Dead Pool 27th June 2021
Not a good week if your name begins with J! Looks like it’s also a historically bad day for J people too! Coincidence or fate?
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Joanne Linville, 93, American actress (A Star Is Born, Scorpio, James Dean).
- John McAfee, 75, British-American computer programmer and businessman, suicide.
- Jackie Lane, 79, British actress (Doctor Who, Compact).
- Johnny Solinger, 55, American singer-songwriter (Skid Row).
In Other News
James Michael Tyler, the actor best known for playing coffee shop worker Gunther on Friends, has revealed that he has prostate cancer. Tyler was diagnosed back in 2018, but had kept his diagnosis private until a new interview with us. “I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler said. “I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. … It’s stage four now. Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.” According to the 59-year-old actor, the illness was noticed during an annual check-up. “I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen,” Tyler said. “That came back at an extraordinarily high number … So I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there. Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said ‘Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.” According to Tyler, he underwent hormone therapy, which “worked amazingly for about a year”, allowing him to continue living as normal. The actor added that the cancer mutated “right at the time of the pandemic”, spreading to his bones and spine, leading to paralysis of his lower body. He said that he is currently undergoing chemotherapy and “aggressively” treating the disease. A few weeks ago Tyler did make a brief appearance on the Friends special via Zoom, but did not feature alongside the cast in real life. “I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities. It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? … I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’”
British boxer Brian London, who challenged Muhammad Ali for his world title, has died aged 87. London, who fought Ali just months after England won the World Cup in 1966, fought 58 times over the course of his 15-year professional fight. He retired in 1970 following a stoppage defeat by Joe Bugner which took his record to 37-20-1. Born in Hartlepool in 1934, London moved to Blackpool when he was 16 and took on the nickname the Blackpool Rock. He won his first dozen fights as a professional before losing to Henry Cooper who also challenged Ali later in his career. Current Blackpool boxer Brian Rose was among those to pay tribute. “My thoughts and wishes go out to his family as well,” he told us. “It must be so sad for them because he will have made a massive impact in their lives. He was so well liked in the town and he was still out and about. I remember seeing him not so long ago walking around the park. He just never stopped. It’s a shame Blackpool has lost him.” London, born Brian Sydney Harper, went on to win the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles but lost his second and third fights with Cooper. His fight with Ali, in which he was stopped in the third round, was his only challenge for a world title and he later admitted: ‘Ali was big, fast and he could punch, whereas I was smaller, fatter and couldn’t punch. He stopped me in three rounds and that was it, I don’t think I hit him. It was good money and I got well paid for it – that’s all I fought for. Every fight I ever had I always had a go, but with Muhammad Ali I thought, ‘Don’t get hurt Brian’, and I therefore didn’t try, which was wrong, totally wrong.” London went on to open and run a nightclub in Blackpool called The 007 Club which was opened by Manchester United legend George Best and attracted stars from across sport and showbiz.
On This Day
- 1556 – The thirteen Stratford Martyrs are burned at the stake near London for their Protestant beliefs.
- 1743 – In the Battle of Dettingen, George II becomes the last reigning British monarch to participate in a battle. Don’t think we’d do too well with Queenie and her cake cutting sword skills!
- 2015 – Formosa Fun Coast fire: A dust fire occurs at a recreational water park in Taiwan, killing 15 people and injuring 497 others, 199 critically.
- 1996 – Albert R. Broccoli, American film producer (b. 1909).
- 2001 – Jack Lemmon, American actor (b. 1925).
- 2001 – Joan Sims, English actress (b. 1930).
- 2002 – John Entwistle, English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and producer (b. 1944).
- 2018 – Joe Jackson, American manager, father of Michael Jackson (b. 1928).
The Case of Tamám Shud
The mystery of the Somerton Man, is an unsolved case of an unidentified man found dead in 1948 on the Somerton Park beach, just south of Adelaide, South Australia. The case is named after the Persian phrase tamám shud, meaning “is over” or “is finished”, which was printed on a scrap of paper found months later in the fob pocket of the man’s trousers.
