Sunday Reads: A Morbidity Play for the Masses

belle4Good Morning

Oh, isn’t it spectacular that my internet is working? In fact, it has been functioning long enough for me to work on uploading some photos for a thread I have been planning since Robin Williams committed suicide.

The title and that first paragraph should give you all a hint, this post will center on suicide…not entirely, but as you read through it you will see photographs of classic movie stars who committed suicide. Click on the picture to open a link to their Wikipedia biography page for more information on their life..and death. Some are truly fascinating and terrible sad to read about.

Take Alan Ladd for instance, Where Danger Lives: Just Shy of Respect: The Hollywood Life and Death of Alan Ladd

Most people believe Alan Ladd committed suicide, but the details surrounding his death are so convoluted no one can be sure what really happened. History is often guilty of erring on the side of sensationalism — but in Ladd’s case suicide is the logical assumption.

Alan Ladd, Blue Dahlia

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, Blue Dahlia

In 1962 he was found lying half-dead in a pool of blood with a bullet lodged in his chest. The newspapers bought into the story of an accident, but everyone who knew him believed it was a botched suicide attempt. It really doesn’t matter whether his January 1964 death was intentional or not; Ladd’s life had been in a downward spiral for years — some could say from the moment he broke into the movie business — and it was apparent that he was hell-bent on digging an early grave.

This is a very good article so be sure to read the whole thing…but for now I will skip to the end of Ladd.

On January 29, 1964, eight weeks prior to the release of The Carpetbaggers, Ladd’s butler discovered his body in his Palm Springs bedroom. Having mixed liquor and sleeping pills one time too many, his body finally failed. It’s easy to believe he killed himself, but whether he chose to end his life that night or not, the more important truth is that some people are simply not blessed with happiness, despite fame and fortune, and try as they might their pain is such that it eventually overwhelms them. Nobody in Hollywood was surprised to learn that Alan Ladd was dead.

Everett Sloane

Everett Sloane

You can read many more names of actors and actresses who took their lives here:

Category:  Male actors who committed suicide – Wikipedia

Category:  Actresses who committed suicide – Wikipedia

First up, a new study on suicide.

WHO report maps global suicide problem for the first time

One person takes their own life every 40 seconds, equating to 803,900 deaths across the world every year, according to the first World Health Organization report on suicide prevention released today. “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative” calls for co-ordinated action to reduce suicide worldwide.

Charles Boyer

Charles Boyer

Diego De Leo, director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, who was involved in the preparation of the report, said there had not been any previous reports because suicide was an example of negative behaviour rather than a disease, so it did not fall within the jurisdiction of an international entity.

“But this is a fundamental step before we can begin on worldwide suicide prevention,” he said.

It is good that a base report of this magnitude has finally been done, read the rest of this story at the link because it has a lot of information and graphs…it is just too much to quote.

paul hurst

paul hurst

Alright now, back to things less depressing. How about a couple of links on classic film, be sure to check out Fridays on TCM: Friday Night Spotlight – Classic Pre-Code

Pre-Code Hollywood is generally considered to be the era in the American film industry between the introduction of sound in the late 1920s and the strict enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code beginning in the mid-1930s. Films of this period included unflinching portrayals of such subject matter as sexuality, prostitution, illegal drug use, abortion and extreme violence. Without the interference of censors, law-breakers in the movies were often allowed to profit from their schemes, and fallen women became the heroines of many films. Gangster films were popular, and their protagonists were viewed with some sympathy despite their law-breaking ways.

paul-hurst-411295lIn a continuation of its popular “Friday Night Spotlight” franchise, TCM shines a light on this free-wheeling cinematic period, presenting a weekly 24-hour festival of pre-Code movies. Each Friday in September, Alec Baldwin and TCM host Robert Osborne will introduce the films airing in primetime. The collection, which includes a total of 67 movies, covers a wide range of genres and represents the output of all the major Hollywood studios of the era.

Some very good flicks are coming up in the next few weeks. Don’t miss them.

A few you should see are discussed in this blog post from Movie Morelocks: – Navigating the Moral Waters of the Crime Film

Ever rooted for the bad guy?  Of course you have, we all have.  Many times the bad guy is more interesting, more exciting, and much more charismatic.  To take two obvious examples, Batman is brooding and Superman is upstanding but neither is terribly interesting while their nemeses, the Joker and

Elizabeth Hartman

Elizabeth Hartman

Lex Luthor, are a hoot and despite their clearly psychotic natures,  fun to watch.   The movies picked up on this long before comic books even came into existence and once the sound era began, making criminals the star of the show became even more apparent.  In the course of a little over a year, moviegoers were treated to Little Caesar, Public Enemy, and Scarface, all putting the bad guys front and center as the stars of the movie.  And all tried their damnedest to convince moviegoers that while they were the stars, their actions were wrong.  As time went on, and the production code waned, the movies could be a little more honest about why they were making crime movies:  Because they’re exciting and fun even if we know they present a romanticized view calibrated precisely for our enjoyment.

Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates

If we weren’t enjoying those wiseguys and goodfellas, maybe we were taking note of the puppies? How the films you’ve seen influence your choice of dog

Did watching 101 Dalmatians instill you with a burning desire to fill your home with dozens of monochrome puppies? A new study suggests that may often be the case. The research suggests that all those great canine characters in films have been a prominent influence on the popularity of a breed among dog owners.

The impact of 29 films released in the United States was examined, each featuring a different dog breed. Classics such as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Fox and the Hound (1981) and Beethoven (1992) were all judged to have influenced people’s choice of dogs. The study traces the popularity of the featured breeds for up to ten years after the film’s release.

Ona Munson (1939)

Ona Munson (1939)

The authors used the records of the American Kennel Club, which has been recording the numbers of registration for each dog breed since 1927, and keeps the largest such dog registry in the world. Looking at the effect of films released between 1927 and 2005, the study shows that the number of registrations of a particular breed rose significantly following the release of a film in which the breed had been featured.


The films analysed covered quite a spread of breeds. Other factors you might assume come into play when choosing a dog, such as temperament or health, seemed not to affect the scale of these trends. Alberto Acerbi, one of the authors of the study and Newton Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol, said: “It seems to be pure fashion.”

Luigi Pistilli

Luigi Pistilli

A connection between the number of film views in the first weekend after its release and the rise in the popularity of the dog breed featured was observed. The study shows that earlier films generally created more widespread trends than the more recent films. The authors conjecture that this could be linked to the rise of home video, as well as the increase in the number of films released featuring dogs each year.

More at the link, including a big infographic.

Ah, enough of movies, how about life in the real world?

ca. 1960s --- Actress Capucine --- Image by © John Springer

ca. 1960s — Actress Capucine — Image by © John Springer

Over in Europe, the Premier League stars to wear rainbow laces in anti-homophobia campaign

More than 100,000 pairs of coloured laces distributed as part of Stonewall campaign to raise awareness of discrimination

The QPR midfielder Joey Barton, Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta, and the newly capped England midfielder Fabian Delph will join other Premier League players in wearing laces in the rainbow colours of the gay pride flag this weekend in a bid to stamp out homophobia in football.

Celebrities and former professionals, including former England striker Michael Owen, and the ex-Germany and Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger – who announced he was gay after retiring from playing last year – will also wear rainbow laces for the anti-discrimination campaign by the pressure group Stonewall.


James Taylor from Stonewall said: “This weekend football players and clubs up and down the country are lacing up to show their support for kicking homophobia out of football.

David Rappaport

David Rappaport

“We’re delighted to have the support of Arsenal, Manchester City, the backing of the Premier League, the FA and many others this weekend to help raise awareness of homophobia in football and the need to tackle it.”

Good for them!

The post is getting long and it is getting way to late (3:15am) for me. So the rest of today’s links will be in dump format.

Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg

This is one story I think is getting lost in the shuffle: Despite Obama’s Pledge to Curb It, NSA Mass Surveillance Wins Rubber Stamp –

A further look at the horrible sex abuse in Rotherham, England:  ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: The Rotherham Report On Child Sexual Exploitation. My Analysis.

Jay Fox at Salon asks: Can corporations go to hell? An existential quandary for the Supreme Court –

Last week, Jaws actor from Bond films Richard Kiel dies at 74 – Latest News –

In this October, 2007 file photo, actor Roger Moore (right) who played the part of James Bond 007 in seven films, poses with actor Richard Kiel who played the role of Jaws in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ during a ceremony honouring Moore with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (Photo:AP)

FRESNO, California (AP) — Richard Kiel, the towering actor best known for portraying steel-toothed villain Jaws in a pair of James Bond films, has died. He was 74.

Herve Villechaize

Herve Villechaize

Kelley Sanchez, director of communications at Saint Agnes Medical Centre, confirmed Wednesday that Kiel was a patient at the hospital and died. Kiel’s agent, Steven Stevens, also confirmed his death. Both declined to provide further details.

The 7-foot-2-inch performer famously played the cable-chomping henchman who tussled with Roger Moore’s Bond in 1977’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and 1979’s ‘Moonraker’. Bond quipped of the silent baddie: “His name’s Jaws. He kills people.”

