Since Lester Piggott decided to inconveniently die a day too soon, the lead story of him being in hospital has been pulled. However, if like me, you thought he died twenty years ago, you might be a little surprised he was actually still with us!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Colin Cantwell, 90, American film concept artist (2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, WarGames).
- Andy Fletcher, 60, English Hall of Fame keyboardist (Depeche Mode).
- Ray Liotta, 67, American actor (Goodfellas, Something Wild, Field of Dreams).
- Alan White, 72, English Hall of Fame drummer (Yes, Plastic Ono Band).
- Lester Piggott, 86, English jockey.
- Patricia Brake, 79, English actress (Porridge, Going Straight, Midsomer Murders).
- Bo Hopkins, 84, American actor (The Wild Bunch, American Graffiti, Dynasty), complications from a heart attack.
In Other News
Legendary Dead Pool favourite, Dick Van Dyke made a rare public appearance last week. Van Dyke, 96, was in high spirits as he stepped out in a “Spoonful of Sugar” sweatshirt in Malibu, California, on Wednesday. The age-defying actor was accompanied by his wife Arlene Silver, 50, as they headed to lunch after finishing up a fitness class at a nearby gym. The couple celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary back in February by going viral with a romantic Valentine’s Day video — but still looked like loved-up newlyweds as they shared a laugh while strolling along in the sun. In addition to the sweatshirt referencing his most famous film role, Van Dyke kept things casual for the lunch date, donning a pair of Adidas sweatpants he presumably wore for his workout. The “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” star is famous for keeping fit and healthy in spite of his advancing age, telling the flying monkeys that he still hits the gym three times a week. “I’ve always been an exerciser and still am … I get in the pool and exercise. At my age, they say to keep moving. Put me on solid ground and I’ll start tapping,” he declared in an interview with the magazine back in 2019. Van Dyke revealed he does water aerobics, lifts weights and walks on a treadmill. He also credited his fit physique to “good genes.” Meanwhile, the smitten star said much-younger wife also keeps him on his toes. “I sometimes forget that we’re doing a great experiment here — 46 years’ difference. And we work at it to some extent,” he explained. “There’s got to be some understanding, find out what old habits don’t work anymore. It takes some adjusting and fitting in, but that’s part of the fun of it.”
Ainsley Harriott has said his sister Jacqueline is doing “fine and well” after she dramatically fell into a pond at the Chelsea Flower Show on Monday. The chef took to Twitter to say: “Just a big thank you to everyone who helped my sister when she had a fall at the Chelsea Flower Show this morning. She’s doing fine and all is well.” Ainsley and other stars rushed to save his sister Jacqueline from drowning as she fell into the pond. The 65-year-old was pictured lifting his sibling out of the water, alongside a group of celebrities, including DIY SOS host Nick Knowles. One guest who attended the show explained what had happened. They told the flying monkeys: “The garden was packed with lots of people and I think the woman must have fallen into the pond or tripped over and ended up in the water. “I think she nearly drowned. She was pulled out by Ainsley and some other celebrities before they laid her down on the floor. She was coughing up lots of water.” Pictures showed Ainsley grabbing onto Jacqueline and pulling her up after she slipped into the narrow water feature. She was handed over to paramedics after being pulled from the water. Onlookers were shocked as they watched the event unfold, with Ainsley and others rushing to save her, while Nick stood at the sidelines looking concerned with his new girlfriend Katie Dadzie.
Meghan Markle’s dad has been left unable to speak after suffering a ‘major stroke’ less than a week before he was due to travel to the UK for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Thomas Markle Sr, 77, was hit by the health emergency in Mexico and had to be taken across the border to San Diego in an ambulance while using an oxygen mask. He was said to have lost his speech following the incident on Monday night which came after he already suffered a health scare last week, sources told the flying monkeys. His condition was so serious he could only communicate by scrawling down messages on a piece of paper, pals said. Meghan’s older half-brother Thomas Markle Jr, 55, was with him in Rosarito, the Mexican beach resort where he lives, on Monday when he was taken ill. His daughter Samanta Markle, 57, is understood to be flying in from Florida to be by his side. In a statement last night Samantha wished her father “godspeed” and said they were praying for his recovery. She said: “My father is recovering in hospital. We ask for privacy for the family, for his health and wellbeing. He just needs peace and rest. Godspeed. We are praying. He just needs some rest. It’s a travesty how much he’s been tortured and how much he’s had to go through thanks to my sister’s disregard the past few years. That is unforgivable.” The former Hollywood lighting director was planning to travel to the UK on Monday to be in London for next week’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
On This Day
- 1914 – The Ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland sinks in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with the loss of 1,012 lives.
- 1953 – Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
- 1982 – Falklands War: the British Army defeats the Argentine Army at the Battle of Goose Green.
- 1985 – Heysel Stadium disaster: Thirty-nine association football fans die and hundreds are injured when a dilapidated retaining wall collapses.
- 1957 – James Whale, English director (b. 1889).
- 1979 – Mary Pickford, Canadian-American actress, producer, and screenwriter, co-founder of United Artists (b. 1892).
- 2010 – Dennis Hopper, American actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1936).
- 2017 – Manuel Noriega, Panamanian general and politician, Military Leader of Panama (b. 1934).
The Dog Suicide Bridge
Overtoun Bridge is a category B-listed structure over the Overtoun Burn on the approaching road to Overtoun House, near Dumbarton in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. It was completed in 1895, based on a design by the landscape architect H. E. Milner.
Since the 1950s, numerous reports of dogs either falling or jumping from the bridge have been reported. With the incidents often resulting in serious injury or death upon landing on the rocks some 50 ft (15 m) below, the bridge has unsurprisingly been nicknamed the “Dog Suicide Bridge”. Various explanations for these deaths have been proposed, ranging from natural accidents to paranormal activity.
During the 1950s, locals started referring to the bridge as the “Bridge of Death” or the “Dog Suicide Bridge”, as it was reported that dogs were leaping from the bridge into the ravine below. The story gained more prominence during the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. Since the original incidents were reported, at least 50 dogs have died from the fall, but over 600 have jumped but still survived!
In 2004, Kenneth Meikle was walking with his family and Golden Retriever, when the dog suddenly bolted and jumped off the bridge. It survived, but was traumatised by the experience. Going into 2005, at least five other dogs also jumped over the course of six months. In 2014, Alice Trevorrow, who was walking with her Springer Spaniel named Cassie, reported a strange experience on Overtoun Bridge. “I had parked up and as she is so obedient I didn’t put her lead on. Me and my son walked toward Cassie, who was staring at something above the bridge, she definitely saw something that made her jump. There is something sinister going on. It was so out of character for her.”
A number of theories have been proposed as to the behaviour of dogs on the bridge. In 2014, canine psychologist David Sands proposed that the surrounding foliage – giving the in-reality extremely steep drop off the side of the bridge the appearance of even ground – combined with the residual odour from male mink urine in the area could be culprit for luring dogs to jump off the bridge. This theory was protested by a local hunter and resident of 50 years, John Joyce, who stated that there were “no mink in the area.” However, in an investigation by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Officer David Sexton found that one end of the bridge reportedly favoured by dogs contained “nests of mice, squirrels, and minks.” Furthermore, in an experiment in which ten dogs were exposed to canisters filled with mouse, squirrel and mink scent, seven of the dogs “all went straight for the mink scent, many of them quite dramatically.”
The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has investigated the bridge and surrounding area, but none of their findings proved conclusive.
In 2019, the owners of Overtoun House, Bob and Melissa Hill, said that in 17 years of residing at the House, they had witnessed a number of dogs become agitated, jump up, and fall from the bridge. Bob Hill, originally a pastor from Texas, stated that the scent of mink, pine martens, and other animals agitated the dogs, resulting in their jump onto the bridge wall: “The dogs catch the scent of mink, pine martens or some other mammal and then they will jump up on the wall of the bridge. And because it’s tapered, they will just topple over.” However, Hill also stated his belief that the grounds of the House held some sort of spiritual quality.
Local teacher Paul Owens argues that the bridge and nearby Overtoun House are haunted by supernatural activity. He claims that dogs and other animals are sensitive to such supernatural activity, so he proposes that dark spirits are responsible for luring dogs to their deaths.
In October 1994, paranoid schizophrenic Kevin Moy threw his two-week-old son Eoghan to his death from the bridge because he believed that his son was an incarnation of the Devil due to a birthmark. He chose the location due to its association with dark spirits going back to the druidic days. Following his act of murder, Moy then attempted to commit suicide several times by jumping off the bridge and slashing his wrists, but he was detained and placed in a mental health hospital.
So, who fancies a day trip?
Last Week’s Birthdays
Annette Bening (64), Ted Levine (65), Laverne Cox (50), Danny Elfman (69), Mel B (47), Kylie Minogue (54), Paul Bettany (51), Jack McBrayer (49), Louis Gossett Jr. (86), André 3000 (47), Helena Bonham Carter (56), Pam Grier (73), Bobcat Goldthwait (60), Lenny Kravitz (58), Philip Michael Thomas (73), Stevie Nicks (74), Mike Myers (59), Cillian Murphy (46), Ian McKellen (83), Octavia Spencer (52), Frank Oz (78), Daisy Edgar-Jones (24), Doug Jones (62), John C. Reilly (57), Alfred Molina (69), Jim Broadbent (73), James Cosmo (74), Priscilla Presley (77), Gary Burghoff (79), Tommy Chong (84), Bob Dylan (81), Eric Cantona (56), Richard Ayoade (45), Joan Collins (89), Melissa McBride (57), and Bob Mortimer (63).
Well, what an end to the year!!! With Betty White popping off very late in the day, she totally upset everything! With rewritten lists for 2022, and most of all, toppling Laura from the top of the league table in what looked to be a sure thing! I literally had the trophy in the back of the car to drive over!!
So to declare the winner! Well done Ceri, with an amazing 580 points!! Including both Cert and Woman and the first death of the year, you can’t do better than that! Commiserations to Laura, nipped at the post at the last minute with 574 points!!! An honourable mention to Paul C for coming third with 453 points and a whopping 8 deaths out of 13!!!
Just above we have a St Pepper’s of all of those who have died during 2021, shared with us by Nickie on the Telegram group. If you click on the image you will get the full size picture, likewise with the answers below; see if you can name them all.
Right, let’s have a quick look at who we lost in 2021.
- Larry King had a career spanning more than six decades and thousands of interviews, quizzing world leaders and entertainers. His broadcasting fame began in the 1970s with his radio programme The Larry King Show and he went on to have his own television show, Larry King Live on CNN. He died in hospital in Los Angeles, aged 87, a few weeks after contracting coronavirus. Later US media reports said his immediate cause of death was sepsis and not the virus.
- Gerry Marsden of Gerry And The Pacemakers, was perhaps best known for covering the Rogers And Hammerstein song You’ll Never Walk Alone with his band – leading Liverpool Football Club to adopt it as their official motto and anthem. Born in the Toxteth area of Liverpool in 1942, Marsden also penned the ’60s hits Ferry Cross the Mersey and Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying. He died in hospital at the age of 78, with his agent paying tribute to a musical “legend”.
- Siegfried Fischbacher was world renowned for his Las Vegas magic shows involving white lions and tigers, with his illusionist partner Roy Horn. Both born in Germany, and co-founded their stage act after meeting on a cruise ship in the late 1950s. They took the show to Las Vegas in 1967 and went on to perform for the next four decades, becoming a Vegas institution. The illusionist died at his home in the Nevada city at the age of 81, after suffering with pancreatic cancer.
- Marion Ramsey The actress and singer was best known for her role as squeaky-voiced Officer Laverne Hooks in the Police Academy films. She got her big screen break in the first Police Academy film in 1984, a comedy franchise about a group of misfit police recruits causing havoc on the streets of America. The films became cult classics, with Ramsey starring in six of the seven films. She died at her Los Angeles home aged 73.
- Phil Spector, known for his Wall of Sound production method, Spector worked with a number of stars in the 1960/70s. In 2009, he was jailed for a minimum sentence of 19 years for murdering actress Lana Clarkson. He always maintained his innocence and claimed Clarkson died from accidental suicide. He died in prison at the age of 81 after being diagnosed with the coronavirus.
- Pierre Cardin The legendary designer Pierre Cardin, whose futuristic and stylish designs helped revolutionise fashion in the 1950s and 60s. The French fashion giant, whose career spanned more than 70 years, helped usher in the post-war “golden age” of couture with his modern style. He broke ground by bringing designer styles to the masses with some of the first ready-to-wear collections. He died in hospital at the age of 98.
- Captain Sir Tom Moore After inspiring the nation during lockdown by raising tens of millions of pounds for the NHS in 2020. He had become a national treasure and a household name after raising more than £32m for the health service by walking 100 laps of his garden with his Zimmer frame – and was knighted for his efforts by the Queen at Windsor Castle. He died at the age of 100 after contracting COVID-19.
- Christopher Plummer was best known for playing Captain von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, but had more recently starred in Knives Out, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and A Beautiful Mind. Amongst the most decorated in his field, he won an Oscar, two Primetime Emmys, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA during his career. He died at home in the US, aged 91.
- Johnny Briggs played Coronation Street’s Mike Baldwin for 30 years, an often unscrupulous character known for his affair with Deirdre Barlow and his long-running feud with her husband, Ken. Briggs starred in 2,349 episodes of the successful ITV soap. Briggs died at the age of 85, following a long illness, rumoured to have been cancer.
- Rush Limbaugh was a US radio host known for his controversial views on climate change, feminism and homosexuality. Limbaugh was a staunch supporter of Donald Trump during his time in office, which probably tells you all you need to know about him. He died of advanced lung cancer aged 70.
- Larry Flynt the founder of porn magazine Hustler and campaigner for the First Amendment in the US. Flynt was one of the biggest names in pornography, founding Hustler magazine in 1974. From there, he built a portfolio of clubs, publications, adult films and casinos – but attracted a number of lawsuits involving the right to free speech. He died from heart failure at the age of 78.
- Murray Walker‘s The legendary Formula One commentators voice provided the backing track to some of the sport’s most iconic moments, from James Hunt’s 1976 championship win over Niki Lauda, to Nigel Mansell’s 1992 title triumph. His career in broadcasting spanned more than 50 years, for the BBC and ITV, before he retired from commentating in 2001. Sadly he died at the age of 97 after being diagnosed with he blood cancer lymphoma.
- Yaphet Kotto, best known for his turn as a James Bond villain in Live And Let Die. He was the franchise’s first black antagonist, playing Dr Kananga and his alter-ego Mr Big in the 1973 film opposite the late Sir Roger Moore as 007. He also starred as technician Dennis Parker in Alien in 1979 and opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987 action film The Running Man. He died at the age of 81 near Manila, his wife declined to reveal his cause of death.
- Sabine Schmitz the Queen of the Nürburgring and occasional Top Gear star was probably best known for beating Jeremy Clarkson whilst driving a white van. Schmitz had previously revealed that she had been suffering with cancer since 2017. She died at the age of 51.
- Ian St John the Scottish professional football player, coach and broadcaster. St John played as a forward for Liverpool throughout most of the 1960s. He later became media pundit and co-presented the topical football show Saint and Greavsie with Jimmy Greaves from 1985 to 1992. He died after a long battle against bladder cancer at the age of 82.
- Prince Philip died just two months before his 100th birthday. He had been married to Queen Elizabeth II for more than 70 years and was the longest-serving consort in British history, carrying out more than 22,000 solo engagements by the time he stepped back from public life in 2017. Known for his mischievous sense of humour – as well as the occasional gaffe – he once jokingly referred to himself as “the world’s most experienced plaque unveiler”.
- Helen McCrory died at the age of 52 after being diagnosed with cancer. She was best known as crime family matriarch Polly from Peaky Blinders, appearing in the show from 2013 to 2019. She was a versatile actress with a career on stage and screen spanning almost 30 years.
- Nikki Grahame shot to fame in Big Brother in 2006, entering the famous house dressed as a Playboy bunny and going on to become one of the series’ most memorable contestants. While in the house, she became well known for her tantrums, including the infamous “who is she?!” rant in the diary room chair. She died after a long-running battle against eating disorders, aged 38.
- DMX died one week after suffering a “catastrophic cardiac arrest”. The 50-year-old, whose real name was Earl Simmons, had been admitted to intensive care in New York. DMX was signed by Columbia Records in 1992 and released his first album, It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot, in 1998. In all, he released seven albums and received three Grammy nominations throughout his career. Known for repeatedly being arrested and jailed, he suffered with a drug addiction and numerous trips to rehab.
- Paul Ritter was an actor was widely loved for his portrayal of dad Martin Goodman in the successful Channel 4 TV show Friday Night Dinner. The actor, also starred in Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, the acclaimed TV series Chernobyl and the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace. He died of a brain tumour with his family by his side at the age of 54.
- Bernie Madoff the fraudster and financier who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, worth about $64.8 billion!! For his crimes he was sentenced to 150 years in prison. He died in prison of kidney failure at the age of 82.
- Charles Grodin was best known for his roles in The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run and two Beethoven movies. Steve Martin was among those paying tribute following his death, describing Grodin as “one of the funniest people I ever met”. He died at the age of 86 from bone marrow cancer.
- Eric Carle was the man behind children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, published in 1969, which told the story of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly. The story sold more than 40 million copies around the world, was translated into 60 languages and was turned into everything from cuddly toys to stage shows. He died from kidney failure, a few weeks before his 92nd birthday.
- Nick Kamen was best known for stripping off in a launderette to wash his jeans in the famous 1980s Levi’s advert. In their tribute, Levi’s described the star as “the man who made the 501 even more iconic”. Kamen, whose real name was Ivor Neville Kamen launched a career in pop music in 1986 with the number five hit Each Time You Break My Heart, a collaboration with Madonna from his eponymous debut album. Kamen died at his London home aged 59, following a long battle with bone marrow cancer.
- Max Mosley was a barrister, amateur racing driver and president of the FIA. Mosley was the youngest son of Sir Oswald Mosley, former leader of the British Union of Fascists. In 2008, Mosley won a court case (Mosley v News Group Newspapers) against the News of the World newspaper which had reported his involvement in what they said was a Nazi-themed sex act involving five women, on the grounds that it had breached his privacy. He died on at the age of 81 after suffering from cancer.
- Ned Beatty was an Oscar-nominated character actor who appeared in dozens of films and TV shows throughout his career. Rising to fame with a role in Deliverance in 1972 – which was controversial due to his character’s rape scene – he went on to appear in films including Superman alongside Christopher Reeve, Network, All The President’s Men, and Charlie Wilson’s War. He died of natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, aged 83.
- Ben Roberts the Welsh actor most famous for his portrayal of Chief Inspector Derek Conway in the ITV British television series The Bill. Other numerous television appearances include The Professionals and Casualty. He died at the age of 70.
- John McAfee was a British-American computer programmer who wrote the first commercial anti-virus software, founding McAfee Associates to sell his creation. In later years he ran for the presidential office but also had many legal issues, including murder and tax evasion. He was found dead at the age of 75 due to an apparent suicide by hanging in his prison cell near Barcelona shortly after his extradition to the U.S. was authorised.
- Dusty Hill was the bassist and vocalist with US rock band ZZ Top. Born Joe Michael Hill in Dallas, he formed the group in Houston in 1969 with bandmates Frank Beard and guitarist Billy Gibbons, and soon after they recorded their debut album, ZZ Top’s First Album, in 1970. The band had still been performing up until not long before Hill’s death at the age of 72.
- Robert Downey Sr the renowned filmmaker and father to Robert Downey Jr. Born in 1936 in New York City as Robert Elias Jr, he changed his name to Downey so he could enlist in the army. After he left the military, Downey Sr made his name as a radical and anti-establishment filmmaker, and is known for projects such as Putney Swope and Greaser’s Palace. He passed away at the age of 85 after having Parkinson’s disease for over five years.
- Richard Donner the film-maker was behind some of the most popular films of the 1980s, including The Goonies, The Omen, the Lethal Weapon series and the original Superman. The New York-born director started his career in TV in the 1960s, taking charge of episodes of shows such as The Man from UNCLE, The Twilight Zone and Kojak. He died at home at the age of 91 of cardiopulmonary failure with atherosclerosis as an underlying cause.
- Tom O’Connor started out as a teacher, before launching a comedy career in working men’s clubs. The first comedian to win Opportunity Knocks three times running, he established himself as a household name through the 1970s and ’80s and hosted Name That Tune and Crosswits. His brand of humour was 100% clean and always totally family friendly. O’Connor, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2007, died in hospital aged 81.
- Andy Fordham was an English professional darts player, commonly known as The Viking. He won the 2004 BDO World Darts Championship and the 1999 Winmau World Masters. Fordham died in hospital from organ failure after a long battle with health problems. He was 59.
- Charlie Watts joined The Rolling Stones as their drummer in 1963, playing on legendary rock hits including I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Paint It Black and Brown Sugar. Originally trained as a graphic artist, Watts developed an interest in music at a young age. He was often regarded as one of the greatest drummers of all time. Watts died at a London hospital, at the age of 80, with his family around him.
- Sean Lock was best known for panel shows 8 Out Of 10 Cats and 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown. His death came as a huge shock in August. Aged 58, the star had been suffering from cancer but kept his diagnosis private.
- Una Stubbs enjoyed a stellar television career which included appearances in numerous shows, but she was best known for her roles in Till Death Us Do Part, Give Us a Clue, Sherlock and Worzel Gummidge. She died after several months of ill health at the age of 84, with her family around her.
- Sarah Harding rose to fame with the girl group Girls Aloud on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002, alongside Cheryl, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh. The band got to Christmas number one that year with their debut single, Sound Of The Underground, and went on to become one of the most successful pop groups in British music history. She died aged 39 after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020.
- Michael K Williams was a multiple Emmy nominee who earned nods for his roles in Bessie, The Night Of, When They See Us and, earlier this year, Lovecraft Country. The Brooklyn-born star also won fans for his role as Chalky White in the period gangster series Boardwalk Empire, but was best known for playing Omar Little in hit crime drama The Wire. He died at the age of 54 from an accidental drug overdose.
- Sir Clive Sinclair, was an English entrepreneur and inventor, best known for being a pioneer in the computing and electronics industries in the 1970s and early 1980s. His most famous inventions included a calculator, the ZX Spectrum and the spectacular commercial failure C5 Battery Vehicle. He died in London following an illness related to cancer that he had for over a decade. He was 81 years old.
- Jimmy Greaves,was an English professional footballer who played as a forward. He is England’s fifth-highest international goalscorer (44 goals), Tottenham Hotspur’s highest ever goalscorer (266 goals), the highest goalscorer in the history of English top-flight football (357 goals), and also scored more hat-tricks (six) for England than anyone else. After retiring as a player Greaves went on to enjoy a successful career in broadcasting, most notably working alongside Ian St John on Saint and Greavsie. He died at his home in Danbury aged 81.
- John Challis,was an English actor who had an extensive theatre and television career but is best known for portraying Terrance Aubrey “Boycie” Boyce in the long-running BBC Television sitcom Only Fools and Horses.Challis died of cancer aged 79
- Halyna Hutchins death shocked the world. On set in New Mexico working on the Western film Rust, the 42-year-old died after a gun held by actor and producer Alec Baldwin went off during a rehearsal. Ms Hutchins had been working as the director of photography on the film, a role she had previously held on the 2020 action film Archenemy.
- James Michael Tyler was undoubtedly best known for playing Gunther in Friends throughout all 10 series of the hit comedy, famously having a crush on Jennifer Aniston’s character, Rachel Green. Tyler died aged 59 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018.
- Sir David Amess, who died after being stabbed at a constituency surgery. The Southend West MP Sir David, 69, had been an MP for 38 years, having first been elected to parliament in 1983. He never held a ministerial role during his long parliamentary career, he instead focused his efforts from the backbenches of the House of Commons.
- Colin Powell,was the first African-American secretary of state. As secretary of state, Powell gave a speech before the United Nations regarding the rationale for the Iraq War, but he later admitted that the speech contained substantial inaccuracies. He was forced to resign after Bush was re-elected in 2004. Powell, who was being treated for multiple myeloma, died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center of complications from COVID-19 at the age of 84.
- Lionel Blair‘s entertainment career spanned seven decades, including appearances as an actor, tap dancer, presenter, and choreographer. He was best known as a team captain on the TV game show Give Us A Clue, appeared in the West End as the child catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium, and more recently appeared on reality TV shows such as Celebrity Big Brother and The Real Marigold Hotel. He died at the age of 92.
- Stephen Sondheim was the composer and lyricist behind some of the world’s best-known musicals, including the lyrics for West Side Story and Sweeney Todd, during a 60-year career. His death at the age of 91 was reported to have been sudden, just hours after celebrating Thanksgiving with his family.
- Dean Stockwell best known for playing Admiral “Al” Calavicci in Quantum Leap, the hologram ally to Scott Bakula’s time-travelling physicist Sam Beckett. He also starred in Battlestar Galactica and films including Dune, Married To The Mob and Blue Velvet. He passed away peacefully at his home of natural causes at the age of 85.
- Mei Jones was a Welsh actor and writer. He was best known for his part as Wali Thomas in the Welsh language sitcom C’mon Midffild! which he also co-wrote. Jones and fellow C’Mon Midffild! cast-member, Bryn Fôn were detained in 1990 along with two other people following the investigation into the campaign of holiday home fires set by the Welsh nationalist movement Meibion Glyndŵr. He died at the age of 68.
- Mary Collinson was chosen as Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month in October 1970, together with her twin sister Madeleine Collinson. They were the first identical twin Playmate sisters. Both sisters has a brief film career with Hammer Films, notably Twins of Evil. She died from bronchopneumonia in Milan at the age of 69.
- Jethro, real name Geoffrey Rowe rose to fame in the 1980s and was best known for his unique style and observational comedy, including pieces about living in Cornwall. A regular on TV shows hosted by Des O’Connor, his other TV credits included the 2001 Royal Variety Performance and Jim Davidson’s Generation Game. He died aged 72 after contracting COVID-19.
- Michael Nesmith found fame with the 1960s pop group The Monkees, with hits including I’m A Believer, Daydream Believer and Last Train To Clarksville. The group also appeared in a self-titled television series, which first aired between 1966 and 1968. Nesmith died aged 78, just a few weeks after finishing a Monkees farewell tour with drummer Micky Dolenz, now the last surviving member of the group.
- Carlos Marín was part of Il Divo, the classical crossover group conceived by Simon Cowell in 2003. Signed to his label Syco, they went on to release 10 studio albums and sell some 30 million records. He also performed in a number of musicals, including Les Miserables, Grease, and Beauty And The Beast. Marín contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalised in Manchester. He was subsequently put into a medically induced coma, and died at the age of 53.
- Desmond Tutu was an Anti-apartheid veteran and an outspoken critic of the South Africa’s previous brutal system of oppression against the country’s Black majority. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his campaign of non-violent opposition to South Africa’s white minority rule. He died from cancer at the Oasis Frail Care Centre in Cape Town at the age of 90.
- Anne Rice wrote the 1976 novel Interview With The Vampire, which was adapted into a film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in 1994. The book is also expected to be made into a TV series in 2022.The gothic novelist died due to complications from a stroke at the age of 80.
- Sir Antony Sher a ‘giant of the stage’ and Olivier Award-winning actor starred in a number of Royal Shakespeare Company productions, including a career-defining performance as Richard III. Off-stage he had roles in films including Shakespeare In Love and Mrs Brown. He died from cancer at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon at the age of 72.
- Sir Frank Williams was the founder of the Williams Formula One team. He was the team principal from its foundation in 1977 until 2020. During that period, the team won nine constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ championships. Williams was admitted to hospital in Surrey in late November and died shortly after at the age of 79.
- Betty White a ‘cultural icon’ who died days from 100th birthday. The Golden Girls star, whose career spanned eight decades, reportedly died at her home on New Year’s Eve. She made her TV debut singing on an experimental channel in Los Angeles in 1939.
Lets start the last newsletter of the year by awarding some points! Well done to Laura, who was the only one to have listed Desmond Tutu, 60 points! Further solidifying her 1st place position with less than a week to go. Goes to show how important it is to get your Big Threes.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Carlos Marín, 53, German-born Spanish singer (Il Divo), COVID-19.
- Sally Ann Howes, 91, English actress (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Brigadoon) and singer.
- Gary Lee Sampson, 62, American spree killer.
- Robin Le Mesurier, 68, British guitarist (The Wombles), cancer.
- Joan Didion, 87, American writer (Run, River, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The Year of Magical Thinking), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Chris Dickerson, 82, American bodybuilder, Mr. Olympia (1982).
- Ray Illingworth, 89, English cricketer (Yorkshire, Leicestershire, national team), oesophageal cancer.
- Desmond Tutu, 90, South African Anglican cleric and civil rights activist, bishop of Johannesburg (1985–1986) and archbishop of Cape Town (1986–1996), Nobel Prize laureate (1984).
In Other News
William Shatner was involved in a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with the Star Trek legend thought to be unharmed. The 90-year-old, who recently took part in a brief trip into space, was involved in a two-car collision in the Studio City area of LA, according to the Evil Monkeys. He was seen immediately after the incident, wearing a mask as he made a phone call and waited outside one of the cars. The front of one of the vehicles involved in the collision had crumpled, a silver Acura, with officers from Los Angeles Police Department later arriving at the scene. A black Mercedes SUV was also involved in the crash, with its bumper mangled following the incident. The actor was joined by a female companion, who was seen alongside Shatner as he made calls. The James T. Kirk actor recently made history as the oldest person to fly to space, when he launched in Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. Shatner became emotional after landing back on solid earth, with the star saying: ‘Everyone in the world needs to do this. It was so moving to me. This experience has been unbelievable. In a way it’s indescribable,’ he revealed, stating that it was ‘the most profound experience I can imagine. I am so filled with emotion about what just happened, it’s extraordinary. Extraordinary. I hope I never recover from this. I hope I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it. It’s so much larger than me. It has to do with the enormity and the quickness and the suddenness of life and death.’ One can only assume he was still slightly sidetracked when he smashed his car!
Boxing ring announcer David Diamante has been left with critical injuries after a motorcycle crash on Wednesday. The 50-year-old, who announced some of the biggest fights of the last few years including Jake Paul’s professional debut, will need to “learn to walk again” after being involved in an accident in New York yesterday. He required five hours of surgery after being admitted to a New York hospital, with nine screws, multiple rods, and cadaver parts placed in his spine as a result of the crash. The ring announcer also suffered multiple broken ribs and damage to his right knee during the crash, which took place on Third Avenue in Brooklyn. Diamante has received hundreds of messages of support after the crash, including posts from Paul, Eddie Hearn and a number of top fighters. The Baltimore native is one of the most renowned ring announcers in the world, and has been called “The Voice of Boxing” by BBC Sport. “It’s going to be a tough road,” Diamante told the Evil Monkeys. “It’s a bad injury and getting better will take some time. This will be a struggle. I’ll have to learn to walk again, and right now there’s a risk of complications. But I have a positive attitude and will be back as soon as possible.” Diamante is famous for his catchphrase “the fight starts now”, and has been signed with DAZN and Matchroom Boxing since 2018. His most recent assignment was Saturday night’s heavyweight clash between Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora at the AO Arena in Manchester, which Parker won by unanimous decision. He has also covered Muay Thai and MMA events, as well as appearing in films and television projects such as 2015’s Southpaw starring Jake Gyllenhal. The boxing announcer was in contact with fellow mic legend Michael Buffer after the surgery, who said that he is expected to make a return to the ring once he has recovered. “I spoke to him today and he’s very optimistic,” Buffer said in a response to a fan on Twitter. “David’s a fighter and has met big challenges in his life. This will be another one! The details will be his to disclose but I’m sure we’ll see him back in the ring again – strong, fit and recovered!” With his extra cadaver parts!!!
Dutch cyclist Amy Pieters is in an induced coma following a fall during a training ride with the national team in Alicante this week. Pieters, 30, lost consciousness after the collision and was taken to hospital by air ambulance. The Dutch national road race champion had surgery to relieve pressure on her brain caused by the fall. She remains in an induced coma, Dutch Cycling said, adding that an assessment would be possible “in a few days”. Pieters recently became the Madison world champion, alongside Kirsten Wild, for the third consecutive year and won stage two of the Women’s Tour in 2021. She also won the Dutch national road race and Nokere Koerse earlier this year. Dutch Cycling added: “At the moment, no further announcements can be made regarding the accident.”
On This Day
- 1862 – The largest mass-hanging in U.S. history took place in Mankato, Minnesota, where 38 Native Americans died.
- 1898 – Marie and Pierre Curie announce the isolation of radium.
- 1941 – U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day in the United States, because one Christmas Day wasn’t enough.
- 1963 – The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “I Saw Her Standing There” are released in the United States, marking the beginning of Beatlemania on an international level.
- 1980 – Witnesses report the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, an incident called “Britain’s Roswell“.
- 2003 – The 6.6 Mw Bam earthquake shakes southeastern Iran with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent), leaving more than 26,000 dead and 30,000 injured.
