Friday, February 29, 2008

Dead Celebrities Are Still A Big Draw

Dead celebrities draw crowds all year round. Long after the rich and famous depart this mortal life, their larger-than-life personalities live on, thanks to gravesite tourism.

Each year, thousands of Americans make pilgrimages to cemeteries from coast to coast, paying their respects to stars whose names have made the eternal leap from flashing lights to ornate stone. And in death, as in life, there's a difference between the A-list and the D.

"Everyone has a different opinion of what fame means," said Jim Tipton, the founder of the Web site, which catalogs more than 12 million gravesites around the world. "We have about 50,000 flagged as famous or notable, and it's a contentious issue of who makes the list, but we try to be accommodating."

The most popular graves are those of celebs who were the most iconic, Tipton said. It's an elite group that includes Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Bruce Lee and Jim Morrison.

"Certainly there's that fascination with those people who die ahead of schedule," Tipton said.
So fans flock to Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise in Paris to commune with Morrison, the former lead singer of the Doors, or brave the throngs at Pierce Brothers Westwood Cemetery, where Marilyn rests for all eternity.

"It's something that people have been doing as long as they've been traveling, really — to go and honor and pay respects to some figure who's been really, really important in your life for one reason or another," said Don George, global travel editor for Lonely Planet. "It just takes a kind of a bizarre twist in a place like Hollywood, where the magnificence and the extravagance of the lives of these people is carried on into death," he added.

Hollywood offers hundreds of dead celebrities for those who have the time. Natalie Wood, Walter Matthau and Truman Capote are a few of the 213 famous interments near Monroe's at Pierce Brothers Westwood, according to

While Joe DiMaggio may have had fresh roses delivered each week to his ex-wife Marilyn's crypt, it's Hugh Hefner who is rumored to have reserved an eternal rest next to the bombshell.
"He's ready to move in next to Marilyn when the time comes," George said.

Greg Bolton, a spokesman for the cemetery, refused to comment on who resides at Westwood.
"We're very protective of that place and the families we assist," Bolton said. "There are some who just would prefer that we don't say a lot about a particular celebrity who is buried there."
Along with Westwood, celebrity visitors stop by Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale, Calif., known as the "Country Club for the Dead," George said. Its eternal inhabitants include Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

Its sister park, in the Hollywood Hills, holds the remains of Lucille Ball and Bette Davis. Another park, Hollywood Forever, completes the Tinseltown grave tour.

But celebrity grave sightseeing is not just a Hollywood phenomenon. Big names can be found in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. (former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), St. Mary's Cemetery in Rockville, Md. (author F. Scott Fitzgerald), Graceland in Memphis, Tenn. (Elvis Presley) and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. (artist Jean Michel Basquiat). (Source -- Read more here)

The ex-singer of The Doors, JIM MORRISON, is buried in Paris, France at the most famous and most beautiful cemetery in the world "Pere Lachaise". His gravesite is one of the most visited "sites" in Pari

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Skull A Day

Autopsy by Noguchi

Came across a fascinating site today called Who 2 Loops. Very cool info on alot of subjects. I found this was interesting: Autopsy by Noguchi -- Celebrity Autopsies

"Coroner to the Stars" THOMAS NOGUCHI joined the Los Angeles County medical examiner's office in 1961 and was the county's chief coroner from 1967-1982. Noguchi's investigations of celebrity deaths earned him both his wry nickname and a certain celebrity status of his own; he was finally forced from office in 1982 by the county Board of Supervisors, who felt Noguchi's fame and ego were interfering with his work. (Noguchi discussed the demotion, and many of his high-profile cases, in his best-selling 1983 book Coroner.) Here are some of the famous fatalities who earned autopsies by Noguchi and his staff.

MARILYN MONROE was Noguchi's first celebrity autopsy, performed while he was a pathologist in the county coroner's office. Monroe was found in her bedroom on 4 August 1962, her lifeless body stretched out on her bed, with an empty bottle of sleeping pills nearby. Based on Noguchi's autopsy, chief coroner Theodore Curphey concluded that Monroe died from an overdose of drugs -- specifically the sedatives chloral hydrate and Nembutal. Curphey ruled the case "probable suicide."

