Dead Pool 13th February 2022

A fairly scant week on the deaths front, but I did find an interesting story to share below. I do think it may be time for a Flying Monkey incident. Fly my lovelies, fly! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

The Queen’s recent Covid-19 scare has sparked debate over which royals should be allowed to step in for her if she is unable to fulfil her duties. Her Majesty is currently being “monitored” after it was revealed she was in close contact with Prince Charles two days before he tested positive with coronavirus. If the Queen cannot undertake her official duties, there are four potential royals who are Counsellors of State and appointed by Letters Patent who can fill in for her – Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry. Buckingham Palace refused to confirm whether the 95-year-old monarch had tested positive or negative for Covid, fuelling fears for her health, but palace sources insisted she was not displaying symptoms of the virus. Counsellors of State are appointed from among the following: the monarch’s consort (which was the late Prince Philip) and the four adults over the age of 21 next in succession. These are currently Prince Charles, Prince William, Prince Harry and Prince Andrew. And since Charles contracted Covid yesterday and William abroad in Dubai, if both the Queen and Charles were too unwell to carry out duties, the role would have fallen to Andrew and Harry. However, Andrew has stepped back permanently from royal life while he fights a civil sexual assault case, while Harry is in the US having also quit as a senior working royal. Andrew and Harry remain in the line of succession, but the fact that Harry is out of the UK living in California could potentially disqualify him from a Counsellor of State role, although he could travel back to London if ever required. Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt tweeted: “With Prince Charles isolating and Prince William abroad, is Prince Andrew limbering up in case he needs to be a Counsellor of State – or can Prince Harry do it, virtually?” But, in the event Counsellors of State were needed, he would only be one of the two required. Charles is understood not to have serious symptoms after testing positive on Thursday.    

Radio 2 presenter Rylan Clark has been rushed to hospital, which forced him to pull out of his BBC show for the second week in a row. It is not yet known why Rylan was taken to hospital, but last week, he told his followers he had the flu. The host, 33, has since revealed he is now back at home after “an extended stay” and will not be on the radio tomorrow. Sharing a picture of his arm fitted with a cannula, the star confirmed that he was “on the mend”.  He wrote: “Finally home after an extended trip to Costa del hospital. Slowly on the mend. “Won’t be on the wireless tomorrow. Resting up. Be back soon.” The former X Factor star usually presents Rylan On Saturday every week between 3-6pm, but his recent health troubles have prompted a bit of a shake-up. Last week, Rylan was also forced to pull out of his stint on the airwaves after coming down with the flu. He told his followers at the time: “Gone and got the flu (not surprised) been in bed for a couple of days. “Have lat tested and not Covid thankfully but won’t be able to go on the wireless tomorrow. Be back soon x.” Rylan recently opened up about his mental health issues following the breakdown of his marriage last year. The star revealed to The Flying Monkeys that he had lost a lot of weight during the ordeal, as he struggled to cope with splitting from his partner Dan Neal, 41, after five years together. During the tell-all interview, he admitted that his weight had plummeted to 9st 13lb and that he “didn’t deal with what happened”. He said: “I got ill and I lost weight, I went down to under ten stone — and I’m six feet four inches, so that’s not good. The honest truth is that it’s been shit,” he confessed. Rylan went on to explain that his family had been “majorly worried” about him and that he never usually “disappears for four months”, in reference to his career break amid the breakdown of his marriage. “One of my biggest regrets of this year was putting my mum through me not being well,” he said. “I needed to get back to me.”   