- 2004 – The 9.1–9.3 Mw Indian Ocean earthquake shakes northern Sumatra with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent). One of the largest observed tsunamis, it affected coastal and partially mainland areas of Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Indonesia; death toll is estimated at 227,898.
- 1963 – Gorgeous George, American wrestler (b. 1915).
- 1972 – Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States (b. 1884).
- 1977 – Howard Hawks, American director and screenwriter (b. 1896).
- 2001 – Nigel Hawthorne, English actor (b. 1929).
- 2006 – Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States (b. 1913).
- 2012 – Gerry Anderson, English director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1929).
Most humans have a morbid curiosity about death. What does it feel like? When will it happen? Will I have a chance to devour my favourite KFC Meal before I go? Is a death-row meal simply the nice thing to do for a person about to die, or is it a waste of time and money for a convicted felon, about to receive their just desserts?
The food these killers want to eat is as varied as their crimes. If you’re a long time reader of this newsletter, you will know that sometimes what people eat for their last meals is sometimes insanely elaborate, requiring multiple courses, and other times they simply want a single olive.
For some reason, humanity has throughout history, frequently decided that no matter what horrible crime you’ve committed, if the state is going to kill you, it should at least give you a decent meal. The first known recording of this practice was in the Sumerian Code of Ur-Nammu back in 22nd century BCE. Roman gladiators were also treated to a large feast before they were inevitably slaughtered in the arena, and the Aztecs used to eat the people they sacrificed. No matter how you look at it, death and food have been paired across almost every culture for most of human history.
Many of us have this idea in our heads that death row inmates can get pretty much whatever they want for their last meal. After all, even the most lavish meals probably couldn’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks, and it’s not like anybody will ever need to spend money on this person again. But actually, what criminals are allowed to have for their last meal varies pretty wildly from state to state, and can significantly affect what they ultimately eat.
Inmates are allowed to request whatever they want, but it’s up to the state to decide what they’ll actually get. For example, in Florida, the meal has to be locally purchased and can’t exceed $40. In Virginia, inmates are pretty much limited to whatever is on the monthly cycle. If you want hotdogs, you’d better hope it’s the first of the month. Most prison chefs do their best, but they can be heavily restricted by what they’re allowed to do and what they might have on hand.
Back in 1989, Brian Price was sentenced to 15 years in a Texas prison after sexually assaulting his ex-wife. When he first showed up, the guards asked him what job he’d had on the outside. Being a musician and photographer, they obviously decided to make him a cook. After a couple years of that, Price was put in charge of cooking the meals for death-row inmates. This meant that for 11 years he cooked over 300 last meals for inmates about to die.
The crazy thing about Brian Price, the chef who prepared over 300 last meals, is that he himself was a prisoner. In fact, virtually all final meals are prepared by other inmates. It’s not like a prison will pay extra to hire a fancy chef to prepare a meal for convicted criminals sentenced to death, when they’ve got so many able-bodied inmates on hand.
Although there will always be exciting and lavish requests for last meals, most requests border on the juvenile. When looking through lists of last meals, the choices these criminals made can be depressingly basic. One meal was nothing but Coke and Cheez-Doodles, while another was merely a cheeseburger. For example, Timothy McVeigh ordered just two pints of ice cream, and Gary Heidnik ate nothing but two slices of cheese pizza and two cups of coffee.
Generally speaking, inmates in America tend to be lower-class and poor. In particular, death row inmates skew towards the most impoverished when compared to other incarcerated criminals. Their socio-economic status can play out in the food they request for their final meals. Although Hannibal Lector might enjoy a fine Chianti with his meal, poorer inmates are less likely to even know what fine dining would look like.
This can mean lots of fast food request or meals that are heavy on bulk, even if they’re not particularly tasty.
According to Brian Price, the press doesn’t always report exactly what meal an inmate gets. For example, once a newspaper reported a prisoner got 24 tacos and 12 enchiladas, but they actually only ate four tacos and two enchiladas. Now, that’s still plenty of food, but it probably doesn’t come off as exciting when an inmate eats a normal-portioned meal.
After all, who wants to read the headline: “Inmate Eats Regular Last Meal”? Nobody.
If you’re going to get the death penalty in America, you might as well go out like a true American, chomping down on fatty foods. It turns out that the most requested foods are fried chicken and cheeseburgers. It’s possible that prisoners are just looking for a taste that reminds them of simpler times. Something high in fat will certainly make them feel good.
There is one curious thing that appears to happen with all last meals, that’s never been fully explained. After a last meal is prepared, it is covered and brought to the inmate. There isn’t much written on why the meal is put under a shroud, but it’s likely to help protect the privacy of the prisoner. Prisoners’ faces are also typically covered before an execution, both to protect onlookers from the nastiness of death, and to keep the person being killed a bit more calm. Maybe there is some sort of parallel there with the food as well.
Anybody who has done something more than 300 times probably knows what they’re doing. That’s why the last-meals chef, Brian Price, decided to release a recipe cookbook detailing the more than 300 last meals he prepared during his tenure as a death-row chef. The book, Meals to Die For, is one of the many resources available when trying to find recipes and information about how to cook morbid, terrifying meals at home.
Texas is far and away the state most likely to sentence a convict to death. That’s extremely unfortunate for criminals with a complex palate, because in 2011, Texas abolished last meals entirely.
The problem was that Lawrence Brewer, a self-described white supremacist, ordered such a ridiculously lavish meal, that it called attention to what some lawmakers thought was “nonsense.” Brewer ordered a meal that included: “two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions; a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños; a bowl of fried okra with ketchup; one pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas; a meat-lover’s pizza; one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream; a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts; and three root beers.” Shockingly, he did not eat a single bite of it.
State Senator John Whitmire was so mad about the huge meal, he vowed to get rid of the entire idea altogether. Sadly for the Texans on Death Row, Whitmire was successful.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jared Leto (50), Kit Harington (35), Temuera Morrison (61), Sissy Spacek (72), Helena Christensen (53), Annie Lennox (67), Ricky Martin (50), Alison Sudol (37), Finn Wolfhard (19), Harry Shearer (78), Ralph Fiennes (59), Vanessa Paradis (49), Samuel L. Jackson (73), Kiefer Sutherland (55), Jane Fonda (84), Steven Yeun (38), Julie Delpy (52), Tom Payne (39), Jonah Hill (38), Jenny Agutter (69), Phil Donahue (86), Nicole de Boer (51), Lucy Pinder (38),
Some strange deaths this week, including a very old Chinese lady! Sadly she couldn’t prove that she was born on 25th June 1886, but she did reside in Komuxerik, Kashgar Prefecture, which does have a very high percentage of people aged over 90. Apparently, she lived a very quiet and routine life. She was punctual with her meals and enjoyed sunbathing in her yard. Anyhow… Onto points! Neil correctly guessed that Jethro would succumb to the dreaded Covid, well done that man! 77 points!!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Jimmy Rave, 39, American professional wrestler (NWA Wildside, TNA, ROH).
- Jethro, 73, British comedian, COVID-19.
- Ken Kragen, 85, American music manager and producer (“We Are the World“), founder of Hands Across America.
- Marcel Meys, 112, French supercentenarian, nation’s oldest man (since October 2021).
- Alimihan Seyiti, 135 (claimed), Chinese longevity claimant.
- Wanda Young, 78, American singer (The Marvelettes).
- John Morgan, 80, English drummer (The Wurzels), COVID-19.
- Lindsay Tebbutt, Australian rock drummer and songwriter (The Choirboys), mesothelioma.
- Drakeo the Ruler, 28, American rapper, stabbed.
- Richard Rogers, Baron Rogers of Riverside, 88, Italian-born British architect (Centre Pompidou, Lloyd’s building, Millennium Dome).
In Other News
Sky News presenter Jacquie Baltrao, 56, has hit out at those who refuse the Covid vaccine in a furious Twitter rant. Jacquie, who has been battling breast cancer, was angered after a check-up with her oncologist. She directed her message to anti-vaxxers and criticised them for taking up beds in intensive care units when there are cancer patients that need them. She also claimed that cancer operations are being cancelled because there are no beds in ICU available. Writing to her 87,000 followers, the presenter said: “Had a lovely check-up and chat with my oncologist today. “For all you anti-vaxxers out there, at least 75 percent of patients with Covid in our local ICU have NOT been vaccinated. “Cancer ops ARE being cancelled because there are no ICU beds available should THOSE people need one.” She later hit back at a Twitter user, named BB, who questioned the accuracy of her statement and whether she would also call out obese people and smokers “for taking up beds”. Jacquie defiantly said: “No I am not. I am talking about Covid patients who are not vaccinated in ICU.” Another unnamed user said: “They contribute to the NHS just like everyone else. They have a right to care and to deny them that is morally wrong. The NHS should be fit for purpose.” The former Olympian replied: “They are getting care, but they are also denying other people from getting critical care. “The point is they didn’t need to be in ICU. Their Covid did not need to be that serious.” Multiple UK hospitals have confirmed that the majority of patients in critical care are unvaccinated. On Friday, Dr David Windsor, a consultant in intensive care at Gloucester Royal Hospital, declared on Twitter that “100 percent of the patients in our Critical Care Covid unit” were unvaccinated, as reported by Gloucestershire Live.
Il Divo said today they were ‘hoping and praying’ for their member Carlos Marín after he was put in an induced coma in a Manchester hospital – forcing the group to call off its UK tour. The Spanish singer, 53, is under strict observation in the intensive care unit at the Manchester Royal Hospital. The star is stable but has had his ‘oxygen compromised’ and is being intubated, according to a Spanish newspaper. Il Divo made their first comment on Mr Marín’s condition this afternoon, tweeting: ‘Our dear friend and partner, Carlos, is in the hospital. We are hoping and praying for a speedy recovery.’ Two weeks ago, he shared a selfie video from beside a pool in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria, to promote the final leg of Il Divo’s tour. He then performed in Southend, Bournemouth and then, a week ago, in Brighton – when he posted the Instagram video which showed him looking healthy while talking enthusiastically about the upcoming performance. Il Divo’s concert in Bath on December 6th was the last time he was seen on stage and he was admitted to hospital two days later. Gigs in Hull and Nottingham were called off then, on December 10th, Il Divo announced all subsequent shows had been postponed until 2022. Mr Marín married French singer-songwriter Geraldine Larrosa, stage name Innocence, in 2006, after they had been dating for 13 years. He split from the 44-year-old three years later, but they remain friends and have been seen attending events together. Il Divo or Mr Marín’s bandmates, Urs Buhler, Sébastien Izambard and David Miller, are yet to comment on the nature of Mr Marín’s illness.
The step-grandson of Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis has died in a car crash near his family’s farm in Somerset. Harry Brooksbank, 27, was killed after his black Ford Fiesta collided with a utility pole on the A361 in Pilton, Somerset, overnight last Thursday. Emergency services were called at around 2am on Friday but Mr Brooksbank was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured in the crash and investigations are ongoing, said Avon and Somerset Police. Tributes have since been paid to the ‘fun loving son and brother’, with his family saying: ‘We will miss him dreadfully.’ In a statement, his family said: ‘We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of Harry, a wonderful warm, fun loving son and brother. We will miss him dreadfully. We would like to thank everyone for their love and support.’ The Riflemans Arms, a pub in Glastonbury, also paid tribute to one of their ‘favourite customers’. It wrote on Facebook: ‘Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and family of Harry Brooksbank who can only be described as one of our favourite customers! The most genuine, nicest guy we’ve had the pleasure of knowing, always smiling and charming, we are truly devastated. No one will ever rock a tash as you did. Sending love to all that are hurting right now.’ Mr Brooksbank’s step-grandfather, Mr Eavis, has five children and 19 grandchildren. The festival organiser’s second wife Jean, who died from cancer in 1999, is Mr Brooksbank’s grandmother. Glastonbury was first held in 1970 after Mr Eavis inherited Worthy Farm from his father in 1954. In 2019, the festival was headlined by Stormzy, The Killers and The Cure. It has since been cancelled for two years in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic. Police said Mr Brooksbank’s family is being supported by specially-trained officers. A force spokesperson said: ‘Sadly the man was pronounced dead at the scene. ‘His family are aware and are being supported by specially-trained officers. Our thoughts are with them in their loss.’
On This Day
- 1924 – German serial killer Fritz Haarmann is sentenced to death for a series of murders.
- 1932 – BBC World Service begins broadcasting as the BBC Empire Service.
- 1945 – John Amery, British Fascist, is executed at the age of 33 by the British Government for treason.
- 1956 – Irish-born physician John Bodkin Adams is arrested in connection with the suspicious deaths of more than 160 patients. Eventually he is convicted only of minor charges.
- 1967 – Harold Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia, is officially presumed dead.
- 1998 – President Bill Clinton is impeached by the United States House of Representatives, becoming the second President of the United States to be impeached.
- 1848 – Emily Brontë, English novelist and poet (b. 1818)
- 1851 – Joseph Mallord William Turner, English painter (b. 1775)
- 1999 – Desmond Llewelyn, Welsh soldier and actor (b. 1914)
- 2015 – Jimmy Hill, English footballer, manager, and sportscaster (b. 1928)
The Mortuary Molester
Fuller, 67, also killed and then sexually assaulted two young women, Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce, in two separate attacks in 1987.
Fuller was given two whole life sentences for the two murders and twelve years for his abuse of women and girls in hospital mortuaries. In her sentencing remarks, judge Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb described Fuller as a “vulture, picking your victims from among the dead”. She continued: “You will spend every day of the rest of your life in prison.”
Fuller was caught 33 years after the 1987 murders following a DNA breakthrough. Police investigations at his home revealed Fuller had recorded himself abusing bodies in hospital mortuaries for more than a decade.
Following the sentencing, chief superintendent Paul Fotheringham revealed that police were now looking into other unsolved missing persons cases, rapes and murders in the South East of England. He said that there was “every chance” that Fuller had committed other crimes.
It was revealed in court on Wednesday that Fuller had abused the corpses of at least 102 women – including a nine-year-old girl, two 16-year-olds and a woman aged 100.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told Maidstone Crown Court: “David Fuller systematically and repeatedly sexually abused the bodies of dead women and girls.” He said that though the police know the names of 82 of the victims, a further 20 may never be identified.
The mother of Fuller’s youngest victim said the abuse of her nine-year-old daughter’s body would “haunt me forever and the rest of my life”. She added: “My pain – the guilt that I feel because I left her in that hospital, the one that’s meant to be a safe place. “I have nothing, no way of closure, how will I make it up to her? How will I stand by her side now, and how will I nurse that little body that has been ruined and disrespected by that vile man?”
The mother of Azra Kemal, whose body was assaulted in a mortuary by David Fuller, has said that, although justice has been served for the families of the two women who were murdered, the sentences were too lenient for Fuller’s mortuary crimes. Speaking outside the court on Wednesday, Nevres Kemal called for a statutory public inquiry.
David Fuller received three months each for the three assaults on her daughter’s body. Speaking about the length of those sentences, Ms Kemal said: “I do not feel that is fair and just. It’s not acceptable, she was worth more than that.” She said that people receive more for possession of class A drugs. Referring to the judge, Ms Kemal said: “She delivered what she could but the law has to change. This is from my heart. “Justice for the families of the mortuary crimes has not been served.”
In her sentencing remarks, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb QC said the killings of the two women in 1987 were “premeditated” and “carefully planned and executed”. She described David Fuller as a “prowler”, and murder victim Wendy Knell as “successful, happy and independent”. Fellow murder victim Caroline Pierce, the judge said, was “a lively young woman” when she was killed. She said that the murders were sexually motivated, adding: “Once you had killed these women you spent time with them to satisfy your sexual deviancy.” Speaking to Fuller, the judge said: “Your violations go against everything right and humane, they are incomprehensible.” She described the offences in the mortuaries as involving “an astonishing breach of trust and invasion of privacy, that was repeated so much that it became habitual”.
Fuller plead guilty to murdering Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, days into this trial after previously admitting manslaughter by diminished responsibility. He also plead guilty to 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 victims in mortuaries. The charges also including possession of an extreme pornographic image and taking indecent images of children.
Chief Superintendent Paul Fotheringham spoke outside the court after the sentencing. He said: “We are delighted with the sentencing … to get two whole life sentences when there are so little of those in the country shows the seriousness of the crimes.” He called Fuller a “monster” and said “hundreds if not thousands” of people had been affected by his crimes. He described Fuller as “one of the worst serial offenders that we’ve ever seen in this country”, adding: “He will never see the light of day again, which me and my team are absolutely delighted with.”
He said there were up to 10 mortuary victims that the police will never be able to identify. He also said that the police were investigating whether David Fuller committed other crimes before he murdered two women in 1987. Mr Fotheringham said the police force were looking at unsolved missing girls cases, rapes and murders across the southeast of England, adding: “I think there is every chance that he has committed other offences.”
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jake Gyllenhaal (41), Jennifer Beals (58), Kristy Swanson (52), Alyssa Milano (49), Richard Hammond (52), Steven Spielberg (75), Brad Pitt (58), Ray Liotta (67), Katie Holmes (43), Casper Van Dien (53), Christina Aguilera (41), Billie Eilish (20), Sia (46), Robson Green (57), Steve Austin (57), Keith Richards (78), Katheryn Winnick (44), Milla Jovovich (46), Sarah Paulson (47), Bill Pullman (68), Ernie Hudson (76), Giovanni Ribisi (47), Laurie Holden (52), Eugene Levy (75), Bernard Hill (77), Krysten Ritter (40), Miranda Otto (54), Billy Gibbons (72), Christopher Biggins (73), Charlie Cox (39), Helen Slater (58), Don Johnson (72), Garrett Wang (53), Vanessa Hudgens (33), Natascha McElhone (52), Miranda Hart (49), Ted Raimi (56), Vicki Michelle (71), Jamie Foxx (54), Steve Buscemi (64), Dick Van Dyke (96), Taylor Swift (32), Emma Corrin (26), and Robert Lindsay (72).
Let’s begin by awarding some points!!! With the passing of Bob Dole, Julia and Dave get 52 points each, well done! Things are quite tight at the top of the league table, one death could upset the whole lot. Let me remind you that you are not allowed to murder anyone to win the game.
I’ve already received a list for 2022, so if any of you would like to send in yours, I’m ready! Either email your list to email@example.com or fill in the 2022 Webform. If for some reason you have forgotten the same rules we have been following for the last thirty years, you can find them here. Mention it to your weird friends and followers, the more the merrier.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Martha De Laurentiis, 67, American film producer (Breakdown, Hannibal, U-571), cancer.
- Bob Dole, 98, American politician, member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1961–1969) and Senate (1969–1996), lung cancer.
- John Miles, 72, British singer-songwriter and musician (“Music“).
- Jacques Tits, 91, Belgian-born French mathematician (Tits alternative, Tits group, Tits metric).
- Chris Achilleos, 74, Cypriot-born British illustrator.
- Robbie Shakespeare, 68, Jamaican bassist (Sly and Robbie, Black Uhuru) and record producer, complications from kidney surgery.
- Ralph Tavares, 79, American singer (Tavares).
- Steve Bronski, 61, Scottish keyboardist (Bronski Beat).
- Slim 400, 33, American rapper, shot.
- Al Unser, 82, American Hall of Fame racing driver, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner, IndyCar champion (1983, 1985), liver cancer.
- Michael Nesmith, 78, American musician (The Monkees) and songwriter.
- Anne Rice, 80, American author (The Vampire Chronicles), complications from a stroke.
In Other News
A coffin-shaped capsule that allows occupants to kill themselves has passed legal review in Switzerland, according to its creators. The Sarco machine can be operated from the inside –conceivably just by blinking if the person suffers from locked-in syndrome – and works by reducing the oxygen level in the pod to below a critical level. The process takes less than a minute and death occurs through hypoxia and hypocapnia, which is intended to allow a person to die relatively peacefully and painlessly. Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland and roughly 1,300 people used the services of euthanasia organisations Dignitas and Exit last year. Both firms use ingestible liquid barbiturate drug to induce a deep coma within two to five minutes, followed by death. The suicide pod is the creation of Dr Philip Nitschke, dubbed ‘Dr Death’, who serves as the director of the non-profit organisation Exit International. The Sarco – short for sarcophagus – is designed to be towed to a location of the users’ preference, such as an idyllic outdoor setting, and then the biodegradable capsule can detach from the base in order to serve as a coffin. Dr Nitschke has faced opposition from opponents of euthanasia, in part due to the method used. “Gas may never be an acceptable method for assisted suicide in Europe due to the negative connotations of the Holocaust, some have even said that it’s just a glorified gas chamber.” It has also drawn criticism due to its futuristic design, which some say glamorises suicide, as well as a corresponding virtual reality app that allows people to “experience their own virtual death”. This VR experience was displayed in Westerkerk church in Amsterdam at the 2018 Funeral Expo, prompting worries from the church’s board. “Westerkerk will never support people by offering equipment as promoted by Dr Nitschke and we seriously wonder whether this contributes to a thorough and careful discussion around the issue,” Jeroen Kramer, president of the Westerkerk church board, said at the time. “We will not and cannot support any suggestion of using such equipment.” Only two Sarco prototypes currently exist, but Exit International is 3D printing a third machine that it hopes to be ready for operation in Switzerland next year. Dr Nitschke told local media last week that “there are no legal issues at all” and that discussions are ongoing with various groups in Switzerland with a view to provide the capsule for assisted suicide. “Barring any unforeseen difficulties, we hope to be ready to make Sarco available for use in Switzerland next year,” he said. “It’s been a very expensive project so far but we think we’re pretty close to implementation now.”
Former GB News Chairman Andrew Neil shared an update on his beloved dog, Molly, who he says is “seriously ill”. The renowned journalist promised his 1.1 million followers that he would keep them updated on Molly’s condition as fans sent in messages of support. Andrew, 72, broke his “bad news” to his followers, who seemed heartbroken to hear that Molly was ill. The news legend shared a sweet picture of Molly curled up on a chair with her eyes closed and her head resting on a cuddly, owl-shaped cushion. He wrote: “Bad news. Ms Molly the Dog, the one and only star of BBC 1’s much missed This Week is seriously ill. “She is, of course, getting the best possible care and we hope she’ll pull through. “We will keep her many fans posted,” he confirmed. The star then retweeted the picture with the caption: “We take her back to the vet tomorrow. “Tonight she’s decided to forego her several comfortable beds and lie on the floor. “So my wife has placed a pillow on the floor and is now lying beside her. “Whatever Molly’s problems she will not lack for love,” an emotional Andrew concluded. Andrew and his wife were then inundated with support during their difficult time. Andrew announced he was stepping down as Chairman of GB News on 13th September 2021 despite masterminding the launch of the channel and has since referred to his time there as “the single biggest mistake” of his career.
Mark Wright has had a huge 12cm tumour removed from his armpit following a terrifying cancer scare. The former TOWIE star, 34, took to Instagram to share his story in the hope that speaking out could help save lives. Mark opened up after undergoing surgery to remove the lump, which was clearly visible on his body before the procedure. And he’s still waiting on results to find out whether or not the lump was cancerous. Sharing a topless picture of himself that showed the lump in his armpit, he penned: “Ok, it’s been a tough call whether or not to speak about this. “One part of me wants to keep something like this private and the other part is thinking, if I can help/potentially save 1 person, well…. this is the right thing to do. So here goes. I discovered a lump in my breast/armpit area. Not very big, but enough to cause concern and to be cautious enough to get it checked. I saw a doctor who passed it on as “a fatty lump that doesn’t need any treatment” so I just left it. After some time the lump grew and began to bother me. I am someone that when it comes to life in general, I leave no stone unturned. When it involves health, this idiom quadruples.” Mark, who went under the knife and also shared a graphic image of the lump, added: “I saw another specialist who happens to be a breast consultant for a second opinion. He was certain after seeing an ultrasound scan that it was a Lipoma (a benign soft tissue tumour) however with it being rather large, he had a tiny bit of concern that it has/could turn in to a Sarcoma (a cancerous malignant tumour) However he was not 100% either way so to be more sure I had an MRI. From the result of the MRI, still this consultant did not want to rule out the worst because of the speed and the size of the growth. At this stage I moved on to a Sarcoma specialist. This specialist saw the scans around 10 days ago and today I was in theatre having this little git removed.” Mark continued: “His fast and incredible turn around was due to the fact he did not want to leave it any longer and wanted it out to prevent the rare risk of a Lipoma turning into a sarcoma overtime. He also could not 100% confirm by the MRI that this was definitely a benign tumour and not something more sinister. The tumour will be sent off for further testing just to be 110% sure but this top doctor is certain from his incredible experience that we have done the job and there is nothing sinister to worry about. So I’m all good! Moral of the story: If you notice anything that doesn’t look or feel quite right. Don’t leave it. Nothing in life is more important than your health and well-being. Get checked, check yourself and make sure you take good care of yourself.”
On This Day
- 1866 – Oaks explosion: The worst mining disaster in England kills 361 miners and rescuers.
- 1988 – The Clapham Junction rail crash kills thirty-five and injures hundreds after two collisions of three commuter trains—one of the worst train crashes in the United Kingdom.
- Turns out this day in history has next to nothing to show for 2000 years of humanity.
- 1921 – Henrietta Swan Leavitt, American astronomer and academic (b. 1868).
- 1939 – Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., American actor, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1883).
- 2006 – Peter Boyle, American actor (b. 1935).
- 2007 – Ike Turner, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1931).
- 2019 – Danny Aiello, American actor (b. 1933).
- 2020 – John le Carré, English author (b. 1931).
The Real Black Widow
For more than a century, Mary Ann Cotton was the most prolific serial killer in UK history, until Harold Shipman surpassed her victim count in 2000. She was described as beautiful, charming and ultimately deadly. Gaining her the nickname Black Widow.
It has been suggested that Cotton killed at least 21 people, many of these were her own children or husbands. Records show that she had at least 13 children during her life, only 2 of these outlived her. Similar to Mary Ann Bateman, a serial killer 100 years before, her weapon of choice was arsenic poisoning. Her main motive for the murders was to collect the insurance money that each death provided her with.
Cotton was born into a mining community, in Sunderland. Her father Michael Robson was a collier sinker. She had two siblings, but only her younger brother survived. When Cotton was eight the family moved to County Durham. Like many families of the time, they travelled where the work was. She was a good student and a friendly girl. Her Sunday school superintendent would describe her as: a most exemplary and regular attender, a girl of innocent disposition and average intelligence.
In 1842, Cotton’s father was killed, he fell down a 150ft mine shaft. Times were very harsh and his body was delivered to the family in a sack, with the news that they’d need to vacate the mining property they were living in. This situation did not last long as Cotton’s mother went on to remarry in 1843, to another miner. At sixteen, Cotton left her home to become the nursemaid to the manager of Murton Colliery, she cared for his children. When the children grew up she returned to her step-fathers home for a short period, whilst she trained to be a dressmaker. It would not be long before she would start working her way through her husbands.
Cotton married her first husband, William Mowbray, when she was 20. Like her father, he was a colliery labourer. During her time with Mowbray she would go on to mother many children, estimations suggested nine, of these children only one survived. No records exist, even though registration was compulsory at the time. It is hard to establish what they died of or the exact numbers. In Jan 1865, Mowbray died of what was noted as intestinal problems. Cotton collected £35 on his death, which was the equivalent of six months wages.
Cotton went on to start working in a local infirmary after Mowbray’s death. It was during this time that she met husband number two. George Ward was an engineer and patient at the time. Entranced by his nurse, he married her in August 1865. His health was poor at the time and was about to become worse. Cotton, who did not want a child living with them, sent her daughter to live with her mother. It is unclear why she chose this course of action, rather than killing her. Ward would die in October 1866 of intestinal problems, leaving Cotton to collect the insurance money.
The next man on Cotton’s radar was James Robinson who was a Shipwright. He hired Cotton as a housekeeper shortly after his wife died. When his son died one month later of gastric fever, he turned to his housekeeper for comfort. Whilst helping Robinson deal with his grief, Cotton fell pregnant.
At this point in her life, Cotton received notification that her mother was ill, so she went to look after her. Her mother made good progress and started recovering, only to fall ill of stomach pains. She died nine days after Cotton arrived at the age of 54. Cotton returned to Robinson, with her daughter who had been staying with her mother. Shortly after returning to Robinson her daughter became ill with a stomach complaint and died. Two of Robinson’s children suffered the same fate. Cotton went on to collect the insurance money.
After these events, and with a child on the way, Robinson married Cotton, and the happy couple went on to have two children. Only one of these children would survive. Cotton was eager after these unfortunate events to get her husband insured. It is this insistence that raised the suspicion of Robinson. Whilst checking his bank, he found that Cotton has run up a huge debt in his name and had pawned many of the families valuables. He threw her out, keeping custody of their son.
After this, Cotton was forced to live on the streets. When her friend Margaret Cotton introduced her to her brother, a pitman and recent widower, Cotton was only too happy to help. Margaret had been acting as a surrogate mother to her brother’s children. When Margaret died in March 1870 from stomach problems, Cotton was there to comfort Fredrick Cotton. Shortly after this, she found out that she was pregnant, with her twelfth child.
The marriage to Cotton was not to be a faithful one. Cotton heard that a previous lover Joseph Nattrass was living close by and rekindled her romance with him. In December the same year, Fredrick died from gastric fever and Cotton collected still more insurance money. After the death of Fredrick, both his sons also died of gastric fever and then Cotton’s son would suffer the same fate. The last person to die of gastric problems was Nattrass.
After these latest deaths, Cotton went to work for Thomas Riley a parish official. She complained to him about her son being a problem and asked if she could have him committed to the workhouse. When Riley informed her this would only be possible if she accompanied him she replied: I won’t be troubled long. He’ll go like the rest of the Cottons.
Five days later, Charles Edward died and Riley went straight to the police. The boy was examined and showed clear evidence of arsenic poisoning. The decision was then made to exhume both Nattrass and some of Cotton’s children. They all showed signs of arsenic poisoning.
The papers latched onto the story of the Black Widow. During their research, they discovered how much Cotton moved around the country. They also noted the number of people she had lost to stomach fever. Dr William Byers Kilburn, who was Charles’ doctor, had kept samples from his patient. When these were tested it showed arsenic poisoning.
Cotton stood trial on 5th March 1873, the trial having to be delayed so that she could give birth to her final child. After deliberating for 90 minutes, the jury found her guilty on all charges. Out of the 13 children she was believed to have had, only two went on to survive. The son that Robinson claimed custody of and the daughter, Margaret Edith, born in jail.
Cotton was hanged in Durham jail on 24th March 1873, in a strange twist she didn’t die of a broken neck, but rather strangulation. The executioner had rigged the rope too short, so a broken neck did not occur. Whether this was on purpose or not was never established.
In the 1990s Durham jail was modernised and Cotton’s remains were removed amongst others. Her bones were found with a pair of her shoes, they were later cremated and laid to rest in an undisclosed location.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jennifer Connelly (51), Mädchen Amick (51), Mayim Bialik (46), Bill Nighy (72), Sarah Douglas (69), Kenneth Cranham (77), Dionne Warwick (81), Ben Browder (59), Kenneth Branagh (61), Judi Dench (87), John Malkovich (68), Michael Dorn (69), Beau Bridges (80), Donny Osmond (64), Kim Basinger (68), Teri Hatcher (57), Dominic Monaghan (45), Nicki Minaj (39), David Harewood (56), Nicholas Hoult (32), Jennifer Carpenter (42), C. Thomas Howell (55), Jeffrey Wright (56), Ellen Burstyn (89), Kristofer Hivju (43), Tom Hulce (68), Colin Salmon (59), Noel Clarke (46), and Nick Park (63).
Welcome to all three of you who read the newsletter, in which this week we dispense 40 points to Paul C. for correctly listing Eileen Ash; which brings his total deaths score to 8 out of 13, quite a feat!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sir Frank Williams, 79, British motor racing team owner and constructor (Williams Racing).
- Doyle Hamm, 64, American convicted murderer and botched execution survivor, cancer.
- Arlene Dahl, 96, American actress (Journey to the Center of the Earth, Reign of Terror).
- David Gulpilil, 68, Australian actor (Walkabout, Crocodile Dundee), lung cancer.
- Tommy Lane, 83, American actor (Live and Let Die, Shaft), COPD.
- Dave Draper, 79, American bodybuilder, actor (Lord Love a Duck, Don’t Make Waves).
- Ray Kennedy, 70, English footballer (Liverpool, Arsenal, national team), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Sir Antony Sher, 72, South African-born British actor (Stanley, Shakespeare in Love, The Wolfman), cancer.
- Eileen Ash, 110, English cricketer (Middlesex, national team).
- Fortune FitzRoy, Duchess of Grafton, 101, British courtier, Mistress of the Robes (since 1967).
- Stonewall Jackson, 89, American country singer (“Waterloo“, “B.J. the D.J.“, “I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water“), vascular dementia.
- Siobhan Cattigan, 26, Scottish rugby union player (Stirling County, national team).
