Here are some of those who were mourned during the past 12 months.
Sidney Poitier: The Bahamian-American Hollywood star, known for films including In the Heat of the Night, Blackboard Jungle and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, died aged 94. He was the first Black man to win the Oscar for best actor and US president Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey were among those who paid tribute to the “trailblazing” actor.
Meat Loaf: The American singer, known for hits such as “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” died at the age of 74. Meat Loaf, who was born Marvin Lee Aday but was also known as Michael, sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and starred in more than 65 movies during his career which spanned six decades.
Barry Cryer: The veteran comedy writer and performer died aged 86 following a seven-decade career which saw him appear on stage, screen and radio. He penned jokes for legends of British comedy including Ronnie Barker, Ronnie Corbett, Sir Billy Connolly and Tommy Cooper and had a long-running partnership with Sir David Frost, with their collaborations including BBC’s The Frost Report.
Ivan Reitman: The influential filmmaker and producer behind beloved comedies from Animal House to Ghostbusters died aged 75. He also directed the 1979 summer camp flick Meatballs and a number of films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger including Twins, Kindergarten Cop and Junior.
William Hurt: The actor, who starred as General Thaddeus Ross in several instalments of the Marvel Comic Universe, died aged 71. He also won the best actor Oscar and Bafta for Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1985 and was nominated for the Oscar for his roles in 1986’s Children of a Lesser God and 1987’s Broadcast News.
Anna Karen: Actor best known for playing the put-upon wife, Olive, in the 1970s sitcom On the Buses and its three spin-off feature films. Sadly she died in a house fire aged 85.
Bamber Gascoigne: Writer, documentary-maker and broadcaster who was the popular quizmaster of University Challenge for 25 years. The polymath was ever irked by the fact that he was best known to the British public for the phrase: “Fingers on buzzers … your starter for 10,” although he never showed it.
Taylor Hawkins: Hawkins, who had played in Foo Fighters, the band fronted by former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, for more than two decades, died aged 50. Musical stars from around the world paid tribute and a special concert featuring a star-studded line-up was held at Wembley Stadium and the Kia Forum in Los Angeles in his memory.
Tom Parker: The Wanted star died at the age of 33 after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. The singer died surrounded by his family and bandmates – 17 months after being diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma.
Shane Warne: The legendary Australian spin bowler, considered one of the greatest cricketers of all time, died aged 52 of a suspected heart attack while in Thailand. England Cricket paid tribute to Warne on Twitter, writing: “One of the greatest of all-time. A legend. A genius. You changed Cricket. RIP Shane Warne.”
Peter Bowles: Veteran stage and screen actor who starred in the popular BBC TV sitcom To the Manor Born. Bowles died aged 85 of cancer, ruefully admitted that he wasn’t a “star” until, aged 43, he played Richard DeVere in the hit series.
Dai Jones: Welsh broadcasting legend Dai Jones ‘Llanilar’ died at the age of 78. Jones was a TV favourite on S4C and hosted popular farming show Cefn Gwlad for more than 35 years, as well as other Welsh language shows including Noson Lwen, Rasus, and Sion a Sian. Despite being one of the faces of Welsh television for a generation, Jones was actually born in London in 1943.
June Brown: The EastEnders star, best known for her role as chain-smoking Dot Cotton, died at the age of 95. A spokeswoman for the soap said: “There are not enough words to describe how much June was loved and adored by everyone at EastEnders, her loving warmth, wit and great humour will never be forgotten.”
Cynthia Plaster Caster: Cynthia Albritton was a pop artist known for her casts of rock stars’ penises. She was a young art student at the University of Illinois Chicago when she got the idea for her lifelong art project. Her dream was to meet rock musicians and hoped to lose her virginity to one. Jimi Hendrix agreed to be her first celebrity client!
Dennis Waterman: The actor, who starred in TV shows Minder, The Sweeney and New Tricks, died at the age of 74. Waterman starred as bodyguard Terry McCann in Minder and he first found fame as tough nut cop George Carter in The Sweeney opposite John Thaw.
Ray Liotta: The actor, best known for his portrayal of Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, died at the age of 67. He found fame playing ex-con Ray Sinclair in 1986 black comedy Something Wild and also starred as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film Field of Dreams.
Anne Heche: The Hollywood actor was “peacefully taken off life support” nine days after suffering a “severe anoxic brain injury” in a car crash in which her vehicle hit a building and burst into flames. Heche, 53, was among the biggest film stars of the late 1990s, starring opposite actors including Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford, and was also the former partner of US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
Lester Pigott: died aged 86, was regarded by many as the finest jockey ever to ride on British turf. His record in major races is unlikely to be surpassed. In all, he rode 4,493 winners in Britain and more than 850 elsewhere during a career that spanned 47 years.
Vangelis: The Greek composer died aged 79, and always avoided becoming a trained, academic musician. His work ranged from pop, jazz and classical to the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire soundtrack. Equally significant was his score for Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner.
Hilary Devey: The former Dragons’ Den star died aged 65 after a long illness. She joined the BBC Two programme in 2011 and left in 2012, going on to present Channel 4’s The Intern.
Julee Cruise: Singer, songwriter and actor acclaimed for her work with the film director David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti, took her own life at the age of 65 after a long period of illness and depression.
James Caan: US actor and star of The Godfather, Stephen King adaptation Misery and Christmas film Elf died aged 82. While the actor was initially cast as Michael Corleone in The Godfather, he had his heart set on Sonny and successfully suggested that Al Pacino play the role of Michael instead. He eventually faced his co-star alongside another Godfather actor, Robert Duvall, in the Best Supporting Actor category at the 1973 Oscars; all three lost to Joel Grey, who won for Cabaret.
Bernard Cribbins: The children’s TV star and entertainer died aged 93. The veteran actor starred in the Carry On films, Doctor Who and the 1970 film The Railway Children.
David Warner: Stage and screen actor hailed for his 1965 Hamlet at the RSC who went on to have a distinguished film and TV career. A highly divers actor who starred in The Omen and the Star Trek franchise.
Dame Olivia Newton-John: Dame Olivia was best known for her starring role as Sandy in the 1978 film Grease, in which she acted opposite John Travolta as Danny. The British-born singer died “peacefully” at her ranch in Southern California aged 73, surrounded by family and friends.
Raymond Briggs: The author and illustrator, best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, died aged 88. The Snowman has sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world, and Briggs also created the beloved children’s books Father Christmas, Fungus the Bogeyman, The Man and When the Wind Blows.
Darius Danesh: The singer and actor who rose to fame on Popstars and Pop Idol died at the age of 41. He was found dead in his US apartment, in Rochester, Minnesota. The death was ruled an accident by the medical examiner.
Nichelle Nichols: The actor who blazed a trail for black women on American TV in the 1960s in the role of Lt Uhura in Star Trek. She was also involved in the US’s first small-screen kiss between a black woman and a white man, Uhura and Captain Kirk (played by William Shatner), in 1968.
Queen Elizabeth II: Britain’s longest-serving monarch died aged 96, with her son Charles succeeding her as the nation’s new king. The Queen died “peacefully” at Balmoral, having spent 70 years as head of state, outlasting her predecessors and overseeing monumental changes in social and political life.
Bill Turnbull: The TV presenter and journalist died at the age of 66. The BBC Breakfast presenter died “peacefully” at home in Suffolk after a “challenging and committed fight against prostate cancer” which had been diagnosed in November 2017.
Dame Hilary Mantel: The author, best known for the Wolf Hall trilogy, died aged 70. The British writer won the Booker Prize twice, first for her 2009 novel Wolf Hall and again for its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, in 2012.
Coolio: The famed Nineties rapper died aged 59. Real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr, he was best known for his 1995 Grammy Award-winning hit single “Gangsta’s Paradise”, which was released as the soundtrack for the Michelle Pfeiffer film, Dangerous Minds. The song spent three weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 list.
Jean-Luc Godard: The revered filmmaker, regarded as a giant of the French New Wave movement, died at the age of 91. He was known for directing a run of radical, medium-changing films throughout the 1960s, including Breathless and Alphaville.
Mikhail Gorbachev: The last leader of the Soviet Union, he was ousted as his reforms pointing to the end of the USSR spiralled out of control. Almost singlehandedly he brought an end to 40 years of east-west confrontation in Europe and liberated the world from the danger of nuclear conflagration.
Louise Fletcher: American actor who won an Oscar for her role as Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As Nurse Ratched, who instils fear into the patients in a mental institution without ever raising her voice, she was calmly terrifying.
Dame Angela Lansbury: The Irish-British and American actor was best known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher in the drama series Murder, She Wrote. A Broadway icon who excelled as Mrs Lovett in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, she died “peacefully” in her sleep five days before her 97th birthday.
Robbie Coltrane: The Harry Potter and Cracker actor died aged 72. The Scottish star, whose real name was Anthony Robert McMillan, was best known for playing both McGlone brothers in John Byrne’s Tutti Frutti (1987), beloved Hogwarts gamekeeper Hagrid and for starring as criminal psychologist Dr Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald in ITV’s crime drama Cracker.
Jerry Lee Lewis: Founding father of rock’n’roll who took the world by storm with Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On. His career was blighted after the press found out he’d married his 13 year old cousin.
Kitten Natividad: Francesca “Kitten” Natividad, the go-go dancer who became a cult pop culture figure when she was cast by sexploitation film director Russ Meyer in Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens.
Leslie Phillips: The veteran actor, famed for starring in the Carry On films, died at the age of 98. He spent eight decades in the spotlight and became well known for his suggestive catchphrases, which included “Ding dong”, “Well, hellooo” and “I say!”
Christine McVie: The Fleetwood Mac star died following a short illness at the age of 79. The British-American rock band, founded in London in 1967, sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful groups ever.
Wilko Johnson: Musician with Dr Feelgood whose stark chords and pin-sharp riffs made him one of the most distinctive of British rock guitarists.
Irene Cara: American actor and singer best known for her role in the film Fame and co-writing the 1983 hit Flashdance … What a Feeling. Cara died unexpectedly aged 63, topped the British singles chart with Fame, which also went to No 4 in the US.
Kirstie Alley: The US actor died from cancer at the age of 71. She was best known for her breakout role as Rebecca Howe in the NBC sitcom Cheers from 1987 to 1993 and received both an Emmy award and a Golden Globe for the role in 1991.
Terry Hall: The lead singer of The Specials and Fun Boy Three died aged 63. The singer-songwriter rose to fame as part of the band, who were pioneers of the ska scene in the UK.
Pele: The legendary Brazilian footballer passed away aged 82. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, Pele is the only man to have won the World Cup on three occasions, as he helped Brazil to success at the 1958, 1962 and 1970 tournaments, also winning the Golden Ball for best player at the latter. During a 21-year playing career, he is said to have scored 1,283 goals in 1,363 senior matches for clubs and country.
Dame Vivienne Westwood: The iconic British fashion designer died aged 81. Dame Vivienne emerged from the British punk scene of the late 1970s and quickly became known for her androgynous designs, slogan T-shirts and irreverent attitude towards the Establishment, later making waves as an activist on causes close to her heart. The Victoria and Albert Museum described her as a “true revolutionary and rebellious force in fashion”.
Maxi Jazz: Frontman of Faithless whose thoughtful, life-affirming lyrics were in contrast to the usual hedonistic banalities of dance music. Sold an estimated 15 million albums and score a string of Top Five singles including such guaranteed dance floor fillers as Insomnia, God Is a DJ and We Come 1.
Ruth Madoc: The stage and screen actor died after a fall aged 79. She cemented herself in the memories of TV sitcom viewers as Gladys Pugh, chief yellowcoat and Radio Maplin announcer in Hi-de-Hi!
Pope Benedict XVI: In the annals of papal history, Joseph Ratzinger, who has died aged 95, will be remembered principally as the first pope in 600 years to retire, rather than to die in office.
Jeez! What a final week! So many late in the year deaths and changes to peoples 2023 lists. Obviously a few points do dispense, so… With the passing of the football great Pele, Neil and myself get 68 points; however Debbie gets 168 points as she had him down as her Cert. A further 57 points awarded to Laura for the passing of Barbara Walters. Surprisingly, only one of us had Pope Benedict, and that was Sarai, finally breaking her duck on the last possible day, 55 points. Which does mean everyone scored this year! Yay!
So, if nobody else decides to rock the boat between now and midnight, I think we can hopefully pronounce Lee as our winner of 2022! An astounding 740 points in total with seven deaths to his name. Well done that man, the trophy will be with you at some point in the New Year. Commiserations to Paul C, for coming in second with 674 points and an unbelievable nine deaths!!! The rest of us weren’t even close to the top two, but well done everyone for scoring this year, even I did quite well, finally made it into the top ten this year.
Thank you all for taking part, especially those of you who have already donated towards the running costs, even more so as technically I’ve not yet begged for contributions. For full transparency there is a list of paid invoices in the members area and the budget will be uploaded when all donations are in by the end of January. To date we’ve never reached the goal and the remainder always comes from my own pocket, including all the time and effort I put in to keep the pool running.
Here’s to a successful 2023, may the flying monkeys swoop upon your choices.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Stephen Greif, 78, British actor (Blake’s 7, Casanova, Nicholas and Alexandra).
- John Bird, 86, English actor (Red, White and Zero, A Dandy in Aspic) and comedian (Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life), stroke complications.
- Jo Mersa Marley, 31, Jamaican-American musician, asthma attack.
- Dame Vivienne Westwood, 81, British fashion designer.
- Pelé, 82, Brazilian footballer (Santos, national team), world champion (1958, 1962, 1970), colon cancer.
- Ruggero Deodato, 83, Italian film director (Cannibal Holocaust, Ultimo mondo cannibale, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man), screenwriter and actor.
- Barbara Walters, 93, American television journalist (Today, 20/20) and talk show host (The View).
- Benedict XVI, 95, German Roman Catholic theologian, Pope (2005–2013) and archbishop of Munich and Freising (1977–1982).
In Other News
Yet another Russian tycoon has been found dead in mysterious circumstances. Sausage tycoon Pavel Antov was found dead at at an Indian hotel, two days after a friend died during the same trip. They were visiting the eastern state of Odisha and the millionaire, who was also a local politician, had just celebrated his birthday at the hotel. Antov was a well known figure in the city of Vladimir, east of Moscow. Last summer he denied criticising Russia’s war in Ukraine after a message appeared on his WhatsApp account. The millionaire’s death is the latest in a series of unexplained deaths involving Russian tycoons since the start of the Russian invasion, many of whom have openly criticised the war. Reports in Russian media said Mr Antov, 65, had fallen from a window at the hotel in the city of Rayagada on Sunday. Another member of his four-strong Russian group, Vladimir Budanov, died at the hotel on Friday. Superintendent Vivekananda Sharma of Odisha police said Mr Budanov was found to have suffered a stroke while his friend “was depressed after his death and he too died”. The Russian consul in Kolkata, Alexei Idamkin, told the Tass news agency that police did not see a “criminal element in these tragic events”. Tourist guide Jitendra Singh told reporters that Mr Budanov may have “consumed a lot of alcohol as he had liquor bottles”. Pavel Antov founded the Vladimir Standard meat processing plant and in 2019 Forbes estimated his fortune at some $140m (£118m) at the top of Russia’s rich list of lawmakers and civil servants. He played an important role at the legislative assembly in Vladimir, heading a committee on agrarian policy and ecology. The assembly’s deputy chairman Vyacheslav Kartukhin said he had died in “tragic circumstances”. Late last June he appeared to react to a Russian missile attack on a residential block in the Shevchenkivskyi district of Kyiv that left a man dead and his seven-year-old daughter and her mother wounded. A WhatsApp message on Antov’s account described how the family were pulled out of the rubble: “It’s extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror.” The message was deleted and Antov then posted on social media that he was a supporter of the president, a “patriot of my country” and backed the war. The WhatsApp message had come from someone whose opinion on the “special military operation in Ukraine” he strongly disagreed with, he insisted. It had been posted accidentally on his messenger and was a highly annoying misunderstanding, he said. Several high-profile Russian tycoons have died in mysterious circumstances since the war began. In September the head of Russia’s oil giant Lukoil, Ravil Maganov, apparently fell from a hospital window in Moscow.
Bob Marley’s grandson has died at the age of 31. Jamaican-American reggae artist Joseph Mersa Marley was found unresponsive in a vehicle in the United States on Tuesday, according to the Flying Monkeys. The initial announcement did not specify a location. The artist – who went by his stage name Jo Mersa – had reportedly suffered from asthma his entire life, and the Flying Monkeys claimed he died of an asthma attack. Bob Marley tragically died of cancer in 1981 at the age of 36, and is widely considered one of the pioneers of reggae music. The late star had 11 children with seven different partners. Joseph Mersa Marley spent his early years in Jamaica, where he attended Saints Peter and Paul Preparatory School. He then moved to Florida where he was a student at Palmetto High School. When at Miami Dade College he studied studio engineering. In 2014 he released the EP called Comfortable and in 2021 he came out with Eternal.
The owner of an internet-famous dog who inspired the “doge” meme says she has received a global outpouring of love since revealing her popular pooch was suffering from leukaemia. Kabosu, a 17-year-old Shiba Inu, shot to internet stardom in 2010 after social media users began sharing a photo of her posing with a quizzical expression and crossed paws. The meme was typically overlaid with scattered comic sans text depicting what could be Kabosu’s inner monologue, and internet users started referring to the image as “doge”. It later inspired the creation of the Dogecoin cryptocurrency in 2013. Kabosu’s owner Atsuko Sato, a kindergarten teacher from Sakura, Japan, revealed she was in “a very dangerous condition” after being diagnosed with a form of blood cancer in a series of Instagram posts this week. Ms Sato said Kabosu had stopped eating and drinking just before Christmas and was on antibiotics after vets determined she was suffering from acute cholangiohepatitis, a type of inflammation in the digestive system. She posted an update on 27th December to say Kabosu’s appetite had returned and she was drinking water again. “It’s going to be alright. Because we get our power from all over the world!” Ms Sato wrote on her Instagram page. The doge meme initially found popularity on sites such as Reddit and Tumblr, with internet users photoshopping Kabosu’s face onto famous landmarks and pastries. Her image was later used in marketing by Oreo and on Stockholm subway stations adverts. Kabosu’s face later appeared on the sleeves of players from English Premier League team Watford under a Dogecoin sponsorship deal. An NFT featuring Kabosu’s famous furry face sold for $4m in 2021.
On This Day
- 1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000-year lease at £45 per annum and starts brewing Guinness.
- 1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to the public for the first time, in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
- 1955 – General Motors becomes the first U.S. corporation to make over US$1 billion in a year.
- 1999 – The first President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, resigns from office, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President and successor.
- 2000 – The last day of the 20th Century and 2nd Millennium.
- 2019 – The World Health Organisation is informed of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause, detected in Wuhan. This later turned out to be COVID-19, the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 192 – Commodus, Roman emperor (b. 161).
- 1691 – Robert Boyle, Anglo-Irish chemist and physicist (b. 1627).
- 2013 – James Avery, American actor (b. 1945).
- 2015 – Natalie Cole, American singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1950).
- 2015 – Wayne Rogers, American actor (b. 1933).
- 2016 – William Christopher, American actor (b. 1932).
- 2021 – Betty White, American actress, comedian and producer (b. 1922).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Val Kilmer (63), Anthony Hopkins (85), Ben Kingsley (79), Jane Badler (69), Faye Marsay (36), Eliza Dushku (42), Caity Lotz (36), Tracey Ullman (63), Jude Law (50), Jon Voight (84), Ted Danson (75), Danny McBride (46), Michael Cudlitz (58), Patrick Fischler (53), Lilly Wachowski (55), Denzel Washington (68), Noomi Rapace (43), Maggie Smith (88), Sienna Miller (41), Joe Manganiello (46), John Legend (44), Timothée Chalamet (27), Olivia Cooke (29), Gérard Depardieu (74), John Amos (83), Wilson Cruz (49), Jared Leto (51), Kit Harington (36), and Temuera Morrison (62).
You now have six days to hand in your lists, and as you will be bored shitless over the coming days, you will have no excuse but to research and get them in!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mike Hodges, 90, British screenwriter and director (Get Carter, Pulp, Flash Gordon).
- Martin Duffy, 55, English keyboardist (Felt, Primal Scream), complications from a fall.
- Terry Hall, 63, English singer (The Specials, Fun Boy Three) and songwriter (“Our Lips Are Sealed“), pancreatic cancer.
- Tony Barry, 81, Australian actor (Australia, Goodbye Pork Pie, The Time of Our Lives), melanoma.
- George Cohen, 83, English footballer (Fulham, national team), world champion (1966).
- Maxi Jazz, 65, English musician (Faithless).
In Other News
A Glaswegian chef credited with inventing the chicken tikka masala has died, aged 77. Ali Ahmed Aslam is said to have come up with the dish in the 1970s when a customer asked if there was a way of making his chicken tikka less dry. His solution was to add a creamy tomato sauce, in some versions of the story a can of tomato soup. His death was announced by his Shish Mahal restaurant which closed for 48 hours as a mark of respect. Known to friends and customers as “Mr Ali” he was born in Pakistan but moved with his family to Glasgow as a young boy before opening Shish Mahal in Glasgow’s west end in 1964. In an interview with the Flying Monkeys, he would later describe the moment he came up with one of Britain’s favourite dishes. “Chicken tikka masala was invented in this restaurant, we used to make chicken tikka, and one day a customer said, ‘I’d take some sauce with that, this is a bit dry’,” he recalled. “We thought we’d better cook the chicken with some sauce. So from here we cooked chicken tikka with the sauce that contains yogurt, cream, spices. It’s a dish prepared according to our customer’s taste, usually they don’t take hot curry, that’s why we cook it with yogurt and cream.” While it cannot be proved with certainty that this is the origin of the dish, chicken tikka masala is widely regarded as a curry that has been adapted to suit Western tastes. Former Glasgow MP Mohammad Sarwar once tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling for it to be recognised as a Glaswegian delicacy. Hundreds of customers paid tribute to Mr Ali on social media, many recalling visits to his restaurant and describing him as a true gentleman. Surveys have often found chicken tikka masala to be Britain’s favourite curry, although chicken korma has also tried to claim that mantle.
Brazilian football icon Pele will remain in hospital over Christmas after a medical report showed that his cancer has advanced. Doctors say he now needs care for cardiac and renal dysfunction. Pele, 82, has been battling colon cancer since September 2021 and was admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paul hospital on 29th November for doctors to re-evaluate his treatment. His daughter said in an Instagram post that the support of his fans was a “huge comfort” to him. Kely Nascimento wrote: “Your love for him, your stories and your prayers are a HUGE comfort because we know we are not alone’. Relatives said at the beginning of December that Pele was in hospital for treatment for a respiratory infection aggravated by COVID-19. Pele, whose name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento, had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021 and has since been in and out of hospital for treatment on a regular basis. The football legend has been undergoing chemotherapy in his fight against cancer. Pele is considered by many to be the greatest footballer of all time. He burst on to the global scene as a 17-year-old at the 1958 World Cup, helping Brazil to the first of their record five successes. He also won the 1962 and 1970 World Cups with the national side.
Jonnie Irwin has said his cancer has come back “so violently” that even doctors are surprised, in a new interview about spending what could be his last Christmas with his family. The A Place in the Sun presenter, 48, disclosed in November that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2020. He initially kept his illness private, but said he decided to make the news public after learning it had spread from his lungs to his brain. “I don’t know how long I have,” he said at the time, adding that doctors gave him “six months to live” a week after he flew back from filming when he experienced blurry vision while driving. “We try to carry on as normal,” Irwin said in a new interview with a Flying Monkey. “We made a decision not to mourn and to make the most of every day. I’m still working… I try to manufacture positive thoughts. People say, ‘How do you stay so upbeat?’ It’s a bit of an act, really.’” The presenter explained that he had been given a “wonder drug” after initially being told he had six months to live: “They hoped it would keep it at bay for a bit longer, but it’s come back so violently, it’s even surprised the doctors. I’ve been told I’ve got months to live,” he said. “We’re hurtling towards where we don’t want to be.” Irwin’s wife, Jess, said the sadness she feels approaching “scares her”. “Everyone says, ‘You’ll manage. You’ll be surprised.’ I’ve never had dark thoughts for myself but I wonder now: ‘How will I cope with the sadness?’” she said. “I know I’ll have to, for the boys. I’ll have to put a smile on my face. But it worries me, the great grief that will hit me.” The couple share a three-year-old son, Rex, and two-year-old twins, Rafa and Cormac.
On This Day
- 336 – First documentary sign of Christmas celebration in Rome.
- 1758 – Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley‘s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.
- 1914 – A series of unofficial truces occur across the Western Front to celebrate Christmas.
- 1962 – The Soviet Union conducts its final above-ground nuclear weapon test, in anticipation of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
- 1989 – Romanian Revolution: Deposed President of Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, Elena, are condemned to death and executed after a summary trial.
- 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as President of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalised and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.
- 1946 – W. C. Fields, American actor, comedian, juggler, and screenwriter (b. 1880).
- 1957 – Charles Pathé, French record producer, founded Pathé Records (b. 1863).
- 1977 – Charlie Chaplin, English actor and director (b. 1889).
- 1995 – Dean Martin, American singer and actor (b. 1917).
- 2006 – James Brown, American singer-songwriter (b. 1933).
- 2008 – Eartha Kitt, American singer and actress (b. 1927).
- 2016 – George Michael, British singer and songwriter (b. 1963).
The 12 Murders of Christmas
This time of year should be all about fun and laughter, shouldn’t it? About friends and family… Roaring fires, roast potatoes and red-nosed reindeer. And for most of us it is. But, as regular visitors to this site will know only too well, Death doesn’t take a holiday. Ho ho ho!
Christmas isn’t immune to crime. Murder doesn’t take a fortnight off at the end of December. In fact, some of the most shocking killings have happened over the Yuletide period down the years.
As we bring you our 12 Murders of Christmas, listen carefully. That noise you can hear in the background? It’s slay bells…
1. A grim ‘gift’ left under the Christmas tree
When 37 year-old Patty White offered down-on-her-luck Michele O’Dowd a place to stay over the festive period, Michele was delighted at the Christmas spirit being shown to her. But White had an ulterior motive. One involving stealing all of her new housemate’s credit cards, killing her and leaving her among a trashed Christmas tree to look like a bungled burglary.
The scene was discovered by Michele’s twin brother Phil who went to check in on her after she failed to show for work. There, amongst a pile of wrapped Christmas presents, he saw his sister’s foot. Patty White had beaten and strangled the 67 year-old and left her among the gifts. She would receive a 45 year sentence from a South Carolina judge for her troubles.
2. Couple stab man in face, bash in his skull and set light to him on Christmas Day in ‘Kill Bill’ plot
Victoria, Australia. It’s Christmas Day 2013. But instead of spending the day with his loved ones, William ‘Bill’ Stevenson pays the ultimate price for keeping poor company as his ‘friends’ – meth addicts Danielle Kerr and Darren Lewis – kill him in one of the most violent ways conceivable.
Their motives not entirely clear, the pair drove Stevenson out to bushland and began beating him about the head with a large rock. Kerr then stabbed the man to death while cackling about their ‘Kill Bill’ plans. The couple then set the car alight and casually walked home. Thankfully they would both be arrested, charged and convicted soon afterwards.
3. ‘Marvallous’ Teen gang indulge in sickening festive killing spree
There were four of them and they called themselves ‘The Downtown Posse’. To the police and courts, though? They were simply Laura Taylor (16 years old), DeMarcus Smith (17), Heather Matthews (20) and Marvallous Keene (19). Between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day 1992, the gang went on a murder spree in Dayton, Ohio that would see five innocent people die and four seriously injured. Murdered for not liking a gift enough…
Led by Keene, the gang’s primary motive was robbery, but things soon got out of hand as Marvallous Keene grew paranoid about ‘snitches’ and effectively turned the holiday season into hunting season. For his central role in ‘The Christmas Killings’, Keene would go on to become the 10,000th American convict to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated back in 1976, while his cohorts would receive life sentences.
4. Search for missing Bristol woman turns to hunt for her killer
Joanna Yeates’ disappearance a week before Christmas in 2010 made local news in Bristol almost immediately. Soon, the search and appeal broadened and her whereabouts were of national interest. On Christmas Day her body was found in the snow, three miles from her home.
The case achieved notoriety for the media’s handling of the first suspect, Joanna’s eccentric landlord, Christopher Jefferies. Hounded and effectively labelled the murderer without proof, UK tabloids The Mirror and The Sun were later found guilty of contempt of court for their poor coverage. Jefferies was later vindicated when Ms. Yeates’ Dutch neighbour Vincent Tabak was arrested and charged with her murder.
5. The infamous ‘child beauty queen’ murder
JonBenét Ramsey’s Christmas Day/Boxing Day 1996 murder (police could never officially ascertain the precise date) caused an enormous storm across America and the wider world. Years on and the six year-old’s callous killer or killers have still not been identified. True crime buffs the world over have studied and obsessed over the case of the young girl killed apparently during a botched kidnapping. Countless documentaries, movies, books and articles point fingers, but the mystery’s never been solved.
Many people accuse JonBenét’s parents. Some look to her older brother. Accusations of a stalker are rife and local child molestors have – somewhat understandably – been treated with suspicion. In fact, few people in Boulder, Colorado have evaded suspicion. Perhaps the eeriest suspect though is Bill McReynolds, a local man hired by the Ramseys to play Santa Claus at a large party held at the rich family’s house that year. McReynolds died in 2002, swearing innocence. It’s a case that will, perhaps, never be solved.
6. Edinburgh woman stabs neighbour 29 times over ‘Christmas present’ dispute
Murdered for not liking a gift enough…? Well, that was the excuse that 37-year-old Melissa Young gave police when she was arrested for the brutal killing of her next-door neighbour Alan Williamson on Christmas Day 2013. Young later claimed diminished responsibility and that mental health issues were behind the sustained attack. At the time, though? Her motive was given as rage due to Williamson dismissively rejecting her Christmas present of a pair of unisex trainers and a copy of The Sun newspaper’s slightly raunchy 2014 calendar.
Young pleaded guilty to culpable homicide in 2014 and was sentenced to a minimum twenty-year sentence. Since being jailed at the women’s prison HMP Cornton Vale in Stirling, she has seriously assaulted two female prison officers.
7. A Christmas rampage
December 28th, 1987. Ronald Gene Simmons walked into a law firm in Russellville, Arkansas and shot dead a receptionist who he was infatuated with but who had spurned his advances. Then he went into the office of an oil company and shot two executives, killing one and injuring the other. He then drove to a convenience store and former place of work and shot two more people, who would both survive. Finally, he would do the same in at the Woodline Motor Freight Company, shooting and wounding a woman. He then sat down and waited for police to arrest him.