On the morning of 1st December 1948, the police were contacted after the body of a man was discovered on Somerton Park beach. The man was found lying in the sand with his head resting against the seawall, with his legs extended and his feet crossed. It was believed the man had died while sleeping. An unlit cigarette was on the right collar of his coat. A search of his pockets revealed an unused second-class rail ticket from Adelaide to Henley Beach; a bus ticket from the city that may not have been used; a US-manufactured, narrow aluminium comb; a half-empty packet of Juicy Fruit chewing gum; an Army Club cigarette packet, which contained seven cigarettes of a different brand, Kensitas, and a quarter-full box of Bryant & May matches.
According to the pathologist, John Burton Cleland, the man was of “Britisher” appearance and thought to be aged about 40–45; he was in “top physical condition”. He was 180 centimetres (5 ft 11 in) tall, with grey eyes, fair to ginger-coloured hair, slightly grey around the temples, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist, hands and nails that showed no signs of manual labour, big and little toes that met in a wedge shape, like those of a dancer or someone who wore boots with pointed toes; and pronounced high calf muscles consistent with people who regularly wore boots or shoes with high heels or performed ballet. He was dressed in a white shirt; a red, white and blue tie; brown trousers; socks and shoes; a brown knitted pullover and fashionable grey and brown double-breasted jacket of reportedly “American” tailoring. All labels on his clothes had been removed, and he had no hat (unusual for 1948) or wallet. He was clean-shaven and carried no identification, which led police to believe he had committed suicide. Finally, his dental records were not able to be matched to any known person. The autopsy showed a massive amount of internal bleeding but no external marks to have caused the internal damage. It also showed that the man’s last meal was a pasty eaten three to four hours before death, but tests failed to reveal any foreign substance in the body. The pathologist, Dr. Dwyer, concluded: “I am quite convinced the death could not have been natural … the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic”. Although poisoning remained a prime suspicion, the pasty was not believed to be the source. Other than that, the coroner was unable to reach a conclusion as to the man’s identity, cause of death.
On 14th January 1949, staff at the Adelaide railway station discovered a brown suitcase with its label removed. It was believed that the suitcase was owned by the man found on the beach. In the case were a red checked dressing gown; a size-seven, red felt pair of slippers; four pairs of underpants; pyjamas; shaving items; a light brown pair of trousers with sand in the cuffs; an electrician’s screwdriver; a table knife cut down into a short sharp instrument; a pair of scissors with sharpened points; a small square of zinc thought to have been used as a protective sheath for the knife and scissors; and a stencilling brush, as used by third officers on merchant ships for stencilling cargo. Also in the suitcase was a thread card of Barbour brand orange waxed thread of “an unusual type” not available in Australia – it was the same as that used to repair the lining in a pocket of the trousers the dead man was wearing. All identification marks on the clothes had been removed but police found the name “T. Keane” on a tie, “Keane” on a laundry bag and “Kean” on a singlet, along with three dry-cleaning marks.
An inquest into the man’s death found that he died from poison, that the poison was probably a glucoside and that it was not accidentally administered; but it couldn’t be said whether it was administered by the deceased himself or by some other person. After the inquest, a plaster cast was made of the man’s head and shoulders. The lack of success in determining the identity and cause of death of the man had led authorities to call it an “unparalleled mystery” and believe that the cause of death might never be known.
Around the same time as the inquest, a tiny piece of rolled-up paper with the words “Tamám Shud” printed on it was found in a fob pocket sewn within the dead man’s trouser pocket. Public library officials called in to translate the text identified it as a phrase meaning “ended” or “finished” found on the last page of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The paper’s verso side was blank. Police conducted an Australia-wide search to find a copy of the book that had a similarly blank verso.
Following a public appeal by police, the copy of Rubaiyat from which the page had been torn was located. The theme of Rubaiyat is that one should live life to the fullest and have no regrets when it ends. The poem’s subject led police to theorise that the man had committed suicide by poison, although no other evidence corroborated the theory. The book was missing the words “Tamám Shud” on the last page, which had a blank reverse, and microscopic tests indicated that the piece of paper was from the page torn from the book. Also, in the back of the book were faint indentations representing five lines of text, in capital letters. The second line has been struck out – a fact considered significant due to its similarities to the fourth line and the possibility that it represents an error in encryption. Code experts were called in at the time to decipher the lines but were unsuccessful.
