We’re finally up and running!!! With the passing of the worlds oldest person, Lucile Randon, I can award 182 points to Abi, Ceri, Dave, Paul C. And 82 points to Laura and Julia. Well done all of you for maximising the points available, she was only worth 32 points unless you listed her as one of your Big Three, plus the 1st Death of the Year bonus really boosted your scores. Commiserations to Martin, with the death of David Crosby, he missed out on the 1st Death Bonus by one day! However 69 points, better than a kick in the teeth!
Also a very big thank you to all of you who have donated to keep us up and running for another year, we have hit our goal, and for the first time ever broken even 🙂 If anyone else feels the need to contribute, the donations page will be open until the end of January, no harm in being in profit for once!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Bruce Gowers, 82, British television and music video director (“Bohemian Rhapsody“, “Stayin’ Alive“, “1999“), Emmy winner (2009).
- Gina Lollobrigida, 95, Italian actress (Bread, Love and Dreams, Come September, The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
- Van Conner, 55, American bass guitarist (Screaming Trees), pneumonia.
- Lucile Randon, 118, French supercentenarian, world’s oldest living person (since 2022).
- David Crosby, 81, American singer (The Byrds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) and songwriter (“Guinnevere“).
- David Sutherland, 89, Scottish illustrator and comics artist (The Beano, Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, The Bash Street Kids).
In Other News
Julian Sands, a prolific actor with more than 150 screen credits, has gone missing while hiking. The British star is believed to have been somewhere on the popular Baldy Bowl Trail in California, which climbs 3,900 feet over 4.5 miles to the highest summit in the San Gabriel Mountains. His phone appears to show he was on the move heading into the mountainous area on the day he was reported missing. The search has been ramped up of late as officials use mobile phone forensics to help pinpoint the location of the actor. Sands, 65, was reported missing during a hiking trip in the Baldy Bowl area last Friday, as searches by local authorities continue by “helicopter and drones when weather permits”. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department previously said that phone pings showed the British actor to be heading to the Mount Baldy area two days after he was first reported missing. It comes after The Flying Monkeys revealed images sent from Sands to his grandson Billy in September, which show the father-of-three mountaineering. The Flying Monkeys understands that Sands’ son Henry joined the search, retracing the route his father took, with the assistance of an experienced climber.
Christy Dignam, the lead singer of Irish rock band Aslan, is receiving palliative care at home, his family has confirmed. The 62-year-old Dubliner is being treated for amyloidosis, which causes an abnormal protein to build up in the body, triggering organ failure. He was admitted to hospital in July 2022 and received six months of treatment. His family shared an update on Monday “in response to the large number of media enquiries received”. A statement read: “Since December, Christy has been at home and is being cared for lovingly by family, with the support of a palliative care team. The Dignam family thanks everyone for keeping Christy in their thoughts and prayers and asks for privacy at this time.” Aslan formed in Dublin in 1982 and had several hit records including Crazy World and This Is. The band was due to tour the Republic of Ireland this summer as well as performing in Londonderry’s Millennium Forum on 15th July. But in statement on their social media pages, the other Aslan members said they were “devastated that all future shows will be cancelled” due to Dignam’s ill-health. “As always, Christy’s health has been, and is, our priority. It has been a tough road for all of us but most of all Christy,” they said. “There are no words to describe how we are feeling with the update that has been shared by Christy’s family.” Over the past few years, Dignam has spoken openly about his physical and mental health struggles. Prior to be being diagnosed with amyloidosis, he was treated for heroin addition. It contributed to Dignam being fired from Aslan in the late 1980s. The group reformed for a one-off gig in 1993 and ending up recording several more albums and regularly touring around Ireland.
The death of a farmer who appeared on BBC documentary This Farming Life will be probed by a sheriff after he was killed by one of his own cows. Derek Roan, 71, died in hospital after a horror incident at his family farm in southern Scotland last year. Emergency crews were called to the scene at Barnbarroch Farm, near Dalbeattie, Dumfries and Galloway, on June 18th and took the grandfather-of-six to Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, but he died from his injuries. A Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) will now examine the circumstances around Mr Roan’s death. His loved ones confirmed his death and spoke of their shock in a statement issued via the family firm Roan’s Dairy, saying he was a ‘beloved husband’ to wife Kathleen and a ‘devoted father’ to their three children. They said: ‘We are totally devastated and still in shock at what has happened and it will take some time for us to come to terms of not having him around. ‘All Derek’s hard work was for his two passions in life – his family and his farms. ‘Derek was well known within the farming community and many other circles. He will be sadly missed by all.’ Mr Roan, who appeared in the BBC documentary about farming, was chairman of Colvend and Southwick Community Council. Vice-chairman Simon Pain said at the time his friend had died from a ‘stock-related injury’ and said the farmer was ‘well liked and well respected in our community’, describing him as a ‘leading light’. The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation following the tragedy. Police Scotland said they were not treating the death as suspicious, and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
Jeremy Renner has shared more about the extent of his injuries from his snowplough accident, as he revealed that he broke more than 30 bones earlier this month. On 1st January, the Marvel star was airlifted to hospital with “blunt chest trauma and orthopaedic injuries”, after he was accidentally run over by his own plough machine. Renner, 52, has posted a number of updates to Instagram from his hospital bed since then. On Saturday, he shared a photo showing a masked man handling his leg during treatment. “Morning workouts, resolutions all changed this particular new year,” he wrote. “Spawned from tragedy for my entire family, and quickly focused into uniting actionable love.” Renner went on to thank his fans for their “messages and thoughtfulness for my family and I”, adding: “Much love and appreciation to you all. These 30-plus broken bones will mend, grow stronger, just like the love and bond with family and friends deepens. Love and blessings to you all.” His Marvel co-star Chris Hemsworth commented: “You’re a champion mate! We love you.”
On This Day
- 1879 – The Battle of Rorke’s Drift, during the Anglo-Zulu War results in a British victory.
- 1901 – Edward VII is proclaimed King of the United Kingdom after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.
- 1905 – Bloody Sunday in Saint Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.
- 1915 – Over 600 people are killed in Guadalajara, Mexico, when a train plunges off the tracks into a deep canyon.
- 1924 – Ramsay MacDonald becomes the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
- 1973 – The Supreme Court of the United States delivers its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalising elective abortion in all fifty states.
- 1984 – The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularise the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, is introduced during a Super Bowl XVIII television commercial.
- 1901 – Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom (b. 1819).
- 1909 – Emil Erlenmeyer, German chemist and academic (b. 1825).
- 1973 – Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. politician, 36th President of the United States (b. 1908).
- 1994 – Telly Savalas, American actor (b. 1922).
- 2008 – Heath Ledger, Australian actor and director (b. 1979).
- 2010 – Jean Simmons, English-American actress (b. 1929).
- 2016 – Cecil Parkinson, English politician (b. 1931).
- 2018 – Ursula K. Le Guin, American sci-fi and fantasy novelist (b. 1929).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Linda Blair (64), Geena Davis (67), Martin Shaw (78), Emma Bunton (47), David Lynch (77), Rainn Wilson (57), Tom Baker (89), Bill Maher (67), Katey Sagal (69) Dolly Parton (77), Tippi Hedren (93), Rob Delaney (46), Michael Crawford (81), Dave Bautista (54), Kevin Costner (68), Mark Rylance (63), Jason Segel (43), Jane Horrocks (59), Samantha Mumba (40), Jim Carrey (61), Zooey Deschanel (43), James Earl Jones (92), Kelly Marie Tran (34), Lin-Manuel Miranda (43), John Carpenter (75), and Sade (64).
On another note, the donations page is still open, we’re still slightly short of breaking even, so if anyone could spare a couple of quid before the end of the month, it would be appreciated. And of course, thank you to everyone who has donated so far, you’re all legends!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Adam Rich, 54, American actor (Eight Is Enough, Dungeons & Dragons, The Devil and Max Devlin).
- Dorothy Tristan, 88, American actress (Klute, Scarecrow) and screenwriter (Weeds).
- Jorge Ballesteros, 39, Spanish sports shooter, shot.
- George Pell, 81, Australian Roman Catholic cardinal, archbishop of Melbourne (1996–2001) and Sydney (2001–2014), complications from hip surgery.
- Jeff Beck, 78, British Hall of Fame guitarist (The Yardbirds, The Jeff Beck Group), six-time Grammy winner, bacterial meningitis.
- Donald Blom, 73, American murderer.
- Constantine II, 82, Greek monarch and sailor, king (1964–1973) and Olympic champion (1960), stroke.
- Carole Cook, 98, American actress (The Lucy Show, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, Sixteen Candles), heart failure.
- Waffler69, 33, American TikTok personality, heart attack.
- Robbie Bachman, 69, Canadian drummer (Bachman-Turner Overdrive).
- Lisa Marie Presley, 54, American singer-songwriter (“Lights Out“, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet“), cardiac arrest.
- Robbie Knievel, 60, American daredevil and stuntman, pancreatic cancer.
In Other News
Adele Roberts has updated fans on her recovery from bowel cancer. Posting a selfie to Instagram on Monday, the radio host posed with a thumbs up from a hospital bed. The 43-year-old announced that she was undergoing treatment for stage two bowel cancer in October 2021. Eight months later, in June 2022, she revealed she was cancer free. In her most recent update, Roberts shared her reasons for undergoing “post bowel cancer surgery”. “Today was the first step in hopefully getting my colon working again (post bowel cancer surgery),” she wrote in the caption. “I may be down a rectum but I think there’s enough left to blag it and get things moving again.” The former Big Brother contestant went on to praise the NHS and the team who looked after her during her surgery. “Yet again, the level of care I’ve received from the @nhs angels is awesome. Dr Bhan and team I love you,” she said. “The fabulous Bola along with the nurses and porters who looked after me post surgery thank you for helping me and I hope my anaesthetic chat wasn’t too random”. She continued by thanking those who are making advances in medical sciences in the UK. “Thank you to everyone who helps make that happen,” she said. “You do us proud.” “The fact I can recover from bowel cancer, have a stoma, start getting my life back on track and today a balloon up my bum to sort out my stricture is just marvellous. What a time to be alive?!” The BBC Radio 1 DJ gave a special mention to her stoma – who she has nicknamed “Audrey” – for keeping her ”happy, healthy, alive and kicking”. A stoma allows urine and faeces to be diverted out of the body through an opening in the abdomen into a collection bag. “I think there’ll be a few more surgeries for me this year… but do you know what, I’m just so happy they can help me and there’s hope,” continued Roberts. “I might be able to go to the toilet the ‘old fashioned way’ one day in the future. Might even get inspired by all the balloons and have a grand re-opening party.”
Dancer and choreographer Michael Flatley, famous for his Irish production Riverdance, has had surgery for an “aggressive form of cancer”. A post on his Instagram page said he was “in the care of an excellent team of doctors”, adding no further comments would be made. Flatley, 64, shot to fame with Riverdance, which first appeared during the 1994 Eurovision interval in Dublin, lasting seven minutes. Its success at Eurovision, where it teamed Irish dancers with music by Bill Whelan, saw it extended into a full-length show which opened at Dublin’s Point Theatre the following year. The Riverdance 25th anniversary website suggests that since its debut, more than three billion people worldwide have seen the show on television. Flatley, born to an Irish-American family in Chicago, has also created, produced and directed productions including Feet Of Flames and Celtic Tiger. He has previously had a diagnosis of facial skin cancer which he was treated for in 2003. He also directed and starred in the spy thriller film Blackbird, which did not receive many positive reviews. The film also stars Eric Roberts, Patrick Bergin and Ian Beattie, Flatley plays former MI6 operative Victor Blackley, who returns to the world of espionage, having left it behind. Last year Flatley also launched a Lord Of The Dance tour, which helped raise money for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine.
Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro was admitted to a hospital in Florida with intestinal discomfort due to a stabbing he suffered during the 2018 election campaign, his wife Michelle Bolsonaro said on Monday on Instagram. In Brazil, Dr. Antonio Luiz Macedo, who has been treating Bolsonaro since the stabbing, said he has an intestinal subocclusion, or blockage, but was unlikely to need surgery. “It is not a serious case,” he told the Flying Monkeys. Earlier, a source close to his family said Bolsonaro’s condition was “not worrying.” Brazilian newspaper O Globo had reported earlier in the day that Bolsonaro had been suffering from abdominal pain. Bolsonaro has undergone six surgeries since his stabbing, four of them directly linked to the attack. He also has had cases of bowel adhesions and obstructions in the last few years. On Sunday, Bolsonaro supporters in Brazil’s capital launched the worst attack on state institutions since the country’s return to democracy in the 1980s. His successor as president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who took office on Jan.1st, blamed Bolsonaro for inflaming his supporters with a campaign of baseless allegations about election fraud. Bolsonaro flew to Florida 48 hours before his term ended.
Only Fools and Horses star Patrick Murray has revealed that he has had part of his liver and a tumour removed following his second cancer diagnosis. The 66-year-old actor, best known for playing Mickey Pearce in the hit BBC comedy, previously opened up about how his lung cancer had been cured in May last year. However, he took to Twitter to share the news that he had another form of cancer and that he had half of his liver and a tumour removed. He tweeted: “I am going home today. Minus half a liver and a tumour that the wonderful Prof Heaton removed last week. I kept this under my hat that they’d discovered another primary cancer last year. I am a two person, that’s for sure. High fives to all at Kings College Hospital.” It comes after Patrick revealed last year that he had discovered a cancerous lung tumour in its early stages and underwent surgery to remove it, as well as undergoing chemotherapy. More scans found another tumour in his liver that was treatable. He received transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (Tace), a minimally invasive procedure performed in interventional radiology to restrict a tumour’s blood supply. Sharing a health update on Twitter, Patrick explained at the time: “Thanks again for all your lovely messages. As you may know, I was diagnosed with lung cancer last July. After an op in Oct to remove the tumour I had chemo to help prevent the cancer returning. During this chemo, another tumour was discovered in my liver. Luckily for me this cancer was unconnected to the lung cancer and was also treatable. I had a procedure called Tace to deal with this. Last Friday l saw my oncologist. She told me the lung cancer was cured and that the tumour in my liver was shrinking. It’s not over yet, but as you can imagine I am over the moon with this latest news.” He went on to thank the ‘brilliant’ doctors and nurses of the NHS for all that they have done. “I will hopefully be there at next years convention,” he said of the annual Only Fools And Horses convention.
On This Day
- 1559 – Elizabeth I is crowned Queen of England and Ireland in Westminster Abbey, London.
- 1867 – Forty people die when ice covering the boating lake at Regent’s Park, London, collapses.
- 1919 – Great Molasses Flood: A wave of molasses released from an exploding storage tank sweeps through Boston, Massachusetts, killing 21 and injuring 150.
- 1947 – The Black Dahlia murder: The dismembered corpse of Elizabeth Short was found in Los Angeles.
- 1976 – Gerald Ford‘s would-be assassin, Sara Jane Moore, is sentenced to life in prison.
- 2001 – Wikipedia, a free wiki content encyclopaedia, goes online.
- 2009 – US Airways Flight 1549 ditches safely in the Hudson River after the plane collides with birds less than two minutes after take-off. This becomes known as “The Miracle on the Hudson” as all 155 people on board were rescued.
- 2019 – Theresa May‘s UK government suffers the biggest government defeat in modern times, when 432 MPs voting against the proposed European Union withdrawal agreement, giving her opponents a majority of 230. It doesn’t get any better…
- 1987 – Ray Bolger, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1904).
- 1990 – Gordon Jackson, Scottish-English actor (b. 1923).
- 2011 – Susannah York, English actress and activist (b. 1939).
- 2014 – Roger Lloyd-Pack, English actor (b. 1944).
- 2018 – Dolores O’Riordan, Irish pop singer (b. 1971).
The Gruesome Story of The Black Dahlia
The 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short, also known as the “Black Dahlia,” is one of the oldest cold cases in Los Angeles. Not only was it a horrific crime, but it’s also proven notoriously difficult to solve.
In the decades since the Black Dahlia murder, police, the press, and amateur sleuths alike have all delved deep into this unsolved crime and developed several convincing theories.
Though we may never know who killed the Black Dahlia, poring over the evidence of this case is just as darkly fascinating today as it was in 1947.
On January 15th, 1947, Elizabeth Short’s dead body was found in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Leimert Park. The first person who reported the grisly sight was a mother out for a morning walk with her child.
According to the woman, the way Short’s body had been posed made her think that the corpse was a mannequin at first. But a closer look revealed the true horror of the Black Dahlia crime scene.
The 22-year-old Short had been sliced in two at the waist and completely drained of blood. Some of her organs — such as her intestines — had been removed and neatly placed underneath her buttocks. Pieces of flesh had been cut away from her thighs and breasts. And her stomach was full of faeces, leading some to believe that she’d been forced to eat shit before she was killed.
The most chilling mutilations, however, were the lacerations on her face. The killer had sliced each side of her face from the corners of her mouth to her ears, creating what’s known as a “Glasgow smile.”
Since the body had already been washed clean, Los Angeles Police Department detectives concluded that she must have been killed elsewhere before being dumped in Leimert Park.
Near her body, detectives noted a heel print and a cement sack with traces of blood that had presumably been used to transport her body to the vacant lot.
The LAPD reached out to the FBI to help identify the body by searching their fingerprint database. Short’s fingerprints turned up rather quickly because she had applied for a job as a clerk at the commissary of the U.S. Army’s Camp Cooke in California back in 1943. And then her prints turned up a second time since she had been arrested by the Santa Barbara Police Department for underage drinking — just seven months after she’d applied to the job.
The FBI also had her mugshot from her arrest, which they provided to the press. Before long, the media began reporting every salacious detail they could find about Short.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Short’s mother Phoebe Short didn’t learn of her daughter’s death until reporters from The Los Angeles Examiner telephoned her pretending that Elizabeth had won a beauty contest.
They pumped her for all the details they could get on Elizabeth before revealing the terrible truth. Her daughter had been murdered, and her corpse had been dismembered in unspeakable ways.
As the media learned more about Elizabeth Short’s history, they began to brand her as a sexual deviant. One police report read, “This victim knew at least fifty men at the time of her death and at least twenty-five men had been seen with her in the sixty days preceding her death… She was known as a teaser of men.”
They gave Short the nickname, “The Black Dahlia,” due to her reported preference for wearing a lot of sheer black clothing. This was a reference to the movie The Blue Dahlia, which was out at the time. Some people spread the false rumour that Short was a prostitute, while others baselessly claimed that she liked to tease men because she was a lesbian.
Adding to her mystique, Short was reportedly a Hollywood hopeful. She had moved to Los Angeles just six months before her death and worked as a waitress. Sadly, she had no known acting jobs and her death became her one claim to fame.
But as famous as the case was, authorities had tremendous difficulty figuring out who was behind it. However, members of the media did receive a few clues.
On January 21st, about a week after the body was found, the Examiner received a call from a person claiming to be the murderer, who said he would be sending Short’s belongings in the mail as proof of his claim.
Shortly thereafter on the 24th, the Examiner received a package with Short’s birth certificate, photos, business cards, and an address book with the name Mark Hansen on the cover. Also included was a letter pasted together from newspaper and magazine letter clippings that read, “Los Angeles Examiner and other Los Angeles papers here is Dahlia’s belongings letter to follow.”
All of these items had been wiped down with gasoline, leaving no fingerprints behind. Though a partial fingerprint was found on the envelope, it was damaged in transport and never analysed.
On January 26th, another letter arrived. This handwritten note read, “Here it is. Turning in Wed. January 29th, 10 a.m. Had my fun at police. Black Dahlia Avenger.” The letter included a location. Police waited at the appointed time and place, but the author never showed.
Afterward, the alleged killer sent a note made of letters cut and pasted from magazines to the Examiner that said, “Have changed my mind. You would not give me a square deal. Dahlia killing was justified.”
Yet again, everything sent by the person had been wiped clean with gasoline, so investigators couldn’t lift any fingerprints from the evidence.
At one point, the LAPD had 750 investigators on the case and interviewed more than 150 potential suspects linked to the Black Dahlia killing. Officers heard more than 60 confessions during the initial investigation, but none of them were considered legitimate. Since then, there have been more than 500 confessions, none of which led to anyone being charged.
As time went on and the case went cold, many people assumed that the Black Dahlia murder was a date gone wrong, or that Short had run into a sinister stranger late at night while walking alone.
After over 70 years, the Black Dahlia murder case remains open. But in recent years, a couple of intriguing — and chilling — theories have emerged.
Shortly after his father’s death in 1999, now-retired LAPD detective Steve Hodel was going through his dad’s belongings when he noticed two photos of a woman who bore a striking resemblance to Elizabeth Short.
After discovering these haunting images, Hodel began using the skills he had gained as a policeman to investigate his own deceased father.
Hodel went through newspaper archives and witness interviews from the case, and even filed a Freedom of Information Act to obtain FBI files on the Black Dahlia murder.
He also had a handwriting expert compare samples of his father’s writing to the writing on some of the notes sent to the press from the alleged killer. The analysis found a strong possibility that his father’s handwriting matched, but the results were not conclusive.
On the grislier side, the Black Dahlia crime scene photos showed that Short’s body had been cut in a manner consistent with a hemicorporectomy, a medical procedure that slices the body beneath the lumbar spine. Hodel’s father had been a doctor — who attended medical school when this procedure was being taught in the 1930s.
Additionally, Hodel searched his father’s archives at UCLA, finding a folder full of receipts for contracting work on his childhood home.
In that folder, there was a receipt dated a few days before the murder for a large bag of concrete, the same size, and brand as a concrete bag found near Elizabeth Short’s body.
By the time Hodel began his investigation, many of the police officers who originally worked on the case were already dead. However, he carefully reconstructed conversations these officers had about the case.
Eventually, Hodel compiled all of his evidence into a 2003 bestseller called Black Dahlia Avenger: The True Story.
While fact-checking the book, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez requested official police files from the case and made an important discovery. Shortly after the murder, the LAPD had six main suspects, and George Hodel was on their list.
In fact, he was such a serious suspect that his home was bugged in 1950 so the police could monitor his activities. Much of the audio was innocuous, but one chilling exchange stuck out:
“8:25pm. ‘Woman screamed. Woman screamed again. (It should be noted, the woman not heard before the scream.)’”
Later that day, George Hodel was overheard telling someone, “Realise there was nothing I could do, put a pillow over her head and cover her with a blanket. Get a taxi. Expired 12:59. They thought there was something fishy. Anyway, now they may have figured it out. Killed her.”
He continued, “Supposin’ I did kill the Black Dahlia. They couldn’t prove it now. They can’t talk to my secretary anymore because she’s dead.”
Even after this shocking revelation, which seems to support that George Hodel killed Short — and possibly also his secretary — the Black Dahlia case still hasn’t been officially closed. However, this hasn’t stopped Steve Hodel from investigating his father.
He says he has found details from dozens of other murders that could possibly be connected to his father, implicating him not only as the Black Dahlia murderer but also as a deranged serial killer.
Hodel’s research has even garnered some attention from law enforcement. In 2004, Stephen R. Kay, the head deputy for L.A. County’s district attorney office, said that if George Hodel was still alive he would have enough to indict him for the Elizabeth Short murder.
Though we still don’t know for certain who killed the Black Dahlia, recent theories present compelling cases. And it’s possible that the truth is still out there, just waiting for the right investigation to finally bring it to light.
Last Week’s Birthdays
James Nesbitt (58), Claudia Winkleman (51), Eddie Hall (35), DJ Jazzy Jeff (58), Jason Bateman (54), Kevin Durand (49), Faye Dunaway (82), Carl Weathers (75), Mark Addy (59), Grant Gustin (33), Dave Grohl (54), Ruth Wilson (41), Liam Hemsworth (33), Orlando Bloom (46), Michael Peña (47), Bill Bailey (58), Rob Zombie (58), Howard Stern (69), Melanie C (49), Pixie Lott (32), Jemaine Clement (49), Evan Handler (62), J.K. Simmons (68), Joely Richardson (58), Imelda Staunton (67), James Acaster (38), Catherine Princess of Wales (41), Michelle Forbes (58), and Amber Benson (46).
Buggeration! With the deaths of almost all celebrities known to mankind last week, nobody has scored a bean. I’m also kicking myself for de-listing Gianluca Vialli at the last minute, he’d have scored me 142 points as the first death of the season! Anyhow, let’s crack on….
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Anita Pointer, 74, American singer (The Pointer Sisters), cancer.
- Tom Karen, 96, Austrian-born British industrial designer.
- Joan Sydney, 83, British-born Australian actress (A Country Practice, E Street, Neighbours).
- Fred White, 67, American drummer (Earth, Wind & Fire).
- Kelly Monteith, 80, American comedian.
- Sebastian Marino, 57, American guitarist (Overkill, Anvil).
- Ken Block, 55, American rally driver (Rally America, Global Rallycross), co-founder of DC Shoes, snowmobile rollover.
- Frank Galati, 79, American theatre director (The Grapes of Wrath, Ragtime) and screenwriter (The Accidental Tourist), Tony winner (1990).
- Alan Rankine, 64, Scottish musician (The Associates)
- Bessie Hendricks, 115, American supercentenarian.
- Walter Cunningham, 90, American astronaut (Apollo 7), complications from a fall.
- Fay Weldon, 91, British author (The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, Puffball, The Cloning of Joanna May), essayist and playwright.
- David Gold, 86, British retailer, pornographer (Gold Star Publications), and football executive, chairman of West Ham United (since 2010).
- Earl Boen, 81, American actor (Terminator, The Dentist, Warcraft), lung cancer.
- Gianluca Vialli, 58, Italian football player (Juventus, national team) and manager (Chelsea), pancreatic cancer.
In Other News
Shane MacGowan of the Pogues has given fans an update on his health after he was rushed to hospital in December. In early December, MacGowan, 65, was admitted to hospital due to an infection. His wife Victoria Mary Clarke later announced that the singer had been diagnosed with encephalitis, an uncommon condition that causes the brain to swell and can be life-threatening. Those with serious cases can be left with problems such as seizures, hearing loss, and blindness. Hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the “Fairytale of New York” musician gave fans an update on his condition. “Hi friends, I’m sitting here suffering from encephalitis,”said MacGowan in a video. He was wearing sunglasses and a cross necklace in the clip. The light is killing me,” he said, explaining his choice of eyewear. “But I wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and Happy Christmas and many more. All the luck in the world and all the love. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year, love Shane.” He captioned the clip: “Happy New Year. Have as much fun as you can when you can!!! Thank you.” Reflecting on when MacGowan became ill in early December, Clarke told the flying monkeys: “I noticed it on his face. His eye was getting red and began to close over. I called the doctor and the doctor said it was very dangerous so we had to get him to the hospital straight away. The hospital explained to me that shingles can go into your brain and that’s what happened to Shane so now they want to keep him on a drip for two weeks.” Clarke, 56, said that MacGowan appears “perfectly normal now” but “pissed he can’t drink in the hospital”.
Jeremy Renner has thanked staff at his intensive care unit for “beginning this journey”, as he continues to recover from a serious snowplough accident. The Marvel actor, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Saturday, shared a picture from hospital of himself with staff and members of his family on his Instagram story. “Thank you Renowned Medical ICU team for beginning this journey,” he wrote. The actor, who plays the bow and arrow-wielding Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), was admitted to hospital after the incident last weekend. Local police said the actor was helping a family member free a car from heavy snow when he was accidentally run over by his own six-tonne ploughing machine. He was airlifted to hospital on Sunday after suffering “blunt chest trauma and orthopaedic injuries” in the accident, a statement provided to the Flying Monkeys from his publicist said. The incident took place near the Mount Rose highway, which links Lake Tahoe and south Reno, straddling the Nevada-California border. The post is the latest in a series of updates that Renner has shared on his progress while being in hospital. On Thursday, he shared that his mother and sister had treated him to a “spa day”. “A ‘not no great’ ICU DAY, turned to amazing spa day with my sis and mama. Thank you sooooo much,” he wrote. One of his family members was seen in the clip massaging his head. Immediately after the incident, Renner posted a picture of himself from his hospital bed, thanking fans for their support, but saying he was “too messed up to type”.Scores of famous faces, including his Marvel co stars, praised the actor for his bravery and sent well wishes in the aftermath.
Former 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova has announced that she has been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer. Many from the tennis world expressed their support to one of the greatest players in tennis history. “Needless to say my phone and twitter are both blowing up so I will say again- thank you all for your support and I am not done yet,” Navratilova tweeted. In her statement, Navratilova revealed that she caught the disease in the early stages. Also, Navratilova vowed to fight with everything she has got. “The double whammy is serious, but fixable, and I’m hoping for a favourable outcome. It’s going to stink for a while, but I’ll fight with all I have got,” Navratilova said. Following the diagnosis, it has also been confirmed that Navratilova won’t be at the Australian Open. Since retiring, Navratilova has been working as a tennis analyst and commentator during Grand Slams. The prognosis is good and Martina will start her treatment this month. The cancer type is HPV and this particular type responds really well to treatment,” a statement read. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Navratilova was diagnosed with cancer as she was also diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago. “I was so shocked that there was anything going on with my body. But you can be the healthiest person on the planet and still get cancer. You are definitely improving the odds by being healthy, but you’re not totally eliminating the possibility,” Navratilova said of her first diagnosis. Fortunately, Navratilova was able to beat the disease over a decade ago. Now, Navratilova is again fighting the same battle and hoping for the same outcome.