In Other News
Sheridan Smith is “lucky to be alive” after being involved in an car crash, it’s been reported. It’s being claimed that the actor and singer was driving her Range Rover in Little Sampford, Essex on Saturday (27th November) and swerved into a tree due to icy weather conditions. Photos appearing to show what is believed to be Sheridan’s vehicle with the front caved in have since surfaced online. A source who claims to be a neighbour of Smith’s told the evil monkeys that the entertainer was left with “cuts and bruises”, adding: “Sheridan is so lucky to be alive. It could have been so much worse. Her car was stuck in the tree, it was a really bad crash.” They continued: “But thank goodness there were land-owners to cut up the tree blocking the road or police would never have got through. It doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened.” A nearby dog walker said he feared “someone must be dead in there” after spotting the accident, adding that the car was “totally trashed”. Smith was taken back to her house by a friend after the car veered off the road. An Essex Police spokesperson confirmed: “We attended a collision in that area. However, no offences were identified, no-one was arrested or seriously injured, and it didn’t impact on any of our major roads so, in line with our policy on such incidents, we won’t be providing anything further.” Smith’s alleged car crash reportedly came less than two hours after her appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show, which was mired in controversy following earlier reports that she became “upset” after recording the interview. A spokesperson for the series confirmed that Smith “appeared to become upset” after her time on the show despite seemingly having “a great time” during filming.
A chef has avoided being jailed after serving up a shepherds pie which killed a 92-year-old diner and poisoned more than 30 others. John Croucher dished up the contaminated meal to a harvest-supper party at the Crewe Arms in the Northamptonshire village of Hinton-in-the-Hedges. Church-goer Elizabeth Neuman could not stop vomiting after eating the pie and died of gastrointestinal haemorrhage, while 31 of her fellow worshippers became “unpleasantly ill”. Only three of the congregation escaped food poisoning – because they were vegetarians. But representing himself in court, Croucher – who has been a cook more than 20 years – claimed that the tragedy had made him “a better chef”. He said: “Remorse is an understatement. This is something I will never forget. Because of it, I am a better chef and it is just a shame the cost of it had to be what it was.” The 40-year-old was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, at Reading Crown Court on Thursday after previously admitting a charge of contravening food regulations. Pub landlord Neil Billingham, of Northampton, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs after admitting three charges of contravening food regulations. The court heard that Ms Neuman was rushed to hospital soon after eating at the Crewe Arms on 8 October 2018 – but but that she died before doctors could properly treat her. Sentencing, Judge Sarah Campbell said: “No sentence I pass can reflect the loss caused to the family. “Croucher was the chef that night. The mince was not cooked properly and was placed into a pan with iced water. Croucher needed to leave, so put the mince in cling film and put it in the fridge overnight. Having left it, he cooked it again and added warm mashed potato. He did not take the temperature when it was served.” The incident came after hygiene inspectors had already ordered the pub to improve after finding no food safety management systems in place. The court was told that members of the Holy Trinity church congregation which had suffered did not want “retribution” against the pub, Billingham or Croucher, who no longer works there and now lives in Ely, Cambridgeshire. Christopher Hopkins, for Billingham and his company, the Bobcat Pub Co, said: “You will see that Billingham went to local residents who were affected shortly after, apologising for the incident. He also asks me to express his condolences to the Neuman family on his behalf.”
Marcus Lamb, founder and CEO of conservative Christian broadcaster Daystar Television Network and a vocal anti-vaxxer, has died at the age of 64, weeks after he tested positive for Covid-19. In a statement on Twitter, the network did not specify his cause of death but said: “It’s with a heavy heart we announce that Marcus Lamb, president and founder of Daystar Television Network, went home to be with the Lord this morning. The family asks that their privacy be respected as they grieve this difficult loss. Please continue to lift them up in prayer.” Lamb’s son Jonathan had earlier described his father’s infection as “a spiritual attack from the enemy” to take him down, in a broadcast on the network last week. “As much as my parents have gone on here to kind of inform everyone about everything going on to the pandemic and some of the ways to treat Covid — there’s no doubt that the enemy is not happy about that,” Mr Lamb said. “And he’s doing everything he can to take down my Dad,” he added. Mr Lamb’s mother Joni had also earlier thanked viewers for their prayers in a telephone call from her husband’s hospital bed. Describing her husband’s illness, Ms Lamb had said: “It’s like, you’ll just be up and everything’s great, and then you have a little lull, and then you come down low and then you come back up, but from everybody that I talk to — I think that’s the pattern.” The network which has over 70 stations across the country was launched by the Texas televangelist in 1997. It has also expanded outside the country and is broadcast in 74 countries across the world. The network became a platform for misinformation and conspiracy theories during the Covid-19 pandemic. It hosted conspiracy theorists like America’s Frontline Doctors who had claimed in a viral video that Covid-19 could be cured not through mask mandates and shutdowns but through the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. The network also brought in Robert F Kennedy Jr, the nephew of the former US president John F Kennedy, who is a prominent anti-vaxxer. Last month, the Daystar Television network along with a Mississippi based Christian fundamentalist organisation, American Family Association, moved court against the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate at workplaces. The two companies said in their filing in a Texas court that the vaccine mandate is “sin against God’s Holy Word” and put their employees in a position to potentially sin as well, reported Deseret News. Recently other known anti-vaxxers such as conservative radio hosts Dick Farrell, Phil Valentine, and Marc Bernier also died due to Covid-19, so the virus isn’t all that bad…
Thought of the day: Touching an AM radio broadcast tower will kill you, and not only will it kill you, but it will hurt the entire time you’re dying. Firstly, the voltage is so high that your hands would instantly clamp to whatever charged part of the tower you touched, then because it’s oscillating at a frequency your cells can’t feel you wouldn’t be able to feel yourself being electrocuted until it starts to heat your body from the current, and you’d also be able to hear your body acting as a “speaker” where you’d literally be able to hear whatever was on that particular station as you die.
On This Day
- 1952 – Beginning of the Great Smog in London. A cold fog combines with air pollution and brings the city to a standstill for four days. Later, a Ministry of Health report estimates 4,000 fatalities as a result of it.
- 1958 – The Preston By-pass, the UK’s first stretch of motorway, opens to traffic for the first time. (It is now part of the M6 and M55 motorways.)
- 2004 – The Civil Partnership Act comes into effect in the United Kingdom, and the first civil partnership is registered there.
- 1791 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian composer and musician (b. 1756).
- 1870 – Alexandre Dumas, French novelist and playwright (b. 1802).
- 1926 – Claude Monet, French painter (b. 1840).
- 1951 – Shoeless Joe Jackson, American baseball player and manager (b. 1887).
- 2013 – Nelson Mandela, South African lawyer and politician, 1st President of South Africa (b. 1918).
A Most Excellent Death
Gaius Petronius Arbiter was a Roman courtier during the reign of Nero. He is generally believed to be the author of the Satyricon, a satirical novel believed to have been written during the Neronian era (54–68 AD).
Tacitus, Plutarch and Pliny the Elder describe Petronius as the elegantiae arbiter, “judge of elegance”, in the court of the emperor Nero. He served as suffect consul in 62. Later, he became a member of the senatorial class who devoted himself to a life of pleasure. His relationship to Nero was apparently akin to that of a fashion advisor. Tacitus gives this account of Petronius in his historical work the Annals (XVI.18): He spent his days in sleep, his nights in attending to his official duties or in amusement, that by his dissolute life he had become as famous as other men by a life of energy, and that he was regarded as no ordinary profligate, but as an accomplished voluptuary. His reckless freedom of speech, being regarded as frankness, procured him popularity. Yet during his provincial government, and later when he held the office of consul, he had shown vigour and capacity for affairs. Afterwards returning to his life of vicious indulgence, he became one of the chosen circle of Nero’s intimates, and was looked upon as an absolute authority on questions of taste in connection with the science of luxurious living.
Petronius’ high position soon made him the object of envy for those around him. Having attracted the jealousy of Tigellinus, the commander of the emperor’s guard, he was accused of treason. He was arrested at Cumae in 65 AD but did not wait for a sentence. Instead, he chose to take his own life. Tacitus again records his elegant suicide in the sixteenth book of the Annals: Yet he did not fling away life with precipitate haste, but having made an incision in his veins and then, according to his humour, bound them up, he again opened them, while he conversed with his friends, not in a serious strain or on topics that might win for him the glory of courage. And he listened to them as they repeated, not thoughts on the immortality of the soul or on the theories of philosophers, but light poetry and playful verses. To some of his slaves he gave liberal presents, a flogging to others. He dined, indulged himself in sleep, that death, though forced on him, might have a natural appearance. Even in his will he did not, as did many in their last moments, flatter Nero or Tigellinus or any other of the men in power. On the contrary, he described fully the prince’s shameful excesses, with the names of his male and female companions and their novelties in debauchery, and sent the account under seal to Nero. Then he broke his signet-ring, that it might not be subsequently available for imperilling others.
According to Pliny the Elder: “Petronius, a consular, knowing he was going to die through Nero’s jealousy and envy, broke his fluorspar wine-dipper so that the emperor’s table would not inherit it. It had cost 300,000 sesterces”.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Catherine Tate (52), Frankie Muniz (36), Marisa Tomei (57), Jeff Bridges (72), Tony Todd (67), Pamela Stephenson (72), Tyra Banks (48), Jay-Z (52), Brendan Fraser (53), Amanda Seyfried (36), Julianne Moore (61), Daryl Hannah (61), Jean-Luc Godard (91), Ozzy Osbourne (73), Lucy Liu (53), Britney Spears (40), Connie Booth (81), Nelly Furtado (43), Woody Allen (86), Sarah Silverman (51), Riz Ahmed (39), Bette Midler (76), Ridley Scott (84), Kaley Cuoco (36), Ben Stiller (56), Mandy Patinkin (69), John Bishop (55), Billy Idol (66), Gemma Chan (39), Diane Ladd (86), Don Cheadle (57), and Gena Lee Nolin (50).
With little over a month to go, I thought I’d clean house by going through the lists for missed deaths. Well, I missed three this year, so I’ve updated the league table accordingly. Congratulations go to the following: Abi scored 66 points for the death of Abdelaziz Bouteflika back in September. Also Paul C scores with the passing of Renée-Jeanne Simonot back in July, 40 points. Julie also correctly guessed that Walter Bernstein would die, way back in January, 49 points. Shall we have a brief conversation about Peppa Pig? Brum brrrrrummm, um, no…. Maybe we should all list that useless lump of lard next year, he’s obviously got something wrong with him!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Lou Cutell, 91, American actor (Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids).
- Joey Morgan, 28, American actor (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, Critters: A New Binge).
- Bernard Holley, 81, British actor (Z-Cars, Doctor Who).
- Mary Collinson, 69, Maltese-British model (Playboy) and actress (Twins of Evil).
- Stephen Sondheim, 91, American composer and lyricist (West Side Story, Company, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), nine-time Tony winner.
In Other News
BBC Radio 1 presenter Adele Roberts says she is “buzzing to be back” as she returned to the Weekend Breakfast show on Saturday after cancer surgery. Roberts, 42, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer in early October, was back on the show a month after surgery. She said: “The good news is, they found the tumour… they’ve taken it away. My body is on the mend and I am here. It’s a huge testament to the skill and knowledge and level of care at the NHS. They’re amazing. I owe them my life. I can’t thank them enough.” Roberts, who took a month off to recuperate, spoke candidly about her diagnosis and recovery as she opened the radio show on Saturday. “I can’t believe it – it’s a month since I had my surgery and I’ve got goosebumps. A month on, it’s incredible what the body is capable of. I feel amazing. I’m lucky, I’m happy, and I’m buzzing to be back.” The former Big Brother star, from Southport, Merseyside, sought medical advice in October after struggling with her digestion “for a while”. On Saturday’s show, she urged listeners to her show not to “suffer in silence” but to seek help if they had any health concerns. “Go and see your GP, that’s what I did and I think that’s why I am here today. And I am just so grateful.” The DJ, who appeared on TV reality show I’m a Celebrity in 2019, has chronicled her convalescence on Instagram, including a selfie of her stoma post surgery, admitting the “rollercoaster” prognosis and subsequent treatment had been “overwhelming at times”. “Never underestimate the power of positivity and well-wishes, it makes a difference, I promise you,” she told listeners on Saturday.
Richard Madeley has revealed all on the medical emergency which caused him to be taken to hospital and have to leave I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here. The Good Morning Britain presenter, 65, appeared on Friday’s show, which was pre-recorded due to Storm Arwen battering Wales, to discuss his sudden exit from camp. He told hosts Ant and Dec: ‘I feel as fit as a fiddle and I am fit as a fiddle. And you know if it wasn’t for Covid I’d be back there eating rice and beans. I had to leave… it’s a Covid situation. It’s still biting our bums isn’t it? What happened was, I had just a funny little turn quite sort of late in the morning. ITV are so good with duty of care. They were adamant. They said “No, we have to make sure that you’re OK.” I said, “But I am OK.” They said, “We have to make sure.” So I went to the local hospital – I was only in there for about an hour and a half – I was given really thorough checks and I was given a completely clean bill of health, I’m absolutely fine. No matter what you might have read, I’m absolutely fine.’ Due to being in hospital, Richard broke the Covid ‘bubble’ the celebrities had been in and was not allowed to return despite telling his followers he was ‘fine’ after the incident. Making the most of being allowed out of camp, Richard admitted: ‘I did hang on after I was discharged for about 20 minutes because I went to the canteen, seriously, and had a bacon butty. That was my first port of call for a bacon butty. And a huge cup of tea, it was amazing. I ate hospital food, exactly.’ He added: ‘I’m absolutely fine. As I say, if it wasn’t for Covid, I’d still be in the game. I’m gutted. I’m gutted, I really am.’ Earlier in the show, the moment the campmates were told he was not coming back was revealed, leaving them in tears as he sent them a video message to let them know. Richard also revealed that sleeping was the hardest thing about I’m A Celebrity, explaining: ‘It was genuinely cold. ‘Night time, sleeping, because we had very thin mattresses, much thinner than in the top camp and not very warm sleeping bags. Really cheap, frankly, sleeping bags. And covered in straw, on the floor, very thin, it was freezing in there. We were always cold. We had to get all of our clothes out of our bag and put them over us to keep us warm at night.’
US X-Factor contestant Thomas Wells has died following a workplace accident, the evil monkeys report. He was 46. Wells, a singer who competed on the US version of X Factor in 2011 and has also appeared on shows like The Voice, America’s Got Talent, and the short-lived competition series The Winner Is, was working at his job at a tire manufacturing plant when he suffered an accident with the conveyor belt earlier this month. He reportedly was caught inside the machine, which was unable to be stopped in time to avoid injury. The nature of his injuries have not been revealed. Wells was moved from a hospital in Oklahoma to a bigger hospital in Texas, however, he passed away in the Texas facility on Nov. 13th. Wells, who was married to his wife Jessica for 17 years, told us that her husband “always had a smile on his face and tried to make people laugh,” and that he “sometimes bust out singing and didn’t mind the spotlight.” The performer has more than two dozen videos on his YouTube channel, which features him singing as well as playing instruments. In addition to performing covers from artists like Rascal Flatts, Wells posted original songs, such as his piano ballad “Somebody’s Child.”
On This Day
- 1814 – The Times of London becomes the first newspaper to be produced on a steam-powered printing press, built by the German team of Koenig & Bauer.
- 1919 – Lady Astor is elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She is the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.
- 1942 – In Boston, Massachusetts, a fire in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub kills 492 people.
- 1972 – Last executions in Paris: Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems are guillotined at La Santé Prison.
- 1990 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resigns as leader of the Conservative Party and, therefore, as Prime Minister. She is succeeded in both positions by John Major.
- 1170 – Owain Gwynedd, Welsh king (b. 1080).
- 1968 – Enid Blyton, English author and poet (b. 1897).
- 1993 – Kenneth Connor, English actor (b. 1918).
- 1994 – Jeffrey Dahmer, American serial killer (b. 1960).
- 2010 – Leslie Nielsen, Canadian-American actor and producer (b. 1926).
- 2020 – David Prowse, English actor (b. 1935).
French Argue Death Penalty Anew as Two Are Guillotined
An article from the New York Times Archives
PARIS, Nov. 28—Claude Buffet and Roger Bontems were guillotined in the cold, dark blanket of early morning Paris today, the first men executed in France in more than three and a half years. Their deaths at Santé Prison have stirred new debate over capital punishment. “A principle cannot be divided,” wrote Pierre Vians son‐Ponté, editor of Le Monde. “One cannot be against the death penalty, except for certain circumstances, except for certain particularly heinous crimes. “Either one holds blindly to the law of men or one considers that things are not so simple, and that no one has the power or the right to deliberately break the thread of a life.”
Deaths 7 Minutes Apart
The first of the two men beheaded was Roger Bontems, the 36‐year old son of peasants from the Vosges Region of eastern France, a man who had actually never taken an other life.
“His execution is incomprehensible,” said his defense lawyer, Philippe Lemaire, “since the President of the Republic has pardoned even those who have committed double murders.” Seven minutes after Bonterns died, Claude Buffet, a 38‐year‐old former French Legionnaire, was put between the posts of the “machine,” as the device of the 18th century Dr. Guillotin is known. The men, who were condemned in the slaying of two hostages in a prison riot, died with dignity, their defense lawyers said. Buffet, who had been reading Simone Weill and Albert Camus in the death house, said he hoped he would be the last man executed in France.
At 5:45, with dawn still two hours away and a half moon shining over frosty streets, a hearse drove from the prison to the cemetery in the eastern suburb of Thiais. A policeman posted on the prison wall the official bulletin announcing the executions.
Killings During Revolt
During a revolt at Clairvaux Prison in eastern France last year Buffet cut the throats of two hostages —Nicole Compte, a 35‐year‐ old nurse, and Guy Girardot, a 27‐year‐old guard. Bontems was a fellow prisoner and friend of Buffet. He did not kill. But neither did he move to prevent the killings. “The Buffet problem—there is no problem here, but there is with Bontems,” his defense lawyer, Robert Badinter, said at the trial last June. “The prosecution,” he went on to say, “demands his head. It is the barbarous cry of retribution: ‘An eye for an eye.’ President Pompidou could have pardoned one or both. He has not allowed anyone to be executed in France since he came to office in June, 1969, and has meditated publicly over the “anguish” he feels about his power of life or death over the condemned.
The President did commute the death sentence of a third man, an Algerian named Mohamed Libdirl, who was convicted of murdering a cab driver in the south of France. Mr. Pompidou gave no reasons for his action. But the sympathy for the families of the murdered hostages, strong pleas for the death penalty for both Bontems and Buffet by prison workers and polls that show well over half of the people in favour of capital punishment probably weighed in the decision. “The executions will not give me back my husband,” said Dominique Girardot, the widow of the prison guard. “However—and I say it with out hatred—it is normal that justice he done.”
Buffet Had Life Term
Buffet, who was originally convicted of the murder of the wife of a Paris gynaecologist, was given a life sentence by a Paris court in October, 1970, but cried out that he wanted the death penalty “for reasons that only my conscience knows.” Less than a year later he was at the prison hospital at Clairvaux with Bontems, who had drawn a 20‐year‐sentence for severely injuring a taxi driver in a holdup, had escaped once and was back in prison.
The last man to be executed was a child murderer named Jean Olivier on March 11, 1969. No woman has been guillotined since April 21, 1949. Until 1939 executions were public. There were 11 executions between 1956 and 1961, six between 1962 and 1967 and one between 1968 and 1972. The chief executioner is a 73‐year‐old former mechanic, André Obrecht, who lives in Paris and earns $5,200 a year. When Mr. Obrecht is asked whether he knows the name of his successor, he usually shakes his head and replies, “No, I don’t. But believe me, there will be one.”
Last Week’s Birthdays
Karen Gillan (34), Aimee Garcia (43), Ed Harris (71), Judd Nelson (62), Ellie Taylor (38), Martin Clunes (60), Jon Stewart (59), Armando Iannucci (58), Lashana Lynch (43), Fisher Stevens (58), Sharlto Copley (48), Robin Givens (58), Steve Bannon (68), Bill Nye (66), Kristin Bauer van Straten (55), Rita Ora (31), Mark Margolis (82), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (33), Tina Turner (82), Christina Applegate (50), John Larroquette (74), Sarah Hyland (31), Stephen Merchant (47), Colin Hanks (44), Billy Connolly (79), Denise Crosby (64), Conleth Hill (57), Kayvan Novak (43), Michelle Gomez (55), Miley Cyrus (29), Ricky Whittle (40), Kelly Brook (42), Scarlett Johansson (37), Mads Mikkelsen (56), Jamie Lee Curtis (63), and Terry Gilliam (81).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Grigori Galitsin, 64, Russian erotic photographer.
- Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon, 101, British memoirist, spouse of the prime minister (1955–1957).
- Young Dolph, 36, American rapper, shot.
- Peter Buck, 90, American restaurateur, co-founder of Subway.
- Peter Aykroyd, 66, Canadian comedian & actor (Coneheads, Nothing but Trouble).
- Joe Laidlaw, 71, English footballer (Middlesbrough, Carlisle United, Doncaster Rovers).
- Philip Margo, 79, American musician (The Tokens).
- David Longdon, 56, British singer and musician (Big Big Train).
In Other News
President Joe Biden underwent his annual physical Friday morning at Walter Reed Medical Center, his first such appointment since he was inaugurated as the oldest first-term president in US history. Afterward, his physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memo Biden “remains fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations.” The doctor, who has been with the President since he served as vice president, singled out two areas of “observation” he set aside for detailed investigation: an “increasing frequency and severity of ‘throat clearing’ and coughing during speaking engagements” and the President’s ambulatory gait, or walking abnormality, which O’Connor said was “perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago.” Both have been noticeable elements of Biden’s public appearances since taking office. In a detailed, six-page summary of Biden’s health, O’Connor said X-rays showed Biden has arthritis of his spine and normal wear and tear damage for someone of his age. The doctor characterised that damage as ‘moderate to severe’, but said it was not severe enough to warrant any specific treatment. He wrote it would help account for some of Biden’s recent stiffness and clumsy gait. An “extremely detailed neurologic exam” was “reassuring,” O’Connor wrote, and showed no evidence of a stroke, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s. Biden also has a condition known as hiatal hernia, which causes him to have reflux – something O’Connor said could account for his more frequent throat clearing. The document contained a detailed accounting of the physical exam, including his height of 5 feet 11.65 inches; his weight of 184 pounds; and his blood pressure of 120/70. Biden does not drink or use tobacco and works out five times a week, according to the report. “President Biden remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the president, to include those as Chief Executive, Head of State and Commander in Chief,” O’Connor wrote in his summary. Biden received a routine colonoscopy Friday while at Walter Reed. The process, which required anaesthesia, meant that he temporarily transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris, who became the first woman to assume presidential power for 85 minutes Friday morning. As he left Walter Reed, Biden said he “had a great physical and a great House of Representatives vote,” alluding to the House passing his Build Back Better bill on Friday morning. The last extensive update on Biden’s medical state came in December 2019, when the doctor he eventually recruited to serve as White House physician described him as “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” Biden, who turned 79 on Saturday, hasn’t released a full report on his health since. Biden is not behind in releasing medical information compared to his recent predecessors, who waited a full year before undergoing a physical and authorising details to be released publicly. The latest update on Biden’s health came after he, then-president-elect, fractured his foot in November while playing with his dog. In February, Biden’s physician said the foot fractures “are completely healed.” Presidents are not required to publicly disclose results of their annual check-ups but have done so to be transparent and assure the American people in the face of questions about their state of health. Presidents, however, have also hidden their illnesses, the severity of their illness, or medical treatments. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s primary care doctor since 2009 and the White House physician, wrote the three-page medical summary Biden’s presidential campaign released nearly two years ago. The 2019 summary showed Biden was being treated for non-valvular atrial fibrillation, or AFib – an irregular heartbeat that O’Connor said Biden experiences no symptoms of. He was taking Crestor to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as Eliquis to prevent blood clots, Nexium for acid reflux, and Allegra and a nasal spray for seasonal allergies. The most significant medical event in Biden’s history, O’Connor wrote, was when Biden suffered a brain aneurysm in 1988. He was serving in the Senate at the time. During surgery, doctors found a second aneurysm that had not bled, which they also treated. While in the hospital after that surgery, Biden suffered deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism. Doctors at the time inserted an “inferior vena cava filter,” which would prevent future blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs and treated him with an oral anti-coagulant for several months. Biden also had his gallbladder removed in 2003, and according to O’Connor he has had multiple surgeries and physical treatments for orthopaedic injuries and sports medicine. Biden also has had several non-melanoma skin cancer lesions surgically removed.
Scottish comedian Janey Godley, 60, has shared an update from her hospital bed as she discussed her diagnosis with cancer. The star is known for her Nicola Sturgeon spoof videos as well as her career as a stand-up comedian. Posting earlier this week, Janey shared an image of herself in her hospital bed. The comedian opened up for the first time about battling ovarian cancer. She wrote to her 233,000 followers: “Sorry but my last weekend of the tour can’t go ahead in Edinburgh and Musselburgh as I am in hospital with ovarian cancer. She then posted a video message to her fans letting them know what had happened. In this, the star shared how she had done “nothing but cry” following her diagnosis. Although, she also explained how she’s ready for the time ahead, where she will rely on “science and technology”. Janey said: “I’m going to try and cope with this next step on my journey.” She began her video by apologising to fans for having to cut her tour short. Janey explained: “Unfortunately, I was doing the tour when I unbeknownst to me had ovarian cancer. “I just got checked out yesterday and that’s what I’m now in this very beautiful but very stormy corner room hospital in Glasgow. But I want to thank everybody for their support and their help in coming out and sharing so much love with me.”
The Oklahoma’s governor has halted the execution of prisoner Julius Jones hours before he was due to be put to death. Kevin Stitt said he was commuting the sentence to life imprisonment without parole. Hundreds of students earlier walked out of school demanding clemency for Jones. Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 for killing Paul Howell during a carjacking three years earlier. He maintains his innocence. His case has attracted the support of celebrities including reality TV star Kim Kardashian and anti-death penalty activists. Jones’ execution by lethal injection was scheduled for 16:00 local time at the state penitentiary in McAlester. But Gov Stitt, a Republican, said he intervened “after prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case”. The state’s Pardon and Parole Board earlier recommended in a 3-1 majority vote that Jones’ sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole. The case has attracted widespread attention in recent years, partly due to the 2018 ABC documentary series “The Last Defence”. More than six million people have signed a Justice for Julius petition which states he was put on death row because of “fundamental breakdowns in the system tasked with deciding”. Jones was found guilty of fatally shooting Mr Howell, an insurance executive, during a 1999 carjacking on his driveway. In October, he was among five people who won stays of execution from a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit US Court of Appeal. “I did not kill Mr Howell,” he wrote in a letter to the parole board in April, after exhausting his appeals. “I did not participate in any way in his murder; and the first time I saw him was on television when his death was reported.” But Mr Howell’s relatives have said Jones’ calls for clemency have victimised them further.
On This Day
- 1877 – Thomas Edison announces his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.
- 1953 – The Natural History Museum, London announces that the “Piltdown Man” skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilised hominid skulls ever found, is a hoax.
- 1969 – The first permanent ARPANET link is established between UCLA and SRI.
- 1974 – The Birmingham pub bombings kill 21 people. The Birmingham Six are sentenced to life in prison for the crime but subsequently acquitted.
- 1980 – A deadly fire breaks out at the MGM Grand Hotel in Paradise, Nevada. Eighty-seven people are killed and more than 650 are injured in the worst disaster in Nevada history.
- 1998 – Finnish Satanist Jarno Elg kills a 23-year-old man and performs a ritual-like cutting and eating of body parts in Hyvinkää, Finland.
- 1993 – Bill Bixby, American actor (b. 1934).
- 1999 – Quentin Crisp, English actor, author, and illustrator (b. 1908).
- 2011 – Anne McCaffrey, American science fiction and fantasy author (b. 1926).
- 2017 – David Cassidy, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1950).
The Tale of a Spooky Stump
If you think serial killers are a modern phenomena, think again! Peter Stumpp was allegedly a German serial killer and farmer, accused of werewolfery, witchcraft and cannibalism. He was known as ‘the Werewolf of Bedburg’.
As the local church registers were destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), Peter Stumpp’s date and place of birth is unknown, examining sources likely puts it near Bedburg, Germany around 1530. The name “Stump” or “Stumpf” may have been given him as a reference to the fact that his left hand had been cut off, leaving only a stump, in German “Stumpf”. It was alleged that as the “werewolf” had its left forepaw cut off, then the same injury proved the guilt of the man. He was a wealthy farmer of his rural community. During the 1580s, he seems to have been a widower with two children; a girl called Beele (Sybil), who seems to have been older than 15 years old, and a son of an unknown age.
During 1589, Stumpp had one of the most lurid and famous werewolf trials in history. After being stretched on a rack, and before further torture commenced, he confessed to having practiced black magic since he was 12 years old. He claimed that the Devil had given him a magical belt or girdle, which enabled him to metamorphose into “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws.” Removing the belt, he said, made him transform back to his human form. Unsurprisingly, no such belt was ever found after his arrest.
For 25 years, Stumpp had allegedly been an “insatiable bloodsucker” who gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children. Being threatened with torture, he confessed to killing and eating 14 children, 2 pregnant women, whose fetuses he ripped from their wombs and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw,” which he later described as “dainty morsels.” One of the 14 children was his own son, whose brain he was reported to have devoured.
Not only was Stumpp accused of being a serial murderer and cannibal, but also of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, who was sentenced to die with him, and that he had coupled with a distant relative, which was also considered to be incestuous according to the law. In addition to this, he confessed to having had intercourse with a succubus sent to him by the Devil.
The execution of Stumpp, on 31st October 1589, alongside his daughter Sybil and mistress, Katherine, is one of the most brutal on record: he was put to a wheel, where “flesh was torn from his body”, in ten places, with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs. Then his limbs were broken with the blunt side of an axehead to prevent him from returning from the grave, before he was beheaded and his body burned on a pyre. His daughter and mistress had already been flayed and strangled, and were burned along with Stumpp’s body. As a warning against similar behaviour, local authorities erected a pole with the torture wheel and the figure of a wolf on it, and at the very top they placed Peter Stumpp’s severed head.
Although there probably is a perfectly rational explanation for the events, like psychosis and hysteria in witch trials, it’s interesting to see how early societies dealt with the unknown. Maybe Peter was an innocent man who was caught up in a weird coincidence of wolf attacks, or maybe he was just a crazed serial killer. Or who knows? Maybe he was a werewolf that ate children in the night.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Goldie Hawn (76), Alexander Siddig (57), Björk (56), Liza Tarbuck (57), Sean Young (62), Ming-Na Wen (58), Bo Derek (65), Joe Biden (79), Adam Driver (38), Terry Farrell (58), Meg Ryan (60), Jodie Foster (59), Kathleen Quinlan (67), Robert Beltran (68), Delroy Lindo (69), Owen Wilson (53), Linda Evans (79), Alan Moore (68), Rachel McAdams (43), Martin Scorsese (79), Tom Ellis (43), Danny DeVito (77), Sophie Marceau (55), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (63), RuPaul (61), Pete Davidson (28), Missi Pyle (49), Maggie Gyllenhaal (44), Martha Plimpton (51), Gigi Edgley (44), Jonny Lee Miller (49), Beverly D’Angelo (70), and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (76).
In the week that has every anti-vaxxer boycotting Tesco as they made an advert about Santa being double jabbed, at least we now know which supermarket is the safest to shop in, I suppose we should be more worried about COP26 failing like we all knew it would, we’re all gonna die! Anyhow, as someone said on the Telegram Group, they’ve been dropping like flies this week! Which is good news for Trish, who correctly guessed that Dean Stockwell would pass away this year, 65 points! Well done!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Andy Barker, 53, British musician (808 State).
- Maureen Cleave, 87, British journalist, conducted John Lennon’s “more popular than Jesus” interview.
- Shawn Rhoden, 46, Jamaican-American professional bodybuilder, Mr. Olympia winner (2018), heart attack.
- Dean Stockwell, 85, American actor (Quantum Leap, Married to the Mob, Paris, Texas).
- Gwyneth Guthrie, 84, Scottish actress (Take the High Road).
- Roy Holder, 75, English actor (Sorry!, Pride & Prejudice, Robin Hood).
- F. W. de Klerk, 85, South African politician, state president (1989–1994), deputy president (1994–1996) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1993), mesothelioma.
- Glen de Vries, 49, American businessman and space tourist (Blue Origin NS-18), plane crash.
- Graeme Edge, 80, English drummer (The Moody Blues), songwriter and poet, cancer.
- Ron Flowers, 87, English footballer (Wolverhampton Wanderers, Northampton Town, national team), world champion (1966).
- Henry Woolf, 91, British actor (The Bed Sitting Room, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Gorky Park).
- Wilbur Smith, 88, Zambian-born South African novelist (When the Lion Feeds, The Courtney Novels, The Ballantyne Novels).
- Gavan O’Herlihy, 70, Irish-born American actor (Never Say Never Again, Willow, Happy Days).
