Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Michael Lang, 77, American concert producer, co-creator of Woodstock, non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Bob Saget, 65, American comedian, television presenter (America’s Funniest Home Videos) and actor (Full House, How I Met Your Mother).
- Nicholas Donnelly, 83, British actor (Grange Hill, Dixon of Dock Green, Lifeforce).
- Gary Waldhorn, 78, English actor (The Vicar of Dibley, Brush Strokes, All at No 20).
- Robert Durst, 78, American real estate executive and convicted murderer, subject of The Jinx, cardiac arrest.
- Ronnie Spector, 78, American singer (The Ronettes), cancer.
- John Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Preston Candover, 94, British businessman and politician, chairman of Sainsbury’s and member of the House of Lords.
- Marlon Bundo, 8–9, American rabbit and book subject (A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President).
In Other News
Jenna Jameson has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, leaving her in the hospital and unable to walk. The former adult film star shared her diagnosis on Instagram. “I’m dealing with a little syndrome called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, so I’m working through that,” she said in a video. “And I just wanted to let you know that I see all your DMs and I appreciate it so much. “The doctors suspect Guillain-Barré syndrome and have started my IVIG treatment. I am in the hospital and will likely remain here until treatment is complete. I hope to be out of here soon,” she wrote in the caption. Jameson also shut down any speculation of the Covid-19 vaccine contributing to her health issues. She wrote, “PS I did NOT get the jab or any jab. This is NOT a reaction to the jab. Thank you for your concern.” Over the weekend, Jameson’s partner, Lior Bitton, with who she shares 4-year-old daughter Batel Lu, took to Instagram to reveal that she was in the hospital undergoing tests after “not feeling so good.” Bitton additionally shared that Jameson had been throwing up for two weeks prior to going to the hospital last week, only to be sent home after. “Then she came back home and she couldn’t carry herself,” Bitton said in the video. “Her muscles in her legs were very weak. So she wasn’t able to walk to the bathroom. She was falling on the way back or to the bathroom, I would have to pick her up and carry her to bed. And then within two days, it got really not so good, her legs started to not hold her, she wasn’t able to walk.” Guillain-Barré syndrome is defined by the CDC as a “rare, autoimmune disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.” Symptoms can last from weeks to several years.
Sir David Attenborough was left injured after being stabbed by a cactus with needles like “glass” while on the set of his new documentary. The 95-year-old broadcaster was filming for the BBC series The Green Planet when he faced off against the cholla cactus in California. Describing the rare plant as an “active aggressor” coated in “spicules of glass”, Sir David approached the cactus and put his hand inside the plant. Despite the layers of protection provided by thick gloves, he was left with a “painful” hand injury. Recounting the experience, he said: “The cholla really is a physical danger. It has these very dense spines in rosettes, so they point in all directions. “And if you just brush against it, the spines are like spicules of glass, I mean they are that sharp and they go into you and you really have trouble getting them out. So that is a really dangerous plant. The cholla is an active aggressor. I mean, you feel you better stand back and you better watch out.” The series’ executive producer, Michael Gunton, whose idea it was to send Sir David into danger, said: “One of the joys of going on location is thinking up horrible things to get David to do. So what we did, because it was so dangerous, was we got a Kevlar under-glove, and then on top of that, a welding glove. So you can imagine that’s about as good protection as you could possibly get. David bravely put his hand inside this cholla cactus, as requested. And halfway through it, these spikes still managed to get through those two bits of protection. And it’s quite painful, isn’t it?” Mr Gunton observed how the cactus was “so dangerous” that many animals avoided it. “Not only does it puncture you, but they sort of act like a trap,” he said. “So if you put your hand into it, you can’t remove your fingers and you do unfortunately find grisly signs of an animal that has gone and got trapped by it.” The upcoming three-part series from the BBC’s Natural History Unit shows the naturalist getting up and close with a range of plants from the US to Costa Rica and across Europe, to show the intricate lives of plants and the ecosystems that flourish around them. The documentary was filmed in 26 countries over four years and marks the first time he has returned to the filming the world of plants in 27 years, since his 1995 series the Private Life of Plants. According to the BBC, The Green Planet aims to show “how science and technologies have advanced, and how our understanding of the ways in which plants behave and interact has evolved”.
Sinéad O’Connor has been admitted to the hospital, one week after her 17-year-old son was found dead. The “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer told fans on Thursday night that she was heading to hospital to receive help after sharing in a series of disturbing Twitter posts that she planned to take her own life. “I’ve decided to follow my son. There is no point living without him. Everything I touch, I ruin. I only stayed for him. And now he’s gone,” she wrote on an unverified Twitter account linked to her official account. O’Connor, who has been open about her own mental struggles and suicidal thoughts in the past, went on to say she felt “lost,” and blamed herself for her teenage son’s death. The mother-of-four followed the thread an hour later by apologising for her alarming posts and reassuring fans that she was seeking medical attention. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I am with cops now on way to hospital. I’m sorry I upset everyone,” she posted, adding: “I am lost without my kid and I hate myself. Hospital will help a while. But I’m going to find Shane. This is just a delay.” O’Connor’s representatives declined to comment on the matter to the flying monkeys. Shane O’Connor’s body was discovered on January 7th, two days after he went missing, the singer’s management company confirmed to the flying monkeys on Saturday. O’Connor announced his death on Twitter, saying her “beautiful” son “decided to end his earthly struggle.” “Nevi’im Nesta Ali Shane O’Connor, the very light of my life, decided to end his earthly struggle today and is now with God,” she wrote. “May he rest in peace and may no one follow his example. My baby. I love you so much. Please be at peace.”