Jackass’s Bam Margera revealed he had a close brush with death after experiencing five seizures while suffering from Covid and pneumonia. Last month, it was reported that the stunt performer and skateboarder had been rushed to hospital with a “very serious” case of pneumonia. Appearing on fellow Jackass star Steve-O’s Wild Ride podcast last Thursday, Margera told his friend that “basically, I was pronounced dead on 8th December”. “I did not know that I had gnarly Covid and my body was shutting down,” he said. “I went into four seizures, each one lasting 10 to 20 minutes. On the fourth one, I bit my tongue so hard it was nearly fallen off. It got so swollen and puffy it wouldn’t fit in my mouth. I was drinking the infected blood, which gave me pneumonia as well.” Margera continued: “I went to the hospital and had my fifth seizure and then couldn’t breathe without a tube down my throat. I woke up five days later thinking I was there for just a couple hours. I spent eight days in there. When they took that tube out I felt like I sucked on Darth Vader’s dick.” Alongside Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O and Margera were two of the original members of the Jackass crew-members, performing stunts in the MTV series and subsequent film adaptations. However, Margera did not feature in the recent sequel, Jackass Forever, claiming that he had been fired partway through production after failing a drugs test. He initiated a lawsuit against Knoxville, as well as the film’s director Jeff Tremaine and producer Spike Jonze, and the film companies Paramount Pictures and MTV Networks. The lawsuit was eventually settled, with Margera telling the Flying Monkeys that he was “happy with the outcome and feels vindicated”.
On This Day
- 1940 – World War II: Britain introduces food rationing. Highly likely to be implemented in 2023.
- 1989 – Kegworth air disaster: British Midland Flight 92, a Boeing 737-400, crashes into the M1 motorway, killing 47 of the 126 people on board.
- 1994 – Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov on Soyuz TM-18 leaves for Mir. He would stay on the space station until March 22, 1995, for a record 437 days in space.
- 2011 – Sitting US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is shot in the head along with 18 others in a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords survived the assassination attempt, but six others died.
- 2020 – Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 crashes immediately after take-off at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport; all 176 on board are killed. The plane was shot down by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile!
- 1642 – Galileo Galilei, Italian physicist, astronomer, & philosopher (b. 1564).
- 1990 – Terry-Thomas, English actor and comedian (b. 1911).
- 1996 – François Mitterrand, French politician, 21st President of France (b. 1916).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michelle Forbes (58), Nicolas Cage (59), Jeremy Renner (52), Erin Gray (73), Linda Kozlowski (65), Eddie Redmayne (41), Norman Reedus (54), Rowan Atkinson (68), Angus Deayton (67), Bradley Cooper (48), Diane Keaton (77), January Jones (45), Robert Duvall (92), Clancy Brown (64), Hayao Miyazaki (82), Vinnie Jones (58), Marilyn Manson (54), Julia Ormond (58), Graham McTavish (62), Lenora Crichlow (38), Matt Frewer (65), Julian Sands (65), Florence Pugh (27), Mel Gibson (67), Victoria Principal (73), Sarah Alexander (52), Greta Thunberg (20), Tia Carrere (56), Kate Bosworth (40), Cuba Gooding Jr. (55), and Frank Langella (85).
Here are some of those who were mourned during the past 12 months.
Sidney Poitier: The Bahamian-American Hollywood star, known for films including In the Heat of the Night, Blackboard Jungle and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, died aged 94. He was the first Black man to win the Oscar for best actor and US president Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey were among those who paid tribute to the “trailblazing” actor.
Meat Loaf: The American singer, known for hits such as “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” died at the age of 74. Meat Loaf, who was born Marvin Lee Aday but was also known as Michael, sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and starred in more than 65 movies during his career which spanned six decades.
Barry Cryer: The veteran comedy writer and performer died aged 86 following a seven-decade career which saw him appear on stage, screen and radio. He penned jokes for legends of British comedy including Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Sir Billy Connolly and Tommy Cooper and had a long-running partnership with Sir David Frost, with their collaborations including BBC’s The Frost Report.
Ivan Reitman: The influential filmmaker and producer behind beloved comedies from Animal House to Ghostbusters died aged 75. He also directed the 1979 summer camp flick Meatballs and a number of films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger including Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Junior.
William Hurt: The actor, who starred as General Thaddeus Ross in several instalments of the Marvel Comic Universe, died aged 71. He also won the best actor Oscar and Bafta for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985 and was nominated for the Oscar for his roles in 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and 1987’s Broadcast News.
Anna Karen: Actor best known for playing the put-upon wife, Olive, in the 1970s sitcom On the Buses and its three spin-off feature films. Sadly she died in a house fire aged 85.
Bamber Gascoigne: Writer, documentary-maker and broadcaster who was the popular quizmaster of University Challenge for 25 years. The polymath was ever irked by the fact that he was best known to the British public for the phrase: “Fingers on buzzers … your starter for 10,” although he never showed it.
Taylor Hawkins: Hawkins, who had played in Foo Fighters, the band fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, for more than two decades, died aged 50. Musical stars from around the world paid tribute and a special concert featuring a star-studded line-up was held at Wembley Stadium and the Kia Forum in Los Angeles in his memory.
Tom Parker: The Wanted star died at the age of 33 after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. The singer died surrounded by his family and bandmates – 17 months after being diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma.
Shane Warne: The legendary Australian spin bowler, considered one of the greatest cricketers of all time, died aged 52 of a suspected heart attack while in Thailand. England Cricket paid tribute to Warne on Twitter, writing: “One of the greatest of all-time. A legend. A genius. You changed Cricket. RIP Shane Warne.”
Peter Bowles: Veteran stage and screen actor who starred in the popular BBC TV sitcom To the Manor Born. Bowles died aged 85 of cancer, ruefully admitted that he wasn’t a “star” until, aged 43, he played Richard DeVere in the hit series.
Dai Jones: Welsh broadcasting legend Dai Jones ‘Llanilar’ died at the age of 78. Jones was a TV favourite on S4C and hosted popular farming show Cefn Gwlad for more than 35 years, as well as other Welsh language shows including Noson Lwen, Rasus, and Sion a Sian. Despite being one of the faces of Welsh television for a generation, Jones was actually born in London in 1943.
June Brown: The EastEnders star, best known for her role as chain-smoking Dot Cotton, died at the age of 95. A spokeswoman for the soap said: “There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten.”
Cynthia Plaster Caster: Cynthia Albritton was a pop artist known for her casts of rock stars’ penises. She was a young art student at the University of Illinois Chicago when she got the idea for her lifelong art project. Her dream was to meet rock musicians and hoped to lose her virginity to one. Jimi Hendrix agreed to be her first celebrity client!
Dennis Waterman: The actor, who starred in TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks, died at the age of 74. Waterman starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder and he first found fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney opposite John Thaw.
Ray Liotta: The actor, best known for his portrayal of Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, died at the age of 67. He found fame playing ex-con Ray Sinclair in 1986 black comedy Something Wild and also starred as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film Field of Dreams.
Anne Heche: The Hollywood actor was “peacefully taken off life support” nine days after suffering a “severe anoxic brain injury” in a car crash in which her vehicle hit a building and burst into flames. Heche, 53, was among the biggest film stars of the late 1990s, starring opposite actors including Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford, and was also the former partner of US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Lester Pigott: died aged 86, was regarded by many as the finest jockey ever to ride on British turf. His record in major races is unlikely to be surpassed. In all, he rode 4,493 winners in Britain and more than 850 elsewhere during a career that spanned 47 years.
Vangelis: The Greek composer died aged 79, and always avoided becoming a trained, academic musician. His work ranged from pop, jazz and classical to the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire soundtrack. Equally significant was his score for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner.
Hilary Devey: The former Dragons’ Den star died aged 65 after a long illness. She joined the BBC Two programme in 2011 and left in 2012, going on to present Channel 4’s The Intern.
Julee Cruise: Singer, songwriter and actor acclaimed for her work with the film director David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti, took her own life at the age of 65 after a long period of illness and depression.
James Caan: US actor and star of The Godfather, Stephen King adaptation Misery and Christmas film Elf died aged 82. While the actor was initially cast as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, he had his heart set on Sonny and successfully suggested that Al Pacino play the role of Michael instead. He eventually faced his co-star alongside another Godfather actor, Robert Duvall, in the Best Supporting Actor category at the 1973 Oscars; all three lost to Joel Grey, who won for Cabaret.
Bernard Cribbins: The children’s TV star and entertainer died aged 93. The veteran actor starred in the Carry On films, Doctor Who and the 1970 film The Railway Children.
David Warner: Stage and screen actor hailed for his 1965 Hamlet at the RSC who went on to have a distinguished film and TV career. A highly divers actor who starred in The Omen and the Star Trek franchise.
Dame Olivia Newton-John: Dame Olivia was best known for her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, in which she acted opposite John Travolta as Danny. The British-born singer died “peacefully” at her ranch in Southern California aged 73, surrounded by family and friends.
Raymond Briggs: The author and illustrator, best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, died aged 88. The Snowman has sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and Briggs also created the beloved children’s books Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Man and When the Wind Blows.
Darius Danesh: The singer and actor who rose to fame on Popstars and Pop Idol died at the age of 41. He was found dead in his US apartment, in Rochester, Minnesota. The death was ruled an accident by the medical examiner.
Nichelle Nichols: The actor who blazed a trail for black women on American TV in the 1960s in the role of Lt Uhura in Star Trek. She was also involved in the US’s first small-screen kiss between a black woman and a white man, Uhura and Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner), in 1968.
Queen Elizabeth II: Britain’s longest-serving monarch died aged 96, with her son Charles succeeding her as the nation’s new king. The Queen died “peacefully” at Balmoral, having spent 70 years as head of state, outlasting her predecessors and overseeing monumental changes in social and political life.
Bill Turnbull: The TV presenter and journalist died at the age of 66. The BBC Breakfast presenter died “peacefully” at home in Suffolk after a “challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer” which had been diagnosed in November 2017.
Dame Hilary Mantel: The author, best known for the Wolf Hall trilogy, died aged 70. The British writer won the Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel Wolf Hall and again for its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, in 2012.
Coolio: The famed Nineties rapper died aged 59. Real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, he was best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single “Gangsta’s Paradise”, which was released as the soundtrack for the Michelle Pfeiffer film, Dangerous Minds. The song spent three weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 list.
Jean-Luc Godard: The revered filmmaker, regarded as a giant of the French New Wave movement, died at the age of 91. He was known for directing a run of radical, medium-changing films throughout the 1960s, including Breathless and Alphaville.
Mikhail Gorbachev: The last leader of the Soviet Union, he was ousted as his reforms pointing to the end of the USSR spiralled out of control. Almost singlehandedly he brought an end to 40 years of east-west confrontation in Europe and liberated the world from the danger of nuclear conflagration.
Louise Fletcher: American actor who won an Oscar for her role as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As Nurse Ratched, who instils fear into the patients in a mental institution without ever raising her voice, she was calmly terrifying.
Dame Angela Lansbury: The Irish-British and American actor was best known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in the drama series Murder, She Wrote. A Broadway icon who excelled as Mrs Lovett in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, she died “peacefully” in her sleep five days before her 97th birthday.
Robbie Coltrane: The Harry Potter and Cracker actor died aged 72. The Scottish star, whose real name was Anthony Robert McMillan, was best known for playing both McGlone brothers in John Byrne’s Tutti Frutti (1987), beloved Hogwarts gamekeeper Hagrid and for starring as criminal psychologist Dr Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald in ITV’s crime drama Cracker.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Founding father of rock’n’roll who took the world by storm with Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. His career was blighted after the press found out he’d married his 13 year old cousin.
Kitten Natividad: Francesca “Kitten” Natividad, the go-go dancer who became a cult pop culture figure when she was cast by sexploitation film director Russ Meyer in Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens.
Leslie Phillips: The veteran actor, famed for starring in the Carry On films, died at the age of 98. He spent eight decades in the spotlight and became well known for his suggestive catchphrases, which included “Ding dong”, “Well, hellooo” and “I say!”
Christine McVie: The Fleetwood Mac star died following a short illness at the age of 79. The British-American rock band, founded in London in 1967, sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful groups ever.
Wilko Johnson: Musician with Dr Feelgood whose stark chords and pin-sharp riffs made him one of the most distinctive of British rock guitarists.
Irene Cara: American actor and singer best known for her role in the film Fame and co-writing the 1983 hit Flashdance … What a Feeling. Cara died unexpectedly aged 63, topped the British singles chart with Fame, which also went to No 4 in the US.
Kirstie Alley: The US actor died from cancer at the age of 71. She was best known for her breakout role as Rebecca Howe in the NBC sitcom Cheers from 1987 to 1993 and received both an Emmy award and a Golden Globe for the role in 1991.
Terry Hall: The lead singer of The Specials and Fun Boy Three died aged 63. The singer-songwriter rose to fame as part of the band, who were pioneers of the ska scene in the UK.
Pele: The legendary Brazilian footballer passed away aged 82. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, Pele is the only man to have won the World Cup on three occasions, as he helped Brazil to success at the 1958, 1962 and 1970 tournaments, also winning the Golden Ball for best player at the latter. During a 21-year playing career, he is said to have scored 1,283 goals in 1,363 senior matches for clubs and country.
Dame Vivienne Westwood: The iconic British fashion designer died aged 81. Dame Vivienne emerged from the British punk scene of the late 1970s and quickly became known for her androgynous designs, slogan T-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the Establishment, later making waves as an activist on causes close to her heart. The Victoria and Albert Museum described her as a “true revolutionary and rebellious force in fashion”.
Maxi Jazz: Frontman of Faithless whose thoughtful, life-affirming lyrics were in contrast to the usual hedonistic banalities of dance music. Sold an estimated 15 million albums and score a string of Top Five singles including such guaranteed dance floor fillers as Insomnia, God Is a DJ and We Come 1.
Ruth Madoc: The stage and screen actor died after a fall aged 79. She cemented herself in the memories of TV sitcom viewers as Gladys Pugh, chief yellowcoat and Radio Maplin announcer in Hi-de-Hi!
Pope Benedict XVI: In the annals of papal history, Joseph Ratzinger, who has died aged 95, will be remembered principally as the first pope in 600 years to retire, rather than to die in office.
Jeez! What a final week! So many late in the year deaths and changes to peoples 2023 lists. Obviously a few points do dispense, so… With the passing of the football great Pele, Neil and myself get 68 points; however Debbie gets 168 points as she had him down as her Cert. A further 57 points awarded to Laura for the passing of Barbara Walters. Surprisingly, only one of us had Pope Benedict, and that was Sarai, finally breaking her duck on the last possible day, 55 points. Which does mean everyone scored this year! Yay!
So, if nobody else decides to rock the boat between now and midnight, I think we can hopefully pronounce Lee as our winner of 2022! An astounding 740 points in total with seven deaths to his name. Well done that man, the trophy will be with you at some point in the New Year. Commiserations to Paul C, for coming in second with 674 points and an unbelievable nine deaths!!! The rest of us weren’t even close to the top two, but well done everyone for scoring this year, even I did quite well, finally made it into the top ten this year.
Thank you all for taking part, especially those of you who have already donated towards the running costs, even more so as technically I’ve not yet begged for contributions. For full transparency there is a list of paid invoices in the members area and the budget will be uploaded when all donations are in by the end of January. To date we’ve never reached the goal and the remainder always comes from my own pocket, including all the time and effort I put in to keep the pool running.
Here’s to a successful 2023, may the flying monkeys swoop upon your choices.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Stephen Greif, 78, British actor (Blake’s 7, Casanova, Nicholas and Alexandra).
- John Bird, 86, English actor (Red, White and Zero, A Dandy in Aspic) and comedian (Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life), stroke complications.
- Jo Mersa Marley, 31, Jamaican-American musician, asthma attack.
- Dame Vivienne Westwood, 81, British fashion designer.
- Pelé, 82, Brazilian footballer (Santos, national team), world champion (1958, 1962, 1970), colon cancer.
- Ruggero Deodato, 83, Italian film director (Cannibal Holocaust, Ultimo mondo cannibale, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man), screenwriter and actor.
- Barbara Walters, 93, American television journalist (Today, 20/20) and talk show host (The View).
- Benedict XVI, 95, German Roman Catholic theologian, Pope (2005–2013) and archbishop of Munich and Freising (1977–1982).
In Other News
Yet another Russian tycoon has been found dead in mysterious circumstances. Sausage tycoon Pavel Antov was found dead at at an Indian hotel, two days after a friend died during the same trip. They were visiting the eastern state of Odisha and the millionaire, who was also a local politician, had just celebrated his birthday at the hotel. Antov was a well known figure in the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow. Last summer he denied criticising Russia’s war in Ukraine after a message appeared on his WhatsApp account. The millionaire’s death is the latest in a series of unexplained deaths involving Russian tycoons since the start of the Russian invasion, many of whom have openly criticised the war. Reports in Russian media said Mr Antov, 65, had fallen from a window at the hotel in the city of Rayagada on Sunday. Another member of his four-strong Russian group, Vladimir Budanov, died at the hotel on Friday. Superintendent Vivekananda Sharma of Odisha police said Mr Budanov was found to have suffered a stroke while his friend “was depressed after his death and he too died”. The Russian consul in Kolkata, Alexei Idamkin, told the Tass news agency that police did not see a “criminal element in these tragic events”. Tourist guide Jitendra Singh told reporters that Mr Budanov may have “consumed a lot of alcohol as he had liquor bottles”. Pavel Antov founded the Vladimir Standard meat processing plant and in 2019 Forbes estimated his fortune at some $140m (£118m) at the top of Russia’s rich list of lawmakers and civil servants. He played an important role at the legislative assembly in Vladimir, heading a committee on agrarian policy and ecology. The assembly’s deputy chairman Vyacheslav Kartukhin said he had died in “tragic circumstances”. Late last June he appeared to react to a Russian missile attack on a residential block in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv that left a man dead and his seven-year-old daughter and her mother wounded. A WhatsApp message on Antov’s account described how the family were pulled out of the rubble: “It’s extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror.” The message was deleted and Antov then posted on social media that he was a supporter of the president, a “patriot of my country” and backed the war. The WhatsApp message had come from someone whose opinion on the “special military operation in Ukraine” he strongly disagreed with, he insisted. It had been posted accidentally on his messenger and was a highly annoying misunderstanding, he said. Several high-profile Russian tycoons have died in mysterious circumstances since the war began. In September the head of Russia’s oil giant Lukoil, Ravil Maganov, apparently fell from a hospital window in Moscow.
Bob Marley’s grandson has died at the age of 31. Jamaican-American reggae artist Joseph Mersa Marley was found unresponsive in a vehicle in the United States on Tuesday, according to the Flying Monkeys. The initial announcement did not specify a location. The artist – who went by his stage name Jo Mersa – had reportedly suffered from asthma his entire life, and the Flying Monkeys claimed he died of an asthma attack. Bob Marley tragically died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36, and is widely considered one of the pioneers of reggae music. The late star had 11 children with seven different partners. Joseph Mersa Marley spent his early years in Jamaica, where he attended Saints Peter and Paul Preparatory School. He then moved to Florida where he was a student at Palmetto High School. When at Miami Dade College he studied studio engineering. In 2014 he released the EP called Comfortable and in 2021 he came out with Eternal.
The owner of an internet-famous dog who inspired the “doge” meme says she has received a global outpouring of love since revealing her popular pooch was suffering from leukaemia. Kabosu, a 17-year-old Shiba Inu, shot to internet stardom in 2010 after social media users began sharing a photo of her posing with a quizzical expression and crossed paws. The meme was typically overlaid with scattered comic sans text depicting what could be Kabosu’s inner monologue, and internet users started referring to the image as “doge”. It later inspired the creation of the Dogecoin cryptocurrency in 2013. Kabosu’s owner Atsuko Sato, a kindergarten teacher from Sakura, Japan, revealed she was in “a very dangerous condition” after being diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in a series of Instagram posts this week. Ms Sato said Kabosu had stopped eating and drinking just before Christmas and was on antibiotics after vets determined she was suffering from acute cholangiohepatitis, a type of inflammation in the digestive system. She posted an update on 27th December to say Kabosu’s appetite had returned and she was drinking water again. “It’s going to be alright. Because we get our power from all over the world!” Ms Sato wrote on her Instagram page. The doge meme initially found popularity on sites such as Reddit and Tumblr, with internet users photoshopping Kabosu’s face onto famous landmarks and pastries. Her image was later used in marketing by Oreo and on Stockholm subway stations adverts. Kabosu’s face later appeared on the sleeves of players from English Premier League team Watford under a Dogecoin sponsorship deal. An NFT featuring Kabosu’s famous furry face sold for $4m in 2021.
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, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
- 1955 – General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year.
- 1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor.
- 2000 – The last day of the 20th Century and 2nd Millennium.
- 2019 – The World Health Organisation is informed of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause, detected in Wuhan. This later turned out to be COVID-19, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 192 – Commodus, Roman emperor (b. 161).
- 1691 – Robert Boyle, Anglo-Irish chemist and physicist (b. 1627).
- 2013 – James Avery, American actor (b. 1945).
- 2015 – Natalie Cole, American singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1950).
- 2015 – Wayne Rogers, American actor (b. 1933).
- 2016 – William Christopher, American actor (b. 1932).
- 2021 – Betty White, American actress, comedian and producer (b. 1922).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Val Kilmer (63), Anthony Hopkins (85), Ben Kingsley (79), Jane Badler (69), Faye Marsay (36), Eliza Dushku (42), Caity Lotz (36), Tracey Ullman (63), Jude Law (50), Jon Voight (84), Ted Danson (75), Danny McBride (46), Michael Cudlitz (58), Patrick Fischler (53), Lilly Wachowski (55), Denzel Washington (68), Noomi Rapace (43), Maggie Smith (88), Sienna Miller (41), Joe Manganiello (46), John Legend (44), Timothée Chalamet (27), Olivia Cooke (29), Gérard Depardieu (74), John Amos (83), Wilson Cruz (49), Jared Leto (51), Kit Harington (36), and Temuera Morrison (62).
You now have six days to hand in your lists, and as you will be bored shitless over the coming days, you will have no excuse but to research and get them in!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mike Hodges, 90, British screenwriter and director (Get Carter, Pulp, Flash Gordon).
- Martin Duffy, 55, English keyboardist (Felt, Primal Scream), complications from a fall.
- Terry Hall, 63, English singer (The Specials, Fun Boy Three) and songwriter (“Our Lips Are Sealed“), pancreatic cancer.
- Tony Barry, 81, Australian actor (Australia, Goodbye Pork Pie, The Time of Our Lives), melanoma.
- George Cohen, 83, English footballer (Fulham, national team), world champion (1966).
- Maxi Jazz, 65, English musician (Faithless).
In Other News
A Glaswegian chef credited with inventing the chicken tikka masala has died, aged 77. Ali Ahmed Aslam is said to have come up with the dish in the 1970s when a customer asked if there was a way of making his chicken tikka less dry. His solution was to add a creamy tomato sauce, in some versions of the story a can of tomato soup. His death was announced by his Shish Mahal restaurant which closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect. Known to friends and customers as “Mr Ali” he was born in Pakistan but moved with his family to Glasgow as a young boy before opening Shish Mahal in Glasgow’s west end in 1964. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he would later describe the moment he came up with one of Britain’s favourite dishes. “Chicken tikka masala was invented in this restaurant, we used to make chicken tikka, and one day a customer said, ‘I’d take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry’,” he recalled. “We thought we’d better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here we cooked chicken tikka with the sauce that contains yogurt, cream, spices. It’s a dish prepared according to our customer’s taste, usually they don’t take hot curry, that’s why we cook it with yogurt and cream.” While it cannot be proved with certainty that this is the origin of the dish, chicken tikka masala is widely regarded as a curry that has been adapted to suit Western tastes. Former Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar once tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for it to be recognised as a Glaswegian delicacy. Hundreds of customers paid tribute to Mr Ali on social media, many recalling visits to his restaurant and describing him as a true gentleman. Surveys have often found chicken tikka masala to be Britain’s favourite curry, although chicken korma has also tried to claim that mantle.
Brazilian football icon Pele will remain in hospital over Christmas after a medical report showed that his cancer has advanced. Doctors say he now needs care for cardiac and renal dysfunction. Pele, 82, has been battling colon cancer since September 2021 and was admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paul hospital on 29th November for doctors to re-evaluate his treatment. His daughter said in an Instagram post that the support of his fans was a “huge comfort” to him. Kely Nascimento wrote: “Your love for him, your stories and your prayers are a HUGE comfort because we know we are not alone’. Relatives said at the beginning of December that Pele was in hospital for treatment for a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19. Pele, whose name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021 and has since been in and out of hospital for treatment on a regular basis. The football legend has been undergoing chemotherapy in his fight against cancer. Pele is considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time. He burst on to the global scene as a 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup, helping Brazil to the first of their record five successes. He also won the 1962 and 1970 World Cups with the national side.
Jonnie Irwin has said his cancer has come back “so violently” that even doctors are surprised, in a new interview about spending what could be his last Christmas with his family. The A Place in the Sun presenter, 48, disclosed in November that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2020. He initially kept his illness private, but said he decided to make the news public after learning it had spread from his lungs to his brain. “I don’t know how long I have,” he said at the time, adding that doctors gave him “six months to live” a week after he flew back from filming when he experienced blurry vision while driving. “We try to carry on as normal,” Irwin said in a new interview with a Flying Monkey. “We made a decision not to mourn and to make the most of every day. I’m still working… I try to manufacture positive thoughts. People say, ‘How do you stay so upbeat?’ It’s a bit of an act, really.’” The presenter explained that he had been given a “wonder drug” after initially being told he had six months to live: “They hoped it would keep it at bay for a bit longer, but it’s come back so violently, it’s even surprised the doctors. I’ve been told I’ve got months to live,” he said. “We’re hurtling towards where we don’t want to be.” Irwin’s wife, Jess, said the sadness she feels approaching “scares her”. “Everyone says, ‘You’ll manage. You’ll be surprised.’ I’ve never had dark thoughts for myself but I wonder now: ‘How will I cope with the sadness?’” she said. “I know I’ll have to, for the boys. I’ll have to put a smile on my face. But it worries me, the great grief that will hit me.” The couple share a three-year-old son, Rex, and two-year-old twins, Rafa and Cormac.
On This Day
- 336 – First documentary sign of Christmas celebration in Rome.
- 1758 – Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley‘s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.
- 1914 – A series of unofficial truces occur across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.
- 1962 – The Soviet Union conducts its final above-ground nuclear weapon test, in anticipation of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
- 1989 – Romanian Revolution: Deposed President of Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, are condemned to death and executed after a summary trial.
- 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalised and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.
- 1946 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, juggler, and screenwriter (b. 1880).
- 1957 – Charles Pathé, French record producer, founded Pathé Records (b. 1863).
- 1977 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor and director (b. 1889).
- 1995 – Dean Martin, American singer and actor (b. 1917).
- 2006 – James Brown, American singer-songwriter (b. 1933).
- 2008 – Eartha Kitt, American singer and actress (b. 1927).
- 2016 – George Michael, British singer and songwriter (b. 1963).
The 12 Murders of Christmas
This time of year should be all about fun and laughter, shouldn’t it? About friends and family… Roaring fires, roast potatoes and red-nosed reindeer. And for most of us it is. But, as regular visitors to this site will know only too well, Death doesn’t take a holiday. Ho ho ho!
Christmas isn’t immune to crime. Murder doesn’t take a fortnight off at the end of December. In fact, some of the most shocking killings have happened over the Yuletide period down the years.
As we bring you our 12 Murders of Christmas, listen carefully. That noise you can hear in the background? It’s slay bells…
1. A grim ‘gift’ left under the Christmas tree
When 37 year-old Patty White offered down-on-her-luck Michele O’Dowd a place to stay over the festive period, Michele was delighted at the Christmas spirit being shown to her. But White had an ulterior motive. One involving stealing all of her new housemate’s credit cards, killing her and leaving her among a trashed Christmas tree to look like a bungled burglary.
The scene was discovered by Michele’s twin brother Phil who went to check in on her after she failed to show for work. There, amongst a pile of wrapped Christmas presents, he saw his sister’s foot. Patty White had beaten and strangled the 67 year-old and left her among the gifts. She would receive a 45 year sentence from a South Carolina judge for her troubles.
2. Couple stab man in face, bash in his skull and set light to him on Christmas Day in ‘Kill Bill’ plot
Victoria, Australia. It’s Christmas Day 2013. But instead of spending the day with his loved ones, William ‘Bill’ Stevenson pays the ultimate price for keeping poor company as his ‘friends’ – meth addicts Danielle Kerr and Darren Lewis – kill him in one of the most violent ways conceivable.
Their motives not entirely clear, the pair drove Stevenson out to bushland and began beating him about the head with a large rock. Kerr then stabbed the man to death while cackling about their ‘Kill Bill’ plans. The couple then set the car alight and casually walked home. Thankfully they would both be arrested, charged and convicted soon afterwards.
3. ‘Marvallous’ Teen gang indulge in sickening festive killing spree
There were four of them and they called themselves ‘The Downtown Posse’. To the police and courts, though? They were simply Laura Taylor (16 years old), DeMarcus Smith (17), Heather Matthews (20) and Marvallous Keene (19). Between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day 1992, the gang went on a murder spree in Dayton, Ohio that would see five innocent people die and four seriously injured. Murdered for not liking a gift enough…
Led by Keene, the gang’s primary motive was robbery, but things soon got out of hand as Marvallous Keene grew paranoid about ‘snitches’ and effectively turned the holiday season into hunting season. For his central role in ‘The Christmas Killings’, Keene would go on to become the 10,000th American convict to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated back in 1976, while his cohorts would receive life sentences.
4. Search for missing Bristol woman turns to hunt for her killer
Joanna Yeates’ disappearance a week before Christmas in 2010 made local news in Bristol almost immediately. Soon, the search and appeal broadened and her whereabouts were of national interest. On Christmas Day her body was found in the snow, three miles from her home.
