DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: ELVIS PRESLEY (1935-1977)

Born: January 8, 1935
Died: August 16, 1977
fcd24c668518da80faa345ff18aca729“I’m going into the bathroom to read.”

We assume Elvis was looking for some new recipes?
By the time Elvis died he weighed in at more than 300 pounds. On August 16, the day before he was headed out for a concert, Presley’s fiancée, Ginger Alden, found him on the bathroom floor of Graceland at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Yes, those really were his last words.He had been there for nearly three hours, lying in a pool of his own vomit. Presley had been using the toilet at the time; his pajama bottoms had fallen to his ankles.
Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m. at the Baptist Memorial Hospital.An autopsy found 14 different drugs in Presley’s bloodstream, as well as toxic levels of methoqualone and 10 times the normal dosage of codeine. The singer allegedly spent at least $1 million annually during his later years on drugs and doctors’ fees. But for the record, his death was attributed to “cardiac arrhythmia” brought on by “undetermined causes.” Hey, don’t clogged arteries get any credit?
His funeral turned into a media circus; hundreds of thousands of fans lined the streets hoping to have a chance to see the open casket. (Two days after the singer’s death, a car plowed into a group of more than 2,000 fans outside Graceland, killing two women and critically injuring a third.)
He was buried wearing a white suit and tie and a blue shirt his dad had given him for Christmas; on a finger was the famous TCB ring—always Taking Care of Business this guy.
Daughter Lisa Marie, then just nine years old, asked the funeral director to place a thin metal bracelet on her dad’s right wrist; former wife Priscilla asked that the bracelet be covered by his sleeve so that no one would steal it as a souvenir. The casket was made from 900 pounds of seamless copper and was covered with roses; it costs $8,000 and was identical to the one in which his mother Gladys was buried in when she died in 1958.
Also buried with the King: a two-by four-inch stainless steel cylinder for identification purposes in the event he is ever exhumed. A chemically-treated piece of paper lists his full name, birth and death dates, as well as dates and places of his eulogy and burial. The crypt was sealed with two slabs of concrete and one slab of marble. Suspicious minds who want to know how The National Enquirer managed to nab a photo of Presley in his coffin that ended up on the tabloid’s front cover: Presley cousin Bobby Mann secretly photographed the body and was paid $18,000.We still think we last saw Elvis at the Buttocks, Montana Burger King having it his way.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: BELA LUGOSI (1882-1956)

Born: October 20, 1882
Died: August 16, 1956
8554c64de5fdd4723794b3897f3ce064_0What’s scarier?
His classic performance as Dracula . . . or the fact that Hungarian-born actor was a major morphine addict? By the time he bit the dust of a heart attack while lying on the couch in his Los Angeles apartment, the movie monster was a mere shadow of his former self. Lugosi’s body was found with a copy of B-grade film director Ed Wood’s next epic, “The Final Curtain,” in his clenched hand. Ah, a movie he could have really sunk his teeth into!
Lugosi was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California, wearing a Dracula cape—the expenses were quietly paid for by fan Frank Sinatra.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: SHARON TATE (1943-1969)