- Insincere disclaimer in case you feel suicidal, go find someone who gives a shit, life is hard, toughen up. Try The Samaritans or some other do-gooders, there are phone numbers you can find somewhere or other. Otherwise, try to do it quietly and don’t leave a mess for others to clean up.
On This Day
- 1362 – Saint Marcellus’s flood kills at least 25,000 people on the shores of the North Sea.
- 1862 – Hartley Colliery disaster: Two hundred and four men and boys killed in a mining disaster, prompting a change in UK law which henceforth required all collieries to have at least two independent means of escape.
- 1945 – Adolf Hitler moves into his underground bunker, the so-called Führerbunker, it doesn’t end well for him.
- 2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia takes off for mission STS-107 which would be its final one. Columbia disintegrated 16 days later on re-entry.
- 1936 – Albert Fish, American serial killer, rapist and cannibal (b. 1870)
- 2020 – Christopher Tolkien, British academic and editor (b. 1924)
- 2021 – Phil Spector, American record producer, songwriter (b. 1939)
Wanda Jean Allen was sentenced to death in 1989 for the murder of Gloria Jean Leathers, 29, her longtime girlfriend. Allen was the first black woman to be executed in the United States since 1954. She was the sixth woman to be executed since executions resumed in the United States of America in 1977. Her final appeals and the last three months of her life were chronicled by filmmaker Liz Garbus in the documentary The Execution of Wanda Jean (2002).
Wanda Jean Allen was born on August 17th, 1959, the second of eight children. Her mother was an alcoholic; her father left home after Wanda’s last sibling was born and the family lived in public housing and scraped by on public assistance.
At the age of 12, Allen was hit by a truck and knocked unconscious, and at 14 or 15 she was stabbed in the left temple. It was found that Allen’s actual abilities were markedly impaired and that her IQ was 69. Found particularly significant was that the left hemisphere of her brain was dysfunctional, impairing her comprehension, her ability to logically express herself, and her ability to analyse cause and effect relationships. It was also concluded that Allen was more chronically vulnerable than others to becoming disorganised by everyday stresses, and thus more vulnerable to a loss of control under stress. By age 17, she had dropped out of high school.
In 1981, Allen was sharing an apartment with Dedra Pettus, a childhood friend-turned-girlfriend. On June 29th, 1981, they got into an argument, and Allen shot and killed Pettus. In her 1981 confession, Allen stated that she accidentally shot Pettus from roughly 30 feet away while returning fire from Pettus’ boyfriend. However, the forensic evidence was inconsistent with Allen’s story; in particular, a police expert believed that bruises and powder burns on Pettus’ body indicated that Allen had pistol-whipped her, then shot her at point-blank range. Nevertheless, prosecutors cut a deal with Allen, and she received a four-year sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to a manslaughter charge. She served two years of the sentence.
Seven years after the death of Dedra Pettus, Allen was living with her girlfriend Gloria Jean Leathers. The two met in prison and had a turbulent and violent relationship. On December 2nd, 1988, Leathers, 29, was shot in front of The Village Police Department in Oklahoma City. Fifteen minutes before the shooting, the two women were involved in a dispute at a grocery store. A city officer escorted the two women to their house and stood by while Leathers collected her belongings. Leathers and her mother were on their way to file a complaint against Allen. When Leathers exited the car, Allen fired one shot, severely wounding Leathers in the abdomen. Leathers’ mother witnessed the shooting. Two police officers and a dispatcher heard the shot fired, but no police department employee witnessed the shooting. The police recovered a .38-caliber handgun they believe was used in the shooting near the women’s home. Leathers died from the injury three days later, on December 5th, 1988.
Allen spent 12 years on death row. Her application for clemency was denied.
While in prison, she became a born-again Christian. The Reverend Robin Meyers, who served as a spiritual adviser to Allen, is quoted as saying:
“I always suspected that Wanda’s renunciation of lesbianism had more to do with helping to revamp herself in the most palatable way for her clemency and appeal processes. She knew perfectly well that her being a lesbian was a big strike against her and that it’s an embarrassment in the black community. She was going to play the best hand that she could play at the very end.”
Allen enjoyed a bag of crisps prior to her execution by lethal injection on Thursday, January 11th, 2001 at Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. Twenty-four relatives of murder victim Gloria Leathers and manslaughter victim Dedra Pettus traveled there for the execution. Many of them watched the execution from behind a tinted window. While lying on the execution gurney, Allen said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” She also stuck her tongue out and smiled at her appeal lawyer, Steve Presson, who had become her friend. He says she was “dancing on the mattress, while they tried to kill her.” She was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m. Relatives of Leathers expressed the execution gave them “closure”. She was buried at Trice Hill Cemetery in Oklahoma City.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Lin-Manuel Miranda (42), John Carpenter (74), Caroline Munro (73), Eva Habermann (46), Kate Moss (48), James May (59), Sade (63), James Nesbitt (57), Claudia Winkleman (50), DJ Jazzy Jeff (57), Jason Bateman (52), Kevin Durand (48), Faye Dunaway (81), Carl Weathers (74), Grant Gustin (32), Mark Addy (58), LL Cool J (54), Dave Grohl (53), Orlando Bloom (45), Ruth Wilson (40), Liam Hemsworth (32), Michael Peña (46), Bill Bailey (57), Kirstie Alley (71), Rob Zombie (57), Howard Stern (68), Jeff Bezos (58), Jason Connery (59), Mary J. Blige (51), Rachel Riley (36), Jemaine Clement (48), Evan Handler (61), and Rod Stewart (77).