DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: BOB CRANE (1928-1978)

Born: July 13, 1928
Died: June 29, 1978
cranedeaduglyTalk about life’s little ironies: Hogan’s Heroes star Bob Crane was touring in the stage comedy Beginner’s Luck when he was brutally murdered while he slept in his Scottsdale, Arizona, condo. Crane was bludgeoned with a tire iron, the left side of his head horribly beaten. To add more insult to a fatal injury: The killer then cut a cord cut off a VCR and tied a tight knot around the actor’s neck. There was flaky white residue around his genitals, leading police to believe that Crane had masturbated or that the killer, after doing the deed, did the deed. And you thought it was tough being beaten down by Colonel Klink in a fictional Nazi POW camp each week.
Police insisted “it was a well planned murder,” and they had no shortage of possible suspects—the most popular theory was that a boyfriend or husband of one of his many female costars murdered Crane. Crane craved sex. Two-ways, three-ways or four . . . he was a sex addict, into all forms and variations, and loved dominance and submission. He videotaped his trysts, often without his partner(s) knowledge or consent. He kept scrapbooks and photo albums filled with detailed accounts of his conquests; those in the know even say he built S&M dungeons in the homes of friends.
A friend of Crane’s named John Carpenter was eventually arrested and tried for the murder. Carpenter, a VCR expert and equally interested in sex (he and Crane often shared women), was indicted for murder but was acquitted two months later. He died in 1998, maintaining his innocence until the very end.
Crane was buried next in Los Angeles’ Westwood Memorial  Park, eight days before his 50th birthday.
It’s hard to miss his grave: The stone boasts photos of Crane as Hogan, and sits in the middle of the lawn.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: JAYNE MANSFIELD (1933-1967)

Born: April 19, 1933
Died: June 29, 1967
resized_jaynescarleadIt’s easy, perhaps too easy, to say that Jayne Mansfield was eager to get a head in life, especially considering she was decapitated in the car crash that took her life at about 2:25 a.m. on June 29 on U.S. Highway 90, between Slidell and New Orleans, Louisiana.
If only such legends were true. The poor man’s Monroe did suffer head trauma in the horrific accident. She was returning from a nightclub engagement when, as the driver rounded a curve on a dark stretch of highway, the gray 1966 Buick Electra 225 belonging to her then-beau Sam Brody crashed into the rear of a tractor trailer that had slowed down because of a truck spraying for mosquitoes. The rumors of her decapitation started when crime photographs of the crashed car showed tufts of blonde hair tangled in the smashed windshield. (It was either a wig that Mansfield was wearing or was her actual hair and scalp.) Her death certificate assures us that the immediate cause of Jayne’s death was a “crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain.”  In other words, she was scalped.  Brody was also instantly killed. Jayne’s three children, Miklós, Zoltán and Mariska (all by her husband, bodybuilder and Mr. Universe Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay, who raised the kids with new wife Ellen Siano) were in the backseat and escaped with minor injuries. Mariska, the Emmy-winning star of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” was three at the time and today bears a three-inch scar on one side of her face.
Following Jayne’s death, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began requiring an under ride guard, a strong steel bar, to be installed on all tractor-trailers. This bar is known as a Mansfield bar.
Dear Jayne rests, head an all, in Fairview Cemetery in Pen Argyl, PA.

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: BUGSY SIEGEL (1908-1947)

Born: February 26, 1908
Died: June 20, 1947
100620101309leadIf you’re going to get wiped out by the mob, you might as well be comfortable, at your girl friend’s swanky Beverly Hills home, relaxing on a nice plush sofa.
Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel would have agreed.
On that June night not so long ago, as the lady-killer was reading the newspaper, a spray of bullets from a .30-caliber military M1 carbine were fired through a window. No one was charged with the murder, and the crime remains officially unsolved, though everyone believes ex-mobster Eddie Cannizzaro entered the backyard and did the deadly deed.
If so Eddie was a good shot. But even though the autopsy revealed that one bullet entered the back of Bugsy’s skull, exiting through an eye (police later found the eyeball across the room), the actual cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage. Four of the nine shots fired that night destroyed a white marble statue of Bacchus on a grand piano, and then lodged in the far wall.
Morgue photos of the gangster show cotton balls where his eyes once were.

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: JUDY GARLAND (1922-1969)