Born: January 24, 1943
Died:  August 9, 1969
tatecolor horrible“Mother, mother . . .”
Those were Sharon Tate’s last words.
On August 9, 1969, when police were summoned to the Benedict Canyon house Roman Polanski rented for his wife, the actress the eight months pregnant woman had already been stabbed to death. The woman who got her first big break as a secretary on an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, the woman who helped Valley of the Dolls become a camp classic, the woman who measured in at 36-22-35, the cover girl whose favorite lip makeup was Vaseline (she kept jars of it in her car), was gone. Besides Tate and her unborn son, the carnage included hair stylist friend Jay Sebring (1933-1969), mountain-grown coffee heiress Abigail Folger (1943-1969); her boyfriend Wojciech Frykowski (1936-1969) and Steven Parent (1951-1969), who was leaving the property after visiting his friend, caretaker William Garretson.
For a town that is rarely shocked, Hollywood was terrorized. The infamous Manson Family had paid a visit to 10050 Cielo Drive. Fanatic Charles Manson was the leader of “The Family,” a group of followers who believed what he preached and prophesied: that a race war was inevitable, and that blacks would triumph against whites and wipe them out. Manson preached to his “Family” that they would hide in a hole in the desert until the Black and White Holocaust was over, then they would then have dominion over the world, with Manson emerging as Jesus Christ, ruling as one of five co-prophets-the other four prophets being The Beatles!
Scary stuff. What’s scarier is that the unemployed ex-con didn’t actually commit the carnage. He instructed his followers to “totally destroy everyone . . . as gruesome as you can;” he (and his “family members”) received life in prison for masterminding these murders and the murder of a husband and wife two days later. In a jailhouse confession, Manson member Susan Atkins?who was promised immunity from prosecution-claimed that it was she who actually stabbed Tate to death. Restraining Tate while her friends were brutally butchered before her eyes, Atkins said she coldly told the terrified actress that she would be murdered and that there was nothing she could do about it. As Atkins repeatedly stabbed Tate, the dying actress cried out in anguish for her own mother. Atkins confessed that she then tasted Tate’s blood, and used a towel dipped in Tate’s blood to write DEATH TO PIGS on the wall and PIG on the front door.
Manson, Corcoran State Prison inmate No. B33920, has been denied parole 11 times. He will be eligible again in 2012. Other family members remain behind bars, aging and dying little each day as they live with the memories of their horrific crimes.
Tate and her unborn baby boy named Paul Richard Polanski are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: LENNY BRUCE (1925-1966)

Born: October 13, 1925
Died: August 3, 1966
sssssssssssssssssssssFighting for freedom of speech was nothing new to foul-mouthed Lenny Bruce, whose raw language often got him in trouble. Or fired. Or arrested. During a 1964 obscenity charge for using foul language in a Greenwich Village nightclub act, Bruce fired his lawyers and botched the appeal. The conviction on the misdemeanor obscenity charge made it almost impossible for him to get work; he declared bankruptcy and was found dead sitting on the toilet with his pants around his waist, a needle in his arm, and his lifeless body surrounded by drug paraphernalia. Bruce was 40 years old. But in 2003, nearly four decades after the comic died, he got the last laugh when on December 23, he was posthumously pardoned by New York Governor. George E. Pataki, 39 years after being convicted of obscenity.. The governor said the posthumous pardon—the first in the state’s history—was “‘a declaration of New York’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment.”
No comment from the dead Bruce, but his daughter Kitty Bruce gushed, “Isn’t this wonderful? Isn’t this a great day in America? Boy, has this been nuts or what? This is what America is all about.”
Visit Bruce at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: EVA PERON (19191-1952)

Born: May 7, 1919
Died: July 26, 1952
resized_0Quick!
How many South American sidewalk-strutting starlets have been the subjects of a Tony-winning musical?
Right, just the one.
The life of Eva Peron was fraught with deceit and decay, but it was Evita’s death that makes for the really scandalous stuff. When she died, the First Lady of Argentina had been suffering from cervical cancer that had metastasized in her lungs. (Evita was the first Argentine to undergo chemotherapy.) She weighed just 79 pounds at the time of her death; her last words, “Eva se va” (“Eva is leaving)” were spoken to her sister.
The news of her demise was immediately broadcast throughout the country, and Argentina went into mourning. Traffic was congested, eight people were trampled to death and more than 2,000 people hurt as throngs tried to get close to Evita as her body, soldered shut in a $30,000 bronze casket, was being taken from the Presidential Palace to the Ministry of Labour Building, where she would she lay in state.
Then the fun really started.