The case achieved notoriety for the media’s handling of the first suspect, Joanna’s eccentric landlord, Christopher Jefferies. Hounded and effectively labelled the murderer without proof, UK tabloids The Mirror and The Sun were later found guilty of contempt of court for their poor coverage. Jefferies was later vindicated when Ms. Yeates’ Dutch neighbour Vincent Tabak was arrested and charged with her murder.
5. The infamous ‘child beauty queen’ murder
JonBenét Ramsey’s Christmas Day/Boxing Day 1996 murder (police could never officially ascertain the precise date) caused an enormous storm across America and the wider world. Years on and the six year-old’s callous killer or killers have still not been identified. True crime buffs the world over have studied and obsessed over the case of the young girl killed apparently during a botched kidnapping. Countless documentaries, movies, books and articles point fingers, but the mystery’s never been solved.
Many people accuse JonBenét’s parents. Some look to her older brother. Accusations of a stalker are rife and local child molestors have – somewhat understandably – been treated with suspicion. In fact, few people in Boulder, Colorado have evaded suspicion. Perhaps the eeriest suspect though is Bill McReynolds, a local man hired by the Ramseys to play Santa Claus at a large party held at the rich family’s house that year. McReynolds died in 2002, swearing innocence. It’s a case that will, perhaps, never be solved.
6. Edinburgh woman stabs neighbour 29 times over ‘Christmas present’ dispute
Murdered for not liking a gift enough…? Well, that was the excuse that 37-year-old Melissa Young gave police when she was arrested for the brutal killing of her next-door neighbour Alan Williamson on Christmas Day 2013. Young later claimed diminished responsibility and that mental health issues were behind the sustained attack. At the time, though? Her motive was given as rage due to Williamson dismissively rejecting her Christmas present of a pair of unisex trainers and a copy of The Sun newspaper’s slightly raunchy 2014 calendar.
Young pleaded guilty to culpable homicide in 2014 and was sentenced to a minimum twenty-year sentence. Since being jailed at the women’s prison HMP Cornton Vale in Stirling, she has seriously assaulted two female prison officers.
7. A Christmas rampage
December 28th, 1987. Ronald Gene Simmons walked into a law firm in Russellville, Arkansas and shot dead a receptionist who he was infatuated with but who had spurned his advances. Then he went into the office of an oil company and shot two executives, killing one and injuring the other. He then drove to a convenience store and former place of work and shot two more people, who would both survive. Finally, he would do the same in at the Woodline Motor Freight Company, shooting and wounding a woman. He then sat down and waited for police to arrest him.
The spree killing rocked the state. But the murders were merely a bookend to Simmons’ evil festive period. Six days previously he had shot and strangled his wife, two sons and four daughters. It doesn’t end there, either. Simmons then sat in the house, among the bodies, for FOUR DAYS – leaving only to visit a local bar. On Boxing Day, NINE more relatives turned up to visit the Simmons family, including Ronald Simmons’ grandchildren. All were killed. In total, he took 16 people’s lives that Christmas.
On the 25th of June 1990, then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton signed Simmons’ execution warrant and he was killed by lethal injection.
8. ‘Twas the night before Christmas and fire tore through the house
On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1945, a fire destroyed the Sodder residence in Fayetteville, West Virginia, United States. At the time, it was occupied by George Sodder, his wife Jennie, and nine of their ten children. During the fire, George, Jennie, and four of the nine children escaped. The bodies of the other five children have never been found. The surviving Sodder family believed for the rest of their lives that the five missing children survived.
The Sodders dedicated their lives to trying to find out what happened that Christmas, but died in later life without finding out.
9. The first and last family photograph the Lawsons would ever have taken…
North Carolina tobacco farmer Charles Davis Lawson made his wife Fannie and their seven children put on their Sunday best for Christmas Day morning, 1929. For they were to go into town and have a professional family photograph taken, a rare treat for such a poor family. Later that day, after settling back home, Charles would set about methodically beating and shooting his wife – along with six of the seven children – until they were dead. The child spared? The Lawsons’ eldest, 16-year-old Arthur, who Charles had sent on a needless errand before his vicious massacre. Charles Lawson’s motive was never determined.
10. A murder so sick and twisted
Kristy Bamu was just 15 when he was tortured and drowned in a bath by his own sister Magalie and her twisted boyfriend Eric Bikubi. It was Christmas Day 2010 when the couple finally killed poor Kristy, after a sustained and brutal four-day torture session at their flat in Newham, London. When his body was found, more than 130 separate injuries were counted. The twentysomething Congolese couple’s excuse? They believed Magalie’s younger brother was ‘a witch’. Eric was ordered to serve at least 30 years in prison, while Magalie received a minimum of 25 years for the unimaginably horrific killing.
11. ‘Stagger Lee’ and the seasonal showdown
Lee Shelton was a known criminal and pimp who went by the nickname ‘Stagger Lee’. Famous now because of the folk song he would inspire, Shelton wasn’t a man to be trifled with. As William “Billy” Lyons would discover to his cost. This murder took place on Christmas night 1895, in St. Louis, Missouri. Stagger and Billy were drinking and playing cards together in the Bill Curtis Saloon when, wouldn’t you know it, they got into ‘a dispute’. Lyons snatched Stagger’s Stetson hat and, well, you’ve seen westerns… Stagger Lee drew his gun, shot Lyons dead and the rest is history. History and song.
12. The Santa suit slaughter
It was Christmas Eve of 2004 in the small city of Covina, just outside of LA. Parties dominated the neighbourhood. 1129 East Knollcrest Drive had around 25 close friends and family enjoying each other’s company. At around 11.30pm, a knock at the door came. Standing on the other side of the door? Santa Claus. At least that’s what the eight-year-old girl who answered the door thought. But it wasn’t Saint Nick, it was a man called Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, the unstable and violent ex-husband of one of the women at the party. He was holding a 9mm pistol in one hand and a flamethrower in the other. He had a further three handguns in his possession. Cruelly and methodically he went about shooting everyone in his sight, before setting alight to the house. Nine people would die and three would be badly injured. Pardo left, driving to his brother’s house some thirty miles away. He had planned to detonate a series of handmade explosives and then make his escape to Canada, but the fire had caused his Santa suit to melt onto him, causing severe third degree burns. Instead, Pardo decided to put a bullet in his head.
I hope I didn’t put you off your mince pies too much… Merry Christmas everyone.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Sissy Spacek (73), Shane MacGowan (65), Helena Christensen (54), Annie Lennox (68), Finn Wolfhard (20), Harry Shearer (79), Ralph Fiennes (60), Vanessa Paradis (50), Hugh Quarshie (68), Samuel L. Jackson (74), Tom Sturridge (37), Jane Fonda (85), Kiefer Sutherland (56), Michelle Hurd (56), Phil Donahue (87), Jonah Hill (39), Jenny Agutter (70), Nicole de Boer (52), Jake Gyllenhaal (42), Jennifer Beals (59), Kristy Swanson (53), Alyssa Milano (50), and Richard Hammond (53).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dame Beryl Grey, 95, English ballerina.
- Victor Lewis-Smith, 65, British writer and producer (In Confidence).
- Angelo Badalamenti, 85, American film and television composer (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive).
- Chris Boucher, 79, British television screenwriter (Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, Shoestring) and novelist.
- Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawānanakoa, 96, American Hawaiian royal princess.
- Joseph Kromelis, 75, American street vendor, complications from burn injuries.
- Stephen “tWitch” Boss, 40, American dancer, television personality (The Ellen DeGeneres Show, So You Think You Can Dance) and actor (Step Up), suicide by gunshot.
In Other News
Sharon Osbourne has reportedly been rushed to hospital after suffering a “medical emergency” on a set in California. Multiple monkeys reported that the television personality “fell ill” while filming a new paranormal activity show at The Glen Tavern Inn in Santa Paula on Friday. The X-Factor judge, 70, was reportedly then taken to Santa Paula Hospital in the area. A spokesperson for the local fire department told our Flying Monkey they received a “medical call” from the venue around 6:30pm local time on Friday and transported one person to Santa Paula Hospital. Santa Paula police chief Don Aguilar confirmed that the fire department had brought Osbourne in. Her current condition is unknown. Osbourne celebrated her 40th wedding anniversary with Ozzy Osbourne in July this year. In May, she announced she had contracted Covid-19 and shared a picture of herself hooked up to a drip on Instagram. The post’s caption read: “Fuck Covid.”
A two-year-old boy was swallowed and spat out by a hippo while playing near his home in Uganda. Paul Iga was clenched in the mouth of the animal around 800 yards away from the edge of Lake Edward. The hippo had grabbed the toddler from the head and swallowed half of his body when a local man noticed and started throwing stones at the animal, according to the Flying Monkeys. The hippo seemed taken aback by the attack and vomited up the child — before trudging back to the water. ‘It took the bravery of one Chrispas Bagonza, who was nearby, to save the victim after he stoned the hippo and scared it, causing it to release the victim from its mouth,’ police added. While Paul was injured and taken to a clinic for treatment, he miraculously survived. It has been reported that the toddler was transferred to a hospital in Bwera but was sent home after taking a rabies vaccine. In a statement, Ugandan Police said: ‘This is the first such kind of incident where a hippo strayed out of Lake Edward and attacked a young child.’ Police told residents of Katwe Kabatoro Town Council, which is located within Queen Elizabeth National Park on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to remain vigilant around hippos. The hippopotamus is the world’s deadliest large land mammal, killing an estimated 500 people per year in Africa. They are aggressive creatures and have very sharp teeth. At up to 2,750kg, the animals can easily crush a human to death. Despite their primarily vegetarian diet, the hippopotamus is extremely aggressive and territorial. The combination of sheer size, sharp teeth and mobility both in and out of water make for a deadly mammal.
Janey Godley has revealed to fans that her cancer has returned. The Scottish comedian was initially diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer in November 2021 and underwent a full hysterectomy to treat it in January 2022. In June, she announced that she was cancer-free, telling her supporters in an emotional clip: “There’s no evidence of disease.” However, in a video shared on social media on Tuesday, Godley gave an update on her health and said she’d be resuming cancer treatment. “My recent scan and my blood tests showed that my cancer marker went up, and there’s still a bit of disease in my abdomen,” she said. “So, I want you all to know that I’ll be going through some more chemotherapy.” Godley is due to go on tour in early 2023, and has assured fans of her intentions of going through with the shows. She continued: “I also want you to know that I’m going ahead with the tour in February and March. I am determined to get back on stage. “I’m looking forward to the tour, I think it’s fair and honest to say it might be the last time you see me live on stage. I’m hoping it’s not, but I think it’s a fair estimation.” Fans and colleagues have responded to Godley’s news with encouraging messages. Scottish actor Sean Biggerstaff replied: “Really courageous, Janey. Fingers crossed for the best possible out come, and best of luck for the tour.”
Freddie Flintoff is “lucky to be alive” following a crash while filming Top Gear. The presenter and former professional cricketer’s son Corey has shared an update on his father after the Flying Monkeys confirmed he had been “injured in an accident” while filming the motoring series. Corey, 16, said that his dad was “OK”, adding: “I’m not too sure what happened but he is lucky to be alive. It was a pretty nasty crash. It is shocking. We are all shocked but just hope he’s going to be OK.” Flintoff, whose real name is Andrew, was reportedly filming a car review at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome, home of the Top Gear test track, when the incident happened. A spokesperson promised “more details in due course”, stating: “Freddie was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track this morning – with crew medics attending the scene immediately. He has been taken to hospital for further treatment and we will confirm more details in due course.” Flintoff, 45, narrowly avoided serious injury in an earlier crash not long after joining Top Gear in 2019. In a statement at the time, Flintoff said: “I’m absolutely fine and was back filming today. I go to great lengths to make sure I do well in Top Gear drag races but on this occasion, I went a few lengths too far!” The airfield where the accident occurred is the same one where former Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond crashed in 2006 while piloting a drag racing car.
On This Day
- 1981 – First flight of the Russian heavy strategic bomber Tu-160, the world’s largest combat aircraft, largest supersonic aircraft and largest variable-sweep wing aircraft built.
- 2015 – Kellingley Colliery, the last deep coal mine in Great Britain, closes.
- 2018 – A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea with a force over 10 times greater than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.
- 2000 – Kirsty MacColl, British singer-songwriter (b. 1959).
- 2006 – Joseph Barbera, U.S. animator & producer, co-founded Hanna-Barbera (b. 1911).
- 2008 – Majel Barrett, American actress and producer (b. 1932).
- 2016 – Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite (b. 1917).
Thomas Edwin Loden Jr, 58, wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white head sheet during his execution as he became the second inmate to be killed by lethal injection in Mississippi in two years.
His last meal was made up of two fried pork chops, fried okra, a baked sweet potato with butter, Pillsbury Grands biscuits with butter and molasses, peach cobbler with French vanilla ice cream and Lipton sweet tea, the Flying Monkeys reported.
Loden had been condemned to die by lethal injection and spent the last 21 years in prison after pleading guilty for capital murder, on rape and four counts of sexual battery against teenager Leesa Marie Gray.
Wanda Farris, Gray’s mother, attended the execution at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, to watch her daughter’s killer die. She said last week that she had forgiven Loden years ago but didn’t believe his apology.
Farris said: ‘I don’t particularly want to see somebody die. But I do believe in the death penalty… I do believe in justice.’
Before the injection started, Loden said he was ‘deeply remorseful’ for his crime.
‘For the past 20 years, I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day to make up for the life I took from this world,’ Loden said. ‘If today brings you nothing else, I hope you get peace and closure.’
He concluded his last words by saying ‘I love you’ in Japanese, officials said.
Loden had been condemned to die by lethal injection at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, ending up on death row in 2001.
He spent the last 21 years in prison after pleading guilty for capital murder, on rape and four counts of sexual battery against teenager Leesa Marie Gray.
During the summer ahead of what should have been Gray’s senior year of high school, she had worked as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi.
On June 22, 2000, she left work after dark and became stranded with a flat tire on a rural road.
Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, encountered Gray on the road around 10:45pm. He stopped and began speaking with the teenager about the flat tire. ‘Don’t worry. I’m a Marine. We do this kind of stuff,’ he said.
Loden told investigators he became angry after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, and that he ordered her into his van.
He spent four hours sexually assaulting her before strangling and suffocating her, according to an interview he gave investigators.
Court records show that on the afternoon of June 23, 2000, ‘Loden was discovered lying by the side of a road with the words “I’m sorry” carved into his chest and apparent self-inflicted lacerations on his wrists.’
After pleading guilty in September 2001, Loden told Gray’s friends and family during his sentencing: ‘I hope you may have some sense of justice when you leave here today.’
Wanda Farris, Gray’s mother, described her daughter as a ‘happy-go-lucky, always smiling’ teenager who aspired to become an elementary school teacher.
‘She wasn’t perfect, now, mind you,’ Farris said. ‘But she strived to do right.’
Last Week’s Birthdays
Brad Pitt (59), Steven Spielberg (76), Katie Holmes (44), Casper Van Dien (54), Billie Eilish (21), Steve Austin (58), Christina Aguilera (42), Sia (47), Robson Green (58), Keith Richards (79), Katheryn Winnick (45), Milla Jovovich (47), Bill Pullman (69), Giovanni Ribisi (48), Laurie Holden (53), Bernard Hill (78), Ernie Hudson (77), Eugene Levy (76), Krysten Ritter (41), Miranda Otto (55), Billy Gibbons (73), Christopher Biggins (74), Charlie Cox (40), Paul Kaye (57), Don Johnson (73), Helen Slater (59), Garrett Wang (54), Natascha McElhone (53), Vanessa Hudgens (34), Miranda Hart (50), Ted Raimi (57), Vicki Michelle (72), Emma Corrin (27), Taylor Swift (33), Steve Buscemi (65), Jamie Foxx (55), Dick Van Dyke (97), Robert Lindsay (73), Jennifer Connelly (52), Bill Nighy (73), Mädchen Amick (52), Mayim Bialik (47), Sarah Douglas (70), and Kenneth Cranham (78).
Welcome all, another week flies by and more celebrities die! Thank you to all of you who have already submitted your lists for 2023, there’s nothing quite like being very organised! Feel free to send in yours, either email your list to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the form on the website. Remember, you need 13 names in total. One must be your Woman, one your Dead Cert, and one your Maverick, an individual aged under 50 who is not expected to die, so nobody suffering from cancer or in a death-defying job. The other ten are up to you. Think long and hard over your Big Three, there is an extra 100 points if one of them die, so well worth the effort. The rules are here.
Also a big thanks to Nickie this week, she found most of the stories and linked me to the yearly St Peppers image by Chris Barker.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Bob McGrath, 90, American actor and singer (Sesame Street, Follow That Bird, Sing Along with Mitch).
- Patrick Tambay, 73, French racing driver (Formula One), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Kirstie Alley, 71, American actress (Cheers, Veronica’s Closet, Look Who’s Talking), colon cancer.
- Jet Black, 84, English drummer (The Stranglers).
- Mills Lane, 85, American boxing referee and television personality (Judge Mills Lane, Celebrity Deathmatch).
- Johnny Johnson, 101, British Royal Air Force officer (Operation Chastise) the Dambusters Raid.
- Ruth Madoc, 79, British actress (Hi-de-Hi!, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Britain), and singer.
- Tracy Hitchings, 60, English singer (Landmarq), cancer.
- Georgia Holt, 96, American singer and actress (Watch the Birdie, Grounds for Marriage), subject of Dear Mom, Love Cher).
- Richard Miller, 80, American visual effects artist (Star Trek: First Contact, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Rocketeer).
- Joseph Kittinger, 94, American air force officer and command pilot (Project Manhigh, Project Excelsior), lung cancer.
In Other News
Former Jackass star Bam Margera has reportedly been rushed to hospital with a “very serious” case of pneumonia. The stunt performer and skateboarder is reported to have tested positive for Covid while in hospital, and is currently on a ventilator. The Flying Monkeys claim that Margera is currently undergoing treatment in the ICU of a San Diego hospital. His condition, however, is said to be stable. Last year, Margera entered a 12-month drug and alcohol treatment programme. Alongside Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius and others, Margera was one of the original members of the Jackass crew, performing stunts in the MTV series and subsequent film adaptations. However, Margera did not feature in the recent sequel, Jackass Forever, and claimed that he had been fired partway through production after failing a drugs test.
The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has been taken to hospital, with his wife asking fans to ‘send prayers and healing vibes’. The 64-year-old, who has used a wheelchair since he broke his pelvis in 2015, has been in and out of hospital in recent years. On Twitter on Monday, his wife Victoria May Clarke shared a picture of the musician smiling and said he had been admitted again. She said: ‘Please send prayers and healing vibes to Shane MacGowan in hospital again and really hoping to get out asap!! Thank you.’ Fans wished the singer, whose hits include Fairytale of New York, a speedy recovery. One wrote: ‘Not at Christmas, the man is the sound of Christmas… I hope he recovers swiftly and not too much discomfort.’ Ms Clarke told the Flying Monkeys that Shane is finding it ‘frustrating’ and wants to get out after being admitted last Friday. She said: ‘I’m definitely hoping he gets out this week. The Irish singer-songwriter has had health troubles since he broke his pelvis. In 2021 he fell and broke a knee, before tearing ligaments in his left knee, never fully recovering from the injuries. In April he confirmed that he ‘can’t walk any more’. He has also been open about his battle with addiction and in 2015 had to get a full set of teeth implants after decades of drinking and drugs destroyed his real ones.
Al Roker has been discharged from hospital for the second time. NBC’s Today show weatherman, 68, posted a picture to Instagram on Thursday announcing his return. “Home! So incredibly grateful to family, friends, medical folks, @todayshow family and all your thoughts and prayers,” Roker wrote in the caption. In the picture, Roker is smiling with his wife Deborah Roberts, and their daughter, Leila. Just hours before his release from hospital, he had posted a scenic photo of the sunrise taken from his patient bed with the caption: “Hopefully coming home soon but when your spirit sags a bit, you get to see that and recharge.” He added: “God Bless you all for all the prayers and well wishes for me and my family.” Fans grew worried after Roker disappeared from the Today show in mid-November. Roker later revealed that he was in hospital for blood clots in his legs and lungs. The host was able to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with his family, but was rushed back to hospital the following day and remained there for nearly two weeks. Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb later confirmed to viewers that Roker had been hospitalised a second time due to “some complications”. “He’s resting, and his doctors are keeping a close eye on him,” she said on the show. In 2020, Roker announced that he had been diagnosed with an “aggressive form” prostate cancer. He underwent the surgery in November 2020, and in January 2021 he received the good news that his cancer was “considered undetectable”.
Danniella Westbrook has been warned by doctors that she would have had a heart attack if she hadn’t been rushed to the hospital on Thursday night. The EastEnders star was told that she was only “hours away from cardiac arrest” after she told her followers she had been experiencing blackouts and seizures. She shared a clip from her hospital bed, showing her in a hospital gown, and wrote: “Sepsis, Strep A, and constant temperature of 39.8C.” A few hours later, Westbrook, 49, posted another update on her Instagram Stories and thanked NHS staff at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, London. She wrote: “Huge thank you to Whipps Cross and the NHS, who have managed to get me stabilised. They informed me if I’d of left it till the morning I would of had a heart attack, the pressure on my chest was so bad. If you have this flu bug and tight chest, ring an ambulance. I was hours away from a cardiac arrest, my chest was so tight. Now I need complete bed rest for a few days. Her health scare comes amid several outbreaks of Strep A in UK schools that have left hospital A&E departments “overflowing”. The bacterial infection has resulted in the deaths of 15 children and health authorities have launched an investigation in the cases.
Britain’s only female Spitfire pilot has been killed in a car crash in Australia, 34 years after her husband suffered the same fate. Carolyn Grace, 70, who lives in Australia, was driving her Suziki car in the city of Goulbourn, southwest of Sydney, when she collided with a silver Hilux on Friday. Carolyn, believed to have been the only practising female Spitfire pilot in the world, was visiting her family at the time of the crash. Carolyn, originally from Australia, was airlifted to hospital but died of her injuries, 34 years after her husband, Nick, was killed in a car crash in Sussex, UK, in 1988. Her 38-year-old son Richard was a passenger in the car and survived the crash and was treated for minor injuries. Carolyn’s daughter, Daisy Grace, said the family had been left ‘traumatised’ by her unexpected death. Mrs Grace pioneered the restoration of Second World Spitfires in the 1980s with her late husband, Nick, at their home in Cornwall. After Nick died in 1988, the mother-of-two learned to fly the restored plane to keep her husband’s memory alive. Over the next three decades, the aviation pioneer clocked over 900 hours in the aircraft, flying it at air shows and memorial events across Europe.
Rhod Gilbert has given fans an update on his health, revealing that he has been diagnosed with stage four cancer. In July, the comedian announced that he was undergoing treatment for cancer at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, a hospital which he had previously raised funds for. At the time, he commended the NHS care he was receiving as “incredible”. The 54-year-old has given fans an update on his health during a recent interview with BBC Radio Wales. “I’m feeling good and feel like I’m recovering day-by-day,” he said. Gilbert went on to recall the symptoms he suffered prior to his diagnosis, stating that he had been forced to cancel shows because they had been so severe. “I had a terribly sore throat, tightness through my neck. I was having to cancel shows because I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I was having all sorts of problems and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it.” Gilbert explained that the symptoms became progressively worse while he was fundraising for Velindre Cancer Centre in Cuba. In May, he noticed “lumps started popping up in places they shouldn’t be”. “It turns out I’ve got stage four cancer,” he said. “I also caught Covid on that walk as well. I came home with cancer and Covid from a Velindre fundraising trek… the irony of that! I went as a Velindre patron and came home as a patient.” The comedian praised the care he has received, revealing that he has gone through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Although, he is yet to find out if the treatment “has worked”. He also suggested that he may be working on material for future shows. “The things people say when they find out you’ve got cancer… people panic. There’s a lot of humour in it,” he said. “Hopefully I’m going to jot it all down and one day bring it to the stage.”
Cher has appeared to confirm the death of her mother, singer and actor Georgia Holt, aged 96. The singer, 76, shared the news on social media, tweeting “mom is gone” with a sad-face emoji. Holt had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and had been suffering from recurring health issues, Cher shared in September. “Sorry I’ve been MIA. Mom’s been sick off and on. She just got out of hospital. She had pneumonia. She’s getting better,” wrote the “Believe” singer on 9th September. She thanked her fans for their prayers the following day, adding that “home is the best medicine” for her mother and “she’s getting better”. However, on 11th December at 5.02am GMT, the artist tweeted, “Mom is gone,” with a sad-face emoji. Fans of the singer and her mother took to social media to share their condolences. “I’m so very sorry to hear that your beloved mother has passed. My heart goes out to you. What a blessing to have had her in your life for as long as you did,” wrote one fan on Twitter. “Sending you nothing but love, light, and healing. She was a firecracker, and she will be so deeply missed,” shared another. Holt, born in 1926, was a singer-songwriter as well as a model and actor. She famously appeared in the hit sitcom I Love Lucy. She leaves behind two children, Cher – real name, Cherilyn Sarkisian – her sister, Georganne LaPiere, and partner of 46 years, Craig Spence.
Depraved necrophiliac David Fuller – who evaded police for over 30 years after carrying out a double murder in 1987 – was handed a further four years in prison today for defiling women’s bodies in hospital mortuaries. The 68-year-old is already serving a whole life sentence for murdering Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in 1987 as well as the sexual abuse of the corpses of 78 women and girls at hospital mortuaries in Tunbridge Wells. He appeared at the Old Bailey today to be sentenced for a second tranche of offences against a further 23 dead women. After being linked to the murders in 2020, police uncovered the systematic sexual abuse of the corpses of females aged between nine and 100 at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, where he had worked in maintenance since 1989. An examination of Fuller’s computer hard drive at his home in Heathfield, East Sussex, revealed 818,051 images and 504 videos of his abuse as well as evidence of his ‘persistent interest in rape, abuse and murder of women’. Jailing Fuller for four years, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said: ‘You violated the bodies of all these women while many were still wearing medical equipment from treatment they had received from doctors trying to save their lives, such as catheters and defibrillator pads. ‘The women you abused were women who lived fulfilling lives. They were the best, one had flown a propeller plane across Iceland, one was a talented skier and one worked at Bletchley Park during World War Two. ‘A number had long marriages, some had long careers such as teaching and nursing. All had families they nurtured and loved. ‘Some spent their last years in pain but kept their dignity, until you took it from them.’ Fuller sat expressionless in the dock at the Old Bailey wearing a grey jumper and glasses. He spoke only to confirm his name. One man shouted ‘scum’ from the public gallery as he was taken down from the dock.
On This Day
- 1901 – Guglielmo Marconi transmits the first transatlantic radio signal from Poldhu, Cornwall, England to Saint John’s, Newfoundland.
- 1913 – More than two years after it was stolen from the Louvre, Leonardo da Vinci‘s painting Mona Lisa is recovered in Florence, Italy. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, is immediately arrested.
- 1962 – Arthur Lucas, convicted of murder, is the last person to be executed in Canada.
- 1972 – Apollo 17 becomes the sixth and final Apollo mission to land on the Moon.
- 2009 – Finnish game developer Rovio Entertainment releases the hit mobile game Angry Birds internationally on iOS. People go batshit crazy for no reason.
- 1282 – Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Welsh prince (b. 1223).
- 1880 – Oliver Winchester, founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (b. 1810).
- 1964 – Sam Cooke, American singer-songwriter (b. 1931).
- 1996 – Willie Rushton, English cartoonist, author, co-founded Private Eye (b. 1937).
- 2008 – Bettie Page, American model (b. 1923).
- 2017 – Keith Chegwin, British TV presenter (b. 1957).
- 2021 – Anne Rice, American author (b. 1941).
St Peppers 2022
As the end of the year approaches, we’ve come to experience a combined sense of anticipation and dread, as we wait for artist, illustrator and art director Chris Barker to release his Sgt Pepper-style tribute to the public figures who have died during the year.
So – this is the role-call of those we’ve lost in 2022. Get ready for some utter gut punches. Click on the pictures for full size versions.
Melissa Roxburgh (30), Kenneth Branagh (62), John Malkovich (69), Judi Dench (88), Beau Bridges (81), Michael Dorn (70), Donny Osmond (65), Teri Hatcher (58), Kim Basinger (69), Dominic Monaghan (46), Nicki Minaj (40), David Harewood (57), Sinéad O’Connor (56), Nicholas Hoult (33), Emily Browning (34), C. Thomas Howell (56), Kristofer Hivju (44), Jennifer Carpenter (43), Ellen Burstyn (90), Patrick Fabian (58), Jeffrey Wright (57), Tom Hulce (69), Noel Clarke (47), Nick Park (64), Nick Stahl (43), Frankie Muniz (37), and Catherine Tate (53).
Welcome all to another newsletter, bet you’re all super excited about it. Let’s begin by officially opening the 2023 competition. As per usual you can send your lists via email to me on email@example.com or by filling out the form on the website.
We also have a film recommendation by Nickie, have a read about Bones & All. It does sound rather tasty.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Christine McVie, 79, English musician (Fleetwood Mac) and songwriter (“Don’t Stop“, “Everywhere“).
- Jiang Zemin, 96, Chinese politician, general secretary of the Communist Party and president, leukaemia and multiple organ failure.
- Jake Flint, 37, American Red Dirt singer-songwriter.
- Clarence Gilyard, 66, American actor (Walker, Texas Ranger, Die Hard, Matlock).
- Derek Granger, 101, British film and television producer, and screenwriter (Brideshead Revisited, A Handful of Dust, Where Angels Fear to Tread).