Born: June 10, 1922
Died: June 22, 1969
resized_judy_garlands_coffin_426x417Frank Sinatra said she was “the greatest entertainer who ever lived.”
But the death of Judy Garland was hardly entertaining; it was a performance shrouded in mystery and marvelous rumor and speculation.
Let’s go back to London, June 1969 . . .
Judy, looking gaunt and sick and with a mouthful of rotten teeth, had married her fifth husband, nightclub owner and hanger-on Mickey Deans, a mere three months earlier. He was certain he could resurrect his wife’s career which was, at this point, as dead as she would soon be.
On the morning of June 22, Deans woke up to an empty bed. He called for his wife. The bathroom door was locked. He banged again and again. No answer.
Deans climbed onto the roof of the flat and peered in the open window. There was Dorothy Gale, Mrs. Norman Maine, Frances Gumm, dead, at 47, her arms on her lap; her head slumped forward, on the toilet. Deans crawled through the window. Judy’s skin had turned blue, and blood was gushing from her nose and mouth. A comeback was certainly out of the picture.
Judy had died sometime between 3 and 4:30 in the morning. She was so malnourished and dehydrated that when the medical examiner arrived, he “folded” Judy’s body over his arm, as if she was a soiled piece of clothing, so that photographers wouldn’t be able to snap her in such a sorry state. And though everyone wanted to believe it was suicide, the official autopsy reported stated she died from “an incautious overdose of barbiturates.”
More than 22,000 flocked past Judy’s glass-topped steel casket (spray-painted blue), many of them gay men who stood in line for hours for a final glimpse of their idol. (Some actually carried portable record players, spinning vinyl so Judy’s voice filled the air.) She wore blue eye shadow, orange lipstick, the silver lame gown in which she wed Deans and a single strand of pearls. A prayer book was in her hands.
Garland, who died owing millions, was tucked in a temporary vault at Ferncliff Mausoleum in New York until someone could come up with the money to bury her Finally, on November 4, 1970, more than a year after Judy went over the rainbow, she was laid to rest in a rather unattractive tan-flecked marble crypt. Daughter Liza Minnelli paid the expenses.
By the way, Judy’s former co-star Fred Astaire croaked on the same day. But he wasn’t on a toilet.
And Liza and half-sister Lorna Luft admitted that they never visit the grave of their mom, nor have they ever sent flowers. Liza says: “That grave is not my mother. Mama remains alive. She always will be. Why should I stand in front of something that’s not really her?” Lorna adds: “Judy Garland lives on in films and music and TV. She has never died. Her legacy is what counts, not some gravestone with her name on it.”

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: KATE SMITH (1907-1986)

Born: May 1, 1907
Died: June 17, 1986
katesmithgraveKate Smith was one show-biz heavyweight, tipping the scales at 235 pounds by the age of 30.
Such weighty issues didn’t matter to the woman who never took a formal music lesson and whose recording of “God Bless America” is still played at many baseball games. “I’m big, and I sing, and boy, when I sing, I sing all over!” she once said.
When she died of diabetes, her demands were also big. Almost too big. She refused to be buried in the ground; her will specifically requested she be interred “in a hermetically sealed bronze casket in a mausoleum sufficient to contain my remains alone.” But cemetery by-laws banned above-ground burial spots, so Katie’s hefty body was put in cold storage until the executors of her will and church officials hashed it out.
On November 14, 1987, more than a year after her death, Smith was finally laid to permanent rest in a 6-foot, 8-inch high, 10-foot, 3-inch long and 8-foot, 10-1/4 inch-wide mausoleum made of pink granite-with a back door-in St. Agnes Cemetery in Lake Placid, New York. Hers was the first, and remains the only, above ground mausoleum in the cemetery.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: DAVID CARRADINE (1936-2009)

Born: December 8, 1936
Died: June 3, 2009
carradinebodyHe co-starred in Kill Bill, but someone killed David Carradine.
Or not.
On June 4, 2009, the actor was found in his room at the Swissôtel in Bangkok, hanging by a rope in the hall closet.
He was 72.
There’s sort of twisted irony in that the actor was in Thailand filing a movie called Stretch.
Thai authorities ruled his death a “sex accident” —autoerotic asphyxiation gone wrong. In other words, he suffocated while masturbating. Yet authorities have never released the full results of their investigation; interviews with hotel staff and surveillance footage led hotel honchos to believe the actor was alone when he died.
But Carradine’s family members say no, wondering how the actor could have bound his own wrists and suggesting foul play. After all, unless God endowed him with a certain talent, in order to have an orgasm, his hands would have had to be free. No?
So get this: Perhaps to avoid shame and emabrrasment, his family insists he was murdered by assassins from a martial arts sect because Davy was delving into their shadowy underworld activities.
Carradine’s agent Chuck Binder also believes his client was murdered, claiming that Carradine’s hands had been tied behind his back and a footprint on the bed did not match his shoes.
Right.
In early June, 2010, his widow Anne filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the French company handling Stretch, claiming it failed to provide proper services to protect him.
But according to his ex-wives, the actor was into kinky sex. One remembers how he liked to tie himself up at home and ride horses bareback, wearing nothing by a Speedo.
Former wife Marina Anderson told one and all that the actor loved the practice of self-bondage. “There was a dark side to David, there was a very intense side to David,” she recalls. “People around him know that.”
In her divorce filing, Marina claimed that “it was the continuation of abhorrent and deviant sexual behavior which was potentially deadly.”
Ouch!
Someone leaked one of the crime scene photos, and the actor seems to be wearing fishnets and a wig. And red women’s lingerie lay on the nearby bed.
Kung fooey?
Carradine’s funeral was held on June 13, 2009 in Los Angeles. He was laid to rest in a bamboo casket at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. The service was off-limits save for family and friends; Tom Selleck, Lucy Liu,  Frances Fisher, James Cromwell, Chris Potter and Steve Railsback were spotted. Carradine’s gravestone proclaims him as “The Barefoot Legend,” and included a quote from “Paint,” a song he wrote for Sonny Boy. We’re not sure if he was in fishnets and lingerie.
One more weird thing: His “official” website is still selling autographed photos at $39.95 a pop.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: LIZZIE BORDEN (1860-1927)

