after they noticed his balance was deteriorating. Scottish comedian Sir Billy, 80, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a decade ago on the same day he found out he had prostate cancer, for which he was later given the all clear. The comic spoke about the degenerative disease and said: ‘It’s very difficult to see the progression exactly, because a lot of things come and go. Recently I’ve noticed a deterioration in my balance. That was never such a problem before, but in the last year that has come and it has stayed. For some reason, I thought it would go away, because a lot of symptoms have come and gone away … just to defy the symptom spotters. The shaking has reappeared…’ Pamela added: ‘The balance issue has been most significant, hasn’t it? Especially since, unfortunately, it resulted in you having a couple of serious falls …’ Sir Billy said he had a fall which reminded him of a joke he used to make on stay, explaining: ‘I used to say, “I fell out of bed, but luckily my face broke my fall…”‘ However, the funnyman admitted his falls add ‘to the list of things that hold me back’. He said he often wants to go for a walk but after 50 yards he feels tired and wants to return home, admitting he’s ‘being encroached upon by this disease’. ‘It’s creeping up behind me and stopping me doing things. It’s a cruel disease,’ he said. While Pamela said the disease has been ‘pretty slow-moving’, Sir Billy insists it ‘doesn’t make it any more pleasant’. The couple spoke about how their relationship has changed since the comedian was diagnosed and Sir Billy said that his wife now dresses him in the morning, mentioning that he has ask for lifts everywhere as he is unable to drive anymore. ‘I don’t let the Parkinson’s dictate who I am – I just get on with it. I’ve had a very successful career and I have no regrets at all.’  

Bob Mortimer will be absent from this Sunday’s episode of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing. In the forthcoming penultimate episode of series six, Mortimer, 64, calls his costar Paul Whitehouse, 65, to let him know that he can’t make the trip due to illness. In his place, Mortimer has arranged for fellow comedian Lee Mack, 55, to fill in. The fishing then takes place on the tidal outcrop of Burgh Island on the south coast of Devon. Gone Fishing follows the pair of comedians on various fishing trips around the UK as the pair discuss their respective heart problems. Mortimer had a triple heart bypass operation in 2015 after he was diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Whitehouse, who was also diagnosed with heart disease, has had three stents inserted to help widen his coronary arteries. The series was born when Whitehouse, who has known Mortimer for over 30 years, invited his longtime friend fishing to get him out of the house after his heart surgery. “That’s how we sold the show. We’ve got this show and we’ve both got heart disease, so with a bit of luck, the jeopardy is that one of us will drop dead on the riverbank, and that’s TV gold. So far it hasn’t happened. We keep dragging it out.”  

Sophia Loren has been rushed to hospital to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a bad fall at her home in Geneva, Switzerland. The Hollywood star, 89, was left with several fractures to her hip and and a series fractures to her femur after she fell in the bathroom of her home this weekend. Sophia’s sons, Carlo Jr., 55, and Edoardo, 50, have been by her side throughout the ordeal and her time in hospital. News about Sophia’s condition was shared by the team at her self-titled restaurant chain, who shared the news on their Instagram page. The statement read: ‘A fall at her home in Geneva today caused Ms Loren hip fractures. Operated with a positive outcome, she will now have to observe a short period of recovery and follow a road to rehabilitation. Thankfully everything worked out for the best and the Lady will be back with us very soon. The whole team at Sophia Loren Restaurant takes this opportunity to wish her a speedy recovery.’ The post announcing Sophia’s surgery news was flooded with support from her devoted fans, wishing the star a speedy recovery. Sophia had been due to open a fourth branch of her restaurant chain in Bari, Italy, on Tuesday. The Italian native was also due to receive honorary citizenship from the city. The events have been cancelled along with her other upcoming public engagements, according to the publication.  Sophia most recently appeared in the 2020 Netflix film The Life Ahead, directed by her son Edoardo, which won her a David di Donatello Award for best actress. Sophia plays a Holocaust survivor who bonds with a 12-year-old Nigerian immigrant. Speaking to Ew.com, she explained: ‘I love cinema so much. I want to keep doing it forever. I know it’s difficult to find good stories, but sometimes I fall in love with the right ones. I intend to make movies forever.’  Earlier this year, Sophia was named as one of the AFT 50 greatest movies of classical Hollywood cinema. She is the only living actress on the list.

On This Day

  • 1861 – Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is published, going on to sell 60,000 copies in its first year and remaining in print until the present day.
  • 1908 – Ford Model T automobiles are offered for sale at a price of $825.
  • 1964 – Japanese Shinkansen (“bullet trains”) begin high-speed rail service from Tokyo to Osaka. 60 years later, the UK are still struggling to complete HS2.
  • 1969 – Concorde breaks the sound barrier for the first time.
  • 1982 – Sony and Phillips launch the compact disc in Japan; on the same day, Sony releases the model CDP-101 compact disc player, the first player of its kind.
  • 1989 – Denmark introduces the world’s first legal same-sex registered partnerships.
  • 2017 – Fifty-eight people are killed and 869 others injured in a mass shooting at a country music festival at the Las Vegas Strip in the United States; the gunman, Stephen Paddock, later commits suicide.

Deaths

  • 1985 – E. B. White, American essayist and journalist (b. 1899).
  • 2013 – Tom Clancy, American author (b. 1947).
  • 2014 – Lynsey de Paul, English singer-songwriter, pianist, and actress (b. 1948).