In Other News
The Queen has sprained her back and will not attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph in London, Buckingham Palace said, adding she is “disappointed” to miss the event. The central London service was due to be the Queen’s first public appearance in two weeks since a hospital stay last month, after which she was advised by doctors to rest. Buckingham Palace said that “The Queen, having sprained her back, has decided this morning with great regret that she will not be able to attend today’s Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph. “Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service. As in previous years, a wreath will be laid on Her Majesty’s behalf by the Prince of Wales.” The palace previously said it was the Queen’s “firm intention” to attend the annual Remembrance service to honour the country’s war dead. The Queen, who regards the service as one of the most significant engagements of the year, was due to watch the service at the war memorial in central London from the balcony of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office building.
Engelbert Humperdinck has announced the last-minute cancellation of his UK tour due to illness. The 85-year-old was due to return to the city to perform at De Montfort Hall this month as part of the long-awaited tour across 14 cities. But in a sad announcement to fans, the star revealed he had come down with a “viral bronchial infection” and was unable to perform. He said in a statement: “I am so upset in having to relate to you that we have to cancel our UK tour. I have come down with a viral bronchial infection & am being treated for it now. This has never happened before and I so much wanted to see all of you in the 14 cities. We are going to reschedule the shows for early next year. Stay well and remember……I love you.” The tour cancellation will come as a disappointment to many fans who adore the singer not only for his voice but for his personality. Engelbert has continued to stay in touch with his fans across the world through his YouTube channel and social media. Engelbert received an MBE for his services to music earlier this year. He dedicated this honour to his late wife Patricia, who died in February after contracting Covid-19. She had been suffering Alzheimer’s disease for more than a decade. Born Arnold George Dorsey, he is known globally for his chart-topping love songs and as well as his striking stage name. Over a career spanning seven decades, he has crooned his way around the world, attracting a devoted army of fans with ballads including Release Me and The Last Waltz.
Coronation Street cast member Victoria Ekanoye, 39, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, just months after giving birth to her “miracle” son. Ekanoye opened up about her shocking diagnosis, revealing that she first discovered a lump when breastfeeding her 11-month-year-old son Theo. The Coronation Street star was told she had DCIS, which is Ductal carcinoma in situ, on October 13th. Victoria described how, in spite of her breast cancer news, she actually feels “lucky” that the doctors had “caught it early”. The actress experienced a traumatic ordeal in January when she gave birth to Theo, who she calls a “miracle” baby. At the time, Victoria feared her son would die during her three-day labour, due to complications with her sickle cell anaemia. “Back in July I was feeding Theo and I noticed there was a small lump protruding at the top of my left breast. My mum had breast cancer at 41, and her sister at 39 – so many people in my family, in fact. So I don’t really leave any time before I check these things…” she continued “We’re being really optimistic, and positive, and really lucky that we’ve caught it as early as we have. I don’t know if lucky is the right word, but that’s how I feel.”
On This Day
- 1851 – Moby-Dick, a novel by Herman Melville, is published in the USA.
- 1889 – Pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly (aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in 72 days.
- 1922 – The British Broadcasting Company begins radio service in the United Kingdom.
- 1967 – American physicist Theodore Maiman is given a patent for his ruby laser systems, the world’s first laser.
- 1687 – Nell Gwyn, English mistress of Charles II of England (b. 1650).
- 2001 – Charlotte Coleman, English actress (b. 1968).
- 2003 – Gene Anthony Ray, American actor, singer, dancer, and choreographer (b. 1962).
- 2014 – Glen A. Larson, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1937).
- 2015 – Warren Mitchell, English actor and screenwriter (b. 1926).
- 2020 – Des O’Connor, English comedian, singer and television presenter. (b.1932).
Last rites rights of condemned around the world
But that request was denied by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and now his final moments lie in very different hands – the US Supreme Court.
The 37-year-old former Marine, sentenced to death for robbing and fatally wounding a shop worker in 2004, said “prayer, song and human touch” at the point of death was an essential part of his Christian faith.
He felt having his last rites given to him by his Baptist pastor was his right, but Texas officials didn’t buy his claims. They believed he was merely stalling his execution and manipulating the process with a “game of ecclesiastical whack-a-mole”.
He sued them, claiming a violation of his First Amendment religious freedoms, and justices agreed to take up his objection, postponing Ramirez’s scheduled execution date of 8th September until after Tuesday’s hearing.
Ramirez’s is the third execution halted in three years by the Supreme Court over how, if at all, religious advisers are allowed to attend to condemned prisoners as they die.
In 2019 there was public criticism after a Muslim inmate’s plea to have his imam with him was rejected but a similar request from a Buddhist prisoner just a month later was allowed.
But the battle over religious – and other rights – at the point of death is not exclusive to the US.
Across the world, in countries where the death penalty is allowed, delicate negotiations have taken place over what is considered acceptable – and authorities don’t always get it right.
In Japan, two death row inmates last week took legal action after being told they face same-day executions.
There, prisoners are notified only hours before they are put to death by hanging, but now rights groups are saying the short notice is “extremely inhumane” and materially affects mental health.
The men filed a suit in the district court in the city of Osaka last Thursday, in what is believed to be a first, arguing the rapid turnaround does not give them time to mentally prepare and contemplate the end of their lives.
It is secret executions that are causing international blowback against Iran.
In Iranian murder cases, where the defendant is sentenced to qisas (executions), family members of the victim are encouraged to carry out the actual execution themselves.
They can also grant a reprieve to an offender on death row – and it is this, that led to the extraordinary story of a grieving mother who, when faced with the man who killed her son standing before her with a noose around his neck, decided to forgive him and removed the rope.
The woman and the murderer’s mother then hugged in front of the crowds who had gathered to witness an execution.
According to Iranian law, a defendant’s legal representative must be informed 48 hours before any execution, but campaigners say this is not always happening, especially in political and security-related cases.
Further, it is claimed by Iran Human Rights, a non-profit campaign group, that standard practice throughout the country is to take prisoners to solitary confinement several days before death and leave them with hands permanently cuffed.
Meanwhile, in Singapore concerns are being raised about the execution of a man with an IQ of 69, a level widely recognised as indicating an intellectual disability.
Nagaenthran Dharmalingam was arrested in 2009 for bringing 42.7g (1.5 ounces) of heroin into Singapore and was due to be hanged on Wednesday morning, but his case has sparked rare disquiet in the island nation where support remains high for the death penalty.
Dharmalingam’s lawyers and rights groups fighting to save him say Singapore is violating international law by executing a person with a mental impairment. They have exhausted all other legal appeals and a petition to the president for clemency was unsuccessful.
But the Singapore government remains steadfast, saying the 33-year-old “clearly understood the nature of his acts and did not lose his sense of judgment of the rightness or wrongness of what he was doing”.
Anger is also brewing over Egyptian capital punishment procedures.
Although the country’s Child Law provides that all children under the age of 18 who have infringed the Penal Code shall not be “sentenced to death, life imprisonment, or forced labour”, a report by Reprieve (a global campaign group led by international lawyers) says that at least 17 children have received death sentences there since 2011.
Prosecutors, say Reprieve, are using a loophole to put children before adult courts for trial, as the law allows for those over 15 where a co-defendant is an adult, to be tried jointly.
When the US Supreme Court this week rules on the case of Ramirez, it will be asked to focus on how to execute someone in a way that doesn’t violate religious rights. But the tension between the principle of human dignity and the practice of capital punishment is inextricably entangled with that – and is one that applies throughout the world.
It is sure to turn into a larger debate around the rights of all men and women who face execution.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Olga Kurylenko (42), Russell Tovey (40), Paul McGann (62), Sandahl Bergman (70), Gerard Butler (52), Rahul Kohli (36), Whoopi Goldberg (66), John de Lancie (73), Anne Hathaway (39), Ryan Gosling (41), Wallace Shawn (78), Max Grodénchik (69), Neil Young (76), Leonardo DiCaprio (47), Stanley Tucci (61), Demi Moore (59), Calista Flockhart (57), Taron Egerton (32), Hugh Bonneville (58), Tracy Morgan (53), Neil Gaiman (61), Robert Duncan McNeill (57), Lou Ferrigno (79), Parker Posey (53), Tara Reid (46), Gretchen Mol (49), Alfre Woodard (69), Matthew Rhys (47), Richard Curtis (65), Gordon Ramsay (55), and Jack Osbourne (36).
Welcome all, another week flies by and another bunch of celebrities of various renown depart unto the great unknown. With the passing of Lionel Blair, we also have points do distribute! Well done to Paul G and Chrissy who correctly guessed he’d pop his clogs this year, 58 points each! Also it was very sad to see Welsh writer and actor Mei Jones passing away, quite possibly one of the most funny Welshmen to have graced out TV screens.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Lionel Blair, 92, Canadian-born British actor (The Limping Man, The Cool Mikado), choreographer and television presenter (Name That Tune).
- Bob Baker, 82, British screenwriter (Wallace and Gromit, Doctor Who, K-9).
- Mei Jones, 68, Welsh scriptwriter and actor (C’mon Midffîld!).
- Marília Mendonça, 26, Brazilian singer, Grammy winner, airplane crash.
- Astro, 64, English singer and musician (UB40).
In Other News
There have been more than 30 serious security breaches at NHS hospital mortuaries in the past five years, The Flying Monkeys can reveal. The figures emerge as MPs demand a public inquiry into the crimes of NHS electrician David Fuller, who sexually abused 100 corpses, including three children, over a period of 12 years. Fuller, aged 67, pleaded guilty on Thursday to the murders of two women, Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987. Detectives searching Fuller’s home found four million images of sexual abuse he had downloaded from the internet on computer hard drives. They also found footage he had filmed of himself carrying out attacks on the bodies of women at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, where he had worked since 1989. Now it has emerged there have been 30 separate investigations into serious security breaches at NHS hospital mortuaries since 2018. These include unauthorised people gaining entry to the mortuaries where dead bodies are being stored. According to the Human Tissue Authority, unauthorised people were found in the mortuaries at Colchester General Hospital, Essex; St Peter’s Hospital, in Surrey and at UCL Hospital in London during the 12 months to March this year. There was also a security breach at the Royal Stoke Hospital in Staffordshire. Earlier this year, The Flying Monkeys reported on more than 530 serious incidents in NHS mortuaries including dozens of cases where the wrong bodies were released or organs lost. The professional body for mortuary staff, the Association of Anatomical Pathology Technology, warned NHS trusts were often recruiting unqualified cheaper staff to work in mortuaries and has called for staff to be properly regulated. John Pitchers, told The Independent in August: “The fact that the mortuary profession is not a profession regulated by statute – as other professions such as laboratory staff and paramedics are – makes the maintenance of these quality standards more difficult than it needs to be. “For instance, there is no legal bar to hospital trusts or local authorities employing unqualified staff to work within mortuaries, alongside or in place of qualified staff, and we have seen a large increase of these staff being employed – often as a cost-saving exercise by underfunded organisations.” In the wake of the Fuller case, hospitals have been ordered to urgently check their mortuary security and ensure they have CCTV coverage and access points controlled by swipe card systems.
Original Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Kristy Swanson has been taken to hospital with Covid-19 after previously questioning vaccine mandates online. The 51-year-old actress, who starred in the 1992 film, revealed her diagnosis on Tuesday as she shared a tweet asking fans for their prayers. Revealing she was battling Covid-related pneumonia, the 80s icon stated: ‘Prayers for me please. Yesterday I took an ambulance ride to the hospital. ‘I’m still here with pneumonia, I’m on oxygen etc, all covid related of course. I’m in good spirits and in great hands.’ She continued: ‘I was just at the tail end of my Covid diagnosis when it jumped into my lungs. So they are treating me with baricitinib & blood thinners so I don’t clot. I’m ok.’ Swanson has since denied being anti-vaccines, though she has been outspoken about coronavirus protocols and mandates on social media amid the pandemic. The actress is best known for portraying the titular character in the 1992 film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, written by Joss Whedon and directed by Fran Rubel Kuzui. On Twitter, Swanson has been critical of Dr Anthony Fauci, the current Chief Medical Advisor to the President. Before Joe Biden took office, Dr Fauci served as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force under Donald Trump. Swanson has been a vocal support of Trump and met with the former president at the White House last year and wrote on Twitter: ‘An honour to meet you Mr President.’ Poor deluded woman!
Big Brother ‘star’ Chanelle Hayes has opened up about how she is suffering from a mystery illness which has left her with ‘horrific pain’ all over her body. The 33 year old posted an Instagram where she asked followers to help her diagnose the problem. The photos were of Chanelle laid in bed when she wrote: “So lately I’ve been undergoing lots of medical stuff, ruling out certain conditions etc. “At the minute, what I’m presenting to docs (after ruling out all other things via bloods, scans etc) is pointing towards fibromyalgia. Symptoms I’m having are: Total exhaustion, horrific pain all over, bone aches, muscle aches, headaches. Feeling ‘out of it’ and unable to properly process information.” She also asked fans: “Does anybody suffer from this and have any tips on how to manage it? Any tips would be greatly appreciated…” Chanelle recently lost an impressive 9.5 stone due to having gastric sleeve surgery after hitting 17 stone. She posted a photo showing off her incredible weight loss as she stood inside one of the sides of a pair of her old grey joggers that she wore on the day of her surgery. The star captioned the Instagram post: “These are the joggers I wore the day I went in for my gastric sleeve surgery.” Obviously there is no correlation between losing 9.5 stone in a year and her illness.
On This Day
- 1918 – The 1918 influenza epidemic spreads to Western Samoa, killing 7,542 (about 20% of the population) by the end of the year.
- 1941 – World War II: Soviet hospital ship Armenia is sunk by German planes while evacuating refugees and wounded military and staff of several Crimean hospitals. It is estimated that over 5,000 people died in the sinking.
- 1972 – United States presidential election: U.S. President Richard Nixon is re-elected in the largest landslide victory at the time.
- 1991 – Magic Johnson announces that he is HIV-positive and retires from the NBA.
- 1962 – Eleanor Roosevelt, U.S. humanitarian, 39th First Lady of the United States (b. 1884)
- 1980 – Steve McQueen, American actor and producer (b. 1930)
- 2011 – Joe Frazier, American boxer (b. 1944)
- 2016 – Leonard Cohen, Canadian singer-songwriter and poet (b. 1934)
- 2016 – Jimmy Young, British singer and radio personality (b. 1921)
- 2020 – Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the Commonwealth (b. 1948)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Adam Devine (38), Emma Stone (33), Ethan Hawke (51), Rebecca Romijn (49), Thandiwe Newton (49), Sally Field (75), Lori Singer (64), Maria Shriver (66), Nigel Havers (70), Famke Janssen (57), Tilda Swinton (61), Sam Rockwell (53), Robert Patrick (63), Tatum O’Neal (58), Tamzin Outhwaite (51), Armin Shimerman (72), Elke Sommer (81), Art Garfunkel (80), Matthew McConaughey (52), Olivia Taylor Dudley (36), Ralph Macchio (60), Loretta Swit (84), Dolph Lundgren (64), Kate Capshaw (68), Roseanne Barr (69), Dylan Moran (50), Lulu (73), David Schwimmer (55), Stefanie Powers (79), Toni Collette (49), Natalia Tena (37), Jenny McCarthy (49), and Anthony Kiedis (59).
Welcome everyone, to the special Halloween edition of the Dead Pool Newsletter. I have really pushed out the boat this year by including one, yes one, Halloween related article. So whilst you drink your cup of tea, enjoy the massive effort I made.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- James Michael Tyler, 59, American actor (Friends, Motel Blue), prostate cancer.
- Florence Alice Lubega, 103, Ugandan politician, MP (1962–1980).
- Camille Saviola, 71, American actress (The Purple Rose of Cairo, Addams Family Values, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine).
- Christopher Wenner, 66, British-East Timorese journalist (Channel 4 News) and television presenter (Blue Peter), throat cancer.
- Rossano Rubicondi, 49, Italian model and actor (The Eighteenth Angel, The Golden Bowl, Natale a Beverly Hills), 4th husband of Ivana Trump, melanoma.
In Other News
The Queen has been advised by her doctors to rest for at least the next two weeks and to undertake only “desk-based duties”, Buckingham Palace has announced. But the head of state has the “firm intention” of leading the nation in honouring the country’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday on 14 November, the palace said. The Queen underwent tests in hospital last week, where she spent a night, and then “reluctantly” accepted medical advice to rest, cancelling a planned two-day trip to Northern Ireland. On Sunday, the 95-year-old missed a church service at Windsor, then on Tuesday cancelled her planned evening reception for world leaders at the UN climate conference in Glasgow. The monarch is said to be in good spirits, and during Friday afternoon recorded her speech for the Cop26 summit, which will be played to delegates. The statement from the palace said: “Following on from their recent advice that the Queen should rest for a few days, Her Majesty’s doctors have advised that she should continue to rest for at least the next two weeks. The doctors have advised that Her Majesty can continue to undertake light, desk-based duties during this time, including some virtual audiences, but not to undertake any official visits. Her Majesty regrets that this means she will be unable to attend the Festival of Remembrance on Saturday, November 13th. However, it remains the Queen’s firm intention to be present for the National Service of Remembrance on Remembrance Sunday, on November 14th.” There will be concern for the Queen given her advanced years, but further rest was a “sensible precaution”, a palace source said. The Queen, who next year celebrates 70 years on the throne, has been known for her robust health. She appeared cheerful and in good humour when she hosted a virtual presentation ceremony on Thursday, awarding the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2020 to poet David Constantine. Speaking from Windsor Castle during a video call, she joked with the writer at Buckingham Palace, asking of his award: “Do you put it in a cupboard?” She was also seen greeting foreign ambassadors via video link. The Queen spent one night at King Edward VII’s Hospital earlier this month, her first overnight hospital stay in eight years. During the coronavirus pandemic, she retreated to Windsor Castle for her safety, where she was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh in lockdown. She was recently seen using a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service, the first time she has done so at a major event.
Shirley Ballas has revealed she will undergo an “urgent scan” on all her organs after a doctor found her to have “concerning” levels of testosterone. In an interview with a flying monkey, the 61-year-old said that she was told by a doctor that her levels of testosterone were “the highest she’s seen in a female”. Ballas added: “My NHS doctor is very good, so the fact that she is concerned makes me concerned – and she was mortified by my results. She said I have the highest testosterone levels she’s ever seen in a woman, and testosterone can wreak havoc on the female organs. So she’s requested an urgent scan of all of my organs at King’s College, London.” Ballas continued to say that her doctor “won’t speculate on what the cause is”, stating: “She just says, ‘We need to deal with this. Let’s deal with the hormones and then see what else is there. So I’ll have the scans and then I’ll be able to let everyone know what’s going on.” The news comes after Ballas gave fans an update on her health following a doctor’s appointment that was prompted by concerns raised by Strictly viewers who apparently noticed “lumps” in her armpit. Earlier this month, she explained that a doctor had examined her underarm and breasts but “couldn’t feel anything”. The professional dancer went on to say, however, that the doctor had discovered her hormone levels to be “all over the place” and added that she will be having “full blood work done”. Ballas has previously spoken about her family history of cancer. She recently had a scare in June when she found a lump in her shoulder but said her doctor “seems to think it will be fine”. In 2019, she had her breast implants removed in order to reduce the risk of developing the disease, as implants can block early signs of it being detected.
Will Smith has revealed he once considered suicide. The Fresh Prince can be seen discussing his mental health with his family in a new trailer for Will Smith: The Best Shape of My Life, his new YouTube docuseries. The series follows Smith as he attempts to lose one and a half stone in 20 weeks, but he quickly realises that his journey involves work on his inner self far more than his outer self. “When I started this show, I thought I was getting into the best shape of my life, physically,” he says in the trailer. “But, mentally, I was somewhere else. I ended up discovering a whole lot of hidden things about myself.” In one clip in the trailer, Smith can be seen bursting into tears while sat with his family. He also tells them about a moment in his history – which we do not yet know the details of – that particularly haunted him. “That was the only time in my life that I ever considered suicide,” Smith says, while his daughter Willow can be seen looking anguished. In recent months, Smith has made a number of surprise revelations about his marriage to wife Jada and his mental health. In September, Smith confirmed that he and Jada had opened up their marriage to other sexual partners after both realised that they were “miserable”. Smith also revealed that, during a mental health crisis, he made plans to date a “harem” of women that included Halle Berry. He also rented a house in Utah and sat in solitude for 14 days, before flying to Peru to take part in a number of ayahuasca rituals. I’m sure Halle Berry was as horrified as a horrific thing on a horror trip to horror land!
On This Day
- 1941 – After 14 years of work, Mount Rushmore is completed.
- 1963 – A propane tank explosion at the Indiana State Fair Coliseum in Indianapolis kills 74 people and injures another 400 during an ice skating show.
- 1984 – Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is assassinated by two Sikh security guards. Riots break out in New Delhi and other cities and around 3,000 Sikhs are killed.
- 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion. This day is now recognised by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.
- 1926 – Harry Houdini, American magician and stuntman (b. 1874)
- 1984 – Indira Gandhi, Indian politician, Prime Minister of India (b. 1917)
- 1993 – Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter (b. 1920)
- 1993 – River Phoenix, American actor and singer (b. 1970)
- 2006 – P. W. Botha, South African politician, President of South Africa (b. 1916)
- 2020 – Sean Connery, Scottish actor (b. 1930)
Ronald Clark O’Bryan nicknamed The Candy Man and The Man Who Killed Halloween, was an American man convicted of killing his eight-year-old son on Halloween 1974 with a potassium cyanide-laced Pixy Stix that was ostensibly collected during a trick or treat outing. O’Bryan poisoned his son in order to claim life insurance money to ease his own financial troubles, as he was $100,000 in debt. O’Bryan also distributed poisoned candy to his daughter and three other children in an attempt to cover up his crime; however, neither his daughter nor the other children ate the poisoned candy. He was convicted of capital murder in June 1975 and sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection in March 1984.
On October 31, 1974, O’Bryan took his two children trick-or-treating in a Pasadena, Texas, neighbourhood. O’Bryan’s neighbour and his two children accompanied them. After visiting a home where the occupant failed to answer the door, the children grew impatient and ran ahead to the next home while O’Bryan stayed behind. He eventually caught up with the group and produced five 21-inch Pixy Stix, which he would later claim he was given from the occupant of the house that had not answered the door. At the end of the evening, O’Bryan gave each of his neighbour’s two children a Pixy Stix and one each to Timothy and Elizabeth. Upon returning home, O’Bryan gave the fifth Pixy Stix to a 10-year-old boy whom he recognised from his church.
Before bed, Timothy asked to eat some of the candy he collected, and according to Ronald, he chose the Pixy Stix. Timothy had trouble getting the powdered candy out of the straw so O’Bryan helped him loosen the powder. After tasting the candy, Timothy complained that it tasted bitter. O’Bryan then gave his son Kool-Aid to wash away the taste. Timothy immediately began to complain that his stomach hurt and ran to the bathroom where he began vomiting and convulsing. O’Bryan later claimed he held Timothy while he was vomiting and the child went limp in his arms. Timothy O’Bryan died en-route to the hospital less than an hour after consuming the candy.
Timothy’s death from poisoned Halloween candy raised fear in the community. Numerous parents in Deer Park and the surrounding area turned in candy their children got from trick or treating to the police, fearing it was laced with poison. The police did not initially suspect O’Bryan of any wrongdoing until Timothy’s autopsy revealed that the Pixy Stix he had consumed was laced with a fatal dose of potassium cyanide. Four of the five Pixy Stix O’Bryan claimed to have received were recovered by authorities from the other children, none of whom had consumed the candy. The parents of the fifth child became hysterical when they could not locate the candy after being notified by the police. The parents rushed upstairs to find their son asleep, holding the unconsumed candy. The boy had been unable to open the staples that sealed the wrapper shut. All five of the Pixy Stix had been opened, with the top two inches refilled with cyanide powder and resealed with a staple. According to a pathologist who tested the Pixy Stix, the candy consumed by Timothy contained enough cyanide to kill two adults, while the other four candies contained enough to kill three to four adults.
O’Bryan initially told police that he could not remember which house he got the Pixy Stix from. Police became suspicious because O’Bryan and his neighbour had only taken their children to homes on two streets because it had been raining. Their suspicions increased after learning that none of the homes they visited had given out Pixy Stix. After walking the neighbourhood with police three times, O’Bryan led them to the home where no one had answered the door. O’Bryan claimed that he went back there before catching up with the group. He said the owner of the home did not turn the lights on, but did crack the door open and hand him five Pixy Stix. He claimed to have only seen the man’s arm, which he described as “hairy”. The home was owned by a man named Courtney Melvin. Melvin was an air traffic controller at William P. Hobby Airport and did not get home from work until 11 p.m. on Halloween night. Police ruled Melvin out as a suspect when nearly 200 people confirmed that he had been at work.
As their investigation progressed, police learned that Ronald O’Bryan was over $100,000 in debt and had a history of being unable to hold a job. At the time of his arrest, he was suspected of theft at his job at Texas State Optical and was close to being fired. His car was about to be repossessed, he had defaulted on several bank loans, and the family home had been foreclosed on. Police discovered that O’Bryan had taken out life insurance policies on his children in the months preceding Timothy’s death. In January 1974, he had taken out $10,000 life insurance policies on both of his children. One month before Timothy’s death, O’Bryan took out additional $20,000 policies on both children, despite the objections of his life insurance agency. In the days preceding Timothy’s death, O’Bryan had taken out yet another $20,000 policy on each child. The various policies totalled approximately $60,000. O’Bryan’s wife maintained that she did not know about the insurance policies on her children’s lives. Police also learned that on the morning after Timothy’s death, O’Bryan had called his insurance company to inquire about collecting the policies he had taken out on his son. After learning that O’Bryan had visited a chemical supply store in Houston to buy cyanide shortly before Halloween 1974 (he left without purchasing anything after learning the smallest amount available to purchase was five pounds), police began to suspect that Ronald O’Bryan had laced the candies with poison in an effort to kill his children to collect on their life insurance policies. They believed he gave the other children poisoned candy in an effort to cover up his crime. Police repeatedly questioned O’Bryan but he maintained his innocence.
Although police never discovered when or where O’Bryan bought the poison, he was arrested for Timothy’s murder on November 5th 1974. He was indicted on one count of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. O’Bryan entered a plea of not guilty to all five counts. O’Bryan’s trial began in Houston on May 5th 1975. During the trial, a chemist who was acquainted with O’Bryan testified that in summer 1973, O’Bryan contacted him asking about cyanide and how much would be fatal. A chemical supply salesman also testified that O’Bryan had asked him how to purchase cyanide. Friends and co-workers testified that in the months before Timothy’s death, O’Bryan showed an “unusual interest” in cyanide and spoke about how much it would take to kill a person. O’Bryan’s sister-in-law and brother-in-law testified that on the day of Timothy’s funeral, he spoke of using the money from Timothy’s insurance policy to take a long vacation and buy other items. As well, his wife rejected the claim that Timothy chose the Pixy Stix, stating that O’Bryan had, in fact, forced him to choose the Stix. O’Bryan continued to maintain his innocence. His defense mainly drew upon the decades-old urban legend concerning a “mad poisoner” who hands out Halloween candy laced with poison or needles or candy apples with razor blades inserted. These stories have persisted despite the fact that there are no documented instances of strangers poisoning Halloween candy.
The case and subsequent trial garnered national attention and the press dubbed O’Bryan “The Candyman”.
On June 3rd 1975, a jury took 46 minutes to find O’Bryan guilty of capital murder and four counts of attempted murder. The jury took 71 minutes to sentence him to death by electrocution. Shortly after he was convicted, his wife filed for divorce. She later remarried and her new husband adopted her daughter Elizabeth.
At the time, men sentenced to death under Texas law were confined to the Ellis I Unit near Huntsville, Texas. According to Reverend Carroll Pickett, a former chaplain who worked for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, O’Bryan was shunned and despised by his fellow death row inmates for killing his child and was “absolutely friendless”. The inmates reportedly petitioned to hold an organised demonstration on O’Bryan’s execution date to express their hatred of him.
O’Bryan’s first execution date was set for August 8th 1980. His attorney successfully petitioned for a stay of execution. A second date was scheduled for May 25th 1982. That date was also postponed. Judge Michael McSpadden scheduled a third execution date for October 31st 1982, the eighth anniversary of the crime, and he offered to personally drive O’Bryan to the death chamber. It was to have been the first time Texas executed an inmate by lethal injection. The Supreme Court delayed the date yet again to give O’Bryan a chance to pursue an appeal to seek a new trial. A fourth date was scheduled for March 31st 1984. O’Bryan’s lawyer sought a fourth stay on the basis that lethal injection was a “cruel and unusual punishment”. On March 28th a federal judge rejected the request. Before heading to the execution chamber, O’Bryan chose a T-bone steak with fries, salad and French dressing, peas, corn and bread rolls, followed by iced tea and a Boston cream pie for his last meal. Then shortly after midnight, O’Bryan was executed by lethal injection at the Huntsville Unit. In his final statement, O’Bryan maintained his innocence, stating that he felt the death penalty was “wrong”. He added, “…I forgive all—and I do mean all—those who have been involved in my death. God bless you all, and may God’s best blessings be always yours.” During the execution, a crowd of 300 demonstrators gathered outside the prison cheered while some yelled “Trick or treat!” Others showered anti-death penalty demonstrators with candy.
Ronald O’Bryan is buried in Forest Park East Cemetery in Webster, Texas. Timothy is buried in Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery in Houston.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Peter Jackson (60), Erica Cerra (42), Willow Smith (21), Stephen Rea (75), Sanjeev Bhaskar (58), Vanilla Ice (54), Fiona Dourif (40), Clémence Poésy (39), Henry Winkler (76), Jessica Hynes (49), Juliet Stevenson (65), Winona Ryder (50), Rufus Sewell (54), Ben Foster (41), Richard Dreyfuss (74), Dan Castellaneta (64), Joaquin Phoenix (47), Julia Roberts (54), Annie Potts (69), Matt Smith (39), Gwendoline Christie (43), Caitlyn Jenner (72), John Cleese (82), Robert Picardo (68), Kelly Osbourne (37), Cary Elwes (59), Seth MacFarlane (48), Jon Heder (44), Anthony Rapp (50), Jaclyn Smith (76), Tom Cavanagh (58), Roger Allam (68), Keith Urban (54), Glynis Barber (66), Nancy Cartwright (64), and Katy Perry (37).
What a week! Unfortunately no points to award but plenty to read. Just a quick reminder to the few of you who have not joined the Telegram group, as of next year we will be exclusively swapping from email to Telegram. It’s much more customisable, so if you don’t want to hear your inbox being pinged all the time, you can turn it off etc. Link in this weeks email.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Denise Bryer, 93, British voice actress (Terrahawks, Return to Oz, Labyrinth). Ex-wife of Nicholas Parsons.
- Leslie Bricusse, 90, British composer (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), lyricist (“Goldfinger“, “You Only Live Twice“) and playwright.
- Colin Powell, 84, American general and politician, secretary of state (2001–2005) and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), complications from COVID-19.
- Jack Angel, 90, American voice actor (Voltron, The Transformers, A.I. Artificial Intelligence).
- Halyna Hutchins, 42, Ukrainian-born American cinematographer (Archenemy, Darlin’, Rust), accidental shooting.
- Brian Laundrie, 23, American person of interest in the killing of Gabby Petito.
- Peter Scolari, 66, American actor (Newhart, Bosom Buddies, Girls), leukaemia.
In Other News
The big news of the week is undoubtedly the killing of Helyna Hutchins on the filmset of Rust by an unwitting Alec Baldwin. Baldwin was handed what was described as a safe “cold gun” on the set, but the prop gun contained live rounds when it was fired, according to details of the police investigation into the fatal shooting released on Friday. The shot hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest, and director Joel Souza who was behind her, in the shoulder, according to a county sheriff’s affidavit filed in Santa Fe magistrates court. Hutchins died of her wounds and Souza was injured but has since been released from a local hospital. The assistant director who handed Baldwin the prop gun did not know it contained live rounds. Baldwin said on Friday he was in shock over the accidental shooting as reports emerged of walk-outs on the Rust set earlier in the week over unsafe conditions. The star of 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October said he was “fully cooperating” with authorities to determine how the incident occurred on Thursday. Production on the movie was immediately shut down. The sheriff’s department said no charges had been filed and the investigation remained open. Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting, the sheriff’s department said. The incident took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe, during a rehearsal and it was not clear whether it had been filmed. The prop gun was one of three on a cart outside a building. One of them was taken by the assistant director on the movie who went inside and handed it to Baldwin. As the assistant director handed the gun to the actor Alec Baldwin, he yelled ‘cold gun’, indicating the prop gun did not have any live rounds. Questions were raised about working conditions on the set of Rust, media outlets cited several members of the crew and others close to the production as saying six or seven camera operators had walked off the Rust set hours before the tragedy. Two media outlets also reported that there had been at least one previous misfire with the prop gun. Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine, was named one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019. The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned on TV and movie sets.