The spree killing rocked the state. But the murders were merely a bookend to Simmons’ evil festive period. Six days previously he had shot and strangled his wife, two sons and four daughters. It doesn’t end there, either. Simmons then sat in the house, among the bodies, for FOUR DAYS – leaving only to visit a local bar. On Boxing Day, NINE more relatives turned up to visit the Simmons family, including Ronald Simmons’ grandchildren. All were killed. In total, he took 16 people’s lives that Christmas.
On the 25th of June 1990, then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton signed Simmons’ execution warrant and he was killed by lethal injection.
8. ‘Twas the night before Christmas and fire tore through the house
On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1945, a fire destroyed the Sodder residence in Fayetteville, West Virginia, United States. At the time, it was occupied by George Sodder, his wife Jennie, and nine of their ten children. During the fire, George, Jennie, and four of the nine children escaped. The bodies of the other five children have never been found. The surviving Sodder family believed for the rest of their lives that the five missing children survived.
The Sodders dedicated their lives to trying to find out what happened that Christmas, but died in later life without finding out.
9. The first and last family photograph the Lawsons would ever have taken…
North Carolina tobacco farmer Charles Davis Lawson made his wife Fannie and their seven children put on their Sunday best for Christmas Day morning, 1929. For they were to go into town and have a professional family photograph taken, a rare treat for such a poor family. Later that day, after settling back home, Charles would set about methodically beating and shooting his wife – along with six of the seven children – until they were dead. The child spared? The Lawsons’ eldest, 16-year-old Arthur, who Charles had sent on a needless errand before his vicious massacre. Charles Lawson’s motive was never determined.
10. A murder so sick and twisted
Kristy Bamu was just 15 when he was tortured and drowned in a bath by his own sister Magalie and her twisted boyfriend Eric Bikubi. It was Christmas Day 2010 when the couple finally killed poor Kristy, after a sustained and brutal four-day torture session at their flat in Newham, London. When his body was found, more than 130 separate injuries were counted. The twentysomething Congolese couple’s excuse? They believed Magalie’s younger brother was ‘a witch’. Eric was ordered to serve at least 30 years in prison, while Magalie received a minimum of 25 years for the unimaginably horrific killing.
11. ‘Stagger Lee’ and the seasonal showdown
Lee Shelton was a known criminal and pimp who went by the nickname ‘Stagger Lee’. Famous now because of the folk song he would inspire, Shelton wasn’t a man to be trifled with. As William “Billy” Lyons would discover to his cost. This murder took place on Christmas night 1895, in St. Louis, Missouri. Stagger and Billy were drinking and playing cards together in the Bill Curtis Saloon when, wouldn’t you know it, they got into ‘a dispute’. Lyons snatched Stagger’s Stetson hat and, well, you’ve seen westerns… Stagger Lee drew his gun, shot Lyons dead and the rest is history. History and song.
12. The Santa suit slaughter
It was Christmas Eve of 2004 in the small city of Covina, just outside of LA. Parties dominated the neighbourhood. 1129 East Knollcrest Drive had around 25 close friends and family enjoying each other’s company. At around 11.30pm, a knock at the door came. Standing on the other side of the door? Santa Claus. At least that’s what the eight-year-old girl who answered the door thought. But it wasn’t Saint Nick, it was a man called Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, the unstable and violent ex-husband of one of the women at the party. He was holding a 9mm pistol in one hand and a flamethrower in the other. He had a further three handguns in his possession. Cruelly and methodically he went about shooting everyone in his sight, before setting alight to the house. Nine people would die and three would be badly injured. Pardo left, driving to his brother’s house some thirty miles away. He had planned to detonate a series of handmade explosives and then make his escape to Canada, but the fire had caused his Santa suit to melt onto him, causing severe third degree burns. Instead, Pardo decided to put a bullet in his head.
I hope I didn’t put you off your mince pies too much… Merry Christmas everyone.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Sissy Spacek (73), Shane MacGowan (65), Helena Christensen (54), Annie Lennox (68), Finn Wolfhard (20), Harry Shearer (79), Ralph Fiennes (60), Vanessa Paradis (50), Hugh Quarshie (68), Samuel L. Jackson (74), Tom Sturridge (37), Jane Fonda (85), Kiefer Sutherland (56), Michelle Hurd (56), Phil Donahue (87), Jonah Hill (39), Jenny Agutter (70), Nicole de Boer (52), Jake Gyllenhaal (42), Jennifer Beals (59), Kristy Swanson (53), Alyssa Milano (50), and Richard Hammond (53).
Welcome all, another week flies by and more celebrities die! Thank you to all of you who have already submitted your lists for 2023, there’s nothing quite like being very organised! Feel free to send in yours, either email your list to email@example.com or fill in the form on the website. Remember, you need 13 names in total. One must be your Woman, one your Dead Cert, and one your Maverick, an individual aged under 50 who is not expected to die, so nobody suffering from cancer or in a death-defying job. The other ten are up to you. Think long and hard over your Big Three, there is an extra 100 points if one of them die, so well worth the effort. The rules are here.
Also a big thanks to Nickie this week, she found most of the stories and linked me to the yearly St Peppers image by Chris Barker.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Bob McGrath, 90, American actor and singer (Sesame Street, Follow That Bird, Sing Along with Mitch).
- Patrick Tambay, 73, French racing driver (Formula One), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Kirstie Alley, 71, American actress (Cheers, Veronica’s Closet, Look Who’s Talking), colon cancer.
- Jet Black, 84, English drummer (The Stranglers).
- Mills Lane, 85, American boxing referee and television personality (Judge Mills Lane, Celebrity Deathmatch).
- Johnny Johnson, 101, British Royal Air Force officer (Operation Chastise) the Dambusters Raid.
- Ruth Madoc, 79, British actress (Hi-de-Hi!, Fiddler on the Roof, Little Britain), and singer.
- Tracy Hitchings, 60, English singer (Landmarq), cancer.
- Georgia Holt, 96, American singer and actress (Watch the Birdie, Grounds for Marriage), subject of Dear Mom, Love Cher).
- Richard Miller, 80, American visual effects artist (Star Trek: First Contact, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Rocketeer).
- Joseph Kittinger, 94, American air force officer and command pilot (Project Manhigh, Project Excelsior), lung cancer.
In Other News
Former Jackass star Bam Margera has reportedly been rushed to hospital with a “very serious” case of pneumonia. The stunt performer and skateboarder is reported to have tested positive for Covid while in hospital, and is currently on a ventilator. The Flying Monkeys claim that Margera is currently undergoing treatment in the ICU of a San Diego hospital. His condition, however, is said to be stable. Last year, Margera entered a 12-month drug and alcohol treatment programme. Alongside Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Chris Pontius and others, Margera was one of the original members of the Jackass crew, performing stunts in the MTV series and subsequent film adaptations. However, Margera did not feature in the recent sequel, Jackass Forever, and claimed that he had been fired partway through production after failing a drugs test.
The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has been taken to hospital, with his wife asking fans to ‘send prayers and healing vibes’. The 64-year-old, who has used a wheelchair since he broke his pelvis in 2015, has been in and out of hospital in recent years. On Twitter on Monday, his wife Victoria May Clarke shared a picture of the musician smiling and said he had been admitted again. She said: ‘Please send prayers and healing vibes to Shane MacGowan in hospital again and really hoping to get out asap!! Thank you.’ Fans wished the singer, whose hits include Fairytale of New York, a speedy recovery. One wrote: ‘Not at Christmas, the man is the sound of Christmas… I hope he recovers swiftly and not too much discomfort.’ Ms Clarke told the Flying Monkeys that Shane is finding it ‘frustrating’ and wants to get out after being admitted last Friday. She said: ‘I’m definitely hoping he gets out this week. The Irish singer-songwriter has had health troubles since he broke his pelvis. In 2021 he fell and broke a knee, before tearing ligaments in his left knee, never fully recovering from the injuries. In April he confirmed that he ‘can’t walk any more’. He has also been open about his battle with addiction and in 2015 had to get a full set of teeth implants after decades of drinking and drugs destroyed his real ones.
Al Roker has been discharged from hospital for the second time. NBC’s Today show weatherman, 68, posted a picture to Instagram on Thursday announcing his return. “Home! So incredibly grateful to family, friends, medical folks, @todayshow family and all your thoughts and prayers,” Roker wrote in the caption. In the picture, Roker is smiling with his wife Deborah Roberts, and their daughter, Leila. Just hours before his release from hospital, he had posted a scenic photo of the sunrise taken from his patient bed with the caption: “Hopefully coming home soon but when your spirit sags a bit, you get to see that and recharge.” He added: “God Bless you all for all the prayers and well wishes for me and my family.” Fans grew worried after Roker disappeared from the Today show in mid-November. Roker later revealed that he was in hospital for blood clots in his legs and lungs. The host was able to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with his family, but was rushed back to hospital the following day and remained there for nearly two weeks. Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb later confirmed to viewers that Roker had been hospitalised a second time due to “some complications”. “He’s resting, and his doctors are keeping a close eye on him,” she said on the show. In 2020, Roker announced that he had been diagnosed with an “aggressive form” prostate cancer. He underwent the surgery in November 2020, and in January 2021 he received the good news that his cancer was “considered undetectable”.
Danniella Westbrook has been warned by doctors that she would have had a heart attack if she hadn’t been rushed to the hospital on Thursday night. The EastEnders star was told that she was only “hours away from cardiac arrest” after she told her followers she had been experiencing blackouts and seizures. She shared a clip from her hospital bed, showing her in a hospital gown, and wrote: “Sepsis, Strep A, and constant temperature of 39.8C.” A few hours later, Westbrook, 49, posted another update on her Instagram Stories and thanked NHS staff at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, London. She wrote: “Huge thank you to Whipps Cross and the NHS, who have managed to get me stabilised. They informed me if I’d of left it till the morning I would of had a heart attack, the pressure on my chest was so bad. If you have this flu bug and tight chest, ring an ambulance. I was hours away from a cardiac arrest, my chest was so tight. Now I need complete bed rest for a few days. Her health scare comes amid several outbreaks of Strep A in UK schools that have left hospital A&E departments “overflowing”. The bacterial infection has resulted in the deaths of 15 children and health authorities have launched an investigation in the cases.
Britain’s only female Spitfire pilot has been killed in a car crash in Australia, 34 years after her husband suffered the same fate. Carolyn Grace, 70, who lives in Australia, was driving her Suziki car in the city of Goulbourn, southwest of Sydney, when she collided with a silver Hilux on Friday. Carolyn, believed to have been the only practising female Spitfire pilot in the world, was visiting her family at the time of the crash. Carolyn, originally from Australia, was airlifted to hospital but died of her injuries, 34 years after her husband, Nick, was killed in a car crash in Sussex, UK, in 1988. Her 38-year-old son Richard was a passenger in the car and survived the crash and was treated for minor injuries. Carolyn’s daughter, Daisy Grace, said the family had been left ‘traumatised’ by her unexpected death. Mrs Grace pioneered the restoration of Second World Spitfires in the 1980s with her late husband, Nick, at their home in Cornwall. After Nick died in 1988, the mother-of-two learned to fly the restored plane to keep her husband’s memory alive. Over the next three decades, the aviation pioneer clocked over 900 hours in the aircraft, flying it at air shows and memorial events across Europe.
Rhod Gilbert has given fans an update on his health, revealing that he has been diagnosed with stage four cancer. In July, the comedian announced that he was undergoing treatment for cancer at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, a hospital which he had previously raised funds for. At the time, he commended the NHS care he was receiving as “incredible”. The 54-year-old has given fans an update on his health during a recent interview with BBC Radio Wales. “I’m feeling good and feel like I’m recovering day-by-day,” he said. Gilbert went on to recall the symptoms he suffered prior to his diagnosis, stating that he had been forced to cancel shows because they had been so severe. “I had a terribly sore throat, tightness through my neck. I was having to cancel shows because I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I was having all sorts of problems and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it.” Gilbert explained that the symptoms became progressively worse while he was fundraising for Velindre Cancer Centre in Cuba. In May, he noticed “lumps started popping up in places they shouldn’t be”. “It turns out I’ve got stage four cancer,” he said. “I also caught Covid on that walk as well. I came home with cancer and Covid from a Velindre fundraising trek… the irony of that! I went as a Velindre patron and came home as a patient.” The comedian praised the care he has received, revealing that he has gone through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. Although, he is yet to find out if the treatment “has worked”. He also suggested that he may be working on material for future shows. “The things people say when they find out you’ve got cancer… people panic. There’s a lot of humour in it,” he said. “Hopefully I’m going to jot it all down and one day bring it to the stage.”
Cher has appeared to confirm the death of her mother, singer and actor Georgia Holt, aged 96. The singer, 76, shared the news on social media, tweeting “mom is gone” with a sad-face emoji. Holt had been admitted to hospital with pneumonia and had been suffering from recurring health issues, Cher shared in September. “Sorry I’ve been MIA. Mom’s been sick off and on. She just got out of hospital. She had pneumonia. She’s getting better,” wrote the “Believe” singer on 9th September. She thanked her fans for their prayers the following day, adding that “home is the best medicine” for her mother and “she’s getting better”. However, on 11th December at 5.02am GMT, the artist tweeted, “Mom is gone,” with a sad-face emoji. Fans of the singer and her mother took to social media to share their condolences. “I’m so very sorry to hear that your beloved mother has passed. My heart goes out to you. What a blessing to have had her in your life for as long as you did,” wrote one fan on Twitter. “Sending you nothing but love, light, and healing. She was a firecracker, and she will be so deeply missed,” shared another. Holt, born in 1926, was a singer-songwriter as well as a model and actor. She famously appeared in the hit sitcom I Love Lucy. She leaves behind two children, Cher – real name, Cherilyn Sarkisian – her sister, Georganne LaPiere, and partner of 46 years, Craig Spence.
Depraved necrophiliac David Fuller – who evaded police for over 30 years after carrying out a double murder in 1987 – was handed a further four years in prison today for defiling women’s bodies in hospital mortuaries. The 68-year-old is already serving a whole life sentence for murdering Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, in 1987 as well as the sexual abuse of the corpses of 78 women and girls at hospital mortuaries in Tunbridge Wells. He appeared at the Old Bailey today to be sentenced for a second tranche of offences against a further 23 dead women. After being linked to the murders in 2020, police uncovered the systematic sexual abuse of the corpses of females aged between nine and 100 at the now-closed Kent and Sussex Hospital and the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, in Pembury, where he had worked in maintenance since 1989. An examination of Fuller’s computer hard drive at his home in Heathfield, East Sussex, revealed 818,051 images and 504 videos of his abuse as well as evidence of his ‘persistent interest in rape, abuse and murder of women’. Jailing Fuller for four years, Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said: ‘You violated the bodies of all these women while many were still wearing medical equipment from treatment they had received from doctors trying to save their lives, such as catheters and defibrillator pads. ‘The women you abused were women who lived fulfilling lives. They were the best, one had flown a propeller plane across Iceland, one was a talented skier and one worked at Bletchley Park during World War Two. ‘A number had long marriages, some had long careers such as teaching and nursing. All had families they nurtured and loved. ‘Some spent their last years in pain but kept their dignity, until you took it from them.’ Fuller sat expressionless in the dock at the Old Bailey wearing a grey jumper and glasses. He spoke only to confirm his name. One man shouted ‘scum’ from the public gallery as he was taken down from the dock.
On This Day
- 1901 – Guglielmo Marconi transmits the first transatlantic radio signal from Poldhu, Cornwall, England to Saint John’s, Newfoundland.
- 1913 – More than two years after it was stolen from the Louvre, Leonardo da Vinci‘s painting Mona Lisa is recovered in Florence, Italy. The thief, Vincenzo Peruggia, is immediately arrested.
- 1962 – Arthur Lucas, convicted of murder, is the last person to be executed in Canada.
- 1972 – Apollo 17 becomes the sixth and final Apollo mission to land on the Moon.
- 2009 – Finnish game developer Rovio Entertainment releases the hit mobile game Angry Birds internationally on iOS. People go batshit crazy for no reason.
- 1282 – Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Welsh prince (b. 1223).
- 1880 – Oliver Winchester, founded the Winchester Repeating Arms Company (b. 1810).
- 1964 – Sam Cooke, American singer-songwriter (b. 1931).
- 1996 – Willie Rushton, English cartoonist, author, co-founded Private Eye (b. 1937).
- 2008 – Bettie Page, American model (b. 1923).
- 2017 – Keith Chegwin, British TV presenter (b. 1957).
- 2021 – Anne Rice, American author (b. 1941).
St Peppers 2022
As the end of the year approaches, we’ve come to experience a combined sense of anticipation and dread, as we wait for artist, illustrator and art director Chris Barker to release his Sgt Pepper-style tribute to the public figures who have died during the year.
So – this is the role-call of those we’ve lost in 2022. Get ready for some utter gut punches. Click on the pictures for full size versions.
Melissa Roxburgh (30), Kenneth Branagh (62), John Malkovich (69), Judi Dench (88), Beau Bridges (81), Michael Dorn (70), Donny Osmond (65), Teri Hatcher (58), Kim Basinger (69), Dominic Monaghan (46), Nicki Minaj (40), David Harewood (57), Sinéad O’Connor (56), Nicholas Hoult (33), Emily Browning (34), C. Thomas Howell (56), Kristofer Hivju (44), Jennifer Carpenter (43), Ellen Burstyn (90), Patrick Fabian (58), Jeffrey Wright (57), Tom Hulce (69), Noel Clarke (47), Nick Park (64), Nick Stahl (43), Frankie Muniz (37), and Catherine Tate (53).
Welcome all to another newsletter, bet you’re all super excited about it. Let’s begin by officially opening the 2023 competition. As per usual you can send your lists via email to me on firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out the form on the website.
We also have a film recommendation by Nickie, have a read about Bones & All. It does sound rather tasty.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Christine McVie, 79, English musician (Fleetwood Mac) and songwriter (“Don’t Stop“, “Everywhere“).
- Jiang Zemin, 96, Chinese politician, general secretary of the Communist Party and president, leukaemia and multiple organ failure.
- Jake Flint, 37, American Red Dirt singer-songwriter.
- Clarence Gilyard, 66, American actor (Walker, Texas Ranger, Die Hard, Matlock).
- Derek Granger, 101, British film and television producer, and screenwriter (Brideshead Revisited, A Handful of Dust, Where Angels Fear to Tread).
- Brad William Henke, 56, American actor (Orange Is the New Black, Bright) and football player (Denver Broncos).
- James Ning, American actor (Sun Belt Express, The Ridiculous 6, Breaking Bad).
- Quentin Oliver Lee, 34, American actor, colon cancer.
- Al Strobel, 83, American actor (Twin Peaks, Child of Darkness, Child of Light, Megaville).
- Patrick Tambay, 73, French racing driver, complications from Parkinson’s disease.
In Other News
Brazilian football legend Pele has been moved to palliative end-of-life care in hospital, however his health remains stable and he is responding to treatment, with his daughter adding that there was “no surprise or emergency” involved. Kely Nascimento’s post to Instagram came after the Brazilian arm of the Flying Monkeys reported that Pele had been admitted to Albert Einstein Hospital with “general swelling” and was undergoing several tests for more in-depth assessment of his health issues. “Lots of alarm in the media today concerning my dad’s health. He is in the hospital regulating medication,” Nascimento wrote. “There is no emergency or new dire prediction. I will be there for New Years and promise to post some pictures.” The 82-year-old had a tumour removed from his colon in September 2021 and has since been in and out of the hospital for treatment on a regular basis. The Flying Monkeys reported that Pele was having cardiac issues and his medical staff showed concern that his chemotherapy treatment was not having the expected results. Pele’s manager and the Albert Einstein Hospital did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sandi Toksvig has been rushed to hospital after falling “seriously ill” in Australia. The Qi host was in the midst of a tour, but has had to cancel her dates in New Zealand as she has developed bronchial pneumonia and is unable to travel. In a statement posted to Twitter, her team said: “Due to illness, Sandi has cancelled the New Zealand leg of her tour. She has been admitted to hospital with bronchial pneumonia while still in Australia and is unable to travel & perform. Our main priority is getting her home to the UK as soon as she is well enough – Team Toksvig”. Bronchopneumonia is a kind of pneumonia that affects the lungs. It’s usually caused by a bacterial infection, but can also be caused by viral or fungal infections. Coughing, trouble breathing a fever are common signs of the illness. Fans were full of support for the presenter, as they took to social media to wish her a speedy recovery. Some had also noticed that she had been unwell during some of her most recent shows in Australia, and praised her for doing them anyway. One fan wrote: “Saw her show in Sydney – she said she wasn’t 100% but you wouldn’t have known it. She was due to visit nine cities across Australia and New Zealand on her live tour, which centres around her sharing jokes, facts and stories about her life.
Simon Cowell has sparked concern among fans after sharing a video message for Britain’s Got Talent auditions. The music mogul shared an appeal to talented Brits to apply for the hit show, but fans were left ‘worried’ about the star. He said in the short VT: “I always say on this show, two or three minutes can change your life. And it has. And maybe this time it’s gonna be you. So please audition now for next year’s season and I look forward to meeting you.” The X-Factor judge was inundated with comments about his changing appearance as social media users branded him ‘unrecognisable’. On Twitter, social media user Dar said: “Not one for slagging someone’s appearance but his face looks like it’s melting.” Davey wrote in reply: “LOOK AT HIS FACE! JUST LOOK AT HIS FACE!,” Tardis wrote: “Simon Cowell brought to you via Nintendo Gamecube it seems.” Commudus replied saying: “Ya wouldn’t think he had work done at all. Flawless. Jules said: “Holy moly I nearly didn’t recognise him then.” Marcas wrote: “I always say on this show, two or three face lifts can change your life” David Yung wrote: “Well…I’m torn between my general hatred of Simon Cowell’s TV shows & being alarmed as to how he looks these days. I’m going for the latter this morning.” Uncaring said: “I have never seen a more asymmetrical man in my life, bro is held together with spit and prayers.” Simon famously lost 20 Ibs over the past two years and completely overhauled his lifestyle after breaking his back in 2020 when he crashed his electric bike near his Malibu home. He suffered complications from surgery to fuse his vertebrae, which required him to mostly stay in bed for six months
On This Day
- 1872 – The crew-less American brigantine Mary Celeste, drifting in the Atlantic, is discovered by the Canadian brig Dei Gratia. The ship has been abandoned for nine days but is only slightly damaged. Her master Benjamin Briggs and all nine others known to have been on board are never accounted for.
- 1971 – During a concert of Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention at the Montreux Casino, an audience member fires a flare gun into the venue’s ceiling, causing a fire that destroys the venue. Rock band Deep Purple, who were to use the Casino as the site for the recording of their next album, witnesses the fire from their hotel; the incident would be immortalised in their best known song, “Smoke on the Water“.
- 1991 – Terry A. Anderson is released after seven years in captivity as a hostage in Beirut; he is the last and longest-held American hostage in Lebanon.
- 1976 – Benjamin Britten, English pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1913)
- 1993 – Frank Zappa, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1940)
- 2015 – Robert Loggia, American actor and director (b. 1930)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jeff Bridges (73), Marisa Tomei (58), Tony Todd (68), Pamela Stephenson (73), Tyra Banks (49), Jay-Z (53), Brendan Fraser (54), Amanda Seyfried (37), Julianne Moore (62), Daryl Hannah (62), Ozzy Osbourne (74), Lucy Liu (54), Lesley-Ann Brandt (41), Britney Spears (41), Connie Booth (82), Zoë Kravitz (34), Sarah Silverman (52), Bette Midler (77), Kaley Cuoco (37), Elisha Cuthbert (40), Ridley Scott (85), Richard Brake (58), Ben Stiller (57), Mandy Patinkin (70), Woody Allen (87), Gemma Chan (40), Diane Ladd (87), Don Cheadle (58), Jeff Fahey (70), Aimee Garcia (44), Karen Gillan (35), Ed Harris (72), Judd Nelson (63), Martin Clunes (61), Ellie Taylor (39), Jon Stewart (60), Armando Iannucci (59), and Richard Osman (52).
Not a huge amount to share this week, but the early passing of Irene Cara was certainly a talking point! Unsurprisingly, nobody had her listed, but Martin did have Doddie Weir listed, so we can award him 98 points! Well done that man!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mickey Kuhn, 90, American actor (Gone with the Wind, Red River, Broken Arrow).
- Wilko Johnson, 75, English guitarist (Dr. Feelgood), songwriter (“Roxette“), and actor (Game of Thrones).
- David Johnson, 71, English football player (Ipswich Town, Liverpool, national team) and manager, throat cancer.
- Irene Cara, 63, American singer (“Flashdance… What a Feeling“) and actress (Sparkle, Fame), Oscar winner.
- Doddie Weir, 52, Scottish rugby union player (Newcastle Falcons, Border Reivers, national team), complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In Other News
BBC Strictly Come Dancing has been thrown into turmoil in the last week with several celebrities and professionals ‘very, very ill’ according to competitor Fleur East. The singer and radio host who is taking part in this years competition told her listeners that the Saturday night favourite was in chaos last week due to illness. “There were a few mentions on Saturday night, but it was a tough week for a lot of people in the competition”. While it had been documented that there had been some illness in camp ahead of Saturday’s show, Fleur laid bare the reality. She said: “Hamza Yassin was very, very sick, so was Will Mellor]and so was Kym Marsh and we didn’t say anything on Saturday but Vito Coppola was really ill last week too. I got one full day of rehearsal with him.” She added: “Everyone was getting the flu! So, he was out for the count and in bed – he didn’t move for two days. I started freaking out on Thursday because I was like oh my gosh, I’ve had to practice with someone else. And as soon as Vito did make it to rehearsals, he was a different height, had a different stance – it was like a brand-new routine I had to learn. In the end we got about six hours together before production rehearsal on Friday. But I think when you have that added pressure you just pull it out from somewhere. We were both like right we were in the dance off last week, we need to just get this done! He was sweating and everything but somehow, we pulled it together!”
For more than 30 years, Rolf Harris was a showbiz powerhouse, earning a slew of number one hits and appearing on some of the biggest TV shows of the day. But all that came to an abrupt end in June 2014 when he was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison for 12 indecent assaults on four teenage girls between 1968 and 1986, although one of those was later overturned. The former star – who was born in Perth, Australia – served nearly three years at HMP Stafford before being released on licence in May 2017. In 2016, while still in prison, Harris was charged in relation to seven unconnected historic allegations of indecent assault but was cleared on three counts and the jury was discharged before reaching a verdict on the remaining four. He was later retried for three offences and one new charge but was acquitted after the jury could not reach a verdict. “I feel no sense of victory, only relief,” Harris said in a statement at the time. Now said to be ‘gravely ill’, the last years of Harris’ life have been a world away from the glamorous existence he once enjoyed. Aged 92, he is believed to have returned to his multi-million pound estate in Berkshire upon his release from prison – as several neighbouring homes were put up for sale, some with millions off the asking price. In 2019 it was reported that Harris was living as a recluse, leaving the house only to get medication for his diabetes, which he once told Australian newspaper, the Herald Sun, he had ‘suffered from for 25 years’. He is said to spend his days with wife Alwen Hughes, who he met at art school when she was a sculptor, and stood by him in the trial. Harris did, however, make an infamous appearance that same year when he showed up in the grounds of a primary school where he was seen waving at children before the head teacher asked him to leave. School head Richard Jarrett shook Harris’ hand before ordering him off the grounds. Mr Jarrett said it was the first time Harris, who lives nearby, had entered the school gates. But parents were outraged that he had got anywhere near their kids. Rolf is reported to have taken a turn for the worse after the death of his beloved poodle earlier in the year. Neighbour Portia Wooderson told the Flying Monkeys: “Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go. I’m told he can’t eat anymore.” Private investigator and author William Merritt confirmed his health woes, claiming it was difficult to understand Harris when he communicates. “As far as his health goes, yes, he is very ill. But, Rolf keeps going. He’s still around but he’s not well at all.”
On This Day
- 1835 – James Pratt and John Smith are hanged in London; they are the last two to be executed for sodomy in England.
- 1978 – In San Francisco, city mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk are assassinated by former supervisor Dan White.
- 2001 – A hydrogen atmosphere is discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope, the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
- 2020 – Days after the announcement of its discovery, the Utah monolith is removed by recreationists.
- 1852 – Ada Lovelace, English mathematician and computer scientist (b. 1815)
- 1975 – Ross McWhirter, English author and activist, co-founded the Guinness Book of Records (b. 1925)
- 1978 – Harvey Milk, American lieutenant and politician (b. 1930)
- 1988 – John Carradine, American actor (b. 1906)
- 2010 – Irvin Kershner, American actor, director, and producer (b. 1923)
- 2011 – Ken Russell, English actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1927)
- 2011 – Gary Speed, Welsh footballer and manager (b. 1969)
- 2013 – Lewis Collins, English-American actor (b. 1946)
- 2014 – P. D. James, English author (b. 1920)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Lashana Lynch (35), Sharlto Copley (49), Robin Givens (58), Bill Nye (67), Kristin Bauer van Straten (56), Peter Facinelli (49), Mark Margolis (83), Rita Ora (32), Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (34), Tina Turner (83), Christina Applegate (51), John Larroquette (75), Kristian Nairn (47), Bruno Tonioli (67), Sarah Hyland (33), Colin Hanks (46), Katherine Heigl (45), Stephen Merchant (48), Conleth Hill (58), Denise Crosby (65), Billy Connolly (80), Dwight Schultz (75), Kayvan Novak (44), Miley Cyrus (30), Kelly Brook (43), Michelle Gomez (56), Ricky Whittle (41), Scarlett Johansson (38), Jamie Lee Curtis (64), Mads Mikkelsen (57), Mark Ruffalo (55), Terry Gilliam (82), Goldie Hawn (77), Alexander Siddig (57), and Björk (57).
Even though I’m slightly dying, or maybe I should say, recovering from a short hospitalisation, I still felt I had to get this weeks issue out, too many points and dead celebrities abound! I know, I’m a martyr!
So, with the passing of Dead Pool favourite Leslie Phillips, let’s dole out the points! 52 points go to Shân, Lee, Paul C, Julia, and Martin; and a whopping 152 points go to Fiona, myself, and Paula for listing him as our Certs. Well done everyone!