- Brad William Henke, 56, American actor (Orange Is the New Black, Bright) and football player (Denver Broncos).
- James Ning, American actor (Sun Belt Express, The Ridiculous 6, Breaking Bad).
- Quentin Oliver Lee, 34, American actor, colon cancer.
- Al Strobel, 83, American actor (Twin Peaks, Child of Darkness, Child of Light, Megaville).
- Patrick Tambay, 73, French racing driver, complications from Parkinson’s disease.
In Other News
Brazilian football legend Pele has been moved to palliative end-of-life care in hospital, however his health remains stable and he is responding to treatment, with his daughter adding that there was “no surprise or emergency” involved. Kely Nascimento’s post to Instagram came after the Brazilian arm of the Flying Monkeys reported that Pele had been admitted to Albert Einstein Hospital with “general swelling” and was undergoing several tests for more in-depth assessment of his health issues. “Lots of alarm in the media today concerning my dad’s health. He is in the hospital regulating medication,” Nascimento wrote. “There is no emergency or new dire prediction. I will be there for New Years and promise to post some pictures.” The 82-year-old had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021 and has since been in and out of the hospital for treatment on a regular basis. The Flying Monkeys reported that Pele was having cardiac issues and his medical staff showed concern that his chemotherapy treatment was not having the expected results. Pele’s manager and the Albert Einstein Hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sandi Toksvig has been rushed to hospital after falling “seriously ill” in Australia. The Qi host was in the midst of a tour, but has had to cancel her dates in New Zealand as she has developed bronchial pneumonia and is unable to travel. In a statement posted to Twitter, her team said: “Due to illness, Sandi has cancelled the New Zealand leg of her tour. She has been admitted to hospital with bronchial pneumonia while still in Australia and is unable to travel & perform. Our main priority is getting her home to the UK as soon as she is well enough – Team Toksvig”. Bronchopneumonia is a kind of pneumonia that affects the lungs. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be caused by viral or fungal infections. Coughing, trouble breathing a fever are common signs of the illness. Fans were full of support for the presenter, as they took to social media to wish her a speedy recovery. Some had also noticed that she had been unwell during some of her most recent shows in Australia, and praised her for doing them anyway. One fan wrote: “Saw her show in Sydney – she said she wasn’t 100% but you wouldn’t have known it. She was due to visit nine cities across Australia and New Zealand on her live tour, which centres around her sharing jokes, facts and stories about her life.
Simon Cowell has sparked concern among fans after sharing a video message for Britain’s Got Talent auditions. The music mogul shared an appeal to talented Brits to apply for the hit show, but fans were left ‘worried’ about the star. He said in the short VT: “I always say on this show, two or three minutes can change your life. And it has. And maybe this time it’s gonna be you. So please audition now for next year’s season and I look forward to meeting you.” The X-Factor judge was inundated with comments about his changing appearance as social media users branded him ‘unrecognisable’. On Twitter, social media user Dar said: “Not one for slagging someone’s appearance but his face looks like it’s melting.” Davey wrote in reply: “LOOK AT HIS FACE! JUST LOOK AT HIS FACE!,” Tardis wrote: “Simon Cowell brought to you via Nintendo Gamecube it seems.” Commudus replied saying: “Ya wouldn’t think he had work done at all. Flawless. Jules said: “Holy moly I nearly didn’t recognise him then.” Marcas wrote: “I always say on this show, two or three face lifts can change your life” David Yung wrote: “Well…I’m torn between my general hatred of Simon Cowell’s TV shows & being alarmed as to how he looks these days. I’m going for the latter this morning.” Uncaring said: “I have never seen a more asymmetrical man in my life, bro is held together with spit and prayers.” Simon famously lost 20 Ibs over the past two years and completely overhauled his lifestyle after breaking his back in 2020 when he crashed his electric bike near his Malibu home. He suffered complications from surgery to fuse his vertebrae, which required him to mostly stay in bed for six months
On This Day
- 1872 – The crew-less American brigantine Mary Celeste, drifting in the Atlantic, is discovered by the Canadian brig Dei Gratia. The ship has been abandoned for nine days but is only slightly damaged. Her master Benjamin Briggs and all nine others known to have been on board are never accounted for.
- 1971 – During a concert of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at the Montreux Casino, an audience member fires a flare gun into the venue’s ceiling, causing a fire that destroys the venue. Rock band Deep Purple, who were to use the Casino as the site for the recording of their next album, witnesses the fire from their hotel; the incident would be immortalised in their best known song, “Smoke on the Water“.
- 1991 – Terry A. Anderson is released after seven years in captivity as a hostage in Beirut; he is the last and longest-held American hostage in Lebanon.
- 1976 – Benjamin Britten, English pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1913)
- 1993 – Frank Zappa, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1940)
- 2015 – Robert Loggia, American actor and director (b. 1930)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jeff Bridges (73), Marisa Tomei (58), Tony Todd (68), Pamela Stephenson (73), Tyra Banks (49), Jay-Z (53), Brendan Fraser (54), Amanda Seyfried (37), Julianne Moore (62), Daryl Hannah (62), Ozzy Osbourne (74), Lucy Liu (54), Lesley-Ann Brandt (41), Britney Spears (41), Connie Booth (82), Zoë Kravitz (34), Sarah Silverman (52), Bette Midler (77), Kaley Cuoco (37), Elisha Cuthbert (40), Ridley Scott (85), Richard Brake (58), Ben Stiller (57), Mandy Patinkin (70), Woody Allen (87), Gemma Chan (40), Diane Ladd (87), Don Cheadle (58), Jeff Fahey (70), Aimee Garcia (44), Karen Gillan (35), Ed Harris (72), Judd Nelson (63), Martin Clunes (61), Ellie Taylor (39), Jon Stewart (60), Armando Iannucci (59), and Richard Osman (52).
Not a huge amount to share this week, but the early passing of Irene Cara was certainly a talking point! Unsurprisingly, nobody had her listed, but Martin did have Doddie Weir listed, so we can award him 98 points! Well done that man!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mickey Kuhn, 90, American actor (Gone with the Wind, Red River, Broken Arrow).
- Wilko Johnson, 75, English guitarist (Dr. Feelgood), songwriter (“Roxette“), and actor (Game of Thrones).
- David Johnson, 71, English football player (Ipswich Town, Liverpool, national team) and manager, throat cancer.
- Irene Cara, 63, American singer (“Flashdance… What a Feeling“) and actress (Sparkle, Fame), Oscar winner.
- Doddie Weir, 52, Scottish rugby union player (Newcastle Falcons, Border Reivers, national team), complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In Other News
BBC Strictly Come Dancing has been thrown into turmoil in the last week with several celebrities and professionals ‘very, very ill’ according to competitor Fleur East. The singer and radio host who is taking part in this years competition told her listeners that the Saturday night favourite was in chaos last week due to illness. “There were a few mentions on Saturday night, but it was a tough week for a lot of people in the competition”. While it had been documented that there had been some illness in camp ahead of Saturday’s show, Fleur laid bare the reality. She said: “Hamza Yassin was very, very sick, so was Will Mellor]and so was Kym Marsh and we didn’t say anything on Saturday but Vito Coppola was really ill last week too. I got one full day of rehearsal with him.” She added: “Everyone was getting the flu! So, he was out for the count and in bed – he didn’t move for two days. I started freaking out on Thursday because I was like oh my gosh, I’ve had to practice with someone else. And as soon as Vito did make it to rehearsals, he was a different height, had a different stance – it was like a brand-new routine I had to learn. In the end we got about six hours together before production rehearsal on Friday. But I think when you have that added pressure you just pull it out from somewhere. We were both like right we were in the dance off last week, we need to just get this done! He was sweating and everything but somehow, we pulled it together!”
For more than 30 years, Rolf Harris was a showbiz powerhouse, earning a slew of number one hits and appearing on some of the biggest TV shows of the day. But all that came to an abrupt end in June 2014 when he was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for 12 indecent assaults on four teenage girls between 1968 and 1986, although one of those was later overturned. The former star – who was born in Perth, Australia – served nearly three years at HMP Stafford before being released on licence in May 2017. In 2016, while still in prison, Harris was charged in relation to seven unconnected historic allegations of indecent assault but was cleared on three counts and the jury was discharged before reaching a verdict on the remaining four. He was later retried for three offences and one new charge but was acquitted after the jury could not reach a verdict. “I feel no sense of victory, only relief,” Harris said in a statement at the time. Now said to be ‘gravely ill’, the last years of Harris’ life have been a world away from the glamorous existence he once enjoyed. Aged 92, he is believed to have returned to his multi-million pound estate in Berkshire upon his release from prison – as several neighbouring homes were put up for sale, some with millions off the asking price. In 2019 it was reported that Harris was living as a recluse, leaving the house only to get medication for his diabetes, which he once told Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, he had ‘suffered from for 25 years’. He is said to spend his days with wife Alwen Hughes, who he met at art school when she was a sculptor, and stood by him in the trial. Harris did, however, make an infamous appearance that same year when he showed up in the grounds of a primary school where he was seen waving at children before the head teacher asked him to leave. School head Richard Jarrett shook Harris’ hand before ordering him off the grounds. Mr Jarrett said it was the first time Harris, who lives nearby, had entered the school gates. But parents were outraged that he had got anywhere near their kids. Rolf is reported to have taken a turn for the worse after the death of his beloved poodle earlier in the year. Neighbour Portia Wooderson told the Flying Monkeys: “Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go. I’m told he can’t eat anymore.” Private investigator and author William Merritt confirmed his health woes, claiming it was difficult to understand Harris when he communicates. “As far as his health goes, yes, he is very ill. But, Rolf keeps going. He’s still around but he’s not well at all.”
On This Day
- 1835 – James Pratt and John Smith are hanged in London; they are the last two to be executed for sodomy in England.
- 1978 – In San Francisco, city mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk are assassinated by former supervisor Dan White.
- 2001 – A hydrogen atmosphere is discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
- 2020 – Days after the announcement of its discovery, the Utah monolith is removed by recreationists.
- 1852 – Ada Lovelace, English mathematician and computer scientist (b. 1815)
- 1975 – Ross McWhirter, English author and activist, co-founded the Guinness Book of Records (b. 1925)
- 1978 – Harvey Milk, American lieutenant and politician (b. 1930)
- 1988 – John Carradine, American actor (b. 1906)
- 2010 – Irvin Kershner, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1923)
- 2011 – Ken Russell, English actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1927)
- 2011 – Gary Speed, Welsh footballer and manager (b. 1969)
- 2013 – Lewis Collins, English-American actor (b. 1946)
- 2014 – P. D. James, English author (b. 1920)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Lashana Lynch (35), Sharlto Copley (49), Robin Givens (58), Bill Nye (67), Kristin Bauer van Straten (56), Peter Facinelli (49), Mark Margolis (83), Rita Ora (32), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (34), Tina Turner (83), Christina Applegate (51), John Larroquette (75), Kristian Nairn (47), Bruno Tonioli (67), Sarah Hyland (33), Colin Hanks (46), Katherine Heigl (45), Stephen Merchant (48), Conleth Hill (58), Denise Crosby (65), Billy Connolly (80), Dwight Schultz (75), Kayvan Novak (44), Miley Cyrus (30), Kelly Brook (43), Michelle Gomez (56), Ricky Whittle (41), Scarlett Johansson (38), Jamie Lee Curtis (64), Mads Mikkelsen (57), Mark Ruffalo (55), Terry Gilliam (82), Goldie Hawn (77), Alexander Siddig (57), and Björk (57).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sue Baker, 67, British television presenter (Top Gear), motor neurone disease.
- John Aniston, 89, Greek-born American actor (Days of Our Lives, Love of Life, Search for Tomorrow).
- Nicki Aycox, 47, American actress (Dark Blue, Jeepers Creepers 2, Supernatural), leukaemia.
- Robert Clary, 96, French-American actor (Hogan’s Heroes, Days of Our Lives, The Bold and the Beautiful).
- Greg Bear, 71, American science fiction writer (The Forge of God, Queen of Angels, Blood Music), stroke.
- Jason David Frank, 49, American actor (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Sweet Valley High, The Junior Defenders) and mixed martial artist.
In Other News
Officials have set an execution date in early 2023 for a man on death row described by critics as “one of the most mentally ill prisoners in Texas history,” the final step in a conviction process with documented instances of racism. In 2005, at age 21, Andre Thomas, a Black man, was sentenced to death for the murder of his estranged wife, Laura Boren, a white woman, their son Andrew, as well as Ms Boren’s daughter Leyha. According to his attorneys, Thomas who began hearing voices in his head at age 9, committed the murders in the midst of documented psychosis, believing his family members represented Jezebel, the anti-Christ, and an evil spirit, before attempting stabbing himself in the heart. He didn’t die, and later turned himself in. “Andre Thomas is one of the most mentally ill prisoners in Texas history,” Maurie Levin, Thomas’s attorney, said in a statement. “His profound illness led him to remove both of his eyes and has rendered him incompetent for execution. For the past 13 years Mr. Thomas has resided at the Wayne Scott Unit, where the most mentally ill Texas prisoners are housed. There he is given multiple powerful anti-psychotic drugs, which manage only to mitigate his auditory and visual hallucinations.” Thomas doesn’t dispute that he committed the murders; instead, his attorneys argue he was mentally unfit to stand trial, let alone be executed. Two days before the 2004 murders, Thomas was diagnosed in a hospital as psychotic and suffering from hallucinations, following one of many suicide attempts, but he wandered away from the facility before he could get further care. Once in jail, Thomas removed one of his eyes while awaiting trial, prompting the state to declare him temporarily unfit to stand trial, and he was sent to a state mental hospital. Forty-seven days later, doctors there declared Thomas ready to be tried, and the Texas man’s attorneys didn’t raise the question of his mental competence. As a result, the jury didn’t hear about his lengthy history of mental health crises. Critics say there were further issues with the trial process. Because the case involved a murder committed by a Black man against his white ex-wife, jurors were asked on their screening questionnaires about their views on interracial relationships. Three jurors, all of whom served on the all-white jury that sentenced Thomas to death, evinced explicit disapproval of interracial relationships. “I don’t believe God intended for this,” one wrote, while another said they believed ‘we should stay with our Blood Line.’” At trial, prosecutors played explicitly to racist fears, with attorneys asking if the jury was comfortable to “take that risk” and allow Thomas to survive, meaning he could someday “ask your daughter or your granddaughter out.” “The importance of having a jury that did not already come with existing bias is very strong [in Thomas’ case],” Ngozi Ndulue, deputy director of the Death Penalty Information Center, told the flying monkeys. “It’s really profound to see the lack of effort on the part of an attorney that would allow these jurors to serve.” That month, the Supreme Court declined to review Thomas’s case, with three liberal justices dissenting. “This case involves a heinous crime apparently committed by someone who suffered severe psychological trauma,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her dissent. “Whether Thomas’ psychological disturbances explain or in any way excuse his commission of murder, however, is beside the point. No jury deciding whether to recommend a death sentence should be tainted by potential racial biases that could infect its deliberations or decision, particularly where the case involved an interracial crime.” Thomas is set to be executed in 5th April, 2023.
Jane Fonda has pondered on her mortality, saying she is “ready” to die. The actor and activist, 84, said that people her age need to be “realistic” and should “be aware of the amount of time that is behind you as opposed to in front you”. She told the flying monkeys that she’s “aware” she is “not going to be around for much longer”, adding that she is “ready” as she has “had a great life”. “Not that I want to go, but I’m aware that it’s going to be sooner rather than later,” she added, stating: “That’s just realistic.” In September, Fonda revealed she had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in the lymphatic system, a part of the body’s immune system dedicated to fighting germs. She wrote on Instagram: “This is a very treatable cancer. Eighty per cent of people survive, so I feel very lucky. I’m also lucky because I have health insurance and access to the best doctors and treatments. I realise, and it’s painful, that I am privileged in this.” Fonda said that she would undergo six months of chemotherapy and that, so far, she has been “handling the treatments quite well”.
On This Day
- 1820 – An 80-ton sperm whale attacks and sinks the Essex (a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts) 2,000 miles 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.
- 1985 – Microsoft Windows 1.0, the first graphical personal computer operating environment developed by Microsoft, is released.
- 1990 – Andrei Chikatilo, one of the Soviet Union’s most prolific serial killers, is arrested; he eventually confesses to 56 killings.
- 1992 – In England, a fire breaks out in Windsor Castle, badly damaging the castle and causing over £50 million worth of damage.
- 1910 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian author and playwright (b. 1828).
- 1975 – Francisco Franco, Spanish general and dictator, Prime Minister of Spain (b. 1892).
- 2003 – Robert Addie, English actor (b. 1960).
- 2006 – Robert Altman, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1925).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Sean Young (63), Ming-Na Wen (59), Bo Derek (66), Joe Biden (80), Meg Ryan (61), Adam Driver (39), Jodie Foster (60), Terry Farrell (59), Kathleen Quinlan (68), Robert Beltran (69), Owen Wilson (64), Linda Evans (80), Delroy Lindo (50), Alan Moore (69), Rachel McAdams (44), Martin Scorsese (80), Tom Ellis (44), Danny DeVito (78), Sophie Marceau (56), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (64), RuPaul (62), Pete Davidson (29), Missi Pyle (50), Maggie Gyllenhaal (45), Martha Plimpton (52), Lisa Bonet (55), Gigi Edgley (45), Jonny Lee Miller (50), Winston Duke (36), Beverly D’Angelo (71), Petula Clark (90), Olga Kurylenko (43), Russell Tovey (41), Paul McGann (63), Sandahl Bergman (71), and King Charles III (75).
Even though I’m slightly dying, or maybe I should say, recovering from a short hospitalisation, I still felt I had to get this weeks issue out, too many points and dead celebrities abound! I know, I’m a martyr!
So, with the passing of Dead Pool favourite Leslie Phillips, let’s dole out the points! 52 points go to Shân, Lee, Paul C, Julia, and Martin; and a whopping 152 points go to Fiona, myself, and Paula for listing him as our Certs. Well done everyone!
And since I’m sat on my arse convalescing, I’ve had time to go through everyones lists to correct any misses, so 46 points go to Dave for the passing of Art Rupe last April and a further 50 points for the death of Charley Trippi. Also 71 points go to Lee for the passing of Tom Weiskopf and a further 59 points for Stuart Briscowe who died last August. Rachel also scores 48 points for the death of Laurent Noël from last August. So with all those points awarded, the leader board looks quite different now. Well done everyone!!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Leslie Phillips, 98, British actor (Carry On, The Navy Lark, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and author.
- Bill Treacher, 92, British actor (EastEnders, The Musketeer, Dixon of Dock Green), COVID-19 and pneumonia.
- Pierre Kartner, 87, Dutch musician and songwriter (The Smurfs).
- Dan McCafferty, 76, Scottish singer (Nazareth) and songwriter (“Broken Down Angel“, “Hair of the Dog“).
- Tom Owen, 73, British actor (Last of the Summer Wine, Tottering Towers).
- Garry Roberts, 72, Irish guitarist (The Boomtown Rats).
- Kevin Conroy, 66, American actor (Batman: The Animated Series, Search for Tomorrow, Ohara), intestinal cancer.
- Nik Turner, 82, British musician (Hawkwind).
- Keith Levene, 65, English guitarist (The Clash, Public Image Ltd) and songwriter (“Flowers of Romance“), liver cancer.
- Jim Bohannon, 78, American broadcaster (America in The Morning, Larry King Show, Face the Nation), oesophageal cancer.
- David English, 76, British actor (A Bridge Too Far, Lisztomania), cricketer (MCC) and writer, heart attack.
In Other News
Jonnie Irwin, presenter of shows A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country, has terminal cancer. The host, 48, kept his illness a secret, but has decided to make the news public after learning the cancer has spread from his lungs to his brain. He said in a new interview that he he hopes it will inspire people to “make the most of every day”. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, Irwin said: “I don’t know how long I have.” He said he first became aware something was wrong while filming Channel 4 daytime series A Place in the Sun in August 2020. He experienced blurry vision while driving and, “within a week of flying back from filming” he said he was “given six months to live”. “I had to go home and tell my wife, who was looking after our babies, that she was on her own pretty much,” he said, adding: “That was devastating. All I could do was apologise to her. I felt so responsible.” Discussing his decision to come forward with the diagnosis, Irwin continued: “It’s got to the point now where it feels like I’m carrying a dirty secret, it’s become a monkey on my back. I hope that by shaking that monkey off I might inspire people who are living with life-limiting prospects to make the most of every day, to help them see that you can live a positive life, even though you are dying. One day, this is going to catch up with me, but I’m doing everything I can to hold that day off for as long as possible. I owe that to Jess and our boys. Some people in my position have bucket lists, but I just want us to do as much as we can as a family.” Irwin has a three-year-old son named Rex, and two-year-old twins named Rafa and Cormac with his wife Jessica. He said that, while he is unsure how long her has left to live, he tries “to stay positive” and tell himself that he’s living with cancer, not dying from it”. “I set little markers, things I want to be around for. I got into the habit of saying ‘Don’t plan ahead because I might not be well enough.’ But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.” Irwin also recommended taking out life insurance, stating “that has helped so much”. “When I leave this planet, I’ll do so knowing Jess and the boys are in a house that is fully paid off and there’s a bit of money in the bank for them to live off.”
The man who inspired Tom Hanks’ blockbuster film ‘The Terminal’ died after suffering a heart attack in the Parisian airport he called home for 18 years, officials revealed. Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport from 1988 until 2006 – first in legal limbo and later by choice. He had recently returned to the airport and taken up residence in Terminal 2F after several years in a shelter in Paris. Police and a medical team were called to the terminal on Saturday amid reports Mr Nasseri had suffered a heart attack. He could not be saved, an airport authority said. Karimi Nasseri, believed to have been born in 1945 lacked residency papers when he first arrived in France, meaning he was stranded in the airport. Year in and year out, he slept on a red plastic bench, making friends with airport workers, showering in staff facilities, writing in his diary, reading magazines and watching passing travellers. Staff nicknamed him Lord Alfred and he became a mini-celebrity among passengers. His saga inspired The Terminal starring Tom Hanks, and a French film. ‘Eventually, I will leave the airport,’ he told The Associated Press in 1999, smoking a pipe on his bench, looking frail with long thin hair, sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. ‘But I am still waiting for a passport or transit visa.’ Mr Nasseri was born in Soleiman, a part of Iran then under British jurisdiction, to an Iranian father and a British mother. He left Iran to study in England in 1974. When he returned, he claimed he was imprisoned for protesting against the shah and expelled without a passport. Later investigations suggested he was never, in fact, banished from Iran. He applied for political asylum in several countries in Europe. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgium gave him refugee credentials but he said his briefcase containing the refugee certificate was stolen in a Paris train station. French police later arrested him but could not deport him anywhere because he had no official documents. He ended up at Charles de Gaulle in August 1988 and stayed. Further bureaucratic bungling and increasingly strict European immigration laws kept him in a legal no-man’s land for years. When he finally received refugee papers, he described his surprise, and his insecurity, about leaving the airport. He reportedly refused to sign them, and ended up staying there several more years until he was admitted to hospital in 2006, and later lived in a Paris shelter. Both France and Belgium offered Nasseri residency throughout the years but he reportedly was upset they listed him as Iranian, rather than British, and wanted them to address him by his preferred name; Sir Alfred Mehran. Those who befriended him in the airport said the years of living in the windowless space took a toll on his mental state. The airport doctor in the 1990s worried about his physical and mental health, and described him as ‘fossilised here’. A ticket agent compared him to a prisoner incapable of ‘living on the outside’.
On This Day
- 1947 – The Soviet Union completes development of the AK-47, one of the first assault rifles.
- 1970 – Bhola cyclone: A 150 mph tropical cyclone hits the densely populated Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), killing an estimated 500,000 people in one night.
- 1985 – The volcano Nevado del Ruiz erupts and melts a glacier, causing a lahar (volcanic mudslide) that buries Armero, Colombia, killing approximately 23,000 people.
- 2015 – Islamic State operatives carry out a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, including suicide bombings, mass shootings and a hostage crisis. The terrorists kill 130 people, making it the deadliest attack in France since the Second World War.
- 1974 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (b. 1946)
- 2020 – Peter Sutcliffe, English serial killer (b. 1946)
Inside the world of Wikipedia’s Deaditors
Wikipedia is pretty sick, isn’t it? Imagine the world before you could do a quick “Wiki” search – life must have been inconvenient, dissatisfying, maybe even frustrating. Pub chats, quick curiosities, proving points to your flatmates halfway through a discussion, all left up in the air. Libraries are useful, but they’re just not at our fingertips. Nor are their books updated in practically real time.
At 5:30pm on September 8th 2022, for instance, the Queen’s Wiki page had a huge increase in “edit conflicts”, the term given to an instance where two or more people edit the same page at the same time. In fact, there were hundreds of edit conflicts. Note the time. The BBC announced her death on the news at 6:30pm. This means Wiki’s “deaditors” were already scrambling to update her Wiki page an hour before the beeb. Now that’s quick.
“Deaditors”, you ask? Coined by a Wikipedia editor and web developer Hay Kranen, the term refers to the people responsible for making you go “woah, that was quick” when you check someone’s Wiki as soon as you’ve heard they’ve died. Every “is” has been turned into a “was” and the photo of the deceased will have been changed, too (a Wikipedia tradition, for some reason). The death of Queen Elizabeth II is a good recent example of this happening, but these diligent deaditors are always en garde to document history as it happens.
Wikipedia pages are all kept up to date by volunteers, and the operation is funded mainly through donations to Wikimedia Foundation Inc., the parent company for Wikipedia (surely you’ve seen the pop ups asking you to donate?). These volunteers are called Wikipedians, but there’s a few sub-categories within this community of online archiving.
Annie Rauwerda is a recent neuroscience graduate from the University of Michigan, who runs the Depths of Wiki social media accounts. Rauwerda tells me she’s more into “editing or creating pages for unconventional things that are less in the limelight. More boring, evergreen topics, as opposed to current affairs.” This form of Wikipedian doesn’t have a specific name just yet – perhaps we could call them nichepedians. But other types of wikipedians do have defined names. The editor categorisations are technically known as WikiFauna and there’s loads of ‘em: WikiOrcs, WikiKittens, WikiNinjas… we could go on.
When it comes to the deaditors, there’s also a special title given to the person who updates the deceased’s page first: WikiJackal. In the case of the Queen, the quickest of them all was an editor called Sydwhunte, whose edit was the first to be validated at 5:32pm. (The validation here refers to sorting stuff out on the back end of the site; people don’t necessarily check for facts before a change is made on Wikipedia, which does mean “vandalism” occurs from time to time.) Given the magnitude of the event, Sydwhunte’s been getting more kudos from the Wiki community than most, with other editors and users sending congratulatory messages.
Why do these volunteers dedicate so much time to updating pages? It’s fairly simple, really. “If you make small insightful edits, it’s possible that if you’re on a highly trafficked article, your work is going to be read by a ton of people,” says Rauwerda. Plus, we all like the buzz of being the first to do something, don’t we? It’s just like chipping into the Twitter discourse with a fresh, spicy take.
But on Wikipedia you tend to be anonymous, which makes the pursuit of editing its pages a more noble trade. “You don’t get glory. You don’t get recognition beyond a small community of media editors,” says Rauwerda. “You certainly don’t get money. But there are a lot of very smart, selfless people that spend a lot of time writing history in real time.”
One of these is Steven Pruitt, the most prolific (English language) Wikipedia editor of them all. Pruitt goes under the username Ser Amantio di Nicolao, which is borrowed from a minor character in Giacomo Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi. He’s made over five million edits to Wikipedia and created well over 30,000 articles, so you’ve almost certainly read his work at some point. Given how prolific his edits are, he’s also dipped across a few categories of wiki editor during the roughly twenty years in which he’s been a volunteer. A true Jack of all WikiFauna, in a Reddit AMA, Pruitt himself said, “Wikipedia’s a free community – it wouldn’t feel right asking for money to edit. It’s a hobby. One that has taken over my life a bit, but a hobby nonetheless.”
And yes, anyone can edit Wikipedia – that’s why we’re told not to rely on it too much for university assignments or whatever. But the people doing so are generally diligent and accurate, updating and creating pages out of the kindness of their hearts. Without them, you’d still be quietly seething after not being able to prove you were right about whatever sparked your last pub debate. Wikipedia, what a wonderful world.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Gerard Butler (53), Whoopi Goldberg (67), Chris Noth (68), Jimmy Kimmel (55), Anne Hathaway (40), Ryan Gosling (42), Wallace Shawn (79), Neil Young (77), Stanley Tucci (62), Leonardo DiCaprio (48), Demi Moore (60), Calista Flockhart (58), Taron Egerton (33), Hugh Bonneville (59), Clare Higgins (67), Neil Gaiman (62), Lou Ferrigno (71), Parker Posey (54), Gretchen Mol (50), Tara Reid (47), Alfre Woodard (70), Matthew Rhys (48), Richard Curtis (66), Gordon Ramsay (56), and Adam Devine (39).
Here we are again, another week of ‘celebrities’ passing away. Personally I haven’t got a clue who they are/were, but the Flying Monkeys insist they’re notable for some reason or other… Anyhow, thank you to everyone who contributed to this weeks edition, you’re superb as always!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Max Maven, 71, American magician and mentalist, brain cancer.
- Ronnie Radford, 79, English football player (Hereford United, Newport County) and manager (Worcester City).
- Nicole Josy, 76, Belgian singer (Eurovision Song Contest 1973), fall.
- Aaron Carter, 34, American singer (“Crush on You“, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)“, “Leave It Up to Me“).