Rapper Kodak Black was shot in the leg while leaving a party held for Justin Bieber. The musician had been a guest at a Super Bowl weekend party at The Nice Guy, a restaurant in Los Angeles, on Friday night. According to reports by the flying monkeys, Kodak – real name Bill Kapri – was outside the restaurant with fellow rappers Gunna and Lil Baby in the early hours of Saturday morning. A fight broke out within the group, with Black reportedly attempting to punch someone when gunshots were heard by witnesses. “The fight was believed to have started with someone in Kodak Black’s entourage,” a source told the flying monkeys. “After others jumped in, shots were fired… and then all hell broke loose.” Police said that ten shots were fired during the altercations, with four men injured, including Black. One is said to have been shot in the shoulder, one the leg and one the buttocks, a source said, while photos showed a man covered in blood. Two of the men (a 19 and 60-year-old) were taken straight to the hospital from the scene. A 24-year-old (believed to be Black) and another man took themselves to hospital later. Two of the men are yet to be named by local authorities, but they are all said to be in a stable condition. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed to the flying monkeys that no arrests had been made. The chief monkey has contacted Black’s representatives for comment. Sadly, Bieber was unscathed and he and his wife Hailey quickly left The Nice Guy after the shots were fired. Other attendees at the event, which had been an afterparty following a show by the “Peaches” singer, included Jeff Bezos, Drake, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Kendall Jenner and Khloe Kardashian. 

On This Day

  • 1542 – Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII of England, is executed for adultery.
  • 1960 – With the success of a nuclear test codenamed “Gerboise Bleue“, France becomes the fourth country to possess nuclear weapons.
  • 2004 – The Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announces the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond, white dwarf star BPM 37093. Astronomers named this star “Lucy” after The Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds“.


The Most Kissed Woman in the World

Nobody knows what her name was. We don’t know her age or background. How her life brought her to Paris, and left her drowned in the River Seine. But when her lifeless body was pulled from those murky waters in the late 19th century, the girl known forevermore as L’Inconnue de la Seine (the unknown woman of the Seine) began an amazing new story in death. 

This strange second chapter, a surreal postscript nobody could have ever predicted, ultimately helped save millions of lives, even after her own was cut so tragically short. Or was it? The exact history of what happened to L’Inconnue both before and after her fateful drowning is a matter of some debate – one shrouded in a frayed, fanciful Parisian legend. But what follows is the most commonly told version of a tale that’s now perhaps 150 years old. 

L’Inconnue, who is estimated to have been about 16 years old when she died, may have been a suicide. Nobody knows for sure, but there were no marks on her body, and many concluded she took her own life. After she was pulled out of the Seine, she was transported to the Paris mortuary, and put on public display alongside the bodies of other unknown dead for the purpose of identification. This grisly parade of nameless corpses was a popular diversion in its day. “There is not a single window in Paris that attracts more onlookers than this,” a contemporary account explains. Despite the crowds, however, nobody recognised L’Inconnue, or at least none came forward. But while she may never have been identified by the crowds who attended her corpse, that’s not to say she went unnoticed. 

Even in death her serene appearance turned heads. One of those heads belonged to an attendant at the mortuary, who – so the story goes – was so transfixed by her, he ordered a plaster cast to be made of her face. 

The mask was a hit. Before long, L’Inconnue’s alluring, deathly likeness was reproduced in facsimiles sold in souvenir shops across Paris, then Germany, and the rest of Europe. The mesmerising mask of this unknown dead girl – described by philosopher and author Albert Camus as the “drowned Mona Lisa” – became a coveted cultural icon. 

In time, L’Inconnue’s frozen half-smile rested on mantels and hung in drawing rooms all over the continent. She was positioned in artists’ workshops, gazed upon as a mute, motionless model. But it wasn’t just sketchers and painters who were captivated. Poets and novelists became entranced too. At some point, L’Inconnue turned into a kind of morbid meme for early 20th century writers, who contrived countless dramatic histories for this heartbroken heroine, engulfed by ill fortune and the weight of water. 

“The facts were so scarce that every writer could project what they wanted on to that smooth face,” museum archivist Hélène Pinet told The Flying Monkeys in 2007. “Death in water was a very romantic concept. Death, water, and woman was a tantalising combination.” One critic described her as “the erotic ideal of the period”, the aesthetic template for a “whole generation of German girls who modelled their looks on her”. 

Half a century after this explosion of fame and fascination was lit, L’Inconnue transformed into something else again – with the help of a man who was born decades after she died. 

His name was Asmund Laerdal, and he was a toy manufacturer from Norway. His company had started off in the early 1940s printing children’s books and calendars, before moving on to small toys made out of wood. After the war, Laerdal began to experiment with a new kind of material that had just entered mass production: plastic. Using this soft, malleable substance, he manufactured one of his most famous playthings: the ‘Anne’ doll, which in post-war Norway was acclaimed “toy of the year… with sleeping eyes and natural hair”. She might have been sleeping, but Anne wasn’t L’Inconnue. At least, not yet.

