January 1998

January 1, 1998
Film producer Don Simpson died January 19, 1996 at 52 from an overdose of 21 drugs. So extensive was his drug use that he stocked his bedroom closet with over 15,000 sedatives, amphetamines, tranquilizers, antipsychotics, narcotics and other drugs - and arranged them all in alphabetical order. He was able to stockpile so many drugs through a network of 15 doctors and multiple pharmacies.

January 2, 1998
Marie Prevost began her acting career as a bathing beauty in Mack Sennett comedies, but after starring in a string of forgettable films her career began to slide. She started to gain weight and hit the bottle. A worker at her apartment building gained entry to her residence after hearing her dachshund barking incessantly for two days, and found her lifeless body, which had been partially chewed by her dog. The cause of death was alcoholism.

Terry offers the following gem:

I've been reading the MFdJ archives over the past few days and came across your entry for January 2, 1998 about Marie Prevost (the silent film actress that died from alcoholism and was partially eaten by her dachsund). The first time I heard about Marie it was in a Nick Lowe song "Marie Prevost." It's on his "Basher, The Best of Nick Lowe" CD and is a real hoot to listen to.

A sample lyric:

The cops came in and they looked around,
throwing up everywhere over what they found,
the handiwork of Marie's little dachshund:
that hungry little dachshund.
She was a winner
that became a doggie's dinner.
She never meant that much to me.
Oh, poor Marie.

January 3, 1998
While on his way to a film location in 1919, actor Wallace Reid was involved in a train crash in which he suffered serious head injuries. Treatment for this included morphine, to which he became addicted. The abuse of this drug, combined with drink, got him committed to a sanitarium, where he died of his addiction.

January 4, 1998
Ona Munson's most memorable role was as Belle Watling in "Gone With The Wind". However, her career never took off. At 49 she OD'd on sleeping pills. In her suicide note she wrote, "This is the only way I know to be free again... Please don't follow me."

January 5, 1998
In his native Cambodia, Haing S. Ngor was imprisoned and tortured by the Khmer Rouge. To avoid execution, he denied that he was a doctor; his secret forced him to watch his wife and child die during childbirth. He escaped and made it to the U.S., where he won an Oscar for his performance in "The Killing Fields". On February 25, 1996, he was slain by a gang when he refused to hand over a gold watch bearing his wife's photo.

January 6, 1998
John O'Brien never lived to see the movie based on his autobiographical novel "Leaving Las Vegas". Two weeks into production of the movie, the 34-year-old alcoholic O'Brien shot himself in the head - in Los Angeles, not Las Vegas.

January 7, 1998
Alexander Godunov wasn't in as good shape as everyone thought he was. The Russian-born ballet star turned actor was a big drinker. When his business manager couldnt reach him for several days at his West Hollywood apartment, she called his nurse, who found the 45-year-old dead on his living room floor. He had collapsed from heart failure brought on by acute alcoholism.

January 8, 1998
Before he died in his sleep from prostate cancer on May 31, 1996, at age 75, Timothy Leary set up a Web site that allowed browsers to follow his declining health day-to-day and find out how much cocaine, ketamine and nitrous oxide he took to combat his disease.

January 9, 1998
Millions of people were stunned to learn that game show host Ray Combs, 40, had hanged himself in his hospital closet. He had been taken to the hospital for observation after trying to kill himself several times earlier. The host of "The New Family Feud" for six years, he had tried other TV ventures, but nothing was as popular as that game show. He had also been having some family feuds of his own - he was despondent about an impending divorce, and was at least $500,000 in debt.

January 10, 1998
Three years before her death in 1996, Ella Fitzgerald had both of her legs amputated due to complications from diabetes.

January 11, 1998
25-Year-old Francoise Dorleac was approaching stardom when her career and life were cut short before they could really begin. Near Nice, France, on June 26, 1967, her car skidded on wet pavement, crashed into a concrete road sign, and went up in flames.

January 12, 1998
A supermodel at 19, Margaux Hemingway hung out with the Studio 54 crowd back in the late 70s. This lead to drinking and drugs, and a flash-in-the-pan movie career. At one time commanding the largest modeling contract for a woman, she ended up depressed, bankrupt and living in a small apartment over a garage in Santa Monica. That's where Hemingway was found dead at the age of 41. She had killed herself by overdosing on Klonopin almost 35 years to the day after her famous grandfather, Ernest Hemingway, committed suicide.

January 13, 1998
In December 1996, Phillip Johnson, then 32, of Johnson Bottom, Kentucky, shot himself in the left shoulder with his .22-caliber rifle, "to see how it felt," he told ambulance personnel. On October 2, 1997, an ambulance crew was again called to Johnson's home, where Johnson was bleeding from another left-shoulder shot fired by a .22-caliber rifle. A source told the Inez Mountain Citizen newspaper that Johnson said the December shooting "felt so good," he had to do it again.

January 14, 1998
After years of suffering with drink and depression, Nobel and Pulitzer prize winner Ernest Hemingway ended his life at age 59 by shooting himself in the head with one of his hunting guns. It was the same way Hemingways father committed suicide when Ernest was a young man.

January 15, 1998
Throughout his career, film star Rudolph Valentino was taunted by men as being too effeminate and rumors flew about his supposed sexual orientation. (The fact that both of his marriages were to lesbians lends some credence to that theory.) One editorialist mocked Valentino's flamboyant clothing and the advertisements he had done for face cream by saying, "Do women like the sort of 'man' who pats pink powder on his face in a public washroom?" This comment stung Valentino deeply. Even as he lay dying of peritonitis, in extraordinary pain, the innuendoes were on his mind. He asked his doctors, "And now, do I act like a pink powder puff?"