In Other News
Former Pakistan leader Imran Khan was shot in the shin on Thursday when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in what his aides said was an assassination attempt. The 70-year-old was standing and waving to cheering crowds from the roof of a truck when the shots rang out. One of his supporters was killed and several more injured in the attack in Wazirabad, 120 miles from Islamabad. Khan was out of danger, said Faisal Sultan, a doctor who is also the head of the Lahore hospital where the former premier was being treated. Scans and x-rays showed bullet fragments in Khan’s leg. “It was a clear assassination attempt. Khan was hit but he’s stable. There was a lot of bleeding,” said Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesperson for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Footage on Pakistan television channels showed Mr Khan with a bandage on his leg as he was being taken to a hospital. Video of the incident showed a gunman being taken down by another man as he tried to fire his weapon. Mr Khan is leading a massive “long march” to Islamabad to demand a snap election after he was ousted as prime minister in a parliamentary confidence vote in April. He has mobilised mass rallies across the country, claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy by his successor, Shehbaz Sharif. Sharif condemned Thursday’s attack and ordered his government to investigate the incident. He added that he was praying for Khan: “Violence should have no place in our country’s politics.”
Former Love Island star, Maura Higgins, almost died from toxic shock syndrome (TSS) after medics found a tampon inside her, three months after she used it. The reality TV star revealed she had a “very bad experience” and is hoping by speaking out, she can raise awareness of the risks for people. TSS is mainly associated with tampon use in young women. Maura, 31, is set to appear on Shopping with Keith Lemon, where she will discuss her experience, as well as how women can achieve the perfect orgasm on their own, sans her rotting tampon we hope…. Recalling her experience, the former grid girl explained she believed she was going to die, before adding: “I’m not a doctor, I don’t know much about that, but I know you are not meant to leave a tampon inside for more than, in think, it’s nine hours, I think that’s the max. There was a tampon inside me for three months. When the doctor found it, it was stuck to my cervix and I was so ill, I did not know what was going on.” Maura explained that she had to leave the room after it had been removed due to the smell of the tampon. “There were people that have died from that happening,” she said, before continuing: “young girls might not have noticed, like you go on a night out, what if you got really drunk and forgot, like, these things actually do happen, and people don’t speak about it. I remember even being in school, I used to get my tampon out the bag, push it up my sleeve and then go to the toilet like that…thinking back, why was I doing that? It’s nothing to be ashamed about, that’s why I think it’s an important topic.” Anyhow, the putrid punani didn’t die, but would probably be worth listing as a Maverick in the future.
On This Day
- 1986 – Sumburgh disaster: A British International Helicopters Boeing 234LR Chinook crashes 21⁄2 miles east of Sumburgh Airport killing 45 people. It is the deadliest civilian helicopter crash on record.
- 2004 – An express train collides with a stationary car near the village of Ufton Nervet, England, killing seven and injuring 150.
- 2012 – Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician to be elected to the United States Senate.
- 2000 – L. Sprague de Camp, American historian and author (b. 1907)
- 2007 – Hilda Braid, English actress and singer (b. 1929)
- 2012 – Clive Dunn, English actor (b. 1920)
The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities
Just to make you feel more of a failure, the listed celebrities below are earning more money than all of us together will see in a lifetime, whilst rotting away in their graves.
Thanks to an insatiable demand for proven hitmakers, there is a bonanza in the boneyard: Over the last year, the total earnings for the thirteen best compensated dead celebrities has tripled to nearly $1 billion.
1. $513 Million – Roald Dahl – November 23, 1990 (74) – Cancer
Roald Dahl has finally found his golden ticket. The creator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had plenty of success while living – he wrote 43 books which were adapted into 16 feature films – but it wasn’t until he was long dead that his fortunes hit the stratosphere. 31 years after Dahl died of cancer at age 74, Netflix paid a reported $684 million for the Roald Dahl Story Company. The streaming giant plans to build out a sweeping flood of programming from the British novelist’s trove of stories including Charlie, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and scores more.
2. $120 Million – Prince – April 21, 2016 (57) – Overdose
With so many hits under his belt prior to his death it’s no wonder he would rate high on this list. Three of his heirs cashed in, selling each of their stakes for an estimated combined total of $108 million – sending The Purple One eight spots up the ranking from No. 10.
3. $75 Million – Michael Jackson – June 25, 2009 (50) – Overdose
The King of Pop’s Music catalog, which includes tunes by Ray Charles, Elvis and Aretha Franklin, gave Jackson a big boost this year by drawing in a new $30 million investment during 2021. His own discography of hits — including “Billie Jean,” “Beat it” and “Thriller” racked up 1.3 billion streams.
4. $47 Million – Charlie Schulz – February 12, 2000 (77) – Cancer
Charlie and the rest of the Peanuts crew haven’t slowed down. The Peanuts business brought in $47 million more in revenue this fiscal year compared to 2020, for a total of $157 million. Part of that comes from a deal with Apple TV+, where the second season of Snoopy in Space! is set to start streaming.
5. $35 Million – Dr. Seuss – September 24, 1991 (87) – Cancer
Theodor Seuss Geisel sold almost 7 million print books in the U.S. over the last year – despite controversy about racist imagery in some of his early works – up from 6 million copies in 2020 and continues to profit from a years-long courtship of Hollywood led by his widow before her death in 2018. Dr. Seuss Enterprises president Susan Brandt leaned into streaming, forging a deal with Netflix to create the big-budget animated series Green Eggs and Ham.
6. $33 Million – Bing Cosby – October 14, 1977 (75) – Heart Attack
The Holiday Inn star, famous for his baritone singing voice, makes his debut on the list after his estate sold a stake in his master recordings royalties – including his 1,600-plus songs, name and likeness and more – for roughly $30 million. American holiday season lovers streamed the song “White Christmas” 87 million times in 2020.
7. $30 Million – Elvis Presley – August 16, 1977 (42) – Heart Attack
With Graceland approaching pre-Covid attendance levels, the King’s empire is recuperating – and landing new partnerships, including Cinedigm’s The Elvis Presley Channel, which debuts on his birthday, January 8th, and promises archival content, concerts and more. In the Autumn, Netflix will premiere an animated adult series called ‘Agent King,’ in which Elvis will explore an alternate history where he faked his own death to fight crime with a secret government spy program.
8. $27 Million – Arnold Palmer – September 25, 2016 (87) – Heart Disease
Golf tournaments are back after a season shortened by the pandemic and Arnie’s Army is right there with the competition. The deal Palmer signed with Arizona Beverages for his namesake lemonade-iced tea beverage brings in millions, and the spiked version had a 15% growth spurt in sales this year, according to Molson Coors.
9. $23 Million – Gerry Goffin – June 19, 2014 (78) – Natural Causes
The lyricist co-wrote 50-plus Top 40 hits with prolific singer-songwriter Carole King during their marriage, which were recorded by acts like The Shirelles, The Drifters, Bobby Vee and Steve Lawrence. He got even better with time: In the 80’s and 90’s he produced “Savin’ All My Love for You,” the song that made Whitney Houston a star and released his second album Back Room Blood with collaborators Bob Dylan and Barry Goldberg. Primary Wave bought a stake in his catalog for about $20 million.
10. $21 Million – Luther Vandross – July 1, 2005 (54) – Stroke
R&B legend Vandross joins the ranks thanks to a deal with Primary Wave. His estate pocketed roughly $20 million for a stake of his publishing and master recording income streams, which include songs like his 1981 breakthrough tune “Never Too Much,” the lead single off his album of the same name that shot up the charts and earned his two Grammy nominations. Vandross sold 40 million records worldwide over his 30-year career.
11. $16 Million – Bob Marley – May 11, 1981 (36) – Cancer
The reggae star’s brand – which covers speakers, turntables, headphones, clothing and lighters, has expanded into psychedelics, thanks to an exclusive multi-year license agreement with Silo Wellness Inc. to develop a mushroom product line called Marley One. His listeners also keep coming back to his hits like “Is This Love” and “Jamming,” consistently streaming his songs 1 billion times per year in the U.S.
12. $15 Million – Juice World – December 8, 2019 (21) – Overdose
Jarad Higgins, better known by his 13 million followers on Twitter and Instagram as “Juice WRLD,” is the top-played musician on the list by a landslide with 5.6 billion U.S. streams, which make up the bulk of his earnings this year. In May, his team released an anniversary edition of his sophomore album Goodbye & Good Riddance with two additional songs.
13. $12 Million – John Lennon – December 8, 1980 (40) – Murdered
Lennon and Yoko Ono’s hopeful classic “Imagine” was commemorated on its 50th anniversary with the lyric “imagine all the people living life in peace” projected on buildings in New York and London. Though famously purchased in part by Michael Jackson, his share of the Beatles songs – the world’s most valuable catalog – continues to pay off.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ethan Hawke (52), Emma Stone (34), Rebecca Romijn (50), Thandiwe Newton (50), Sally Field (76), Lori Singer (65), Nigel Havers (71), Maria Shriver (67), Famke Janssen (58), Sam Rockwell (54), Tilda Swinton (62), Robert Patrick (64), Elke Sommer (82), Tatum O’Neal (59), Armin Shimerman (73), Art Garfunkel (81), Matthew McConaughey (53), Ralph Macchio (61), Olivia Taylor Dudley (37), Loretta Swit (85), Dolph Lundgren (65), Roseanne Barr (70), Dylan Moran (51), Lulu (74), David Schwimmer (56), Stefanie Powers (80), Toni Collette (50), Natalia Tena (38), Jenny McCarthy (50), Anthony Kiedis (60), Peter Jackson (61), and Stephen Rea (76).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Amou Haji, 94, Iranian hermit, known as “the world’s dirtiest man”
- Leslie Jordan, 67, American actor (Will & Grace, Hearts Afire, Call Me Kat).
- Jerry Lee Lewis, 87, American singer (“Great Balls of Fire“, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On“, “High School Confidential“) and pianist, pneumonia.
- Jules Bass, 87, American animator and television producer (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Last Unicorn), co-founder of Rankin/Bass Productions.
In Other News
An Iranian hermit known as “the world’s dirtiest man” has died aged 94, having spent most of his life avoiding bathing. Iranian flying monkeys reported that Amou Haji, or “Uncle Haji”, died on Sunday in Dezhgah village in the southern province of Fars. Locals said he had shunned hygiene for more than 70 years due to “emotional setbacks” in his youth that led him to believe washing would ruin his health. He was also said to avoid fresh food, preferring rotting carcasses, especially those of porcupines. He was known to smoke animal faeces out of a pipe and was pictured drawing on several cigarettes at a time. Locals were fond of him and built an open brick shack for him to live in, according to a 2014 article in the Tehran Times. Haji fell ill not long after locals finally took him to bathe for the first time in decades, the flying monkeys reported. On an earlier attempt by neighbours to take him to bathe in the local river, Haji threw himself out of the car when he realised the purpose of the trip. Unsurprisingly, Haji never married. His funeral was set for Tuesday night in Farashband City, Fars. The hermit’s death leaves open the chance for a 67-year-old Indian man to take over what could be the record length of time without washing. Kailash Singh of Maharashtra has not bathed in nearly half a century on the promise of a priest that shunning cleanliness would guarantee him a son.
Tributes have been paid to the late radio presenter Tim Gough, who died while on air on Monday. The 55-year-old broadcaster died from a suspected heart attack at his home in Lackford, Suffolk, while presenting his regular breakfast show on GenX Radio. News of Gough’s death was confirmed by a spokesperson at GenX, who tweeted: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to inform you, our dear friend and breakfast host Tim Gough passed away this morning whilst presenting his programme. “Our love to his family, son, sister, brother and mum. Tim was doing what he loved. He was 55 years old. RIP buddy.” GenX said it was “shocked and devastated beyond words” at Gough’s death. James Hazell, managing director of GenX Radio, said : “To know Tim personally, as I did very closely for over 30 years, was to know a warm, caring, fun guy who myself and my family loved dearly. We are heartbroken by the news. I know his family are enormously comforted by the hundreds of loving messages that have been received and have asked for privacy at this devastating time.” Gough was reportedly an hour into hosting his breakfast show when the music stopped midway through a track. When the music resumed a few minutes later, he did not return.
US house speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she and her family are “heartbroken and traumatised” after a “violent man” broke into her San Francisco home and attacked her husband. Paul Pelosi, 82, is recovering from a skull fracture after he was struck with a hammer by an intruder on Friday. The Democrat broke her silence on the attack with a statement on Sunday, saying her husband’s condition “continues to improve”. She said: “Sadly, a violent man broke into our family home yesterday morning, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul. Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatised by the life-threatening attack on our Pop. We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.” The intruder – David DePape – broke into the couple’s home in San Francisco at around 2.30am, reportedly looking for the US house speaker. Police said officers were called to the house for a “wellbeing check” and arrived to find both men holding the hammer. They said the suspect then pulled the hammer away from Mr Pelosi and used it to “violently assault” him, before being tackled by officers. At some point, the suspect searched for the Democrat leader shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told a news conference on Friday night that the attack on Mr Pelosi at their San Francisco home was “intentional”. He said: “This was not a random act. This was intentional. And it’s wrong.” Mr Scott declined to comment further on a possible motive for the assault and said the investigation was ongoing.
On This Day
- 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing a massive panic in some of the audience in the United States.
- 1961 – The Soviet Union detonates the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful explosive device ever detonated.
- 2015 – Sixty-four people are killed and more than 147 injuries after a fire in a nightclub in the Romanian capital Bucharest.
- 1923 – Bonar Law, Canadian-English banker and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1858)
- 1979 – Barnes Wallis, English scientist and engineer, inventor of the “bouncing bomb” (b. 1887)
- 2015 – Al Molinaro, American actor (b. 1919)
For the Chop!
Jemma Mitchell, 38, was jailed for life with a minimum term of at least 34 years after she was found guilty of beheading Mee Kuen Chong, 67, and transporting her body 200 miles in a suitcase to dump it in woodland. Mitchell, who the prosecution said was motivated by money, killed Chong in London in June 2021 and later dumped the body in Devon.
Judge Richard Marks said Mitchell showed no remorse for the murder and it was clear that the “apparently religious” killer is “extremely devious”.
Mr Marks added that a “chilling aspect” of the murder was what Mitchell did to Ms Chong’s body. “I am in no doubt whatsoever and your counsel acknowledges it that this was a murder done for gain,” Mr Marks said.
Mr Marks said Mitchell was “highly intelligent” and took advantage of Ms Chong who was vulnerable because of her mental health struggles. Ms Chong’s sister Amy Chong provided a victim impact statement and joined the hearing by video link from Malaysia, along with the victim’s nieces Pinky and Yinky and nephew Ryan.
She said in her statement said: “Deborah’s death was a shock to us all. It was difficult to comprehend how it could have happened to her, although we are not close due to certain differences of opinion with regard to religion. “It saddens me she had to go through such a horrifying ordeal and tragic death.”
Reading his sentencing statement, Mr Marks said Mitchell went to Chong’s home with murder in mind. “Two weeks later you hired a car for a period of only 24 hours, you were seen on CCTV to put that large suitcase into the hire car. It was clearly heavy, such that you needed a trolley to wheel it down the road and into the car,” Mr Marks KC said.
“That is because it contained Deborah’s body. Your plans went awry when you had a puncture that had to be attended to by the AA, this meant that you had rather less time down there to find a place to secrete the body than you had envisaged. Hence why you were unable to find a more remote location than you did.”
Chong’s headless body was found by holidaymakers beside a woodland footpath near Salcombe on 27th June last year. Following a police search of the area, Ms Chong’s skull was recovered a few metres away from the body.
Gruesome pictures released following the sentencing showed an open suitcase, allegedly used by Mitchell to transport the body to the woods.
During the trial, the prosecution revealed a fake will was found at Mitchell’s house, leaving the bulk of Ms Chong’s estate to her.
Jurors were told she came up with the plan to kill Chong, who was known as Deborah, after she backed out of giving her £200,000 to pay for repairs to Mitchell’s dilapidated family home, worth £4m.
The osteopath, who boasted online of her award-winning skill in human dissection, had denied having anything to do with Ms Chong’s death but declined to give evidence at her trial. It was claimed on her behalf that the prosecution had failed to prove that she was involved or that Ms Chong was even murdered as a post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be “un-ascertained”. However, a pathologist said her skull fractures could have been caused by being pushed onto a protruding surface or being hit with a weapon, although none was ever recovered. Multiple rib fractures could have been caused by Chong being stuffed inside a suitcase that Mitchell was seen wheeling away, or during resuscitation attempts, jurors heard.
Mitchell had decapitated Chong and stored her remains in the garden of the house she shared with her retired mother, the prosecution said during the trial.
On 26th June last year, she stowed the body inside the suitcase in the boot of a hire car and drove to Devon. En route to Salcombe, the Volvo blew a tyre and Mitchell was forced to drive into a service station and call for assistance. The repairman called to change the wheel described Mitchell’s “confused” demeanour and an “odd musty smell” inside the vehicle.
Jurors heard that none of the people who came to her aid saw the large blue suitcase in the boot, suggesting she had stashed it somewhere nearby, according to the prosecution.
Detective chief inspector Jim Eastwood, who led the investigation, described it as a “truly despicable crime”. He said: “The motivation for Jemma Mitchell’s actions was money and she showed a significant degree of planning and calculation as she attempted to cover up her horrific actions. The cold facts of this case are shocking.”
Mitchell had grown up in Australia, where her mother worked for the British Foreign Office and had set up an osteopathy business there before returning to the UK in 2015.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Fiona Dourif (41), Michael Beach (59), Clémence Poésy (40), Henry Winkler (77), Jessica Hynes (50), Winona Ryder (51), Ben Foster (42), Rufus Sewell (55), Richard Dreyfuss (75), Dan Castellaneta (65), Matt Smith (40), Julia Roberts (55), Annie Potts (70), Joaquin Phoenix (48), Gwendoline Christie (44), Caitlyn Jenner (73), John Cleese (83), Robert Picardo (69), Kelly Osbourne (38), Anthony Rapp (51), Cary Elwes (60), Seth MacFarlane (49), Jon Heder (45), Tom Cavanagh (59), Keith Urban (55), Mia Goth (29), Adam Goldberg (52), Craig Robinson (51), Nancy Cartwright (65), Katy Perry (38), Glynis Barber (67), Kevin Kline (75), and F. Murray Abraham (83).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Noel Duggan, 73, Irish musician (Clannad, The Duggans).
- Mikaben, 41, Haitian singer, songwriter, and producer, cardiac arrest.
- María Salud Ramírez Caballero, 109, Mexican centenarian, inspiration of Coco.
- Joanna Simon, 85, American opera singer, thyroid cancer.
- Lucy Simon, 82, American composer (The Secret Garden) and folk singer (The Simon Sisters), breast cancer.
- Ron Masak, 86, American actor (Murder, She Wrote, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Evel Knievel).
- Josephine Melville, 61, British actress (EastEnders, The Bill).
- Silvana Suárez, 64, Argentine beauty queen, Miss World (1978), colon cancer.
- Bernard Atha, 94, English actor (Kes, Coronation Street) and politician, mayor of Leeds (2000–2001).
In Other News
In a very sad development, Carly Simon lost both of her sisters this week, with Broadway composer Lucy Simon dying of breast cancer Thursday and former opera singer Joanna Simon passing from thyroid cancer on Wednesday. Both deaths were confirmed by a source close to pop superstar Carly. Lucy Simon was 82, Joanna Simon was 85. Born into wealth and a rarified atmosphere of celebrity and literati to Simon & Schuster publisher Richard Simon and wife Andrea, the Simon sisters – their brother Peter was the youngest sibling – would all find their ways to success in professional music careers. Carly Simon would become one of pop music’s most successful and commercially viable of the era’s singer-songrwriters, with hits including “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” and “Anticipation” in 1971, and, the following year, her smash signature tune “You’re So Vain,” which endures on classic pop radio and as an object of debate over the mystery man of the lyrics. Lucy and Joanna Simon were predeceased by their brother, the photographer Peter Simon, who died of cardiac arrest at age 71 in 2018 after battling cancer.
Where and when you die certainly elevates your newsworthiness it seems. Actress, director and writer Josephine Melville has died backstage after performing in a play. Nottingham Playhouse said Ms Melville died on Thursday after appearing in a production of Nine Night. The venue said she was treated by paramedics and a medically qualified audience member but died at the scene. Her acting credits included parts in EastEnders, The Bill and Casualty along with several theatre roles. She portrayed Tessa Parker – girlfriend of Kelvin Carpenter – for eight episodes of EastEnders in 1986 and earlier this year appeared in the video for Ella Henderson’s single Brave.
Not to be outdone, singer and music producer Mikaben has tragically died after video footage surfaced showing him suddenly collapsing mid-show in Paris. Michael Benjamin, affectionately known as Mikaben, died at the age of 41. The singer had been performing onstage in Paris with the Haitian konpa band CaRiMi when he reportedly collapsed. The incident unfolded live on Twitter, with Frantz Duval – editor of a Haitian newspaper – first alerting fans that something was wrong. Singer Mickael Guirand then told fans to clear out. “End of the concert. We must evacuate the room,” Guirand said. “It’s very complicated. We need prayers.” Video footage from the concert shows Mikaben walking offstage when he suddenly collapses to the ground. The venue was cleared while he was being tended, with reports indicating that he was given CPR. An official cause of death has not been revealed.
Robbie Coltrane’s cause of death has been revealed. The Harry Potter, James Bond and Cracker actor died on 14th October, aged 72. His agent of 40 years, Belinda Wright, announced the news, thanking the medical staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, near Falkirk in Scotland, for their “care and diplomacy”. According to multiple reports, Coltrane died from multiple organ failure. According to the actor’s death certificate, the actor, who played Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter franchise, had been suffering from sepsis, lower respiratory tract infection and heart block. News of the actor’s death led to tributes from the world of Hollywood, including his co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. Harry Potter fans also shared a poignant clip from the film series’s 20th anniversary, Return to Hogwarts, which aired in January 2022. While discussing its legacy, a tearful Coltrane said: “I just think it’s the end of an era, 10 years of my life. My children have grown up during it, of course. The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children. He added: “So, you could be watching it in 50 years’ time, easy… I’ll not be here, sadly… but Hagrid will, yes.” Coltrane, who was born Anthony Robert McMillan, is survived by his sister Annie Rae, his children Spencer and Alice, and their mother Rhona Gemmell.
On This Day
- 1989 – An explosion at the Houston Chemical Complex in Pasadena, Texas, which registered a 3.5 on the Richter magnitude scale, kills 23 and injures 314.
- 2001 – Apple Computer releases the iPod.
- 2002 – Chechen separatist terrorists seize the House of Culture theatre in Moscow and take approximately 700 theatre-goers hostage. Doesn’t end well…
- 42 BC – Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger, Roman general and politician (b. 85 BC)
- 1915 – W. G. Grace, English cricketer and physician (b. 1848)
- 1921 – John Boyd Dunlop, Scottish businessman, founded Dunlop Rubber (b. 1840)
- 1950 – Al Jolson, Lithuanian-American actor and singer (b. 1886)
- 2001 – Josh Kirby, English illustrator (b. 1928)
- 2014 – Alvin Stardust, English singer and actor (b. 1942)
- 2016 – Pete Burns, English singer-songwriter (b. 1959)
A nice night out at the Theatre
The Moscow theatre hostage crisis was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka Theatre by 40 to 50 armed Chechen terrorists on 23rd October 2002, which involved 850 hostages and ended with the death of at least 170 people. The attackers, led by Movsar Barayev, claimed allegiance to the Islamist separatist movement in Chechnya. They demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and an end to the Second Chechen War.
Due to the layout of the theatre, special forces would have had to fight through 30 metres of corridor and advance up a well-defended staircase before they could reach the hall in which the hostages were held. The attackers had numerous explosives, with the most powerful in the centre of the auditorium. Spetsnaz operators from Federal Security Service (FSB) Alpha and Vympel, supported by a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) SOBR unit, pumped an undisclosed chemical agent into the building’s ventilation system and began the rescue operation.
The Chechens, some of whom were equipped with gas masks, responded by firing blindly at the Russian positions outside. After thirty minutes, when the gas had taken effect, a physical assault on the building commenced. The combined forces entered through numerous building openings, including the roof, the basement, and finally the front door.
When the shooting began, the terrorists told their hostages to lean forward in the theatere seats and cover their heads behind the seats. Hostages reported that some people in the audience fell asleep, and some of the gunmen put on respirators. As the terrorists and hostages alike began to fall unconscious, several of the female terrorists made a dash for the balcony but passed out before they reached the stairs. They were later found shot dead. Two of the Spetsnaz Alpha Group were also overcome by the gas.
After nearly one and a half hours of sporadic gun battles, the Russian special forces blew open the doors to the main hall and poured into the auditorium. In a fierce firefight, the federals killed most of the hostage-takers, both those still awake and those who had succumbed to the gas.
According to the Russian government, fighting between the troops and the still-conscious Chechen fighters continued in other parts of the building for another 30 minutes to one hour. Initial reports stated that three terrorists were captured alive (the BBC reported that a “handful of surviving fighters were led away in handcuffs”) and two of them managed to escape. Later, the government claimed that all hostage-takers had been killed in the storming.
Alpha team troops said that “this is our first successful operation in years”. Moskovskij Komsomolets cited a Russian special forces operative saying that “if it were a usual storming, we’d have had 150 casualties among our men, added to the hostages.
All 40 of the insurgents were killed, an estimated 130 hostages died during the siege, including 9 foreigners, due to the toxic substance pumped into the theatre. The identity of the gas was not disclosed at the time, although it was believed by some to have been a Fentanyl derivative, such as Carfentanil.
The number of estimated casualties varies widely because many hostages remained unaccounted for and were not included in the official list. Some estimates have put the civilian death toll at more than 200 with 204 names on one list, or even 300, including people who died during the year after the siege from complications from the poison gas. Some former hostages and relatives of the victims claim that the death toll from the chemical agent is being kept secret. According to official numbers, 40 terrorists and about 130 hostages died during the raid or in the following days.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ryan Reynolds (46), Emilia Clarke (36), Sam Raimi (63), ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (63), Christopher Lloyd (84), Bob Odenkirk (60), Jeff Goldblum (70), Saffron Burrows (50), Catherine Deneuve (79), Derek Jacobi (84), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (47), Andrew Scott (46), Everett McGill (77), Kim Kardashian (42), Ken Watanabe (63), Viggo Mortensen (64), Danny Boyle (66), Snoop Dogg (51), Rebecca Ferguson (39), John Lithgow (77), Jon Favreau (56), Zac Efron (35), Jean-Claude Van Damme (62), Felicity Jones (39), Matthew Macfadyen (48), Michael McKean (75), Mark Gatiss (56), George Wendt (74), and Eminem (50).
Points!!!! With the tragic passing of Angela Lansbury, Sarah, Gwenan, Paula, Nickie, Fiona, Millie & Paul G score 54 points, however Debbie scores 154 as she had her down as her Woman. Well done everyone!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Eileen Ryan, 94, American actress (Magnolia, Parenthood, Benny & Joon).
- Michael Callan, 86, American actor (West Side Story, Cat Ballou, Gidget Goes Hawaiian), pneumonia.
- Dame Angela Lansbury, 96, British-American-Irish actress (The Manchurian Candidate, Sweeney Todd, Murder, She Wrote).
- Willie Spence, 23, American singer (American Idol), traffic collision.
- Steve Roberts, 68, British drummer (U.K. Subs), suicide.
- Robbie Coltrane, 72, Scottish actor (Harry Potter, Cracker, GoldenEye) and comedian.
- Ted White, 96, American stuntman (Escape from New York, Road House) and actor (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter).
In Other News
Former Coronation Street and Emmerdale star Chris Fountain has revealed that he suffered a mini stroke. The actor, 35, said he was left “speaking like a toddler” after he woke up one morning in August and was unable to speak properly. Fountain told the flying monkeys that he spent five days in a London hospital and was left fearing “life as I knew it was over”. Fountain was diagnosed with a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), which is also known as a mini stroke, after a blood clot was lodged in his brain. While he has regained 90 per cent of his speech, the actor revealed he will now have to work with a speech therapist to relearn how to read aloud and not to stumble over his words. “I woke up one morning and knew something wasn’t right. My mum called me and I just couldn’t get my words out,” he told the flying monkeys. “I started walking round my house looking at things and I could think what the word was, like television or fridge, but I couldn’t say it. I called 111 on my mum’s advice and they sent an ambulance for me, it was so scary.” Fountain added that he felt “stupid” because he knew exactly what he wanted to say to the doctors but he “couldn’t get the words out”. “When the doctors confirmed I’d had a TIA and said the word stroke, I just couldn’t believe it, there was a moment of sheer panic just fearing what it meant for the rest of my life. Would I have another one? Would the next one be even worse and I’d lose the use of my arms or legs? I was really scared and just broke down in tears,” he added. Fountain was initially admitted to Homerton University Hospital but was later transferred to the specialist stroke unit at The Royal London Hospital. “The doctors said they saw some damage to the left hand side of my brain which is where your cognitive abilities are controlled from,” he continued. “What’s scary is if I hadn’t have called 111 when I did and got to hospital so quickly I don’t know if that clot could have travelled to the wrong place in my brain, I could have died. That clot was like a ticking bomb in my head.”