And since I’m sat on my arse convalescing, I’ve had time to go through everyones lists to correct any misses, so 46 points go to Dave for the passing of Art Rupe last April and a further 50 points for the death of Charley Trippi. Also 71 points go to Lee for the passing of Tom Weiskopf and a further 59 points for Stuart Briscowe who died last August. Rachel also scores 48 points for the death of Laurent Noël from last August. So with all those points awarded, the leader board looks quite different now. Well done everyone!!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Leslie Phillips, 98, British actor (Carry On, The Navy Lark, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and author.
- Bill Treacher, 92, British actor (EastEnders, The Musketeer, Dixon of Dock Green), COVID-19 and pneumonia.
- Pierre Kartner, 87, Dutch musician and songwriter (The Smurfs).
- Dan McCafferty, 76, Scottish singer (Nazareth) and songwriter (“Broken Down Angel“, “Hair of the Dog“).
- Tom Owen, 73, British actor (Last of the Summer Wine, Tottering Towers).
- Garry Roberts, 72, Irish guitarist (The Boomtown Rats).
- Kevin Conroy, 66, American actor (Batman: The Animated Series, Search for Tomorrow, Ohara), intestinal cancer.
- Nik Turner, 82, British musician (Hawkwind).
- Keith Levene, 65, English guitarist (The Clash, Public Image Ltd) and songwriter (“Flowers of Romance“), liver cancer.
- Jim Bohannon, 78, American broadcaster (America in The Morning, Larry King Show, Face the Nation), oesophageal cancer.
- David English, 76, British actor (A Bridge Too Far, Lisztomania), cricketer (MCC) and writer, heart attack.
In Other News
Jonnie Irwin, presenter of shows A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country, has terminal cancer. The host, 48, kept his illness a secret, but has decided to make the news public after learning the cancer has spread from his lungs to his brain. He said in a new interview that he he hopes it will inspire people to “make the most of every day”. Speaking to the Flying Monkeys, Irwin said: “I don’t know how long I have.” He said he first became aware something was wrong while filming Channel 4 daytime series A Place in the Sun in August 2020. He experienced blurry vision while driving and, “within a week of flying back from filming” he said he was “given six months to live”. “I had to go home and tell my wife, who was looking after our babies, that she was on her own pretty much,” he said, adding: “That was devastating. All I could do was apologise to her. I felt so responsible.” Discussing his decision to come forward with the diagnosis, Irwin continued: “It’s got to the point now where it feels like I’m carrying a dirty secret, it’s become a monkey on my back. I hope that by shaking that monkey off I might inspire people who are living with life-limiting prospects to make the most of every day, to help them see that you can live a positive life, even though you are dying. One day, this is going to catch up with me, but I’m doing everything I can to hold that day off for as long as possible. I owe that to Jess and our boys. Some people in my position have bucket lists, but I just want us to do as much as we can as a family.” Irwin has a three-year-old son named Rex, and two-year-old twins named Rafa and Cormac with his wife Jessica. He said that, while he is unsure how long her has left to live, he tries “to stay positive” and tell himself that he’s living with cancer, not dying from it”. “I set little markers, things I want to be around for. I got into the habit of saying ‘Don’t plan ahead because I might not be well enough.’ But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.” Irwin also recommended taking out life insurance, stating “that has helped so much”. “When I leave this planet, I’ll do so knowing Jess and the boys are in a house that is fully paid off and there’s a bit of money in the bank for them to live off.”
The man who inspired Tom Hanks’ blockbuster film ‘The Terminal’ died after suffering a heart attack in the Parisian airport he called home for 18 years, officials revealed. Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport from 1988 until 2006 – first in legal limbo and later by choice. He had recently returned to the airport and taken up residence in Terminal 2F after several years in a shelter in Paris. Police and a medical team were called to the terminal on Saturday amid reports Mr Nasseri had suffered a heart attack. He could not be saved, an airport authority said. Karimi Nasseri, believed to have been born in 1945 lacked residency papers when he first arrived in France, meaning he was stranded in the airport. Year in and year out, he slept on a red plastic bench, making friends with airport workers, showering in staff facilities, writing in his diary, reading magazines and watching passing travellers. Staff nicknamed him Lord Alfred and he became a mini-celebrity among passengers. His saga inspired The Terminal starring Tom Hanks, and a French film. ‘Eventually, I will leave the airport,’ he told The Associated Press in 1999, smoking a pipe on his bench, looking frail with long thin hair, sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. ‘But I am still waiting for a passport or transit visa.’ Mr Nasseri was born in Soleiman, a part of Iran then under British jurisdiction, to an Iranian father and a British mother. He left Iran to study in England in 1974. When he returned, he claimed he was imprisoned for protesting against the shah and expelled without a passport. Later investigations suggested he was never, in fact, banished from Iran. He applied for political asylum in several countries in Europe. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgium gave him refugee credentials but he said his briefcase containing the refugee certificate was stolen in a Paris train station. French police later arrested him but could not deport him anywhere because he had no official documents. He ended up at Charles de Gaulle in August 1988 and stayed. Further bureaucratic bungling and increasingly strict European immigration laws kept him in a legal no-man’s land for years. When he finally received refugee papers, he described his surprise, and his insecurity, about leaving the airport. He reportedly refused to sign them, and ended up staying there several more years until he was admitted to hospital in 2006, and later lived in a Paris shelter. Both France and Belgium offered Nasseri residency throughout the years but he reportedly was upset they listed him as Iranian, rather than British, and wanted them to address him by his preferred name; Sir Alfred Mehran. Those who befriended him in the airport said the years of living in the windowless space took a toll on his mental state. The airport doctor in the 1990s worried about his physical and mental health, and described him as ‘fossilised here’. A ticket agent compared him to a prisoner incapable of ‘living on the outside’.
On This Day
- 1947 – The Soviet Union completes development of the AK-47, one of the first assault rifles.
- 1970 – Bhola cyclone: A 150 mph tropical cyclone hits the densely populated Ganges Delta region of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), killing an estimated 500,000 people in one night.
- 1985 – The volcano Nevado del Ruiz erupts and melts a glacier, causing a lahar (volcanic mudslide) that buries Armero, Colombia, killing approximately 23,000 people.
- 2015 – Islamic State operatives carry out a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, including suicide bombings, mass shootings and a hostage crisis. The terrorists kill 130 people, making it the deadliest attack in France since the Second World War.
- 1974 – Karen Silkwood, American technician and activist (b. 1946)
- 2020 – Peter Sutcliffe, English serial killer (b. 1946)
Inside the world of Wikipedia’s Deaditors
Wikipedia is pretty sick, isn’t it? Imagine the world before you could do a quick “Wiki” search – life must have been inconvenient, dissatisfying, maybe even frustrating. Pub chats, quick curiosities, proving points to your flatmates halfway through a discussion, all left up in the air. Libraries are useful, but they’re just not at our fingertips. Nor are their books updated in practically real time.
At 5:30pm on September 8th 2022, for instance, the Queen’s Wiki page had a huge increase in “edit conflicts”, the term given to an instance where two or more people edit the same page at the same time. In fact, there were hundreds of edit conflicts. Note the time. The BBC announced her death on the news at 6:30pm. This means Wiki’s “deaditors” were already scrambling to update her Wiki page an hour before the beeb. Now that’s quick.
“Deaditors”, you ask? Coined by a Wikipedia editor and web developer Hay Kranen, the term refers to the people responsible for making you go “woah, that was quick” when you check someone’s Wiki as soon as you’ve heard they’ve died. Every “is” has been turned into a “was” and the photo of the deceased will have been changed, too (a Wikipedia tradition, for some reason). The death of Queen Elizabeth II is a good recent example of this happening, but these diligent deaditors are always en garde to document history as it happens.
Wikipedia pages are all kept up to date by volunteers, and the operation is funded mainly through donations to Wikimedia Foundation Inc., the parent company for Wikipedia (surely you’ve seen the pop ups asking you to donate?). These volunteers are called Wikipedians, but there’s a few sub-categories within this community of online archiving.
Annie Rauwerda is a recent neuroscience graduate from the University of Michigan, who runs the Depths of Wiki social media accounts. Rauwerda tells me she’s more into “editing or creating pages for unconventional things that are less in the limelight. More boring, evergreen topics, as opposed to current affairs.” This form of Wikipedian doesn’t have a specific name just yet – perhaps we could call them nichepedians. But other types of wikipedians do have defined names. The editor categorisations are technically known as WikiFauna and there’s loads of ‘em: WikiOrcs, WikiKittens, WikiNinjas… we could go on.
When it comes to the deaditors, there’s also a special title given to the person who updates the deceased’s page first: WikiJackal. In the case of the Queen, the quickest of them all was an editor called Sydwhunte, whose edit was the first to be validated at 5:32pm. (The validation here refers to sorting stuff out on the back end of the site; people don’t necessarily check for facts before a change is made on Wikipedia, which does mean “vandalism” occurs from time to time.) Given the magnitude of the event, Sydwhunte’s been getting more kudos from the Wiki community than most, with other editors and users sending congratulatory messages.
Why do these volunteers dedicate so much time to updating pages? It’s fairly simple, really. “If you make small insightful edits, it’s possible that if you’re on a highly trafficked article, your work is going to be read by a ton of people,” says Rauwerda. Plus, we all like the buzz of being the first to do something, don’t we? It’s just like chipping into the Twitter discourse with a fresh, spicy take.
But on Wikipedia you tend to be anonymous, which makes the pursuit of editing its pages a more noble trade. “You don’t get glory. You don’t get recognition beyond a small community of media editors,” says Rauwerda. “You certainly don’t get money. But there are a lot of very smart, selfless people that spend a lot of time writing history in real time.”
One of these is Steven Pruitt, the most prolific (English language) Wikipedia editor of them all. Pruitt goes under the username Ser Amantio di Nicolao, which is borrowed from a minor character in Giacomo Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi. He’s made over five million edits to Wikipedia and created well over 30,000 articles, so you’ve almost certainly read his work at some point. Given how prolific his edits are, he’s also dipped across a few categories of wiki editor during the roughly twenty years in which he’s been a volunteer. A true Jack of all WikiFauna, in a Reddit AMA, Pruitt himself said, “Wikipedia’s a free community – it wouldn’t feel right asking for money to edit. It’s a hobby. One that has taken over my life a bit, but a hobby nonetheless.”
And yes, anyone can edit Wikipedia – that’s why we’re told not to rely on it too much for university assignments or whatever. But the people doing so are generally diligent and accurate, updating and creating pages out of the kindness of their hearts. Without them, you’d still be quietly seething after not being able to prove you were right about whatever sparked your last pub debate. Wikipedia, what a wonderful world.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Gerard Butler (53), Whoopi Goldberg (67), Chris Noth (68), Jimmy Kimmel (55), Anne Hathaway (40), Ryan Gosling (42), Wallace Shawn (79), Neil Young (77), Stanley Tucci (62), Leonardo DiCaprio (48), Demi Moore (60), Calista Flockhart (58), Taron Egerton (33), Hugh Bonneville (59), Clare Higgins (67), Neil Gaiman (62), Lou Ferrigno (71), Parker Posey (54), Gretchen Mol (50), Tara Reid (47), Alfre Woodard (70), Matthew Rhys (48), Richard Curtis (66), Gordon Ramsay (56), and Adam Devine (39).
Here we are again, another week of ‘celebrities’ passing away. Personally I haven’t got a clue who they are/were, but the Flying Monkeys insist they’re notable for some reason or other… Anyhow, thank you to everyone who contributed to this weeks edition, you’re superb as always!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Max Maven, 71, American magician and mentalist, brain cancer.
- Ronnie Radford, 79, English football player (Hereford United, Newport County) and manager (Worcester City).
- Nicole Josy, 76, Belgian singer (Eurovision Song Contest 1973), fall.
- Aaron Carter, 34, American singer (“Crush on You“, “Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)“, “Leave It Up to Me“).
In Other News
Former Pakistan leader Imran Khan was shot in the shin on Thursday when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in what his aides said was an assassination attempt. The 70-year-old was standing and waving to cheering crowds from the roof of a truck when the shots rang out. One of his supporters was killed and several more injured in the attack in Wazirabad, 120 miles from Islamabad. Khan was out of danger, said Faisal Sultan, a doctor who is also the head of the Lahore hospital where the former premier was being treated. Scans and x-rays showed bullet fragments in Khan’s leg. “It was a clear assassination attempt. Khan was hit but he’s stable. There was a lot of bleeding,” said Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesperson for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Footage on Pakistan television channels showed Mr Khan with a bandage on his leg as he was being taken to a hospital. Video of the incident showed a gunman being taken down by another man as he tried to fire his weapon. Mr Khan is leading a massive “long march” to Islamabad to demand a snap election after he was ousted as prime minister in a parliamentary confidence vote in April. He has mobilised mass rallies across the country, claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy by his successor, Shehbaz Sharif. Sharif condemned Thursday’s attack and ordered his government to investigate the incident. He added that he was praying for Khan: “Violence should have no place in our country’s politics.”
Former Love Island star, Maura Higgins, almost died from toxic shock syndrome (TSS) after medics found a tampon inside her, three months after she used it. The reality TV star revealed she had a “very bad experience” and is hoping by speaking out, she can raise awareness of the risks for people. TSS is mainly associated with tampon use in young women. Maura, 31, is set to appear on Shopping with Keith Lemon, where she will discuss her experience, as well as how women can achieve the perfect orgasm on their own, sans her rotting tampon we hope…. Recalling her experience, the former grid girl explained she believed she was going to die, before adding: “I’m not a doctor, I don’t know much about that, but I know you are not meant to leave a tampon inside for more than, in think, it’s nine hours, I think that’s the max. There was a tampon inside me for three months. When the doctor found it, it was stuck to my cervix and I was so ill, I did not know what was going on.” Maura explained that she had to leave the room after it had been removed due to the smell of the tampon. “There were people that have died from that happening,” she said, before continuing: “young girls might not have noticed, like you go on a night out, what if you got really drunk and forgot, like, these things actually do happen, and people don’t speak about it. I remember even being in school, I used to get my tampon out the bag, push it up my sleeve and then go to the toilet like that…thinking back, why was I doing that? It’s nothing to be ashamed about, that’s why I think it’s an important topic.” Anyhow, the putrid punani didn’t die, but would probably be worth listing as a Maverick in the future.
On This Day
- 1986 – Sumburgh disaster: A British International Helicopters Boeing 234LR Chinook crashes 21⁄2 miles east of Sumburgh Airport killing 45 people. It is the deadliest civilian helicopter crash on record.
- 2004 – An express train collides with a stationary car near the village of Ufton Nervet, England, killing seven and injuring 150.
- 2012 – Tammy Baldwin becomes the first openly gay politician to be elected to the United States Senate.
- 2000 – L. Sprague de Camp, American historian and author (b. 1907)
- 2007 – Hilda Braid, English actress and singer (b. 1929)
- 2012 – Clive Dunn, English actor (b. 1920)
The Highest-Paid Dead Celebrities
Just to make you feel more of a failure, the listed celebrities below are earning more money than all of us together will see in a lifetime, whilst rotting away in their graves.
Thanks to an insatiable demand for proven hitmakers, there is a bonanza in the boneyard: Over the last year, the total earnings for the thirteen best compensated dead celebrities has tripled to nearly $1 billion.
1. $513 Million – Roald Dahl – November 23, 1990 (74) – Cancer
Roald Dahl has finally found his golden ticket. The creator of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had plenty of success while living – he wrote 43 books which were adapted into 16 feature films – but it wasn’t until he was long dead that his fortunes hit the stratosphere. 31 years after Dahl died of cancer at age 74, Netflix paid a reported $684 million for the Roald Dahl Story Company. The streaming giant plans to build out a sweeping flood of programming from the British novelist’s trove of stories including Charlie, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and scores more.
2. $120 Million – Prince – April 21, 2016 (57) – Overdose
With so many hits under his belt prior to his death it’s no wonder he would rate high on this list. Three of his heirs cashed in, selling each of their stakes for an estimated combined total of $108 million – sending The Purple One eight spots up the ranking from No. 10.
3. $75 Million – Michael Jackson – June 25, 2009 (50) – Overdose
The King of Pop’s Music catalog, which includes tunes by Ray Charles, Elvis and Aretha Franklin, gave Jackson a big boost this year by drawing in a new $30 million investment during 2021. His own discography of hits — including “Billie Jean,” “Beat it” and “Thriller” racked up 1.3 billion streams.
4. $47 Million – Charlie Schulz – February 12, 2000 (77) – Cancer
Charlie and the rest of the Peanuts crew haven’t slowed down. The Peanuts business brought in $47 million more in revenue this fiscal year compared to 2020, for a total of $157 million. Part of that comes from a deal with Apple TV+, where the second season of Snoopy in Space! is set to start streaming.
5. $35 Million – Dr. Seuss – September 24, 1991 (87) – Cancer
Theodor Seuss Geisel sold almost 7 million print books in the U.S. over the last year – despite controversy about racist imagery in some of his early works – up from 6 million copies in 2020 and continues to profit from a years-long courtship of Hollywood led by his widow before her death in 2018. Dr. Seuss Enterprises president Susan Brandt leaned into streaming, forging a deal with Netflix to create the big-budget animated series Green Eggs and Ham.
6. $33 Million – Bing Cosby – October 14, 1977 (75) – Heart Attack
The Holiday Inn star, famous for his baritone singing voice, makes his debut on the list after his estate sold a stake in his master recordings royalties – including his 1,600-plus songs, name and likeness and more – for roughly $30 million. American holiday season lovers streamed the song “White Christmas” 87 million times in 2020.
7. $30 Million – Elvis Presley – August 16, 1977 (42) – Heart Attack
With Graceland approaching pre-Covid attendance levels, the King’s empire is recuperating – and landing new partnerships, including Cinedigm’s The Elvis Presley Channel, which debuts on his birthday, January 8th, and promises archival content, concerts and more. In the Autumn, Netflix will premiere an animated adult series called ‘Agent King,’ in which Elvis will explore an alternate history where he faked his own death to fight crime with a secret government spy program.
8. $27 Million – Arnold Palmer – September 25, 2016 (87) – Heart Disease
Golf tournaments are back after a season shortened by the pandemic and Arnie’s Army is right there with the competition. The deal Palmer signed with Arizona Beverages for his namesake lemonade-iced tea beverage brings in millions, and the spiked version had a 15% growth spurt in sales this year, according to Molson Coors.
9. $23 Million – Gerry Goffin – June 19, 2014 (78) – Natural Causes
The lyricist co-wrote 50-plus Top 40 hits with prolific singer-songwriter Carole King during their marriage, which were recorded by acts like The Shirelles, The Drifters, Bobby Vee and Steve Lawrence. He got even better with time: In the 80’s and 90’s he produced “Savin’ All My Love for You,” the song that made Whitney Houston a star and released his second album Back Room Blood with collaborators Bob Dylan and Barry Goldberg. Primary Wave bought a stake in his catalog for about $20 million.
10. $21 Million – Luther Vandross – July 1, 2005 (54) – Stroke
R&B legend Vandross joins the ranks thanks to a deal with Primary Wave. His estate pocketed roughly $20 million for a stake of his publishing and master recording income streams, which include songs like his 1981 breakthrough tune “Never Too Much,” the lead single off his album of the same name that shot up the charts and earned his two Grammy nominations. Vandross sold 40 million records worldwide over his 30-year career.
11. $16 Million – Bob Marley – May 11, 1981 (36) – Cancer
The reggae star’s brand – which covers speakers, turntables, headphones, clothing and lighters, has expanded into psychedelics, thanks to an exclusive multi-year license agreement with Silo Wellness Inc. to develop a mushroom product line called Marley One. His listeners also keep coming back to his hits like “Is This Love” and “Jamming,” consistently streaming his songs 1 billion times per year in the U.S.
12. $15 Million – Juice World – December 8, 2019 (21) – Overdose
Jarad Higgins, better known by his 13 million followers on Twitter and Instagram as “Juice WRLD,” is the top-played musician on the list by a landslide with 5.6 billion U.S. streams, which make up the bulk of his earnings this year. In May, his team released an anniversary edition of his sophomore album Goodbye & Good Riddance with two additional songs.
13. $12 Million – John Lennon – December 8, 1980 (40) – Murdered
Lennon and Yoko Ono’s hopeful classic “Imagine” was commemorated on its 50th anniversary with the lyric “imagine all the people living life in peace” projected on buildings in New York and London. Though famously purchased in part by Michael Jackson, his share of the Beatles songs – the world’s most valuable catalog – continues to pay off.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ethan Hawke (52), Emma Stone (34), Rebecca Romijn (50), Thandiwe Newton (50), Sally Field (76), Lori Singer (65), Nigel Havers (71), Maria Shriver (67), Famke Janssen (58), Sam Rockwell (54), Tilda Swinton (62), Robert Patrick (64), Elke Sommer (82), Tatum O’Neal (59), Armin Shimerman (73), Art Garfunkel (81), Matthew McConaughey (53), Ralph Macchio (61), Olivia Taylor Dudley (37), Loretta Swit (85), Dolph Lundgren (65), Roseanne Barr (70), Dylan Moran (51), Lulu (74), David Schwimmer (56), Stefanie Powers (80), Toni Collette (50), Natalia Tena (38), Jenny McCarthy (50), Anthony Kiedis (60), Peter Jackson (61), and Stephen Rea (76).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Amou Haji, 94, Iranian hermit, known as “the world’s dirtiest man”
- Leslie Jordan, 67, American actor (Will & Grace, Hearts Afire, Call Me Kat).
- Jerry Lee Lewis, 87, American singer (“Great Balls of Fire“, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On“, “High School Confidential“) and pianist, pneumonia.
- Jules Bass, 87, American animator and television producer (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, The Last Unicorn), co-founder of Rankin/Bass Productions.
In Other News
An Iranian hermit known as “the world’s dirtiest man” has died aged 94, having spent most of his life avoiding bathing. Iranian flying monkeys reported that Amou Haji, or “Uncle Haji”, died on Sunday in Dezhgah village in the southern province of Fars. Locals said he had shunned hygiene for more than 70 years due to “emotional setbacks” in his youth that led him to believe washing would ruin his health. He was also said to avoid fresh food, preferring rotting carcasses, especially those of porcupines. He was known to smoke animal faeces out of a pipe and was pictured drawing on several cigarettes at a time. Locals were fond of him and built an open brick shack for him to live in, according to a 2014 article in the Tehran Times. Haji fell ill not long after locals finally took him to bathe for the first time in decades, the flying monkeys reported. On an earlier attempt by neighbours to take him to bathe in the local river, Haji threw himself out of the car when he realised the purpose of the trip. Unsurprisingly, Haji never married. His funeral was set for Tuesday night in Farashband City, Fars. The hermit’s death leaves open the chance for a 67-year-old Indian man to take over what could be the record length of time without washing. Kailash Singh of Maharashtra has not bathed in nearly half a century on the promise of a priest that shunning cleanliness would guarantee him a son.
Tributes have been paid to the late radio presenter Tim Gough, who died while on air on Monday. The 55-year-old broadcaster died from a suspected heart attack at his home in Lackford, Suffolk, while presenting his regular breakfast show on GenX Radio. News of Gough’s death was confirmed by a spokesperson at GenX, who tweeted: “It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to inform you, our dear friend and breakfast host Tim Gough passed away this morning whilst presenting his programme. “Our love to his family, son, sister, brother and mum. Tim was doing what he loved. He was 55 years old. RIP buddy.” GenX said it was “shocked and devastated beyond words” at Gough’s death. James Hazell, managing director of GenX Radio, said : “To know Tim personally, as I did very closely for over 30 years, was to know a warm, caring, fun guy who myself and my family loved dearly. We are heartbroken by the news. I know his family are enormously comforted by the hundreds of loving messages that have been received and have asked for privacy at this devastating time.” Gough was reportedly an hour into hosting his breakfast show when the music stopped midway through a track. When the music resumed a few minutes later, he did not return.
US house speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she and her family are “heartbroken and traumatised” after a “violent man” broke into her San Francisco home and attacked her husband. Paul Pelosi, 82, is recovering from a skull fracture after he was struck with a hammer by an intruder on Friday. The Democrat broke her silence on the attack with a statement on Sunday, saying her husband’s condition “continues to improve”. She said: “Sadly, a violent man broke into our family home yesterday morning, demanded to confront me and brutally attacked my husband Paul. Our children, our grandchildren and I are heartbroken and traumatised by the life-threatening attack on our Pop. We are grateful for the quick response of law enforcement and emergency services and for the life-saving medical care he is receiving.” The intruder – David DePape – broke into the couple’s home in San Francisco at around 2.30am, reportedly looking for the US house speaker. Police said officers were called to the house for a “wellbeing check” and arrived to find both men holding the hammer. They said the suspect then pulled the hammer away from Mr Pelosi and used it to “violently assault” him, before being tackled by officers. At some point, the suspect searched for the Democrat leader shouting, “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told a news conference on Friday night that the attack on Mr Pelosi at their San Francisco home was “intentional”. He said: “This was not a random act. This was intentional. And it’s wrong.” Mr Scott declined to comment further on a possible motive for the assault and said the investigation was ongoing.
On This Day
- 1938 – Orson Welles broadcasts a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, causing a massive panic in some of the audience in the United States.
- 1961 – The Soviet Union detonates the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful explosive device ever detonated.
- 2015 – Sixty-four people are killed and more than 147 injuries after a fire in a nightclub in the Romanian capital Bucharest.
- 1923 – Bonar Law, Canadian-English banker and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1858)
- 1979 – Barnes Wallis, English scientist and engineer, inventor of the “bouncing bomb” (b. 1887)
- 2015 – Al Molinaro, American actor (b. 1919)
For the Chop!
Jemma Mitchell, 38, was jailed for life with a minimum term of at least 34 years after she was found guilty of beheading Mee Kuen Chong, 67, and transporting her body 200 miles in a suitcase to dump it in woodland. Mitchell, who the prosecution said was motivated by money, killed Chong in London in June 2021 and later dumped the body in Devon.
Judge Richard Marks said Mitchell showed no remorse for the murder and it was clear that the “apparently religious” killer is “extremely devious”.
Mr Marks added that a “chilling aspect” of the murder was what Mitchell did to Ms Chong’s body. “I am in no doubt whatsoever and your counsel acknowledges it that this was a murder done for gain,” Mr Marks said.
Mr Marks said Mitchell was “highly intelligent” and took advantage of Ms Chong who was vulnerable because of her mental health struggles. Ms Chong’s sister Amy Chong provided a victim impact statement and joined the hearing by video link from Malaysia, along with the victim’s nieces Pinky and Yinky and nephew Ryan.
She said in her statement said: “Deborah’s death was a shock to us all. It was difficult to comprehend how it could have happened to her, although we are not close due to certain differences of opinion with regard to religion. “It saddens me she had to go through such a horrifying ordeal and tragic death.”
Reading his sentencing statement, Mr Marks said Mitchell went to Chong’s home with murder in mind. “Two weeks later you hired a car for a period of only 24 hours, you were seen on CCTV to put that large suitcase into the hire car. It was clearly heavy, such that you needed a trolley to wheel it down the road and into the car,” Mr Marks KC said.
“That is because it contained Deborah’s body. Your plans went awry when you had a puncture that had to be attended to by the AA, this meant that you had rather less time down there to find a place to secrete the body than you had envisaged. Hence why you were unable to find a more remote location than you did.”
Chong’s headless body was found by holidaymakers beside a woodland footpath near Salcombe on 27th June last year. Following a police search of the area, Ms Chong’s skull was recovered a few metres away from the body.
Gruesome pictures released following the sentencing showed an open suitcase, allegedly used by Mitchell to transport the body to the woods.
During the trial, the prosecution revealed a fake will was found at Mitchell’s house, leaving the bulk of Ms Chong’s estate to her.
Jurors were told she came up with the plan to kill Chong, who was known as Deborah, after she backed out of giving her £200,000 to pay for repairs to Mitchell’s dilapidated family home, worth £4m.
The osteopath, who boasted online of her award-winning skill in human dissection, had denied having anything to do with Ms Chong’s death but declined to give evidence at her trial. It was claimed on her behalf that the prosecution had failed to prove that she was involved or that Ms Chong was even murdered as a post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be “un-ascertained”. However, a pathologist said her skull fractures could have been caused by being pushed onto a protruding surface or being hit with a weapon, although none was ever recovered. Multiple rib fractures could have been caused by Chong being stuffed inside a suitcase that Mitchell was seen wheeling away, or during resuscitation attempts, jurors heard.
Mitchell had decapitated Chong and stored her remains in the garden of the house she shared with her retired mother, the prosecution said during the trial.
On 26th June last year, she stowed the body inside the suitcase in the boot of a hire car and drove to Devon. En route to Salcombe, the Volvo blew a tyre and Mitchell was forced to drive into a service station and call for assistance. The repairman called to change the wheel described Mitchell’s “confused” demeanour and an “odd musty smell” inside the vehicle.
Jurors heard that none of the people who came to her aid saw the large blue suitcase in the boot, suggesting she had stashed it somewhere nearby, according to the prosecution.
Detective chief inspector Jim Eastwood, who led the investigation, described it as a “truly despicable crime”. He said: “The motivation for Jemma Mitchell’s actions was money and she showed a significant degree of planning and calculation as she attempted to cover up her horrific actions. The cold facts of this case are shocking.”
Mitchell had grown up in Australia, where her mother worked for the British Foreign Office and had set up an osteopathy business there before returning to the UK in 2015.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Fiona Dourif (41), Michael Beach (59), Clémence Poésy (40), Henry Winkler (77), Jessica Hynes (50), Winona Ryder (51), Ben Foster (42), Rufus Sewell (55), Richard Dreyfuss (75), Dan Castellaneta (65), Matt Smith (40), Julia Roberts (55), Annie Potts (70), Joaquin Phoenix (48), Gwendoline Christie (44), Caitlyn Jenner (73), John Cleese (83), Robert Picardo (69), Kelly Osbourne (38), Anthony Rapp (51), Cary Elwes (60), Seth MacFarlane (49), Jon Heder (45), Tom Cavanagh (59), Keith Urban (55), Mia Goth (29), Adam Goldberg (52), Craig Robinson (51), Nancy Cartwright (65), Katy Perry (38), Glynis Barber (67), Kevin Kline (75), and F. Murray Abraham (83).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Noel Duggan, 73, Irish musician (Clannad, The Duggans).
- Mikaben, 41, Haitian singer, songwriter, and producer, cardiac arrest.
- María Salud Ramírez Caballero, 109, Mexican centenarian, inspiration of Coco.
- Joanna Simon, 85, American opera singer, thyroid cancer.
- Lucy Simon, 82, American composer (The Secret Garden) and folk singer (The Simon Sisters), breast cancer.
- Ron Masak, 86, American actor (Murder, She Wrote, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Evel Knievel).
- Josephine Melville, 61, British actress (EastEnders, The Bill).