January 16, 1998
Statistic from the American Justice Department: One in every thousand Americans is a murderer and there are, on average, 16 murders a day in New York.

January 17, 1998
Evita Peron, probably best known from the musical and movie based on her life, died of uterine cancer at 33 on July 26, 1952. Her embalmed body was stolen by the military and returned some time later.

January 18, 1998
On May 2, 1863, Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own sentries after a renaissance mission and had to have his arm amputated at a field hospital near Chancellorsville, Va. He died about a week later from complications, and his body was buried in Lexington, Va. Well, most of his body. Back in Chancellorsville, Jackson's military chaplain couldn't stand the idea of Jackson's severed arm being cast into a common boneyard with other amputated limbs. So he arranged for it to be given an honorable burial at a nearby plantation. A tasteful gray stone still marks the site, which is now owned by the National Park Service. It reads: 'Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3'."

January 19, 1998
Al Adamson directed a number of 'B' horror movies in the 60s and 70s. His death mimicked the ghoulish nature of his films. His decomposed body was found on August 2, 1995, wrapped in linens and buried beneath the newly tiled floor of his whirlpool tub. No time of death could be determined, but Adamson had last been seen alive five weeks earlier. Fred Fulford, a live-in contractor, was charged with homicide.

January 20, 1998
An Italian woman who wanted to commit suicide by gassing herself, closed all the windows in her apartment, turned on her gas oven and then proceeded to light a last cigarette. She blew up her building killing two other tenants, but she survived!

January 21, 1998
When the French writer, Victor Hugo, died, Parisian prostitutes wore black scarves over their private parts in respectful tribute to one of their most illustrious clients. The Government even gave them a grant so they wouldn't suffer a loss of income if they knocked off work early to attend the funeral.

January 22, 1998
The "Sultan of Swat" must have felt the hand of the Grim Reaper on him. On August 16, 1948, George Babe Ruth had already spent weeks in the hospital. He told a visitor, Dont come back tomorrow, I wont be here. Later that evening, when he got out of bed and a doctor askedhim where he was going, he answered, "I'm going over the valley". Ruthdied an hour later from throat cancer. His body lay in state in Yankee Stadium for two days, where 77,000 people paid tribute.

January 23, 1998
On Tuesday, December 13, 1977 a plane taking off from Evansville Regional Airport in Evansville, Indiana crashed upon take-off. Killed on board was the ENTIRE Purple Aces mens basketball team from the University of Evansville, minus one player (who ironically was killed in a car accident just days later). It became known as "The Night It Rained Tears" and a memorial was built on the campus to remember them by.

January 24, 1998
When French police charged Louis Pilar with shooting his wife he blamed a three-week TV strike. "There was nothing to look at. I was bored," he said.

January 25, 1998
Brian Epstein, the man who discovered the Beatles and managed them to superstardom, feared one thing: loneliness. He was alone when he was found dead from a lethal combination of barbituates and alcohol at age 32. As much as the Beatles loved him, not one of the Fab Four found the time to attend Epstein's funeral.

January 26, 1998
James Brown's wife Adrienne died on January 6, 1996 following major surgery. Although it was officially announced that she died of a heart attack, she allegedly had undergone major plastic surgery, including full-body liposuction, prior to her tragic end. It reminds me of an episode of The X-Files...

January 27, 1998
Crooner Russ Columbo was touted as the next Bing Crosby, and he was about to marry actress Carole Lombard. All of this ended at the home of Hollywood portrait photographer Lansing V. Brown, Jr. While the two were inspecting Brown's antique dueling pistols, Columbos gun discharg and a bullet hit him in the left eye. It penetrated his brain, and he died at age 26. Columbos mother had recently suffered a severe hear attack, and it was feared that news of her sons death would kill her. Thus,she was told that Russ was on a long trip, and for the next ten years of her life she received letters from him that were penned by the family.

January 28, 1998
Producer/director/screenwriter Paul Bern was on the fast track at MGM, when he committed suicide by putting a .38 pistol to his head in his wife's bedroom. His wife of two months was actress Jean Harlow. Bernwas twice her age, and the note found with his body suggested he had ended his life because he was impotent. The very next day, Bern's first wife, starlet-wannabe Dorothy Millette, jumped into the Sacramento River.

January 29, 1998
After 40-year-old tennis legend Vitas Gerulaitis died in his sleep of carbon monoxide poisoning at the home of a friend, this touched off public interest in having carbon monoxide detectors in the home.

January 30, 1998
Byrds singer/songwriter Gram Parsons made a deal with his friend Philip Kaufman: They promised that whoever survived the other would take the body out to Cap Rock at Joshua Tree National Monument and "have a couple hundred beers and burn it and let the ashes go where they may". When Parsons OD'd on heroin at age 26, Kaufman stole his casket and made good on their promise. The body was not fully cremated, and the remaining bones were recovered by family members. Thus, Parson's resting place is both at Cap Rock in California and Garden of Memories in Louisiana.

January 31, 1998
Frederic Chopin's affair with novelist George Sand may have contributed to his death from tuberculosis. During a vacation with Sand on the island of Majorca, Chopin's failing health was made the worse by the bad winter weather. Their affair ended in 1847, and Chopin died two years later at age 39.