Former US President Bill Clinton has been discharged from a Californian hospital after spending five nights under care. Mr Clinton had been receiving treatment for a urinary tract infection that developed into sepsis. The 75-year-old gave a thumbs up to waiting news crews as he walked out of hospital with his wife, former presidential candidate Hillary. Mr Clinton will return home to New York to complete his recovery, doctors said. Dr Alpesh Amin, who oversaw the team of medics treating Mr Clinton, said in a statement: “His fever and white blood cell count are normalised and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics.” The 42nd president, who served from 1993 to 2001, shook hands with waiting medical staff as he left the facility with his wife of 46 years. According to US media, Mr Clinton – who was in California to attend a private event for his foundation – had felt fatigued on Tuesday and underwent tests before being admitted to the hospital. President Biden said on Friday night that he had spoken with Mr Clinton and told reporters that he was “not in any serious condition”. The infection is the latest health scare for Mr Clinton. In 2004, aged 58, he had a quadruple bypass surgery after doctors found signs of extensive heart disease and, ten years later, he had a clogged artery opened after complaining of chest pains. Not long after his second surgery, the ex-president – known for his love of fatty foods – went vegan. He told Politico in 2016, “I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan. It’s great.”
Likewise, The Queen spent Wednesday night in hospital for preliminary medical checks and is now back at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace has said. The 95-year-old monarch returned from the private hospital in central London at lunchtime on Thursday and is “in good spirits”, the palace added. The Queen had cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday. She was given medical advice to rest for a few days after a busy schedule of public engagements. In a statement on Thursday night, Buckingham Palace said: “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.” The Queen travelled by car to the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone, about 19 miles (32km) from Windsor, where she was seen by specialists. Her admittance is understood not to be related to coronavirus. The overnight stay was said to be for practical reasons and the Queen was undertaking light duties back at Windsor on Thursday afternoon. It is the first time the Queen has stayed in hospital since 2013, when she suffered symptoms of gastroenteritis. The news on Wednesday that the Queen would have to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland was always going to cause concern. Despite looking very well and happy at the numerous events she has attended over the past week, it cannot be forgotten that she is 95 years old.
On This Day
- 1857 – Sheffield F.C., the world’s oldest association football club still in operation, is founded in England.
- 1861 – The first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States is completed.
- 1901 – Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
- 1926 – Harry Houdini‘s last performance takes place at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit.
- 1929 – “Black Thursday” on the New York Stock Exchange.
- 1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.
- 1975 – In Iceland, 90% of women take part in a national strike, refusing to work in protest of gender inequality.
- 2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight.
- 2008 – “Bloody Friday” saw many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops of around 10% in most indices.
- 1537 – Jane Seymour, English queen and wife of Henry VIII of England (b. c.1508).
- 1944 – Louis Renault, French businessman, co-founded the Renault Company (b. 1877).
- 1991 – Gene Roddenberry, American screenwriter, & producer, created Star Trek (b. 1921).
- 1994 – Raul Julia, Puerto Rican-American actor and singer (b. 1940).
- 2005 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (b. 1913).
- 2015 – Maureen O’Hara, Irish-American actress and singer (b. 1920).
The Death of Brandon Lee
On March 31st 1993, Brandon Lee was filming a scene in The Crow where his character is shot and killed by thugs. In the scene, Lee’s character walks into his apartment and discovers his fiancée being beaten and raped, and a thug played by actor Michael Massee fires a Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver at Lee’s character as he walks into the room.
In the film shoot preceding the fatal scene, the prop gun (which was a real revolver) was loaded with improperly-made dummy rounds, improvised from live cartridges that had the powder charges removed by the special effects crew, so in close-ups the revolver would show normal-looking ammunition. However, the crew neglected to remove the primers from the cartridges, and at some point before the fatal event, one of the rounds had been fired. Although there were no powder charges, the energy from the ignited primer was enough to separate the bullet from the casing and push it part-way into the gun barrel, where it got stuck – a dangerous condition known as a squib load. During the fatal scene, which called for the revolver to be fired at Lee from a distance of 2–15 ft, the dummy cartridges were replaced with blank rounds, which contained a powder charge and the primer, but no solid bullet, allowing the gun to be fired with sound and flash effects without the risk of an actual projectile. However, the gun was not properly checked and cleared before the blank was fired, and the dummy bullet previously lodged in the barrel was then propelled forward by the blank’s propellant and shot out the muzzle with almost the same force as if the round were live, striking Lee in the abdomen.
After Massee pulled the trigger and shot Lee, Lee fell backwards instead of forwards as he was supposed to. When the director said “cut”, Lee did not stand up and the crew thought he was either still acting or kidding around. Jeff Imada, who immediately checked Lee, noticed something wrong when he came close and noted Lee was unconscious and breathing heavily. Medic Clyde Baisey went over and shook Lee to see if he was dazed by hitting his head during the fall, but did not think Lee had been shot since there was no visible bleeding. Baisey took Lee’s pulse, which was regular, but within two to three minutes it slowed down dramatically, and stopped.
Lee was rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. Attempts to save him were unsuccessful and after six hours of emergency surgery, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:03 pm on March 31st 1993. He was 28 years old. The shooting was ruled an accident due to negligence.
Lee was buried next to his father at the Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. A private funeral attended by 50 took place in Seattle on April 3rd. The following day, 200 of Lee’s family and business associates attended a memorial service at actress Polly Bergen‘s house in Los Angeles. Among the attendees were Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, David Hasselhoff, Steven Seagal, David Carradine, and Melissa Etheridge.
In August of 1993, Lee’s mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers alleging negligence in the death of her son. The suit was settled two months later under undisclosed terms.
In an interview just prior to his death, Lee quoted a passage from Paul Bowles‘ book The Sheltering Sky, which he had chosen for his wedding invitations; it is now inscribed on his tombstone: Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless…
Last Week’s Birthdays
Kevin Kline (74), F. Murray Abraham (82), Ryan Reynolds (45), Emilia Clarke (35), Sam Raimi (62), ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (62), Cat Deeley (45), Christopher Lloyd (83), Jeff Goldblum (69), Bob Odenkirk (59), Derek Jacobi (83), Catherine Deneuve (78), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (46), Andrew Scott (45), Kim Kardashian West (41), Everett McGill (76), Ken Watanabe (62), Viggo Mortensen (63), Danny Boyle (65), Snoop Dogg (50), Sandra Dickinson (73), Rebecca Ferguson (38), Jon Favreau (55), Michael Gambon (81), John Lithgow (76), Pam Dawber (70), Zac Efron (34), and Jean-Claude Van Damme (61).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Granville Adams, 58, American actor (Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street, Empire), cancer.
- Bob Herron, 97, American stuntman (Spartacus, Diamonds Are Forever, Rocky) and actor, complications from a fall.
- Ruthie Tompson, 111, American animator (Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo).
- Emani 22, 22, American R&B singer, car accident.
- Sir David Amess, 69, British Conservative politician, MP (since 1983), stabbed.
- Masten Wanjala, 20, Kenyan suspected serial killer, beaten to death.
- Alan Hawkshaw, 84, British composer and pianist, (Grange Hill and Countdown), pneumonia.
In Other News
Bournemouth and Wales football star David Brooks has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. The winger, who left international duty with Wales last week following medical examinations, is set to undergo treatment next week. The Cherries confirmed the news via an official club statement on Wednesday, adding that the 24-year-old had received an “initial positive prognosis”. In a statement of his own, the Wales international said: “This is a very difficult message for me to write. I have been diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin Lymphoma and will begin a course of treatment next week. Although this has come as a shock to myself and my family, the prognosis is a positive one and I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back playing as soon as possible. I’d like to show my appreciation to the doctors, nurses, consultants and staff who have been treating me for their professionalism, warmth and understanding during this period. I want to thank everyone at the Football Association of Wales because without the swift attention of their medical team we may not have detected the illness. I’d also like to say thank you to AFC Bournemouth for all their support and assistance this past week. Although I appreciate that there will be media attention and interest, I would like to ask that my privacy is respected in the coming months and I will share updates on my progress when I am able to do so. In the meantime, thank you to everyone for their messages of support – it means so much and will continue to do so in the months ahead. I look forward to seeing you all again and playing the sport I love very soon.” Hodgkin lymphoma is an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body. Brooks joined the Cherries from Sheffield United for a fee of £11.5m back in the summer of 2018, and has since made 78 appearances for the club, netting four goals. He has also emerged as an important player for Wales, scoring twice in 21 appearances.
Robert Durst has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been placed on a ventilator, according to his attorney. The 78-year-old real estate heir was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday for the first degree murder of his friend Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home. He was found guilty last month of shooting Ms Berman, 55, in the back of the head in December 2000. A jury also found him guilty of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, which in California carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of early release. “All we know he’s tested positive for Covid-19, he’s in hospital and on a ventilator,” his attorney Dick DeGuerin told our Flying Monkey. “He looked awful Thursday, worst I’ve ever seen him. He was having difficulty breathing, he was having difficulty speaking.” Our Flying Monkey reports that Durst has been held in a wing of USC Medical Center under the watch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department throughout the trial. It is not clear if he is still in that facility or when or where he became infected with the coronavirus. There are concerns about the exposure to the virus for others present at the trial in which dozens of people were packed into the courtroom. A month ago, the day that Durst was convicted by the jury, he was absent from proceedings because he had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for Covid-19. Durst spent much of the trial in a wheelchair but still engaged in tense exchanges when cross-examined regarding the death of Ms Berman more than 20 years ago. Prosecutors told his trial that Durst killed his friend because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst. Ms Durst’s body has never been found after she disappeared in New York in 1982 and he has never been charged in connection with her death. The court was told that Ms Berman had provided a false alibi for Durst in 1982 and that he feared she would reveal that to authorities. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who presided over the trial and sentenced Durst in Los Angeles County on Thursday, described the murder as “awful and disturbing.” Durst, who appeared at his sentencing in prison uniform, testified in his own defence for 15 days, with prosecutors telling the jury that he had lied or changed his story multiple times. The trial took place six years after he appeared on the HBO documentary series The Jinx, where he appeared to confess to multiple killings. During the filming of the show, Durst was caught on a live microphone muttering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
On This Day
- 1091 – London tornado of 1091: A tornado thought to be of strength T8/F4 strikes the heart of London.
- 1814 – Eight people die in the London Beer Flood.
- 1907 – Marconi begins the first commercial transatlantic wireless service.
- 1931 – Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion.
- 1933 – Albert Einstein flees Nazi Germany and moves to the United States.
- 1956 – The first commercial nuclear power station is officially opened in Sellafield, England.
- 1849 – Frédéric Chopin, Polish pianist and composer (b. 1810).
- 1998 – Joan Hickson, English actress (b. 1906).
- 2008 – Levi Stubbs, American singer (b. 1936).
British MP’s Killed in Office
Sir David Amess, the MP for Southend West, is the ninth parliamentarian to be violently killed in office in British political history. The 69-year-old father-of-five was stabbed to death during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday. A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder, Essex Police said.
Tributes to Mr Amess quickly poured in from his parliamentary colleagues, with Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis saying he was “one of life’s truly nice people, a gentleman, who was always ready to give his help to anyone who needed it”.
The killing comes five years after Labour MP and mother-of-two Jo Cox was assassinated at the age of 41 by a far-right terrorist, who shot and stabbed her outside her North Yorkshire surgery. Jo’s widower, Brendan Cox, described Mr Amess’s killing as “an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets” he said.
Before the death of Ms Cox, the last MP to be killed in office was Ian Gow, 53, who lost his life after the IRA detonated a car bomb at his Sussex home in 1990. The Eastbourne MP, who had previously served as a private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher, was not the only British politician to die at the hands of the terrorist group.
Sir Anthony Berry was killed by the organisation’s bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel during the 1984 Tory Party conference, three years after the group shot dead the Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford in Belfast.
In 1979, the Conservative MP and former Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave was assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army. His car was blown up as he drove it out of the parliamentary car park.
These are the only sitting MPs to have been murdered since World War II. However, Andrew Pennington, who had previously served as a politician, was killed when he rushed to defend his boss, the Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones, from a samurai sword attack in January 2000.
Spencer Perceval, who was shot in the Commons in 1812, is the only prime minister to have been assassinated in office.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael McKean (74), Eminem (49), Mark Gatiss (55), George Wendt (73), Angela Lansbury (96), Tim Robbins (63), Suzanne Somers (75), Peter Bowles (85), Dominic West (52), Steve Coogan (56), Cliff Richard (81), Sacha Baron Cohen (50), Christopher Judge (57), Himesh Patel (31), Chris Carter (65), Paul Simon (80), Hugh Jackman (53), Josh Hutcherson (29), Hiroyuki Sanada (61), Robin Askwith (71), Michelle Trachtenberg (36), Claudia Black (49), Joan Cusack (59), Emily Deschanel (45), Jane Krakowski (53), Stephen Moyer (52), Lennie James (56), John Nettles (78), and Dawn French (64).
Another strange week, but I’m glad I’m not Chris Peckham, quietly going about his life until a bunch of nutters blow up a Land Rover in front of his house! Might be a good contender for next year? Also a couple of supercentenarian’s we all missed!!!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sir John Chilcot, 82, British civil servant, kidney disease.
- Cynthia Harris, 87, American actress (Edward & Mrs. Simpson, Three Men and a Baby).
- Alan Kalter, 78, American television announcer (Late Show with David Letterman).
- Sebastian Shaw, 53, Vietnamese-born American serial killer.
- Francisca Celsa dos Santos, 116, Brazilian supercentenarian, pneumonia.
- Jules Théobald, 112, French supercentenarian, oldest man in France (since 2019).
- Gerald Home, 70, British actor (Return of the Jedi, London Boulevard) and puppeteer (Little Shop of Horrors), liver cancer.
- Luisa Mattioli, 85, Italian actress (The Angel of the Alps, Mia nonna poliziotto, Romulus and the Sabines), third wife of Sir Roger Moore.
- James Brokenshire, 53, British politician, MP, secretary of state for Northern Ireland (2016–2018) and housing, communities and local government (2018–2019), lung cancer.
- Rick Jones, 84, Canadian-born British television presenter (Play School, Fingerbobs) and musician (Meal Ticket).
In Other News
Kim Kardashian’s ex Ray J has been hospitalised with pneumonia and placed in a Covid ward. The rapper, who previously dated the Kardashian, is currently receiving treatment in hospital after having breathing difficulties, his manager David Weintraub has revealed. Ray J is frustrated as he has been sent to a Covid ward for treatment, despite testing negative for the virus five times. He was sent to the Covid ward initially as doctors feared he had the virus as he was struggling with his breathing. However, he was moved out of the wing two days later and is currently receiving oxygen. Ray is asking for his fans to pray for him as he recovers from his illness and his sole focus has been getting better for the sake of his kids. There are times where he thinks he is improving as he feels fine at six in the morning, but by 6.30am, he is struggling with his breathing again and is starting to fear the worst. “I thought it was over. I started praying and knew God is good so I just kept praying,” he explained to the website of his first few hours in hospital, where he is being kept a close eye on by doctors. The British public will best know Ray J for his short-lived stint on Celebrity Big Brother. The rapper exited the show in 2017, just over a week after he first entered the famous house as he claims he was suffering from terrible pain from his teeth.
Fans of Fuller Goldsmith were sad to learn that the young chef had died days before his 18th birthday this Saturday. The TV star had been battling cancer, after his leukaemia returned five times. He is best known for Winning Chopped Junior 2017 when he was just 13-years-old. He was first diagnosed with the relentless illness when he was three. In August 2020, Fuller announced he was cancer-free but in February received the bad news that the leukaemia had returned for the fifth time. It came after he reported having nausea and dizziness symptoms a doctor, who ran some tests and found a brain tumour. In the run up to his death, Fuller’s father Scott Goldsmith, said that his son had taken a turn for the worse earlier this week. Scott told us: “He got tired and was ready to go. We damn sure didn’t wake up yesterday thinking this would be the day.” He continued: “We knew what the outcome was going to be, but we definitely didn’t think it was going to be yesterday. Monday he was up and moving about, building Legos, and watching all the football games. Yesterday morning he was running a fever, and struggling to breathe.” Scott added: “He was ready to go. He went peacefully in his sleep, no pain, no struggle, laying in his bed, and went to Heaven.” After finding out that his cancer had returned for a firth round, Fuller announced the sad news on Instagram at the time, revealing he would be starting 12 sessions of radiation therapy. When he was 13, Fuller pretended to be his mum and signed himself up to Chopped Junior. He ended up winning the show with his delicious beer-battered catfish with okra and landed a $10,000 prize, which he donated to the Division of Haematology and Paediatric Oncology at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
A world-famous gorilla who starred in a hilarious selfie has died in the arms of the man who rescued her. Ndakasi became a celebrity in 2019 after appearing in a selfie taken by animal rescuer Andre Bauma. The 12-year-old gorilla puffed her chest out in the funny photo alongside buddy Ndeze. Mr Bauma rescued Ndakasi after her mother was killed by an armed militia in Virunga National Park, Congo. For more than a decade, Andre and his colleagues cared for Ndakasi and helped her recover from the trauma of losing her mother. Because of that, she could never be released back into the wild. But Ndakasi did enjoy a happy life with Ndeze and other orphaned mountain gorillas at the parks Senkwekwe Center. In a moving statement Virunga National Park wrote: “It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi. On the evening of 26th September, following a prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated, Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma.” The national park also remembered the viral World Earth Day selfie which made Ndakasi go viral. They wrote: “The photo features Ndakasi and her partner-in-crime, Ndeze, both standing relaxed on two feet, bellies out with cheeky grins. Their playful nature was a reminder to the world of how much we see ourselves in these animals and it’s one of the reasons Andre Bauma will miss her so dearly.” Andre added to the heightened feelings with his own beautiful message posted on the park website to remember Ndakasi. He wrote: “It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age. One could say that she took after her mother, Nyiransekuye, whose name means “someone happy to welcome others. I am proud to have called Ndakasi my friend.”
On This Day
- 1957 – The Windscale fire results in Britain’s worst nuclear accident.
- 2015 – Twin bomb blasts in the Turkish capital Ankara kill 109 and injure 500+.
- 2018 – Hurricane Michael makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane. It kills 57 people in the United States, 45 in Florida, and causes an estimated $25.1 billion in damage.
- 1913 – Adolphus Busch, German-American brewer, founded Anheuser-Busch (b. 1839).
- 1963 – Édith Piaf, French singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1915).
- 1983 – Ralph Richardson, English actor (b. 1902).
- 1985 – Yul Brynner, Russian actor (b. 1920).
- 1985 – Orson Welles, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1915).
- 2004 – Christopher Reeve, American actor, producer, and activist (b. 1952).
- 2009 – Stephen Gately, Irish singer-songwriter, dancer, and actor (b. 1976).
Serial Killer Archives
Sebastian Shaw was a Vietnam-born American serial killer and rapist responsible for at least three murders in Portland, Oregon between 1991 and 1992. When interviewed by detectives in prison, Shaw confessed to killing ten more people. He is the prime suspect for the 1994 murder of 14-year-old Jenny Lin in Castro Valley, California. At the time of his death he was serving three life sentences in the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Born Chau Quong Ho in the Phước Tuy Province of South Vietnam on November 28th 1967, he moved to Oregon with his father Van at a young age. As a young boy, Chau became an Altar Server at the local Saint Mary Catholic Church, but was reported to have problematic behaviour at school. Between August and November 1975, he lived at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, before a group from Port Arthur, Texas sponsored the father and son to move to the state. At age 14, the two moved to Woodburn, Oregon and attended the local high school, where Chau was reportedly enjoying himself. However, at one point, in a supposed suicide attempt, he overdosed on aspirin, but survived.
In 1985, Chau and Van got into a fight that resulted in the young man being beaten with a piece of wood. He then moved to live with his aunt and cousin in California, where he briefly worked for a company before joining the Marine Corps, serving in Okinawa, Japan. In 1990, Ho applied for an honorable discharge, and was sent back to Oregon, where he applied for a job as a security dispatcher for the Paragon Cable company. During this time, he legally changed his name to Sebastian Alexander Shaw.
Jay Rickbeil: On July 1st 1991, the body of 40-year-old Jay Rickbeil, a quadraplegic suffering from cerebral palsy, was found in his Portland home by his roommate and apartment manager Mac MacCartney. He had bled to death as a result of an injury to the neck, likely inflicted with a knife. According to his neighbours, Rickbeil was a New Age believer who would often invite strangers into his apartment to have discussions, and often attempted to convert the visitor to his religion. A trusting man, he would often give them a business card with his name and address, and occasionally even money, which often resulted in his personal possessions being stolen. At that time, Shaw had just been fired from his job at Paragon Cable, following complaints of sexual assault by his colleague Shirley Phillips. In order to vent out his anger, he picked Rickbeil at random, slashing his throat while the man lay in bed.
Donna Ferguson and Todd Rudiger: On July 20th 1992, a couple were found murdered in their trailer home by their fathers in Portland. Todd A. Rudiger, 29, and his live-in girlfriend Donna G. Ferguson, 18, were both stabbed in the necks and bled to death, with Donna having been bound and raped beforehand.
Jenny Lin: On May 27th 1994, after returning home from work, John Lin found the partially naked body of his 14-year-old daughter Jenny in the bathroom of the family’s home in the Palomares Hills neighbourhood, in Castro Valley. She had been stabbed multiple times, but, peculiarly, there were no signs of a struggle, any apparent sexual assault or any items missing from the house, which puzzled the investigators. She had no known enemies, was a straight A-student and gifted violinist who was about to graduate the following month. According to her friends, when they last spoke to her via phone around 5:15 p.m., Jenny said that she was fine and that she was currently at home. Authorities believed that Jenny’s killer was a man, as she had been easily overpowered, and that they did not know each other. They announced that they were looking for a young man on a motorcycle who was seen handing out leaflets in the area, as they wanted to question him as a potential witness.
John Lin later recalled that two weeks before his daughter’s death, he had been stopped at a parking lot by a disheveled man who claimed to have “got his daughter”, but, knowing that Jenny was on her violin lessons, he brushed the man off and left. Although this bizarre individual was not considered a suspect, a sketch of him was released to the press in an attempt to identify and then interrogate him. In the meantime, the Lin family created “Friends of Jenny Lin”, a volunteer organisation aimed at spreading awareness about their daughter’s case. In October, a neighbour came forward to police, claiming that they had seen a stocky man in a dark jacket and cap outside the Lin residence near the time of the murder, claiming that they had been afraid to come forward out of fear that the killer might return to exact revenge on the informants.
Arrest, trial, imprisonment
On August 31st 1994, Sebastian Shaw was arrested for burglary, after he was found asleep in a stolen 1978 Pontiac Bonneville in San Ramon. Among the items confiscated were a so-called “murder kit”, consisting of ski mask, surgical gloves, duct tape, knives, binoculars, and plastic handcuffs. As there was no evidence linking him to any murders at the time, he was let go. On February 20th 1998, he was arrested again and charged with the Rudiger/Ferguson murders and the 1995 rape of 18-year-old Amanda Carpova in Portland. His DNA was matched to the crime scenes after police obtained a discarded cigarette he had thrown out at a supermarket.
He plead guilty to the double murder and sexual assault of Carpova, but, in a rare decision, the judge acquitted Shaw of the Rickbeil murder before the trial on behest of the prosecutors. Sebastian was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment instead. While in jail, he told a fellow inmate that he had killed a total of 13 people, information which was relayed to investigators. When two detectives came to interview him, Shaw said that his confession was truthful, and that he would name the victims if he was transferred to a federal prison where he could smoke, as smoking was prohibited in Oregon prisons. Two years later, he was convicted of Rickbeil’s murder and received another term of life imprisonment. That same year, he was officially announced as the prime suspect in the murder of Jenny Lin, but was not charged, as there was no physical evidence linking him to the murder. Prosecutors attempted to put him on trial the following year, but the charges were dropped. Lin’s murder officially remains unsolved.
Shaw died in prison on October 4th, 2021, having served 21 years of his sentence. Cause of death is currently unknown but is unlikely to have been Covid related as the state refuses to name inmates who have died of the virus. He was 53.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dan Stevens (39), Rose McIver (33), Charles Dance (75), Manu Bennett (52), Martin Kemp (60), Chris O’Dowd (42), Tony Shalhoub (68), Brandon Routh (42), Scott Bakula (67), Brian Blessed (85), Sharon Osbourne (69), Matt Damon (51), Sigourney Weaver (72), Chevy Chase (78), Kristanna Loken (42), Paul Hogan (82), Karyn Parsons (55), Ardal O’Hanlon (56), R.L. Stine (78), Shawn Ashmore (42), Aaron Ashmore (42), Tim Minchin (46), Thom Yorke (53), Simon Cowell (62), Elisabeth Shue (58), Emily Mortimer (50), Ioan Gruffudd (48), Britt Ekland (79), Kate Winslet (46), Guy Pearce (54), Karen Allen (70), Jesse Eisenberg (38), Stephanie Cole (80), Glynis Johns (98), Clive Barker (69), Diane Morgan (46), Neil deGrasse Tyson (63), Bob Geldof (70), Christoph Waltz (65), Dakota Johnson (32), Alicia Silverstone (45), Melissa Benoist (33), Nick Mohammed (41), Susan Sarandon (75), Liev Schreiber (54), and Sarah Lancashire (57).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Roger Hunt, 83, English footballer (Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, national team), world champion 1966.
- Darrell Bath, British punk guitarist (The Vibrators, The Dogs D’Amour).
- Vin Welch, 84, British actor (Coronation Street, The Bill), pneumonia.
- Tommy Kirk, 79, American actor (Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones).
- Ravil Isyanov, 59, Russian-born American actor (GoldenEye, K-19: The Widowmaker, Transformers: Dark of the Moon).
- Greg Gilbert, 44, English singer and guitarist (Delays), bowel cancer.
In Other News
Vic Reeves has candidly revealed he is ‘living with deafness’ after doctors discovered a tumour is growing on his brain and has cut off all hearing in one of his ears. The 62-year-old comedy star has been diagnosed with a vestibular schwannoma – also known as acoustic neuroma, which is a non-cancerous brain tumour. The NHS explains that acoustic neuromas “grow on the nerve used for hearing and balance, which can cause problems such as hearing loss and unsteadiness.” They can become dangerous if they grow to a large size – with Vic saying doctors are now monitoring his tumour to track it’s size, requiring regular trips for MRI scans. And he says he has now been robbed of all hearing in one ear, prompting him to throw out all his favourite old LPs. Opening up about his health battle Vic said: “I’ve got a vestibular schwannoma – it’s a tumour in my head. I’ve gone completely deaf, 100 per cent deaf, in the left ear, and it will never come back. It’s dead – absolutely completely gone. It’s like the size of a grape so they just have to keep an eye on it.” The comedian went on to explain that the growth is fortunately not at risk of being deadly, and he’s being advised on treatment. He said: “It’s benign. They can’t remove it – they can shrink it or they can leave it and keep an eye on it, and that’s what they’re doing. The eardrum and your brain, there’s a nerve and that takes all the information from your ear to your brain and the tumour is right in between the nerve, so it’s gone ping and snapped it and you can’t reattach nerves.” Describing how the illness has affected his life, the Shooting Stars legend said: “I had to throw away all me stereo LPs. I’m living with deafness. Can you imagine a life without stereo records – no more will I hear Jimi Hendrix, well the producer. On If 6 was 9 he goes all over the place. I thought it was great stereo when it first happened. All I’ve got left is Frank Ifield and mono!” He continued: “Because I like going out bird watching I never know where the birds are because I can hear them, but I don’t know what direction they’re in.
Phil Collins has been pictured leaving his hotel in a wheelchair before his gig in Leeds on Tuesday night. The musician, who recently admitted he can ‘barely hold a drumstick’ in one of his hands, has been suffering from ill health for the past 15 years. On Tuesday night, the 70-year-old performed alongside his band Genesis at Leeds Arena and remained seated throughout the show. As he belted out his hit songs, the musician stayed in his chair and leant against a microphone stand while treating a delighted audience to renditions of his best-loved songs. Ahead of the gig on Tuesday, the Genesis star was pictured in a wheelchair on Monday afternoon. As he was wheeled out of a hotel in Leeds, the drummer and singer wore a medical face mask and baseball cap as he was pictured out and about. Clutching a brown wooden walking stick, the One More Night singer kept warm in the cold weather conditions in a leather jacket and blue scarf. Earlier last month, Phil sparked concern amongst fans as he appeared on BBC Breakfast and gave a rare interview where he discussed his health. The dad-of-five has been suffering from ill health for the past 15 years with him suffering an injured vertebrae in his upper neck which has led to crippling nerve damage. During his chat on the early morning breakfast show, the award-winning artist spoke candidly about his future and admitted that the band he plays with will be retired after their current UK tour.
Katie Price has been seen for the first time since court as she was photographed on her way to rehab. The former glamour model, 43, has pleaded guilty to drink-driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance following a crash near her home in Sussex on Tuesday. The mother-of-five was involved in a single-car collision that left her BMW flipped on its side on the B2135 near Partridge Green. Katie’s sentencing has now been deferred until December 15th to allow her to have treatment at the Priory Centre and speak to the probation service. After her appearance in court, Katie was photographed driving through London on her way to the Priory. The star looked downcast and tense as she sat in the passenger seat of a Fiat 500. Katie held her hand to her forehead after pleading guilty to the charges. She was told that her sentence would be deferred on the condition that she have treatment at the Priory Centre, not commit any further offences, and be banned from driving in the interim. The reality TV star was told she must also engage with the probation service so a report can be prepared. It will not be the first time that the multi-millionaire has had a stint at the facility as she checked into rehab in September 2018 in order to tackle her drug issues. She spent 28 days in the facility after deciding to receive professional help after depending on cocaine to numb the pain of her problems.
On This Day
- 1863 – The last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
- 1952 – The United Kingdom successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
- 1981 – The hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after seven months and ten deaths.
- 1995 – The O. J. Simpson murder case ends with a verdict of not guilty.
- 42 BC – Gaius Cassius Longinus, Roman politician (b. 85 BC).
- 1226 – Francis of Assisi, Italian friar and saint (b. 1181 or 1182).
- 1283 – Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Welsh prince (b. 1238).
- 1998 – Roddy McDowall, English-American actor (b. 1928).
- 2004 – Janet Leigh, American actress (b. 1927).
- 2005 – Ronnie Barker, English actor and screenwriter (b. 1929).
- 2015 – Denis Healey, English soldier & politician, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (b. 1917)
Sometime in the spring of 1879, a child welfare worker approached Meaker and her husband to ask if they would consider taking Mr. Meaker’s eight-year-old niece, Alice and her brother, Henry, into their home, as the children were living in an overcrowded orphanage. Mr. Meaker was offered a stipend of US$400 (equivalent to $11,110 in 2020) to care for Alice, and so he agreed. Emeline Meaker was not pleased with the arrangement and beat, starved, and otherwise mistreated Alice.
Meaker decided to kill Alice, and ordered her son Almon to get a lethal dose of strychnine from an apothecary. On April 23rd, 1880, Meaker and Almon seized Alice, placed a sack over the girl’s head, and took her to a remote area outside Burlington. When they arrived at a clearing by a stream, Almon handed the poison to his mother and she poured it into a drink which she gave to Alice. While Alice thrashed about in reaction to the strychnine poisoning, Meaker forcibly held her hand over Alice’s mouth to keep the girl from crying out, keeping it there until Alice was dead, and then Almon and his mother buried Alice’s body.
Alice’s disappearance was investigated, and Almon confessed to the local sheriff. At trial, both he and Emeline were sentenced to death; however, Almon’s sentence was commuted by the Vermont Legislature because it was believed that he was dominated by his mother. Almon’s confession was published in the newspaper on the date set for Emeline’s execution. It was reported that Emeline acted violently while in jail, but calmed as her execution date drew nearer.
On March 30th, 1883, the morning of her scheduled execution, Meaker ate a large beefsteak, three potatoes, a slice of bread and butter, a piece of meat pie, and a cup of coffee. Then, at her request, she went to view the gallows, remarking that it was not half as bad as she thought it would be. She sent a message to her husband through the sheriff, and then ate a lunch consisting of two boiled eggs, two slices of toast, one potato, one doughnut, and a cup of coffee.
Over 125 spectators gathered in the prison guardroom at the Vermont State Prison in Windsor County, and it was reported that the sheriff was besieged with requests for passes to witness the hanging. When Meaker was finally led to the gallows, and asked (by slip of paper as she was deaf) if she had anything to say, Emeline said in a low voice, “May God forgive you all for hanging me, an innocent woman. I am as innocent as that man standing here,” indicating a deputy. None of her family was present at the execution and her husband and children did not accept her body for burial after the execution.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Denis Villeneuve (54), Alicia Vikander (33), Lena Headey (48), Clive Owen (56), Neve Campbell (48), Seann William Scott (45), Gwen Stefani (52), Tommy Lee (59), Greg Proops (62), Lorraine Bracco (67), Sting (70), Avery Brooks (73), Tiffany(50), Brie Larson (32), Julie Andrews (86), Zach Galifianakis (52), Randy Quaid (71), Monica Bellucci (57), Alistair Petrie (51), Kieran Culkin (39), Eric Stoltz (60), Omid Djalili (56), Ian Ogilvy (78), Rula Lenska (74), Zachary Levi (41), Ian McShane (79), Erika Eleniak (52), James Lance (46), Mackenzie Crook (50), Luke Goss (53), Robert Webb (49), Patricia Hodge (75), Naomi Watts (53), Mira Sorvino (54), Hilary Duff (34), Brigitte Bardot (87), Dita Von Teese (49), Gwyneth Paltrow (49), Indira Varma (48), Meat Loaf (74), Denis Lawson (74), and Avril Lavigne (37).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Al Harrington, 85, Samoan-American actor (Hawaii Five-O), stroke.