BBC presenter George Alagiah will be taking a break from TV after discovering his cancer has spread further, his agent has said. He was first diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2014 and has stepped back from presenting intermittently for treatment since then. The journalist, 66, returned to the BBC’s News at Six in April. Working in the newsroom “has been such an important part of keeping energised and motivated”, said Alagiah. In a statement, he said “it’s back to the tough stuff” after a scan showed his cancer had spread further. “I’m missing my colleagues”, he said, adding that he was looking forward to returning to the studio “as soon as I can”. The news was confirmed by his agent Mary Greenham. In January, Alagiah said he thought the cancer he had had since 2014 would “probably get me in the end”, but he still feels “very lucky”. Speaking on the podcast Desperately Seeking Wisdom he said that when his cancer was first diagnosed, it took a while for him to understand what he “needed to do”. “I had to stop and say, Hang on a minute. If the full stop came now, would my life have been a failure? And actually, when I look back and I looked at my journey… the family I had, the opportunities my family had, the great good fortune to bump into (Frances Robathan), who’s now been my wife and lover for all these years, the kids that we brought up… it didn’t feel like a failure.” Alagiah underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy to treat his advanced bowel cancer in 2014 and said he was a “richer person” for it upon returning to presenting the following year. As well as presenting the news, Alagiah has worked as a BBC News foreign correspondent and specialist on Africa and the developing world, covering events including the Rwandan genocide and interviewing Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
On This Day
- 1793 – French Revolution: Queen Marie Antoinette is executed.
- 1834 – Much of the ancient structure of the Palace of Westminster in London burns to the ground.
- 1846 – William T. G. Morton administers ether anaesthesia during a surgical operation.
- 1869 – The Cardiff Giant, one of the most famous American hoaxes, is “discovered”.
- 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis begins: U.S. President John F. Kennedy is informed of photos showing nuclear missiles (the crisis will last for 13 days starting from this point).
- 1964 – China detonates its first nuclear weapon.
- 1968 – Tommie Smith and John Carlos are ejected from the US Olympic team for participating in the Olympics Black Power salute.
- 1975 – Three-year-old Rahima Banu, from Bangladesh, is the last known case of naturally occurring smallpox.
- 1793 – Marie Antoinette, Austrian-born queen consort of Louis XVI of France (b. 1755)
- 2007 – Deborah Kerr, Scottish actress (b. 1921)
- 2017 – Sean Hughes, British-born Irish stand-up comedian (b. 1965)
Celebrity wills and dying wishes
Everyone has a dying wish. For many, that means managing money beyond the grave. Wills are pretty important, and it’s good to ensure you pass something on to your loved ones. That said, many celebs have unusual wills and dying wishes.
Alexander McQueen: The innovative fashion designer loved his dogs, and left a reported $75,000 to them.
Tupac Shakur: On his track, ‘Black Jesus,’ the rapper asked for friends to smoke his ashes. Members of his crew, Outlawz, followed through with this request.
Leona Helmsley: The flamboyant businesswoman left $10 million to her brother, and $5 million to her grandsons. Meanwhile her dog, Maltese, received $12 million.
William Shakespeare: The legendary writer left a strange present to his wife, Anne Hathaway. He left his “second best bed” for his wife—that’s right, his second best.
Harry Houdini: Houdini was an iconic magician, and kept the tricks coming from the afterlife. His wife was instructed to hold séances every year on his death date, October 31st.
Napoleon: After his death, Napoleon asked for his head to be shaved, and his hair divided among friends.
Gene Roddenberry: The ‘Star Trek’ creator asked for his ashes to be sent into space. This was done in 1997.
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Apparently, the actor didn’t want “trust fund kids,” so he left everything to his girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell.
Janis Joplin: Joplin was a wild superstar, and didn’t want a miserable funeral. Instead, she left around US$2,500 for her friends to have an all-night party.
William Randolph Hearst: Mr. Hearst was an influential magazine mogul. In his will, he offered just one dollar to anyone who could prove they were his child.
Dusty Springfield: Springfield had some curious requests for her cat, Nicholas. She asked for him to be fed baby food, given a tree house, and to be serenaded by Springfield’s records. Adam Yauch: In his will, the Beastie Boy asked that neither his image or music should be used for advertising.
Mickey Rooney: Once a star, Mickey Rooney only had around $80,000 before he passed away. The actor left none of it to his wife and children.
Jeremy Bentham: The philosopher asked that his body be stuffed with hay, and put on display in London. You can still see him there today.
Fred Baur: Baur invented the Pringles can, and asked that he be buried in one. His family agreed.
Oprah Winfrey: Winfrey will apparently leave $30 million to her dogs.
Bill Gates: The entire Gates fortune will not be left to his children, but his children will receive a small portion of $10 million.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Angela Lansbury (97), Tim Robbins (64), Suzanne Somers (76), Gary Kemp (63), Dominic West (53), Ncuti Gatwa (30), Steve Coogan (57), Sacha Baron Cohen (51), Christopher Judge (58), Himesh Patel (32), Chris Carter (66), Hugh Jackman (54), Hiroyuki Sanada (62), Josh Hutcherson (30), Robin Askwith (72), Emily Deschanel (46), Claudia Black (50), Michelle Trachtenberg (37), Joan Cusack (60), Jane Krakowski (54), Stephen Moyer (53), John Nettles (79), Dawn French (65), Rose McIver (34), Dan Stevens (40), Charles Dance (76), Manu Bennett (53), Sarah Lancashire (58), and Martin Kemp (61).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Raymond Allen, 82, British television screenwriter (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Comedy Playhouse, The Little and Large Show).
- Loretta Lynn, 90, American country singer-songwriter (“Coal Miner’s Daughter“, “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)“, “The Pill“).
- Lenny Lipton, 82, American poet and lyricist (“Puff, the Magic Dragon“), brain cancer.
- John Henry Ramirez, 38, American convicted murderer, lethal injection.
- Ivy Jo Hunter, 82, American songwriter (“Behind a Painted Smile“, “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever“, “Dancing in the Street“).
- Sara Lee, 30, American professional wrestler (WWE).
- Jody Miller, 80, American country singer (“Queen of the House“), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Judy Tenuta, 72, American comedian, actress (The Weird Al Show, Going Down in LA-LA Land, There’s No Such Thing as Vampires), and musician, ovarian cancer.
- Peter Tobin, 76, Scottish serial killer.
In Other News
Convicted paedophile Rolf Harris is “gravely ill” with neck cancer and receiving around-the-clock care, the flying monkeys have reported. The disgraced entertainer is unable to eat and only receives medical professionals at home. Harris was jailed for sexual offences in 2014 and released three years later under licence. His victims included two girls in their early teens and his daughter’s friend. Harris, 92, is now reported to be suffering from ill health that requires 24-hour care. “Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go,” one of his Berkshire neighbours, Portia Wooderson,“I’m told he can’t eat anymore.” William Merritt, a private investigator who wrote a book on Harris’ trials, told the Flying Mokeys: “As far as his health goes, yes, he is very ill. But, Rolf keeps going. He’s still around but he’s not well at all.“ In 2019, two years after Harris was released from prison, reports suggested the convicted paedophile’s health had “declined rapidly”. Several years before, Harris was rushed to hospital in 2016 with suspected sepsis while serving his sentence at Stafford jail, which is specifically for men convicted of sex offences. He has not spoken in public since his release from prison. The 92-year-old was convicted of 12 indecent assaults spanning nearly two decades – 1968 to 1986 – at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2014. One of these convictions was later quashed. He was stripped of his CBE – which he received after painting Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait – following his conviction.
Necrophiliac murderer David Fuller, who sexually abused dead bodies in hospital mortuaries, has been charged with 16 further sexual offences. Fuller, 68, received two whole life sentences in December 2021 after admitting sexually assaulting at least 102 female corpses while working as an electrician in a hospital morgue. He filmed himself abusing the corpses, including a nine-year-old girl, two 16-year-olds, and a 100-year-old woman, over 12 years before his arrest in December 2020. He also beat and strangled Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, to death before sexually assaulting them in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987. The pensioner received the life sentences on December 15th 2021, after pleading guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to their murders, as well as 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 victims in mortuaries between 2008 and November 2020. His crimes first came to light after he was linked to one of Britain’s longest unsolved double killings more than 30 years ago. During the investigation, Fuller was linked to the 30-year cold cases by a DNA breakthrough that then led police to his stash of sickening recordings of himself abusing corpses. Now police have brought a further 16 charges against him in relation to sexual offences committed in a mortuary setting. Kent Police said on Tuesday: ‘An investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate has led to evidence which relates to a total of 101 victims in these mortuary settings. ‘The latest charges are connected to the 23 remaining victims, of all whom were deceased adult females. They cover a period between 2007 and 2020.’ Fuller will appear via video link before Medway Magistrates’ Court on Thursday facing 12 charges of sexual penetration of a corpse and four charges in relation to possession of extreme pornography. Nice chap!
On This Day
- 1604 – Kepler’s Supernova is the most recent supernova to be observed within the Milky Way.
- 1967 – A day after his capture, Ernesto “Che” Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia.
- 1981 – President François Mitterrand abolishes capital punishment in France.
- 2012 – Pakistani Taliban attempt to assassinate outspoken schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.
- 1911 – Jack Daniel, American businessman, founded Jack Daniel’s (b. 1849)
- 1967 – Che Guevara, Argentinian-Cuban physician, politician & guerrilla leader (b. 1928)
- 1967 – Joseph Pilates, German-American fitness trainer, developed Pilates (b. 1883)
- 1974 – Oskar Schindler, Czech-German businessman (b. 1908)
- 1995 – Alec Douglas-Home, British politician, P.M. of the United Kingdom (b. 1903)
- 2006 – Paul Hunter, English snooker player (b. 1978)
- 2015 – Geoffrey Howe, Welsh lawyer and politician, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1926)
John Henry Ramirez was executed this week, ten years after being convicted of murder, but unlike most death row inmates, he was not granted his final meal. The 38-year-old was killed by lethal injection at Huntsville State Penitentiary in Texas on Wednesday.
In 2009, he was sentenced to death for the murder of Pablo Castro, who he killed for just $1.25 during a violent robbery in 2004.
Unfortunately for Ramirez he was unlucky enough to be charged in Texas, where Death Row inmates are no longer allowed to take part in the tradition since former prisoner Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist murderer, who was jailed alongside three other men for killing James Byrd Jr. by dragging him along behind a pick-up truck for three miles along a road. When his execution date came, he ordered a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, one pound of barbecue and a half loaf of white bread, pizza meat lover’s special, one pint of ‘homemade vanilla’ Blue Bell ice cream, one slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts and three root beers. However, when it was served to him, he didn’t eat a bite, saying he wasn’t hungry.
That led to Texas senator John Whitmire ending the 87-year-old tradition, ordering everyone on death row to eat what everyone else ate.
One request Ramirez did get, however, was to have a priest present and praying at his execution. His wish was ultimately granted by the Supreme Court, who ruled that denying the killer a priest would be a violation of his rights under the First Amendment.
Before the lethal injection was administered, Ramirez also spoke directly to Castro’s family.
“I just want to say to the family of Pablo Castro, I appreciate everything that y’all did to try and communicate with me through the Victim’s Advocacy program,” he said. “I tried to reply back, but there is nothing that I could have said or done that would have helped you. I have regret and remorse. This is such a heinous act. I hope this finds you comfort. If this helps you, then I am glad. I hope in some shape or form this helps you find closure.”
He was pronounced dead at 6:41 p.m. CT, 14 minutes after the injection of pentobarbital began.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Guillermo del Toro (58), Scott Bakula (68), Chris O’Dowd (43), Brandon Routh (43), Tony Shalhoub (69), Brian Blessed (86), Sharon Osbourne (70), Sigourney Weaver (73), Matt Damon (52), Chevy Chase (79), Kristanna Loken (43), Paul Hogan (83), Ardal O’Hanlon (57), Karyn Parsons (56), Jesse Jackson (81), R.L. Stine (79), Bruno Mars (37), Shawn Ashmore (43), Aaron Ashmore (43), Tim Minchin (47), Simon Cowell (63), Vladimir Putin (70), Thom Yorke (54), Elisabeth Shue (59), Emily Mortimer (51), Ioan Gruffudd (49), Britt Ekland (80), Kate Winslet (47), Guy Pearce (55), Jesse Eisenberg (39), Karen Allen (71), Clive Barker (70), Diane Morgan (47), Glynis Johns (99), Stephanie Cole (81), Alicia Silverstone (46), Dakota Johnson (33), Susan Sarandon (76), Christoph Waltz (66), Melissa Benoist (34), Liev Schreiber (55), Sarah Lancashire (58), Nick Mohammed (42), Lena Headey (49), Alicia Vikander(34), Neve Campbell (49), Denis Villeneuve (55), Seann William Scott (46), Clive Owen (58), Tommy Lee (60), and Gwen Stefani (53).
Last week we found out that The Queen died of old age, a very technical assessment there. I suspect the coroner had to use all of their training and experience to write that down on the report! However, the flying monkeys have worked their magic and found out that it was an overdose of marmalade and complications from the constant imbibing of gin.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Kitten Natividad, 74, Mexican-American actress (Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Night Patrol, Takin’ It All Off) and exotic dancer.
- Coolio, 59, American rapper (“Gangsta’s Paradise“, “Fantastic Voyage“, “C U When U Get There“.
- Audrey Evans, 97, British-born American oncologist and philanthropist, co-founder of Ronald McDonald House Charities.
- Arlene Bashnett, 103, American internet celebrity (Gramma and Ginga).
In Other News
Oasis guitarist Paul Arthurs – better known by his stage name Bonehead – has given fans a promising update on his cancer status after undergoing treatment in June. The musician – who had been playing as part of Liam Gallagher’s live band – was diagnosed with tonsil cancer earlier this year. In a new update, shared on Twitter on Thursday, Bonehead wrote: “I had a full scan 10 days ago and it’s all clear, it’s gone. Thank you so much all of you for the messages I’ve had throughout, you’ve helped more than you know,” he said, further thanking the team at The Christie NHS foundation. “Into recovery now and see you all soon,” he added. Gallagher celebrated the news, writing on Twitter: “Yes Bonehead, we knew you’d kick its arse. Sooooo fucking happy Guinness.” The good news comes shortly after his course of treatment in June, which included radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions. At the time, he told fans: “I’m feeling the pain right now but I’m in recovery and things can only get better from here.” He had undergone the treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. Bonehead was a founding member of Oasis. He announced he was leaving the group in 1999, during the recording of Oasis’s fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, explaining that he wished to spend more time with his family. He continued to work with Liam Gallagher over the years, and had been scheduled to perform with him this summer.
The Alarm frontman Mike Peters has confirmed that his cancer has returned in an emotional message to his fans. The musician made an announcement on the bands social media page last week. The rocker 63, suffers from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – and has also been battling pneumonia since May. Sadly two weeks ago doctors confirmed that his leukaemia was “running out of control.” He has now been admitted to the North Wales Cancer Centre for immediate treatment, but so dedicated he is to his music that he even has his guitar with him on the hospital ward, in case inspiration strikes. In an emotional Facebook post, in which he thanked his wife Jules, who has also battled cancer in the past, the singer said: “I am writing today, to let you all know that my leukaemia (CLL), has relapsed and I have been admitted to The North Wales Cancer Centre for immediate treatment. I have already started on a brand new chemotherapy regime and so I wanted you to know personally, that my life living with cancer is about to change for the foreseeable future. My immediate aim is to get fit and well for The Gathering in January 2023. We’ve had so many of our greatest shows in Llandudno and celebrated many important milestones (including one of the most emotional nights ever in 2006), when I took to the stage in my green camo jacket and was overcome by the love and affection shown to me, by all present. I want you to know that I am going to beat this disease once more and be ready, willing and able to hit the stage at Venue Cymru on January 27th 2023.
Bob Mortimer, 63, sparked concerns over the weekend after he was rushed to hospital with an unknown illness. The hospital dash comes after the comedian required triple heart bypass surgery in 2015 when his heart was stopped for 32 minutes. Now, Bob has broken his silence on his health woes as he admitted he is “not very healthy at the moment”. Speaking on Richard Herring’s podcast at the Leicester Square Theatre on Monday night, Bob revealed he was rushed to hospital on Saturday after a busy week. He said: “I am not very well. I am not very healthy at the moment. I did a show last week, a fishing show and there was only two and a half days filming. I did it Tuesday, Wednesday and half of Thursday and I was in hospital on the Saturday.” Bob added: “I am sorry I should not have said that should I? It’s a real downer.” As reported by the flying monkeys, Bob explained his theory that his health issues stemmed from his body ageing. He said: “I think because I was a smoker and an incredibly fast runner and a very dramatic dancer and I put that all in my younger years. I think I am about 10 years ahead of myself with my body ageing.” Bob explained he also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis – a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. He said: “In my mid-twenties I got struck down with rheumatoid arthritis. I just woke up and it was like, ‘bang’. I have been free of it since I have been 34 and it came back 10 days ago. It is really sad for me to know whether it will go. Yes I might be fat but actually I am on steroids. Rheumatoid arthritis generally happens when your immune system attacks your joints, but I’ve had it attack my iris. I got eye-arthritis. The worst one was arthritis in me b**s – I had that when we were filming Big Night Out!” Bob recounted. Bob also revealed that he “hardly” does any exercise because of his painful joints, despite recommendations by the Arthritis Foundation, who stated that “exercise helps ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis”.
On This Day
- 1928 – The “Prelature of the Holy Cross and the Work of God”, commonly known as Opus Dei, is founded.
- 2004 – The first parkrun, then known as the Bushy Park Time Trial, takes place in Bushy Park, London, UK.
- 2018 – The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
- 1803 – Samuel Adams, American politician, Governor of Massachusetts (b. 1722)
- 1985 – Rock Hudson, American actor (b. 1925)
- 1988 – Alec Issigonis, English car designer, designed the Mini (b. 1906)
- 2017 – Tom Petty, American musician (b. 1950)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Lorraine Bracco (68), Avery Brooks (74), Sting (71), Brie Larson (33), Julie Andrews (87), Zach Galifianakis (53), Harry Hill (58), Ezra Miller (30), Monica Bellucci (58), Kieran Culkin (40), Marion Cotillard (47), Omid Djalili (57), Zachary Levi (42), Erika Eleniak (53), Ian McShane (80), Halsey (28), Mackenzie Crook (51), Luke Goss (54), Matt Goss (54), James Lance (47), Patricia Hodge (76), Naomi Watts (54), Mira Sorvino (55), Hilary Duff (35), Brigitte Bardot (88), Dita Von Teese (50), Kiran Shah (66), Indira Varma (49), Gwyneth Paltrow (50), Avril Lavigne (38), Linda Hamilton (66), Lysette Anthony (59), and Serena Williams (41).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Anna Thynn, Marchioness of Bath, 78, Hungarian-born British actress (Therese and Isabelle, The House of the Missing Girls, Zeta One).
- Cherry Valentine, 28, English drag queen (RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud).
- John Hamblin, 87, English-born Australian television presenter (Play School) and actor (The Restless Years).
- John Hartman, 72, American drummer (The Doobie Brothers).
- Dame Hilary Mantel, 70, British author (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, The Mirror & the Light), complications from a stroke.
- Louise Fletcher, 88, American actress (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Brainstorm).
In Other News
Monty Python star Eric Idle has revealed he survived “one of the most lethal” cancers, after receiving a rare early diagnosis. The 79-year-old comedian and writer, who helped found the Monty Python comedy troupe in 1969, made the disclosure in a recent op-ed. “About three years ago I was incredibly lucky: I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” Idle explained to the Flying Monkeys. “Lucky? One of the most lethal forms of cancer, how on earth was that lucky? Well, because it was found incredibly early.” He jokingly added: “No, not before lunchtime, but before it had gone anywhere.” Idle recalled how he had asked his friend, Doctor David Kipper, “the quickest way to die” while conducting research for a play about a writer who is penning a musical about death when he discovers he is about to die. In 2019, the same friend, who specialises in preventative medicine, helped diagnose Idle with pancreatic cancer. After undergoing surgery at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, Kipper told him: “Well, you’re in very good shape. The cancer hasn’t recurred. You should have about 10 years.”
Post Malone has been admitted to hospital after “having a very difficult time breathing”. Last week, the White Iverson rapper tripped over on stage, bruising his ribs in the process. While he reassured fans that “everything is good” following the incident, on Saturday, Post cancelled his concert at the TD Garden in Boston at the last minute. In a post shared to his Instagram Story on Saturday, the musician wrote that he was struggling to breathe and experiencing “a stabbing pain whenever I breathe or move”. “Boston, I love y’all so fucking much,” Post wrote. “On tour, I usually wake up around 4 o’clock PM, and today I woke up to a cracking sound on the right side of my body. I felt so good last night, but today it felt so different than it has before. I’m having a very difficult time breathing, and there’s like a stabbing pain whenever I breathe or move.” He continued: “We’re in the hospital now, but with this pain, I can’t do the show tonight. I’m so fucking sorry,” explaining that the show would be rescheduled. “Once again, I’m so fucking sorry,” he added. “I love y’all so much. I feel terrible, but I promise I’m going to make this up to you. I love you Boston, I’ll see you soon.” Post was performing at the Enterprise Center in St Louis earlier this month when he fell into a gap on the stage used for transporting equipment and hit his chest. The show was paused for several minutes as the rapper, real name Austin Richard Post, was being examined by the medics. “[It] winded me pretty good. Got me pretty good. We just got back from the hospital and everything’s good,” he initially explained. “Everything’s good. They gave me some pain meds and everything and we can keep kicking ass on the tour.” Malone’s manager Dre London also issued an update about his health at the time, saying that the rapper “didn’t break three ribs last nite thank god”.
A new lead has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the hunt for the body of murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio just hours after his mother begged for help. Mr Falconio, 28, was shot dead by drug-runner Bradley Murdoch in 2001 who then tried to abduct his girlfriend Joanne Lees before she escaped and raised the alarm. But the backpacker’s body has never been found – and his mother pleaded on Friday for ‘anyone with a conscience’ to help locate his remains. Now a possible new witness has come forward to reveal he spotted a ute like the killer’s parked ‘in an odd place’ by a culvert and a bridge 24 hours after the murder. The new sighting has raised hopes it could lead to the discovery of the backpacker’s remains and end the 21-year-old mystery. The startling new evidence was revealed after South Australian politician Frank Pangallo demanded a $1million reward for information leading police to the body. ‘I received an email this morning from somebody who was in the area the day after the murder,’ the SA-BEST member of South Australia’s legislative council revealed. ‘He said he had spotted a vehicle that was similar to the one that Murdoch was using and it was parked on the side of a road near a culvert and a bridge. ‘He remembered going past it and saying it was unusual that the the driver was parked in that position. He did alert police at the time but heard nothing more. I’ll certainly pass that on to police to see if they’ll go there in person to check it out.’ The stunning development came just hours after the Australian Flying Monkeys revealed police had mounted a five-day search of an outback well in 2019 in the hunt for the remains. They pumped 15m of water out of the remote waterhole, just 1km from the murder scene near Barrow Creek, 300km north of Alice Springs, but sadly found nothing. Now Mr Falconio’s parents Joan, 75, and Luciano, 80, have appealed for fresh information to keep the hunt alive for their son’s remains. ‘We want to bring Peter home where he belongs near his family,’ his mother said. ‘Our pain is always with us. He was murdered 21 years ago, aged just 28 years. His life stopped on a lonely road – the Stuart Highway on July 14th, 2001. Shot dead by cowardly Murdoch, who will not reveal where or what he did with him.’ She added: ‘Peter has a beautiful niece and two lovely nephews who he never got to see or know. I am appealing to anyone with a conscience to help me – however small – to tell me where he was put.’ The renewed appeal comes in the week when Mr Falconio would have turned 50 last Tuesday, but police are no closer to knowing where his body was dumped. Murdoch was convicted of the murder and is now serving life in Darwin Correctional Centre – but he has refused to give up where he dumped Mr Falconio’s body. He could be eligible for parole in 10 years but will never walk free without revealing the location under the NT’s ‘no body no release’ laws. Police believe he hid the remains somewhere in the sprawling desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700km away in Western Australia.
On This Day
- 1959 – Solomon Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, is mortally wounded by a Buddhist monk, Talduwe Somarama, and dies the next day.
- 1983 – Thirty-eight IRA prisoners, armed with six handguns, hijack a prison meals lorry and smash their way out of the Maze Prison.
- 2018 – Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to ten years in prison for aggravated sexual assault.
- 1984 – Walter Pidgeon, Canadian-American actor (b. 1897)
- 1987 – Mary Astor, American actress (b. 1906)
- 1991 – Klaus Barbie, German SS captain, known as the “Butcher of Lyon” (b. 1913)
- 2012 – Andy Williams, American singer (b. 1927)
Deadly Ends by Neil G.
I’m fairly sure that most of us would agree that death sentences, while a sure source for our yearly lists, should no longer have a place in our society. Personally, I think knowing that I was to have my freedom taken, and to be for the rest of my life caged, is a far worse sentence than death. Although the methods used by and large in this day and age, are much more “humane” than those practiced in the past.
- Lethal injection (when the American State can afford the good drugs), is quick and painless, or so we’re told.
- Hanging, the science now perfected, the knot of the noose now placed in such a way that the neck is broken at the end of the drop.
- For sure there is that split second of terror for the hanged, but death is at least quick.
- Electric chair is, when done correctly (not the dry sponge execution of the Green Mile), effective. Huge power bills, but the savings made on death row…
But what of the methods used in days gone by, how do they compare? The Medieval period spanned the time between the fall of the Roman Empire to approximately the beginning of the Renaissance. It was during this time we humans got really creative with our methods of putting someone to death. For sure we could have used some of this creativeness to imagine ourselves a much more peaceful and enlightened existence, but where’s the fun it that?
Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered
One death sentence we would all be familiar with is being Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered. If not made keenly familiar about what it is to be high treasonous each 5th of November by Guido Fawkes, the last man to enter Westminster with honest intentions. We can fall back on the English hating Australian, Mel Gibson, portrayal of a certain Sir William Wallace. Albeit taking some artistic licence with actual facts surrounding Wallace’s life. Although, it’s fair to say that Longshanks was probably a bit of a c**t. This sentence, mainly reserved for the crime of high treason, involved stages which lead to the eventual execution. The doomed would be hanged to the point of death, often several times. Being allowed to recover enough to fully experience the remainder of the sentence. Being Drawn was to be dragged through the streets behind a horse to the eventual place of your death, often you would be drawn behind the horse before being hanged. Finally, it was time for the quartering. This was more gruesome than it sounds, the body of the damned was as the name suggests, quartered. The separate parts sent to the far reaches of the kingdom as a warning to other would-be treasonous snakes. However, it would start with the victim being castrated and disembowelled, having the removed parts tossed into a fire while you were still alive to see them burned. Eventually you were decapitated, and only then were you limbed and sent packing. All the while a baying crowd watched on, beating Match of the Day in the entertainment stakes. Amazingly being Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered was only outlawed in the UK in 1803! Although David Tyrie (another Scotsman) in 1782 was the last person to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in the UK.
Viewed during the times as a more humane form of capital punishment. Often reserved for nobility and royals, was not without issue, at least until it was perfected by the practitioner. Early forms of Medieval beheading were carried out with an axe, until (it’s believed) William the Conqueror introduced the more efficient method of beheading by sword. The doomed instructed to stand or kneel upright as a block to rest the neck upon was deemed to impede the stroke of the sword. Beheading continued well past the Middle Ages, the last person beheaded in England was Simon, Lord Lovat in 1747. Prior to losing his head there were some other notables in the history of British beheading: Mary, Queen of Scots, said to be grateful of her beheading after 19 long years of imprisonment. Anne Boleyn, who was lucky enough to have an expert swordsman from France come to do the deed. Not so lucky Margret Pole, who in 1541 was beheaded-ish by axe, said to be executed by a “blundering youth”, who “hacked her head and shoulders to pieces”. This form of execution was said to be painless, however draw your own conclusions: Dr. Beaurieux of France (where else with a name like that), conducted an experiment on guillotined murderer Albert Fournier in 1920. After the head had been separated from the body, Dr. Beaurieux waited for the post beheading, nervous spasmodic movements to cease (about 5-6 seconds). Then in the Dr.’s own words: “It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: ‘Languille’ I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions.” Continuing, “Next Languille’s eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me.” Beaurieux called out a second time, observing that Languille fixed his eyes upon the Dr.’s even more sharply than the first time. However, a third time elicited no response, because by now Languille was certainly dead. The whole experiment lasting 25-30 seconds. Despite this experiment, the last death by beheading in France was carried out in 1977.
Crushing with Weights
Although this cruel punishment was not actually intended to be an execution, rather, it was designed as a method of extracting a confession from the accused. Unfortunately the side effect of placing up to 800lbs (363 kilos) on a person’s chest often caused them a very painful death. One victim of this crushing punishment was a woman by the name of Margaret Clitherow, charged with the most heinous of crimes: Harbouring priests and practicing Catholicism. In 1586 she was taken to a public bridge and stripped naked in front of the watching crowd, described by onlookers as an “obscene shaming ritual”. Her limbs tied with ropes and stretched out spread eagle. A door was then placed upon her, and weights added. At any point she could have entered a plea of guilty or not guilty and the weights would have been removed. Her trial would then have begun (of which she would have almost certainly been found guilty and executed). However, she refused. When the total weight placed upon her reached 800lbs, her spine snapped, and her ribs burst from her skin. She was named a saint by the Catholic Church in 1970 for her sufferings. One of the more famous deaths by crushing occurred during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It has been estimated that up to 200 people were accused of witchcraft, leading to a special court being formed that resulted in 20 executions. Farmer Giles Corey was among the accused, he probably brought this upon himself for being a notorious apple thief a couple of decades earlier. The de-cider of his death? He refused to stand trial and the “authorities” ordered a crushing in the hopes that he would finally enter a plea. So, they stripped him naked (again, what’s with the naked thing?), and placed a board upon his chest. Corey was well aware how this would play out; he could plead his innocence and face trial where he would have almost certainly been found guilty and executed. Or he could choose to keep his dignity and die by crushing. If he did this, it would also allow his living relatives to keep his land (as he would have died without charge). Throughout the crushing Giles did nothing but ask for “more weight”, knowing that it would bring about a quicker end. This however did not happen as his body held out for 2 full days before he died. The practice of crushing was finally outlawed in England in 1772.