Born: July 19, 1860
Died: June 1, 1927
dadLizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

The famous jump-rope rhyme is wrong: Mama Abby was hacked a mere 19 times, Daddy got 10 whacks.
Lizzie was acquitted of the 1892 crime and died, at 66.
She is buried, along with her chopped-up mommy (below) and daddy (left), in Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River, Massachusettes.
momborden

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DEAD CELEBS OF THE WEEK: BONNIE PARKER (1910-1934) & CLYDE BARROW (1909-1934)

Bonnie Parker
Born: October 1, 1910
Died: May 23, 1934
Clyde Barrow
Born: March 24, 1909
Died: May 23, 1934
BonnieAndClydeOnSlabsBonnie and Clyde were partners in crime.
And in life.
The notorious outlaws, who had killed 14 people (nine of which were policemen) during their reign of terror, were finally ambushed, on May 23, in a rainstorm of bullets as they whizzed through a stretch of Louisiana highway at 85 miles-per-hour. Each died with weapons in their hands (police would later find 14 guns and 1,500 rounds of ammo in the car), but they didn’t get to use them. A bit after 9 in the morning, six lawmen hiding in the woods riddled the Ford V-8 with bullets at such velocity that each passed through Barrow’s body, then through Parker, then through the car’s passenger-side door.
Each corpse would have more than 25 bullet wounds. Bonnie was found leaning against her lover’s body They longed to be buried side by side. In fact, two years before their deaths, Parker, who fancied herself a poetess, wrote a poem about that inevitable day: Some day they will go down together/And they will bury them side by side/To a few it means grief/To the law it’s relief/But it’s death to Bonnie and Clyde.
Bonnie’s mother Emma nixed the idea.
The morticians had a field day dressing the couple for their farewell tour. A plastic surgeon restored the back of Barrow’s head that had been blown away; you couldn’t even tell an ear was missing. He wore a pin-striped gray suit and with a stiff while collar. A gray tie was dotted with a pearl stick-pin. The corner of a white handkerchief peeked out from a lapel pocket. Bonnie was clad in a flimsy blue nightie. Her hair had been coiffed and her fingernails manicured. Bonnie’s casket was made of steel and Emma splurged on a steel vault as well.
Following a private sunset funeral on Friday, May 25, Clyde was buried in Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas. His battleship gray wooden casket (with cream satin interior) sits next to that of his brother, Marvin; the single tombstone bears the words once chosen by Barrow: “Gone but not forgotten.” More than 20,000 people turned out for Bonnie’s funeral, making it difficult for the Parkers to reach the grave site at Crown Hill Memorial Park in Dallas. Bonnie’s grave stone is engraved with a poem, written by the criminal herself: As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew, so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: SAMMY DAVIS JR. (1925-1990)

Born: December 8, 1925
Died: May 16, 1990
sammygraveDon’t wives ever listen?
Sammy Davis, Jr. wanted his coffin to be closed—the vain one didn’t want anyone to see his cancer-ravaged body.
But no, his wife Altovise had an open casket, and hired a photographer to take photos as 2,500 people took one last glance at the one-eyed entertainer. When she discovered that Davis owed millions in back taxes and that the estate was about to go bankrupt, she had Sammy exhumed and removed $70,000 worth of jewelry that had been buried with him!
Altovise died from complications of a stroke in 2009 at age 65, the same age Sammy was when he passed. Yes, she was buried next to her husband. No, we’re not sure if she wore any jewels, but after her two-hour memorial service, her pallbearers tossed their white gloves on top of her coffin.
Is this what’s known as “lending a final hand?”
Davis is interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California next to his father and “Uncle” Will Mastin. Yeah, Altovise is there too. By the way: Davis died on May 16, 1990, the same day as Muppet Master Jim Henson.

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Morbid Curiosity, By Alan W. Petrucelli

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DEAD CELEB OF THE WEEK: JOAN CRAWFORD (1905-1977)

Born: March 25, 1905
Died: May 10, 1977
joancarwfordgraveFriends knew the end was near when Crawford gave away her beloved Shih Tzu Princess Lotus Blossom. She died two days later, on May 10, at her New York apartment from a heart attack; she was also suffering from breast and pancreatic cancer. Her last words—“Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”— were directed to her housekeeper, who had begun to pray out loud.
The woman who, during the filming of Night Gallery, taught director Steven Spielberg to burp bequeathed to her two youngest children, Cindy and Cathy, $77,500 each from her $2,000,000 estate. However, she explicitly disinherited the two eldest, Christina and Christopher. In the last paragraph of the will, she wrote, “It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them.”
Crawford was cremated and her ashes placed in a crypt with her last husband, Pepsi chairman Alfred Steele, in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York. Her birth year was changed to 1908 . . . . . . to make her younger.

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