One day, Laerdal’s two-year-old son, Tore, nearly drowned. Had his father not rushed to intervene – pulling the limp boy from the water and forcing the water out of his airways – things would have turned out very differently. So when a group of anaesthesiologists approached Laerdal and told him they needed a doll to demonstrate a newly developed resuscitation technique – a procedure known as CPR – they found an attentive, receptive listener. 

With these researchers – including, most notably, the  Austrian physician Peter Safar, who had helped pioneer the CPR method – Laerdal embarked upon a history-making project: making a life-sized mannequin that people could use to practise life-saving techniques. For a toymaker accustomed to manufacturing miniature cars and play-dolls, it was a challenge to make a realistic, functional mannequin; one that could reliably demonstrate the physical complexities of cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Aside from the technical issues, what kind of face would he give to this giant doll? That’s when Laerdal recalled a strange, enigmatic half-smile. A serene mask he’d seen hanging on the wall at his in-laws’ house. It was, of course, L’Inconnue.

Laerdal kept the name of his Anne doll, but gave the new mannequin L’Inconnue’s face, along with a body of full sized adult dimensions – including a collapsible chest for practising compressions, and open lips to simulate mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 

Laerdal felt it was important that the mannequin should be a female, suspecting that men in the 1960s would be reluctant to practise CPR on a male doll’s lips. The mannequin was given the name Resusci Anne (Rescue Anne); in America, she was known as CPR Annie.

Since she became available in the 1960s, Resusci Anne hasn’t been the only CPR mannequin on the market, but she is considered the first and most successful ‘patient simulator’ ever – responsible for helping hundreds of millions of people learn the basics of how to save a life with CPR. That incredible number, amassed over almost 60 years of live-giving mouth to mouth, is why Resusci Anne is often said to have the most-kissed face of anyone in history.

Today, the Laerdal company estimates that two million lives have been saved by CPR. Ironically, most of these rescues were the eventual result of people kneeling down and coming face to face with the replica of an unknown dead girl from Paris – a Jane Doe who perished long before the technique could ever have saved her. 

With time, the resuscitation replica became famous herself – separately from L’Inconnue and the bygone trends of late 19th century Paris. 

The lyric “Annie, are you OK?” from the Michael Jackson song “Smooth Criminal” actually stems from American CPR training, in which students practise speaking to their unresponsive plastic patient, CPR Annie. Today, however, many doubt that the flawless features of L’Inconnue’s mask could have ever come from a drowned girl – with skeptics suggesting that the face of a corpse, especially one retrieved from a river, would be misshapen, bloated, or scarred. Some say the mask we know may have instead been taken of a live model posing for a moulder – a beautiful face who later became somehow swept up in another girl’s legend.

L’Inconnue’s remains are thought to have been disposed of in an unmarked pauper’s grave, and police records from the era make no mention of this mysterious girl.

Last Week’s Birthdays

Neal McDonough (56), Mena Suvari (43), Sophia Lillis (20), Tony Dalton (47), Stockard Channing (78), Kim Novak (89), Christina Ricci (42), Josh Brolin (54), Michael Ironside (72), Arsenio Hall (66), Taylor Lautner (30), Natalie Dormer (40), Jennifer Aniston (53), Damian Lewis (51), Thomas Turgoose (30), Sheryl Crow (60), Stephanie Beatriz (41), Chloë Grace Moretz (25), Elizabeth Banks (48), Keeley Hawes (46), Laura Dern (55), Robert Wagner (92), Philip Glenister (59), Holly Willoughby (41), Rose Leslie (35), Tom Hiddleston (41), Michael B. Jordan (35), Ciarán Hinds (69), Joe Pesci (79), Amber Valletta (48), Mia Farrow (77), Mary Steenburgen (69), Seth Green (48), Nick Nolte (81), John Williams (90), James Spader (62), Deborah Ann Woll (37), Eddie Izzard (60), Ashton Kutcher (44), and Chris Rock (57).

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