- Roger Michell, 65, South African-born British film director (Notting Hill, Venus, My Cousin Rachel).
- Willie Garson, 57, American actor (Sex and the City, White Collar, John from Cincinnati), pancreatic cancer.
- Robert Fyfe, 90, Scottish actor (Last of the Summer Wine, Around the World in 80 Days, Cloud Atlas), kidney disease.
- Matthew Strachan, 50, English composer (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) and singer-songwriter.
- Melvin Van Peebles, 89, American film director, actor and playwright (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Posse, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death).
- Helmut Oberlander, 97, Ukrainian-born Canadian World War II soldier, member of the Einsatzgruppen.
- Alan Lancaster, 72, English rock bassist (Status Quo, The Party Boys), complications from multiple sclerosis.
In Other News
The television presenter Julia Bradbury has announced she has breast cancer, and urged other women to check their breasts and seek help if they notice any changes. The 51-year-old broadcaster will undergo a mastectomy in October to remove her left breast, along with its 6cm tumour. Surgeons will also take tissue from her lymph nodes to establish whether or not the disease has spread. Bradbury, who made her name presenting the BBC’s Countryfile, said she was going public in order to encourage others to get tested. “My plan is to come through it and out the other side and I hope to be able to do that bravely enough so that women who are scared to get tested, to get a diagnosis, go ahead. I want to be able to give them a wave and say: look, it’s horrible, but you can do it too.” She urged women not to ignore warning signs: “We must, must, must check ourselves and seek help. Being scared of a diagnosis could be the thing which kills you. So learn what to look for and check, check, check. Doctors are experts but only you can press a lump, know how it feels and think you should do something about it.” Doctors have told her the cancer cells are currently confined to her milk ducts and have not yet spread to the breast tissue. This means that, despite the significant size of the tumour, she may not need chemotherapy.
Harry Potter star Tom Felton was carried off a golf course in Wisconsin during a Ryder Cup Celebrity Match on Thursday. Felton, 34, who is famous for playing Draco Malfoy in the popular Harry Potter franchise, suffered a ‘medical incident’ on the golf course, according to the PGA of America. A statement from the PGA of America said: “In today’s Ryder Cup Celebrity Match, actor and musician Tom Felton experienced a medical incident on the course while participating for Europe. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment. No further details are available.” Pictures show Felton looking shaken as he is helped to his feet by fellow players, volunteers and tournament officials.
Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Snow Patrol are among leading figures in the music industry to pay tribute to music agent Steve Strange. The co-founder of X-Ray Touring, from Carrickfergus, in County Antrim, died following illness, aged 53. X-Ray Touring has the likes of Eminem, Erasure, Linkin Park, Kodaline, Queens of the Stone Age and Stereophonics on its books. “Steve was a titan of the global music industry,” Limelight Belfast said. The music venue described Mr Strange as “an unsung hero, and a fantastic and loyal friend to this venue and to Northern Ireland’s music community for more than 40 years”. Mr Strange started his music industry career at Limelight Belfast in the 1980s, according to the venue, before becoming an agent in London a few years later. Writing on Instagram, Grammy Award winning artist Ed Sheeran said it was “a very sad day, and a huge loss”. While Coldplay said it was “devastated” by the news of Mr Strange’s death. On Twitter, the band said it spent “a bittersweet hour” with Mr Strange last week. “Despite his illness he was still taking calls and watching ticket counts.” Rock band Snow Patrol said that their agent “believed in us before almost anyone else in the music industry did”. To picture a world without him in it is to picture a world so diminished. With less joy, less positivity, less optimism, less heart. Quieter, duller and much less interesting,” said the band. “So instead we’ll remember the joy he brought so many people and tell Steve Strange Stories.” Strangely enough, Strange does not have a Wiki page.
On This Day
- 1580 – Francis Drake finishes his circumnavigation of the Earth in Plymouth, England.
- 1905 – Albert Einstein publishes the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.
- 1933 – As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.
- 1953 – Rationing of sugar in the United Kingdom ends. Due to start again in December 2021.
- 1959 – Typhoon Vera, the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in recorded history, makes landfall, killing 4,580 people and leaving nearly 1.6 million others homeless.
- 1969 – Abbey Road, the last recorded album by the Beatles, is released.
- 1973 – Concorde makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
- 1902 – Levi Strauss, German-American businessman, founded Levi Strauss & Co. (b. 1829).
- 1937 – Bessie Smith, American singer and actress (b. 1894).
- 2003 – Robert Palmer, English singer-songwriter (b. 1949).
- 2008 – Paul Newman, American actor, director, producer, and businessman (b. 1925).
- 2019 – Jacques Chirac, French politician and President of France (b. 1932).
Richard Glossip is an American prisoner currently on death row at Oklahoma State Penitentiary after being convicted of commissioning the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese. Justin Sneed, the man who murdered Van Treese, agreed to plead guilty in exchange for testifying against Glossip, and received a sentence of life without parole. Glossip is the recipient of international attention due to the unusual nature of his conviction, for which there is little or no additional corroborating evidence.
On January 7th, 1997, Justin Sneed beat Barry Van Treese to death gruesomely with a baseball bat. The killing occurred at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Van Treese was the owner, Sneed was the maintenance man, and Richard Glossip was the manager. In exchange for avoiding the death penalty, Sneed confessed and told police that Glossip had instructed him to commit the murder.
Glossip insisted on his innocence and refused to accept a plea bargain. In July 1998, an Oklahoma jury convicted Glossip of the murder and sentenced him to death. In 2001, the unanimous Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out that conviction, calling the case “extremely weak” and finding Glossip had received unconstitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.
In August 2004, a second Oklahoma jury convicted Glossip of the murder and sentenced him to death. Glossip complained that prosecutors had intimidated his defence attorney into resigning, but, in April 2007, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the death sentence, with two judges in the majority, one judge specially concurring, and two judges dissenting. Glossip attracted the advocacy of Sister Helen Prejean, but failed to get the clemency board to consider letters from Sneed’s family, who believe Sneed is lying.
Glossip’s legal team asserts that Justin Sneed was addicted to methamphetamine at the time that he murdered Van Treese, and that he habitually broke into vehicles in the parking lot of the Best Budget Inn while he was employed as a maintenance man. Glossip’s execution is controversial in that he was convicted almost entirely on the testimony of Sneed, who confessed to bludgeoning Van Treese to death with an aluminium baseball bat by himself and who was spared a death sentence himself by implicating Glossip.
In September and October 2015, Glossip was granted three successive stays of execution due to questions about Oklahoma’s lethal injection drugs, which makes him the only man known to have had three last meals, possibly facing a fourth!
For his three last meals, he’s had the same four items every time: fish and chips, a Wendy’s Baconator, a strawberry shake, and pizza — Pizza Hut once, Dominos twice. He’s also listened as two men have been put to death, botched lethal injections both. And, as soon as early next year, he could be there again, in that endless daylight cell, waiting for death.
Glossip’s team are convinced they can prove his innocence. The problem is that Glossip was denied clemency in 2014, and inmates usually don’t get a second hearing. “I try to encourage people that there’s always hope,” says Glossip. “Look at me, I survived three executions.”
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jim Caviezel (53), Linda Hamilton (65), Olivia Newton-John (73), Lysette Anthony (58), Serena Williams (40), Ricky Tomlinson (82), Jon Richardson (39), Will Smith (53), Catherine Zeta-Jones (52), Mikael Persbrandt (58), Michael Douglas (77), Mark Hamill (70), Michael Madsen (64), Heather Locklear (60), Felicity Kendal (75), Kevin Sorbo (63), Sven-Ole Thorsen (77), Anthony Mackie (43), Rosalind Chao (64), Karl Pilkington (49), Bruce Springsteen (72), Tom Felton (34), Billie Piper (39), Sue Perkins (52), Ruth Jones (55), Joan Jett (63), Nick Cave (64), Bill Murray (71), Luke Wilson (50), Stephen King (74), David Wenham (56), Ricki Lake (53), Alfonso Ribeiro (50), Jon Bernthal (45), Kristen Johnston (54), Sophia Loren (87), Asia Argento (46), Moon Bloodgood (46), George R.R. Martin (73), Michelle Visage (53), and Connor Swindells (25).
Points!!! Well done to Laura, Louise, Julie, Neil, Mark, Chrissy, Martin, Paula, and Ron for correctly listing Jimmy Greaves. All of you get 69 poin1ts each. But a special well done to Martin who finally broke his duck, now everyone has scored some points this year. Also, as some of you who follow the Telegram channel already know, we have a further 44 points for Paul C as I missed the passing of Arthur Smith back in August. Well done everyone!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Fran Bennett, 84, American actress (Nightingales, Sunset Beach, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare).
- Bob Enyart, 62, American talk radio host, Covid-denier and anti-vaxxer, COVID-19.
- Antony Hewish, 97, British radio astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (1974).
- Norm Macdonald, 61, Canadian comedian, actor, and screenwriter (Saturday Night Live, The Norm Show, Dirty Work), leukaemia.
- Geoff Hill, 52, British news editor (ITV News), leukaemia.
- Jane Powell, 92, American actress (A Date with Judy, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Royal Wedding), singer and dancer.
- Sir Clive Sinclair, 81, English entrepreneur and inventor.
- Jimmy Greaves, 81, English footballer (Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, national team), world champion (1966).
- John Challis, 79, British actor (Only Fools and Horses, Benidorm), cancer.
And a missed death from 21st August 2021
In Other News
Brazil soccer legend Pele has re-entered an intensive care unit at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital, the evil flying monkeys on Friday, in an apparent deterioration of his health after he left the unit earlier this week. The hospital said it had no new information. Pele, an 80-year-old, three-time World Cup winner, was re-admitted to the ICU due to acid reflux. He had a colon tumour removed this month and was transferred out of the ICU on Tuesday. After leaving the ICU, he said in a message to fans on Instagram that he was ready for “90 minutes, plus extra time.” But that proved to be rather premature. Pele has suffered from hip problems for years and cannot walk unaided. His public appearances were already being cut before the COVID-19 pandemic and since then he has made few unnecessary forays outside his house near Santos. It was initially reported that he was not “seriously ill” in hospital, but after the operation to remove the tumour he stated he was “used to celebrating great victories” and would “face this match with a smile”. Now 80 years old, Pele earned 92 caps for Brazil and won three World Cup titles, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Coronation Street’s Craig Charles has revealed how his “breathing is laboured” after getting Covid. The actor and DJ, 57, told fans he had tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating. The Red Dwarf star took to Twitter to tell followers he was feeling very unwell. Craig’s post read: “Okay guys I don’t want to alarm, but I’ve caught the Covid. Breathing is a bit laboured which is a worry, but I’ve got an oxymonitor so so far no hospital. Starting to feel a bit better but have to isolate, Sorry to let everyone down. Back soon.” Hundreds of fans then responded by sending the one-time rapist (allegedly) supportive messages. One fan wrote: “Get well soon Craig, my wife and I both have it this week too, trying to rest up, hope you are too.” Craig became a household name when he landed the role of slob technician Dave Lister, the last known survivor of the human race, in the cult BBC sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf, beating Hugh Laurie to the role. In 2005, Craig joined the Coronation Street cast as taxi driver Lloyd Mullaney and was given free rein to introduce various aspects of the character’s personality. He quit his role on the soap in May 2015 in order to concentrate on filming the new series of Red Dwarf.
Elton John has postponed dates of his farewell tour after injuring himself in an “awkward” fall, which has resulted in him experiencing “difficulty moving”. The star, 74, revealed that his upcoming UK and European tour dates of his 2021 Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour have been rescheduled to 2023, after being left in “considerable” pain following a fall earlier this year. In a post to his 3.6 million Instagram followers, the Tiny Dancer hitmaker shared that he’d hurt his hip after “falling awkwardly on a hard surface”. Elton wrote: “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I am forced to reschedule the 2021 dates of my Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in Europe and the UK to 2023. At the end of my summer break I fell awkwardly on a hard surface and have been in considerable pain and discomfort in my hip ever since. Despite intensive physio and specialist treatment, the pain has continued to get worse and is leading to increasing difficulties moving,” he said. “I have been advised to have an operation as soon as possible to get me back to full fitness and make sure there are no long-term complications. I will be undertaking a programme of intensive physiotherapy that will ensure a full recovery and a return to full mobility without pain.” Despite postponing his tour dates, the iconic singer told that he would still be going ahead with a charity event, as he didn’t want to disappoint the organisation. Elton explained: “I am going to complete the charitable Global Citizen event on 25th September as I don’t want to let a charity down. Being just five songs it’s a very different physical undertaking to the demands of playing for close to three hours every night on tour and travelling overnight between countries.” He confirmed that following the event, he will be having surgery to ensure he can start performing in as soon as three months time. “After this I will be having the operation to ensure the tour can get back on the road in January of 2022 in New Orleans,” he continued. “I know how patient my incredible fans have been since Covid halted touring last year, and it breaks my heart to keep you waiting any longer.” Elton signed off by promising his loyal fans that the postponed farewell show will be worth waiting for. Last year, the star revealed in February that he had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia, which is an inflammation of the airways.
First Dates’ barman Merlin Griffiths has revealed he is battling bowel cancer after receiving a bleak diagnosis from doctors at Northampton General Hospital. The 46-year-old was told he has a 75% chance of living for more than five years after medical tests unearthed a stage three tumour that measured 4.5cm in length. Speaking to the Evil Monkeys, Merlin said: ‘I’m keeping that positive outlook, but I’ve a morbid sense of humour. I tell people, “I have colorectal cancer… it’s a real pain in the arse!” Merlin has a seven-year-old daughter called Alix with his partner Lucille, 40, who he has been with for more than a decade and will be by his side as he faces a year of life-saving treatment. When the barman told his young daughter of the troubling diagnosis he reassured her of the powers of modern medicine and gushed about the public healthcare system. He said: ‘I have so much faith in medicine and the NHS in this country, which is just so incredible.’ Keeping his emotions behind closed doors, Merlin admitted: ‘I’ve shed a tear in private. But you can choose “to do” or “not to do”. I chose to lead my life as normal, to stick to the facts about it, and to keep putting one step in front of the other.’ The TV personality, who became a household name alongside Fred Sirieix in the First Dates restaurant, started to feel pain in June but thought it was caused by an old stomach injury from a car accident in his 20s. Merlin was diagnosed with bowel cancer six weeks ago and said his tumour looked like an alien and felt like a walnut stuck inside of him. Doctors discovered the tumour when they gave the barman an emergency sigmoidoscopy to probe his lower intestine after the star spent three months telling people he felt something wrong in his body. Merlin admitted he was terrified by the ordeal but immediately focused on his chances of survival following his diagnosis. The star revealed that his tumour wanted to move into the tissue surrounding it but wasn’t ‘lymph’ – meaning the cancer thankfully hadn’t spread. His oncologist hopes to remove his tumour in three months time, after which he will continue with other life-saving treatment.
Professor Tim Wilson, the former UK Independence Party candidate for South Northamptonshire and more famously a contestant on the Channel 4 series The Circle, announced on Instagram that he’s had a rather serious bowel cancer diagnosis after haemorrhaging into his trousers! He also revealed that whilst having his balloon knot studied by medical professionals, that a nurse recognised him from the show. He has no idea how she did so as he was wearing a surgical mask and had his trousers around his ankles at the time. Anyhow, he’s off for a ‘serious operation’ next week. While taking part in The Circle, Wilson claimed he actually voted to Remain and wished to “expose UKIP from the inside” which probably helped him win the shows “Viewers’ Champion” title for being the most popular finalist by viewer’s vote, winning a £30,000 prize.
On This Day
- 1846 – Two French shepherd children, Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, experience a Marian apparition on a mountaintop near La Salette, France, now known as Our Lady of La Salette.
- 1881 – U.S. President James A. Garfield dies of wounds suffered in a July 2nd shooting. Vice President Chester A. Arthur becomes President upon Garfield’s death.
- 1970 – Michael Eavis hosts the first Glastonbury Festival.
- 1991 – Ötzi the Iceman is discovered in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.
- 1881 – James A. Garfield, American general, lawyer, and politician, and the 20th President of the United States (b. 1831).
- 1998 – Patricia Hayes, English actress (b. 1909).
- 2015 – Jackie Collins, English novelist (b. 1937).
Bobby Joe Long was an American serial killer and rapist who was executed by the state of Florida for the murder of Michelle Denise Simms. Long abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay Area in Florida during an eight-month period in 1984. He released one of his last victims, 17-year-old Lisa McVey, after raping her over a period of 26 hours. McVey provided critical information to the police that enabled them to arrest Long.
Long was born on October 14, 1953 in Kenova, West Virginia to Joe and Louetta Long. Long was born with an extra X chromosome, also known as 47,XXY, a specific variant of Klinefelter syndrome. This condition results in excessive oestrogen production yielding some female traits such as breast development. Long was teased as a child for his large breasts and underwent breast reduction surgery in adolescence. Long also suffered multiple head injuries as a child. Long had a dysfunctional relationship with his mother; he slept in her bed until he was a teenager and reportedly resented her multiple short-term boyfriends. Long married his high school girlfriend in 1974, with whom he had two children before she filed for divorce in 1980.
Long committed at least 50 rapes as the “Classified Ad Rapist” in Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, Miami, and Dade County.
Starting around 1981, Long began contacting women through the Penny Saver and other classified ads. When Long found a woman alone, he asked to use the bathroom, took out his “rape kit” and raped and robbed the woman. Long was tried and convicted for rape in 1981 but requested a new trial, which was granted. The charges were later dropped, because that was a thing back then….
Long moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1983. In 1984, while on probation for assault, Long raped and strangled 20-year-old Artiss “Ann” Wick in March; her body was discovered in a rural area on November 22, 1984.
Over the next eight months, Long abducted, raped, and murdered at least 10 women in three counties in the Tampa Bay area. The investigation involved personnel from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Tampa Police Department (TPD), the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
The bodies of the victims were typically found in a state of decomposition long after the murders, having been dumped near a rural roadside or dragged into the woods. Long appears to have targeted vulnerable women, including abducting women walking alone and those working as sex workers, persuading women to enter his car where he would rape and torture them. Of Long’s 10 known victims, five of the women were identified as known sex workers, two as exotic dancers. The remaining three victims were a factory worker, a student, and one with an unknown occupation.
During this period, Long also continued his classified-ad rapes, attacking 33-year-old Linda Nuttall in her home.
In the early hours of November 3, 1984, Long abducted 17-year-old Lisa McVey as she rode her bike home from work. She was blindfolded and taken to Long’s home, where he repeatedly raped her. Aware of the danger she was in, the blindfolded McVey reported leaving as many fingerprints in Long’s home as she could to aid any future police investigation. After 26 hours, Long released McVey and she provided investigators with information on his home, car and a time period in which she heard him use an ATM Machine. This led to police identifying Long and he was arrested on November 16, 1984. He was linked to the murders through red carpet fibres found on the bodies of several victims.
At the time of his capture, Long was wanted in three Tampa Bay area jurisdictions where investigators had collected multiple forms of forensic evidence, including clothing, carpet fibres, semen, ligature marks, and rope knots.
Long was arrested outside a movie theatre on November 16, 1984, and charged with the sexual battery and kidnapping of Lisa McVey. Long signed a formal Miranda waiver, and consented to questioning. After the detectives procured a confession for the McVey case, their questioning focused on a series of unsolved sexual battery homicides in the Tampa Bay area. As the detectives questioned Long about the murders, he replied, “I’d rather not answer that.”
The detectives continued the interrogation, and handed Long photographs of the various murder victims. At this point, Long stated, “The complexion of things sure have changed since you came back into the room. I think I might need an attorney.” No attorney was provided, and Long eventually confessed to eight murders in Hillsborough County, and one murder in Pasco County.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Long was ultimately serving one five-year sentence, four 99-year sentences, 28 life sentences, and one death sentence.
On April 23, 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Long’s death warrant, this being the first death warrant signed by DeSantis since he took office in January 2019. Long’s subsequent appeals were denied and he was executed by lethal injection on May 23, 2019, more than 30 years after his conviction. He ate his final meal at 9:30 am local time; he requested roast beef, bacon, french fries and soda. He was pronounced dead at 6:55 pm and had made no last statement.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Danielle Panabaker (34), Jeremy Irons (73), David McCallum (88), Jimmy Fallon (47), Twiggy (72), Jason Sudeikis (46), Jada Pinkett Smith (50), James Marsden (48), Keeley Hazell (35), Tim McInnerny (65), Cassandra Peterson (70), Bruce Spence (76), Mickey Rourke (69), Madeline Zima (36), Amy Poehler (50), Nick Jonas (29), Danny John-Jules (61), Tom Hardy (44), Tommy Lee Jones (75), Oliver Stone (75), Jimmy Carr (49), Brendan O’Carroll (66), Andrew Lincoln (48), Sam Neill (74), and Walter Koenig (85).
Quite a few deaths this week, but one stands out to me. The sad story of footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, who was capped 22 times for his country only to spend from March 1982 until his death last week in a coma as a result of mistakes made during a ligament operation on his knee.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Tony Selby, 83, English actor (Get Some In!, Doctor Who, Witchfinder General), COVID-19.
- Jean-Paul Belmondo, 88, French actor (Breathless, That Man from Rio, Pierrot le Fou).
- Michael K. Williams, 54, American actor (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Bessie).
- Jean-Pierre Adams, 73, French footballer (Nîmes, Nice, national team).
- Phil Jerrod, 41–42, British stand-up comedian, sarcoma.
- Edward Barnes, 92, British television executive and producer, co-creator of Blue Peter.
- Art Metrano, 84, American actor (Police Academy, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Joanie Loves Chachi) and comedian.
- María Mendiola, 69, Spanish pop singer (Baccara).
In Other News
Big Brother series 5 star Becki Seddiki has been diagnosed with leukaemia after she went to the GP for blood tests following concerns about her health. She’s been chronicling her journey with her health on TikTok after revealing she had been diagnosed with leukaemia last month. Becki explained that she has been undergoing routine blood tests after she was left concerned about her health, with results confirming it was leukaemia. She has been in hospital since her diagnosis and is now hoping to leave and return home for almost two weeks tomorrow – and after packing her bags she is prepped and ready. She said: “I mean, yeah, hope we stick to it. I hope my body behaves and doesn’t spike in temperature or anything.” Her trip home would still be brief, adding that it wouldn’t be a full two weeks but it would be close, she continued: “I can’t wait, oh my God, I can’t wait.” Becki has been incredibly open with her followers through her social media accounts, with the reality star sharing a clip of her shaving her hair as she added: “When you are bored and you know treatment will take away your hair.” She also shared the clip onto her Instagram as she said she “had no choice” but to shave it off. Becki was showered with love after posting the clip, with one user writing: “Get well soon Becki!”, while another said: “Sending power hugs to you! Stay strong and get well soon!”, a third person added: “You are a strong woman.” Her decision to go and get tests done came after she was left feeling exhausted and wanted a clean bill of health. She said: “I told my GP I needed a clean bill of health because of self-medicating on recreational drugs for so long and I realised I was an addict and went to some NA meetings and had been clean for 40 days. “And today I get this diagnosis. It explains a lot, it explained why I have been feeling tired, why my hair has been falling out.” She old her followers that she is hoping to get better soon and reassured them that she will update them along the way.
Erik Cowie, one of the zookeepers who used to work at Joe Exotic’s ‘Tiger King’ zoo has died aged 53. According to reports, Cowie was found in a residence in New York City on Friday, September 3rd. Cowie had worked and lived in Oklahoma in recent years, continuing to work at GW Zoo after Exotic’s arrest, and it is unclear what he was doing in New York. However, he was reportedly found in a bedroom of the residence, though it is not yet known who the residence belonged to. The death is not considered suspicious, the monkeys report. While no drugs were found on the scene, they reported that a toxicology test will likely be ordered. Cowie was one of Joe Exotic’s animal caretakers and featured on the famous Netflix series about the zoo. Cowie even went on to testify against the Tiger King himself, saying he had seen Joe order the shooting and killing of some of the zoo’s animals. In January 2020, Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. He was convicted of trying to hire two hitmen to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin. Earlier this year, Cowie was caught driving under the influence in Oklahoma after a car accident. He pleaded guilty to the offence, however he did not show up to court and an arrest warrant was subsequently issued. Prior to working with Exotic, Cowie admitted to a one-time drinking problem, but denied using any other drugs, according to the monkeys.
Michael Schumacher’s wife has offered a rare update on her husband’s condition as part of of a new documentary on the F1 legend’s life. The seven-time world champion suffered a severe brain injury while skiing with his son back in December 2013 and following several operations is now cared for in private by his family in Geneva, Switzerland. Details around his condition have been scarce in the years since his accident, but Corinna Schumacher, who has been married to Michael since 1995, has opened up about his health for the new programme that begins streaming on Netflix later this month. “Michael is here. Different, but he’s here, and that gives us strength, I find,” she says. “We’re together. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable. And to simply make him feel our family, our bond. And no matter what, I will do everything I can. We all will. We’re trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives. Private is private’, as he always said. It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us and now we are protecting Michael.” Schumacher remains one of the icons of Formula One with his records for wins, pole positions and podium finishes only just eclipsed by current world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Those tuning into BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning were taken aback by Phil Collins appearance as he joined his Genesis bandmates to speak on their upcoming tour and retirement. The musician admitted he found his health “very frustrating” as he can no longer hold a stick or play the drums. Fans rushed to Twitter to share their concern for the singer. Recalling his audition for Genesis, Phil said: “I thought I might get £10 a eek for a few months until they saw through me and then I’d be back out on the street again.” With Phil’s son on stage with the band playing the drums, the singer continued: “I’m kind of physically challenge a bit which is very frustrating because I’d love to be playing up there with my son.”Asked if he can still play, Phil sighed: “No, I’d love to. But I mean, I can barely hold a stick with this hand. There are certain physical things that get in the way.” Looking towards the future, Phil hinted the band would retire after their upcoming tour. “We’re all men of our age and I think to some extent, yeah, I think it probably is putting it to bed,” he explained. “I think yeah, I think just generally for me, I don’t know if I want to go out on the road anymore.” Those watching were quick to voice their concern for Phil with many suggesting he does not tour anymore. Phil, 70, has previous spoken about his health problems after he sustained an injured vertebrae in his upper neck, crippling nerve damage, acute pancreatitis, falls, and “foot drop”. Speaking in 2016 about being rushed to hospital with acute pancreatitis in 2012, he admitted he was “close to dying”. He recalled: “Within months you’re drinking vodka from the fridge in the morning and falling over in front of the kids, you know. But it was something I lived through, and I was lucky to live through it and get through it. I was very close to dying.” Phil added: “My organs were kind of f****d. It was spirits, corrosive stuff.”
On This Day
- 1857 – The SS Central America sinks about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, drowning a total of 426 passengers and crew, including the Captain. The ship was carrying 13–15 tons of gold from the California Gold Rush.
- 1940 – Cave paintings are discovered in Lascaux, France.
- 1958 – Jack Kilby demonstrates the first working integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.
- 1959 – Bonanza premieres, the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in colour.
- 1962 – President Kennedy delivers his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice University.
- 1977 – South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko dies in police custody.
- 1977 – Steve Biko, South African activist (b. 1946)
- 1992 – Anthony Perkins, American actor, singer, and director (b. 1932)
- 1993 – Raymond Burr, Canadian-American actor and director (b. 1917)
- 1995 – Jeremy Brett, English actor (b. 1933)
- 2003 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1932)
- 2012 – Derek Jameson, English journalist and broadcaster (b. 1929)
- 2014 – Ian Paisley, Northern Irish evangelical pastor and politician (b. 1926)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Alfie Allen (35), Linda Gray (81), Virginia Madsen (60), Tyler Hoechlin (34), Roxann Dawson (63), Elizabeth Henstridge (34), Johnny Vegas (50), Guy Ritchie (53), Colin Firth (61), Adam Sandler (55), Hugh Grant (61), Eric Stonestreet (50), Jeffrey Combs (67), Julia Sawalha (53), Rachel Hunter (52), Martin Freeman (50), Heather Thomas (64), Julian Richings (66), Pink (42), Miles Jupp (42), Evan Rachel Wood (34), Toby Jones (55), Julie Kavner (71), Doug Bradley (67), Chrissie Hynde (70), Idris Elba (49), Michael Winslow (63), and Macy Gray (54).
It was just an average week, no points and lots of sad stories; however just as I was about to post this weeks edition, news of Sarah Harding’s death came through. Rewrites and points to award!!! So 211 points to Nickie, Laura, Lee & Louise as they all listed her as their Woman, which has now changed the top of the league table considerably. We have a new leader!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ed Asner, 91, American actor (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, Up).
- Geronimo, 8, New Zealand-born British alpaca, euthanised.
- Daffney, 46, American professional wrestler (WCW, SHINE, TNA).
- Robbie Dale, 81, British radio presenter (Radio Caroline).
- Willard Scott, 87, American weatherman (Today) and creator of Ronald McDonald.
- Sarah Harding, 39, English singer (Girls Aloud), cancer.
In Other News
Katie Price has revealed she offered her mum her lung as she is still waiting for a transplant as she battles a terminal disease. Katie’s beloved mother Amy is battling idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which causes scarring on the lungs, and makes it hard for the body to take in oxygen, becoming worse over time. Amy was diagnosed in 2017 and as the disease worsens, she is looking at all options to ease the situation, including a lung transplant. Speaking to us, Katie, 43, revealed she had even offered her mum one of her lungs. She said: “My mum, she’s never smoked, always been healthy. She got told a couple years ago, coming up to three years, that she would have three to five years left of her life. You know, it’s gonna happen. She still does a spinning classes. She’s got like 34 per cent left of her lung capacity, so she has started oxygen, which isn’t nice to see because I, in my head, it’s that once you start the oxygen and you need that, you know it’s coming. So she’s waiting to see if she can have a lung transplant. I even offered my lung to her.” However, Katie explained it wasn’t as simple as giving her mother a lung, telling Simon: “But it’s not that easy. You have to be ill enough to have it. Although my mother she could have it now, it doesn’t mean to say that she’d still survive it because it can reject in three weeks and it only prolongs your life five years.” Very brave of Katie, especially more so as she’s still recovering from a good beating by her fiancé.
Former professional wrestler Daffney Unger has died at age 46. Unger’s mother Jean Tookey Spruill (the wrestler’s real name was Shannon Spruill) confirmed her death, writing on Facebook, “It is with great sadness I have to let you know that my daughter Shannon Spruill … Scream Queen Daff, passed away suddenly last night. Absolutely heartbroken.” On Wednesday, Unger sparked concerns after she hosted an Instagram Live that showed her holding what appeared to be a small gun. In her video, Unger discussed potentially having symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeated concussions. “The most important thing to remember is, that, CTE, and head injuries and concussions, they can only really now be—” Unger said in the video, before pausing and taking several nervous breaths. “They can now really only be diagnosed after you are dead. So, I don’t want to do anything to hurt my brain. I want to be studied,” she continued. “I want the future generations to know. Don’t do stupid shit like me.” After the Instagram Live, former pro wrestler Mick Foley used Twitter to ask people to help locate Unger. “If anyone has a way of reaching Daffney Unger, or knows her address, please help out,” Foley said. “She’s in a bad personal place and is threatening to harm herself. My phone call went straight to voicemail.” A cause of death has not been released.
Richard E Grant has said his heart is broken following the death of his wife of 35 years. The actor, known for films including Withnail And I and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, said Joan Washington, a voice coach, had died on Thursday night. He did not give a cause of death. Sharing a video of them dancing together to the song Only You by the Platters on Twitter, he wrote: “ONLY YOU! Joan – Love of my Life & Giver of Life to our daughter Olivia. Our hearts are broken with the loss of your Life last night. 35 years married & 38 together. To be truly known and seen by you, is your immeasurable gift. Do not forget us, sweet Monkee-mine.” Grant, 64, also shared a series of broken heart emojis, prompting condolences and messages of support from his followers. He and Washington married in 1986 and share a daughter, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom, from Washington’s previous relationship. Washington, from Aberdeen, trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and had nearly 40 years’ experience in the film industry as a voice and dialect coach, working with stars including Anne Hathaway, Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Stone. Among her early projects in the mid-80s were Yentl starring Barbra Streisand, Highlander, and The Bounty, featuring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
On This Day
- 1666 – Great Fire of London ends: Ten thousand buildings, including Old St Paul’s Cathedral, are destroyed, but only six people are known to have died.