When we were kids my brother used to call “Jaws” … “Teeth”… and would laugh at my braces and say that I looked like him.

Most birds can’t taste sugar – here’s why the hummingbird can

Chickens are not fussy eaters. Any object resembling food is worth an exploratory peck. But give a chicken the choice between sugary sweets and seeds, and they will pick the grains every time. This is odd. Many animals, including our own sugar-mad species, salivate for sugar because it is the flavour of foods rich in energy. New research suggests

Clara Blandick (June 4, 1880 – April 15, 1962) was an American stage and screen actress, best known for her role as Aunt Em, the wife of Uncle Henry, in MGM's The Wizard of Oz.

Clara Blandick (June 4, 1880 – April 15, 1962) was an American stage and screen actress, best known for her role as Aunt Em, the wife of Uncle Henry, in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.

that many birds’ lack of interest in sugar is down to genes inherited from their dinosaur ancestors.

Most vertebrates experience because they possess a family of genes called T1Rs. The pairing of T1R1 and T1R3 detects amino acids and gives rise to the savoury “umami” taste, and the T1R2-T1R3 pair detects sugars and gives us our sweet tooth.

Maude Baldwin, a postgraduate student at Harvard University, searched the genomes of ten species of birds from chickens to flycatchers. She found that insectivorous and grain-eating birds possess the gene pair that detects the amino acids present in insects and seeds, but none had the T1R2 gene responsible for the ability to taste sugar. These modern birds evolved from carnivorous theropod dinosaurs whose diets were rich in proteins and amino acids, but lacked sugar. So Baldwin reasoned that without a need to detect sweetness, ancient birds lost their T1R2 gene.

Bing Crosby lost two of his sons to suicide...Dennis and Lindsay. Photo from the television program I've Got a Secret. From left: Garry Moore, Lindsay Crosby, Betsy Palmer, Phillip Crosby, Dennis Crosby.

Bing Crosby lost two of his sons to suicide…Dennis and Lindsay. Photo from the television program I’ve Got a Secret. From left: Garry Moore, Lindsay Crosby, Betsy Palmer, Phillip Crosby, Dennis Crosby.

Hummingbirds appear to have bucked the trend. Every day they consume more than their own body weight in nectar. They can taste the difference between water and a sugar solution within a quarter of a second. And they also like the flavour of non-sugary artificial sweeteners like erythritol and sorbitol. How is this possible if they have no gene for sweet taste?

Go to the link to get the answer to the question. I don’t know about the sweet taste, but down in Florida there were these insects, nasty little fuckers (literally) called Love Bugs. They are black with red eyes and spend all their lives flying around  mating. The birds don’t eat them because, as my Nano used to say…they taste bad. I don’t remember frogs or lizards eating them either.

Another science link: A big chunk of the Sierra Nevada caught fracturing on video | Ars Technica

One more rocky story…New study reconstructs mega-earthquakes timeline in Indian Ocean

George Sanders

George Sanders

How about a spooky story, Are you brave enough to look into Timothy Clark Smiths grave with a window?

Or a kick ass medical science one: Baltimore girl with Type 1 diabetes tests bionic pancreas at camp –

Boston Boomer had a couple of links this week, one about swimming dinosaurs and the other about the culture of women in video game development. I will end this post with my own contribution to those same topics.

First, this big…and I am talking big, discovery: Newly discovered dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus, takes title of largest terrestrial animal – The Washington Post

Walter Slezak

Walter Slezak

Scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of a new long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur that has taken the crown for largest terrestrial animal with a body mass that can be accurately determined.

Measurements of bones from its hind leg and foreleg revealed that the animal was 65 tons, and still growing when it died in the Patagonian hills of Argentina about 77 million years ago.

“To put this in perspective, an African elephant is about five tons, T. rex is eight tons, Diplodocus is 18 tons, and a Boeing 737 is around 50 tons,” said study author and paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara at Drexel University. “And then you have Dreadnoughtus at 65 tons.”


Dreadnoughtus, meaning “fears nothing,” is named after the impervious early 20th century battleships. Although it was a plant-eater, a healthy Dreadnoughtus likely had no real issues with predators due to its intimidating size and muscular, weaponized tail.

Damn, the ass on that thing is almost as big as mine!

Lupe Vélez and Gary Cooper in The Wolf Song (1929)

Lupe Vélez and Gary Cooper in The Wolf Song (1929)

As for the gaming women in a mans world, you are going to love this: Teens Invent ‘Tampon Run’ Game to De-Stigmatize Periods

“The taboo that surrounds [periods] teaches women that a normal and natural bodily function is embarrassing and crude.” That’s the message two teenagers want to send with their new video game, Tampon Run.