- Silvana Suárez, 64, Argentine beauty queen, Miss World (1978), colon cancer.
- Bernard Atha, 94, English actor (Kes, Coronation Street) and politician, mayor of Leeds (2000–2001).
In Other News
In a very sad development, Carly Simon lost both of her sisters this week, with Broadway composer Lucy Simon dying of breast cancer Thursday and former opera singer Joanna Simon passing from thyroid cancer on Wednesday. Both deaths were confirmed by a source close to pop superstar Carly. Lucy Simon was 82, Joanna Simon was 85. Born into wealth and a rarified atmosphere of celebrity and literati to Simon & Schuster publisher Richard Simon and wife Andrea, the Simon sisters – their brother Peter was the youngest sibling – would all find their ways to success in professional music careers. Carly Simon would become one of pop music’s most successful and commercially viable of the era’s singer-songrwriters, with hits including “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” and “Anticipation” in 1971, and, the following year, her smash signature tune “You’re So Vain,” which endures on classic pop radio and as an object of debate over the mystery man of the lyrics. Lucy and Joanna Simon were predeceased by their brother, the photographer Peter Simon, who died of cardiac arrest at age 71 in 2018 after battling cancer.
Where and when you die certainly elevates your newsworthiness it seems. Actress, director and writer Josephine Melville has died backstage after performing in a play. Nottingham Playhouse said Ms Melville died on Thursday after appearing in a production of Nine Night. The venue said she was treated by paramedics and a medically qualified audience member but died at the scene. Her acting credits included parts in EastEnders, The Bill and Casualty along with several theatre roles. She portrayed Tessa Parker – girlfriend of Kelvin Carpenter – for eight episodes of EastEnders in 1986 and earlier this year appeared in the video for Ella Henderson’s single Brave.
Not to be outdone, singer and music producer Mikaben has tragically died after video footage surfaced showing him suddenly collapsing mid-show in Paris. Michael Benjamin, affectionately known as Mikaben, died at the age of 41. The singer had been performing onstage in Paris with the Haitian konpa band CaRiMi when he reportedly collapsed. The incident unfolded live on Twitter, with Frantz Duval – editor of a Haitian newspaper – first alerting fans that something was wrong. Singer Mickael Guirand then told fans to clear out. “End of the concert. We must evacuate the room,” Guirand said. “It’s very complicated. We need prayers.” Video footage from the concert shows Mikaben walking offstage when he suddenly collapses to the ground. The venue was cleared while he was being tended, with reports indicating that he was given CPR. An official cause of death has not been revealed.
Robbie Coltrane’s cause of death has been revealed. The Harry Potter, James Bond and Cracker actor died on 14th October, aged 72. His agent of 40 years, Belinda Wright, announced the news, thanking the medical staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, near Falkirk in Scotland, for their “care and diplomacy”. According to multiple reports, Coltrane died from multiple organ failure. According to the actor’s death certificate, the actor, who played Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter franchise, had been suffering from sepsis, lower respiratory tract infection and heart block. News of the actor’s death led to tributes from the world of Hollywood, including his co-stars Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. Harry Potter fans also shared a poignant clip from the film series’s 20th anniversary, Return to Hogwarts, which aired in January 2022. While discussing its legacy, a tearful Coltrane said: “I just think it’s the end of an era, 10 years of my life. My children have grown up during it, of course. The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children. He added: “So, you could be watching it in 50 years’ time, easy… I’ll not be here, sadly… but Hagrid will, yes.” Coltrane, who was born Anthony Robert McMillan, is survived by his sister Annie Rae, his children Spencer and Alice, and their mother Rhona Gemmell.
On This Day
- 1989 – An explosion at the Houston Chemical Complex in Pasadena, Texas, which registered a 3.5 on the Richter magnitude scale, kills 23 and injures 314.
- 2001 – Apple Computer releases the iPod.
- 2002 – Chechen separatist terrorists seize the House of Culture theatre in Moscow and take approximately 700 theatre-goers hostage. Doesn’t end well…
- 42 BC – Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger, Roman general and politician (b. 85 BC)
- 1915 – W. G. Grace, English cricketer and physician (b. 1848)
- 1921 – John Boyd Dunlop, Scottish businessman, founded Dunlop Rubber (b. 1840)
- 1950 – Al Jolson, Lithuanian-American actor and singer (b. 1886)
- 2001 – Josh Kirby, English illustrator (b. 1928)
- 2014 – Alvin Stardust, English singer and actor (b. 1942)
- 2016 – Pete Burns, English singer-songwriter (b. 1959)
A nice night out at the Theatre
The Moscow theatre hostage crisis was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka Theatre by 40 to 50 armed Chechen terrorists on 23rd October 2002, which involved 850 hostages and ended with the death of at least 170 people. The attackers, led by Movsar Barayev, claimed allegiance to the Islamist separatist movement in Chechnya. They demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya and an end to the Second Chechen War.
Due to the layout of the theatre, special forces would have had to fight through 30 metres of corridor and advance up a well-defended staircase before they could reach the hall in which the hostages were held. The attackers had numerous explosives, with the most powerful in the centre of the auditorium. Spetsnaz operators from Federal Security Service (FSB) Alpha and Vympel, supported by a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) SOBR unit, pumped an undisclosed chemical agent into the building’s ventilation system and began the rescue operation.
The Chechens, some of whom were equipped with gas masks, responded by firing blindly at the Russian positions outside. After thirty minutes, when the gas had taken effect, a physical assault on the building commenced. The combined forces entered through numerous building openings, including the roof, the basement, and finally the front door.
When the shooting began, the terrorists told their hostages to lean forward in the theatere seats and cover their heads behind the seats. Hostages reported that some people in the audience fell asleep, and some of the gunmen put on respirators. As the terrorists and hostages alike began to fall unconscious, several of the female terrorists made a dash for the balcony but passed out before they reached the stairs. They were later found shot dead. Two of the Spetsnaz Alpha Group were also overcome by the gas.
After nearly one and a half hours of sporadic gun battles, the Russian special forces blew open the doors to the main hall and poured into the auditorium. In a fierce firefight, the federals killed most of the hostage-takers, both those still awake and those who had succumbed to the gas.
According to the Russian government, fighting between the troops and the still-conscious Chechen fighters continued in other parts of the building for another 30 minutes to one hour. Initial reports stated that three terrorists were captured alive (the BBC reported that a “handful of surviving fighters were led away in handcuffs”) and two of them managed to escape. Later, the government claimed that all hostage-takers had been killed in the storming.
Alpha team troops said that “this is our first successful operation in years”. Moskovskij Komsomolets cited a Russian special forces operative saying that “if it were a usual storming, we’d have had 150 casualties among our men, added to the hostages.
All 40 of the insurgents were killed, an estimated 130 hostages died during the siege, including 9 foreigners, due to the toxic substance pumped into the theatre. The identity of the gas was not disclosed at the time, although it was believed by some to have been a Fentanyl derivative, such as Carfentanil.
The number of estimated casualties varies widely because many hostages remained unaccounted for and were not included in the official list. Some estimates have put the civilian death toll at more than 200 with 204 names on one list, or even 300, including people who died during the year after the siege from complications from the poison gas. Some former hostages and relatives of the victims claim that the death toll from the chemical agent is being kept secret. According to official numbers, 40 terrorists and about 130 hostages died during the raid or in the following days.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ryan Reynolds (46), Emilia Clarke (36), Sam Raimi (63), ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (63), Christopher Lloyd (84), Bob Odenkirk (60), Jeff Goldblum (70), Saffron Burrows (50), Catherine Deneuve (79), Derek Jacobi (84), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (47), Andrew Scott (46), Everett McGill (77), Kim Kardashian (42), Ken Watanabe (63), Viggo Mortensen (64), Danny Boyle (66), Snoop Dogg (51), Rebecca Ferguson (39), John Lithgow (77), Jon Favreau (56), Zac Efron (35), Jean-Claude Van Damme (62), Felicity Jones (39), Matthew Macfadyen (48), Michael McKean (75), Mark Gatiss (56), George Wendt (74), and Eminem (50).
Points!!!! With the tragic passing of Angela Lansbury, Sarah, Gwenan, Paula, Nickie, Fiona, Millie & Paul G score 54 points, however Debbie scores 154 as she had her down as her Woman. Well done everyone!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Eileen Ryan, 94, American actress (Magnolia, Parenthood, Benny & Joon).
- Michael Callan, 86, American actor (West Side Story, Cat Ballou, Gidget Goes Hawaiian), pneumonia.
- Dame Angela Lansbury, 96, British-American-Irish actress (The Manchurian Candidate, Sweeney Todd, Murder, She Wrote).
- Willie Spence, 23, American singer (American Idol), traffic collision.
- Steve Roberts, 68, British drummer (U.K. Subs), suicide.
- Robbie Coltrane, 72, Scottish actor (Harry Potter, Cracker, GoldenEye) and comedian.
- Ted White, 96, American stuntman (Escape from New York, Road House) and actor (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter).
In Other News
Former Coronation Street and Emmerdale star Chris Fountain has revealed that he suffered a mini stroke. The actor, 35, said he was left “speaking like a toddler” after he woke up one morning in August and was unable to speak properly. Fountain told the flying monkeys that he spent five days in a London hospital and was left fearing “life as I knew it was over”. Fountain was diagnosed with a Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), which is also known as a mini stroke, after a blood clot was lodged in his brain. While he has regained 90 per cent of his speech, the actor revealed he will now have to work with a speech therapist to relearn how to read aloud and not to stumble over his words. “I woke up one morning and knew something wasn’t right. My mum called me and I just couldn’t get my words out,” he told the flying monkeys. “I started walking round my house looking at things and I could think what the word was, like television or fridge, but I couldn’t say it. I called 111 on my mum’s advice and they sent an ambulance for me, it was so scary.” Fountain added that he felt “stupid” because he knew exactly what he wanted to say to the doctors but he “couldn’t get the words out”. “When the doctors confirmed I’d had a TIA and said the word stroke, I just couldn’t believe it, there was a moment of sheer panic just fearing what it meant for the rest of my life. Would I have another one? Would the next one be even worse and I’d lose the use of my arms or legs? I was really scared and just broke down in tears,” he added. Fountain was initially admitted to Homerton University Hospital but was later transferred to the specialist stroke unit at The Royal London Hospital. “The doctors said they saw some damage to the left hand side of my brain which is where your cognitive abilities are controlled from,” he continued. “What’s scary is if I hadn’t have called 111 when I did and got to hospital so quickly I don’t know if that clot could have travelled to the wrong place in my brain, I could have died. That clot was like a ticking bomb in my head.”
BBC presenter George Alagiah will be taking a break from TV after discovering his cancer has spread further, his agent has said. He was first diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2014 and has stepped back from presenting intermittently for treatment since then. The journalist, 66, returned to the BBC’s News at Six in April. Working in the newsroom “has been such an important part of keeping energised and motivated”, said Alagiah. In a statement, he said “it’s back to the tough stuff” after a scan showed his cancer had spread further. “I’m missing my colleagues”, he said, adding that he was looking forward to returning to the studio “as soon as I can”. The news was confirmed by his agent Mary Greenham. In January, Alagiah said he thought the cancer he had had since 2014 would “probably get me in the end”, but he still feels “very lucky”. Speaking on the podcast Desperately Seeking Wisdom he said that when his cancer was first diagnosed, it took a while for him to understand what he “needed to do”. “I had to stop and say, Hang on a minute. If the full stop came now, would my life have been a failure? And actually, when I look back and I looked at my journey… the family I had, the opportunities my family had, the great good fortune to bump into (Frances Robathan), who’s now been my wife and lover for all these years, the kids that we brought up… it didn’t feel like a failure.” Alagiah underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy to treat his advanced bowel cancer in 2014 and said he was a “richer person” for it upon returning to presenting the following year. As well as presenting the news, Alagiah has worked as a BBC News foreign correspondent and specialist on Africa and the developing world, covering events including the Rwandan genocide and interviewing Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
On This Day
- 1793 – French Revolution: Queen Marie Antoinette is executed.
- 1834 – Much of the ancient structure of the Palace of Westminster in London burns to the ground.
- 1846 – William T. G. Morton administers ether anaesthesia during a surgical operation.
- 1869 – The Cardiff Giant, one of the most famous American hoaxes, is “discovered”.
- 1962 – Cuban Missile Crisis begins: U.S. President John F. Kennedy is informed of photos showing nuclear missiles (the crisis will last for 13 days starting from this point).
- 1964 – China detonates its first nuclear weapon.
- 1968 – Tommie Smith and John Carlos are ejected from the US Olympic team for participating in the Olympics Black Power salute.
- 1975 – Three-year-old Rahima Banu, from Bangladesh, is the last known case of naturally occurring smallpox.
- 1793 – Marie Antoinette, Austrian-born queen consort of Louis XVI of France (b. 1755)
- 2007 – Deborah Kerr, Scottish actress (b. 1921)
- 2017 – Sean Hughes, British-born Irish stand-up comedian (b. 1965)
Celebrity wills and dying wishes
Everyone has a dying wish. For many, that means managing money beyond the grave. Wills are pretty important, and it’s good to ensure you pass something on to your loved ones. That said, many celebs have unusual wills and dying wishes.
Alexander McQueen: The innovative fashion designer loved his dogs, and left a reported $75,000 to them.
Tupac Shakur: On his track, ‘Black Jesus,’ the rapper asked for friends to smoke his ashes. Members of his crew, Outlawz, followed through with this request.
Leona Helmsley: The flamboyant businesswoman left $10 million to her brother, and $5 million to her grandsons. Meanwhile her dog, Maltese, received $12 million.
William Shakespeare: The legendary writer left a strange present to his wife, Anne Hathaway. He left his “second best bed” for his wife—that’s right, his second best.
Harry Houdini: Houdini was an iconic magician, and kept the tricks coming from the afterlife. His wife was instructed to hold séances every year on his death date, October 31st.
Napoleon: After his death, Napoleon asked for his head to be shaved, and his hair divided among friends.
Gene Roddenberry: The ‘Star Trek’ creator asked for his ashes to be sent into space. This was done in 1997.
Philip Seymour Hoffman: Apparently, the actor didn’t want “trust fund kids,” so he left everything to his girlfriend Mimi O’Donnell.
Janis Joplin: Joplin was a wild superstar, and didn’t want a miserable funeral. Instead, she left around US$2,500 for her friends to have an all-night party.
William Randolph Hearst: Mr. Hearst was an influential magazine mogul. In his will, he offered just one dollar to anyone who could prove they were his child.
Dusty Springfield: Springfield had some curious requests for her cat, Nicholas. She asked for him to be fed baby food, given a tree house, and to be serenaded by Springfield’s records. Adam Yauch: In his will, the Beastie Boy asked that neither his image or music should be used for advertising.
Mickey Rooney: Once a star, Mickey Rooney only had around $80,000 before he passed away. The actor left none of it to his wife and children.
Jeremy Bentham: The philosopher asked that his body be stuffed with hay, and put on display in London. You can still see him there today.
Fred Baur: Baur invented the Pringles can, and asked that he be buried in one. His family agreed.
Oprah Winfrey: Winfrey will apparently leave $30 million to her dogs.
Bill Gates: The entire Gates fortune will not be left to his children, but his children will receive a small portion of $10 million.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Angela Lansbury (97), Tim Robbins (64), Suzanne Somers (76), Gary Kemp (63), Dominic West (53), Ncuti Gatwa (30), Steve Coogan (57), Sacha Baron Cohen (51), Christopher Judge (58), Himesh Patel (32), Chris Carter (66), Hugh Jackman (54), Hiroyuki Sanada (62), Josh Hutcherson (30), Robin Askwith (72), Emily Deschanel (46), Claudia Black (50), Michelle Trachtenberg (37), Joan Cusack (60), Jane Krakowski (54), Stephen Moyer (53), John Nettles (79), Dawn French (65), Rose McIver (34), Dan Stevens (40), Charles Dance (76), Manu Bennett (53), Sarah Lancashire (58), and Martin Kemp (61).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Raymond Allen, 82, British television screenwriter (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Comedy Playhouse, The Little and Large Show).
- Loretta Lynn, 90, American country singer-songwriter (“Coal Miner’s Daughter“, “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)“, “The Pill“).
- Lenny Lipton, 82, American poet and lyricist (“Puff, the Magic Dragon“), brain cancer.
- John Henry Ramirez, 38, American convicted murderer, lethal injection.
- Ivy Jo Hunter, 82, American songwriter (“Behind a Painted Smile“, “Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever“, “Dancing in the Street“).
- Sara Lee, 30, American professional wrestler (WWE).
- Jody Miller, 80, American country singer (“Queen of the House“), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Judy Tenuta, 72, American comedian, actress (The Weird Al Show, Going Down in LA-LA Land, There’s No Such Thing as Vampires), and musician, ovarian cancer.
- Peter Tobin, 76, Scottish serial killer.
In Other News
Convicted paedophile Rolf Harris is “gravely ill” with neck cancer and receiving around-the-clock care, the flying monkeys have reported. The disgraced entertainer is unable to eat and only receives medical professionals at home. Harris was jailed for sexual offences in 2014 and released three years later under licence. His victims included two girls in their early teens and his daughter’s friend. Harris, 92, is now reported to be suffering from ill health that requires 24-hour care. “Only carers and nurses, who care for him 24 hours, come and go,” one of his Berkshire neighbours, Portia Wooderson,“I’m told he can’t eat anymore.” William Merritt, a private investigator who wrote a book on Harris’ trials, told the Flying Mokeys: “As far as his health goes, yes, he is very ill. But, Rolf keeps going. He’s still around but he’s not well at all.“ In 2019, two years after Harris was released from prison, reports suggested the convicted paedophile’s health had “declined rapidly”. Several years before, Harris was rushed to hospital in 2016 with suspected sepsis while serving his sentence at Stafford jail, which is specifically for men convicted of sex offences. He has not spoken in public since his release from prison. The 92-year-old was convicted of 12 indecent assaults spanning nearly two decades – 1968 to 1986 – at London’s Southwark Crown Court in 2014. One of these convictions was later quashed. He was stripped of his CBE – which he received after painting Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait – following his conviction.
Necrophiliac murderer David Fuller, who sexually abused dead bodies in hospital mortuaries, has been charged with 16 further sexual offences. Fuller, 68, received two whole life sentences in December 2021 after admitting sexually assaulting at least 102 female corpses while working as an electrician in a hospital morgue. He filmed himself abusing the corpses, including a nine-year-old girl, two 16-year-olds, and a 100-year-old woman, over 12 years before his arrest in December 2020. He also beat and strangled Wendy Knell, 25, and Caroline Pierce, 20, to death before sexually assaulting them in two separate attacks in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, in 1987. The pensioner received the life sentences on December 15th 2021, after pleading guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to their murders, as well as 51 other offences, including 44 charges relating to 78 victims in mortuaries between 2008 and November 2020. His crimes first came to light after he was linked to one of Britain’s longest unsolved double killings more than 30 years ago. During the investigation, Fuller was linked to the 30-year cold cases by a DNA breakthrough that then led police to his stash of sickening recordings of himself abusing corpses. Now police have brought a further 16 charges against him in relation to sexual offences committed in a mortuary setting. Kent Police said on Tuesday: ‘An investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate has led to evidence which relates to a total of 101 victims in these mortuary settings. ‘The latest charges are connected to the 23 remaining victims, of all whom were deceased adult females. They cover a period between 2007 and 2020.’ Fuller will appear via video link before Medway Magistrates’ Court on Thursday facing 12 charges of sexual penetration of a corpse and four charges in relation to possession of extreme pornography. Nice chap!
On This Day
- 1604 – Kepler’s Supernova is the most recent supernova to be observed within the Milky Way.
- 1967 – A day after his capture, Ernesto “Che” Guevara is executed for attempting to incite a revolution in Bolivia.
- 1981 – President François Mitterrand abolishes capital punishment in France.
- 2012 – Pakistani Taliban attempt to assassinate outspoken schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.
- 1911 – Jack Daniel, American businessman, founded Jack Daniel’s (b. 1849)
- 1967 – Che Guevara, Argentinian-Cuban physician, politician & guerrilla leader (b. 1928)
- 1967 – Joseph Pilates, German-American fitness trainer, developed Pilates (b. 1883)
- 1974 – Oskar Schindler, Czech-German businessman (b. 1908)
- 1995 – Alec Douglas-Home, British politician, P.M. of the United Kingdom (b. 1903)
- 2006 – Paul Hunter, English snooker player (b. 1978)
- 2015 – Geoffrey Howe, Welsh lawyer and politician, Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1926)
John Henry Ramirez was executed this week, ten years after being convicted of murder, but unlike most death row inmates, he was not granted his final meal. The 38-year-old was killed by lethal injection at Huntsville State Penitentiary in Texas on Wednesday.
In 2009, he was sentenced to death for the murder of Pablo Castro, who he killed for just $1.25 during a violent robbery in 2004.
Unfortunately for Ramirez he was unlucky enough to be charged in Texas, where Death Row inmates are no longer allowed to take part in the tradition since former prisoner Lawrence Russell Brewer, a white supremacist murderer, who was jailed alongside three other men for killing James Byrd Jr. by dragging him along behind a pick-up truck for three miles along a road. When his execution date came, he ordered a triple-meat bacon cheeseburger, three fajitas, one pound of barbecue and a half loaf of white bread, pizza meat lover’s special, one pint of ‘homemade vanilla’ Blue Bell ice cream, one slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts and three root beers. However, when it was served to him, he didn’t eat a bite, saying he wasn’t hungry.
That led to Texas senator John Whitmire ending the 87-year-old tradition, ordering everyone on death row to eat what everyone else ate.
One request Ramirez did get, however, was to have a priest present and praying at his execution. His wish was ultimately granted by the Supreme Court, who ruled that denying the killer a priest would be a violation of his rights under the First Amendment.
Before the lethal injection was administered, Ramirez also spoke directly to Castro’s family.
“I just want to say to the family of Pablo Castro, I appreciate everything that y’all did to try and communicate with me through the Victim’s Advocacy program,” he said. “I tried to reply back, but there is nothing that I could have said or done that would have helped you. I have regret and remorse. This is such a heinous act. I hope this finds you comfort. If this helps you, then I am glad. I hope in some shape or form this helps you find closure.”
He was pronounced dead at 6:41 p.m. CT, 14 minutes after the injection of pentobarbital began.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Guillermo del Toro (58), Scott Bakula (68), Chris O’Dowd (43), Brandon Routh (43), Tony Shalhoub (69), Brian Blessed (86), Sharon Osbourne (70), Sigourney Weaver (73), Matt Damon (52), Chevy Chase (79), Kristanna Loken (43), Paul Hogan (83), Ardal O’Hanlon (57), Karyn Parsons (56), Jesse Jackson (81), R.L. Stine (79), Bruno Mars (37), Shawn Ashmore (43), Aaron Ashmore (43), Tim Minchin (47), Simon Cowell (63), Vladimir Putin (70), Thom Yorke (54), Elisabeth Shue (59), Emily Mortimer (51), Ioan Gruffudd (49), Britt Ekland (80), Kate Winslet (47), Guy Pearce (55), Jesse Eisenberg (39), Karen Allen (71), Clive Barker (70), Diane Morgan (47), Glynis Johns (99), Stephanie Cole (81), Alicia Silverstone (46), Dakota Johnson (33), Susan Sarandon (76), Christoph Waltz (66), Melissa Benoist (34), Liev Schreiber (55), Sarah Lancashire (58), Nick Mohammed (42), Lena Headey (49), Alicia Vikander(34), Neve Campbell (49), Denis Villeneuve (55), Seann William Scott (46), Clive Owen (58), Tommy Lee (60), and Gwen Stefani (53).
Last week we found out that The Queen died of old age, a very technical assessment there. I suspect the coroner had to use all of their training and experience to write that down on the report! However, the flying monkeys have worked their magic and found out that it was an overdose of marmalade and complications from the constant imbibing of gin.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Kitten Natividad, 74, Mexican-American actress (Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Night Patrol, Takin’ It All Off) and exotic dancer.
- Coolio, 59, American rapper (“Gangsta’s Paradise“, “Fantastic Voyage“, “C U When U Get There“.
- Audrey Evans, 97, British-born American oncologist and philanthropist, co-founder of Ronald McDonald House Charities.
- Arlene Bashnett, 103, American internet celebrity (Gramma and Ginga).
In Other News
Oasis guitarist Paul Arthurs – better known by his stage name Bonehead – has given fans a promising update on his cancer status after undergoing treatment in June. The musician – who had been playing as part of Liam Gallagher’s live band – was diagnosed with tonsil cancer earlier this year. In a new update, shared on Twitter on Thursday, Bonehead wrote: “I had a full scan 10 days ago and it’s all clear, it’s gone. Thank you so much all of you for the messages I’ve had throughout, you’ve helped more than you know,” he said, further thanking the team at The Christie NHS foundation. “Into recovery now and see you all soon,” he added. Gallagher celebrated the news, writing on Twitter: “Yes Bonehead, we knew you’d kick its arse. Sooooo fucking happy Guinness.” The good news comes shortly after his course of treatment in June, which included radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions. At the time, he told fans: “I’m feeling the pain right now but I’m in recovery and things can only get better from here.” He had undergone the treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester. Bonehead was a founding member of Oasis. He announced he was leaving the group in 1999, during the recording of Oasis’s fourth album, Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, explaining that he wished to spend more time with his family. He continued to work with Liam Gallagher over the years, and had been scheduled to perform with him this summer.
The Alarm frontman Mike Peters has confirmed that his cancer has returned in an emotional message to his fans. The musician made an announcement on the bands social media page last week. The rocker 63, suffers from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia – and has also been battling pneumonia since May. Sadly two weeks ago doctors confirmed that his leukaemia was “running out of control.” He has now been admitted to the North Wales Cancer Centre for immediate treatment, but so dedicated he is to his music that he even has his guitar with him on the hospital ward, in case inspiration strikes. In an emotional Facebook post, in which he thanked his wife Jules, who has also battled cancer in the past, the singer said: “I am writing today, to let you all know that my leukaemia (CLL), has relapsed and I have been admitted to The North Wales Cancer Centre for immediate treatment. I have already started on a brand new chemotherapy regime and so I wanted you to know personally, that my life living with cancer is about to change for the foreseeable future. My immediate aim is to get fit and well for The Gathering in January 2023. We’ve had so many of our greatest shows in Llandudno and celebrated many important milestones (including one of the most emotional nights ever in 2006), when I took to the stage in my green camo jacket and was overcome by the love and affection shown to me, by all present. I want you to know that I am going to beat this disease once more and be ready, willing and able to hit the stage at Venue Cymru on January 27th 2023.
Bob Mortimer, 63, sparked concerns over the weekend after he was rushed to hospital with an unknown illness. The hospital dash comes after the comedian required triple heart bypass surgery in 2015 when his heart was stopped for 32 minutes. Now, Bob has broken his silence on his health woes as he admitted he is “not very healthy at the moment”. Speaking on Richard Herring’s podcast at the Leicester Square Theatre on Monday night, Bob revealed he was rushed to hospital on Saturday after a busy week. He said: “I am not very well. I am not very healthy at the moment. I did a show last week, a fishing show and there was only two and a half days filming. I did it Tuesday, Wednesday and half of Thursday and I was in hospital on the Saturday.” Bob added: “I am sorry I should not have said that should I? It’s a real downer.” As reported by the flying monkeys, Bob explained his theory that his health issues stemmed from his body ageing. He said: “I think because I was a smoker and an incredibly fast runner and a very dramatic dancer and I put that all in my younger years. I think I am about 10 years ahead of myself with my body ageing.” Bob explained he also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis – a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. He said: “In my mid-twenties I got struck down with rheumatoid arthritis. I just woke up and it was like, ‘bang’. I have been free of it since I have been 34 and it came back 10 days ago. It is really sad for me to know whether it will go. Yes I might be fat but actually I am on steroids. Rheumatoid arthritis generally happens when your immune system attacks your joints, but I’ve had it attack my iris. I got eye-arthritis. The worst one was arthritis in me b**s – I had that when we were filming Big Night Out!” Bob recounted. Bob also revealed that he “hardly” does any exercise because of his painful joints, despite recommendations by the Arthritis Foundation, who stated that “exercise helps ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis”.
On This Day
- 1928 – The “Prelature of the Holy Cross and the Work of God”, commonly known as Opus Dei, is founded.
- 2004 – The first parkrun, then known as the Bushy Park Time Trial, takes place in Bushy Park, London, UK.
- 2018 – The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is assassinated in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
- 1803 – Samuel Adams, American politician, Governor of Massachusetts (b. 1722)
- 1985 – Rock Hudson, American actor (b. 1925)
- 1988 – Alec Issigonis, English car designer, designed the Mini (b. 1906)
- 2017 – Tom Petty, American musician (b. 1950)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Lorraine Bracco (68), Avery Brooks (74), Sting (71), Brie Larson (33), Julie Andrews (87), Zach Galifianakis (53), Harry Hill (58), Ezra Miller (30), Monica Bellucci (58), Kieran Culkin (40), Marion Cotillard (47), Omid Djalili (57), Zachary Levi (42), Erika Eleniak (53), Ian McShane (80), Halsey (28), Mackenzie Crook (51), Luke Goss (54), Matt Goss (54), James Lance (47), Patricia Hodge (76), Naomi Watts (54), Mira Sorvino (55), Hilary Duff (35), Brigitte Bardot (88), Dita Von Teese (50), Kiran Shah (66), Indira Varma (49), Gwyneth Paltrow (50), Avril Lavigne (38), Linda Hamilton (66), Lysette Anthony (59), and Serena Williams (41).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Anna Thynn, Marchioness of Bath, 78, Hungarian-born British actress (Therese and Isabelle, The House of the Missing Girls, Zeta One).
- Cherry Valentine, 28, English drag queen (RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Cherry Valentine: Gypsy Queen and Proud).
- John Hamblin, 87, English-born Australian television presenter (Play School) and actor (The Restless Years).
- John Hartman, 72, American drummer (The Doobie Brothers).
- Dame Hilary Mantel, 70, British author (Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, The Mirror & the Light), complications from a stroke.
- Louise Fletcher, 88, American actress (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Brainstorm).