This was the practice of placing criminals in human shaped cages, hung high (often 30ft) for display. Often, they were executed prior to the gibbeting, but in extreme cases they were locked in the cage while still alive and left to die from exposure and/or starvation. This was a powerful tool to use as a deterrent to crime, the horrifying sight of an immobile human caged and left to, then “reeking” when dead. The carcass nothing more than a feed for crows and maggots. Its use was popular in Britain during the 1740’s, but this torturous form of death had been in use across Europe for many years previous. Gibbeting did not happen often, but its effect on the community left big impressions. So much so that it was mandated for convicted murderers in the 1752 Murder act, the act requiring that “bodies be either publicly dissected or gibbeted”. Bodies were often left in the gibbets for years. Interestingly, women were spared from the gibbet, the female convicts’ bodies were often given to surgeons and anatomists. Between 1752 and 1832, 134 men were gibbeted, this form of execution finally being outlawed in 1834.
Death by Impalement
There was no human more enthusiastic about this type of execution than happy, hippy, sticky man, Vlad the Impaler! So keen was he to “stick” it to his enemies, that his lust for this gruesome method of execution inspired the legend of Count Dracula. Dying by impalement was not a quick way to die, more a prolonged torture proceeding an inevitable death. The stake would only be partially sharpened and planted into the ground; the victim then placed onto the spike. Men would be skewered though the anus, women their vagina. The stake was semi-greased (the little pleasures in death) and would slowly force its way through the victims’ body before exiting near the neck, throat, or shoulders. In some case the spike was left purposely blunt to ensure impalement took hours or even days to prolong the torture more. Records show impalement occurred as early as 1772 B.C. and continued as recently as the 20th century, when employed by the Ottoman government during the Armenian genocide. Vlad, however, is still the Poke ‘em On king. He was estimated to have killed 80,000 people, in various ways, but approximately 20,000 of them impaled and placed on display on the outskirts of the city of Targoviste. So affective was this display that an invading Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II, immediately turned his army around after witnessing this sight… I wonder, where did 20th century Ottoman government get its idea for impalement from?
So, the poor souls on death row, if given a choice in their method of demise, would probably choose what’s on offer to them now, over a death by previous age methods. In an age of “enlightenment” perhaps our Deadpool list certs should not be executed at all? A conversation for another day. But it remains that humans are ever so inventive when it comes to “offing” other humans. Some methods of “offing” others omitted from the above are: Immurement (the stuff of nightmares), burning at the stake, death by elephant (it’s true), being boiled alive (save it for the lobsters), and many, many more.
Well, I hope you sleep well Deadpoolers, and happy dreaming. I’m off to enjoy a bloody stake and chips at my local.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Will Smith (54), Clea DuVall (45), Catherine Zeta-Jones (53), Mark Hamill (71), Michael Douglas (78), Heather Locklear (61), Michael Madsen (65), Felicity Kendal (76), Kevin Sorbo (64), Kate Fleetwood (50), Sven-Ole Thorsen (78), Anthony Mackie (44), Tatiana Maslany (37), Tom Felton (35), Billie Piper (40), Nick Cave (65), Ruth Jones (56), Joan Jett (64), Sue Perkins (53), David Wenham (57), Bill Murray (72), Luke Wilson (51), Stephen King (75), Alfonso Ribeiro (51), Jon Bernthal (46), Sophia Loren (88), Moon Bloodgood (47), George R.R. Martin (74), Michelle Visage (54), Danielle Panabaker (35), Jeremy Irons (74), David McCallum (89), Twiggy (73), and Jimmy Fallon (48).
As mentioned in last weeks telegram messages, I haven’t forgot anyone who had Marsha Hunt last week, well done all of you. The points have been updated accordingly; and talking about points, I scored again! With the assisted suicide of Jean-Luc Godard, I scored 59 points! Go me!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Jean-Luc Godard, 91, French-Swiss film director (Breathless, Bande à part, Pierrot le Fou), screenwriter and film critic, assisted suicide.
- Harry Landis, 90, British actor (EastEnders, Friday Night Dinner, Bitter Victory) and stage director.
- Gwyneth Powell, 76, English actress (Grange Hill, Man Down, The Guardians), complications from colon surgery.
- Ken Starr, 76, American lawyer (Whitewater controversy), complications from surgery.
- Irene Papas, 93, Greek actress (Zorba the Greek, The Guns of Navarone, Z) and singer, complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Henry Silva, 95, American actor (Ocean’s 11, The Manchurian Candidate, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai).
- Eddie Butler, 65, Welsh rugby union player (British & Irish Lions, Barbarian F.C., national team), commentator and journalist.
In Other News
Japan’s oldest man – who survived the Hiroshima atomic bombing and fought in World War II – has died at the age of 112, authorities announced. Mikizo Ueda died in a nursing home in Nara city of Japan on 9th September. The country which has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world hit a record number of centenarians with an estimated 86,510 people aged 100 years or over last year, according to federal data. Japan has one of the most numbers of people who have been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest people alive. Mikizo was born in May 1910 in Kyoto and moved to Osaka after the death of his family. He worked in the finance division of the Wakayama Prefectural Office, according to Global Super Centenarian Forum. Mikizo served in the Navy during World War II and witnessed the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He was passionate about the traditional Japanese way of writing poems, known as haiku, and published book under the pseudonym Morihiko Ueda. The health ministry of Japan will now announce plans to celebrate the country’s oldest living individual, Fusa Tatsum, on 16th September, according to local media reports. Ms Fusa is a 115-year-old woman who lives in Kashiwara city, 20 kilometres away from central Osaka in Japan. The woman used to work in a family orchard where she grew plums, peaches and grapes until she was about 55 years old. She learnt to play Japan’s classical musical instrument known as an Okoto and studied flower arrangement. The death of Mikizo comes as Guinness World Records holder for the oldest living person in 2019, died in April this year at the age of 119. Kane Tanaka was living at a nursing home and was in relatively good health until recently, enjoying playing board games, solving maths problems, drinking soda and eating chocolate.
The free climber known as the “French Spiderman” has inexplicably celebrated his 60th birthday by scaling a 187-metre Paris skyscraper. Alain Robert was pictured climbing up the Tour TotalEnergies building in the La Defense business district on Saturday. Without the help of ropes or a safety harness, the idiot clung to the 48-storey tower’s window frames using only his hands, reaching the top of the building in 60 minutes. His 60th birthday was last month. The climber has conquered Tour TotalEnergies numerous times in the past. “I promised myself several years ago that when I reached 60, I would climb that tower again because 60 symbolises retirement age in France and I thought that was a nice touch,” he said. When he reached the top, he raised his arms above his head to celebrate, while those on the ground cheered. After the feat, an elated Mr Robert told the flying monkeys: “I want to send people the message that being 60 years old is nothing. You can still do sport, be active, do fabulous things.” To climb the tower, Mr Robert – who began climbing in the 1970s – had only a red jumpsuit, climbing shoes, a bottle of water, and a small bag of chalk to wipe away sweat – which could cause him to slip and fall.
On This Day
- 1879 – The Blackpool Illuminations are switched on for the first time.
- 1906 – The 1906 Hong Kong typhoon kills an estimated 10,000 people
- 1977 – Voyager I takes the first distant photograph of the Earth and the Moon together.
- 2012 – Greater Manchester Police officers PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone are murdered in a gun and grenade ambush attack in Greater Manchester, England.
- 1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942).
- 2004 – Russ Meyer, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1922).
- 2020 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court justice (b. 1933).
Inside British newsrooms on the day Queen Elizabeth II died
The journey towards the1 first monarchical transition in 70 years came with the passing of a note. At 12.21pm on Thursday, as new Prime Minister Liz Truss and Labour leader Keir Starmer battled at the dispatch box over Truss’s announcement on energy bills, attention focused more on what was happening behind them.
A folded-up piece of paper was passed along both front benches, and the country knew something was up by the looks on the faces of those who read the note. “It was fucking weird because as soon as the note went round everyone kind of knew and was going: ‘She’s dead,’ right,” says one Whitehall correspondent for a national newspaper. (Like all those quoted in this story, they were given anonymity in order to speak freely.) “Then it’s been waiting and knowing without knowing, writing other stuff under the pretence it’s not all going to be scrapped.”
The correspondent was told by editors to write on the major political stories of the day – an unfunded promise to limit energy bills, the settling in of a new prime minister and the creation of her government – that they knew would never be read.
Thirteen minutes after the note came the tweet. “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” wrote Buckingham Palace. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
“When the statement dropped about her health it was obvious, and suddenly no MPs would talk,” the Whitehall correspondent says. Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs stopped responding to messages.
Across at what was once known as Fleet Street, time stopped.
Unlike the April 2021 death of the Duke of Edinburgh, which was announced out of the blue, says one BBC journalist, the announcement that the Queen was “comfortable” but doctors were “concerned” was a coded message: get ready. “She obviously didn’t look well on Tuesday with Truss,” says the BBC journalist. “No idea it was imminent though. They gave us a six-hour run up with the ‘comfortable’ announcement, which is preferable to just dropping on wires like they did with the Duke of Edinburgh.” It gave on-air correspondents time to switch into black ties, a formal rule that broadcasters follow after controversy when one of their predecessors announced the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 wearing a maroon tie and was castigated for it. (Huw Edwards, the BBC anchor who would end up breaking the news to the nation, switched into a black tie just before 2pm.)
At another national newspaper, staff kept being pulled out of a midday meeting to work on stories around the sudden turn in the Queen’s health. Eventually, the meeting was disbanded, according to one staffer. “I checked in with other editors who took the right decision to cancel on me because they needed to tear up pages and rewrite pieces from years back with new info,” says the second newspaper journalist. A first version of a front page announcing the Queen’s death was drawn up by mid-afternoon – based on a hunch that events would move quickly. Push notifications were disabled for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong moment (a consideration The Times forgot about for their banner advertising a flash sale).
At The Times, things were more chaotic. Old stories, pre-written in preparation for the day, were being dusted off in anticipation of the worst. One journalist with knowledge of the newsroom says the tech team was assembled into making sure the website didn’t fall over at a key moment; the paper prepared an obituary that was published with the wrong date of the Queen’s death, marking it as 9 September, not the 8th.
For The Guardian, one story, first published in 2017, became a huge driver of traffic. ‘London Bridge is down‘ details the meticulous preparations for the Queen’s death, and how the country’s institutions would react. At its peak on Thursday, the story was being viewed 8,000 times a minute, according to internal Guardian data. Search terms that drove traffic to the page included “London bridge is down”, “London bridge has fallen”, and “what happens when the queen dies”. At a major commercial radio station, one producer described events as “chaos”. “We had to do our show as usual just waiting for the official announcement,” they told me in the late afternoon, “which still hasn’t come.” The producers were caught in limbo, covering issues with the Queen’s health while also paying lip service to the massive energy announcement unveiled just hours earlier. They were “just waiting for the official palace announcement which then means we can drop everything and go all guns blazing.”
At 1.15pm, radio stations were half-heartedly planning non-royal news for later that night. I was contacted by a broadcast producer asking to talk on the radio around 5.30pm about this week’s new iPhone announcements. I joked that I’d very lightly pencil it in – and wouldn’t be offended when they inevitably cancelled. They laughed before hanging up, recognising what was coming.
That the announcement would come felt inevitable. “We saw Truss and Starmer get handed notes,” says the commercial radio producer. “When I saw that, my heart sank. I knew straight away. We all did.”
It’s a sentiment many journalists have. Potentially the biggest news story of their lives, it’s also the one that no one wants to be carrying the can for. “I feel like I’ve had a couple of close calls when I’ve been off-shift amid rumour and fears she’d die in the recent past,” says one producer at an international TV station. “It broke with pinging, angry shouting and the urgent need to get royal voices onto the air to fill the on-screen void the story created.” For hours, royal biographers, historians and experts were in demand. “They’re tough booking,” admits the TV producer. “Their phones were ringing off the hook; the higher profile ones are locked out and retained in deals done years ago. My channel had a plan and so far so good.”
Yet for all the hard work, theirs is not the channel most people turn to for major events. “I feel violently sick,” one broadcast journalist working for the BBC told me, mid-afternoon, after it was known Elizabeth was gravely ill, but before her death was announced. The BBC’s bullpen newsroom, which takes up an entire floor at Broadcasting House and acts as the live-action backdrop for news programmes, was becoming crowded.
It wasn’t just journalists booked for shifts that day. Flagship presenters from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme were called in to cover the news that was expected. Bosses who are rarely seen in the office suddenly felt the need to be there and steer the coverage.
Some staff were lucky to stay away, having dodged the bullet of being on shift on the day the Queen died. “It’s very weird watching something play out that we’ve all been preparing and rehearsing for pretty much our entire careers,” says a third BBC journalist. “I know the protocol and sequence of events almost instinctively from obit rehearsals and briefings that have happened with increased regularity over the years.” (There’s usually one every three to six months; the journalist says the most recent run-through was relatively recently. Scripts are pre-written and carefully defined, and set up on autocues to read in the event of a royal death.) “But actually watching it, it’s sort of an out of body experience. God knows how Huw [Edwards] must feel in the middle of all this.”
It was through another tweet from Buckingham Palace, and a special broadcast that blocked out many BBC TV channels, that most people learned of the Queen’s death at 6.30pm. BBC2 interrupted athletics coverage; Channel 4 butted into a standoff on Hollyoaks. Like all of us, Buckingham Palace’s tweet is how many journalists found out about the epoch-changing news. The commercial radio producer saw the Palace’s tweet and shared it with around half a dozen colleagues sitting in the studio, who had been broadcasting conjecture about the news for nearly six hours by then.
And still, they waited. It’s not the sort of thing you can afford to get wrong – though plenty did, with a flurry of tweets around 3.07pm from the likes of the BBC’s Yalda Hakim, Sky News’s Inzamam Rashid and Guido Fawkes, all announcing the Queen’s death prematurely.
They checked with the editor of the programme that they were OK to announce the news. They flicked a switch, turning the lighting black and went into “obit mode”. A pre-recorded obituary was played after the announcement was made. “Now we’re just rolling,” they say.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jason Sudeikis (47), Jada Pinkett Smith (51), Keeley Hazell (36), Tim McInnerny (66), Cassandra Peterson (71), Mickey Rourke (70), Jennifer Tilly (64), Madeline Zima (37), Amy Poehler (51), Danny John-Jules (62), Tom Hardy (45), John Bradley (34), Tommy Lee Jones (76), Oliver Stone (76), Brendan O’Carroll (67), Prince Harry (38), Jimmy Carr (50), Sam Neill (75), Andrew Lincoln (49), Walter Koenig (86), Alfie Allen (36), and Linda Gray (82).
However, this game takes no prisoners, so points must be awarded to the following: 154 points go to Nickie, Ceri, Iwan, Lee, Gwenan, and Julia as they listed her majesty as either a Cert or their Woman, and 54 points go to Trish, Shân, Millie, Laura, Scott, Liz, Debbie, and Paula. Well done everyone, certainly mixed up the league table.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Queen Elizabeth II, 96, British monarch and head of the Commonwealth (since 1952).
- Marsha Hunt, 104, American actress (Pride and Prejudice, Blossoms in the Dust, The Human Comedy).
- Just Jaeckin, 82, French film director (Emmanuelle, Story of O, Lady Chatterley’s Lover), photographer and sculptor.
In Other Royal News
With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many iconic goods, symbols and titles will have to change. Coins, stamps and medals will no longer bear the Queen’s distinctive side profile, but that of her son and heir King Charles III. A new flag and coat of arms will be designed for the new monarch and the most famous anthem of all will, of course, have to be tweaked. Even senior barristers – known as Queen’s Counsel (QC) for 70 years – will have to adapt to the new moniker of King’s Counsel (KC).
Here is a breakdown of some of the iconic changes that will happen.
Historically, coins played a significant role in spreading the fame of kings. This is because, for many people, the image of the king on coins was the only likeness of the monarch they were likely to see in their lifetimes. During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign there were five representations of the monarch on coins in circulation. The original coin portrait of the Queen was by Mary Gillick and was adopted at the beginning of her reign in 1952. She was later photographed by Arnold Machin OBE, and an approved portrait entered circulation in 1968. A third portrait, by Raphael Maklouf was adopted in 1985, followed by a portrait by Ian Rank-Broadly in 1998. The final portrait was introduced in 2015 and was created by Jody Clark. It shows the Queen wearing the diamond diadem, as she did when travelling to the state opening of parliament. But what will happen to stamps, coins and notes when Charles becomes king? Here’s what we know.
Following in his mother’s footsteps, it is believed Charles will sit for a new portrait to be used on all new coins, notes and stamps that enter circulation after he takes the throne. Coins bearing the portrait of the Queen will likely continue to be issued in the immediate future, and all currency bearing her portrait will still be valid for use. The switch to new currency and stamps will be a gradual process, with banks and post offices gradually collecting the old designs. It is likely that many people will be keen to hold onto their coins as a keepsake of the Queen. Since the 1600s, during the reign of Charles II, royal tradition has dictated that monarchs should be represented on coins facing in the opposite direction to their predecessor. This means that when Charles becomes king, his portrait will face left, as the Queen’s faced towards the right.
What will change for King Charles III himself? Charles’s signature will change. Before it was simply “Charles”. Now it will be the name he has taken as king with an additional R for Rex – Latin for king – at the end. In criminal court cases, the R to denote the Crown now stands for Rex rather than Regina (queen). Charles will also need a new personal flag as King. In 1960, the Queen adopted a personal flag – a gold E with the royal crown surrounded by a chaplet of roses on a blue background – to be flown on any building, ship, car or aircraft in which she was staying or travelling. It was often used when she visited Commonwealth countries. While the royal standard represents the sovereign and the United Kingdom, the Queen’s own flag was personal to her alone and could be flown by no one other than the Queen.
The royal coat of arms, adopted at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, will remain the same. But just as when the Queen became monarch, it is likely that new artwork will be issued early in Charles’s reign by the College of Arms for use by public service bodies such as the civil service and the armed forces. The “very light rebranding” will be hard to spot, but it signifies the opportunity to replace old images, which have been in use for many decades, with newer, differently stylised ones.
A lookalike of Queen Elizabeth II has said she is quitting the job after 34 years “out of respect” following the monarch’s death, but will still keep her outfits in memory of a woman who “felt like part of the family”. Mary Reynolds, 89, who lives in Epping, Essex, first became a lookalike in 1988 but was first told she looked like the late monarch when she was 17. She has appeared in television and film, with some of her standout moments including starring in the 1990 comedy film Bullseye with the late Sir Roger Moore, as well as an episode in the 25th anniversary series of Doctor Who in 1988. Ms Reynolds told the Flying Monkeys she felt “lucky” to look like the Queen, but that her days as a doppelgänger are to come to an end. “It’s been a great privilege to look like her because I think she’s so incredible,” Ms Reynolds said. “I mean, it’s a change of an era now, it’s all going to be very weird. I was watching the television the day before and felt that there was going to be some bad news, which of course eventually came and it makes you feel very, very, very sad. And then you do sort of realise that will be the end as far as I’m concerned… out of respect, I don’t think one should do anything.” Ms Reynolds said she had been approached by a Russian television company after the Queen’s death on Thursday asking her to don her impersonator outfit. “There was something about a Russian television company wanting to do something with me and they wanted to see me dressed up and I said, the only way I would dress up as the Queen would be in a black dress,” she said. The decision to leave her role as a lookalike has made Ms Reynolds “very sad”. “I’ve just moved home… and I’ve got two boxes full of hats and I’ve just found somewhere to put them and I thought: I’m not really going to need them any more,” she said. “It makes you feel very sad. I’ve had all these years of doing the work and it has helped me earn some money, but at the same time it was a pleasure for people to see you and say: ‘It’s the Queen.’ Wherever you went in the world, it was the Queen – not Queen Elizabeth, not the Queen of England, it was the Queen. There will never be anyone like her.”
On This Day
- 1826 – Captain William Morgan, an ex-freemason is arrested in Batavia, New York for debt after declaring that he would publish The Mysteries of Free Masonry, a book against Freemasonry. This sets into motion the events that led to his mysterious disappearance.
- 1941 – Construction begins on The Pentagon.
- 1997 – After a nationwide referendum, Scotland votes to establish a devolved parliament within the United Kingdom.
- 2001 – The September 11 attacks, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killing 2,996 people using four aircraft hijacked by 19 members of al-Qaeda. Two aircraft crash into the World Trade Centre in New York City, a third crashes into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and a fourth into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
- 2007 – Russia tests the largest conventional weapon ever, the Father of All Bombs.
- 2015 – A crane collapses onto the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing 111 people and injuring 394 others.
- 1957 – Mary Proctor, American astronomer (b. 1862)
- 1971 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician (b. 1894)
- 1987 – Lorne Greene, Canadian actor (b. 1915)
- 1988 – Roger Hargreaves, English author and illustrator (b. 1935)
- 1994 – Jessica Tandy, English-American actress (b. 1909)
- 2002 – Kim Hunter, American actress (b. 1922)
- 2003 – John Ritter, American actor (b. 1948)
- 2011 – Andy Whitfield, Welsh actor and model (b. 1971)
- 2014 – Donald Sinden, English actor (b. 1923)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tyler Hoechlin (35), Virginia Madsen (61), Roxann Dawson (64), Elizabeth Henstridge (35), Johnny Vegas (51), Guy Ritchie (54), Colin Firth (62), Adam Sandler (56), Hugh Grant (62), Henry Thomas (51), Jeffrey Combs (68), Eric Stonestreet (51), Michael Bublé (47), Gaten Matarazzo (20), Martin Freeman (51), Heather Thomas (65), Pink (43), Rachel Hunter (53), Miles Jupp (43), Evan Rachel Wood (35), Shannon Elizabeth (49), Toby Jones (56), Doug Bradley (68), Julie Kavner (72), Leslie Jones (55), Chrissie Hynde (71), Idris Elba (50), Freya Allan (21), Paddy Considine (49), Carice van Houten (46), Michael Keaton (71), Raquel Welch (82), Rose McGowan (49), Bob Newhart (93), and George Lazenby (83).
Let’s begin with awarding the points! 59 points to Martin and Lee for correctly guessing Gorbachev, and again to Martin for also guessing Bill Turnbull, along with Mark, Chrissie and myself, finally breaking my duck! 84 points each!
We also have a guest writer today, thanks Neil for the excellent essay below. If anybody would like to contribute, just email your work to the usual address.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mikhail Gorbachev, 91, Russian politician, president of the Soviet Union (1990–1991).
- Mark Shreeve, 65, British electronic music composer (Redshift) and songwriter (“Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”).
- Bill Turnbull, 66, British journalist and presenter (BBC Breakfast, Songs of Praise, Think Tank), prostate cancer.
- Diane Noomin, 75, American underground cartoonist and editor (Wimmen’s Comix, Twisted Sisters).
- Frank Drake, 92, American astronomer and astrophysicist (Drake equation), designer of the Arecibo message.
- Drummie Zeb, 62, English reggae musician (Aswad) and record producer.
In Other News
Hairy Bikers star Dave Myers has said he “misses” his beard after losing it while undergoing chemotherapy. The TV personality and chef shared an update on his cancer diagnosis during a chat with on-screen partner Si King. “It’s the beard I miss, though,” Myers said during an episode of his podcast Agony Uncles, adding: “I was born with that beard.” He added: ”I just miss having my beard – the feeling of it, because your skin’s different and all peachy. No, I want my beard back. I’m alright with my hair – I think the bald head and beard’s the way to go for a biker.” He added that he’s “doing OK under the circumstances”. Myers first revealed his diagnosis on the podcast in May, telling listeners he would be taking a step back from filming and attending food festivals throughout the summer. “Anyway Kingy, I’ve got to come clean now,” he said. “I haven’t been too well recently and basically, I’ve got to have some chemo, you know all this anyway, so this year is going to be a bit quiet for me. I’m not going to be filming, some of the festivals I’m not going to be able to go to, some I may be OK but this year’s a bit of a write off for us.” The 64-year-old continued: “I would love it if people respected my privacy and just let me get on with it and give Si and our team all the support they need, that would be great.
Argentina’s vice-president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, survived an assassination attempt late on Thursday after a man with a loaded gun tried and failed to shoot her. Video footage of the incident showed a man holding a pistol inches away from the vice president’s head as she greeted supporters. Ms Fernandez de Kirchner was unharmed in the incident. On Thursday, President Alberto Fernandez confirmed in a televised address that a man attempted to kill the vice-president while she was surrounded by hordes of supporters outside her Buenos Aires home. “A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger. Cristina is still alive because – for some reason we can’t technically confirm at this moment – the weapon, which was armed with five bullets, did not shoot although the trigger was pulled,” he explained, before adding: “We must eradicate hate and violence from our media and political discourse.” Mr Fernandez declared Friday a national holiday in an effort to show support for the vice-president. A suspect was arrested seconds after the attempted attack and Argentina’s official news agency, Telam, identified the man as 35-year-old Brazilian national Fernando Andre Sabag Montiel. The Argentine Ministry of Security also reportedly confirmed the weapon was a .380 firearm with cartridges inside. The attack on the vice-president comes amid rising political tension in the country and the region that has put politicians on edge from Colombia to Brazil.
Just when you thought that executives jumping out of windows was a thing of the past… A man jumped to his death from the 18th floor of the famous ‘Jenga’ tower in lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood on Friday. He’s been identified as a Bed Bath & Beyond executive. Gustavo Arnal, 52, was the Chief Financial Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, a company that has been going through struggles of late due to high inflation and a sagging economy. The company announced plans to close 150 stores, of its roughly 900, and lay off 20 percent of staff just two days before Arnal’s death. He reportedly sold over 42,000 shares in the company, oft-identified as a ‘meme stock’, for $1million just over two weeks ago. At the time, he still owned 267,896 shares in the company, valued at just under $6.5million. Arnal moved to Bed Bath & Beyond in 2020 – when the company was already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic – from London-based cosmetics giant Avon, where he was also CFO, and had spent 20 years at Proctor & Gamble. When Arnal was brought to Bed Bath & Beyond in April 2020 a company spokesman said in a statement they were ‘bringing in world class talent to offer new perspectives, expertise and experience as we rebuild our business.’ Little did they know that said perspective was from a high rise window. So, with the world going to shit, perhaps a few powerful businessmen might be worth listing next year.
On This Day
- 1693 – Date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon‘s invention of champagne; it is not clear whether he actually invented champagne, however he has been credited as an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine.
- 1892 – The father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden are found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. She will be tried and acquitted for the crimes a year later.
- 1944 – The Holocaust: A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find and arrest Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.
- 2020 – At least 220 people are killed and over 5,000 are wounded when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate explodes in Beirut, Lebanon.
- 1875 – Hans Christian Andersen, Danish novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1805)
- 1962 – Marilyn Monroe, American model and actress (b. 1926)
- 1996 – Geoff Hamilton, English gardener, author, and television host (b. 1936)
- 1997 – Jeanne Calment, French super-centenarian; holds records for the world’s substantiated longest-lived person (b. 1875)
- 1999 – Victor Mature, American actor (b. 1913)
Death by Food by Neil G
Predictably, most celebrities can afford the top medical interventions on offer, so my list often gets repeated year after year until the stubborn bastards finally succumb.
The blood of so many unicorns gone to waste.
However, this coming Christmas as I disregard buying presents for loved ones, and instead cram in my usual 25 minutes of research into noted humans, who I hope will die and furnish me with my maiden win in this despicable competition. Perhaps it would be prudent to pick those who we know like to eat things they probably shouldn’t…
10th of July 1850, one Millard Fillmore was inaugurated as the 13th President of the United States. Millard probably wasn’t expecting to become President if we’re honest, but for the rather odd death of his predecessor Zachary Taylor.
Taylor was particularly warm after participating in Independence Day activities at the Washington Monument, so he did what many of us do: He came home and raided the fridge (or icebox, in his case) for something cool to snack on. After enjoying some iced milk and cherries, Taylor fell sick almost immediately. He was dead five days later. Some historians believe the milk carried deadly bacteria; others suspected the massive quantities of acidic cherries mixed with the milk was too much for Taylor’s delicate stomach. Still others wonder if Taylor was poisoned. Probably should have played safe and gone a beer over the cherries. Let this be a lesson.
Here are nine other notables who have died due to eating oddities:
1) Steve Peregrin Took – Musician
Cherries, man, they’re such a menace. In 1980, Steve Peregrin Took, of the band Tyrannosaurus Rex, was pretty excited when the band’s manager managed to get the guys some back royalties they were owed. Took, who was no longer a member of the band at the time, celebrated by basically blowing the money on a huge bash that included magic mushrooms, morphine, and booze. After taking a magical mixture of all of those things, Took’s mouth went numb, making conditions just right for a cocktail cherry (and its pit) to slip into his throat unnoticed, and that was him done at the tender age of 31.
2) Adolf Frederick – King of Sweden
On February 12, 1771, the King of Sweden gorged himself on a feast that could have fed a whole crew of men: lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, herring, and champagne. To cap off his meal, King Adolf Frederick enjoyed 14 servings of semla served in hot milk. He died the same day, apparently of digestion problems. Semla, by the way, is a flour bun filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream. It shouldn’t come as much of a shock to learn that Adolf is now known as “the king who ate himself to death.” A glutton for punishment?
