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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Their moment of death: Rest in peace, piece a piece made a list

Death is a part of every person’s life; in this article we explore ten of the strangest deaths that have occurred in recorded history.
These deaths are not noted in Darwin awards. Yet they are well worth mentioning.
Caution! reading this list can cause multiple phobias — you risk to develop phobias to laughter, food consumption or insomnia. You will be afraid to hold your bladder. Don't say I didn't warn you.
1. Francis Bacon (22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626) [Britannica]
Manner of death: Stuffing snow into a chicken
484Px-Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon; statesman, philosopher, creator of the English essay, and advocate for the scientific revolution (he established “The Scientific Method” still used today), was one of very few people to die as a result of one of their own experiments.
In 1625, whilst gazing out the window at a snowy afternoon, Sir Francis Bacon had an epiphany of sorts. Why would snow not work as preservative of meat in much the same way salt is used? Needing to know and unheeding of the weather, Bacon rushed to town to purchase a chicken, brought it home and began the experiment. Standing outside in the snow, he killed the chicken and tried to stuff it with snow. The experiment was a failure; the chicken didn’t freeze, and as a consequence of standing around in the freezing weather, Bacon developed a terminal case of pneumonia. Trying to stave off the inevitable, Bacon roasted and ate the chicken. That too was a failed experiment. He died.
2. Horace Wells (January 21, 1815 – January 24, 1848) [Britannica]
Manner of death: Used anesthetics to commit suicide
An American dentist, born in Vermont and educated in Boston, Horace Wells was one of the pioneers in the field of anesthesia. Weary of screaming patients, (it was known to upset him terribly, he often debated leaving the field of dentistry altogether), he was one of the first practitioners to see the value of nitrous oxide or laughing gas as an anesthetic.
After a failed experiment and falling out of favor with the medical community, Wells became a traveling anesthetic salesman and European expert for his former partner, Gardner Quincy Colton. His ‘investigations’ led to a chloroform addiction that would be his down-fall. In 1848, delirious and deranged after a week of self-experimentation, Wells ran into the street and assaulted two prostitutes with sulfuric acid. He was arrested and confined at New York’s infamous Tombs Prison. Recovering from the drug induced psychosis; the true horror of his actions came home to roost. Unable to live with this shame, Wells committed suicide by first inhaling a substantial dose of chloroform and then slitting his femoral artery.
3. Tycho Brahe (December 14, 1546 – October 24, 1601) [Britannica]
Tycho Brahe.Jpg
Manner of death: Didn’t get to the toilet in time
Famous as an alchemist and astronomer, Brahe’s pioneering observations of planetary motion paved the way for Sir Isaac Newton to develop the theory of gravity.
Unfortunately brilliance and common sense do not always go hand in hand, the manner of his death being the case in point. Known to have a weak bladder and knowing that it was very bad form to leave the banquet table before the festivities concluded, Brahe still neglected to relieve himself before dinner. To compound matters, he was known to drink excessively, and this particular banquet was no exception. Too polite to ask to be excused, his bladder strained causing a protracted (11 day), agonizing death. Whether he died of a burst bladder or hyponatremia (low levels of sodium in the blood) or mercury poisoning is now debated.
Note: this is very similar to an event in which a lady died recently in a competition entitled “Hold Your Wee for a Wii”. She died of hyponatremia.
4. King Adolf Frederick of Sweden (May 14, 1710 – February 12, 1771) [BritannicaManner of death: Eating too much pudding                   Adolph’s Frederick was the titular King of Sweden from 1751 – 1771. The omnipotent Riksdag or senate held the reins of power despite Adolphus’ best efforts to wrest it from them. Another victim of personal excess, Adophus Frederick is known by Swedish children as “the king who ate himself to death”. On February 12, 1771, after partaking of a banquet consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne he moved on to his favorite dessert, Semla, a traditional bun or pastry made from semolina/wheat flour, served in a bowl of hot milk. One or two portions would have been sufficient; 14 servings was excessive. He died shortly thereafter of digestion problems.

5. Clement Vallandigham  Death by Jury Demonstration

After the Civil War, controversial Ohio politician Clement Vallandigham [wiki] became a highly successful lawyer who rarely lost a case.

In 1871, he defended Thomas McGehan who was accused of shooting one Tom Myers during a barroom brawl. Vallandigham’s defense was that Myers had accidentally shot himself while drawing his pistol from a kneeling position.

