Dead Pool 11th February 2024

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

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

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

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

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

On This Day

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

Deaths

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

The Sad Demise of Peter Pan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last Week’s Birthdays

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

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.