Dead Pool 3rd March 2024

Points!!! With the passing of Iris Apfel this week, we can award 48 points each to Nickie and Gwenan, and a fantastic 148 points to Trish who listed Iris as her Woman. Well done all of you! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

Norway’s King Harald had a temporary pacemaker implanted on Saturday at a hospital in Malaysia after falling ill while on holiday there, the Norwegian royal household said. “The pacemaker was implanted due to a low heart rate. The decision was made earlier today, and the procedure was successful,” the palace said in a statement, adding that he is doing well under the circumstances but still requires rest. The procedure should make the journey home safer, likely in a couple of days, it said. The 87-year-old monarch was on a private holiday in the South-East Asian country when he fell ill with an infection earlier this week. King Harald has been Norway’s ceremonial head of state since 1991 and is Europe’s oldest living monarch. He has repeatedly been hospitalised with infections in recent years, and has also undergone heart surgery. 

Irish President Michael D Higgins will remain in hospital over the weekend in order to monitor his blood pressure, his office has said. The 82-year-old was admitted to St James’  Hospital in Dublin on Thursday evening after feeling unwell. A statement from the president’s office on Friday said Mr Higgins has thanked the public “for the outpouring of well wishes which he has received”. He would also “like to express his deep appreciation to all those who have sent messages to him, as well as to the medical staff for their continuing care.” A conversation was held on Friday around discharging the president but it was decided against as a precaution. It is anticipated that the president will return to the presidential residence, Áras an Uachtaráin, early next week, the statement added. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he has been in touch with Mr Higgins. “I just passed him on my best wishes. Obviously anything around his medical information is confidential,” Mr Varadkar told the Flying Monkeys. “But I expect he’ll be out in the next couple of days, and obviously we all wish him a very speedy recovery.” Mr Higgins became president in 2011 and was re-elected in November 2018. He felt unwell at Áras an Uachtaráin on Thursday afternoon and underwent an initial medical assessment. His office said “no immediate concerns were identified”, but a decision was taken to proceed to hospital for further tests.  

Mark Feehily of Westlife has announced he is to step back from the band and will not be joining them for their upcoming tour due to ongoing health issues. The 43-year-old singer recently underwent surgery to treat a hernia and said he was also treated for sepsis during a Covid lockdown in August 2020. Feehily said his hernia surgery was a success but he has been advised to take time to recover and not go back on tour with Westlife. Westlife are currently preparing for their US tour and they will play Canada, the USA, Mexico and Brazil. In his post on social media, Feehily said: “Most of you are aware that I have had some health challenges over the past while. It is with the upmost level of regret that I must now temporarily stand down from all Westlife touring until a time that I have had the chance to fully recover from the turbulent journey I have been through as an individual.” He also paid tribute to his Westlife bandmates and the medical staff in his post. “To Shane, Kian and Nicky, I love you three and I know you’ll knock it out of the park,” he said. “To all the medical staff who held my hand and kept my spirit lifted (you know who you are!) my heartfelt thanks goes out to each and every one of you.” 

On This Day

  • 1873 – Censorship in the United States: The U.S. Congress enacts the Comstock Law, making it illegal to send any “obscene literature and articles of immoral use” through the mail.
  • 1931 – The United States adopts The Star-Spangled Banner as its national anthem.
  • 1938 – Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia.
  • 1944 – A freight train carrying stowaway passengers stalls in a tunnel shortly after departing from Balvano, Basilicata, Italy just after midnight, with 517 dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • 1985 – Arthur Scargill declares that the National Union of Mineworkers’ national executive voted to end the longest-running industrial dispute in Great Britain without any peace deal over pit closures.
  • 1991 – An amateur video captures the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.

Deaths

  • 1959 – Lou Costello, American actor and comedian (b. 1906). 
  • 1983 – Hergé, Belgian author and illustrator (b. 1907). 
  • 1987 – Danny Kaye, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1911).
  • 2003 – Horst Buchholz, German actor (b. 1933).
  • 2010 – Michael Foot, English politician, Secretary of State for Employment (b. 1913).
  • 2012 – Ralph McQuarrie, American conceptual designer and illustrator (b. 1929).
  • 2018 – Roger Bannister, English athlete, first man to run a four-minute mile (b. 1929).

Fly My Pretties! 

Franz Reichelt was a French tailor, inventor and parachuting pioneer, now sometimes referred to as the Flying Tailor, who is remembered for jumping to his death from the Eiffel Tower while testing a wearable parachute of his own design. 

Reichelt had become fixated on developing a suit for aviators that would convert into a parachute and allow them to survive a fall should they be forced to leave their aircraft in mid-air. Although he created and experimented with multiple prototypes of wings and parachute suits over the years, they were by and large failures, to the point that it was a point of contention between newspapers after his death whether or not any of his designs were ever functional.