In Other News
Monty Python star Eric Idle has revealed he survived “one of the most lethal” cancers, after receiving a rare early diagnosis. The 79-year-old comedian and writer, who helped found the Monty Python comedy troupe in 1969, made the disclosure in a recent op-ed. “About three years ago I was incredibly lucky: I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer,” Idle explained to the Flying Monkeys. “Lucky? One of the most lethal forms of cancer, how on earth was that lucky? Well, because it was found incredibly early.” He jokingly added: “No, not before lunchtime, but before it had gone anywhere.” Idle recalled how he had asked his friend, Doctor David Kipper, “the quickest way to die” while conducting research for a play about a writer who is penning a musical about death when he discovers he is about to die. In 2019, the same friend, who specialises in preventative medicine, helped diagnose Idle with pancreatic cancer. After undergoing surgery at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, Kipper told him: “Well, you’re in very good shape. The cancer hasn’t recurred. You should have about 10 years.”
Post Malone has been admitted to hospital after “having a very difficult time breathing”. Last week, the White Iverson rapper tripped over on stage, bruising his ribs in the process. While he reassured fans that “everything is good” following the incident, on Saturday, Post cancelled his concert at the TD Garden in Boston at the last minute. In a post shared to his Instagram Story on Saturday, the musician wrote that he was struggling to breathe and experiencing “a stabbing pain whenever I breathe or move”. “Boston, I love y’all so fucking much,” Post wrote. “On tour, I usually wake up around 4 o’clock PM, and today I woke up to a cracking sound on the right side of my body. I felt so good last night, but today it felt so different than it has before. I’m having a very difficult time breathing, and there’s like a stabbing pain whenever I breathe or move.” He continued: “We’re in the hospital now, but with this pain, I can’t do the show tonight. I’m so fucking sorry,” explaining that the show would be rescheduled. “Once again, I’m so fucking sorry,” he added. “I love y’all so much. I feel terrible, but I promise I’m going to make this up to you. I love you Boston, I’ll see you soon.” Post was performing at the Enterprise Center in St Louis earlier this month when he fell into a gap on the stage used for transporting equipment and hit his chest. The show was paused for several minutes as the rapper, real name Austin Richard Post, was being examined by the medics. “[It] winded me pretty good. Got me pretty good. We just got back from the hospital and everything’s good,” he initially explained. “Everything’s good. They gave me some pain meds and everything and we can keep kicking ass on the tour.” Malone’s manager Dre London also issued an update about his health at the time, saying that the rapper “didn’t break three ribs last nite thank god”.
A new lead has raised hopes of a breakthrough in the hunt for the body of murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio just hours after his mother begged for help. Mr Falconio, 28, was shot dead by drug-runner Bradley Murdoch in 2001 who then tried to abduct his girlfriend Joanne Lees before she escaped and raised the alarm. But the backpacker’s body has never been found – and his mother pleaded on Friday for ‘anyone with a conscience’ to help locate his remains. Now a possible new witness has come forward to reveal he spotted a ute like the killer’s parked ‘in an odd place’ by a culvert and a bridge 24 hours after the murder. The new sighting has raised hopes it could lead to the discovery of the backpacker’s remains and end the 21-year-old mystery. The startling new evidence was revealed after South Australian politician Frank Pangallo demanded a $1million reward for information leading police to the body. ‘I received an email this morning from somebody who was in the area the day after the murder,’ the SA-BEST member of South Australia’s legislative council revealed. ‘He said he had spotted a vehicle that was similar to the one that Murdoch was using and it was parked on the side of a road near a culvert and a bridge. ‘He remembered going past it and saying it was unusual that the the driver was parked in that position. He did alert police at the time but heard nothing more. I’ll certainly pass that on to police to see if they’ll go there in person to check it out.’ The stunning development came just hours after the Australian Flying Monkeys revealed police had mounted a five-day search of an outback well in 2019 in the hunt for the remains. They pumped 15m of water out of the remote waterhole, just 1km from the murder scene near Barrow Creek, 300km north of Alice Springs, but sadly found nothing. Now Mr Falconio’s parents Joan, 75, and Luciano, 80, have appealed for fresh information to keep the hunt alive for their son’s remains. ‘We want to bring Peter home where he belongs near his family,’ his mother said. ‘Our pain is always with us. He was murdered 21 years ago, aged just 28 years. His life stopped on a lonely road – the Stuart Highway on July 14th, 2001. Shot dead by cowardly Murdoch, who will not reveal where or what he did with him.’ She added: ‘Peter has a beautiful niece and two lovely nephews who he never got to see or know. I am appealing to anyone with a conscience to help me – however small – to tell me where he was put.’ The renewed appeal comes in the week when Mr Falconio would have turned 50 last Tuesday, but police are no closer to knowing where his body was dumped. Murdoch was convicted of the murder and is now serving life in Darwin Correctional Centre – but he has refused to give up where he dumped Mr Falconio’s body. He could be eligible for parole in 10 years but will never walk free without revealing the location under the NT’s ‘no body no release’ laws. Police believe he hid the remains somewhere in the sprawling desert between Alice Springs and Broome, 1,700km away in Western Australia.
On This Day
- 1959 – Solomon Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, is mortally wounded by a Buddhist monk, Talduwe Somarama, and dies the next day.
- 1983 – Thirty-eight IRA prisoners, armed with six handguns, hijack a prison meals lorry and smash their way out of the Maze Prison.
- 2018 – Bill Cosby is sentenced to three to ten years in prison for aggravated sexual assault.
- 1984 – Walter Pidgeon, Canadian-American actor (b. 1897)
- 1987 – Mary Astor, American actress (b. 1906)
- 1991 – Klaus Barbie, German SS captain, known as the “Butcher of Lyon” (b. 1913)
- 2012 – Andy Williams, American singer (b. 1927)
Deadly Ends by Neil G.
I’m fairly sure that most of us would agree that death sentences, while a sure source for our yearly lists, should no longer have a place in our society. Personally, I think knowing that I was to have my freedom taken, and to be for the rest of my life caged, is a far worse sentence than death. Although the methods used by and large in this day and age, are much more “humane” than those practiced in the past.
- Lethal injection (when the American State can afford the good drugs), is quick and painless, or so we’re told.
- Hanging, the science now perfected, the knot of the noose now placed in such a way that the neck is broken at the end of the drop.
- For sure there is that split second of terror for the hanged, but death is at least quick.
- Electric chair is, when done correctly (not the dry sponge execution of the Green Mile), effective. Huge power bills, but the savings made on death row…
But what of the methods used in days gone by, how do they compare? The Medieval period spanned the time between the fall of the Roman Empire to approximately the beginning of the Renaissance. It was during this time we humans got really creative with our methods of putting someone to death. For sure we could have used some of this creativeness to imagine ourselves a much more peaceful and enlightened existence, but where’s the fun it that?
Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered
One death sentence we would all be familiar with is being Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered. If not made keenly familiar about what it is to be high treasonous each 5th of November by Guido Fawkes, the last man to enter Westminster with honest intentions. We can fall back on the English hating Australian, Mel Gibson, portrayal of a certain Sir William Wallace. Albeit taking some artistic licence with actual facts surrounding Wallace’s life. Although, it’s fair to say that Longshanks was probably a bit of a c**t. This sentence, mainly reserved for the crime of high treason, involved stages which lead to the eventual execution. The doomed would be hanged to the point of death, often several times. Being allowed to recover enough to fully experience the remainder of the sentence. Being Drawn was to be dragged through the streets behind a horse to the eventual place of your death, often you would be drawn behind the horse before being hanged. Finally, it was time for the quartering. This was more gruesome than it sounds, the body of the damned was as the name suggests, quartered. The separate parts sent to the far reaches of the kingdom as a warning to other would-be treasonous snakes. However, it would start with the victim being castrated and disembowelled, having the removed parts tossed into a fire while you were still alive to see them burned. Eventually you were decapitated, and only then were you limbed and sent packing. All the while a baying crowd watched on, beating Match of the Day in the entertainment stakes. Amazingly being Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered was only outlawed in the UK in 1803! Although David Tyrie (another Scotsman) in 1782 was the last person to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in the UK.
Viewed during the times as a more humane form of capital punishment. Often reserved for nobility and royals, was not without issue, at least until it was perfected by the practitioner. Early forms of Medieval beheading were carried out with an axe, until (it’s believed) William the Conqueror introduced the more efficient method of beheading by sword. The doomed instructed to stand or kneel upright as a block to rest the neck upon was deemed to impede the stroke of the sword. Beheading continued well past the Middle Ages, the last person beheaded in England was Simon, Lord Lovat in 1747. Prior to losing his head there were some other notables in the history of British beheading: Mary, Queen of Scots, said to be grateful of her beheading after 19 long years of imprisonment. Anne Boleyn, who was lucky enough to have an expert swordsman from France come to do the deed. Not so lucky Margret Pole, who in 1541 was beheaded-ish by axe, said to be executed by a “blundering youth”, who “hacked her head and shoulders to pieces”. This form of execution was said to be painless, however draw your own conclusions: Dr. Beaurieux of France (where else with a name like that), conducted an experiment on guillotined murderer Albert Fournier in 1920. After the head had been separated from the body, Dr. Beaurieux waited for the post beheading, nervous spasmodic movements to cease (about 5-6 seconds). Then in the Dr.’s own words: “It was then that I called in a strong, sharp voice: ‘Languille’ I saw the eyelids slowly lift up, without any spasmodic contractions.” Continuing, “Next Languille’s eyes very definitely fixed themselves on mine and the pupils focused themselves. I was not, then, dealing with the sort of vague dull look without any expression, that can be observed any day in dying people to whom one speaks: I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me.” Beaurieux called out a second time, observing that Languille fixed his eyes upon the Dr.’s even more sharply than the first time. However, a third time elicited no response, because by now Languille was certainly dead. The whole experiment lasting 25-30 seconds. Despite this experiment, the last death by beheading in France was carried out in 1977.
Crushing with Weights
Although this cruel punishment was not actually intended to be an execution, rather, it was designed as a method of extracting a confession from the accused. Unfortunately the side effect of placing up to 800lbs (363 kilos) on a person’s chest often caused them a very painful death. One victim of this crushing punishment was a woman by the name of Margaret Clitherow, charged with the most heinous of crimes: Harbouring priests and practicing Catholicism. In 1586 she was taken to a public bridge and stripped naked in front of the watching crowd, described by onlookers as an “obscene shaming ritual”. Her limbs tied with ropes and stretched out spread eagle. A door was then placed upon her, and weights added. At any point she could have entered a plea of guilty or not guilty and the weights would have been removed. Her trial would then have begun (of which she would have almost certainly been found guilty and executed). However, she refused. When the total weight placed upon her reached 800lbs, her spine snapped, and her ribs burst from her skin. She was named a saint by the Catholic Church in 1970 for her sufferings. One of the more famous deaths by crushing occurred during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It has been estimated that up to 200 people were accused of witchcraft, leading to a special court being formed that resulted in 20 executions. Farmer Giles Corey was among the accused, he probably brought this upon himself for being a notorious apple thief a couple of decades earlier. The de-cider of his death? He refused to stand trial and the “authorities” ordered a crushing in the hopes that he would finally enter a plea. So, they stripped him naked (again, what’s with the naked thing?), and placed a board upon his chest. Corey was well aware how this would play out; he could plead his innocence and face trial where he would have almost certainly been found guilty and executed. Or he could choose to keep his dignity and die by crushing. If he did this, it would also allow his living relatives to keep his land (as he would have died without charge). Throughout the crushing Giles did nothing but ask for “more weight”, knowing that it would bring about a quicker end. This however did not happen as his body held out for 2 full days before he died. The practice of crushing was finally outlawed in England in 1772.
This was the practice of placing criminals in human shaped cages, hung high (often 30ft) for display. Often, they were executed prior to the gibbeting, but in extreme cases they were locked in the cage while still alive and left to die from exposure and/or starvation. This was a powerful tool to use as a deterrent to crime, the horrifying sight of an immobile human caged and left to, then “reeking” when dead. The carcass nothing more than a feed for crows and maggots. Its use was popular in Britain during the 1740’s, but this torturous form of death had been in use across Europe for many years previous. Gibbeting did not happen often, but its effect on the community left big impressions. So much so that it was mandated for convicted murderers in the 1752 Murder act, the act requiring that “bodies be either publicly dissected or gibbeted”. Bodies were often left in the gibbets for years. Interestingly, women were spared from the gibbet, the female convicts’ bodies were often given to surgeons and anatomists. Between 1752 and 1832, 134 men were gibbeted, this form of execution finally being outlawed in 1834.
Death by Impalement
There was no human more enthusiastic about this type of execution than happy, hippy, sticky man, Vlad the Impaler! So keen was he to “stick” it to his enemies, that his lust for this gruesome method of execution inspired the legend of Count Dracula. Dying by impalement was not a quick way to die, more a prolonged torture proceeding an inevitable death. The stake would only be partially sharpened and planted into the ground; the victim then placed onto the spike. Men would be skewered though the anus, women their vagina. The stake was semi-greased (the little pleasures in death) and would slowly force its way through the victims’ body before exiting near the neck, throat, or shoulders. In some case the spike was left purposely blunt to ensure impalement took hours or even days to prolong the torture more. Records show impalement occurred as early as 1772 B.C. and continued as recently as the 20th century, when employed by the Ottoman government during the Armenian genocide. Vlad, however, is still the Poke ‘em On king. He was estimated to have killed 80,000 people, in various ways, but approximately 20,000 of them impaled and placed on display on the outskirts of the city of Targoviste. So affective was this display that an invading Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed II, immediately turned his army around after witnessing this sight… I wonder, where did 20th century Ottoman government get its idea for impalement from?
So, the poor souls on death row, if given a choice in their method of demise, would probably choose what’s on offer to them now, over a death by previous age methods. In an age of “enlightenment” perhaps our Deadpool list certs should not be executed at all? A conversation for another day. But it remains that humans are ever so inventive when it comes to “offing” other humans. Some methods of “offing” others omitted from the above are: Immurement (the stuff of nightmares), burning at the stake, death by elephant (it’s true), being boiled alive (save it for the lobsters), and many, many more.
Well, I hope you sleep well Deadpoolers, and happy dreaming. I’m off to enjoy a bloody stake and chips at my local.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Will Smith (54), Clea DuVall (45), Catherine Zeta-Jones (53), Mark Hamill (71), Michael Douglas (78), Heather Locklear (61), Michael Madsen (65), Felicity Kendal (76), Kevin Sorbo (64), Kate Fleetwood (50), Sven-Ole Thorsen (78), Anthony Mackie (44), Tatiana Maslany (37), Tom Felton (35), Billie Piper (40), Nick Cave (65), Ruth Jones (56), Joan Jett (64), Sue Perkins (53), David Wenham (57), Bill Murray (72), Luke Wilson (51), Stephen King (75), Alfonso Ribeiro (51), Jon Bernthal (46), Sophia Loren (88), Moon Bloodgood (47), George R.R. Martin (74), Michelle Visage (54), Danielle Panabaker (35), Jeremy Irons (74), David McCallum (89), Twiggy (73), and Jimmy Fallon (48).
As mentioned in last weeks telegram messages, I haven’t forgot anyone who had Marsha Hunt last week, well done all of you. The points have been updated accordingly; and talking about points, I scored again! With the assisted suicide of Jean-Luc Godard, I scored 59 points! Go me!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Jean-Luc Godard, 91, French-Swiss film director (Breathless, Bande à part, Pierrot le Fou), screenwriter and film critic, assisted suicide.
- Harry Landis, 90, British actor (EastEnders, Friday Night Dinner, Bitter Victory) and stage director.
- Gwyneth Powell, 76, English actress (Grange Hill, Man Down, The Guardians), complications from colon surgery.
- Ken Starr, 76, American lawyer (Whitewater controversy), complications from surgery.
- Irene Papas, 93, Greek actress (Zorba the Greek, The Guns of Navarone, Z) and singer, complications from Alzheimer’s disease.
- Henry Silva, 95, American actor (Ocean’s 11, The Manchurian Candidate, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai).
- Eddie Butler, 65, Welsh rugby union player (British & Irish Lions, Barbarian F.C., national team), commentator and journalist.
In Other News
Japan’s oldest man – who survived the Hiroshima atomic bombing and fought in World War II – has died at the age of 112, authorities announced. Mikizo Ueda died in a nursing home in Nara city of Japan on 9th September. The country which has one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world hit a record number of centenarians with an estimated 86,510 people aged 100 years or over last year, according to federal data. Japan has one of the most numbers of people who have been certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest people alive. Mikizo was born in May 1910 in Kyoto and moved to Osaka after the death of his family. He worked in the finance division of the Wakayama Prefectural Office, according to Global Super Centenarian Forum. Mikizo served in the Navy during World War II and witnessed the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He was passionate about the traditional Japanese way of writing poems, known as haiku, and published book under the pseudonym Morihiko Ueda. The health ministry of Japan will now announce plans to celebrate the country’s oldest living individual, Fusa Tatsum, on 16th September, according to local media reports. Ms Fusa is a 115-year-old woman who lives in Kashiwara city, 20 kilometres away from central Osaka in Japan. The woman used to work in a family orchard where she grew plums, peaches and grapes until she was about 55 years old. She learnt to play Japan’s classical musical instrument known as an Okoto and studied flower arrangement. The death of Mikizo comes as Guinness World Records holder for the oldest living person in 2019, died in April this year at the age of 119. Kane Tanaka was living at a nursing home and was in relatively good health until recently, enjoying playing board games, solving maths problems, drinking soda and eating chocolate.
The free climber known as the “French Spiderman” has inexplicably celebrated his 60th birthday by scaling a 187-metre Paris skyscraper. Alain Robert was pictured climbing up the Tour TotalEnergies building in the La Defense business district on Saturday. Without the help of ropes or a safety harness, the idiot clung to the 48-storey tower’s window frames using only his hands, reaching the top of the building in 60 minutes. His 60th birthday was last month. The climber has conquered Tour TotalEnergies numerous times in the past. “I promised myself several years ago that when I reached 60, I would climb that tower again because 60 symbolises retirement age in France and I thought that was a nice touch,” he said. When he reached the top, he raised his arms above his head to celebrate, while those on the ground cheered. After the feat, an elated Mr Robert told the flying monkeys: “I want to send people the message that being 60 years old is nothing. You can still do sport, be active, do fabulous things.” To climb the tower, Mr Robert – who began climbing in the 1970s – had only a red jumpsuit, climbing shoes, a bottle of water, and a small bag of chalk to wipe away sweat – which could cause him to slip and fall.
On This Day
- 1879 – The Blackpool Illuminations are switched on for the first time.
- 1906 – The 1906 Hong Kong typhoon kills an estimated 10,000 people
- 1977 – Voyager I takes the first distant photograph of the Earth and the Moon together.
- 2012 – Greater Manchester Police officers PC Nicola Hughes and PC Fiona Bone are murdered in a gun and grenade ambush attack in Greater Manchester, England.
- 1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942).
- 2004 – Russ Meyer, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1922).
- 2020 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court justice (b. 1933).
Inside British newsrooms on the day Queen Elizabeth II died
The journey towards the1 first monarchical transition in 70 years came with the passing of a note. At 12.21pm on Thursday, as new Prime Minister Liz Truss and Labour leader Keir Starmer battled at the dispatch box over Truss’s announcement on energy bills, attention focused more on what was happening behind them.
A folded-up piece of paper was passed along both front benches, and the country knew something was up by the looks on the faces of those who read the note. “It was fucking weird because as soon as the note went round everyone kind of knew and was going: ‘She’s dead,’ right,” says one Whitehall correspondent for a national newspaper. (Like all those quoted in this story, they were given anonymity in order to speak freely.) “Then it’s been waiting and knowing without knowing, writing other stuff under the pretence it’s not all going to be scrapped.”
The correspondent was told by editors to write on the major political stories of the day – an unfunded promise to limit energy bills, the settling in of a new prime minister and the creation of her government – that they knew would never be read.
Thirteen minutes after the note came the tweet. “Following further evaluation this morning, the Queen’s doctors are concerned for Her Majesty’s health and have recommended she remain under medical supervision,” wrote Buckingham Palace. “The Queen remains comfortable and at Balmoral.”
“When the statement dropped about her health it was obvious, and suddenly no MPs would talk,” the Whitehall correspondent says. Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs stopped responding to messages.
Across at what was once known as Fleet Street, time stopped.
Unlike the April 2021 death of the Duke of Edinburgh, which was announced out of the blue, says one BBC journalist, the announcement that the Queen was “comfortable” but doctors were “concerned” was a coded message: get ready. “She obviously didn’t look well on Tuesday with Truss,” says the BBC journalist. “No idea it was imminent though. They gave us a six-hour run up with the ‘comfortable’ announcement, which is preferable to just dropping on wires like they did with the Duke of Edinburgh.” It gave on-air correspondents time to switch into black ties, a formal rule that broadcasters follow after controversy when one of their predecessors announced the death of the Queen Mother in 2002 wearing a maroon tie and was castigated for it. (Huw Edwards, the BBC anchor who would end up breaking the news to the nation, switched into a black tie just before 2pm.)
At another national newspaper, staff kept being pulled out of a midday meeting to work on stories around the sudden turn in the Queen’s health. Eventually, the meeting was disbanded, according to one staffer. “I checked in with other editors who took the right decision to cancel on me because they needed to tear up pages and rewrite pieces from years back with new info,” says the second newspaper journalist. A first version of a front page announcing the Queen’s death was drawn up by mid-afternoon – based on a hunch that events would move quickly. Push notifications were disabled for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong moment (a consideration The Times forgot about for their banner advertising a flash sale).
At The Times, things were more chaotic. Old stories, pre-written in preparation for the day, were being dusted off in anticipation of the worst. One journalist with knowledge of the newsroom says the tech team was assembled into making sure the website didn’t fall over at a key moment; the paper prepared an obituary that was published with the wrong date of the Queen’s death, marking it as 9 September, not the 8th.
For The Guardian, one story, first published in 2017, became a huge driver of traffic. ‘London Bridge is down‘ details the meticulous preparations for the Queen’s death, and how the country’s institutions would react. At its peak on Thursday, the story was being viewed 8,000 times a minute, according to internal Guardian data. Search terms that drove traffic to the page included “London bridge is down”, “London bridge has fallen”, and “what happens when the queen dies”. At a major commercial radio station, one producer described events as “chaos”. “We had to do our show as usual just waiting for the official announcement,” they told me in the late afternoon, “which still hasn’t come.” The producers were caught in limbo, covering issues with the Queen’s health while also paying lip service to the massive energy announcement unveiled just hours earlier. They were “just waiting for the official palace announcement which then means we can drop everything and go all guns blazing.”
At 1.15pm, radio stations were half-heartedly planning non-royal news for later that night. I was contacted by a broadcast producer asking to talk on the radio around 5.30pm about this week’s new iPhone announcements. I joked that I’d very lightly pencil it in – and wouldn’t be offended when they inevitably cancelled. They laughed before hanging up, recognising what was coming.
That the announcement would come felt inevitable. “We saw Truss and Starmer get handed notes,” says the commercial radio producer. “When I saw that, my heart sank. I knew straight away. We all did.”
It’s a sentiment many journalists have. Potentially the biggest news story of their lives, it’s also the one that no one wants to be carrying the can for. “I feel like I’ve had a couple of close calls when I’ve been off-shift amid rumour and fears she’d die in the recent past,” says one producer at an international TV station. “It broke with pinging, angry shouting and the urgent need to get royal voices onto the air to fill the on-screen void the story created.” For hours, royal biographers, historians and experts were in demand. “They’re tough booking,” admits the TV producer. “Their phones were ringing off the hook; the higher profile ones are locked out and retained in deals done years ago. My channel had a plan and so far so good.”
Yet for all the hard work, theirs is not the channel most people turn to for major events. “I feel violently sick,” one broadcast journalist working for the BBC told me, mid-afternoon, after it was known Elizabeth was gravely ill, but before her death was announced. The BBC’s bullpen newsroom, which takes up an entire floor at Broadcasting House and acts as the live-action backdrop for news programmes, was becoming crowded.
It wasn’t just journalists booked for shifts that day. Flagship presenters from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme were called in to cover the news that was expected. Bosses who are rarely seen in the office suddenly felt the need to be there and steer the coverage.
Some staff were lucky to stay away, having dodged the bullet of being on shift on the day the Queen died. “It’s very weird watching something play out that we’ve all been preparing and rehearsing for pretty much our entire careers,” says a third BBC journalist. “I know the protocol and sequence of events almost instinctively from obit rehearsals and briefings that have happened with increased regularity over the years.” (There’s usually one every three to six months; the journalist says the most recent run-through was relatively recently. Scripts are pre-written and carefully defined, and set up on autocues to read in the event of a royal death.) “But actually watching it, it’s sort of an out of body experience. God knows how Huw [Edwards] must feel in the middle of all this.”
It was through another tweet from Buckingham Palace, and a special broadcast that blocked out many BBC TV channels, that most people learned of the Queen’s death at 6.30pm. BBC2 interrupted athletics coverage; Channel 4 butted into a standoff on Hollyoaks. Like all of us, Buckingham Palace’s tweet is how many journalists found out about the epoch-changing news. The commercial radio producer saw the Palace’s tweet and shared it with around half a dozen colleagues sitting in the studio, who had been broadcasting conjecture about the news for nearly six hours by then.
And still, they waited. It’s not the sort of thing you can afford to get wrong – though plenty did, with a flurry of tweets around 3.07pm from the likes of the BBC’s Yalda Hakim, Sky News’s Inzamam Rashid and Guido Fawkes, all announcing the Queen’s death prematurely.
They checked with the editor of the programme that they were OK to announce the news. They flicked a switch, turning the lighting black and went into “obit mode”. A pre-recorded obituary was played after the announcement was made. “Now we’re just rolling,” they say.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jason Sudeikis (47), Jada Pinkett Smith (51), Keeley Hazell (36), Tim McInnerny (66), Cassandra Peterson (71), Mickey Rourke (70), Jennifer Tilly (64), Madeline Zima (37), Amy Poehler (51), Danny John-Jules (62), Tom Hardy (45), John Bradley (34), Tommy Lee Jones (76), Oliver Stone (76), Brendan O’Carroll (67), Prince Harry (38), Jimmy Carr (50), Sam Neill (75), Andrew Lincoln (49), Walter Koenig (86), Alfie Allen (36), and Linda Gray (82).
However, this game takes no prisoners, so points must be awarded to the following: 154 points go to Nickie, Ceri, Iwan, Lee, Gwenan, and Julia as they listed her majesty as either a Cert or their Woman, and 54 points go to Trish, Shân, Millie, Laura, Scott, Liz, Debbie, and Paula. Well done everyone, certainly mixed up the league table.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Queen Elizabeth II, 96, British monarch and head of the Commonwealth (since 1952).
- Marsha Hunt, 104, American actress (Pride and Prejudice, Blossoms in the Dust, The Human Comedy).
- Just Jaeckin, 82, French film director (Emmanuelle, Story of O, Lady Chatterley’s Lover), photographer and sculptor.
In Other Royal News
With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many iconic goods, symbols and titles will have to change. Coins, stamps and medals will no longer bear the Queen’s distinctive side profile, but that of her son and heir King Charles III. A new flag and coat of arms will be designed for the new monarch and the most famous anthem of all will, of course, have to be tweaked. Even senior barristers – known as Queen’s Counsel (QC) for 70 years – will have to adapt to the new moniker of King’s Counsel (KC).
Here is a breakdown of some of the iconic changes that will happen.
Historically, coins played a significant role in spreading the fame of kings. This is because, for many people, the image of the king on coins was the only likeness of the monarch they were likely to see in their lifetimes. During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign there were five representations of the monarch on coins in circulation. The original coin portrait of the Queen was by Mary Gillick and was adopted at the beginning of her reign in 1952. She was later photographed by Arnold Machin OBE, and an approved portrait entered circulation in 1968. A third portrait, by Raphael Maklouf was adopted in 1985, followed by a portrait by Ian Rank-Broadly in 1998. The final portrait was introduced in 2015 and was created by Jody Clark. It shows the Queen wearing the diamond diadem, as she did when travelling to the state opening of parliament. But what will happen to stamps, coins and notes when Charles becomes king? Here’s what we know.
Following in his mother’s footsteps, it is believed Charles will sit for a new portrait to be used on all new coins, notes and stamps that enter circulation after he takes the throne. Coins bearing the portrait of the Queen will likely continue to be issued in the immediate future, and all currency bearing her portrait will still be valid for use. The switch to new currency and stamps will be a gradual process, with banks and post offices gradually collecting the old designs. It is likely that many people will be keen to hold onto their coins as a keepsake of the Queen. Since the 1600s, during the reign of Charles II, royal tradition has dictated that monarchs should be represented on coins facing in the opposite direction to their predecessor. This means that when Charles becomes king, his portrait will face left, as the Queen’s faced towards the right.
What will change for King Charles III himself? Charles’s signature will change. Before it was simply “Charles”. Now it will be the name he has taken as king with an additional R for Rex – Latin for king – at the end. In criminal court cases, the R to denote the Crown now stands for Rex rather than Regina (queen). Charles will also need a new personal flag as King. In 1960, the Queen adopted a personal flag – a gold E with the royal crown surrounded by a chaplet of roses on a blue background – to be flown on any building, ship, car or aircraft in which she was staying or travelling. It was often used when she visited Commonwealth countries. While the royal standard represents the sovereign and the United Kingdom, the Queen’s own flag was personal to her alone and could be flown by no one other than the Queen.
The royal coat of arms, adopted at the start of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837, will remain the same. But just as when the Queen became monarch, it is likely that new artwork will be issued early in Charles’s reign by the College of Arms for use by public service bodies such as the civil service and the armed forces. The “very light rebranding” will be hard to spot, but it signifies the opportunity to replace old images, which have been in use for many decades, with newer, differently stylised ones.
A lookalike of Queen Elizabeth II has said she is quitting the job after 34 years “out of respect” following the monarch’s death, but will still keep her outfits in memory of a woman who “felt like part of the family”. Mary Reynolds, 89, who lives in Epping, Essex, first became a lookalike in 1988 but was first told she looked like the late monarch when she was 17. She has appeared in television and film, with some of her standout moments including starring in the 1990 comedy film Bullseye with the late Sir Roger Moore, as well as an episode in the 25th anniversary series of Doctor Who in 1988. Ms Reynolds told the Flying Monkeys she felt “lucky” to look like the Queen, but that her days as a doppelgänger are to come to an end. “It’s been a great privilege to look like her because I think she’s so incredible,” Ms Reynolds said. “I mean, it’s a change of an era now, it’s all going to be very weird. I was watching the television the day before and felt that there was going to be some bad news, which of course eventually came and it makes you feel very, very, very sad. And then you do sort of realise that will be the end as far as I’m concerned… out of respect, I don’t think one should do anything.” Ms Reynolds said she had been approached by a Russian television company after the Queen’s death on Thursday asking her to don her impersonator outfit. “There was something about a Russian television company wanting to do something with me and they wanted to see me dressed up and I said, the only way I would dress up as the Queen would be in a black dress,” she said. The decision to leave her role as a lookalike has made Ms Reynolds “very sad”. “I’ve just moved home… and I’ve got two boxes full of hats and I’ve just found somewhere to put them and I thought: I’m not really going to need them any more,” she said. “It makes you feel very sad. I’ve had all these years of doing the work and it has helped me earn some money, but at the same time it was a pleasure for people to see you and say: ‘It’s the Queen.’ Wherever you went in the world, it was the Queen – not Queen Elizabeth, not the Queen of England, it was the Queen. There will never be anyone like her.”