Plans were made to construct a monument in Evita’s honor, her body to be “stored” in its base. For two years, while the monument was being built, Evita’s body was displayed in her former office. The reason she looked so good all that time? Her corpse was drained of blood and replaced with glycerin, an ambitious embalming method that anatomy professor Dr. Pedro Ara assured would give his client “artistically rendered sleep.
When Evita’s hubby Juan Peron was overthrown in a military coup in 1955, he fled the country leaving Evita behind. For 16 years, no one knew what happened to Evita’s body. One day—perhaps out of guilt?—military officials finally revealed what they had done with the corpse—they had buried Evita in a crypt in Milan, Italy, under the name “Maria Maggi.” In 1971, her body was exhumed and flown to Spain, where Juan kept the corpse in his home. Two years later, he returned to Argentina, becoming president for the third time. His wife at the time, Isabel Peron, had Evita’s body returned to Argentina and buried in the family tomb in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.
Could Evita disappear again? Hardly. She’s hidden under a series of secret trapdoors and compartments. Reports claim the grave is so secure it could withstand a nuclear attack.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: JOHN DILLINGER (1903-1934)

Born: June 22, 1903
Died: July 22, 1934
dickdillingerThe BIG question: Is it true that when John Dillinger was ambushed and gunned down, death photos revealed that he had an 18-inch penis?
As we contribute to celebrate the anniversary of Dillinger’s death, America continues to unzip the rumor.
America’s most famous Public Enemy No. 1 (the first time such a designation was used by the FBI) was gunned down in an alley outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago. He, gal pal Polly Hamilton and Polly’s friend Anna Sage had just seen Manhattan Melodrama. What John and Polly didn’t know what that Sage was a madam whose deportation hearings had already begun, and she had made a deal with the FBI: She’d lead them to their man, they’d stop her deportation.
As the trio exited the theater, Sage tipped off the FBI agents who opened fire on Dillinger. He was struck three times-twice in the chest, one nicking his heart, and the fatal shot, which entered the back of his neck and exited just under his right eye. He was pronounced dead at 10:50 pm on July 22 at Alexian Brothers Hospital and buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.
His gravestone is often vandalized by people seeking souvenirs. Please don’t get any ideas: A three-foot slab of reinforced concrete has since been poured over the grave to discourage would-be robbers.
But the schlong story survives. Dillinger”s morgue shot shows what looks like a shockingly oversized erection. The rumor was that Dillinger was so well-endowed that his penis was removed, preserved and secretly sent to the Smithsonian Institution.
Not true.
The “erection” was the awkward angle of his arm, stiff from rigor mortis. To this day, the Smithsonian receives scores of calls each year from the morbidly curious asking if the story is true. You can now be cocksure it ain’t.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: SIR LAURENCE OLIVIER (1907-1989)

Born: May 22, 1907
Died: July 11, 1989
olivierlaurence“This isn’t Hamlet, you know! It’s not meant to go into the bloody ear!”
Leave it to the actor many consider to be the greatest thespian of the 20th-century to go out with such an ad-libbed—and very funny—bit of dialogue.
As Olivier lay in his bed, dying of a rare degenerative muscle disorder, a nurse leaned over to wet the parched lips of the 82-year-old actor.
She missed.
Larry was cremated and his ashes interred in Poets’ Corner in London’s Westminister Abbey. Sharing some of floor space with Olivier is noted thespian David Garrick 1716-1779), as famous in his days as Olivier was in his; legend had it that Garrick performed as Richard III with a bone fracture, inspiring the line to “break a leg!”

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: HARRY CHAPIN (1942-1981)