3) Sherwood Anderson – Novelist
Novelist and short-story writer Sherwood Anderson was on a cruise with his wife in 1941 when he started to experience severe stomach cramps. He died a few days later at a hospital in Panama, where a doctor discovered that he had swallowed a whole toothpick that had likely speared an olive in a martini glass. The toothpick damaged Anderson’s internal organs, which then became infected.
4) George M. Prior – Navy Lieutenant
In other “don’t put things in your mouth that don’t belong there” news, we have the surprising demise of Navy Lieutenant George M. Prior. Prior had a few days’ leave from work and decided to spend every day playing golf at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. He felt nauseated by the end of the first day. By the end of the third day, he had a rash and a fever of 40°C and admitted himself to the hospital. Blisters the size of baseballs cropped up shortly thereafter, and a week and a half later, he was dead, with 80 percent of his skin burned and blistered. It was later determined that the golf tee he habitually stuck in his mouth after every hole had been covered in the fungicide the golf course used to keep their grounds beautiful. Prior’s allergic reaction to a chemical in the fungicide burned his skin from the inside out and caused the failure of several of his major organs.
5) Bando Mitsugoro VIII – Kabuki Actor
Remember that episode of The Simpsons (“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”) when Homer thinks he accidentally ate some poisonous fugu fish and would likely die by the time the sun rises? (Spoiler alert: He was fine.) In real life, certain parts of the fugu fish are extremely toxic, especially the liver. Ingesting too much of it will render the victim completely paralysed but totally conscious. Eventually, the paralysis even hits major organs. Basically, the victim ends up asphyxiating.
This is exactly what happened to Japan’s “Living National Treasure,” Bando Mitsugoro VIII, a Kabuki actor. In 1975, the actor insisted that he was strong enough to survive the toxin and ordered a large—and probably illegal—portion of fugu livers. Turns out Mitsugoro wasn’t strong enough to survive the toxin. Fugu you Mitsugoro, ya bloody drongo.
6) Basil Brown – Health Food Nut
As the saying goes, “all things in moderation.” That includes even the most nutritious food, believe it or not, which health nut Basil Brown learned the hard way in 1974. He was known to drink a 4.5 litres of carrot juice every day and would take excessive amounts of vitamin A pills to stay in tip-top shape. In the end, though, he wound up dying from “hypervitaminosis A,” a massive overdose of vitamin A that essentially shut down his liver. The doctor who performed the autopsy said the end result was indistinguishable from alcohol poisoning (that’s also my story and I’m sticking to it).
7) Edward Archbold – Wanted to Win a Python
Any way you can imagine it, death by roaches sounds pretty horrific. In the case of Edward Archbold, a Florida man, it wasn’t a weird Kafkaesque situation that did him in—he was actually ingesting the cockroaches. Along with about 30 other people, Archbold was consuming insects for the chance to win a free python in 2012. (“Eat like a python, win a python,” after all.) After eating a large number of roaches, two ounces of mealworms, and 35 horn worms, Archbold collapsed, his airway obstructed by roach body parts. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
8) Henry Hall – Lighthouse Keeper
Being a lighthouse keeper certainly has its hazards, but you probably never thought ingesting molten lead was one of them. Henry Hall probably didn’t, either. Hall was the lighthouse keeper for the Eddystone Lighthouse in Devon, England, when it caught on fire in 1755. As he looked up at the burning tower of the lighthouse, some melted lead from the reflector dripped onto his face and down his throat. The 94-year-old lasted 12 days before succumbing to his injuries; upon his death, his doctor removed a chunk of lead from his stomach that weighed nearly half a pound.
9) Vladimir Likhonos – Chemistry Student
Exploding bubble gum may sound like one of those tricks a clown may pull on you, but to chemistry student Vladimir Likhonos, it was no joke. Likhonos, who was studying at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine, had developed a penchant for dunking his gum in citric acid before chewing to give it a sour pop. Sadly, a “pop” is what he got when he accidentally dipped his gum in an explosive substance he had been working with instead of the citric acid. The combination of his saliva with the powder was powerful enough to blow off most of his lower face. Paramedics were unable to save him.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael Berryman (74), Beyoncé (41), Iman Vellani (20), Charlie Sheen (57), Pauline Collins (82), Keanu Reeves (58), Salma Hayek (56), Keith Allen (69), Zendaya (26), Burn Gorman (48), Lily Tomlin (83), Gloria Estefan (65), Steve Pemberton (55), Barry Gibb (76), Richard Gere (73), Leem Lubany (25), Chris Tucker (51), Jessica Henwick (30), Cameron Diaz (50), Michael Chiklis (59), Warren Buffett (92), Carla Gugino (51), Emily Hampshire (41), Lenny Henry (64), Rebecca De Mornay (63), and Elliott Gould (84).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Stuart Anstis, 48, British guitarist (Cradle of Filth).
- Vincent Gil, 83, Australian actor (Mad Max, Stone, Prisoner).
- Jerry Allison, 82, American drummer (The Crickets) and songwriter (“That’ll Be the Day“, “Peggy Sue“).
- Robert LuPone, 76, American actor (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sopranos, A Chorus Line), pancreatic cancer.
- Virginia Patton, 97, American actress (It’s a Wonderful Life, Black Eagle, The Lucky Stiff).
In Other News
Brenda Fisher, famous for her record setting crossing of the English Channel, died on August 2nd at the age of 95. Fisher is famous for her victory in the 1951 Channel Race. She crossed Cap Gris-Nez, France to Dover, England in 12 hours and 42 minutes, taking 32 seconds off the existing world record. In 1954, Fisher became only the second woman in history to complete two swims of the Channel. In 1956, Fisher continued her marathon swimming career by earning the top women’s spot in that year’s 29 mile River Nile Race. Four months later she completed a solo 32 mile swim of Lake Ontario with a time of 18 hours and 51 minutes, breaking the existing record by more than 2 hours. Fisher’s feats made her both a local and international celebrity. She made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show and later received the British Medal of Freedom in the Queen’s New Year Honours. Locally, she swam with the Grimsby’s Mermaid club where she trained under Herbert McNally. She was introduced to open water racing through her older siblings, who both completed the River Humber swim. Her 1951 Channel swim was done in memory of her brother Buster, who was a pilot in World War II. The Channel Swimming Association has described Fisher as “without a doubt one of the true open-water pioneer swimmers of the 20th century”. After retirement, Fisher remained heavily involved in the sport as she became a local swim instructor at her home club in Grimsby, England.
A Scottish mountain bike champion has died aged just 37 –two days after winning a major championship. Rab Wardell won the men’s title at the Scottish MTB XC Championships at the weekend. Mr Wardell, who was the partner of Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Katie Archibald, had been riding bikes from a young age but did not take up cycling or mountain biking as a sport until he was 15. His win at Kirroughtree Forest near Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, on Sunday was described as a ‘show of incredible resilience’ by British Cycling after Mr Wardell managed to catch the early race leaders to take the win. During the race he recovered from three punctures to take the gold medal. Last night the Scottish Cross Country Association (SXC), which runs the mountain bike race series, said it was ‘devastated’ to announce that Mr Wardell had died overnight in his sleep. A statement from SXC said: ‘We are devastated to relay to you the tragic news that our friend, our Champion Rab Wardell, has died overnight. He will be truly missed by our community and his determination, talent and friendship will live on in all our hearts and memories. RIP Rab. Our Champion, Our Inspiration, Our Friend.’ In 2020 Mr Wardell, who lived in Glasgow, set the fastest known time for mountain biking the West Highland Way, completing it in nine hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds. He represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games and competed in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series. On Monday night he appeared on BBC Scotland show The Nine to talk about his championship win.
Scientists have reported finding the worlds unluckiest man, being the first known case of a person testing positive for monkeypox, Covid-19 and HIV at the same time. The patient, a 36-year-old Italian male, developed a series of symptoms – including fatigue, fever, and a sore throat – nine days after returning from a trip to Spain, where he engaged in unprotected bum sex. He first tested positive for Covid on 2nd July, according to a case study report published in the Journal of Infection. The following day small, painful vesicles surrounded a rash appeared on the man’s torso, lower limbs, face and glutes. By 5th July, the vesicles had further spread and evolved into pustules, small bumps on the skin, at which point the man took himself to a hospital in Palermo. There, he was tested for monkeypox and subsequently returned a positive result. The patient was also screened for multiple STIs. He tested positive for HIV-1, and the researchers said that “given his preserved CD4 count, we could assume that the infection was relatively recent.” The patient had taken an HIV test in September of last year and returned a negative result. After recovering from Covid-19 and monkeypox, the patient was discharged from hospital on 11th July to home isolation. By this stage, his skin lesions had healed, after crusting over, leaving small scars. “This case highlights how monkeypox and Covid-19 symptoms may overlap, and corroborates how in case of co-infection, anamnestic collection and sexual habits are crucial to perform the correct diagnosis,” the researchers said in their case report. “To note, the monkeypox oropharyngeal swab was still positive after 20 days, suggesting that these individuals may still be contagious for several days after clinical remission,” the report said. “Consequently, physicians should encourage appropriate precautions.”
On This Day
- 1859 – The Carrington event is the strongest geomagnetic storm on record to strike the Earth. Electrical telegraph service is widely disrupted.
- 1898 – Caleb Bradham‘s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
- 1957 – U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the United States Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.
- 1963 – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his I Have a Dream speech.
- 1988 – Ramstein air show disaster: Three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. Seventy-five are killed and 346 seriously injured.
- 1978 – Robert Shaw, English actor (b. 1927)
- 1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906)
- 2020 – Chadwick Boseman, American actor and playwright (b. 1976)
True Love, Even After Death
Carl Tanzler was a German-born radiology technologist at the Marine-Hospital Service in Key West, Florida. He developed an obsession for a young Cuban-American tuberculosis patient, Elena “Helen” Milagro de Hoyos, that carried on well after her death. In 1933, almost two years after her death, Tanzler removed Hoyos’ body from its tomb, and lived with the corpse at his home for seven years until its discovery by Hoyos’ relatives and authorities in 1940.
Tanzler grew up in Imperial Germany and later while traveling briefly in Genoa, Italy, Tanzler claimed to have been visited by visions of a dead, purported ancestor, Countess Anna Constantia von Cosel, who revealed the face of his true love, an exotic dark-haired woman, to him.
However, he ignored this vision and around 1920 Tanzler married Doris Schäfer. Together they had two children: Ayesha, and Clarista. By 1926 they had emigrated to Florida.
On April 22nd, 1930, while working at the Marine Hospital in Key West, Tanzler met Maria Elena “Helen” Milagro de Hoyos, a local Cuban-American woman who had been brought to the hospital by her mother for an examination. Tanzler immediately recognised her as the beautiful dark-haired woman that had been revealed to him in his earlier “visions.” By all accounts, Hoyos was viewed as a local beauty in Key West.
Elena was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, a typically fatal disease at the time, that eventually claimed the lives of almost all of her immediate family. Tanzler, with his self-professed medical knowledge, attempted to treat and cure Elena with a variety of medicines, as well as X-ray and electrical equipment, that were brought to the Hoyos’ home. Tanzler showered Elena with gifts of jewellery and clothing, and allegedly professed his love to her, but no evidence has surfaced to show that any of his affection was reciprocated by Elena.
Despite Tanzler’s best efforts, Elena died of tuberculosis at her parents’ home in Key West on October 25th 1931. Tanzler paid for her funeral, and with the permission of her family, he then commissioned the construction of an above ground mausoleum in the Key West Cemetery, which he visited almost every night.
One evening in April 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery where Elena was buried and removed her body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transporting it to his home. He reportedly said that Elena’s spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with a favourite Spanish song. He also said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave.
Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with piano wire and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of Elena’s decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from her hair, which he had previously obtained from her mother. Tanzler filled the corpse’s abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Elena’s remains in stockings, jewellery, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents to mask the odour and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition.
By October 1940, Elena’s sister Florinda heard rumours of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister and confronted Tanzler at his home, where Elena’s body was eventually discovered (he was also caught dancing with her corpse in front of an open window). Florinda notified the authorities, and Tanzler was arrested and detained. Tanzler was psychiatrically examined and found mentally competent to stand trial on the charge of “wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorisation.” After a preliminary hearing on October 9th 1940 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, Tanzler was held to answer on the charge, but the case was eventually dropped, and he was released, as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.
Shortly after the corpse’s discovery by authorities, Elena’s body was examined by physicians and pathologists, and put on public display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where it was viewed by as many as 6,800 people! Elena’s body was eventually returned to the Key West Cemetery where the remains were buried in an unmarked grave, in a secret location, to prevent further tampering.
The facts underlying the case and the preliminary hearing drew much interest from the media at the time, and created a sensation among the public, both regionally and nationwide. The public mood was generally sympathetic to Tanzler, whom many viewed as an eccentric “romantic”.
Though not reported contemporaneously, research has revealed evidence of Tanzler’s necrophilia with Elena’s corpse. Two physicians who attended the 1940 autopsy of Elena’s remains recalled in 1972 that a vaginal tube had been inserted in the vaginal area of the corpse that allowed for intercourse. Others contend that since no evidence of necrophilia was presented at the 1940 preliminary hearing, and because the physicians’ “proof” surfaced in 1972, over 30 years after the case had been dismissed, the necrophilia allegation is questionable. While no existing contemporary photographs of the autopsy or photographs taken at the public display show a tube.
In 1944, Tanzler moved to Pasco County, Florida, close to Zephyrhills, where he wrote an autobiography that appeared in the pulp publication, Fantastic Adventures, in 1947. His home was near his wife Doris, who apparently helped to support Tanzler in his later years.
Separated from his obsession, Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Elena, and lived with it until his death at age 75 in 1952. His body was discovered on the floor of his home three weeks after his death.
It has been recounted that Tanzler was found in the arms of Elena’s effigy upon discovery of his corpse, but his obituary reported that he died on the floor behind one of his organs. The obituary recounted: “a metal cylinder on a shelf above a table in it wrapped in silken cloth and a robe was a waxen image”.
It has been written that Tanzler had the bodies switched (or that Elena’s remains were secretly returned to him), and that he died with the real body of Elena.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Luis Guzmán (66), Armie Hammer (36), Jack Black (53), Brian Thompson (63), Shania Twain (57), Jason Priestley (53), Billy Boyd (54), Barbara Bach (76), David Soul (79), Peter Stormare (69), Aaron Paul (43), Paul Reubens (70), Peter Mensah (63), Reece Shearsmith (53), Chris Pine (42), Melissa McCarthy (52), Macaulay Culkin (42), Alexander Skarsgård (46), Tim Burton (64), Blake Lively (35), Rachel Bilson (41), Tom Skerritt (89), Gene Simmons (73), Billy Ray Cyrus (61), Claudia Schiffer (52), Stephen Fry (65), Jared Harris (61), Rupert Grint (34), Steve Guttenberg (64), Park Chan-wook (59), Ray Park (48), Charley Boorman (56), Richard Armitage (51), Kristen Wiig (49), Ty Burrell (55), Mark Williams (63), Dua Lipa (27), and for the love of god, why wont James Corden (44) die!?!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Darius Campbell Danesh, 41, Scottish singer-songwriter (“Colourblind“, “Rushes“, “Incredible (What I Meant to Say)“)
- Steve Grimmett, 62, English heavy metal singer (Grim Reaper, Onslaught, Lionsheart).
- Nicholas Evans, 72, English writer (The Horse Whisperer), heart attack.
- Lenny Johnrose, 52, English footballer (Bury, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley), complications from motor neurone disease.
- Duggie Brown, 82, English comedian and actor (Coronation Street, The Final Cut, Kes).
- Joseph Delaney, 77, British author (Spook’s).
- Bruce Montague, 83, English actor (Butterflies, The Link Men, Hollyoaks).
- Herbert Mullin, 75, American serial killer.
- Josephine Tewson, 91, British actress (Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine).
- Ioane King, 49, New Zealand actor (Spartacus), cancer.
- Leon Vitali, 74, English actor (Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, Romeo & Juliet).
In Other News
Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Nicholas Brendon is in hospital after a “cardiac incident”. The star, 51, who played Xander in the hit Nineties series, was taken to A&E for treatment and is now resting. The news was shared in a statement on his Instagram. It was posted alongside photos of Brendon on a stretcher, in a wheelchair and on a hospital bed. The statement reads: “Nicky sends his love and wanted me to apologise that he hasn’t been going live as much lately and to give everyone an update. “Nicky is doing fine now but he had to be rushed to emergency about two weeks ago because of a cardiac incident (tachycardia/arrhythmia).” It continues: “Some of you might remember he had a similar incident after his second spinal surgery last year (for Cauda Equina) but this time he is trying to get a little more rest and has been concentrating on medical appointments.” In October last year, Brendon’s manager said that the actor was withdrawing from all promotion for his film Wanton Want after suffering paralysis in his legs and genitals. The symptoms are understood to be caused by Cauda equina syndrome, a rare condition in which the end of the spinal cord is compressed, causing severe swelling and cutting off movement and sensation of the genitals, bladder and bowel. In August that year, Brendon was arrested for using a false identity to try to purchase drugs. He was officially charged with the crime of “prescription fraud of a controlled substance and for refusing to identify himself when stopped for an infraction” in Indiana. In recent years, the actor has had numerous legal issues including a 2017 case for domestic violence. He has also previously been in rehab for substance abuse, depression and alcoholism.
A TikTok user who claims to be a ‘time traveller’ from the year 2082 has claimed they know when the Queen will die and have warned that Big Ben will collapse. The user who posts as @timetraveller_2082 warned that the monarch will die later this year, while giving a list of other alleged events to come over the next 23 years. In the video, they wrote: “I am a real time traveller. In 2023, Big Ben collapses due to an unexpected earthquake. In 2030 GTA 7 is released. “Queen Elizabeth went in 2022, October 4th. In 2046, Niagara Falls has a huge blockage and water levels start to rise. Be warned.” TikTok users took to the comments in shock over the warning as one user wrote: “WhT?!” However, the user doubled down on their predictions as they replied: “You can trust me.” Other people took to the comments to try to gather more information from them about the future. One user asked: “Does Tottenham win trophy?” The alleged ‘time traveller’ shocked users with the answer, writing: “In 4 years yes! Then get bankrupt in 2030.” The news comes after a woman accurately predicted 10 major events of 2022, and was compared to famed mystic Baba Vanga who believes the Queen will die this year. In January, Hannah Carroll, 19, wrote down 28 predictions for 2022 and has already seen eight major events come true. Hannah has 18 more predictions yet to come true including the death of the Queen. She said: “I still think all of my predictions will come true, but maybe I was off a bit on the timing and some will happen in the next few years rather than this year.” She is already banned from playing The Dead Pool.
An Alabama death row inmate was subjected to three hours of pain during his execution, the longest recorded lethal injection process in US history, according to a report by a human rights organisation. Joe Nathan James Jr., 50, was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1994 fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Faith Hall, 26, in Birmingham. Examination by Reprieve US estimates that officials at the Atmore, Alabama, correctional facility took between three and three and half hours to carry out James’ lethal injection. They set James’ execution for 6pm on July 28th, though media were barred from entering until 8:57pm Then, James was pronounced dead at 9:27pm. Evaluation of the autopsy reveals that officials unsuccessfully tried for more than three hours to insert an IV line. The execution team then attempted a cut-down procedure, according to Reprieve US, which would have caused James to struggle and leave him with injuries on his hands and wrists. ‘Subjecting a prisoner to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,’ said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US. ‘States cannot continue to pretend that the abhorrent practice of lethal injection is in any way humane.’ Alabama state officials did not answer questions in reference to the execution’s three-hour delay and said ‘there was nothing out of the ordinary. I can’t over emphasise this process,’ said John Hamm, Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner, in a statement. ‘We’re carrying out the ultimate punishment … and we have protocols and we are very deliberate in our process and making sure everything goes according to plan. So, if that takes a few minutes or a few hours, that’s what we do.’ Hamm did not clarify what part of the procedure resulted in the delay and added that they ‘took their deliberate time, if the veins are such that intravenous access cannot be provided, the team will perform a central line procedure. Fortunately, this was not necessary and with adequate time, intravenous access was established.’ James’ eyes were closed for the entirety of the procedure and he did not respond to the warden when asked if he had any last words. Witnesses saw his arm move with some slight movement at 9.05pm followed by some indications of breathing one minute later. His breathing lasted until 9.10pm when a correctional officer performed a consciousness check, to which James only responded to an arm pinch by moving his head side-to-side. James’ breathing appeared to stop at 9.12pm, with curtains to the room being closed to witnesses at 9.18pm. His time of death was recorded nine minutes later at 9.27 pm. ‘Something terrible had been done to James while he was strapped to a gurney behind closed doors without so much as a lawyer present to protest his treatment or an advocate to observe it, yet the state insisted that nothing unusual had taken place.’ The report by Reprieve US claim that, because of the long process to establish an IV line, the execution team would have sedated James before media arrived. This would cause James to be visibly unconscious at 9pm. ‘First, it was a torturous procedure behind closed doors, then a theatrical performance for witnesses,’ Foa said.
EastEnders actor Anna Karen is said to have left the majority of her fortune to one of her co-stars. The actor, who also appeared in sitcom On the Buses, died in a house fire in February 2022, aged 85. It’s now been reported by the Flying Monkeys that Karen left 65 per cent of her estate to Sophie Lawrence, who played Diane Butcher in the BBC soap. Lawrence first appeared in the soap from 1988 to 1991, but has returned numerous times over the years. Her most recent appearance was in 2012. Karen played Aunt Sal in the series. Karen and Lawrence remained friends, with the pair also starring together in comedy show Bazaar & Rummage, which is based on the Sue Townsend book. Elsewhere, the documents reveal Karen split the remainder of her fortune to her step-daughter, Gloria Gill, two friends and the Actors’ Benevolent Fund. The actor married Terry Duggan in 1967 and helped bring up his daughter, Gloria, from a previous relationship. An EastEnders spokesperson said of her death in February: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Karen has passed away. Anna created a sharp, quick-witted and extremely popular character in Aunt Sal that the audience will never forget, just as those who worked with her at EastEnders will never forget her warmth, kindness, fun and good humour. Our love and thoughts are with Anna’s family and friends.”
Derek Draper’s long struggle with Covid-19 has taken another turn for the worse after he was rushed back to hospital for a “serious” medical procedure on Friday. Draper, 55, who is married to Good Morning Britain star Kate Garraway, first fell seriously ill in March 2020 after contracting the virus. Despite now being Covid- free, he continues to suffer from long-lasting damage to his organs and requires daily care. According to the Flying Monkeys, yesterday’s knock-back saw Garraway stay by her husband’s bedside following the operation on his kidneys. Last night, a source told us: “This is another hammer blow for poor Derek. He is giving the fight against covid his absolute all, but his kidneys have suffered some pretty serious damage. Doctors explained there was no alternative but to operate. Of course Kate and the family are worried but she’s been reassured the procedure itself is routine. Everyone has everything crossed, and Kate is being her usual stoical self and keeping everything running, business as usual, on the home front.” Draper, a formal political advisor and psychotherapist, was hospitalised for a year with the virus, making him the longest serving hospital in-patient with Covid-19. In July, Garraway was forced to temporarily step back from her GMB and Smooth FM roles to care for her husband after Draper suffered a “frightening turn for the worse.” She has since returned to both jobs.
On This Day
- 1770 – James Cook formally claims eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.
- 1945 – Physicist Harry Daghlian is fatally irradiated in a criticality accident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
- 1957 – The Soviet Union successfully conducts a long-range test flight of the R-7 Semyorka, the first intercontinental ballistic missile.
- 1986 – Carbon dioxide gas erupts from volcanic Lake Nyos in Cameroon, killing up to 1,800 people within a 20 Km range.
- 1614 – Elizabeth Báthory, Hungarian countess and purported serial killer (b. 1560)
- 1940 – Leon Trotsky, Russian theorist and politician, founded the Red Army (b. 1879)
- 2013 – Sid Bernstein, American record producer (b. 1918)
Stuntman David Lea dies from lung cancer aged 67
Friends and family have revealed how the late Hollywood stuntman David Lea, friends with Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan, took a knife wound down to the bone on camera but didn’t flinch until the scene was over. Lea died from lung cancer on August 6th at the age of 67. He doubled for Michael Keaton in Batman movies, braved brutal fight scenes with Sylvester Stallone in Tango & Cash, and worked with a host of other A-listers.
Stallone is said to be distraught over the stuntman’s death and sent the family condolences, as did John Wick movie director Chad Stahelski, Day Shift director JJ Perry, Mortal Kombat actor Lewis Tan and Bruce Lee’s protégé Dan Insanto.
In an exclusive interview with the Flying Monkeys, his daughter, friends and colleagues revealed how British-born Lea was tough as nails and totally committed to his work, even encouraging Stallone to smash his head repeatedly into a metal table to get the perfect shot.
His daredevil stunts – including for the actual 2003 movie Daredevil – ranged from being hit and driven over by cars, diving from moving vehicles, being thrown ten feet across a room, smashing through thick wooden doors, to breaking two bricks over his hand.
He performed stunts in Will Smith’s 1999 movie Wild Wild West, 1997 movies Batman & Robin and Con Air, and most recently was a double for Mickey Rourke in the 2022 movie The Commando.
Friends say that Lea was still taking heavy hits to get great footage even late into his 60s. ‘He seemed to become really good friends with any celeb he worked with. He might see them as a role model, but he wasn’t star struck,’ Lea’s daughter Angel Lea-Seagreen told the Flying Monkeys. He was a very generous, time-giving person who always wanted to help people. I think he’s gained a lot of love and respect for that.’
Lea’s mentee, trainee stuntwoman Nora Perez, revealed how Lea would brush off severe injuries to get the perfect take on set. While working as a stunt double for Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman movie, Perez said Lea was cut for real in a staged knife fight. ‘He said ”I felt the knife hitting my bone but I just pushed through it, I just kept going through the scene until they yelled cut.” He would say ”until they say cut, I don’t break character”,’ Perez said.
‘He was always happy and joking around. There was not a day where he wasn’t joking around. But when he came to work, he was all about work. ‘He was very graceful, he would think of others before himself. He was a great mentor for me as far as being a better person.’
Lea’s lifelong friend and fellow stunt coordinator Phil Tan, who got him the Batman job as his first big Hollywood break, said Lea forged a close bond with Stallone and would go the extra mile in fight scenes with the Rocky star.
‘Sly loves fighting Dave. He was very hurt when we had to tell him Dave passed away,’ Tan said. Lea choreographed a brutal brawl with Stallone in 1989 movie Tango & Cash – and made it shockingly real. ‘Dave told Sly, ”I want to make this look good. So when you smash my head into the table, I want you to do it for real. Beat the shit out of me, and it’s going to look fucking real and you’re going to look great”,’ Tan said. ‘He slammed his head over and over, like five or six times. And that was just one take. He did a bunch of takes.’
Tan, who helped produce Mickey Rourke movie The Commando released in January this year, said Lea was still taking heavy hits to get great footage even late into his 60s.
‘Dave had to get kicked through a door. Because of the budget we couldn’t get a balsa wood door where you can just kick it and he’ll go straight through. So we got a real door. ‘I said, “it’s only going to be one take and it is going to hurt like a mofo. Are you okay with that?” He said “Bring it Phil. Let’s go.” So he got kicked by Michael Jai White, who’s huge, 240 pounds of muscle. He kicked him straight through the freaking door. It was amazing. But because it was a real door, it cut him. He was bleeding, but he said ‘I’m good, do you want to do another one?’ He never complained. He is one of the toughest guys I know. The toughest guy on the street, the toughest guy on the set.’
Lea was trained in six types of Kung Fu, Shotokan karate, the Philippines martial art Escrima and kickboxing. He worked with stars including Stallone, Smith, Ashley Judd, Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, Famke Janssen, Dennis Quaid and David Boreanaz.
Angel, an elementary school assistant in Essex, England, said Lea was working until just a few weeks ago, and that his lung cancer moved swiftly. ‘My head has been in such a spin the last couple of weeks,’ she said. ‘His decline was quite rapid. It was fast, and it was aggressive. ‘He was working until just a couple of months ago. He was doing what he loved, so he kept going as long as his legs would hold him.’ She said her fondest memories were messing around on London’s Oxford Street and Chinatown, taking pictures and making comedic videos with her father.
‘He didn’t come from a privileged background in any way,’ she said. ‘He worked damn hard. And he appreciated everybody in his life.’
His family held a memorial for Lea at a Los Angeles church on Monday.
Last Week’s Birthdays
RJ Mitte (30), Laura Haddock (37), Alicia Witt (47), Kim Cattrall (66), Hayden Panettiere (33), Carrie-Anne Moss (55), Paul Chowdhry (48), Andrew Garfield (39), Amy Adams (48), Ke Huy Quan (51), Ben Barnes (41), James Marsters (60), John Noble (74), Demi Lovato (30), Misha Collins (48), Joan Allen (66), Ray Wise (75), Sylvester McCoy (79), David Walliams (51), Diana Muldaur (84), Matthew Perry (53), Jonathan Frakes (70), Jim Carter (74), Jill St. John (82), Ian McElhinney (74), Simon Bird (38), Edward Norton (53), Robert Redford (86), Christian Slater (53), Madeleine Stowe (64), Roman Polanski (89), Denis Leary (65), Robert De Niro (79), Sean Penn (62), Belinda Carlisle (64), Taika Waititi (47), Steve Carell (60), James Cameron (68), Julie Newmar (89), Madonna (64), Ben Affleck (50), Jennifer Lawrence (32), Natasha Henstridge (48), Debra Messing (54), David Zayas (60), Joe Jonas (33), Tony Robinson (76), and Jim Dale (87).