ROBERT F. KENNEDY was shot by assassin Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles's Ambassador Hotel on 5 June 1968. Noguchi's autopsy suggested that the shot which killed Kennedy had been fired from three inches away -- not from a few feet as most observers had described. This led conspiracy theorists to declare that Sirhan must have been joined by a second gunman -- a notion similar to conspiracy theories about the death of RFK's brother John F. Kennedy. Noguchi agreed that his evidence did not match what observers saw, but declared in Coroner that "My own professional instinct instructs me that Sirhan somehow killed Senator Kennedy alone."

SHARON TATE was a rising young actress when she and four friends were murdered on 9 August 1969 at a hillside estate in Bel-Air. (The slayings and subsequent conviction of Charles Manson were described in the best-selling book Helter Skelter by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi.) Noguchi's office performed the autopsy on Tate and the other victims, and helped tie the murder weapons to the later deaths of Leno and Rosemary La Bianca, also killed by Manson's gang.

JANIS JOPLIN died of a heroin overdose on the morning of 5 October 1970 in Hollywood's Landmark Hotel. Her fellow rock star Jimi Hendrix had died in London two weeks earlier from a fatal mix of sleeping pills and alcohol, making Joplin's demise all the more sensational. Noguchi ruled death by accidental overdose; his investigation showed that Joplin had probably injected herself with heroin that was unusually pure and strong, leading to her death.

Comedian FREDDIE PRINZE shot himself in the head in front of his manager, Martin Snyder, on 29 January 1977. Prinze had reportedly been despondent; given the eyewitness and the overwhelming evidence (including blood tests which showed the presence of Quaaludes), the coroner ruled suicide. Prinze's family later challenged the ruling and won, convincing a jury that Prinze was playing a prank and had not expected the gun to go off. The jury called the shooting accidental and Prinze's family collected on his $200,000 life insurance policy.

WILLIAM HOLDEN's body was found in his Santa Monica apartment on 16 November 1981, discovered by a building worker who let himself in with a passkey. Holden had a two-inch gash in his forehead and had bled profusely. Toxicology reports found his blood alcohol level was .22 percent, more than twice the legal driving limit of .10 percent; investigation suggested the actor had been dead for four days. Noguchi concluded that Holden, intoxicated, had tripped on a rug, hit his head on a teak bedside table, and then passed out and died from loss of blood. Noguchi caused an uproar when he announced his findings publicly, upsetting those who felt the unfortunate details of Holden's death should have been kept private.

Two weeks after Holden's death, on the night of 28 November 1981, actress NATALIE WOOD disappeared from the yacht Splendour off Catalina Island. The next morning her body was found floating face-down in the ocean a mile away, dressed in a nightgown, socks, and a waterlogged down jacket. The yacht's dinghy was found drifting even farther away. Wood, her husband Robert Wagner and their guest Christopher Walken had been drinking earlier on the evening of the 28th, and rumors of drunken fights or foul play aboard the Splendour quickly appeared in tabloid newspapers and magazines. Noguchi ruled the death accidental, deciding that Wood must have untied the dinghy, fallen into the water, and then drowned. Left undetermined was why Wood had untied the dinghy in the first place.

JOHN BELUSHI was only 33 when he died in bungalow #3 at the Chateau-Marmont Hotel on 5 March 1982. (Earlier he had visited the Roxy nightclub with Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams.) Noguchi performed the initial examination of Belushi's body at the hotel, but by coincidence Noguchi was on the same day asked to step down from his post. The autopsy was performed by Dr. Ronald Kornblum, who ruled death by accidental overdose of cocaine and heroin, a combination sometimes called a "speedball." An acquaintance of Belushi's, Cathy Smith, was later sentenced to a short prison term for supplying Belushi with the drugs.

Belushi was Noguchi's last big case as chief coroner. He accepted a lesser post and remained with the county until his retirement in 1999.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Roy Scheider aka Chief Brodey of Jaws has Died

Hollywood has lost another star. This time it’s Roy Scheider, who was 75. Scheider was possibly best known for his role as Cheif Brodey in Steven Spielberg's 1975 film, "Jaws ," the enduring classic about a killer shark terrorizing beachgoers as well as millions of moviegoers. Although “Jaws” frightened some moviegoers out of
the water for years, Scheider told the AP in 1986 that he considered his role somewhat comedic. “If you go back and look at the way it’s developed and built, that is really a funny character,” he said. “He’s a fumbler with all kinds of inhibitions and fears — that’s the way we built that
character.” In 2005, one of Scheider’s most famous lines in the movie — “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” — was voted No. 35 on the American Film Institute’s list of best quotes from U.S. movies.
Jaws ” was the first movie to earn $100 million at the box office. Scheider once said, “I’ve been fortunate to do what I consider three landmark films,” he told The Associated Press in 1986. “ ‘The French Connection’ spawned a whole era of the relationship between two policemen, based on an enormous amount of truth about working on the job. “ Jaws ’ was the first big, blockbuster outdoor-adventure film. And certainly ‘All That Jazz’ is not like any old MGM musical. Each one of these films is unique, and I consider myself fortunate to be associated with them.”