Born: December 7, 1942
Died: July 16, 1981
HarryChapinThat Thursday night was the night that made singer/songwriter Harry Chapin infamous.
It was a little past noon, and Chapin was driving his 1975 blue Volkswagen Rabbit on the Long Island Expressway at about 65 miles per hour. He was on his way to a concert; as he neared exit 40, Chapin knew he was having a heart attack. He slowed the car down, put on his emergency flashers and veered into the center lane. He almost collided with another car, swerving left, then right again, ending up directly in front of a tractor trailer.
The truck couldn’t brake in time and rammed the rear of Chapin’s car, sparks igniting the ruptured the gas tank which immediately burst into flames. The truck’s driver and a passerby were able to extract Chapin from the burning Rabbit by cutting him out of his seatbelt. He was taken by helicopter to the Nassau County Medical Center where 10 doctors spent 30 minutes trying to revive him. No luck. Chapin was dead of cardiac arrest.
Although Chapin was driving without a license (it was revoked because of numerable traffic violations) his widow Sandy Gaston won a $12 million decision in a negligence lawsuit against the owners of the truck.
He rests for eternity in Long Island, New York’s Huntington Rural Cemetery.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: MEL BLANC (1908-1989)

Born: May 30, 1908
Died: July 10, 1989
BlancWhat’s up Doc?
Much, when it comes to the 60-year career of Blanc, who as a teen, changed his name from “Blank” because a teacher told him that he would amount to nothing.
Good move.
Blanc is at the very top of his cartoon class, having provided the voice of Daffy Duck for more than 52 years and for hundreds and hundreds of others cartoon creations, including Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote and Barney Rubble. No wonder Jack Benny once quipped: “There are only five real people in Hollywood. Everybody else is Mel Blanc.”
Bugs Bunny remains the 14-karat favorite. When it was decided that Bugs would munch on carrots, sound technicians tried everything from turnips to celery to potatoes, but the snap, the sound, wasn’’t the same.
So every time Bugs chomped, Blanc chomped—then promptly spit out the carrot pieces.
Blanc died on July 10 of heart disease and emphysema, and is buried in a grave whose inscription was stipulated in his will. His rests, peacefully, in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: CAROLE LANDIS (1919-1948)

Born: January 1, 1919
Died: July 5, 1948 
LANDISDEADCarole Landis was known as “The Chest” thanks to her 36DD rack.
And the rest of her wasn’t bad either.
The actress entertained troops during World War II; her 1945 trip almost killed her when she contracted amoebic dysentery and malaria. That same year, Landis starred on Broadway in the musical A Lady Says Yes, and the lady did say yes to an affair with co-star Jacqueline Susann, who, years later, would use Landis as the basis for the neurotic Jennifer North in her odious opus Valley of the Dolls.
Yet even that novel couldn’t compare to the juicy scandal in Carole’s real life. She had been plagued by depression her entire life and tried to kill herself in 1944 and 1946. In 1948, with a career that was fading and a marriage that was ending, the 29-year-old actress finally committed suicide by taking an overdose of Seconal. It was July 5. Free at last.
Her body was discovered by actor Rex Harrison, with whom she was having an affair and with whom she dined the previous night. Harrison was the last person to see Landis alive . . . and the first to see her dead, on the bathroom floor. He’d claim he felt a pulse, yet instead of summoning an ambulance, he left the house; by the time he returned, Landis had been dead for hours.
Landis left two suicide notes. The one to her mother read, “Dearest Mommie, I’m sorry, really sorry, to put you through this but there is no way to avoid it. I love you darling, you have been the most wonderful mom ever. And that applies to all our family. I love each and every one of them dearly. Everything goes to you—look in the files and there is a will which decrees everything. Good bye, my angel. Pray for me, Your Baby.”
The second note was addressed to Harrison, who bribed a police officer to destroy it.
Landis is buried wearing her favorite blue dress and gold cross pendant, at curbside in the Everlasting Love section of Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. Hundreds of people attended Landis’ funeral service at the Church of the Recessional at Forest Lawn in Glendale, including Harrison and his wife! Pallbearers included Cesar Romero and Pat O’Brien.
Landis’ family wanted a Catholic burial, but the church refused, insisting her death was a suicide. The epitaph on Carole’s grave marker, written by her sister Dorothy, reads: “To our beloved Carole whose love, graciousness and kindness touched us all- who will always be with us in the beauties of this earth until we meet again.”
Carole’s mother and sister never believed that Landis committed suicide and tried for years to connect Harrison with the death. They never succeeded.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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