Believing that a suitably high test platform would prove his invention’s efficacy, Reichelt repeatedly petitioned the Paris Police Prefecture for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He finally received permission in 1912, but when he arrived at the tower on 4th February, he made it clear that he intended to jump personally rather than conduct an experiment with dummies. 

Despite attempts to dissuade him, he jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention. The parachute failed to deploy and he plummeted 57 metres to his death. The next day, newspapers were full of illustrated stories about the death of the “reckless inventor”, and the jump was shown in newsreels. 

The news footage of his jump shows him modelling his invention in its folded form, which Le Gaulois described as “only a little more voluminous than ordinary clothing.” The suit did not restrict the wearer’s movements when the parachute was packed, and Le Petit Parisien described the method of deploying the parachute as being as simple as extending the arms out to form a cross with the body. Once extended, the outfit resembled “a sort of cloak fitted with a vast hood of silk”, according to Le Temps. 

Some police officers were present to maintain order, as the Paris Police Prefecture had given Reichelt permission to proceed. After his death, Louis Lépine, who, as the Prefect of Police, was ultimately responsible for the permission being granted, issued a statement making it clear that while the police routinely gave permission for experiments to be performed from the Eiffel Tower, it was understood in these cases that dummies would be used. They had given permission in Reichelt’s case only on the basis that he would be conducting dummy drops, and that under no circumstances would they have allowed him to proceed if they had known he would be making the jump himself. Lépine assured La Croix that he had never signed an order that allowed a live jump. 

From his arrival at the tower, however, Reichelt made it clear that he intended to jump himself. According to a later interview with one of the friends who accompanied him up the tower, this was a surprise to everybody, as Reichelt had concealed his intention until the last moment. His friends tried to persuade him to use dummies in the experiment, assuring him that he would have other opportunities to make the jump himself. When this failed to make an impression on him, they pointed to the strength of the wind and said he should call off the test on safety grounds, or at least delay until the wind dropped. They were unable to shake his resolve; seemingly undeterred by the failure of his previous tests, he told journalists from Le Petit Journal that he was totally convinced that his apparatus would work, and work well. When questioned as to whether he planned to take any additional precautions, such as using a safety rope, he replied that he would not, since he intended to trust his life entirely to his parachute. 

At 8:22 a.m., observed by a crowd of about thirty journalists and curious onlookers, Reichelt readied himself – facing towards the Seine – on a stool placed on a restaurant table next to the interior guardrail of the tower’s first deck, a little more than 57 metres above the ground. After adjusting his apparatus with the assistance of his friends and checking the wind direction by throwing a piece of paper taken from a small book, he placed one foot on the guardrail, hesitated for about forty seconds, then leapt outwards. According to Le Figaro, he was calm and smiling just before he jumped. His parachute, which had seemed to be only half-open, folded around him almost immediately and he fell for a few seconds before striking the frozen soil at the foot of the tower.

Le Petit Parisien reported that Reichelt’s right leg and arm were crushed, his skull and spine broken, and that he was bleeding from his mouth, nose and ears. Le Figaro noted that his eyes were wide open and dilated. He was already dead by the time onlookers rushed to his body, but he was taken to the Necker Hospital where he was officially pronounced dead. An autopsy concluded that Reichelt had died of a heart attack during his fall. 

The next day’s newspapers were full of the story of Reichelt’s “tragic experiment”, complete with photographs; at least four newspapers showed images of the fatal jump. Film of the attempt, including footage of Reichelt’s body being removed and the onlookers measuring the depth of the crater left by his impact (15 centimetres), was distributed by news organisations.

After Reichelt’s death, authorities became wary of granting permission for any further parachute experiments using the Eiffel Tower. More recently, the tower has become the scene of a number of illicit base jumps. A Norwegian man died in 2005 after losing his canopy while attempting a promotional jump for a clothing firm – the first parachuting death at the tower since Reichelt. A sanctioned stunt jump for the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill was successful. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Julie Bowen (53), Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (51), Jessica Biel (42), Miranda Richardson (66), David Faustino (50), Charlie Brooker (53), Bryce Dallas Howard (43), Daniel Craig (56), Nathalie Emmanuel (35), Rebel Wilson (44), Ethan Peck (38), Gates McFadden (75), Jon Bon Jovi (62), Chris Martin (47), Alexander Armstrong (54), Jensen Ackles (46), Javier Bardem (55), Ron Howard (70), Lupita Nyong’o (41), Dirk Benedict (79), Justin Bieber (30), Roger Daltrey (80), John Turturro (67), Kate Mara (41), Timothy Spall (67), Adam Baldwin (62), Richard Coyle (52), and Bill Duke (81).

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