Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa was the founder of the religious order Missionaries of Charity which she remained the head of until shortly before her death of pneumonia in 1997. Some years prior to her death, the Archbishop of her diocese performed an exorcism on her because she believed she was under attack from the devil. Mother Teresa has now been beatified – the first step to sainthood, by the Catholic Church.
Carole Landis was an American film actress. She landed many roles as the “second lady” in notable films of the 1940s. Landis was also an accomplished author. Landis was plagued by depression her entire life and attempted suicide in 1944 and 1946. By 1948, her career was fading and her marriage with Schmidlapp was failing. She was reported to be crushed when her lover refused to divorce his wife for her and, unable to cope any longer, she committed suicide at Pacific Palisades, California, by taking an overdose of Seconal. She was 29 years old.
Tiny Tim was an American singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist. He was most famous for his rendition of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” sung in a distinctive high falsetto / vibrato voice. In September 1996, he suffered a heart attack just as he began singing at a ukulele festival at the Montague Grange Hall. He continued to play concerts despite the warnings that, due to the fragile state of his heart, he could die at any moment. While playing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” at a Gala Benefit at The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis on 30 November of that year, he suffered another heart attack on stage. He was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died after doctors tried to resuscitate him for an hour and fifteen minutes.
Jesse James was an American outlaw in the state of Missouri and the most famous member of the James-Younger Gang. After his death, he became a legendary figure of the Wild West, although his robberies benefited only him and his band. After his life of crime, with his gang depleted by arrests, deaths, and defections, Jesse James thought that he had only two men left whom he could trust: brothers Robert and Charley Ford. Little did he know that Bob Ford had been conducting secret negotiations with Thomas T. Crittenden, the Missouri governor, to bring in the famous outlaw. On April 3, 1882, after eating breakfast, the Fords and James prepared for departure for another robbery when James noticed a dusty picture on the wall and stood on a chair to clean it. Robert Ford took advantage of the opportunity, and shot James in the back of the head.
Elvis Presley was an American singer, musician and actor. A cultural icon, he is commonly referred to by his first name, and as the “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” or “The King”. After his divorce in 1973, Presley became increasingly unwell, with prescription drugs affecting his health, mood and his stage act. His diet had always been unhealthy, and he now had significant weight problems. He overdosed twice on barbiturates, spending three days in a coma in his hotel suite after the first. His health plummeted as his weight ballooned. In 1977, Presley was found on his bathroom floor by fiancée, Ginger Alden. According to the medical investigator, Presley had “stumbled or crawled several feet before he died”; he had apparently been using the toilet at the time. Death was officially pronounced at 3:30 pm at the Baptist Memorial Hospital.
Just paying the bills...
Lenny Bruce was an American stand-up comedian, writer, social critic and satirist of the 1950s and 1960s. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial led to the first posthumous pardon in New York history. On August 3, 1966, Bruce was found dead in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills home at 8825 Kings Road. The “official” photo, taken at the scene, showed Bruce lying naked on the floor, a syringe and burned bottle cap nearby, along with various other narcotics paraphernalia. His official cause of death was acute morphine poisoning caused by an accidental overdose.
Ted Bundy was an American serial killer. Bundy murdered numerous young women across the United States between 1974 and 1978. After more than a decade of vigorous denials, he eventually confessed to 30 murders, although the actual total of victims remains unknown. At 7:06 a.m. local time on January 24, 1989, Ted Bundy was executed in the electric chair at Florida State Prison in Starke, Florida. His last words were, “I’d like you to give my love to my family and friends.” Then, more than 2,000 volts were applied across his body for less than two minutes. He was pronounced dead at 7:16 a.m. Several hundred people were gathered outside the prison and cheered when they saw the signal that Bundy had been declared dead.
John Dillinger was a notorious bank robber in mid-western America. Some considered him a dangerous criminal, while others idolized him as a present-day Robin Hood. He gained this latter reputation (and the nickname “Jackrabbit”) for his graceful movements during bank heists, such as leaping over the counter (a movement he supposedly copied from the movies) and many narrow getaways from police. On July 22, 1934, Dillinger went to the movies with his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, and Anna Sage, a brothel madam in Gary, Indiana. Because of the nature of Sage’s profession, she was considered an undesirable alien by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and deportation proceedings had begun. She made a deal with the FBI to help them get Dillinger in exchange for dropping the deportation proceedings. When they exited the air-conditioned theater that hot summer night, Sage tipped off the FBI agents, who opened fire as Dillinger ran, drawing his weapon, killing him.
Grigori Rasputin was a Russian mystic who is perceived as having influenced the later days of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II, his wife the Tsaritsa Alexandra, and their only son the Tsarevich Alexei. Rasputin had often been called the “Mad Monk”. It has been argued that Rasputin helped to discredit the tsarist government, leading to the fall of the Romanov dynasty, in 1917. The murder of Rasputin has become legend, some of it invented by the very men who killed him, which is why it becomes difficult to discern exactly what happened. What is known is that he was poisoned (unsuccessfully), then shot (unsuccessfully), and then drowned (successfully).
Edgar Allen Poe
was an American poet, short-story writer, editor and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, “in great distress, and… in need of immediate assistance”. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring.
Kurt Cobain was an American musician who served as lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the Seattle-based grunge band Nirvana. With the lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from Nirvana’s second album Nevermind (1991), Cobain with Nirvana entered into the mainstream, bringing along with them a subgenre of alternative rock called grunge. On April 8, 1994, Cobain’s body was discovered at his Lake Washington home by an electrician who had arrived to install a security system. Apart from a minor amount of blood coming out of Cobain’s ear, Smith reported seeing no visible signs of trauma, and initially believed that Cobain was asleep until he saw the shotgun pointing at his chin. A suicide note was found that said, “I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now”. A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in his body. I have included this photo as a bonus, for the obvious reason that it only shows Cobain’s leg.