The Last Godfather

Ruthless mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro who spent 30 years on the run for allegedly murdering 50 people including a boy dissolved in acid has died of cancer aged 61 – eight months after he was captured by Italian police.

The mafia godfather, who once boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery with his victims’, was suffering from colon cancer when he was captured by armed police at a medical facility in Palermo, Sicily, in January. But his condition deteriorated in recent weeks and he was transferred to a hospital from the maximum-security prison in L’Aquila in central Italy where he was initially held.

Messina Denaro, dubbed the ‘last godfather’ of the notorious Cosa Nostra gang and nicknamed ‘The Devil’ following a string of brutal murders, died in the hospital, L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi.

The mafioso had been forced into hiding 30 years ago after he ordered a series of deadly attacks, including the murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as a series of car bombs in Florence, Milan and Rome that left 10 people dead and 93 injured in 1993.

And children were not off limits for Messina Denaro. In the same year, ‘The Devil’ helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was brutally strangled to death and his body dissolved in acid.

L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi confirmed the mobster’s death in hospital ‘following a worsening of his illness’ in a statement to the ANSA news agency, which had earlier broken the news. His death ‘puts the end to a story of violence and blood’, Biondi said, thanking prison and hospital staff for their ‘professionalism and humanity’. It was ‘the epilogue of an existence lived without remorse or repentance, a painful chapter of the recent history of our nation’. 

Denaro is not believed to have given any information to the police after he was seized outside a private health clinic in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, on January 16th. Denaro had requested no aggressive medical treatment, ANSA reported, adding that medics had stopped feeding him after he was declared to be in irreversible coma.

According to medical records leaked to the Italian media, he underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2020 and 2022 under a false name. A doctor at the Palermo clinic told La Repubblica newspaper that Messina Denaro’s health had worsened significantly in the months leading up to his capture.

Preparations are already under way for his burial in the family tomb in his hometown of Castelvetrano alongside his father, Don Ciccio, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

Messina Denaro was captured in January when armed police swarmed the private medical facility in Palermo where he was undergoing treatment. The then 60-year-old had tried to outrun the police officers on foot and pushed his way through a series of hospital doors – but he only made it as far as a bar that was part of the same building where he had been seeing doctors for colon cancer checks. As the officers cornered the frail mafia boss, Messina Denaro meekly gave them his name before they bundled him into a waiting black minivan in front of shocked patients and medical staff.

The Mafia boss, who had not been seen in public for three decades, was pictured sitting in a police van wearing a brown leather shearling jacket, a white skull cap and his trademark tinted glasses shortly after his arrest.

A trigger man who once reportedly boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery’ with his victims, Messina Denaro was a leading figure in Cosa Nostra, the real-life Sicilian crime syndicate depicted in the Godfather movies. 

For a mafia boss who evaded arrest for over 30 years, it was his frequent visits to a private clinic that led to his arrest. Messina Denaro had been sitting in the private clinic waiting to see a doctor for colon cancer tests when he was surrounded and chased by a swarm of armed police officers. A member of staff who asked to remain anonymous told local media at the time: ‘He’d been coming here on and off for about a year. He’d had an operation a few months ago and was back for more tests and chemotherapy. When I turned up for work this morning at 6am it was all quiet and then he arrived to do his Covid test. A few minutes later a police officer wearing full body armour as if he was going to war came in and said he was looking for a patient. He said to remain calm and that armed officers were on every floor of the clinic. We had no idea who he was or what his background was. The guy actually managed to get out and ran into a local bar but they tracked him down and that’s when all hell broke loose.’ 

As news of his arrest spread across Palermo, local residents had emerged to applaud and shake the hands of the Italian paramilitary police officers involved in the operation. The residents were seen cheering and wiping away tears as they felt a wave of relief that Messina Denaro, who had coordinated years of terror in Italy, had finally been detained. 

Messina Denaro lived a playboy lifestyle. He was known for driving expensive cars and for having a taste for wearing finely tailored suits and Rolex watches. As a rising-star in the mafia in the 1980s, he dressed in designer brands Versace and Armani. His womanising ways raised eyebrows among the clans more conservative members. He fathered a daughter in 1995, which was seen as not being in keeping with Cosa Nostra’s more traditional family values.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Brie Larson (34), Rupert Friend (42), Julie Andrews (88), Zach Galifianakis (54), Randy Quaid (73), Larry Lamb (76), Monica Bellucci (59), Ezra Miller (31), Kieran Culkin (41), Omid Djalili (58), Al Leong (71), Zachary Levi (43), Ian McShane (81), Erika Eleniak (54), Mackenzie Crook (52), Matt & Luke Goss (55), Naomi Watts (55), Hilary Duff (36), Jeffrey Jones (77), Brigitte Bardot (89), Dita Von Teese (51), Bam Margera (44), Jenna Ortega (21), Gwyneth Paltrow (51), Indira Varma (50), Denis Lawson (76), Avril Lavigne (39), Linda Hamilton (67), Lysette Anthony (60), Ricky Tomlinson (84), Serena Williams (42), Will Smith (55), Catherine Zeta-Jones (54), Mark Hamill (72), Bella Ramsey (20), Michael Douglas (79), Michael Madsen (66), and Heather Locklear (62).