As seen on Fast Co. Exist, the video game invented by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser grew out of their involvement with a Girls Who Code summer program. The gameplay is simple enough, according to the instructions:

“Hit all the enemies with your tampons. Don’t let them pass you. They’ll confiscate your tampons [like the Texas State Troopers during a reproductive rights demonstration]. Collect tampon boxes for more tampons. Don’t run out of tampons or it’s GAME OVER.”

But the message behind the game is a little more complex. The two young developers wanted to find a way to make having your period seem less humiliating and more normalized



Check out more at the link and play the game here:

That’s all folks…I will be gone all day, on a mall trip to Atlanta. Yay! So hopefully there will be no problems with the formatting on the post. Have a happy day, and post some thoughts in the comments below.

Here is a gallery of all the pictures, some of them I did not post in the thread above…just too many!

22 Comments on “Sunday Reads: A Morbidity Play for the Masses”

  1. Morning all, I was working on this post until 4 am this morning. (The pictures and formats were giving me a hell of a time.) We are heading out of the woods today, so hope y’all have a good one.

    There was another beheading:

    Islamic State video purports to show beheading of UK hostage David Haines | Reuters

    And another Malaysian Airlines incident: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH198 Turns Back Due to Autopilot Defect – NBC

    Georgie boy was in the news yet again: George Zimmerman Told Motorist, ‘Do You Know Who I Am? I’ll F***ing Kill You’: Police

    • bostonboomer says:

      Great post JJ. Really interesting, but why did you leave out Marilyn Monroe?

      • I had a folder of links, she was included but it was deleted somehow during a sync . So I had to look up all the links again, I would miss the obvious.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Oh well, she is an obvious choice. Some of the others have had less publicity. I didn’t remember know about Alan Ladd being suicidal. I do remember hearing about his death at the time, but so many stars seemed to be dying from mixing alcohol and barbiturates that I didn’t think of it as suicide.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    The video of the Sierra Nevada fracturing is amazing.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    “It wasn’t uncommon for undertakers to discover scratch marks inside of casket lids after exhuming a coffin, or to find evidence that the “corpse” had pulled out their hair post-mortem.”


  4. dakinikat says:

    So, I’d like to offer up this very bizarre wonkette posting. They got the Sanford Divorce transcripts and Sanford is a deadbeat dad among other really kooky things.

    During her testimony, Jenny’s attorney, Deena S. McRackan, introduced into evidence a photograph taken at the farm and asked Jenny to describe it.

    This is a game of chicken on the Coosaw air strip. And it is Mark Sanford with a pack of children. And the plane is a Mooney. They fly 175 to 200 miles per hour and they fly straight at the children. And the game is to see who can stand up the longest.

    It turns out, the plane flown at children was no toy plane. It was an actual plane, owned and operated by John, another member of the Sanford clan, whom Mark described as the “crazy cousin with an airplane.” But, Mark insisted, while Jenny might not have approved of this “game,” she’d spent decades at the farm and was well aware of what kind of reckless “fun” occurred there, so it was sort of unfair of her to object to it now.

    Jenny has been around Coosaw for 20 years. She knows how it operates. She knows that I have got brothers and sisters who don’t behold to me in any form or fashion. Part of the tour of the place has been its relative freedom, and so that’s the good side.

    He later emphasized again to the judge that Jenny knew full well that “the boys indeed go driving four wheelers and they shoot guns, and you’ve got a crazy cousin with an airplane.”

    More Teabilly antics.

  5. dakinikat says:

    I read some excerpts recently from Roger Moore’s autobiography. He was a lot more interesting IRL than on the screen, it seems.

  6. dakinikat says:

    How ‘Keynes’ Became a Dirty Word

    In other words, stabilization policy is supposed to guard against socialism. This, in fact, is what Keynes intended. Keynes lived during a time when communism and socialism were considered real, viable alternatives to capitalism. He devised his theories as an alternative to socialism — a way to save capitalism with the smallest possible intervention.

    People forget that FDR and his policies were put into place to stop any possible communist or socialist movement in the US.

  7. dakinikat says:

    and from the annals of unfucking believable …

    We have become used to weird sexual activity from islands of Japan but this new video game definitely raises alarm bells.

    Using the virtual gaming headset, Oculus Rift, a video-game developer has created a game where users can grope a young woman’s breast.

    The programmed reaction of the girl suggests assault as it shows the girl’s body language is unhappy and acts defensively when one or both of her breasts are grabbed.

    An added creep bonus is the interactive prosthetic boob simulator that comes with the game.