- 1972 – Munich massacre: A Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September” attacks and takes hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Two die in the attack and nine are murdered the following day.
- 1975 – Lynette Fromme attempts to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford.
- 1977 – Voyager Program: NASA launches the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
- 1548 – Catherine Parr, Sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII of England (b. c. 1512).
- 1877 – Crazy Horse, American tribal leader (b. 1849).
- 1982 – Douglas Bader, English captain and pilot (b. 1910).
- 1997 – Mother Teresa, Albanian-Indian nun, missionary, and saint (b. 1910).
Life is a Lottery
Margaret Loughrey, 56, from Ballycolman, Strabane, in Northern Ireland, was found dead on Thursday morning eight years after winning £27million on Euromillions. Margaret was unemployed and on her way home from the job centre when she bought a Euromillions ticket on a whim and ended up scooping the jackpot.
She checked and re-checked her numbers while pacing around her house for five hours the next day trying to process what had happened before calling her brother.
‘Maggie Millions’ went on to buy an old mill, as well as a pub and various homes, while also giving away half of her fortune to good causes. But her win also attracted the wrong sort of attention and she claims thieves stole millions from her, leaving her with just £5million by 2019.
Her mental and physical health also deteriorated, with her weight at one stage reportedly dropping to five-and-a-half stone. So it was no surprise to anyone when she was found dead at only 56 years of age.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it is not currently treating her death as “suspicious”, after her body was found at 10.30am in her home. A post mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death, the force added.
“I regret winning the lottery, of course I do. I was a happy person before. I am a human being and all it has done is destroy my life,” Margaret once said during an interview.
Her problems began almost immediately after her landmark win which saw her scoop the biggest lottery fortune Northern Ireland had ever seen.
She was sectioned for four months in 2013 and later admitted to Sunday Life: “If there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad.” She added: “I will never have peace as long as I live. Even if I didn’t have a penny left, I won’t.”
Spending her cash brought no end of trouble. Margaret splashed out £1million to buy the historic Herdman’s Mill in Sion Mills a year in but it was targeted by vandals and set on fire multiple times. She also continually locked horns with Sion Mills Cricket Club, eventually locking them out of their pitch on the grounds before an agreement was reached.
In 2015, she drunkenly assaulted a taxi driver as he took her home after a party, breaking his glasses and smashing his satnav. He drove her directly to a police station where she had to be physically restrained by officers, and was later ordered by magistrates to do 150 hours community service.
Last September an employment tribunal awarded her former general assistant, Patrick Breslin, £30,000 after it determined she had mocked his religion before sacking him.
Her latest business venture had seen Margaret buy her local pub The Greyhound Bar with plans to transform it into The Back Street Bar. She also intended to build 18 affordable homes on her own land, among a string of charitable donations running into the millions. But Margaret was never fulfilled.
“Money has brought me nothing but grief. It has destroyed my life,” she said a couple of years ago.
Local councillor Jason Barr told us this morning: “Margaret would have been well thought of…she has had her ups and downs in life like all of us but hopefully she’s at rest now.”
At the time of her win, Margaret said she’d gone to the job centre to print off an application for a job within the charity sector. Then, while heading home she’d gone into a Supervalu store and bought a lottery ticket. “I can’t always afford to do the Euromillions but I had a couple of extra pound in my purse and just on the spur of the moment I did a Lucky Dip,” she explained. At the time, Ms Loughrey was living on benefits of £62 a week.
Speaking about the moment she realised she had won the jackpot, Margaret said she’d got up early the next day and “just had this notion so I checked my numbers and there they were. I was just in state of shock and I must have checked 10 times. I took a walk out to the back garden and sat out there for a while before coming back in and checking again.” Eventually, she got her brother to verify the win.
The next time you’re in the shops, ignore the lotto station and save your money, it’ll only give you grief.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael Keaton (70), Carice van Houten (45), Raquel Welch (81), Rose McGowan (48), Bob Newhart (92), Paddy Considine (48), George Lazenby (82), Damon Wayans (61), Michael Berryman (73), Beyoncé (40), Charlie Sheen (56), Pauline Collins (81), Keanu Reeves (57), Salma Hayek (55), Keith Allen (68), Zendaya (25), Lily Tomlin (82), Burn Gorman (47), Gloria Estefan (64), Steve Pemberton (54), Barry Gibb (75), Richard Gere (72), Chris Tucker (50), Jessica Henwick (29), Cameron Diaz (49), and Michael Chiklis (58).
Those evil flying monkeys have been busy this week although none of us scored a single point. But one of last weeks deaths has made me rather hesitant to send out the little buggers once again, just in case!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sean Lock, 58, English comedian (15 Storeys High, 8 Out of 10 Cats, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown), cancer.
- Jill Murphy, 72, British author (The Worst Witch), cancer.
- Austin Mitchell, 86, British politician, MP (1977–2015).
- Sonny Chiba, 82, Japanese actor (The Street Fighter, The Storm Riders, Kill Bill: Volume 1) and martial artist, complications from Covid-19.
- Don Everly, 84, American singer (The Everly Brothers) and songwriter (“Cathy’s Clown“, “When Will I Be Loved“).
- Marie, Princess of Liechtenstein, 81, Liechtensteiner royal, princess consort, stroke.
In Other News
This weeks shocking news is that of the tragic death of comedian Sean Lock; sometimes we wish those evil flying monkeys would miss their mark or maybe get shot down by a local farmer! The comedian’s family confirmed his passing earlier this week at the relatively young age of 58 and his friend and fellow comedian Bill Bailey has now revealed that Sean passed away after a secret battle with lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with a “few years ago”. Bill told us: “He had been diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago and it was at the time quite a blow, particularly when it was quite advanced. We’ve tried to make the most of the last few years. We spent a lot of time together and went on trips together. And he’s continued to work. He’s amazingly courageous and tough individual who was mentally strong throughout the whole time. I’m just grateful for the time we have had together.” Sean has received many glowing tributes from those on the comedy circuit and Bill is hardly surprised as he praised his late friend’s fearless nature and “determination”.
The world’s smallest cow ‘Rani’ died on Thursday due to ‘excessive gas accumulated in its stomach’. Sajedul Islam, livestock officer of Savar, Bangladesh, confirmed the death to us. “The cow fell ill two days ago. It was taken to Savar Upazila health centre at around 11am and the on-duty doctor declared it dead at 12pm,” he said. The dwarf cow of the Boxer Bhutti breed, grew up in a farm at Charigram of Savar, near the capital Dhaka. The cow stood just 51cm (20in) high, and weighed 28kg (62Ib), just enough for 30 Big Mac’s. At the time it was waiting to be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest cow. The cow turned into a celebrity since the news first broke in the Bangladeshi newspapers back in July and hundreds of visitors had been flocking to the farm to catch a sight of it. The title for the world’s smallest cow has been held officially by Manikyam, in neighbouring India, which measures 61.1cm from the hoof to the withers.
If you thought Covid has gone away, fear not, it’s still with us and bringing down many a celebrity. Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor has said that he is “very sick” after testing positive for coronavirus. The 47-year-old – who is currently in the middle of a North American tour of his solo album CMFT – was forced to cancel his scheduled appearance at the Astronomican event in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday after testing positive for Covid-19. Taylor shared a video to Facebook addressing his absence, stating: “I hope everybody’s well, I wish I had better news. I woke up today and tested positive, and I’m very, very sick.” He apologised to fans, adding that he is “absolutely devastated” and that he hopes “everyone has a good time”. Speaking about his health, the heavy metal rocker said: “I should be okay. It’s just the flu. I’m vaccinated so I’m not worried but I certainly would not want to spread it to anyone else, so everybody be safe out there. I will see you again, promise,” he said. Taylor recently spoke out against concertgoers who refuse to get vaccinated, stating: “People act like getting a vaccine is signing a deal with the devil. It’s been so politicised and spun out of control in these conspiratorial echo chambers that people forget that you can find all the info you want online to educate yourself about everything about these vaccines.” Taylor continued: “Do I think it should be a requirement for people to be vaccinated to go to shows? Yes and no. Here’s the thing: there shouldn’t be mandate, but guess what man, if you’re going to put people at risk of getting sick, you shouldn’t want to go to a show. And if you do put people at risk, then you’re a fucking asshole, and you shouldn’t be let in anyway,” he concluded.
On the flip side of the above story, a conservative US talk radio host and vaccine skeptic has died in hospital from complications related to a Covid-19 that he contracted last month. Radio personality Phil Valentine’s death was announced in a tweet on Saturday by Nashville radio station SuperTalk 99.7 WTN. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and Prayers,” the station said. Mr Valentine, who had been skeptical of coronavirus vaccines and mask wearing, was 61 when he died. Last December, Mr Valentine wrote in his blog: “I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m just using common sense. What are my odds of getting Covid? They’re pretty low. What are my odds of dying from Covid if I do get it? Probably way less than one percent”. But on 11th July, Mr Valentine reported that he had tested positive for the virus. Shortly afterwards, he told his listeners: “If I get this Covid thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?”. Now urging people to get vaccinated, he added that he had chosen not to get the vaccine because he thought that he probably wouldn’t die. Later in July, Mr Valentine was hospitalised for Covid-related pneumonia, and near the end of the month he was moved into a critical care unit where he was placed on a ventilator. Mark Valentine, Phil’s brother, said that his brother regretted not being a “more vocal advocate of the vaccination”. He told us: “I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories”. “He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the data.” Mr Valentine’s family also issued a statement after the radio host was hospitalised. The statement said: “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine’ and looks forward to being able to more vigourously advocate for that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon.” As of Saturday 21st August, there have been 977,230 Covid infections and 12,142 related deaths reported in Tennessee alone. Only 41 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, and 48 per cent have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
Tributes have been paid to the inventor of the Pornstar Martini after he died at the age of 51. Douglas Ankrah, who also co-founded the groundbreaking London cocktail bar ‘Lab’, was dubbed an industry ‘pioneer’. His family shared the news on social media as tributes poured in from across the industry. His cause of death has not been confirmed though the trade outlet Master of Malt reports Ankrah had a history of heart problems and ‘went peacefully in his sleep’. The Ghanaian-born entrepreneur invented the Pornstar Martini in 2003 while he was working at his cocktail bar Townhouse, in Knightsbridge, west London. The cocktail features a mix of vanilla vodka, fresh passion fruit, passion fruit liqueur, vanilla syrup and lime juice, plus a shot of Prosecco on the side. Since its creation, the Pornstar Martini has regularly featured in top cocktail lists and was this month revealed as the World’s most popular cocktail, based on Google search data. Ankrah is said to have come up with the name after a trip to a gentlemen’s club in Cape Town, telling Master of Malt in 2019: ‘The cocktail was so sexy and looked like what a pornstar would drink.’ He added: ‘When I first made it, I had no idea it was going to be neo classic’, but he later created a bottled version, because he was fed up of tasting badly-made versions of his tipple.
On This Day
- 1485 – The Battle of Bosworth Field, the death of Richard III and the end of the House of Plantagenet.
- 1922 – Michael Collins, Commander-in-chief of the Irish Free State Army, is shot dead in an ambush during the Irish Civil War.
- 2006 – Grigori Perelman is awarded the Fields Medal for his proof of the Poincaré conjecture in mathematics but refuses to accept the medal.
- 1485 – Richard III of England (b. 1452).
- 1922 – Michael Collins, Irish rebel, counter-intelligence and military tactician, and politician; 2nd Irish Minister of Finance (b. 1890).
- 1963 – William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, English businessman and philanthropist, founded Morris Motors (b. 1877).
The 2014 Taipei Metro attack was a mass stabbing spree that took place on 21st May 2014, directed at random civilians on a Taipei Metro train near Jiangzicui Station, resulting in four deaths and 24 injuries. It was the first fatal attack on the city’s subway system since operations began in 1996. The suspected attacker, Cheng Chieh, then 21, was arrested after the attack.
The attack started at around 16:25 local time, inside a Bannan Line train heading west between Longshan Temple Station in Taipei and Jiangzicui Station in New Taipei. The distance between the two stations is the longest between any two stations in the Taipei metro system, lasting three to five minutes. During the attack, the assailant chased and hacked passengers with a 30cm long fruit knife. Before the train could stop at Jiangzicui Station, a group of passengers banded together to distance themselves using umbrellas while others tried to discourage the attacker by loudly taunting him.
When the subway train arrived at Jiangzicui Station, a single suspected assailant was subdued by passengers, police and metro staff and taken to the nearby Haishan police station after a brief standoff. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin said police presence on the metro was increased soon after the incident and added that he was requesting reinforcements from the National Police Agency.
On the day after the attack, the suspect was taken to the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office for questioning. A prosecutor applied to detain him in the New Taipei District Court, which was approved by a judge around 6:20am.
The train carriage which was the setting of the stabbing attack, was temporarily withdrawn from service after arrival at Jiangzicui Station and underwent disinfection and change of seats. It was then renumbered 175/176 (173/174 was avoided as the number “一七三, 一七四” sounded like “一起殺、一起死”, which literally means “kill together, die together”) and returned to service in 2015.
New Taipei Police Chief Chen Kuo-en identified the suspected attacker as Cheng Chieh, a 21-year-old second-year student at Tunghai University in the central city of Taichung. Chief Chen said the suspect told police he had wanted to do something “shocking and big” and had plotted to carry out the attack from childhood. Chen said there was no other motive.
During questioning, the suspect said he originally intended to attack after his college graduation, but decided to move earlier since he had “no classes” on 21st May and he had grown tired of living. The suspect stated that he does not admit guilt, feels no regret, wants the death sentence, and that even if his parents were on the train he attacked, he would have killed them, as well as the prosecutors questioning him.
Cheng Chieh’s parents later publicly apologised at Jiangzicui Station and called for a quick death sentence for their son.
Cheng was indicted by the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office on 21st July, and charged with four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, the company that runs the Taipei Metro, claimed that ridership was down by 945,000 within ten days of Cheng’s actions, causing them to lose NT$20.61 million, an amount for which they are suing Cheng.
Cheng was found guilty of four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted manslaughter on 6th March 2015 in the Taiwan New Taipei District Court. For each count of murder, he was sentenced to death and deprivation of citizen’s rights for life; for each count of attempted manslaughter, he was sentenced to a jail term of between five years, two months and eight years. His knife was also confiscated.
Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay signed the execution order for Cheng at 17:00 on 10th May 2016. Cheng was executed at 20:47 on the same day. After eating his last meal, a biandang with stewed pork, rice and vegetables, Cheng was given general anaesthesia. Soon after its administration, he was laid in a prone position and shot in the heart three times. The 18-day gap between Cheng’s final guilty verdict and execution was the shortest in Taiwanese judicial history.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Richard Armitage (50), Kristen Wiig (48), Ty Burrell (54), James (The Cunt) Corden (43), Dua Lipa (26), Mark Williams (62), Carrie-Anne Moss (54), Laura Haddock (36), Hayden Panettiere (32), Kim Cattrall (65), RJ Mitte (29), Amy Adams (46), Ben Barnes (40), Andrew Garfield (38), Ke Huy Quan (50), James Marsters (59), Misha Collins (47), John Noble (73), Ray Wise (74), Sylvester McCoy (78), Demi Lovato (29), David Walliams (50), Matthew Perry (52), Jonathan Frakes (69), Jim Carter (73), Diana Muldaur (83), Jill St. John (81), Simon Bird (37), Edward Norton (52), Christian Slater (52), Robert Redford (85), Madeleine Stowe (63), Roman Polanski (88), Denis Leary (64), Robert De Niro (78), Sean Penn (61), Belinda Carlisle (63), Taika Waititi (46), Steve Carell (59), James Cameron (67), and Madonna (63).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Jane Withers, 95, American actress (Giant, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Paddy O’Day).
- Alex Cord, 88, American actor (Airwolf, Stagecoach, The Brotherhood).
- Pat Hitchcock, 93, English-born American actress (Stage Fright, Strangers on a Train, Psycho).
- Ken Hutchison, 72, Scottish actor (Straw Dogs, All Quiet on the Western Front, Ladyhawke).
- Dilys Watling, 78, English actress (Calculated Risk, Two Left Feet, Theatre of Death).
- Una Stubbs, 84, English actress (Till Death Us Do Part, Worzel Gummidge, Sherlock).
- Steve Perrin, 75, American game designer (RuneQuest), technical writer and editor.
- Gerd Müller, 75, German footballer (1861 Nördlingen, Bayern Munich, West Germany national team), world champion (1974).
In Other News
An envelope containing three bullets and addressed to Pope Francis has been found near Milan. Authorities are now investigating the source of the envelope and who could be behind it, according to Italian paramilitary police. It was sent from France and intercepted by postal employees working on sorting the mail overnight in the small sorting facility of Peschiera Borromeo in a Milan suburb, the carabinieri provincial command in Milan said. It reportedly contained three 9mm-calibre Flobert-type pellets, according to the Milan-based newspaper Affaritaliani. The envelope was addressed by hand in pen to: “The Pope, Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square, Rome,” and contained a message referring to financial operations at the Vatican, but further details were not disclosed. Last month, the Vatican indicted ten people, including an Italian cardinal, for several alleged financial crimes, including extortion, corruption, fraud, embezzlement, and abuse of power. The accusations included bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favours to friends and family. An investigation is ongoing by the carabinieri investigative unit after the command office in Milan has been notified about the envelope by the sorting centre manager, according to the Italian newspaper. There was no immediate comment from the Vatican. The 84-year-old pontiff had colon surgery last month. The Vatican declared after the surgery that the Pope had responded well to the treatment for “symptomatic diverticular stenosis” of the colon. Since then, he returned to his full-time duties.
A prisoner in Washington state has been jailed for almost 25 years after unexpectedly being placed in the same cell as the man who raped his younger sister. As he spoke to his new cellmate in June 2020, Shane Goldsby, 26, grew certain that Robert Munger, 70, was the man who had repeatedly raped his underage sister. In an interview last year Goldsby said he requested to be assigned to a new cell, but he was never transferred. The inmate said Munger then described how he had violated his sister in detail. Munger had been sentenced to 43 years in prison for child molestation and possession of child pornography. “He kept… giving me details about what happened and what he did. About the photos and videos of him doing this stuff, and it was building up,” Goldsby said. The chance meeting behind bars took place at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane County in eastern Washington state. Hours later, Goldsby snuck up behind Munger in the common area and knocked him to the floor, punched him fourteen times and stomped on his head over and over, a Washington State Patrol investigation said. Munger died in hospital days later. Pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Goldsby was sentenced to 298 months in prison, which is just under 25 years. At a hearing last week, Goldsby’s lawyer read a statement on his client’s behalf: “I’m ashamed of my actions, I was put into a situation that I don’t wish on nobody. I got a lot of fixing to do.” Questions are now being asked about why Goldsby was put in the same cell as his sister’s rapist. “This stuff doesn’t happen. You’re talking the same institution, the same unit, the same pod in the same cell as this dude. That’s like hitting the jackpot in the casino seven times.” But the Washington State Patrol investigation found that protocols were followed and that “there is no evidence suggesting screening staff should have known about the conflict between Goldsby and Munger”. The report says part of the reasoning was that Goldsby and his sister don’t share the same last name. It also states that Goldsby made no attempt to be transferred out of the cell. Perhaps someone thought some swift justice was in order….
Tony Bennett has announced the cancellation of all his tour dates through the autumn and winter of 2021. The 95-year-old singer had scheduled concerts in states across the US, including New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Arizona and Oklahoma, as well as Canada. Speaking to Variety, Bennett’s son and manager Danny said: “There won’t be any additional concerts. This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors’ orders.” He added: “His continued health is the most important part of this. It’s not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling.” Earlier this year, Bennett publicly confirmed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease back in 2016. The musician had continued to perform, however, and last week sung at New York’s Radio City for a two-night stint with Lady Gaga. The concerts were filmed, with the recordings to be released at a later date. Bennett and Gaga also recently announced that they would be releasing a new album together, entitled Love for Sale. The forthcoming record follows a similar collaboration between the pair on the 2014 duet release Cheek to Cheek.
Christina Applegate revealed on August 10 that she has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The 49-year-old actress wrote on Twitter that she received her diagnosis “months ago,” calling her experience thus far a “strange journey” and “a tough road.” She also touched on her experience with the MS community, saying she’s been “so supported by people that who also have this condition.” One such supporter is actress Selma Blair — who was diagnosed with MS herself in 2017 and has shared many of her own experiences on social media and elsewhere. Blair tweeted, “Loving you always,” to Applegate after Applegate announced her diagnosis. In a second tweet, Applegate asked for privacy as she deals with her condition. In describing her health journey, she quoted a friend of hers who also has MS: “We wake up and take the indicated action.” Applegate faced another significant health issue in 2008, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, or surgery to remove both breasts. Her experience with breast cancer makes an appearance in the Netflix series Dead to Me, in which Applegate stars. She plays the role of Jen Harding, who has a preventive double mastectomy after her mother dies of breast cancer.
On This Day
- 1914 – A servant of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright murders seven people and sets fire to the living quarters of Wright’s Wisconsin home, Taliesin.
- 1939 – The Wizard of Oz premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
- 1941 – Corporal Josef Jakobs is executed by firing squad at the Tower of London at 07:12, making him the last person to be executed at the Tower for espionage.
- 1947 – India gains Independence from British rule after near 190 years of British company and crown rule, and joins the Commonwealth of Nations.
- 1952 – A flash flood drenches the town of Lynmouth, England, killing 34 people.
- 1963 – Execution of Henry John Burnett, the last man to be hanged in Scotland.
- 1969 – The Woodstock Music & Art Fair opens in upstate New York, featuring some of the top rock musicians of the era.
- 1977 – The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by Ohio State University as part of the SETI project, receives a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the “Wow! signal” from the notation made by a volunteer on the project.
- 1998 – The Troubles: The Omagh bombing takes place; 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) killed and some 220 others injured.
- 1057 – Macbeth, King of Scotland (b. 1005)
- 1967 – René Magritte, Belgian painter (b. 1898)
- 2020 – Robert Trump, American real-estate developer, business executive (b. 1948)
The Last Execution in The Tower of London
Josef Jakobs was a German spy and the last person to be executed at the Tower of London. He was captured shortly after parachuting into the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Convicted of espionage under the Treachery Act 1940, Jakobs was shot by a military firing squad. He was not hanged because he was captured as an enemy combatant.
Jakobs, who was a German citizen, was born in Luxembourg in 1898. During the First World War, he served in the German infantry, rising to the rank of Leutnant, in the 4th Foot Guards. In June 1940, ten months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Jakobs was drafted into the Wehrmacht as an Oberleutnant. However, when it was discovered that he had been imprisoned in Switzerland from 1934–37 for selling counterfeit gold, he was forced to resign his commission in the Wehrmacht. Jakobs was demoted to a Feldwebel and placed in the Meteorologischen Dienst (meteorological service) of the German Army. Shortly afterwards, he also began working for the Abwehr, the intelligence department of the German Army.
On 31st January 1941, Jakobs was flown from Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands to Ramsey in Huntingdonshire. He parachuted from the aircraft and landed in a field near Dove House Farm, but broke his ankle during the process. The following morning, Jakobs attracted the attention of two farmers, Charles Baldock and Harry Coulson, by firing his pistol into the air. Baldock and Coulson notified members of the local Home Guard, who quickly apprehended Jakobs. He was caught still wearing his flying suit and carrying £500 in British currency, forged identity papers, a radio transmitter and a German sausage.
On his person was also found a photo purportedly of his lover, a German cabaret singer and actress named Clara Bauerle, who became a spy because she had spent a few years performing in the West Midlands and could speak English with a Birmingham accent. Jakobs said Bauerle was meant to join him after he had made “radio contact,” but then doubted she would now be sent since he was arrested before he could communicate with his team. Bauerle’s whereabouts remained unknown for several decades, and it was theorised that she may have died under suspicious circumstances in England. In 2016, it was discovered that Bauerle had died in a Berlin hospital on 16th December 1942.
Jakobs was taken to Ramsey Police Station before being transferred to Cannon Row Police Station in London, where he gave a voluntary statement to Major T.A. Robertson of MI5. Due to the poor condition of his ankle, Jakobs was transferred to Brixton Prison Infirmary for the night. The following day he was briefly interrogated by Lieutenant Colonel Stephens of MI5 at Camp 020 before being transferred to Dulwich Hospital where he remained for the next two months.
Jakobs’ court martial took place in front of a military tribunal at the Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, London SW3, on 4–5th August 1941. The trial was held in camera because the German agent had been apprehended in a highly classified intelligence operation known as the Double Cross System. The British were aware that Jakobs was coming because his arrival information had been passed on to MI5 by the Welsh nationalist and Abwehr double agent Arthur Owens. After a two-day trial which involved hearing the testimony of eight witnesses, Jakobs was found guilty of spying and sentenced to death.
Jakobs’s execution took place at the miniature rifle range in the grounds of the Tower of London on 15th August 1941. He was tied and blindfolded in a brown Windsor chair. Eight soldiers from the Holding battalion of the Scots Guards, armed with .303 Lee–Enfields, took aim at a white cotton target, about matchbook size, pinned over Jakobs’ heart. The squad fired in unison at 7:12 a.m. after being given a silent signal from Lieutenant-Colonel C.R. Gerard (Deputy Provost Marshal for London District). Jakobs died instantly. A postmortem examination found that one bullet had hit Jakobs in the heart and the other four had been on or around the marked target area. As three members of the eight-man firing squad had been issued with blanks, only five live rounds were used.
He was the last person to be executed at the Tower of London.
Following the execution, Jakobs’ body was buried in an unmarked grave at St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, London. The location used for Jakobs’ grave has since been re-used, so the original grave site is difficult to find.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ben Affleck (49), Jennifer Lawrence (31), Natasha Henstridge (47), Debra Messing (53), Joe Jonas (32), Jim Dale (86), Tony Robinson (75), Mila Kunis (38), Steve Martin (76), Halle Berry (55), James Buckley (34), Joseph Marcell (73), Sebastian Stan (39), John Slattery (59), Cara Delevingne (29), Jim Beaver (71), Chris Hemsworth (38), Anna Gunn (53), Ian McDiarmid (77), Hulk Hogan (68), Antonio Banderas (61), Rosanna Arquette (62), Anna Kendrick (36), Ashley Johnson (38), Sam Elliott (77), Dan Levy (38), Gillian Anderson (53), Rhona Mitra (45), Eric Bana (53), Melanie Griffith (64), and Audrey Tautou (45).
Welcome to the ‘spot the celebrity edition’ of the Dead Pool Newsletter! Yup, some fairly unknown ‘stars’ have died this week, looks like this week is historically a quiet week too. Anyhow, plenty to read, and an Olympic special at the end too, as I like to be on point sometimes.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Bobby Eaton, 62, American professional wrestler (JCP, WCW, SMW).
- Terry Davies, 87, Welsh rugby union player (Swansea, British and Irish Lions, national team).
- Reg Gorman, 89, Australian actor (The Sullivans, Fergus McPhail, Neighbours), cancer.
- Brad Allan, 48, Australian martial artist, action choreographer, and stunt performer (Rush Hour 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Solo: A Star Wars Story).
- Markie Post, 70, American actress (Night Court, The Fall Guy, Hearts Afire), cancer.
- Dennis Thomas, 70, American saxophonist (Kool & the Gang).
- Carolyn S. Shoemaker, 92, American astronomer, co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9.
In Other News
Kathy Griffin has revealed she has cancer and is about to have half of her left lung removed. The American comedian made the announcement on Twitter on Monday. Griffin told her followers that doctors are “optimistic” the surgery will be a success as she was diagnosed with stage one cancer, which was “contained” to her left lung. “Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked!” she wrote. “Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing.” Griffin said that she “should be up and running around as usual in a month or less”, assuring her fans she is “gonna be just fine”. The actor and TV personality also said she was “fully vaccinated for Covid”, adding: “The consequences for being unvaccinated would have been even more serious.” She told her fans to “stay up to date” on medical checks as doing this “saved” her life. Following her announcement, Griffin’s fans sent love and best wishes to the comedian. Griffin’s comedy career began in the late 1980s, when she joined the Los Angeles improvisational troupe The Groundlings. She has led numerous standup specials for HBO and Bravo. Following her 16th special for bravo, she broke the world record for having the most number of television specials broadcast on a single network.
Former My 600lb Life star and TikTok dancer Gina Marie Krasley has died at the age of 30. The sad news was confirmed by her family, who shared that she died at her home in Tuckerton, New Jersey on August 1st. Their tribute went on to share her love of dancing and made reference to a movie role from when she was younger, but there was no mention of her time on the TLC reality show. It continued: ‘Born in Galloway, NJ, Gina has been a lifelong resident of Ocean County, living in Forked River, Barnegat and Tuckerton for the last 6 years. Her greatest passion was dancing and she would make up dances with her sister and kids in the neighbourhood growing up. She started the “dancing has no size limit” TikTok trend and she dreamed of one day opening up a dance studio for special needs children. Gina once appeared in a movie when she was younger called Walking to the Waterline and she enjoyed playing video games and spending time with her family.’ Her cause of death has not been shared. Krasley’s popularity on TikTok saw her amass over 200,000 followers on the video clip sharing platform, where she shared her dancing videos. According to reports, her death came just weeks after she revealed she was struggling with an unidentified illness that had left her fingers numb and her legs in pain, rendering her immobile. Krasely appeared on season eight of My 600lb Life, with her episode airing last January, as she sought help from bariatric doctor Younan Nowzaradan at his Texas clinic. During the show, she revealed that she had turned to comfort eating after struggling with the attention her older sister Ali received when she was diagnosed with agoraphobia at the age of 11. Krasely was seven-years-old at that time and by early high school weighed more than 300lbs, before later reaching over 600lbs.
Hugh Jackman, 52, took to social media to share a health update earlier this week. The Wolverine actor admitted he has had yet another skin biopsy after a cancer scan as he urged his followers to be vigilant. Posting a video on Twitter to his 14.5 million followers, Hugh shared the news. In the short clip, he could be seen wearing a mask which he then pulled down to show a plaster on his nose. He said: “Hey guys, I just want to let you know, I just went to see Lisa and Trevor, my amazing dermatologists and doctors. They saw something that was a little irregular, so they took a biopsy and they’re getting it checked. So if you see a shot of me with this on, do not freak out. Thanks for being concerned, I’ll let you know what’s going on. But they think it’s probably fine.” He then added: “Just remember, go get it checked and wear sunscreen. Hugh has previously undergone treatment for basal cell carcinoma in 2017. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and arises from the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells.
The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has had to undergo a procedure this week which was “completely successful”, but has unfortunately left him unable to take part in the band’s upcoming tour in America. The musician, who turned 80 in June, stepped down on the advice of his doctors, revealing that his recuperation may “take a while”. In order to avoid delaying the tour any further, Charlie has asked musician Steve Jordan to replace him. “For once, my timing has been a little off,” Charlie said of the disappointing news. Earlier this morning, the band announced that the tour, which was previously postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will still go ahead. Their official Twitter account wished Charlie a “speedy recovery” and shared further details. “We’re sure you’ll all join us in wishing Charlie a speedy recovery,” the band tweeted, in view of their 3.4 million followers. All 2021 tour dates will go ahead as planned,” the caption continued alongside a statement. “Charlie has had a procedure this week which was completely successful, but I gather his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation. With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it’s very disappointing to say the least, but it’s also fair to say no one saw this coming,” a spokesman for the drummer said. Charlie added: “I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.
Val Kilmer’s children have given an update on their father’s recovery from throat cancer, calling the process ‘gruelling’. The 61-year-old actor was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2015, after a tumour burst, and later got two tracheotomies, which affect his ability to speak clearly. In 2017, Kilmer said he had experienced ‘a healing of cancer’, and last year shared that he had been cancer-free for four years after his tracheotomies and chemotherapy. His children Mercedes and Jack appeared on TV to promote their dad’s new documentary Val, and shared that the Top Gun star is recovering well. Mercedes, 29, said: ‘He’s doing well. He’s still recovering. The recovery process is just as gruelling as the actual disease.’ When asked who had been supporting Kilmer throughout his illness, Jack, 26, said: ‘Everyone has been so supportive; it makes me so emotional. It’s really beautiful to see people come together.’ Mercedes and Jack, who Kilmer shares with his ex-wife Joanne Whalley, have been promoting the Amazon Prime Video movie Val on behalf of their father, saying their dad was at the premiere ‘in spirit’. The movie follows the personal and professional life of Kilmer through hundreds of hours of home movies and footage, which the star recorded over the years. Mercedes said: ‘He always has been ahead of the curve. He’s always had this need to document things. My dad’s been making this movie for 50 years.’ Kilmer is heard using a voice box to speak in the movie, with the Batman Forever star admitting: ‘I’m still recovering, and it’s difficult to talk and be understood.’
On This Day
- 1908 – Wilbur Wright makes his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It is the Wright Brothers’ first public flight.