On This Day
- 1826 – Captain William Morgan, an ex-freemason is arrested in Batavia, New York for debt after declaring that he would publish The Mysteries of Free Masonry, a book against Freemasonry. This sets into motion the events that led to his mysterious disappearance.
- 1941 – Construction begins on The Pentagon.
- 1997 – After a nationwide referendum, Scotland votes to establish a devolved parliament within the United Kingdom.
- 2001 – The September 11 attacks, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks killing 2,996 people using four aircraft hijacked by 19 members of al-Qaeda. Two aircraft crash into the World Trade Centre in New York City, a third crashes into The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and a fourth into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
- 2007 – Russia tests the largest conventional weapon ever, the Father of All Bombs.
- 2015 – A crane collapses onto the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing 111 people and injuring 394 others.
- 1957 – Mary Proctor, American astronomer (b. 1862)
- 1971 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician (b. 1894)
- 1987 – Lorne Greene, Canadian actor (b. 1915)
- 1988 – Roger Hargreaves, English author and illustrator (b. 1935)
- 1994 – Jessica Tandy, English-American actress (b. 1909)
- 2002 – Kim Hunter, American actress (b. 1922)
- 2003 – John Ritter, American actor (b. 1948)
- 2011 – Andy Whitfield, Welsh actor and model (b. 1971)
- 2014 – Donald Sinden, English actor (b. 1923)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tyler Hoechlin (35), Virginia Madsen (61), Roxann Dawson (64), Elizabeth Henstridge (35), Johnny Vegas (51), Guy Ritchie (54), Colin Firth (62), Adam Sandler (56), Hugh Grant (62), Henry Thomas (51), Jeffrey Combs (68), Eric Stonestreet (51), Michael Bublé (47), Gaten Matarazzo (20), Martin Freeman (51), Heather Thomas (65), Pink (43), Rachel Hunter (53), Miles Jupp (43), Evan Rachel Wood (35), Shannon Elizabeth (49), Toby Jones (56), Doug Bradley (68), Julie Kavner (72), Leslie Jones (55), Chrissie Hynde (71), Idris Elba (50), Freya Allan (21), Paddy Considine (49), Carice van Houten (46), Michael Keaton (71), Raquel Welch (82), Rose McGowan (49), Bob Newhart (93), and George Lazenby (83).
Let’s begin with awarding the points! 59 points to Martin and Lee for correctly guessing Gorbachev, and again to Martin for also guessing Bill Turnbull, along with Mark, Chrissie and myself, finally breaking my duck! 84 points each!
We also have a guest writer today, thanks Neil for the excellent essay below. If anybody would like to contribute, just email your work to the usual address.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mikhail Gorbachev, 91, Russian politician, president of the Soviet Union (1990–1991).
- Mark Shreeve, 65, British electronic music composer (Redshift) and songwriter (“Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”).
- Bill Turnbull, 66, British journalist and presenter (BBC Breakfast, Songs of Praise, Think Tank), prostate cancer.
- Diane Noomin, 75, American underground cartoonist and editor (Wimmen’s Comix, Twisted Sisters).
- Frank Drake, 92, American astronomer and astrophysicist (Drake equation), designer of the Arecibo message.
- Drummie Zeb, 62, English reggae musician (Aswad) and record producer.
In Other News
Hairy Bikers star Dave Myers has said he “misses” his beard after losing it while undergoing chemotherapy. The TV personality and chef shared an update on his cancer diagnosis during a chat with on-screen partner Si King. “It’s the beard I miss, though,” Myers said during an episode of his podcast Agony Uncles, adding: “I was born with that beard.” He added: ”I just miss having my beard – the feeling of it, because your skin’s different and all peachy. No, I want my beard back. I’m alright with my hair – I think the bald head and beard’s the way to go for a biker.” He added that he’s “doing OK under the circumstances”. Myers first revealed his diagnosis on the podcast in May, telling listeners he would be taking a step back from filming and attending food festivals throughout the summer. “Anyway Kingy, I’ve got to come clean now,” he said. “I haven’t been too well recently and basically, I’ve got to have some chemo, you know all this anyway, so this year is going to be a bit quiet for me. I’m not going to be filming, some of the festivals I’m not going to be able to go to, some I may be OK but this year’s a bit of a write off for us.” The 64-year-old continued: “I would love it if people respected my privacy and just let me get on with it and give Si and our team all the support they need, that would be great.
Argentina’s vice-president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, survived an assassination attempt late on Thursday after a man with a loaded gun tried and failed to shoot her. Video footage of the incident showed a man holding a pistol inches away from the vice president’s head as she greeted supporters. Ms Fernandez de Kirchner was unharmed in the incident. On Thursday, President Alberto Fernandez confirmed in a televised address that a man attempted to kill the vice-president while she was surrounded by hordes of supporters outside her Buenos Aires home. “A man pointed a firearm at her head and pulled the trigger. Cristina is still alive because – for some reason we can’t technically confirm at this moment – the weapon, which was armed with five bullets, did not shoot although the trigger was pulled,” he explained, before adding: “We must eradicate hate and violence from our media and political discourse.” Mr Fernandez declared Friday a national holiday in an effort to show support for the vice-president. A suspect was arrested seconds after the attempted attack and Argentina’s official news agency, Telam, identified the man as 35-year-old Brazilian national Fernando Andre Sabag Montiel. The Argentine Ministry of Security also reportedly confirmed the weapon was a .380 firearm with cartridges inside. The attack on the vice-president comes amid rising political tension in the country and the region that has put politicians on edge from Colombia to Brazil.
Just when you thought that executives jumping out of windows was a thing of the past… A man jumped to his death from the 18th floor of the famous ‘Jenga’ tower in lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood on Friday. He’s been identified as a Bed Bath & Beyond executive. Gustavo Arnal, 52, was the Chief Financial Officer of Bed Bath & Beyond, a company that has been going through struggles of late due to high inflation and a sagging economy. The company announced plans to close 150 stores, of its roughly 900, and lay off 20 percent of staff just two days before Arnal’s death. He reportedly sold over 42,000 shares in the company, oft-identified as a ‘meme stock’, for $1million just over two weeks ago. At the time, he still owned 267,896 shares in the company, valued at just under $6.5million. Arnal moved to Bed Bath & Beyond in 2020 – when the company was already struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic – from London-based cosmetics giant Avon, where he was also CFO, and had spent 20 years at Proctor & Gamble. When Arnal was brought to Bed Bath & Beyond in April 2020 a company spokesman said in a statement they were ‘bringing in world class talent to offer new perspectives, expertise and experience as we rebuild our business.’ Little did they know that said perspective was from a high rise window. So, with the world going to shit, perhaps a few powerful businessmen might be worth listing next year.
On This Day
- 1693 – Date traditionally ascribed to Dom Perignon‘s invention of champagne; it is not clear whether he actually invented champagne, however he has been credited as an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine.
- 1892 – The father and stepmother of Lizzie Borden are found murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. She will be tried and acquitted for the crimes a year later.
- 1944 – The Holocaust: A tip from a Dutch informer leads the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse, where they find and arrest Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.
- 2020 – At least 220 people are killed and over 5,000 are wounded when 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate explodes in Beirut, Lebanon.
- 1875 – Hans Christian Andersen, Danish novelist, short story writer, and poet (b. 1805)
- 1962 – Marilyn Monroe, American model and actress (b. 1926)
- 1996 – Geoff Hamilton, English gardener, author, and television host (b. 1936)
- 1997 – Jeanne Calment, French super-centenarian; holds records for the world’s substantiated longest-lived person (b. 1875)
- 1999 – Victor Mature, American actor (b. 1913)
Death by Food by Neil G
Predictably, most celebrities can afford the top medical interventions on offer, so my list often gets repeated year after year until the stubborn bastards finally succumb.
The blood of so many unicorns gone to waste.
However, this coming Christmas as I disregard buying presents for loved ones, and instead cram in my usual 25 minutes of research into noted humans, who I hope will die and furnish me with my maiden win in this despicable competition. Perhaps it would be prudent to pick those who we know like to eat things they probably shouldn’t…
10th of July 1850, one Millard Fillmore was inaugurated as the 13th President of the United States. Millard probably wasn’t expecting to become President if we’re honest, but for the rather odd death of his predecessor Zachary Taylor.
Taylor was particularly warm after participating in Independence Day activities at the Washington Monument, so he did what many of us do: He came home and raided the fridge (or icebox, in his case) for something cool to snack on. After enjoying some iced milk and cherries, Taylor fell sick almost immediately. He was dead five days later. Some historians believe the milk carried deadly bacteria; others suspected the massive quantities of acidic cherries mixed with the milk was too much for Taylor’s delicate stomach. Still others wonder if Taylor was poisoned. Probably should have played safe and gone a beer over the cherries. Let this be a lesson.
Here are nine other notables who have died due to eating oddities:
1) Steve Peregrin Took – Musician
Cherries, man, they’re such a menace. In 1980, Steve Peregrin Took, of the band Tyrannosaurus Rex, was pretty excited when the band’s manager managed to get the guys some back royalties they were owed. Took, who was no longer a member of the band at the time, celebrated by basically blowing the money on a huge bash that included magic mushrooms, morphine, and booze. After taking a magical mixture of all of those things, Took’s mouth went numb, making conditions just right for a cocktail cherry (and its pit) to slip into his throat unnoticed, and that was him done at the tender age of 31.
2) Adolf Frederick – King of Sweden
On February 12, 1771, the King of Sweden gorged himself on a feast that could have fed a whole crew of men: lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, herring, and champagne. To cap off his meal, King Adolf Frederick enjoyed 14 servings of semla served in hot milk. He died the same day, apparently of digestion problems. Semla, by the way, is a flour bun filled with almond paste and topped with whipped cream. It shouldn’t come as much of a shock to learn that Adolf is now known as “the king who ate himself to death.” A glutton for punishment?
3) Sherwood Anderson – Novelist
Novelist and short-story writer Sherwood Anderson was on a cruise with his wife in 1941 when he started to experience severe stomach cramps. He died a few days later at a hospital in Panama, where a doctor discovered that he had swallowed a whole toothpick that had likely speared an olive in a martini glass. The toothpick damaged Anderson’s internal organs, which then became infected.
4) George M. Prior – Navy Lieutenant
In other “don’t put things in your mouth that don’t belong there” news, we have the surprising demise of Navy Lieutenant George M. Prior. Prior had a few days’ leave from work and decided to spend every day playing golf at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. He felt nauseated by the end of the first day. By the end of the third day, he had a rash and a fever of 40°C and admitted himself to the hospital. Blisters the size of baseballs cropped up shortly thereafter, and a week and a half later, he was dead, with 80 percent of his skin burned and blistered. It was later determined that the golf tee he habitually stuck in his mouth after every hole had been covered in the fungicide the golf course used to keep their grounds beautiful. Prior’s allergic reaction to a chemical in the fungicide burned his skin from the inside out and caused the failure of several of his major organs.
5) Bando Mitsugoro VIII – Kabuki Actor
Remember that episode of The Simpsons (“One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”) when Homer thinks he accidentally ate some poisonous fugu fish and would likely die by the time the sun rises? (Spoiler alert: He was fine.) In real life, certain parts of the fugu fish are extremely toxic, especially the liver. Ingesting too much of it will render the victim completely paralysed but totally conscious. Eventually, the paralysis even hits major organs. Basically, the victim ends up asphyxiating.
This is exactly what happened to Japan’s “Living National Treasure,” Bando Mitsugoro VIII, a Kabuki actor. In 1975, the actor insisted that he was strong enough to survive the toxin and ordered a large—and probably illegal—portion of fugu livers. Turns out Mitsugoro wasn’t strong enough to survive the toxin. Fugu you Mitsugoro, ya bloody drongo.
6) Basil Brown – Health Food Nut
As the saying goes, “all things in moderation.” That includes even the most nutritious food, believe it or not, which health nut Basil Brown learned the hard way in 1974. He was known to drink a 4.5 litres of carrot juice every day and would take excessive amounts of vitamin A pills to stay in tip-top shape. In the end, though, he wound up dying from “hypervitaminosis A,” a massive overdose of vitamin A that essentially shut down his liver. The doctor who performed the autopsy said the end result was indistinguishable from alcohol poisoning (that’s also my story and I’m sticking to it).
7) Edward Archbold – Wanted to Win a Python
Any way you can imagine it, death by roaches sounds pretty horrific. In the case of Edward Archbold, a Florida man, it wasn’t a weird Kafkaesque situation that did him in—he was actually ingesting the cockroaches. Along with about 30 other people, Archbold was consuming insects for the chance to win a free python in 2012. (“Eat like a python, win a python,” after all.) After eating a large number of roaches, two ounces of mealworms, and 35 horn worms, Archbold collapsed, his airway obstructed by roach body parts. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
8) Henry Hall – Lighthouse Keeper
Being a lighthouse keeper certainly has its hazards, but you probably never thought ingesting molten lead was one of them. Henry Hall probably didn’t, either. Hall was the lighthouse keeper for the Eddystone Lighthouse in Devon, England, when it caught on fire in 1755. As he looked up at the burning tower of the lighthouse, some melted lead from the reflector dripped onto his face and down his throat. The 94-year-old lasted 12 days before succumbing to his injuries; upon his death, his doctor removed a chunk of lead from his stomach that weighed nearly half a pound.
9) Vladimir Likhonos – Chemistry Student
Exploding bubble gum may sound like one of those tricks a clown may pull on you, but to chemistry student Vladimir Likhonos, it was no joke. Likhonos, who was studying at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine, had developed a penchant for dunking his gum in citric acid before chewing to give it a sour pop. Sadly, a “pop” is what he got when he accidentally dipped his gum in an explosive substance he had been working with instead of the citric acid. The combination of his saliva with the powder was powerful enough to blow off most of his lower face. Paramedics were unable to save him.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael Berryman (74), Beyoncé (41), Iman Vellani (20), Charlie Sheen (57), Pauline Collins (82), Keanu Reeves (58), Salma Hayek (56), Keith Allen (69), Zendaya (26), Burn Gorman (48), Lily Tomlin (83), Gloria Estefan (65), Steve Pemberton (55), Barry Gibb (76), Richard Gere (73), Leem Lubany (25), Chris Tucker (51), Jessica Henwick (30), Cameron Diaz (50), Michael Chiklis (59), Warren Buffett (92), Carla Gugino (51), Emily Hampshire (41), Lenny Henry (64), Rebecca De Mornay (63), and Elliott Gould (84).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Stuart Anstis, 48, British guitarist (Cradle of Filth).
- Vincent Gil, 83, Australian actor (Mad Max, Stone, Prisoner).
- Jerry Allison, 82, American drummer (The Crickets) and songwriter (“That’ll Be the Day“, “Peggy Sue“).
- Robert LuPone, 76, American actor (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sopranos, A Chorus Line), pancreatic cancer.
- Virginia Patton, 97, American actress (It’s a Wonderful Life, Black Eagle, The Lucky Stiff).
In Other News
Brenda Fisher, famous for her record setting crossing of the English Channel, died on August 2nd at the age of 95. Fisher is famous for her victory in the 1951 Channel Race. She crossed Cap Gris-Nez, France to Dover, England in 12 hours and 42 minutes, taking 32 seconds off the existing world record. In 1954, Fisher became only the second woman in history to complete two swims of the Channel. In 1956, Fisher continued her marathon swimming career by earning the top women’s spot in that year’s 29 mile River Nile Race. Four months later she completed a solo 32 mile swim of Lake Ontario with a time of 18 hours and 51 minutes, breaking the existing record by more than 2 hours. Fisher’s feats made her both a local and international celebrity. She made an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show and later received the British Medal of Freedom in the Queen’s New Year Honours. Locally, she swam with the Grimsby’s Mermaid club where she trained under Herbert McNally. She was introduced to open water racing through her older siblings, who both completed the River Humber swim. Her 1951 Channel swim was done in memory of her brother Buster, who was a pilot in World War II. The Channel Swimming Association has described Fisher as “without a doubt one of the true open-water pioneer swimmers of the 20th century”. After retirement, Fisher remained heavily involved in the sport as she became a local swim instructor at her home club in Grimsby, England.
A Scottish mountain bike champion has died aged just 37 –two days after winning a major championship. Rab Wardell won the men’s title at the Scottish MTB XC Championships at the weekend. Mr Wardell, who was the partner of Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Katie Archibald, had been riding bikes from a young age but did not take up cycling or mountain biking as a sport until he was 15. His win at Kirroughtree Forest near Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, on Sunday was described as a ‘show of incredible resilience’ by British Cycling after Mr Wardell managed to catch the early race leaders to take the win. During the race he recovered from three punctures to take the gold medal. Last night the Scottish Cross Country Association (SXC), which runs the mountain bike race series, said it was ‘devastated’ to announce that Mr Wardell had died overnight in his sleep. A statement from SXC said: ‘We are devastated to relay to you the tragic news that our friend, our Champion Rab Wardell, has died overnight. He will be truly missed by our community and his determination, talent and friendship will live on in all our hearts and memories. RIP Rab. Our Champion, Our Inspiration, Our Friend.’ In 2020 Mr Wardell, who lived in Glasgow, set the fastest known time for mountain biking the West Highland Way, completing it in nine hours, 14 minutes and 32 seconds. He represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games and competed in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup series. On Monday night he appeared on BBC Scotland show The Nine to talk about his championship win.
Scientists have reported finding the worlds unluckiest man, being the first known case of a person testing positive for monkeypox, Covid-19 and HIV at the same time. The patient, a 36-year-old Italian male, developed a series of symptoms – including fatigue, fever, and a sore throat – nine days after returning from a trip to Spain, where he engaged in unprotected bum sex. He first tested positive for Covid on 2nd July, according to a case study report published in the Journal of Infection. The following day small, painful vesicles surrounded a rash appeared on the man’s torso, lower limbs, face and glutes. By 5th July, the vesicles had further spread and evolved into pustules, small bumps on the skin, at which point the man took himself to a hospital in Palermo. There, he was tested for monkeypox and subsequently returned a positive result. The patient was also screened for multiple STIs. He tested positive for HIV-1, and the researchers said that “given his preserved CD4 count, we could assume that the infection was relatively recent.” The patient had taken an HIV test in September of last year and returned a negative result. After recovering from Covid-19 and monkeypox, the patient was discharged from hospital on 11th July to home isolation. By this stage, his skin lesions had healed, after crusting over, leaving small scars. “This case highlights how monkeypox and Covid-19 symptoms may overlap, and corroborates how in case of co-infection, anamnestic collection and sexual habits are crucial to perform the correct diagnosis,” the researchers said in their case report. “To note, the monkeypox oropharyngeal swab was still positive after 20 days, suggesting that these individuals may still be contagious for several days after clinical remission,” the report said. “Consequently, physicians should encourage appropriate precautions.”
On This Day
- 1859 – The Carrington event is the strongest geomagnetic storm on record to strike the Earth. Electrical telegraph service is widely disrupted.
- 1898 – Caleb Bradham‘s beverage “Brad’s Drink” is renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
- 1957 – U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond begins a filibuster to prevent the United States Senate from voting on the Civil Rights Act of 1957; he stopped speaking 24 hours and 18 minutes later, the longest filibuster ever conducted by a single Senator.
- 1963 – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his I Have a Dream speech.
- 1988 – Ramstein air show disaster: Three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collide and the wreckage falls into the crowd. Seventy-five are killed and 346 seriously injured.
- 1978 – Robert Shaw, English actor (b. 1927)
- 1987 – John Huston, Irish actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1906)
- 2020 – Chadwick Boseman, American actor and playwright (b. 1976)
True Love, Even After Death
Carl Tanzler was a German-born radiology technologist at the Marine-Hospital Service in Key West, Florida. He developed an obsession for a young Cuban-American tuberculosis patient, Elena “Helen” Milagro de Hoyos, that carried on well after her death. In 1933, almost two years after her death, Tanzler removed Hoyos’ body from its tomb, and lived with the corpse at his home for seven years until its discovery by Hoyos’ relatives and authorities in 1940.
Tanzler grew up in Imperial Germany and later while traveling briefly in Genoa, Italy, Tanzler claimed to have been visited by visions of a dead, purported ancestor, Countess Anna Constantia von Cosel, who revealed the face of his true love, an exotic dark-haired woman, to him.
However, he ignored this vision and around 1920 Tanzler married Doris Schäfer. Together they had two children: Ayesha, and Clarista. By 1926 they had emigrated to Florida.
On April 22nd, 1930, while working at the Marine Hospital in Key West, Tanzler met Maria Elena “Helen” Milagro de Hoyos, a local Cuban-American woman who had been brought to the hospital by her mother for an examination. Tanzler immediately recognised her as the beautiful dark-haired woman that had been revealed to him in his earlier “visions.” By all accounts, Hoyos was viewed as a local beauty in Key West.
Elena was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, a typically fatal disease at the time, that eventually claimed the lives of almost all of her immediate family. Tanzler, with his self-professed medical knowledge, attempted to treat and cure Elena with a variety of medicines, as well as X-ray and electrical equipment, that were brought to the Hoyos’ home. Tanzler showered Elena with gifts of jewellery and clothing, and allegedly professed his love to her, but no evidence has surfaced to show that any of his affection was reciprocated by Elena.
Despite Tanzler’s best efforts, Elena died of tuberculosis at her parents’ home in Key West on October 25th 1931. Tanzler paid for her funeral, and with the permission of her family, he then commissioned the construction of an above ground mausoleum in the Key West Cemetery, which he visited almost every night.
One evening in April 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery where Elena was buried and removed her body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transporting it to his home. He reportedly said that Elena’s spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with a favourite Spanish song. He also said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave.
Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with piano wire and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of Elena’s decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from her hair, which he had previously obtained from her mother. Tanzler filled the corpse’s abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Elena’s remains in stockings, jewellery, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents to mask the odour and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition.
By October 1940, Elena’s sister Florinda heard rumours of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister and confronted Tanzler at his home, where Elena’s body was eventually discovered (he was also caught dancing with her corpse in front of an open window). Florinda notified the authorities, and Tanzler was arrested and detained. Tanzler was psychiatrically examined and found mentally competent to stand trial on the charge of “wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorisation.” After a preliminary hearing on October 9th 1940 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, Tanzler was held to answer on the charge, but the case was eventually dropped, and he was released, as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.
Shortly after the corpse’s discovery by authorities, Elena’s body was examined by physicians and pathologists, and put on public display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where it was viewed by as many as 6,800 people! Elena’s body was eventually returned to the Key West Cemetery where the remains were buried in an unmarked grave, in a secret location, to prevent further tampering.
The facts underlying the case and the preliminary hearing drew much interest from the media at the time, and created a sensation among the public, both regionally and nationwide. The public mood was generally sympathetic to Tanzler, whom many viewed as an eccentric “romantic”.
Though not reported contemporaneously, research has revealed evidence of Tanzler’s necrophilia with Elena’s corpse. Two physicians who attended the 1940 autopsy of Elena’s remains recalled in 1972 that a vaginal tube had been inserted in the vaginal area of the corpse that allowed for intercourse. Others contend that since no evidence of necrophilia was presented at the 1940 preliminary hearing, and because the physicians’ “proof” surfaced in 1972, over 30 years after the case had been dismissed, the necrophilia allegation is questionable. While no existing contemporary photographs of the autopsy or photographs taken at the public display show a tube.
In 1944, Tanzler moved to Pasco County, Florida, close to Zephyrhills, where he wrote an autobiography that appeared in the pulp publication, Fantastic Adventures, in 1947. His home was near his wife Doris, who apparently helped to support Tanzler in his later years.
Separated from his obsession, Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Elena, and lived with it until his death at age 75 in 1952. His body was discovered on the floor of his home three weeks after his death.
It has been recounted that Tanzler was found in the arms of Elena’s effigy upon discovery of his corpse, but his obituary reported that he died on the floor behind one of his organs. The obituary recounted: “a metal cylinder on a shelf above a table in it wrapped in silken cloth and a robe was a waxen image”.
It has been written that Tanzler had the bodies switched (or that Elena’s remains were secretly returned to him), and that he died with the real body of Elena.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Luis Guzmán (66), Armie Hammer (36), Jack Black (53), Brian Thompson (63), Shania Twain (57), Jason Priestley (53), Billy Boyd (54), Barbara Bach (76), David Soul (79), Peter Stormare (69), Aaron Paul (43), Paul Reubens (70), Peter Mensah (63), Reece Shearsmith (53), Chris Pine (42), Melissa McCarthy (52), Macaulay Culkin (42), Alexander Skarsgård (46), Tim Burton (64), Blake Lively (35), Rachel Bilson (41), Tom Skerritt (89), Gene Simmons (73), Billy Ray Cyrus (61), Claudia Schiffer (52), Stephen Fry (65), Jared Harris (61), Rupert Grint (34), Steve Guttenberg (64), Park Chan-wook (59), Ray Park (48), Charley Boorman (56), Richard Armitage (51), Kristen Wiig (49), Ty Burrell (55), Mark Williams (63), Dua Lipa (27), and for the love of god, why wont James Corden (44) die!?!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Darius Campbell Danesh, 41, Scottish singer-songwriter (“Colourblind“, “Rushes“, “Incredible (What I Meant to Say)“)
- Steve Grimmett, 62, English heavy metal singer (Grim Reaper, Onslaught, Lionsheart).
- Nicholas Evans, 72, English writer (The Horse Whisperer), heart attack.
- Lenny Johnrose, 52, English footballer (Bury, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley), complications from motor neurone disease.
- Duggie Brown, 82, English comedian and actor (Coronation Street, The Final Cut, Kes).
- Joseph Delaney, 77, British author (Spook’s).
- Bruce Montague, 83, English actor (Butterflies, The Link Men, Hollyoaks).
- Herbert Mullin, 75, American serial killer.
- Josephine Tewson, 91, British actress (Keeping Up Appearances, Last of the Summer Wine).
- Ioane King, 49, New Zealand actor (Spartacus), cancer.
- Leon Vitali, 74, English actor (Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, Romeo & Juliet).
In Other News
Buffy the Vampire Slayer actor Nicholas Brendon is in hospital after a “cardiac incident”. The star, 51, who played Xander in the hit Nineties series, was taken to A&E for treatment and is now resting. The news was shared in a statement on his Instagram. It was posted alongside photos of Brendon on a stretcher, in a wheelchair and on a hospital bed. The statement reads: “Nicky sends his love and wanted me to apologise that he hasn’t been going live as much lately and to give everyone an update. “Nicky is doing fine now but he had to be rushed to emergency about two weeks ago because of a cardiac incident (tachycardia/arrhythmia).” It continues: “Some of you might remember he had a similar incident after his second spinal surgery last year (for Cauda Equina) but this time he is trying to get a little more rest and has been concentrating on medical appointments.” In October last year, Brendon’s manager said that the actor was withdrawing from all promotion for his film Wanton Want after suffering paralysis in his legs and genitals. The symptoms are understood to be caused by Cauda equina syndrome, a rare condition in which the end of the spinal cord is compressed, causing severe swelling and cutting off movement and sensation of the genitals, bladder and bowel. In August that year, Brendon was arrested for using a false identity to try to purchase drugs. He was officially charged with the crime of “prescription fraud of a controlled substance and for refusing to identify himself when stopped for an infraction” in Indiana. In recent years, the actor has had numerous legal issues including a 2017 case for domestic violence. He has also previously been in rehab for substance abuse, depression and alcoholism.
A TikTok user who claims to be a ‘time traveller’ from the year 2082 has claimed they know when the Queen will die and have warned that Big Ben will collapse. The user who posts as @timetraveller_2082 warned that the monarch will die later this year, while giving a list of other alleged events to come over the next 23 years. In the video, they wrote: “I am a real time traveller. In 2023, Big Ben collapses due to an unexpected earthquake. In 2030 GTA 7 is released. “Queen Elizabeth went in 2022, October 4th. In 2046, Niagara Falls has a huge blockage and water levels start to rise. Be warned.” TikTok users took to the comments in shock over the warning as one user wrote: “WhT?!” However, the user doubled down on their predictions as they replied: “You can trust me.” Other people took to the comments to try to gather more information from them about the future. One user asked: “Does Tottenham win trophy?” The alleged ‘time traveller’ shocked users with the answer, writing: “In 4 years yes! Then get bankrupt in 2030.” The news comes after a woman accurately predicted 10 major events of 2022, and was compared to famed mystic Baba Vanga who believes the Queen will die this year. In January, Hannah Carroll, 19, wrote down 28 predictions for 2022 and has already seen eight major events come true. Hannah has 18 more predictions yet to come true including the death of the Queen. She said: “I still think all of my predictions will come true, but maybe I was off a bit on the timing and some will happen in the next few years rather than this year.” She is already banned from playing The Dead Pool.
An Alabama death row inmate was subjected to three hours of pain during his execution, the longest recorded lethal injection process in US history, according to a report by a human rights organisation. Joe Nathan James Jr., 50, was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1994 fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Faith Hall, 26, in Birmingham. Examination by Reprieve US estimates that officials at the Atmore, Alabama, correctional facility took between three and three and half hours to carry out James’ lethal injection. They set James’ execution for 6pm on July 28th, though media were barred from entering until 8:57pm Then, James was pronounced dead at 9:27pm. Evaluation of the autopsy reveals that officials unsuccessfully tried for more than three hours to insert an IV line. The execution team then attempted a cut-down procedure, according to Reprieve US, which would have caused James to struggle and leave him with injuries on his hands and wrists. ‘Subjecting a prisoner to three hours of pain and suffering is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,’ said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US. ‘States cannot continue to pretend that the abhorrent practice of lethal injection is in any way humane.’ Alabama state officials did not answer questions in reference to the execution’s three-hour delay and said ‘there was nothing out of the ordinary. I can’t over emphasise this process,’ said John Hamm, Alabama Department of Corrections commissioner, in a statement. ‘We’re carrying out the ultimate punishment … and we have protocols and we are very deliberate in our process and making sure everything goes according to plan. So, if that takes a few minutes or a few hours, that’s what we do.’ Hamm did not clarify what part of the procedure resulted in the delay and added that they ‘took their deliberate time, if the veins are such that intravenous access cannot be provided, the team will perform a central line procedure. Fortunately, this was not necessary and with adequate time, intravenous access was established.’ James’ eyes were closed for the entirety of the procedure and he did not respond to the warden when asked if he had any last words. Witnesses saw his arm move with some slight movement at 9.05pm followed by some indications of breathing one minute later. His breathing lasted until 9.10pm when a correctional officer performed a consciousness check, to which James only responded to an arm pinch by moving his head side-to-side. James’ breathing appeared to stop at 9.12pm, with curtains to the room being closed to witnesses at 9.18pm. His time of death was recorded nine minutes later at 9.27 pm. ‘Something terrible had been done to James while he was strapped to a gurney behind closed doors without so much as a lawyer present to protest his treatment or an advocate to observe it, yet the state insisted that nothing unusual had taken place.’ The report by Reprieve US claim that, because of the long process to establish an IV line, the execution team would have sedated James before media arrived. This would cause James to be visibly unconscious at 9pm. ‘First, it was a torturous procedure behind closed doors, then a theatrical performance for witnesses,’ Foa said.