    It is due to be demoed at Japan’s Oculus Rift Festival, but don’t expect non-perverted people to be impressed.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Hall of Famer FTW:

    “This goes across all racial lines, ethnicity… People believe in disciplining their children,” Carter said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown. “People with any kind of Christian background they really believe in disciplining their children.”

    Carter related the story to his mother, who raised seven children by herself. “My mom did the best that she could do … But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong.

    “This is the 21st century; my mom was wrong… And I promise my kids I won’t teach that mess to them. You can’t beat a kid to make them do what you want them to do.”

    Many of us were hit as children. My mother used her sorority paddle on me. It just made me more defiant. I never used physical punishment on my children. We used time outs and we took away privileges and toys/TV time etc. My girls are highly self disciplined because I taught them to be good decisionmakers by letting them make mistakes and then working to ensure they understood what the ramifications were of those mistakes. I didn’t have to beat them into submission to get them to be disciplined children or adults.

    • janicen says:

      Ditto. That’s why it’s hard for me to comment on or even think about the Adrian Peterson story. I have a scar on my wrist to this day from one of my mom’s beatings. They were savage. I have no sympathy for Adrian Peterson with regard to him treating his children the same way he was treated. I never struck my daughter because the lesson I learned from my upbringing is that I never wanted my daughter to feel that sense of fear I so often felt in the presence of my mother. I never wanted my daughter to look at me that way, to have that image that I will never erase from my mind of my mother whaling on me with a belt. I don’t give a shit what religion a person is or what their beliefs are, children should never be beaten, spanked, or whatever euphemism you use for abuse.

      • bostonboomer says:

        My family was violent too. I didn’t get hit with a belt, but my parents both backhanded me across the face many times. My Dad did it when I was only 8 years old. He slapped me across the face at the dinner table and knocked me and my chair to the ground. He choked me and banged my head against the wall when I was a teenager. Lots more examples. But none of that was as bad as the emotional abuse–yelling and name-calling.

        As I wrote yesterday, I am an absolutist on hitting kids. It’s always wrong. It doesn’t work anyway. It only makes the child afraid of her parent and teaches her to lie to avoid punishment and avoid interactions with parents.

        • dakinikat says:

          I wish every teen had to take a child development/child psych class in high school. Thank goodness I took a lot to get my teaching certificate at university. First, I was introduced to Montessori and second I learned what discipline really meant. I also learned how to spot different learning styles and disabilities. It came in handy with neighbor kids too.

        • janicen says:

          OMG, the name calling was constant and my mother was the instigator. When I was an adult and I confronted her about it she denied it and claimed I was blaming her for what my father and brothers did. My brothers emotionally abused me as well, but it was with her approval. They learned it from her. My parents are dead and I keep my brothers at a comfortable distance. I’m 57 years old and I’m just now beginning to really understand and recognize the damage but at least I knew enough not to do it to my daughter. It helps to know that amazing and accomplished women like you and dak had similar disfunction in your youths and yet your rose above it. Thank you for sharing.

          • bostonboomer says:


            Thanks for sharing. It helps me to know I’m not alone too. So many people have grown up in dysfunctional families. It’s important for us to break the cycle of violence. I really admire you and Dak for having children and treating them like human beings. I decided when I was pretty young that I’d never get married or have kids, because I was afraid I’d be like my parents. I was sexually abused by two relatives, which really was the worst thing that happened to me.

            I drank and took drugs to deal with my anxiety and depression and became an alcoholic. I got sober in 1982. That’s when I began the long road back. It wasn’t until I was about 40 that I understood I had been abused as a child. I thought it was my fault because I was a bad kid. I had even spent years in therapy before I got it. My parents weren’t bad people; they had terrible childhoods too. They did love me, and they both realized they had made lots of mistakes. They apologized to me and did everything they could to help me in my adulthood.

            I’ve been very fortunate to be able to watch my brother’s two boys growing up. I’ve been helping care for them since they were born. It’s a joy for me to spend time with them and know that they are happy and confident. It’s not the same as having children of my own, but I have been very involved in their lives and they are attached to me. I’m grateful to my brother and sister-in-law for including me in their lives.

      • dakinikat says:

        My mother had the imprint of an iron on her leg to the day she died. I had it easier than she did but it ended with me.

  9. dakinikat says:

    Joe Sample of the Jazz Crusaders has died

  10. bostonboomer says:

    The Carolina Panthers have finally deactivated Greg Hardy, long after he was convicted for beating and threatening to kill his girlfriend.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Ray McDonald of the SF 49ers will play tonight, despite being arrested for beating his pregnant girlfriend. But Roger Goodell has cancelled his appearance at tonight’s game even though the 49ers are opening their new stadium.