A telephone number was also found in the back of the book, belonging to a nurse named Jessica Ellen “Jo” Thomson (1921–2007). who lived about 400 metres north of the location where the body was found. When she was interviewed by police, Thomson said that she did not know the dead man or why he would have her phone number and choose to visit her suburb on the night of his death. Gerry Feltus stated that when he interviewed Thomson in 2002, he found that she was either being “evasive” or she “just did not wish to talk about it”. Feltus believed Thomson knew the Somerton man’s identity. Thomson’s daughter Kate, in a television interview in 2014 with Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, also said that she believed her mother knew the dead man.
There has been persistent speculation that the dead man was a spy, due to the circumstances and historical context of his death. At least two sites relatively close to Adelaide were of interest to spies: the Radium Hill uranium mine and the Woomera Test Range, an Anglo-Australian military research facility.
In March 2009 a University of Adelaide team led by Professor Derek Abbott began an attempt to solve the case through cracking the code and proposing to exhume the body to test for DNA. His investigations have led to questions concerning the assumptions police had made on the case.
Decryption of the “code” was being started from scratch. It had been determined the letter frequency was considerably different from letters written down randomly; the frequency was to be further tested to determine if the alcohol level of the writer could alter random distribution. The format of the code also appeared to follow the quatrain format of Rubaiyat, supporting the theory that the code was a one-time pad encryption algorithm. Copies of Rubaiyat, as well as the Talmud and Bible, were being compared to the code using computers to get a statistical base for letter frequencies. However, the code’s short length meant the investigators would require the exact edition of the book used. With the original copy lost in the 1950s, researchers have been looking for a FitzGerald edition.
An investigation had shown that the Somerton man’s autopsy reports of 1948 and 1949 are now missing and the Barr Smith Library’s collection of Cleland’s notes do not contain anything on the case. Maciej Henneberg, professor of anatomy at the University of Adelaide, examined images of the Somerton man’s ears and found that his cymba (upper ear hollow) is larger than his cavum (lower ear hollow), a feature possessed by only 1–2% of the Caucasian population. In May 2009, Abbott consulted with dental experts who concluded that the Somerton Man had hypodontia (a rare genetic disorder) of both lateral incisors, a feature present in only 2% of the general population. In June 2010, Abbott obtained a photograph of Jessica Thomson’s eldest son Robin, which clearly showed that he – like the unknown man – had not only a larger cymba than cavum but also hypodontia. The chance that this was a coincidence has been estimated as between one in 10,000,000 and one in 20,000,000.
An exhumation was carried out on 19th May 2021. The remains were deeper in the ground than previously thought. The authorities have said that they intend to take DNA from the remains if possible. Dr. Anne Coxon of Forensic Science South Australia said: “The technology available to us now is clearly light years ahead of the techniques available when this body was discovered in the late 1940s,” and that tests would use “every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery”. As of yet, we have not heard any news from this study.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tobey Maguire (46), Courtney Ford (43), Matthew Lewis (32), J.J. Abrams (55), Meera Syal (60), Nick Offerman (51), Ariana Grande (28), Chris O’Donnell (51), Jason Schwartzman (41), Robert Davi (70), Chris Isaak (65), Ricky Gervais (60), Erin Moriarty (27), Iain Glen (60), Peter Weller (74), Nancy Allen (71), Mick Fleetwood (74), Melissa Rauch (41), Frances McDormand (64), Joel Edgerton (47), Selma Blair (49), Joss Whedon (57), Bryan Brown (74), Meryl Streep (72), Bruce Campbell (63), Lindsay Wagner (72), Kris Kristofferson (85), Cyndi Lauper (68), Stephen Chow (59), Tim Russ (65), Nicholas Lea (59), Erin Brockovich-Ellis (61), Prunella Scales (89), Chris Pratt (42), Juliette Lewis (48), David Morrissey (57), and Lana Del Rey (36).
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