Born into a working class family in Orange, N.J., he was stricken with rheumatic fever at 6. He spent long periods in bed, becoming a voracious reader. Except for a slight heart murmur, he was pronounced cured at 17. He acquired the distinctive shape of his nose in an amateur boxing match. After three years in the Air Force, Scheider sought a New York theater career in 1960. His debut came a year later as Mercutio in the New York Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.” He also played minor roles in such films as “Paper Lion” and “Stiletto.” Then he made a breakthrough in 1971 as Jane Fonda’s pimp in “Klute.”

“He was a wonderful guy. He was what I call ‘a knockaround actor,’ ” Richard Dreyfuss, who co-starred with Scheider and Robert Shaw in “Jaws ” said Sunday. “A ‘knockaround actor’ to me is a compliment that means a professional that lives the life of a professional actor and doesn’t yell and scream at the fates and does his job and does it as well as he can,” Dreyfuss said.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said.

The hospital did not release a cause of deat, but Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.

I know for myself after seeing Jaws I'm still scared to go in the water. Yes, I know it was a fictional shark. Yes, I know it had theatrical effects, but even the music alone... boomp, boomp, boomp, boomp, I can hear it in my head .. (you know something bad is going to happen) ... the movie has had lasting effects. Which is why in my previous post about young suffer Bethanie Hamilton, who survived a shark attack and still surfs... I have go give her more than credit for "going back into the water!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

King Tut Most Likely Died of a Broken Leg

It's official: King Tutankhamun's death was most likely caused by a badly broken and infected leg, refuting murderous theories about the famous Pharaoh's demise 3,300 years ago, according to Egyptian radiologists.

Ever since King Tut was first examined by x-ray in 1968, revealing what appeared to be a fractured skull, it has been believed that the he was killed by a blow to the back of the head. Turmoil and religious upheaval in Ancient Egypt during his reign supports the theory that the boy king met a violent end.

However, recent medical imaging of the mummy refutes this widely accepted theory, presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. "There was no evidence of violent premortum trauma to the skull," according to Ashraf Selim, from the Cairo University in Egypt. "But there is a possible femoral fracture that may have led to his death."

Other, smaller leg fractures led the team to conclude that King Tut was likely involved in an accident days before his death, in which he broke his leg badly. Although the break itself was not life-threatening, it would have left an open wound which could have become lethally infected.
The images revealed no evidence of a skull fracture, and the researchers believe the loose bone pieces in the skull, imaged in 1968, originated from a mishap during mummification which broke off parts of the first vertebra.

King Tut ascended to the throne when he was only 8 years old, died at the age of 19 and was entombed in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. His reign, in which all decisions are believed to be made by his advisor Ay, was only moderately significant and many historians believe he was quickly forgotten. Ay, previously misidentified as the murderer, took the throne after King Tut's death.

However, King Tut became Ancient Egypt's most famous pharaoh when his tomb was discovered almost completely intact by Howard Carter in 1922. All other royal tombs had been completely empty when discovered, thanks to gold-hungry tomb-raiders.

Now, the mummy of King Tut remains in a terrible state. Carter's team was mostly interested in removing the jewelry from the Pharoh's body, which involved hacking the body into several pieces, as the jewelry was stuck to the body by resin. Since then, the mummy has been X-rayed twice, once in 1968 and once in 1978.

This time around, the researchers found some of the pieces reported missing in 1968, including the King's penis (see Cosmos, Issue 1, p 39), thumb and parts of the vertebrae lying loose in the sand around the body. This study is part of a five-year project to image and preserve what is left of Egypt's mummies.

"This is the first ever CT evaluation of an identified ancient Royal mummy," Selim said. The CT scan acquired approximately 19,000 2D x-ray images of the body, which was reconstructed to give a 3D image. The inventors of CT scanning won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1979, because of the significant advances over 2D x-ray images. Radiologists use it to differentiate between various types of soft tissue and bone. Most importantly for fragile mummies, the body does not have to be moved repeatedly.