EastEnders actor Anna Karen is said to have left the majority of her fortune to one of her co-stars. The actor, who also appeared in sitcom On the Buses, died in a house fire in February 2022, aged 85. It’s now been reported by the Flying Monkeys that Karen left 65 per cent of her estate to Sophie Lawrence, who played Diane Butcher in the BBC soap. Lawrence first appeared in the soap from 1988 to 1991, but has returned numerous times over the years. Her most recent appearance was in 2012. Karen played Aunt Sal in the series. Karen and Lawrence remained friends, with the pair also starring together in comedy show Bazaar & Rummage, which is based on the Sue Townsend book. Elsewhere, the documents reveal Karen split the remainder of her fortune to her step-daughter, Gloria Gill, two friends and the Actors’ Benevolent Fund. The actor married Terry Duggan in 1967 and helped bring up his daughter, Gloria, from a previous relationship. An EastEnders spokesperson said of her death in February: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Karen has passed away. Anna created a sharp, quick-witted and extremely popular character in Aunt Sal that the audience will never forget, just as those who worked with her at EastEnders will never forget her warmth, kindness, fun and good humour. Our love and thoughts are with Anna’s family and friends.”
Derek Draper’s long struggle with Covid-19 has taken another turn for the worse after he was rushed back to hospital for a “serious” medical procedure on Friday. Draper, 55, who is married to Good Morning Britain star Kate Garraway, first fell seriously ill in March 2020 after contracting the virus. Despite now being Covid- free, he continues to suffer from long-lasting damage to his organs and requires daily care. According to the Flying Monkeys, yesterday’s knock-back saw Garraway stay by her husband’s bedside following the operation on his kidneys. Last night, a source told us: “This is another hammer blow for poor Derek. He is giving the fight against covid his absolute all, but his kidneys have suffered some pretty serious damage. Doctors explained there was no alternative but to operate. Of course Kate and the family are worried but she’s been reassured the procedure itself is routine. Everyone has everything crossed, and Kate is being her usual stoical self and keeping everything running, business as usual, on the home front.” Draper, a formal political advisor and psychotherapist, was hospitalised for a year with the virus, making him the longest serving hospital in-patient with Covid-19. In July, Garraway was forced to temporarily step back from her GMB and Smooth FM roles to care for her husband after Draper suffered a “frightening turn for the worse.” She has since returned to both jobs.
On This Day
- 1770 – James Cook formally claims eastern Australia for Great Britain, naming it New South Wales.
- 1945 – Physicist Harry Daghlian is fatally irradiated in a criticality accident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
- 1957 – The Soviet Union successfully conducts a long-range test flight of the R-7 Semyorka, the first intercontinental ballistic missile.
- 1986 – Carbon dioxide gas erupts from volcanic Lake Nyos in Cameroon, killing up to 1,800 people within a 20 Km range.
- 1614 – Elizabeth Báthory, Hungarian countess and purported serial killer (b. 1560)
- 1940 – Leon Trotsky, Russian theorist and politician, founded the Red Army (b. 1879)
- 2013 – Sid Bernstein, American record producer (b. 1918)
Stuntman David Lea dies from lung cancer aged 67
Friends and family have revealed how the late Hollywood stuntman David Lea, friends with Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan, took a knife wound down to the bone on camera but didn’t flinch until the scene was over. Lea died from lung cancer on August 6th at the age of 67. He doubled for Michael Keaton in Batman movies, braved brutal fight scenes with Sylvester Stallone in Tango & Cash, and worked with a host of other A-listers.
Stallone is said to be distraught over the stuntman’s death and sent the family condolences, as did John Wick movie director Chad Stahelski, Day Shift director JJ Perry, Mortal Kombat actor Lewis Tan and Bruce Lee’s protégé Dan Insanto.
In an exclusive interview with the Flying Monkeys, his daughter, friends and colleagues revealed how British-born Lea was tough as nails and totally committed to his work, even encouraging Stallone to smash his head repeatedly into a metal table to get the perfect shot.
His daredevil stunts – including for the actual 2003 movie Daredevil – ranged from being hit and driven over by cars, diving from moving vehicles, being thrown ten feet across a room, smashing through thick wooden doors, to breaking two bricks over his hand.
He performed stunts in Will Smith’s 1999 movie Wild Wild West, 1997 movies Batman & Robin and Con Air, and most recently was a double for Mickey Rourke in the 2022 movie The Commando.
Friends say that Lea was still taking heavy hits to get great footage even late into his 60s. ‘He seemed to become really good friends with any celeb he worked with. He might see them as a role model, but he wasn’t star struck,’ Lea’s daughter Angel Lea-Seagreen told the Flying Monkeys. He was a very generous, time-giving person who always wanted to help people. I think he’s gained a lot of love and respect for that.’
Lea’s mentee, trainee stuntwoman Nora Perez, revealed how Lea would brush off severe injuries to get the perfect take on set. While working as a stunt double for Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman movie, Perez said Lea was cut for real in a staged knife fight. ‘He said ”I felt the knife hitting my bone but I just pushed through it, I just kept going through the scene until they yelled cut.” He would say ”until they say cut, I don’t break character”,’ Perez said.
‘He was always happy and joking around. There was not a day where he wasn’t joking around. But when he came to work, he was all about work. ‘He was very graceful, he would think of others before himself. He was a great mentor for me as far as being a better person.’
Lea’s lifelong friend and fellow stunt coordinator Phil Tan, who got him the Batman job as his first big Hollywood break, said Lea forged a close bond with Stallone and would go the extra mile in fight scenes with the Rocky star.
‘Sly loves fighting Dave. He was very hurt when we had to tell him Dave passed away,’ Tan said. Lea choreographed a brutal brawl with Stallone in 1989 movie Tango & Cash – and made it shockingly real. ‘Dave told Sly, ”I want to make this look good. So when you smash my head into the table, I want you to do it for real. Beat the shit out of me, and it’s going to look fucking real and you’re going to look great”,’ Tan said. ‘He slammed his head over and over, like five or six times. And that was just one take. He did a bunch of takes.’
Tan, who helped produce Mickey Rourke movie The Commando released in January this year, said Lea was still taking heavy hits to get great footage even late into his 60s.
‘Dave had to get kicked through a door. Because of the budget we couldn’t get a balsa wood door where you can just kick it and he’ll go straight through. So we got a real door. ‘I said, “it’s only going to be one take and it is going to hurt like a mofo. Are you okay with that?” He said “Bring it Phil. Let’s go.” So he got kicked by Michael Jai White, who’s huge, 240 pounds of muscle. He kicked him straight through the freaking door. It was amazing. But because it was a real door, it cut him. He was bleeding, but he said ‘I’m good, do you want to do another one?’ He never complained. He is one of the toughest guys I know. The toughest guy on the street, the toughest guy on the set.’
Lea was trained in six types of Kung Fu, Shotokan karate, the Philippines martial art Escrima and kickboxing. He worked with stars including Stallone, Smith, Ashley Judd, Ben Affleck, Colin Farrell, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sandra Bullock, Michelle Pfeiffer, Famke Janssen, Dennis Quaid and David Boreanaz.
Angel, an elementary school assistant in Essex, England, said Lea was working until just a few weeks ago, and that his lung cancer moved swiftly. ‘My head has been in such a spin the last couple of weeks,’ she said. ‘His decline was quite rapid. It was fast, and it was aggressive. ‘He was working until just a couple of months ago. He was doing what he loved, so he kept going as long as his legs would hold him.’ She said her fondest memories were messing around on London’s Oxford Street and Chinatown, taking pictures and making comedic videos with her father.
‘He didn’t come from a privileged background in any way,’ she said. ‘He worked damn hard. And he appreciated everybody in his life.’
His family held a memorial for Lea at a Los Angeles church on Monday.
Last Week’s Birthdays
RJ Mitte (30), Laura Haddock (37), Alicia Witt (47), Kim Cattrall (66), Hayden Panettiere (33), Carrie-Anne Moss (55), Paul Chowdhry (48), Andrew Garfield (39), Amy Adams (48), Ke Huy Quan (51), Ben Barnes (41), James Marsters (60), John Noble (74), Demi Lovato (30), Misha Collins (48), Joan Allen (66), Ray Wise (75), Sylvester McCoy (79), David Walliams (51), Diana Muldaur (84), Matthew Perry (53), Jonathan Frakes (70), Jim Carter (74), Jill St. John (82), Ian McElhinney (74), Simon Bird (38), Edward Norton (53), Robert Redford (86), Christian Slater (53), Madeleine Stowe (64), Roman Polanski (89), Denis Leary (65), Robert De Niro (79), Sean Penn (62), Belinda Carlisle (64), Taika Waititi (47), Steve Carell (60), James Cameron (68), Julie Newmar (89), Madonna (64), Ben Affleck (50), Jennifer Lawrence (32), Natasha Henstridge (48), Debra Messing (54), David Zayas (60), Joe Jonas (33), Tony Robinson (76), and Jim Dale (87).
With the sad passing of Olivia Newton-John, I can award 77 points to Neil and 177 points to Iwan who had her listed as his Woman. Well done both of you but especially to Iwan as he’s catapulted himself into third place on the league table! And a fun fact from Nickie; as of 8 years ago – when Lauren Bacall died – everyone listed in the spoken section of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ is now dead.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Carlo Bonomi, 85, Italian voice actor (Pingu, La Linea) and clown.
- Roger E. Mosley, 83, American actor (Magnum, P.I., Leadbelly, Terminal Island), injuries sustained in a traffic collision.
- Lamont Dozier, 81, American songwriter (“You Can’t Hurry Love“, “Reach Out I’ll Be There“), record producer and singer.
- Darryl Hunt, 72, English musician (The Pogues).
- Dame Olivia Newton-John, 73, British-Australian singer (“I Honestly Love You“, “Physical“) and actress (Grease), breast cancer.
- Raymond Briggs, 88, British children’s writer and illustrator (Father Christmas, The Snowman, Fungus the Bogeyman), pneumonia.
- Sir Ralph Halpern, 83, British fashion industry executive, founder of Topshop.
- Anne Heche, 53, American actress (Another World, Volcano, Donnie Brasco), injuries sustained in a traffic collision.
- Denise Dowse, 64, American actress (Beverly Hills, 90210, The Guardian, Coach Carter), complications from meningitis.
- Robyn Griggs, 49, American actress (One Life to Live, Another World, Zombiegeddon), cervical cancer.
In Other News
Sir Salman Rushdie’s agent has confirmed that he’s been taken off the ventilator and is talking as the man accused of stabbing him pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of attempted murder and assault. Andrew Wylie said that the author, 75, may lose one eye after the attack at an event in New York state. Mr Rushdie went into hiding with police protection in the UK in 1988 after Iran’s top leader called for his murder over his novel, The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims deemed blasphemous. Police detained a suspect named as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey. New York State Police said the suspect ran onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie and an interviewer at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state. Mr Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and in the abdomen, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” his agent said. No motive or charges have yet been confirmed by police, who are in the process of obtaining search warrants to examine a backpack and electronic devices found at the centre. Police told a news conference that staff and audience members had pinned the attacker to the ground where he was arrested. A doctor in the audience gave Mr Rushdie first aid. The interviewer who was with Mr Rushdie, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury and was taken to a local hospital. Mr Reese is the co-founder of a non-profit organisation that provides sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of persecution. Linda Abrams, an onlooker from the city of Buffalo, told The Flying Monkeys that the assailant kept trying to attack Mr Rushdie after he was restrained. “It took like five men to pull him away and he was still stabbing,” Ms Abrams said. “He was just furious, furious. Like intensely strong and just fast.” Indian-born novelist Mr Rushdie catapulted to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone. But his fourth book, published in 1988 – The Satanic Verses – forced him into hiding for nearly 10 years. The surrealist, post-modern novel sparked outrage among some Muslims, who considered its content to be blasphemous and was banned in some countries. Several people were killed in anti-Rushdie riots in India and in Iran the British embassy in the capital, Tehran, was stoned. In 1991 a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death, while a few months later, an Italian translator was also stabbed and the book’s Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard, was shot – but both survived. A year after the book’s release, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for Mr Rushdie’s execution. He offered a $3m reward in a fatwa – a legal decree issued by an Islamic religious leader. The bounty over Mr Rushdie’s head remains active, and although Iran’s government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, a quasi-official Iranian religious foundation added a further $500,000 to the reward in 2012. There has been no reaction from the Iranian government to Mr Rushdie’s stabbing. Iranian media were describing Mr Rushdie as an apostate – someone who has abandoned or denied his faith – in their coverage. Rushdie, a British-American citizen – who was born to non-practising Muslims and is an atheist himself – has become a vocal advocate for freedom of expression, defending his work on several occasions. Rushdie has faced death threats for more than 30 years since the publication of The Satanic Verses. Mr Rushdie said the main thrust of his novel was to examine the immigrant experience, but some Muslims were offended by portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad and the questioning of the nature of the revelation of the Quran as the word of God. The Satanic Verses was banned first in the author’s country of birth, India, and then several other countries before Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued his infamous fatwa. The fatwa called for the killing of anyone involved in the publication of the book and offered rewards to those who took part in the murders. Surprised by the widespread nature of the protests, Salman Rushdie apologised to Muslims but went into hiding. When Mr Rushdie was knighted in 2007 by the Queen, it sparked protests in Iran and Pakistan, where one cabinet minister said the honour “justifies suicide attacks”. Several literary events attended by Mr Rushdie have been subject to threats and boycotts – but he continues to write. His next novel, Victory City, is due to be published in February 2023. Fellow authors such as JK Rowling and Stephen King have written messages of support. Booker-prize winning author, Ian McEwan, called it an “appalling attack” that “represents an assault on freedom of thought and speech. Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world. He is a fiery and generous spirit, a man of immense talent and courage and he will not be deterred,” he added. Writer Taslima Nasreen, who was forced to flee her home in Bangladesh after a court said her novel Lajja offended Muslim’s religious faith, said she now feared for her own safety in the wake of Mr Rushdie’s attack.
JK Rowling has told fans that police are involved after a tweet about Salman Rushdie prompted a death threat on Twitter. The not so controversial Harry Potter author had expressed sympathy for Rushdie after he was stabbed onstage the other day at a literary event in New York. On Saturday, it was reported that Rushdie was on a ventilator, having been rushed to hospital after the attack. Following the attack, Rowling tweeted: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.” Shortly after posting the message, Rowling shared the image of a reply she had received which read: “Don’t worry you are next.” The author initially tagged in Twitter’s support account, writing: “Any chance of some support?” Later, she gave fans an update and thanked them, writing: “To all sending supportive messages: thank you. “Police are involved (were already involved on other threats).” Rowling is one of several authors to have reacted following the shocking attack on Rushdie this week. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Nigella Lawson are also among the voices to have expressed shock and send messages of support to the Midnight’s Children author.
June Spencer, the last original cast member of The Archers, has retired from the BBC Radio 4 drama aged 103. The actress has played matriarch Peggy Woolley (formerly Archer) since 1951. Her last appearance was aired during the omnibus edition on Sunday, when she discussed getting a stained glass window commissioned of her two great-grandchildren. In a statement, Spencer said it was “high time” she retired from the show. Peggy was often viewed as a traditionalist, conservative character in the long-running drama charting the ups and downs of life in fictional Ambridge. Spencer reportedly recorded recent episodes from a custom studio at her Surrey home, to save her commuting to the show’s Birmingham base. “In 1950 I helped to plant an acorn. It took root and in January 1951 it was planted out and called The Archers,” Spencer recalled. “Over the years it has thrived and become a splendid great tree with many branches. But now this old branch, known as Peggy, has become weak and unsafe so I decided it was high time she ‘boughed’ out, so I have duly lopped her.” Among Peggy’s many fans was the Duchess of Cornwall, who last year invited Spencer and her co-stars to Clarence House for a reception marking the show’s 70th anniversary. She called Peggy “a true national treasure who has been part of my life, and millions of others, for as long as I can remember”. Although Peggy has not yet been written out of the show, Spencer has her own ideas on how best to manage her character’s exit. She told the Flying Monkeys: “The simplest thing is if she a fall or something and goes into The Laurels [the fictional care home in Ambridge]. She can languish for years there.” Jeremy Howe, editor of The Archers, said: “I think working with June Spencer has been one of the greatest privileges of my many decades in drama. Her Peggy is one of the great creations of broadcasting – utterly charming, utterly ruthless, sharp as a knife and witty in spades. To think that June has commanded the airwaves over an Archers career of over 70 years beggars belief.” Sonny Ormonde, who plays Lilian Bellamy, Peggy’s daughter in the soap, said: “I am truly devastated I won’t be having any more scenes with her. Not only will I miss her as a work colleague but I will miss her as a good friend in the studio – I will miss her presence.” In the mid-1950s, Spencer took a break from playing Peggy and the role was taken over by Thelma Rogers. Spencer returned to the role in the early 1960s, when Rogers departed. Spencer has been made both an OBE and CBE and in June 2010 she received the Freedom of the City of London.
On This Day
- 1893 – France becomes the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.
- 1936 – Rainey Bethea is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in the last known public execution in the United States.
- 1994 – Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, also known as “Carlos the Jackal“, is captured
- 2021 – A magnitude 7.2 earthquake strikes southwestern Haiti, killing at least 2,248 people and causing a humanitarian crisis.
- 1951 – William Randolph Hearst, American publisher and politician, founded the Hearst Corporation (b. 1863)
- 1988 – Enzo Ferrari, Italian race car driver and businessman, founded Ferrari (b. 1898)
- 2006 – Bruno Kirby, American actor (b. 1949)
- 2018 – Jill Janus, American singer (b. 1975)
Rainey Bethea was the last person publicly executed in the United States. Bethea, who confessed to the rape and murder of a 70-year-old woman named Lischia Edwards, was convicted of her rape and publicly hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky. Mistakes in performing the hanging, and the surrounding media circus, contributed to the end of public executions in the United States.
Little is known about Bethea’s life before he arrived in Owensboro in 1933. Born around 1909 in Roanoke, Virginia, Bethea was an African-American man orphaned after the death of his mother in 1919 and his father in 1926.
Bethea’s first run-in with the law happened in 1935, when he was charged with breach of the peace and then fined $20. In April of the same year, he was caught stealing two purses from the Vogue Beauty Shop. Since the value of the purses exceeded $25, Bethea was convicted of a felony, grand larceny, and consequently sentenced to one year in the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville.
Upon returning to Owensboro upon release, Bethea continued to work as a labourer and earned about seven dollars per week. Less than a month later, he was arrested again for house breaking. On January 6th, 1936, the court amended this charge to being drunk and disorderly in public and imposed a $100 fine (equivalent to $2000 today). Because he could not afford to pay, he was incarcerated in the Daviess County Jail.
Two months after his release, in the early morning of June 7th, 1936, Bethea entered the home of Lischia Edwards on East Fifth Street by climbing onto the roof of an outbuilding next door. From there, he jumped onto the roof of the servant’s quarters of Emmett Wells’ house, and then walked down a wooden walkway. He climbed over the kitchen roof to Edwards’ bedroom window.
After removing a screen from her window, he entered the room, waking her. Bethea then choked Edwards and violently raped her. After she was unconscious, he searched for valuables and stole several of her rings. In the process, he removed his own black celluloid prison ring, and failed to later retrieve it. He left the bedroom and hid the stolen jewels in a barn not far from the house.
The crime was discovered late that morning after the Smith family, who lived downstairs, noticed they had not heard Edwards stirring in her room. They feared she might have been ill and knocked on the door of her room, attempting to rouse her. They found the door locked with a key still inside the lock from the inside, which prevented another key from being placed in the lock from the outside. They contacted a neighbour, Robert Richardson, hoping he could help, and he managed to knock the key free, but another skeleton key would not unlock the door. Smith then got a ladder. He climbed into the room through the transom over the door and discovered that Edwards was dead.
The Smiths alerted Dr. George Barr while he was attending a service at the local Methodist Church. Dr. Barr realised there was little he could do and summoned the local coroner, Delbert Glenn, who attended the same church. The Smiths also called the Owensboro police. Officers found the room was otherwise tidy, but there were muddy footprints everywhere. Coroner Glenn also found Bethea’s celluloid prison ring.
By late Sunday afternoon, the police already suspected Rainey Bethea after several residents of Owensboro stated that they had previously seen Bethea wearing the ring. Since Bethea had a criminal record, the police could use the then-new identification technique of fingerprints to establish that Bethea had recently touched items inside the bedroom. Police searched for Bethea over the next four days.
On the Wednesday following the discovery of the murder, Burt “Red” Figgins was working on the bank of the Ohio River, when he observed Bethea lying under some bushes. Figgins asked Bethea what he was doing, and Bethea responded he was “cooling off.” Figgins then reported this sighting to his supervisor, Will Faith, and asked him to call the police. By the time Faith had returned to the spot on the river bank, Bethea had moved to the nearby Koll’s Grocery. Faith followed him and then found a policeman in the drugstore, but when they searched for Bethea, he again eluded capture.
Later that afternoon, Bethea was again spotted. This time, he was cornered on the river bank after he tried to board a barge. When police officers questioned him, he denied that he was Bethea, claiming his name was James Smith. The police played along with the fabricated name, fearing a mob would develop if residents were to learn that they had captured Bethea. After his arrest, Bethea was identified by a scar on the left side of his head. Judge Forrest A. Roby of the Daviess Circuit Court ordered the sheriff to transport Bethea to the Jefferson County Jail in Louisville. While being transferred, Bethea made his first confession, admitting that he had raped Edwards and strangled her to death. Bethea also lamented the fact that he had made a mistake by leaving his ring at the crime scene, stating that he had removed the ring in order to try on Edwards’s rings.
On the night before the trial, Bethea announced to his lawyers that he wanted to plead guilty, doing so the next day at the start of the trial. The prosecutor still presented the state’s case to the jury in spite of the guilty plea, requesting a death penalty for Bethea.
After a closing statement by the prosecutor, the judge instructed the jury that since Bethea had pleaded guilty, they must “…fix his punishment, at confinement in the penitentiary for not less than ten years nor more than twenty years, or at death.” After only four and a half minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with a sentence of death by hanging. Bethea was then quickly removed from the courthouse and returned to the Jefferson County Jail. In all, Bethea’s trial lasted for three hours.
While the crime was infamous locally, it came to nationwide attention because the sheriff of Daviess County was a woman. Florence Shoemaker Thompson had become sheriff on April 13, 1936, after her husband, sheriff Everett Thompson, unexpectedly died of pneumonia on April 10th. Florence became sheriff through widow’s succession, and as sheriff of the county, she was tasked with hanging Bethea.
Arthur L. Hash, a former Louisville police officer, offered his services free of charge to perform the execution. Thompson accepted this offer. He asked that she not make his name public. Hash arrived at the site intoxicated wearing a white suit and a white Panama hat. At this time, no one but he and Thompson knew that he would pull the trigger.
On August 6th, the Governor of Kentucky, Albert Chandler, signed Bethea’s execution warrant and set the execution for sunrise on August 14th. Thompson requested the governor to issue a revised death warrant because the original warrant specified that the hanging would take place in the courthouse yard where the county had recently planted, at significant cost, new shrubs and flowers. Chandler was out-of-state, so Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky Keen Johnson, as acting governor, signed a second death warrant moving the location of the hanging from the courthouse yard to an empty lot near the county garage.
Rainey Bethea’s last meal consisted of fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, cornbread, lemon pie, and ice cream.
Bethea left the Daviess County Jail and walked with two deputies to the scaffold. Within two minutes, he was at the base of the scaffold. Removing his shoes, he put on a new pair of socks. He ascended the steps and stood on the large X as instructed by the hangman Phil Hanna. After Bethea made his final confession to Father Lammers of the Cathedral of the Assumption, officers placed a black hood over his head and fastened three large straps around his ankles, thighs, arms, and chest.
Hanna placed the noose around Bethea’s neck, adjusted it, and then signalled to Hash to pull the trigger. Instead, Hash, who was drunk, did nothing. Hanna shouted at Hash, “Do it!” A deputy then leaned onto the trigger, which sprang the trap door. Bethea fell 8 feet, and his neck was instantly broken. Afterward, two doctors confirmed he was dead.
Bethea wanted his body to be sent to his sister in South Carolina so that she could arrange for him to be interred next to his father, but against these wishes, he was buried in a pauper’s grave at the Rosehill Elmwood Cemetery in Owensboro.
It was estimated that a crowd of about 20,000 people gathered to watch the execution. Afterwards, Hanna complained that Hash should not have been allowed to perform the execution in his drunken condition. Hanna further said it was the worst display he experienced in the 70 hangings he had supervised.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Steve Martin (77), Mila Kunis (39), Halle Berry (56), Joseph Marcell (74), Sebastian Stan (40), Cara Delevingne (30), Jim Beaver (72), Bruce Greenwood (66), George Hamilton (83), Chris Hemsworth (39), Anna Gunn (54), Ian McDiarmid (78), Hulk Hogan (69), Antonio Banderas (62), Rosanna Arquette (63), Bill Skarsgård (32), Ashley Johnson (39), Rhona Mitra (46), Sam Elliott (78), Gillian Anderson (54), Anna Kendrick (37), Eric Bana (54), Melanie Griffith (65), Dan Levy (39), Audrey Tautou (46), Dustin Hoffman (85), Katie Leung (35), and Connie Stevens (84).
We’ll begin by dishing out the points! Congratulations to Abi for correctly guessing that the awesome Nichelle Nichols would pass away this year; 61 points!!! So that just leaves five of us yet to score this year, which includes myself. You’d think I’d be good at this…
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Nichelle Nichols, 89, American actress (Star Trek, Truck Turner, Snow Dogs).
- Alastair Little, 72, British chef, cookbook author and restaurateur.
- Nicky Moore, 75, English singer (Samson), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Sam Gooden, 87, American Hall of Fame soul singer (The Impressions).
- Judith Durham, 79, Australian singer (The Seekers), lung disease.
In Other News
Anne Heche is said to be in a “stable” condition after suffering severe burns in a car accident. The actor was involved in a serious accident in Mar Vista, Los Angeles on Friday. Heche was inside a blue Mini Cooper that crashed into a home, causing the residence to catch fire. While officials have not officially named Heche as the driver, reports at the time claimed that the Donnie Brasco star was behind the wheel. They also published a picture of her in the vehicle. In a statement, Heche’s representative said that the actor was “currently in a stable condition” after the incident. They confirmed that Heche had suffered severe burns and was currently intubated. “Her family and friends ask for your thoughts and prayers and to respect her privacy during this difficult time,” they told the Flying Monkeys. According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, 59 firefighters attended the scene to contain the fire. Initially, it had been reported that Heche was in a “critical” condition after the accident. The Flying Monkeys reported that witnesses saw Heche’s car crash into the garage of a building in the neighbourhood, before the car smashed into the home on the west side of the city. Law enforcement officials told the Flying Monkeys that the 53-year-old was “deemed to be under the influence and acting erratically”.
Bill Turnbull has announced he is returning to his show on Classic FM for health reasons as he continues to live with terminal prostate cancer. The much-loved radio and TV presenter announced the news on Twitter and he was inundated with messages of support. The former BBC Breakfast presenter took to the micro-blogging site and shared his delight at making a return to the radio airwaves. In view of his 113,000 followers, Bill tweeted: “Roll over Beethoven – BIll Turnbull’s back @Classicfm! Yes, I’m returning to host the most exciting classical music show on the airwaves this Saturday from 10 till 1. Don’t miss it!” It comes after Bill told listeners in October he was taking some time away from the show. The broadcaster, who lives with incurable prostate cancer, said at the time it was “with great regret” that he would be taking “a leave of absence… for health reasons”. He explained: “The road has been a bit bumpy recently, and I need to take some time to focus on getting better.” Bill, 63, said he was “sorry to do this, as I absolutely love doing the programme. I am very grateful to friends and colleagues at Global for the love and support they have shown me,” he added. The former BBC Breakfast presenter has lived with the condition for over four years and has always been very open about his diagnosis. In 2019 he revealed that the cancer had spread to his bones, but that he still had a “fair-old time to live”. Since his diagnosis the journalist has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy and even had injections of radioactive substance Radium 223. Bill, who previously hosted BBC Breakfast, and Good Morning Britain alongside Susanna Reid, has hosted the Classic FM weekend show for five years.
Television advert icon Michael Redfern, who appeared alongside his on-screen wife Lynda Bellingham in the long-running Oxo commercials between 1983 and 1999, has died. The actor’s family confirmed he has died aged 79, as his son paid tribute to his late dad. “Michael died last Friday at his home in Spain following an illness,” his family announced. His son Ashley said: “Over the years, he was cast in a variety of roles including leading parts in the soap opera United!, The Newcomers as well as roles in classics such as The Two Ronnies, Porridge and Some Mothers Do Av ‘Em. “He of course was best known for his role in the Oxo commercials, which he did for 17 years and became a much loved figure in one of Britain’s favourite television families. He will be greatly missed by his wife Carol and his family,” he told the Flying Monkeys. Michael will be best remembered for his role as the dad in Oxo’s iconic adverts, lighting up the screen with his trademark moustache for 17 years. Lynda, who played his wife the Oxo mum in the ads, died back in 2016 with her husband by her side. He previously said of working with Lynda: “I was a face but she was a name and a very good actress.” The former Loose Women panellist announced she had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer in July 2013 and stopped her chemotherapy in August 2014, confirming she had months to live. Aside from his role in the Oxo adverts, Michael appeared in some classic comedy shows, including Porridge and The Two Ronnies.