To convince the jury, Vallandigham decided to demonstrate his theory. Unfortunately, he grabbed a loaded gun by mistake and ended up shooting himself! By dying, Vallandigham succeeded in demonstrating the plausibility of the accidental shooting and got his client acquitted.

 6. Grigori Rasputin  (January 22, 1869 – December 29, 1916) [Britannica]
 Manner of death: Drowning after being poisoned, shot, stabbed, and bludgeoned.   
Rasputin Pt    The Mad Monk, Grigori Rasputin, was a peasant and mystic healer who found favor with the royal court of Russia by providing relief to Crown Prince Aleksey, a hemophiliac and heir to the throne. Wielding much influence on the royal court, the unkempt, vulgar, and amazingly resilient Rasputin made many political enemies. He had to go; much easier said than done. The conspirators first tried poison, enough poison to kill a man three times his size, but he seemed unaffected. Next they snuck up behind him and shot him in the head. This should have done it, but no; while one of the assassins was checking his pulse, the mystic grabbed the conspirator by the neck and proceeded to strangle him. Running away, the would-be assassins took up the chase, shooting him 3 times in the process. The gunshots slowed him down enough to allow his pursuers to catch-up. They then proceeded to bludgeon him before throwing him in the icy cold river (Russian  winter). When his body was recovered an autopsy showed that the cause of death was drowning.

Isadora Duncan Ggbain 056548.  Isadora Duncan (May 27, 1877 – September 14, 1927) [BritannicaManner of death: Strangulation and a broken neck Isadora Duncan is widely considered as the mother of Modern Dance. Born in San Francisco, California, Dora Angela Duncan was the product of divorced parents; her father a disgraced banker and her mother and pianist and music teacher. Her free form style was never very popular in her home country, but she found great success after immigrating to Paris. She founded three schools of dance and her likeness is carved over the entrance to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.
Isadora Duncan died of a broken neck and accidental strangulation when her scarf caught on the wheel of a car she was traveling in. The New York Times, succinctly and brutally described it thusly:
“The automobile was going at full speed when the scarf of strong silk began winding around the wheel and with terrific force dragged Miss Duncan, around whom it was securely wrapped, bodily over the side of the car, precipitating her with violence against the cobblestone street. She was dragged for several yards before the chauffeur halted, attracted by her cries in the street. Medical aid was summoned, but it was stated that she had been strangled and killed instantly.”
7. Félix Fauré (1841 1899)  7th President of the French Republic & Co-Prince of Andorra (1895-) Faure died suddenly from apoplexy on 16 February 1899, at a critical juncture while engaged in sexual activities in his office with 30-year-old mistress. It has been widely reported that those activities were used as the origin of  a various jeux de mots (puns) made up afterward by his political opponents. One such pun was to nickname her "la pompe funèbre" (wordplay in French). George Clemenceau's epitaph of Faure, in the same trend, was "Il voulait être César, il ne fut que Pompée" (another wordplay in French) 

9. Christine Chubbuck (August 24, 1944 – July 15, 1974) [Wikipedia]
Manner of death: Suicide on live TV
Chris Chubb
Christine Chubbuck was the host of “Suncoast Digest” a well regarded public affairs program on WXLT-TV in Sarasota, Florida. Breaking format, her guest was waiting across the studio at the news anchor’s desk; Christine read eight minutes of national news stories before the tape reel malfunctioned while describing a shooting at the Beef and Bottle restaurant. Seemingly unfazed by the technical glitch, Christine looked into the camera and said:
“In keeping with Channel 40′s policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first: an attempted suicide.”
Taking a revolver out from under her desk, she placed it behind her left ear and pulled the trigger (she learned this was the most effective way to commit suicide from the police while researching a project for her show). She tumbled violently forward as the technical director slowly faded to black. Some viewers called 911 while others called the station to see if it was real. Camerawoman Jean Reed later stated that she didn’t believe it to be genuine until she saw Christine’s body twitching on the floor.

Dick Shawn    Death on Stage, While Telling a Joke

Dick Shawn (1924-1987) was a comedian who had a heart attack and died during a joke that seemed strangely appropriate:

He was making fun of politicians by saying campaign cliches ending with "I will not lay down on the job!" Shawn then laid down on the floor face down. At first, the audience thought that it was all part of the show, until some time later a theater employee checked him for a pulse and began administering CPR.

The paramedics then arrived, and the audience were told to go home
- Dick Shawn was dead.

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