- 1963 – Great Train Robbery: In England, a gang of 15 train robbers steal £2.6 million in bank notes.
- 1969 – At a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the iconic photo that becomes the cover image of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.
- 1974 – President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the office of the President of the United States effective noon the next day.
- 1988 – Alan Napier, English actor (b. 1903)
- 2004 – Fay Wray, Canadian-American actress (b. 1907)
- 2017 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1936)
The Deadly Olympics
At the modern Olympic Games, up to and including the 2016 Summer Paralympics, 10 athletes have died while either competing in or practicing their sport. In addition, another 14 participants have died at the Olympics from other causes; 11 of these deaths resulted from the Munich massacre of 1972.
Several incidents related to the Olympics have caused the death of non-participants. Large numbers were killed during the Lima football riot of 1964 and the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City in 1968. The Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Games caused two deaths.
However, only three competitors have actually died during their event.
- Francisco Lázaro (21), Portugal – Runner – 1912, Stockholm – electrolyte imbalance/overheating. Like all the Olympic athletes of his time, Lázaro was an amateur sportsman, and his actual job was as a carpenter in an automobile factory in Lisbon. Lázaro was the first athlete to die during a modern Olympic event, after collapsing at the 30-kilometer mark (19 miles) of the marathon with a body temperature of 41 °C. The cause of death was initially thought to be severe dehydration due to the high temperature registered at the time of the race. Later it was discovered that Lázaro had covered large portions of his body with suet to prevent sunburn and to help with speed and lightness while running; but eventually the wax restricted the athlete’s natural perspiration, leading to a fatal body fluid electrolytic imbalance. Before the race, he had supposedly said: “Either I win or I die.”
- Knud Enemark Jensen (23), Denmark – Cyclist – 1960, Rome – heat stroke. One of the four-man Danish team, Jorgen B. Jorgensen, dropped out of the race due to sunstroke after the first lap, necessitating that all three remaining Danish cyclists finish the race for the team not to be disqualified. Jensen told his teammates that he felt dizzy. Niels Baunsøe clutched his jersey, keeping him from falling, while Vagn Bangsborg held Jensen from the other side. Bangsborg sprayed Jensen with water, leading to an apparent improvement, but when Baunsøe let go, Jensen collapsed and fractured his skull on the pavement.The Olympic 100 km team time trial road race was held in over 40-degree heat on Viale Cristoforo Colombo in Rome. Jensen was brought by ambulance to an overheated military tent near the finish line, where he died that afternoon without regaining consciousness.
Also during the Paralympics
- Bahman Golbarnezhad (48), Iran – Cyclist – 2016, Rio de Janeiro – cardiac arrest following crash. During the men’s C4-5 road cycling event on 17 September 2016 at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, Golbarnezhad suffered a head injury during a collision with a rock on a mountainous stretch of the circuit in Pontal. Golbarnezhad was treated on-site, and was in the process of being transported to the athletes’ hospital when he died from a cardiac arrest.
During Olympic practice or after Olympic competition
- Edmond Brassart, (30), France – Fencer – 1900, Paris – Brassard was killed alongside three others in the collapse of the Passerelle des Invalides, a temporary bridge built for the Exposition Universelle de 1900. This occurred two months after he participated in the Olympic Games but also two months before the Games concluded.
- Nicolae Berechet (20), Romania – Boxer – 1936, Berlin – Berechet died three days after losing his bout against Evald Seeberg. His death was officially recorded as being due to blood poisoning, but it has been suggested that damage caused in the fight may have been a factor in his death.
- Ignaz Stiefsohn, Austria – Gliding (demonstration event) – 1936, Berlin – killed when his glider crashed during practice.
- Ross Milne (19), Australia – Downhill Skiing – 1964, Innsbruck – Ski collision in practice.
- Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki, Britain – Luge – 1964, Innsbruck – Luge crash in practice two weeks before the Games.
- Nicolas Bochatay (27), Switzerland – Speed Skiing (demonstration sport) – 1992, Albertville – collided with a snow machine in practice.
- Hyginus Anugo (22), Nigeria – 4 × 400 metres relay reserve – 2000, Sydney – struck by a vehicle while training.
- Nodar Kumaritashvili (21), Georgia – Luge – 2010, Vancouver – Luge crash in practice.
Other Olympic deaths
London 1948 – In 1948, during the London Olympics, Eliška Misáková, one of nine members of the Czechoslovak women’s team in gymnastics, became ill on arrival in the host city. Diagnosed with polio, she died on the last day of the Olympics, the same day her remaining teammates won the competition.
Melbourne 1956 – Arrigo Menicocci, Italian rower who competed in eights, was killed as a passenger in a car crash about 90 km northwest of Melbourne during the Olympics on 1st December 1956, four days after the end of the rowing competition.
Munich 1972 – In 1972, during the Munich Olympics, 11 members of the Israeli team were killed during a terrorist attack by Palestinian terrorists called Black September. The 11 Israeli Olympic Team members who were murdered in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich are:
- Mark Slavin, 18, Wrestler
- Eliezer Halfin, 24, Wrestler
- David Mark Berger, 28, Weightlifter
- Ze’ev Friedman, 28, Weightlifter
- Yossef Romano, 32, Weightlifter
- Andre Spitzer, 27, Fencing coach
- Moshe Weinberg, 33, Wrestling coach
- Yossef Gutfreund, 40, Wrestling referee
- Amitzur Shapira, 40, Track and field coach
- Yakov Springer, 51, Weightlifting judge
- Kehat Shorr, 53, Shooting coach
Calgary 1988 – Between the morning and afternoon runs of the men’s giant slalom, Jörg Oberhammer, 47, the Austrian team doctor, was skiing on a recreational slope when he collided with another skier (a CTV technician) and was knocked under a snow-grooming machine, which crushed him instantly.
Deaths of non-participants at Olympic-related events
Lima 1964 – In a qualifying match for the Olympic football tournament, home fans began rioting after a late Peru goal was disallowed. Police fired tear gas into the crowd, exacerbating the situation, which ended with 318 deaths.
Mexico 1968 – The Mexico 68 protests were part of a worldwide series of leftwing student-led protests. While the protesting National Strike Council claimed not to link its demands to the Olympics, some students protested at the perceived extravagance of hosting the games, and some sought to exploit the increased foreign media presence in the city for publicity. The authoritarian government had a secret “Olympia Battalion” to ensure security during the Games. Ten days before the games, the unit swept through a mass meeting in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas making arrests. Estimates of the number killed in the operation range from thirty to several hundred.
Munich 1972 – In addition to the 11 Israeli Olympic Team members that died, West German police officer Anton Fliegerbauer and five Palestinian terrorists were killed during a shootout. Carmel Eliash, cousin of Moshe Weinberg, died of a heart attack during the public memorial service the following day.
Atlanta 1996 (Olympic Park Bombing) – On 27th July 1996 (the eighth day of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games), a bomb exploded at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killing two and wounding over 100 people.
Athens 2004 Paralympics – Seven teenagers from Farkadona were killed in a crash whilst travelling to Athens for the Games, when their bus collided with a truck near the town of Kamena Vourla. Out of respect for their death, the cultural portion of the closing ceremonies of these Paralympics was cancelled.
Beijing 2008 – A Hong Kong Police motorcyclist was on a VIP escort to Sheung Yue River for 2008 Olympic Equestrian events and was killed en-route in a traffic collision.
London 2012 – On 1st August 2012, a special bus carrying media from the London Olympic Park was involved in a collision in which a cyclist was killed.
Rio de Janeiro 2016 – German Olympic coach Stefan Henze died on 15th August 2016 after his taxi was hit in a high-speed head-on collision in Rio.
But which is the deadliest Olympic Sport? Despite the clear risks involved in sports like pole vaulting, javelin or boxing, surprisingly they are much safer than some sports. However, injuries are frequent. Gymnastics isn’t just captivating and beautiful to watch, it can be life-threatening to the Olympians performing. “In our sport, we essentially dive into a pool with no water,” former Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceano said. “When you lose your ability to find the ground … the consequences can be catastrophic.” But such occurrences are very rare.
At the end of the 2008 Olympics, over 1,000 injuries had been reported. The events associated with the most injuries were football, taekwondo, and hockey. In 2016, 38% of BMX cyclists suffered injuries, compared to 8% of Olympians overall. I suppose a sport that requires competitors to propel off a hill before riding over jumps and tight corners at as high as 37 miles per hour is bound to have a few sprains!
For the ones of you who like equestrian events, less than 5% of equestrian athletes suffer injuries, putting it toward the bottom of the risky list — well behind badminton and handball. But when accidents happen with a 1,200-pound animal galloping, weaving, and jumping more than 20 miles per hour, they can lead to permanent injury. Less than 3% of Olympic rowers, shooters, archers, swimmers, golfers, and table tennis players got injured. And such injuries are medically minor, like a nerve issue in a finger or an overuse injury in a golfer.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dustin Hoffman (84), Keith Carradine (72), Charlize Theron (46), Abbie Cornish (39), Michael Shannon (47), David Duchovny (61), Tobin Bell (79), John Glover (77), Cirroc Lofton (43), M. Night Shyamalan (51), Michelle Yeoh (59), Mark Strong (58), Loni Anderson (76), Kara Tointon (38), Meghan Markle (40), Billy Bob Thornton (66), Sebastian Roché (57), Barack Obama (60), Evangeline Lilly (42), Stephen Graham (48), Martin Sheen (81), John C. McGinley (62), Michael Ealy (48), Mamie Gummer (38), Steven Berkoff (84), John Landis (71), Kevin Smith (51), Edward Furlong (44), and Sam Worthington (45).
This week we could almost make up a band with those who have died. However, we have a world first in the news section, an actual video on the Dead Pool Newsletter! You heard right, a bloody video! Quick shout out to Nickie once again for finding loads of stories recently, makes editing the newsletter really easy 🙂
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dieter Brummer, 45, Australian actor (Home and Away, Neighbours, Underbelly: The Golden Mile).
- Rick Aiello, 65, American actor (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Do the Right Thing, The Sopranos), pancreatic cancer.
- Mike Howe, 55, American heavy metal singer (Metal Church, Heretic).
- Joey Jordison, 46, American musician & drummer (Slipknot, Murderdolls, Sinsaenum).
- Lee Man Tat, 91, Hong Kong food manufacturer, chairman of Lee Kum Kee.
- Mo Hayder, 59, British author (Birdman, The Treatment, Pig Island), complications from motor neurone disease.
- Dusty Hill, 72, American Hall of Fame musician (ZZ Top) and songwriter (“Tush“).
In Other News
If you remember, we covered the death of a last tribesman by Covid back in March, just so happens there’s more than one last tribe!!! Karapiru Awá Guajá had survived a massacre that killed most of his family in the Brazilian Amazon and lived for 10 years alone in the forest, but he could not escape the pandemic. Karapiru, one of the last of the hunter-gatherer nomadic Awá of Maranhão state, died of Covid-19 earlier this month. With only 300 Awá thought to remain, they have been called the “earth’s most threatened tribe”. In the 1970’s, Karapiru lost almost everyone he knew in a genocidal attack on his tribe by settlers. His wife, daughter, siblings and other family members were killed, and he was shot in the back. But his resilience became a source of inspiration for activists working to protect indigenous and un-contacted peoples. Awá lands have been under attack since the discovery of iron ore in the late 1960’s. Skilled archers, the Awá live scattered in family groups over a large area, and travel at night using torches made from tree resin. Many have had no contact with the outside world. Karapiru was estimated to be 75 when he died. The Indigenist Missionary Council a Catholic NGO working with indigenous peoples, reported his death as “a victim of Covid-19”, despite him having had the Covid vaccine. Fiona Watson, research director at Survival International, first met Karapiru in 1992. “I just thought I cannot believe this man survived on his own for 10 years, not speaking to anybody,” she says. “He spoke so quietly, he whispered, that really struck me because I thought, of course, he’s had to become invisible in order to survive. He started talking and smiling, and I thought how is he not more traumatised? He knew I wasn’t [an enemy], he had no rancour, no bitterness. That astounded me. That magnanimity. What an extraordinary human being, to be able to sort of forgive people in a way and to be able to carry on your life.”
Bob Odenkirk has collapsed on the New Mexico set of Better Call Saul and is in hospital. The actor was filming a scene when he “went down, and was immediately surrounded by crew members who called an ambulance.” Odenkirk is suspected to have suffered a heart related incident on Tuesday while filming but is now in a stable condition. His son has issued a statement saying he will make a full recovery. But while the circumstances around his collapse are unknown, anti-vaxxers have decided to blame the coronavirus vaccine. An article by right-wing Big League Politics used the misleading headline: “Better Call Saul Star Bob Odenkirk collapses on set after receiving experimental Covid-19 vaccine.” Odenkirk announced he had got the jab four months ago. Side effects are rare and are more likely to include a “sore arm” or “headache” – as per the NHS website. These effects occur in the first week of getting the jab, if at all, not four months later. But this has not stopped those who wish to discredit the vaccine. It is not the first time there have been unfounded conspiracies about the vaccine. Anti-vaxxers have also claimed the jab makes them magnetic!!!!
An entitled Ruby Rose has posted a tearful video to fans, revealing that it took her hours to get accepted into an emergency room after she had complications from surgery. The Orange is the New Black star said that “I did have a procedure and I had to have surgery, but it was fine and the surgery went well. But then I had a few complications and I had to go to the emergency room to go to the hospital.” She said that she “called an ambulance and it took hours to find a hospital that would be able to take me or anyone”. Rose began to cry as she told fans emergency rooms were “rejecting taking people and I… and my case was quite serious”. The Australian actress said she believes the difficulty getting into hospital was due to the pandemic. “Please stay safe, try to keep everyone safe. Get vaccinated if you can, please,” she said. “It’s just… it doesn’t need to be this hard for everyone and I just can’t imagine all the other people that are having way more, way, way more serious situations happening right now.” Rose did not disclose what procedure she had originally had that led to complications, but we suspect it was dramatitis.…
A Scottish climber has reportedly died in an avalanche on K2 – the world’s most dangerous mountain – as he attempted to take a new route to the summit. Rick Allen, from Aberdeen, was attempting to climb the world’s second highest mountain to raise money for the Partners Relief And Development charity. But according to reports from the base camp in Pakistan, the 68-year-old was caught in an avalanche on the mountain’s south-east face. His two climbing partners, Jordi Tosas of Spain and Stephan Keck of Austria, were reportedly rescued without major injuries. The death has not been officially confirmed but a Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘The British High Commission in Islamabad is aware of reports that a British citizen has died climbing K2 and stands ready to assist.’ Sadly, if donations equal his life’s worth, the fundraising effort had only received £170 of the £10,000 target at the time his death was reported. Mr Allen had previously been presumed dead in 2018 after falling from an ice cliff during a solo climb to the summit of Pakistan’s Broad Peak that, at 8,047m, is the 12th highest mountain on Earth. However, his rucksack was eventually spotted by a cook at the mountain’s base camp before a drone was used to locate him and to guide rescuers to his location. K2 is considered to be the world’s most dangerous mountain as it has a fatality rate of around 25 per cent compared to just 6.5 per cent on Everest, which is considerably more than Mount Snowdon in Wales, as rescuers say two women are “very lucky” to be alive after they were hit by lightning on the summit. The pair were in a five-strong group by its 3,560ft peak when they were struck on Wednesday afternoon. The Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team were called out by North Wales Police to help rescue them. The team said one woman “was falling in and out of consciousness”, while the other had minor injuries. Both women were evacuated from the summit to a lower slope, before a coastguard helicopter took them to hospital in Bangor, Gwynedd. Rescuers said neither woman had sustained life-threatening injuries. The rest of their group, which had been visiting north Wales, were “clearly shocked but otherwise uninjured”, said rescue co-ordinator Phil Benbow without a hint of irony. He added: “The advice generally is don’t be on the top of a mountain when thunder and lightning is about.” No shit Sherlock!
And finally, a tweet this week by @ScarredForLife2 went viral for correctly stating that the life expectancy of a character in a public information film was roughly 4.3 seconds, and had this video to prove it! For those of us who don’t remember, or who might be too young, public information films were a series of government-commissioned short films, shown during television advertising breaks in the United Kingdom. They were common place in the 1950’s until the 2000’s however became obsolete with the closure of the Central Office Of Information. The films advised the general public on what to do in a multitude of situations, ranging from crossing the road to surviving a nuclear attack!! Many of these films were aimed at children and were shown during breaks in children’s programmes during holidays and at weekends. Many of them involved or were narrated by celebrities of the day, which included the likes of David Prowse, Donald Pleasance, John Hurt and Jimmy Savile. Some of the more memorable films included the Charley Says animated series which advised children on the various dangers they might encounter in their daily lives, interestingly, Charley’s growls were voiced by none other than Kenny Everett. You might also remember Clunk Click Every Trip and the ever frightening AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance, which stopped a generation of kids from having sex forevermore!
On This Day
- 1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen, prior to this everyone suffocated at birth.
- 1834 – Slavery is abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force.
- 1893 – Henry Perky patents Shredded Wheat. Quite a feat to make straw a breakfast staple.
- 1965 – Frank Herbert‘s novel, Dune was published for the first time.
- 1976 – Niki Lauda has a severe accident that almost claims his life at the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring..
- 1981 – MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
- 30 BC – Mark Antony, Roman general and politician (b. 83 BC)
- 1903 – Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman and scout (b. 1853)
- 2013 – John Amis, English journalist and critic (b. 1922)
- 2014 – Mike Smith, English radio and television host (b. 1955)
- 2015 – Cilla Black, English singer and actress (b. 1943)
The famous Tollund Man ate a modest but nutritious meal before being hanged around 400 BC, a new study reveals. Scientists have re-examined the last meal of the famous Tollund Man, a naturally mummified corpse found in a bog on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark in 1950. The new analysis reveals that he likely ate an Iron Age meal of fish and porridge packed with seeds, consumed sometime between 12 and 24 hours before his death.
Although it sounds fairly ordinary, threshing waste containing the wild seeds was used as an ingredient in the porridge, which is suggestive of ritual practices. They also found Tollund Man had several parasitic infections – likely because he consumed undercooked meat and contaminated water at some point prior to death.
Tollund Man is a bog body – meaning it’s been incredibly well-preserved over more than 2,000 years in the unique conditions of a natural peat bog. Previous research has determined his cause of death as murder by hanging for unknown reasons before his body was placed in the bog. Tollund Man may have been a criminal or was possibly even sacrificed as part of a ritual practice ‘to keep the gods satisfied’. Tollund Man’s gut contents had been analysed forensically when he was discovered in 1950, uncovering traces of cereals and wild plants. When Tollund Man was autopsied in 1950, his intestines were still preserved, and the alimentary canal from the stomach to anus was removed in one piece with its contents still in place.
Now, experts from Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, say they have been able to reconstruct the last meal of Tollund Man in greater detail than ever before – right down to how it was prepared. The researchers used a few millilitres of material from the large intestine for analyses to give the ‘most detailed study’ yet on the gut contents of a bog body.
‘Since knowledge of plant macro-fossils and the methods for analysing gut contents have improved greatly since 1950, we decided to re-investigate the gut contents of Tollund Man,’ said study author Dr Nina H. Nielsen from Museum Silkeborg.
‘In this way, we get very close to a specific situation in the past – you can almost imagine how they were sitting by the fireplace preparing the barley porridge and the fish.
‘We can now pretty much reconstruct the recipe of the last meal of Tollund Man.
Porridge was likely a typical dish in Iron Age northern Europe, and fish was also eaten in this period, although it did not make up a substantial part of the diet. His last meal was cooked in a clay pot, likely using water from a lake or bog, according to the experts.
His ‘quite nutritious’ porridge consisted of barley, flax seeds, pale persicaria seeds and other seeds in ‘negligible amounts’, including gold-of-pleasure seeds. Seeds of Pale persicaria – which grew as a weed – were likely removed as grain was cleaned during threshing and collected along with the grain. The use of threshing waste containing pale persicaria in the porridge could be connected to the human sacrifice ritual, or it might have been part of ordinary Iron Age cooking.
‘As for now, we don’t know whether the use of threshing waste in the Iron Age cuisine was normal practice or whether this ingredient was only used at special occasions like human sacrifices,’ said Dr Nielsen. Threshing waste has also before been found in the Grauballe Man, found in a peat bog near the village of Grauballe in Jutland, Denmark. Together, the plant ingredients alone provided nearly half of the daily caloric intake for a person with limited physical activity. Traces of a further 20 plant species were also found in the guts, but they made up less than 1 per cent and were probably not an intentional part of the meal. As well as the seeds, threshing waste including sand, charcoal and other detritus seems to have been used as an ingredient in the porridge.
Eggs from whipworm, mawworm and tapeworm were common in the gut contents of Tollund Man and show that he was infected by intestinal parasites. Whipworm and mawworm have previously been found in several bog bodies, but it is the first time that tapeworm is reported. The most likely cause of the tapeworm infection was that Tollund Man at some point had consumed raw or undercooked meat infected with tapeworm cysts. The infestations of whipworm and mawworm reflect poor hygiene, as these are transmitted by eggs present in human faeces, which contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor. The researchers claim their study ‘shows that it can be beneficial to re-analyse bog body gut contents’ to reveal secrets of the past. Because of their exceptionally good preservation, bog bodies can provide detailed insights into how the people looked, dressed and died, as well as their last meal, their health and where they lived.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jason Momoa (42), Adrian Dunbar (63), Michael Biehn (65), Wesley Snipes (59), Emilia Fox (47), Dean Cain (55), Christopher Nolan (51), Arnold Schwarzenegger (74), Jaime Pressly (44), Hilary Swank (47), Laurence Fishburne (60), Frances de la Tour (77), Terry Crews (53), Lisa Kudrow (58), Jean Reno (73), Carel Struycken (73), Sian Gibson (45), Wil Wheaton (49), Stephen Dorff (48), David Warner (80), Elizabeth Berkley (49), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (44), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (51), Taylor Schilling (37), Donnie Yen (58), Kate Beckinsale (48), Jason Statham (54), Sandra Bullock (57), Helen Mirren (76), Kevin Spacey (62), Nana Visitor (64), Eve Myles (43), and Mick Jagger (78).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mary Ward, 106, Australian actress (Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, Neighbours).
- John Cornell, 80, Australian film producer, writer (Crocodile Dundee, Crocodile Dundee II) and actor (The Paul Hogan Show), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Rodney Alcala, 77, American serial killer.
- Jackie Mason, 93, American comedian and actor (The Simpsons, The Jerk, Caddyshack II).
In Other News
Former Good Morning Britain anchor, Piers Morgan has admitted that he has become one of the latest confirmed cases of coronavirus. It comes following the presenter’s trip to Wembley Stadium with his three sons. The 56-year-old believes he caught the Delta variant after heading to Wembley two weeks ago for the Euro 2020 final, that saw Italy take home the prestigious trophy. Over the past year, Piers has been perhaps one of the government’s most outspoken critics and policies. The journalist frequently attacked the government who refused to be questioned on Good Morning Britain during the height of the pandemic. Now, despite being double vaccinated, Piers has revealed the true extent of his symptoms. In order to attend the match, football fans had to provide proof that they were either double vaccinated or produce a negative test result. However, Piers claims he started to feel unwell just two days after the match, while at his home in Sussex. After taking a lateral flow test that displayed a positive result, he later took a PCR test, confirming that he was in fact positive, four days after the match. Writing in his column, Piers penned: “As I’m sure everyone who gets it feels, it’s a strange, disquieting moment to know I have this killer virus inside me.” Piers’ symptoms included a fever, cold sweats, coughing, sneezing, “strange aches” and “alarming” chest pains. He went on to write: “And my voice now sounds like Barry White, though I couldn’t feel less like a Walrus of Love. “This is definitely the roughest I’ve felt from any illness in my adult life, BUT, as I slowly come out the other side, coughing and spluttering. I’m still here – unlike so many millions around the world who’ve lost their lives to Covid in this pandemic.”
A swan believed to be the UK’s oldest has died at the age of thirty. Pickles the whooper swan, or common swan, was described as a “massive character”. He was born in early June 1991, although his precise hatching date is unknown. Staff at Leeds Castle in Kent, where he was often seen on the moat, designated 3 June as Pickles Day, serving him a special swan-friendly cake last month. There are 19 captive-bred swans in the grounds of the castle, including mute swans, trumpeter swans and black swans. “Fly high, Pickles, fly high,” the castle tweeted. “Pickles was much loved by everyone. We celebrated his birthday with his favourite seed cake recently and he enjoyed the media attention he got! It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pickles the swan, who passed away yesterday,” said Mark Brattle, the castle’s falconry and wildlife manager. “Pickles the whooper swan was a massive character at the castle and will be missed by staff and visitors alike. The falconry and wildlife team would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support.” Whooper swans, which can grow to 5ft 3in in length, generally live to about ten in the wild, but have previously been known to reach their late twenties in captivity.
Chris Packham has revealed that he wants his ashes to be mixed with his two dogs Itchy and Scratchy, so they can be spread among the trees where they loved to play. Growing up with an animal can influence your choice of pet in the future, and for Chris Packham, 60, it was dogs – all of which were poodles. The nature presenter has had seven four legged friends over the years, to which he formed unique bonds with. And in a new interview, the Springwatch host admitted when he dies, he wants his ashes mixed with that of two of his poodles, Itchy and Scratchy, who saved him while he was in an extremely dark point in his life. Speaking of his love for the animals, he revealed his first dog Max died in 1995 and he didn’t get another until 2001, due to work commitments and general life changes. “My partner at the time was so bored with listening to stories about Max that she got me another dog, Fish, for my 40th birthday,” he said. But tragedy struck after the pooch was sadly hit by a car when he was a year old and died in his arms. “The suddenness and the shock was really damaging, and because of that six-year gap, I’d fallen in love with Fish more quickly,” Chris admitted. “I fell into a deep and intense depression, into a dark place where everything seemed to fall apart.” Seven years later, Itchy and Scratchy joined the family, but Chris admitted they weren’t an “instant fix”, instead they were something for him to “connect to”. “Itchy and Scratchy were there in my darkest moments — if they hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here to write this,” he confessed the harrowing truth. And because of Fish’s awful fate, Chris’ growing concern for Itchy and Scratchy’s safety became his priority. “It got to a point where everyone could see we were three organisms umbilically linked,” he explained. When they got ill, the presenter decided to avoid any intolerable suffering and euthanise them. “It seemed obvious to me,” he shrugged. “When I die, I’ll be cremated and my ashes will be mixed with Itchy and Scratchy, and scattered by a particular tree. He now has two new poodles called Sid and Nancy, which he got in 2020. Both Sid & Nancy are crossing their paws in hope that Peckham lives a few more years as they don’t fancy being cremated alive with the wildlife presenter.
On This Day
- 1797 – Horatio Nelson loses more than 300 men and his right arm during the failed conquest attempt of Tenerife.
- 1965 – Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival, signalling a major change in folk and rock music and people lo9se their fucking minds!
- 1978 – Birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilisation, or IVF.
- 1984 – Salyut 7 cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to perform a spacewalk.
- 2000 – Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, killing 113 people.
- 1834 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English philosopher, poet, and critic (b. 1772).
- 1843 – Charles Macintosh, Scottish chemist and engineer (b. 1766).
- 2009 – Harry Patch, English soldier (b. 1898).
Edward Mordake is the apocryphal subject of an urban legend who was, according to the legend, born in the 19th century as the heir to an English peerage. Mordrake (originally spelled Mordake) was a young, intelligent, and good-looking English nobleman, as well as a “musician of rare ability.” But with all of his great blessings came a terrible curse. In addition to his handsome, normal face, Mordrake had a terrifying second face on the back of his head. According to legend, the face could whisper, grab objects, laugh or cry. The second face was said to be as “lovely as a dream, hideous as a devil.” This strange visage also possessed an intelligence “of a malignant sort.” Whenever Mordrake cried, the second face would “smile and sneer.”
Mordrake was constantly plagued by his “devil twin,” which kept him up all night whispering “such things as they only speak of in hell.” The young nobleman was eventually driven mad and took his own life at the age of 23, leaving behind a note ordering that the evil face should be destroyed after his death, “lest it continues its dreadful whispering in my grave.”
This story of the man with two faces spread like wildfire across America. On December 8, 1895, the Boston Sunday Post published an article titled “The Wonders of Modern Science.” This article presented reports from the so-called “Royal Scientific Society,” which documented the existence of “human freaks.” The public clamoured for more details about Mordrake, and even medical professionals approached the story without a hint of scepticism.
In 1896, American doctors George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle included the Mordrake story in their book Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine — a collection of peculiar medical cases. Although Gould and Pyle were legitimate ophthalmologists with successful medical practices, they were also quite gullible in at least this one case. Because as it turned out, the story of Edward Mordrake was fake.
As Alex Boese’s blog Museum of Hoaxes diligently deduced, the author of the original Post article, Charles Lotin Hildreth, was a poet and science-fiction writer. His stories tended toward the fantastical and other-worldly, as opposed to articles based in reality.
Of course, just because someone usually writes fiction doesn’t mean that every single thing they write is fictional. Still, there are many clues that suggest that the Mordrake story is completely made up.
For one, Hildreth’s article cites the “Royal Scientific Society” as its source for its numerous bizarre medical cases, but an organisation by that name didn’t exist in the 19th century.
The Royal Society of London was a centuries-old scientific institution, but there was no organisation that was both “Royal” and “Scientific” by name in the Western world. However, this name might’ve sounded believable to people who didn’t live in England — which may explain why so many Americans fell for the story of the man with two faces. Or perhaps Americans are just stupid.
Secondly, Hildreth’s article appears to be the first time any of the medical cases he describes have ever appeared in any literature, scientific or otherwise. The Royal Society of London’s entire database is searchable online, and Boese wasn’t able to find any of Hildreth’s anomalies in its archives — from the Norfolk Spider (a human head with six hairy legs) to the Fish Woman of Lincoln (a mermaid-type creature).
“When we realise this,” Boese wrote, “that’s when it becomes apparent that Hildreth’s article was fiction. All of it sprang from his imagination, including Edward Mordake.”
As one might imagine, many newspapers in the late 19th century weren’t held to the same editorial standards as they are today. While they were still vital sources of information and entertainment, they were also filled with fictional tales that were presented as if they were nonfiction.
Ultimately, Hildreth’s story about a man with two faces wasn’t necessarily irresponsible journalism. It was simply a tale written convincingly enough to trick a couple of doctors — and to endure in the public imagination for more than a century. Hildreth died mere months after his article was published, so he never got to see just how quickly Americans were fooled by his wild creativity.
Edward Mordrake’s story experienced a recent resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to the TV series American Horror Story.
The show rehashes the basics of the urban legend, although the television incarnation of Mordrake is driven to murder as well as suicide. The writers must have taken a great deal of inspiration from the original Boston Sunday Post article, since the lobster boy also makes an appearance in the show.
Lest modern readers think they are so much wiser than their Victorian fore-bearers that they would never be taken in by such an absurd tale, a photo supposedly depicting the remains of Mordrake’s head went viral in 2018.
This is not the first time a photo of the cursed nobleman has seized the public’s attention. But like all of the others, it is far from authentic.
The gruesome Janus-like skull is, in fact, just a papier-mâché artist’s imagining of what Edward Mordrake might have looked like if he existed. The artist has even gone on record stating it was created entirely for entertainment purposes. Another famous photo that is often mistakenly labelled as authentic is the work of a different artist who used wax.
Of course, even the most fantastical stories do contain at least a small grain of truth. The medical condition known as “craniofacial duplication” — the result of an abnormal protein expression — can cause the facial features of an embryo to be duplicated.
The condition is extremely rare and usually lethal, although there are a few recent documented cases of infants who managed to survive a short time with this mutation. For instance, Lali Singh was born with the condition in India in 2008.
Though Singh sadly didn’t live long, she was not believed to be cursed like Edward Mordrake. In fact, residents of her village thought that she was an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga, who is traditionally portrayed with multiple limbs.
After the poor baby Lali died when she was only a few months old, the villagers constructed a temple in her honour.
As for Edward Mordrake, his story continues to shock – and fool – people today. Even though the man himself never existed, the tale remains an enduring urban legend that will likely raise eyebrows for years to come.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Matt LeBlanc (54), D.B. Woodside (52), Iman (66), Rose Byrne (42), Elisabeth Moss (39), Anna Paquin (39), Summer Glau (40), Jennifer Lopez (52), Lynda Carter (70), Danny Dyer (44), Daniel Radcliffe (32), Kathryn Hahn (48), Woody Harrelson (60), Charisma Carpenter (51), Ronny Cox (83), Willem Dafoe (66), Selena Gomez (29), Terence Stamp (83), Rhys Ifans (54), Danny Glover (75), Louise Fletcher (87), Colin Ferguson (49), Josh Hartnett (43), Lance Guest (61), Paloma Faith (40), John Woodvine (92), Sandra Oh (50), John Francis Daley (36), Dean Winters (57), Julian Rhind-Tutt (53), Gisele Bündchen (41), Benedict Cumberbatch (45), and Jared Padalecki (39).