On This Day
- 1890 – Anna Månsdotter, found guilty of the 1889 Yngsjö murder, became the last woman to be executed in Sweden.
- 1930 – The last confirmed lynching of black people in the Northern United States occurs in Marion, Indiana; two men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, are killed.
- 1974 – Philippe Petit performs a high wire act between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre 1,368 feet (417 m) in the air.
- 1957 – Oliver Hardy, American actor, singer, and director (b. 1892)
- 2004 – Red Adair, American firefighter (b. 1915)
- 2011 – Nancy Wake, New Zealand-English captain and spy (b. 1912)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Charlize Theron (47), Michael Shannon (48), Abbie Cornish (40), Harold Perrineau (59), David Duchovny (62), Tobin Bell (80), Michelle Yeoh (60), M. Night Shyamalan (52), James Gunn (56), Mark Strong (59), Billy Bob Thornton (67), Meghan Markle (41), Barack Obama (61), Lee Mack (54), Evangeline Lilly (43), Stephen Graham (49), Martin Sheen (82), John C. McGinley (63), Steven Berkoff (85), Mamie Gummer (39), John Landis (72), Sam Worthington (46), Kevin Smith (52), Edward Furlong (45), Jason Momoa (43), and John Carroll Lynch (59).
A busy week for deaths with quite a few of you scoring 😀 With the passing of James Lovelock, Millie scores 147 points as she listed him as her Cert. With Bernard Cribbins departing us, 57 points go to Rachel, Paul C, Liz, Paul G, Chris, Nickie, and Iwan. Well done all of you.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- David Warner, 80, English actor (The Omen, Tron, Titanic), complications from lung cancer.
- Paul Sorvino, 83, American actor (Goodfellas, The Rocketeer, Law & Order).
- David Trimble, Baron Trimble, 77, Northern Irish politician, first minister and member of the House of Lords.
- James Lovelock, 103, English environmentalist (Gaia hypothesis), inventor of the electron capture detector, complications from a fall.
- Mary Alice, 85, American actress (Fences, A Different World, The Matrix Revolutions).
- Bernard Cribbins, 93, English actor (The Wombles, Doctor Who) and singer (“The Hole in the Ground“).
- Tony Dow, 77, American actor (Leave It to Beaver, Never Too Young), liver cancer.
- Sir Christopher Meyer, 78, British diplomat, Downing Street press secretary, ambassador to the United States and Germany, stroke.
- Charles Ward, British recording studio owner.
In Other News
A third set of human remains has been found at Lake Mead, as an ongoing drought continues to lower water levels at the huge reservoir. The torso was discovered at a Nevada swimming beach on Monday evening. Shots taken of the body appear to show a person’s trunk with its arms, leg and head missing. It marks the third grisly discovery made at the lake, which is at its lowest level in 84 years, since May. The National Park Service did not say in a statement how long officials think the corpse was submerged in the Boulder Beach area of the lake before it was found Monday around 4:30 p.m. by people who summoned park rangers. Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse said Tuesday it was partially encased in mud at the water line of the swimming area along the shore. Little is known about the new discovery with the gender, time, cause or manner of death all still a mystery. Rouse said that investigators are scouring through local missing person reports in an attempt to identify the corpse. Human remains, as well as sunken boats, including a World War II landing craft, and other items have been discovered at lake over the summer as the water level declines. The coroner said her office was continuing work to identify a man whose body was found May 1 in a rusted barrel in the Hemenway Harbor area. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said in May: ‘The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years. It’s likely that we will find additional bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead.’ He was correct, six days after that discovery, another set of human bones were found on a newly surfaced sand bar near Callville Bay, more than nine miles from the marina. Daniel fell from a speedboat that flipped when it struck by a wake during a fishing trip with a friend 64 years ago. His father was a Las Vegas mobster and casino magnate named Ruby Kolod, although there is no suggestion that Daniel’s death was a result of foul play. His remains were never recovered despite searches by a helicopter and divers. On July 6, the body of a 22-year-old Boulder City woman was found in the water near where she disappeared while riding a personal watercraft. Rouse said it may take several weeks to determine her cause of death. The case of the body in the barrel was being investigated as a homicide after police said the man had been shot and his clothing dated to the mid-1970s to early 1980s. Around 300 people have drowned in Lake Mead since the 1930s but that does not include those whose bodies were never recovered, including Daniel Kolod. About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River as their water supply, with Lake Mead and Lake Powell serving as the area’s primary reservoirs. Yum!
Kate Garraway is reportedly in ‘survival mode’ after her husband Derek Draper took a ‘serious turn for the worse’ this month.The former political advisor, 54, was readmitted to hospital two months ago, more than two years since he contracted Covid, with the virus causing major health complications and long-lasting damage to his organs.Kate recently had to pull out of her presenting duties on Good Morning Britain to support her family. And now, a source close to the family claimed that she’s trying to stay positive despite the sudden change in his health.”Kate’s been incredibly strong throughout Derek’s illness and has remained a pillar of strength for the family despite their entire lives being turned around, but right now she’s in pure survival mode and is having to now face the possibility of her worst nightmare coming true if Derek doesn’t make it out of this,” they revealed. “She’s hell-bent on staying positive, not only for Derek but for herself and the children too.” They added: “Derek is back in hospital in a very serious condition but the family knows he is in the best hands. Kate is doing everything she can for her husband. He comes first and so work will have to take a back seat this week.”
Scots comedian Janey Godley has reflected on her cancer journey and revealed that she is finally starting to feel like herself again. Janey was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last year and has been battling the disease and updating her fans throughout as she went through operations and courses of treatment. Following gruelling chemotherapy sessions, last month the funny woman announced that her latest scan came back clear. At the time, a tearful Janey said: “I have just had a phone call from the cancer specialist and the scan has came back clear. There is no evidence of the disease, so after the hysterectomy and six rounds of chemo and a blood transfusion it seems like the NHS has definitely saved my life. “I want to thank everyone at the Beatson Cancer Care and every one at the NHS who looked after me. I also want to thank my wee pal Shirley who looked after me when I came out after the hysterectomy.” Janey faces having to take pills for the rest of her life to stop the cancer returning but couldn’t contain her joy. And now she has taken to Twitter to look back on her journey, with a series of selfies taken throughout. Janey went on to say that she is finally starting to feel herself again after getting the all clear.
On This Day
- 1970 – Black Tot Day: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy.
- 1971 – Apollo program: the Apollo 15 astronauts become the first to ride in a lunar rover.
- 2007 – Operation Banner, the presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and the longest-running British Army operation ever, comes to an end.
- 1875 – Andrew Johnson, American general and politician, 17th President of the United States (b. 1808)
- 1886 – Franz Liszt, Hungarian pianist, composer, and conductor (b. 1811)
- 1917 – Hedd Wyn, Welsh language poet (b. 1887)
- 2009 – Bobby Robson, English footballer and manager (b. 1933)
- 2012 – Gore Vidal, American novelist, screenwriter, and critic (b. 1925)
- 2013 – Michael Ansara, Syrian-American actor (b. 1922)
- 2015 – Roddy Piper, Canadian wrestler and actor (b. 1954)
- 2018 – Tony Bullimore, British sailor & businessman (b. 1939)
- 2020 – Alan Parker, English filmmaker (b. 1944)
Back in June 2021 we read about the Somerton Man, one of Australia’s most baffling and enduring mysteries – the unsolved case of an unclaimed body dubbed ‘Somerton Man’ who was found with a coded note in his pocket on a beach 74 years ago – which may have finally been unraveled after a professor claimed he used DNA analysis to uncover his true identity.
The fully-clothed body was discovered slumped against a sea wall by two trainee jockeys near the shore of Somerton Park Beach, Adelaide, on December 1, 1948. He had an unlit cigarette resting on his chest.
A post-mortem examination ruled he was poisoned, but was never identified because no family members came forward to claim him.
He was in a perfectly-pressed double-breasted suit and tie; a coded note and a book of Persian poems among his belongings lent themselves to wild theories that he was a Cold War spy or had been murdered by a scorned ex-lover.
Now, more than 70 years later, Adelaide University researcher Derek Abbott says the man was Carl ‘Charles’ Webb, a 43-year-old electrical engineer and instrument maker from Footscray in Melbourne.
Professor Abbott, who has been working alongside renowned American genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, used hair from a plaster mask police made in the 1940s to construct a DNA profile.
After building a family tree of around 4,000 people, Abbott and Fitzpatrick had a breakthrough on Saturday – successfully matching the DNA from the hair to samples from Webb’s distant relatives.
‘By filling out this tree, we managed to find a first cousin three times removed on his mother’s side,’ Abbott told the flying monkeys. ‘It just felt like I climbed and I was at the top of Mount Everest.’
Webb was born the youngest of six children in 1905 in Melbourne. No death records or photos exist on file.
Professor Abbott said they also found a link between Webb and the name ‘T.Keane’ – which was printed on the Somerton Man’s tie.
‘It turns out that Carl Webb has a brother-in-law called Thomas Keane, who lived just 20 minutes drive away from him in Victoria,’ Professor Abbott told the flying monkeys.
‘So it’s not out of the question that these items of clothing he had with T. Keane on them were just hand me downs from his brother-in-law.’
Professor Abbott said they had also found a potential reason why the Melbournian was in Adelaide.
‘We have evidence that he had separated from his wife, and that she had moved to South Australia, so possibly, he had come to track her down,’ he said.
In May last year, South Australia police exhumed the Somerton Man’s body from its resting place at West Terrace Cemetery.
However, experts from Forensic Science SA encountered difficulties analysing the DNA due to the small amount of ‘comparison samples’.
South Australia Police, who are conducting a parallel investigation, are yet to verify Abbott’s findings.
South Australia Police have been contacted for comment. Professor Abbott hopes their work will be confirmed by authorities to enable further research into Webb’s life.
Webb was born on November 16, 1905, in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Footscray.
Abbott said there are few records to shed light on his early life and they have not been able to find any photos of him in public databases or relatives’ photo albums.
However, Webb later married Dorothy ‘Doff’ Robertson, and the last known record on file is a court notice in April 1947 when she went to court to file for divorce because he had disappeared.
After Robertson filed for divorce in Melbourne, documents from 1951 show she had moved to Bute in South Australia, 144km northeast of Adelaide.
Abbott said Webb liked betting on horses and the mysterious code found in the man’s book could relate to horse names.
The researcher said Abbot was also fond of poetry, which could explain the Tamam Shud note.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael Biehn (66), Wesley Snipes (60), Emilia Fox (48), Rico Rodriguez (24), Dean Cain (56), J.K. Rowling (57), Christopher Nolan (52), Arnold Schwarzenegger (75), Hilary Swank (48), Lisa Kudrow (59), Laurence Fishburne (61), Jean Reno (74), Terry Crews (54), Frances de la Tour (78), Carel Struycken (74), William Atherton (75), Kate Bush (64), Wil Wheaton (50), Hannah Waddingham (48), Elizabeth Berkley (50), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (53), Taylor Schilling (39), Donnie Yen (60), Sandra Bullock (58), Kate Beckinsale (49), Jason Statham (55), Kevin Spacey (63), Helen Mirren (77), Nana Visitor (65), Eve Myles (44), Mick Jagger (79), Matt LeBlanc (55), D.B. Woodside (53), and Iman (67).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mickey Rooney Jr., 77, American actor (Hot Rods to Hell, Honeysuckle Rose).
- Ricky Bibey, 40, English rugby league player (Wigan Warriors, Leigh Centurions, Wakefield Trinity).
- Rebecca Balding, 73, American actress (Soap, Charmed, Makin’ It), ovarian cancer.
- Alan Grant, 73, Scottish comic book writer (Judge Dredd, Lobo, Batman).
- Taurean Blacque, 82, American actor (Hill Street Blues, Oliver & Company, Savannah).
- Paddy Hopkirk, 89, British rally driver.
- Uwe Seeler, 85, German footballer (Hamburger SV, West Germany national team).
- David Moores, 76, British football executive, chairman of Liverpool (1991–2007).
- Maria Petri, 82, English football supporter.
- Stefan Soltész, 73, Austrian conductor.
In Other News
Limp Bizkit have cancelled their UK and European tour dates following concerns over frontman Fred Durst’s health. Durst has been advised by his Doctor to take an “immediate break” from touring following some “unexpected” test results. The band announced the news on Instagram saying: “For personal health concerns and based on medical advice given by my personal physician to take an immediate break from touring, Limp Bizkit will sadly have to postpone their 2022 UK and European tour. “We truly apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to our loyal fans, promoters and support staff. Stand by for further news. Sincerely, Fred & Limp Bizkit.” The post also directed fans to the band’s website to watch a video statement from Durst in which he explains that he’d gone for some physical health tests to prepare for the band’s upcoming tour. Durst goes on to say that he learned that he needed to stay put for further testing and was told to abandon the tour. “This was very unexpected news and I’m so sorry,” Durst said in the heartfelt video, adding: “I look forward to making it up to you as soon as possible”. “I truly am grateful to everyone who was going to take the time out of their busy lives and come and see Limp Bizkit perform this summer,” he continued. Thanking fans for their ongoing support, Durst said: “We do love and cherish our connection with you more than anything on this planet.” The band were due to perform two dates at London’s Brixton Academy in September as part of the tour. The frontman was keen to stress to fans that he would be back soon, saying: “I know everything’s going to be okay. “I’m already working on something to make it up to everyone in the UK and all over Europe”.
A wildlife trophy hunter who killed elephants and lions and uploaded photos of himself next to their carcasses has been shot dead in South Africa. Riaan Naude, 55, was gunned down “at close range” when a car pulled up next to his truck in Marken Road, Limpopo – an area which includes part of the Kruger National Park wildlife reserve. Lieutenant Colonel Mamphaswa Seabi, a spokesperson for South Africa’s national police force, said: “The man was lying with his face up and there was blood on his head and face.” A pair of hunting rifles, clothes, water, whiskey and pyjamas were found by officers. The Heritage Protection Group, a not-for-profit group against rhino poaching, claim there are two suspects involved in the hunter’s murder. The group wrote in a Facebook post: “According to eyewitnesses, a white bakkie (truck) stopped next to him and shot him in cold blood at a short distance, after which the two suspects got out and only stole his pistol. “They then jumped into the vehicle and raced in the direction of Marken. Traces were trampled on the scene. All the personal belongings were still in the vehicle, weapons, ammunition, hunting equipment and clothes were left as is.” Mr Naude ran the Pro Hunt Africa firm, a “hunting and Eco Safari outfit” in northern South Africa. He will not be missed by anyone.
President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19, the White House said on Thursday. In a statement, White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Mr Biden, who is screened for Covid-19 on a regular basis, tested positive on Thursday morning. She added that the president, who is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with two booster shots, has “very mild symptoms” that are being treated with the anti-viral medication Paxlovid. Ms Jean-Pierre said Mr Biden would follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines by isolating at the White House while carrying out “all of his duties fully during that time”. “He has been in contact with members of the White House staff by phone this morning, and will participate in his planned meetings at the White House this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence,” she said. “Consistent with White House protocol for positive Covid cases, which goes above and beyond CDC guidance, he will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative”. Ms Jean-Pierre said the White House would provide daily updates on Mr Biden’s condition “out of an abundance of transparency”, though she stressed that the is continuing to “carry out the full duties of the office” despite being in isolation. During a briefing at the White House, Ms Jean-Pierre said she wasn’t sure where Mr Biden contracted Covid, adding “I don’t think that matters”. Speaking to reporters in Detroit, Michigan, first lady Jill Biden said she spoke to her husband shortly after his positive test became publicly known. “He’s doing fine,” she said. “He’s feeling good.” Since Mr Biden took office in January 2021, the possibility that he would contract Covid-19 has been of great concern to his advisers, who until recently have taken great pains to limit his contact with large crowds. At 79, Mr Biden is the oldest person to be sworn in for a first term as president and is at high risk for severe complications from the virus. But White House officials have said Mr Biden is well-protected by the vaccine and booster doses he has received since shortly before he took office. Mr Biden’s positive test comes amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases due to new variants and sub-variants of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus, which doctors say are far more contagious than previous iterations and more easily evade the immunity conferred on him by his vaccines and boosters. The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, reacted to Mr Biden’s positive test by telling reporters: “I’m hoping he gets well soon and doesn’t have any difficulty getting past it.” House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, told reporters at her weekly press conference that she understands Mr Biden’s symptoms to be “light”. “I hope they continue to be so. That was my experience,” she said.
The oldest-ever male giant panda in captivity has died aged 35. An An lived most of his life at a theme park in Hong Kong after he and a female panda were gifted by China in 1999. The female panda, Jia Jia, died in 2016 at the age of 38, making her the oldest-ever female panda in captivity. Ocean Park theme park mourned An An as a family member who built bonds with locals and tourists. “An An has brought us fond memories with numerous heart-warming moments. His cleverness and playfulness will be dearly missed,” Paulo Pong, chairman of Ocean Park Corporation, said. An An had high blood pressure, a common condition among geriatric pandas. Over the past three weeks, An An had been kept out of sight from visitors at the park as his health worsened. He stopped eating solid food and was significantly less active in recent days. Last week, hundreds left comments on a social media post about An An’s condition, wishing him a speedy recovery. He was euthanised to prevent further suffering on Thursday morning after veterinarians from Ocean Park and government authorities consulted the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda. “An An lived a full life that ended at the respectable age of 35 – the equivalent of 105 years in human age,” Ocean Park said. Hong Kong was given another panda pair – Ying Ying, a female, and a male, Le Le – in 2007 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the city’s return to China. China commonly engages in “panda diplomacy” where the mammals exclusively found in China are leased to other countries as a sign of goodwill.
A man has died after drinking a whole bottle of Jagermeister in just two minutes as part of a binge-drinking competition. The South African man downed a the whole bottle of the 35 per cent spirit as part of a £10 bet at a South African liquor store. Shortly after gulping down the spirit the local resident, who has not been named collapsed. The man, who is reportedly aged between 25 and 30, was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after arriving. A viral video has been circulated online which shows the man guzzling down the liquid while people clap and cheer him on. A police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the incident took place at a local liquor store at Mashamba village in Elim, South Africa. Mr Mojapelo told local media: “‘Police in Waterval outside Louis Trichardt have opened a case of inquest following an incident of apparent misuse of alcohol that took place at one of the local liquor outlets at Mashumba Village where the patrons allegedly participated in what they called a ‘drinking competition. “The winner who could consume the entire bottle of Jägermeister within a specified time, would get R200 cash. One of them immediately collapsed thereafter and was taken to the local clinic where he was certified dead.” An inquest has been opened into his death.
On This Day
- 1487 – Citizens of Leeuwarden, Netherlands, strike against a ban on foreign beer.
- 1911 – Hiram Bingham III re-discovers Machu Picchu, “The Lost City of the Incas”.
- 1966 – Michael Pelkey makes the first BASE jump from El Capitan along with Brian Schubert. Both came out with broken bones. BASE jumping has now been banned from El Cap.
- 1980 – Peter Sellers, English actor and comedian (b. 1925)
- 2010 – Alex Higgins, Northern Irish snooker player (b. 1949)
- 2020 – Regis Philbin, American actor and television host (b. 1931)
Mending Wounds on the Dead
Madison Acor, 21, has become the latest social media sensation, sharing with her TikTok followers her day-to-day duties as a student at the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. In one of her videos, which has amassed over one million views, Acor shows her followers the daunting task of having to fully reconstruct a broken skull.
In the video, which she titles Skullzo Restoration Day, Acor and her partner are given a skull made out of plaster, then are asked to break it and reconstruct it.
However, what makes the assignment more challenging than it already is, is that the instructor takes away a piece of the fake skull, and the students are left to reassemble it.
Acor explains that for the process, students are provided with cranial bone screws, zip ties, mesh wire netting and a screwdriver, among other tools.
“At first, we were using zip ties to try to get the skull back together to make sure it didn’t shake or shimmy whenever we shook it. And that worked OK,” she revealed in the video.
“Then we used a lot of the cranial screws to reinforce it.”
To fill in for the missing piece, Acor used mesh and wire, which she “intertwined” between the pieces of the skull through holes she drilled with a screwdriver.
“It’s not so glamorous, but the goal is to make sure that when we shake the skull, nothing moved,” she concluded.
Several people applauded her work in the comment section but confessed they wouldn’t dare try the real deal.
“The class seems fun but doing the real thing NOPE SCARED,” wrote one person.
A second person chimed in and asked: “You’re telling me I could have my head zip tied back together 😳.”
“This is so beyond cool…” commented another TikToker.
“So next is knifezo, she was the victim of a stabbing unfortunately. And you guys can see the large slice in the face and on the ear, little bit of lip reconstruction, wounds along the neck.
“There’s a big gash I kind of zoomed in right there for you. And there’s another big gash on her ear. There’s lots of little cuts along her as well, kind of scattered all over.”
To start, the 21-year-old explains how she filled in the deep wounds with clay, then applied soft wax to the covered-up wounds.
Acor explained that the soft wax part took her the longest because she had to apply it “carefully and feather it” to make the wounds look smooth for the cosmetic application stage.
Finally, the student displays her finished figure, revealing that she applied blush on “knifezo’s” ears, cheeks, forehead, nose, and collarbone to give it some colour.
Fellow TikTokers praised the mortuary student’s work but were stunned when they learned what it was for.
Acor said she started posting the videos so her family could see them easier online, saying that when the video began going viral “she was shocked.”
“I would like people to know that this profession is not scary and many people in this field want nothing but the best for the decedent and their families,” Acor told The Flying Monkeys.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Rose Byrne (43), Jennifer Lopez (53), Elisabeth Moss (40), Anna Paquin (40), Summer Glau (41), Lynda Carter (71), Danny Dyer (45), Woody Harrelson (61), Daniel Radcliffe (33), Kathryn Hahn (49), Charisma Carpenter (52), Ronny Cox (84), Slash (57), Selena Gomez (30), Willem Dafoe (67), Rhys Ifans (55), Terence Stamp (84), Danny Glover (76), Louise Fletcher (88), Josh Hartnett (44), Anya Chalotra (26), Paloma Faith (41), John Francis Daley (37), Sandra Oh (51), Benedict Cumberbatch (46), Jared Padalecki (40), Kelly Reilly (45), Kristen Bell (42), and Vin Diesel (55).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Michael Barratt, 94, English television presenter (Nationwide).
- Monty Norman, 94, English composer (“James Bond Theme“).
- Chris Stuart, 73, British journalist (Western Mail), producer (Only Connect), and songwriter.
- Ivana Trump, 73, Czech-American businesswoman, author and model, fall.
- Paul Ryder, 58, English bassist (Happy Mondays).
- Bobby East, 37, American racing driver (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series), stabbed.
In Other News
Comedian Rhod Gilbert is receiving treatment at a cancer hospital, he has said. The 53-year-old from Carmarthen said he is a patient at Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff – a hospital he is a patron of and has fundraised for. “I know better than anyone that I am in the best possible hands,” he said in a Facebook post, announcing the news. After previously cancelling shows due to issues with his throat, he paused his Book of John tour last week. “As a proud patron of Velindre Cancer Centre, I’ve trekked the world, hosted chaotic quizzes and star-studded comedy nights,” he said. “I’ve met and made friends with so many inspirational staff, patients and their families. It has been a huge part of my life for the last ten years. So while I never imagined that I would be a patient here, I know better than anyone that I am in the best possible hands. The NHS care I’m receiving is incredible. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone… but who knows, maybe I’ll come out the other end with a new stand-up show and a 40 minute rant about orange squash,” he added. “Thank you everyone for your support over the last few weeks and months (and years). I’ll be disappearing for a while and won’t be commenting further, at least not for now, whilst I focus on my recovery.” The comedian had announced last week that dates after 9th July in Swansea, Hereford, Yeovil, and Truro would be postponed. At the time time, he said: “As many of you will know, I’ve been struggling with pain in my neck and throat over the past few months. I’ve been receiving treatment, and have continued to tour where possible. I had sincerely hoped to go ahead with all dates as scheduled, but I’m afraid that is not going to be possible. I am due to have surgery next week and will be hanging up my boots for a while whilst I recuperate.” In postponing, he said he was working to reschedule shows for early 2023. Gilbert had done about 200 Book of John shows, and added: “I am genuinely gutted that we didn’t get to do the last seven shows as planned, but, rest assured, we will do everything we can to finish what we started.”
Tom Jones is clarifying the real reason why his concert in Budapest was postponed. According to the flying monkeys, the 82-year-old “It’s Not Unusual” singer passed out an hour prior to his performance on Tuesday. Jones, however, refuted that on Instagram, claiming he had received a prescription not to perform due to “viral laryngitis.” “Hello to all concerned. I traveled last night from the UK to Budapest and woke this morning with an uncomfortable throat,” he wrote. “A specialist came to visit and diagnosed ‘viral laryngitis.’ He strongly advised postponing this evening’s show and prescribed medication and vocal rest,” he continued. About his alleged collapse he said, ” I did not ‘collapse’ anywhere at any time, that is pure rumour. Hopefully, the inflammation will calm soon as I am looking forward to continuing my wonderful summer tour.” Even though his most recent performance was postponed, it has been rescheduled for Tuesday, August 16th, and his European tour will go on as scheduled. Sir Tom became the oldest person to top the UK album chart when he released Surrounded By Time, his 41st studio album, last year.
A heavy metal fanatic has used his late uncle’s bones to create his very own electric guitar – yes, you read the correctly. Either that’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing we’ve ever heard or the start of a Stephen King novel. The musician is from Florida (of course) and his alias is Prince Midnight. His uncle, Filip, requested his remains be donated to science before passing away in Greece in the ‘90s. He told Guitar World: “After 20 years, he ended up in a cemetery my family had to pay rent on. Like, literally in a wooden box. It’s a big problem in Greece because orthodoxy religion doesn’t want people cremated. So I got the box of bones from Greece and didn’t know what to do at first – bury them? Cremate them? Put them in the attic? All seemed like poor ways to memorialise someone who got me into heavy metal.” After brainstorming how he would honour the late relative, the musician came up with the particularly bold idea, which he admitted, ‘proved to be challenging’. However, Prince Midnight did some thorough research and consulted specialists before constructing what he calls the ‘Filip Skelecaster’. So now his uncle can ‘shred in death’. Many on social media were stunned by the creation, as one user wrote: “Just imagine being that guy who donates his dead body to research purposes and finds out it is being used by your weird cousin who made a freakin guitar out of you..” Another commented: “Florida, always Florida.” A third person said: “Someone has been watching too much From Dusk till Dawn.” While another wrote: “Should have made a xylophone with those ribs.”
A tourist fell into the crater of Mount Vesuvius after reportedly taking a selfie on a forbidden route. According to Italian media, the 23-year-old and his family, who were visiting from the USA, ignored signage after bypassing a visitor turnstile and walked along an out-of-bounds path on Saturday. The man then attempted to take a selfie at the summit of the volcano – which overlooks the city of Naples – and dropped his phone, before falling as he attempted to retrieve it. He dropped several metres and a rescue helicopter, police and Vesuvius guides had to be called out, with the latter abseiling down to lift him out. He subsequently had to be treated for cuts and bruises to his arms and back. The tourist – as well as the three family members accompanying him – now face criminal charges. While selfies have become a part of daily life for many of us, there is a time and a place for them. A global study found that 259 people died taking selfies between 2011 and 2017. The deaths stemmed from 137 separate incidents and the average age of those who died was around 23 – a stat reaffirmed by the latest incident at Mountain Vesuvius. Almost three quarters of the deaths were men, with transport, drowning and falls among the most common causes of death. The study, which was conducted by the US National Library of Medicine, also showed the number of selfie-related deaths is increasing, with only three reported in 2011, as opposed to 98 in 2016.
On This Day
- 1918 – Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his immediate family and retainers are executed by Bolshevik Chekists at the Ipatiev House in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
- 1981 – A structural failure leads to the collapse of a walkway at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, Missouri, killing 114 people and injuring more than 200.
- 2014 – Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, crashes near the border of Ukraine and Russia after being shot down. All 298 people on board are killed.
- 1912 – Henri Poincaré, French mathematician, physicist, and engineer (b. 1854)
- 1918 – Nicholas II of Russia (b. 1868)
- 1959 – Billie Holiday, American singer (b. 1915)
- 2005 – Edward Heath, English colonel and politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (b. 1916)
- 2009 – Walter Cronkite, American journalist and actor (b. 1916)
The Worst Way to Die?
A mortician has revealed which is the worst possible way to die – and it’s not what you think. Caitlin Doughty comfortably discusses macabre topics in her web series called “Ask a Mortician”. She explains that while each culture has a different way to describe a so-called “good death”, they all seem to agree on what it means to have a “bad death”.
She said: “Cross-culturally, the bad death tends to be somewhat the same- it’s tragic and unexpected, a suicide, a homicide, a terrible accident.
“For the survivors, the worst thing could be when the body is never found and funeral and mourning rituals can’t be performed.”
But the mortician explains that the worst possible way to die is by scaphism – an ancient Persian method of fatal torture.
Caitlin explained how the bizarre way of torturing, which is also referred to as “the boats”, works.
She said: “First your body is stripped naked and you’re put between two hollowed-out logs with your head and limbs sticking out.
“Then they pour honey all over you and force you to ingest honey which attracts insects.
“Then they leave you in a stagnant pond to be slowly eaten – but they come back every day to forcibly feed you more milk and honey so you don’t die right away, eventually succumbing to exposure, dehydration, shock and delirium.”
Ancient Persians would also pour the thick mixture of honey and milk all over the victim’s face and expose them to the sun, causing painful blisters.
The victim would eventually be eaten alive by various insects attracted by the honey and milk but his suffering would last for days.
It is believed the cruel execution method was reserved for the worst criminals such as traitors and murderers.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Brett Goldstein (42), Donald Sutherland (87), Eric Winter (46), David Hasselhoff (70), Alex Winter (57), Will Ferrell (55), Phoebe Cates (59), Corey Feldman (51), Travis Fimmel (43), Diane Kruger (46), Brigitte Nielsen (59), Forest Whitaker (60), Terry O’Quinn (70), Celia Imrie (70), Jesse Ventura (71), Adam Savage (55), Linda Ronstadt (76), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (37), Jackie Earle Haley (61), Matthew Fox (56), David Mitchell (48), Kyle Gass (62), Conor McGregor (34), Harrison Ford (80), Patrick Stewart (82), Cheech Marin (76), Michelle Rodriguez (44), Anna Friel (47), Cheryl Ladd (71), Melissa O’Neil (34), Tamsin Greig (56), Bill Cosby (85), Stephen Lang (70), Michelle Fairley (59), Caroline Quentin (62), and Craig Charles (58).