What a week! Unfortunately no points to award but plenty to read. Just a quick reminder to the few of you who have not joined the Telegram group, as of next year we will be exclusively swapping from email to Telegram. It’s much more customisable, so if you don’t want to hear your inbox being pinged all the time, you can turn it off etc. Link in this weeks email.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Denise Bryer, 93, British voice actress (Terrahawks, Return to Oz, Labyrinth). Ex-wife of Nicholas Parsons.
- Leslie Bricusse, 90, British composer (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), lyricist (“Goldfinger“, “You Only Live Twice“) and playwright.
- Colin Powell, 84, American general and politician, secretary of state (2001–2005) and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), complications from COVID-19.
- Jack Angel, 90, American voice actor (Voltron, The Transformers, A.I. Artificial Intelligence).
- Halyna Hutchins, 42, Ukrainian-born American cinematographer (Archenemy, Darlin’, Rust), accidental shooting.
- Brian Laundrie, 23, American person of interest in the killing of Gabby Petito.
- Peter Scolari, 66, American actor (Newhart, Bosom Buddies, Girls), leukaemia.
In Other News
The big news of the week is undoubtedly the killing of Helyna Hutchins on the filmset of Rust by an unwitting Alec Baldwin. Baldwin was handed what was described as a safe “cold gun” on the set, but the prop gun contained live rounds when it was fired, according to details of the police investigation into the fatal shooting released on Friday. The shot hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest, and director Joel Souza who was behind her, in the shoulder, according to a county sheriff’s affidavit filed in Santa Fe magistrates court. Hutchins died of her wounds and Souza was injured but has since been released from a local hospital. The assistant director who handed Baldwin the prop gun did not know it contained live rounds. Baldwin said on Friday he was in shock over the accidental shooting as reports emerged of walk-outs on the Rust set earlier in the week over unsafe conditions. The star of 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October said he was “fully cooperating” with authorities to determine how the incident occurred on Thursday. Production on the movie was immediately shut down. The sheriff’s department said no charges had been filed and the investigation remained open. Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting, the sheriff’s department said. The incident took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe, during a rehearsal and it was not clear whether it had been filmed. The prop gun was one of three on a cart outside a building. One of them was taken by the assistant director on the movie who went inside and handed it to Baldwin. As the assistant director handed the gun to the actor Alec Baldwin, he yelled ‘cold gun’, indicating the prop gun did not have any live rounds. Questions were raised about working conditions on the set of Rust, media outlets cited several members of the crew and others close to the production as saying six or seven camera operators had walked off the Rust set hours before the tragedy. Two media outlets also reported that there had been at least one previous misfire with the prop gun. Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine, was named one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019. The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned on TV and movie sets.
Former US President Bill Clinton has been discharged from a Californian hospital after spending five nights under care. Mr Clinton had been receiving treatment for a urinary tract infection that developed into sepsis. The 75-year-old gave a thumbs up to waiting news crews as he walked out of hospital with his wife, former presidential candidate Hillary. Mr Clinton will return home to New York to complete his recovery, doctors said. Dr Alpesh Amin, who oversaw the team of medics treating Mr Clinton, said in a statement: “His fever and white blood cell count are normalised and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics.” The 42nd president, who served from 1993 to 2001, shook hands with waiting medical staff as he left the facility with his wife of 46 years. According to US media, Mr Clinton – who was in California to attend a private event for his foundation – had felt fatigued on Tuesday and underwent tests before being admitted to the hospital. President Biden said on Friday night that he had spoken with Mr Clinton and told reporters that he was “not in any serious condition”. The infection is the latest health scare for Mr Clinton. In 2004, aged 58, he had a quadruple bypass surgery after doctors found signs of extensive heart disease and, ten years later, he had a clogged artery opened after complaining of chest pains. Not long after his second surgery, the ex-president – known for his love of fatty foods – went vegan. He told Politico in 2016, “I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan. It’s great.”
Likewise, The Queen spent Wednesday night in hospital for preliminary medical checks and is now back at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace has said. The 95-year-old monarch returned from the private hospital in central London at lunchtime on Thursday and is “in good spirits”, the palace added. The Queen had cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday. She was given medical advice to rest for a few days after a busy schedule of public engagements. In a statement on Thursday night, Buckingham Palace said: “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.” The Queen travelled by car to the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone, about 19 miles (32km) from Windsor, where she was seen by specialists. Her admittance is understood not to be related to coronavirus. The overnight stay was said to be for practical reasons and the Queen was undertaking light duties back at Windsor on Thursday afternoon. It is the first time the Queen has stayed in hospital since 2013, when she suffered symptoms of gastroenteritis. The news on Wednesday that the Queen would have to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland was always going to cause concern. Despite looking very well and happy at the numerous events she has attended over the past week, it cannot be forgotten that she is 95 years old.
On This Day
- 1857 – Sheffield F.C., the world’s oldest association football club still in operation, is founded in England.
- 1861 – The first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States is completed.
- 1901 – Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
- 1926 – Harry Houdini‘s last performance takes place at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit.
- 1929 – “Black Thursday” on the New York Stock Exchange.
- 1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.
- 1975 – In Iceland, 90% of women take part in a national strike, refusing to work in protest of gender inequality.
- 2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight.
- 2008 – “Bloody Friday” saw many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops of around 10% in most indices.
- 1537 – Jane Seymour, English queen and wife of Henry VIII of England (b. c.1508).
- 1944 – Louis Renault, French businessman, co-founded the Renault Company (b. 1877).
- 1991 – Gene Roddenberry, American screenwriter, & producer, created Star Trek (b. 1921).
- 1994 – Raul Julia, Puerto Rican-American actor and singer (b. 1940).
- 2005 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (b. 1913).
- 2015 – Maureen O’Hara, Irish-American actress and singer (b. 1920).
The Death of Brandon Lee
On March 31st 1993, Brandon Lee was filming a scene in The Crow where his character is shot and killed by thugs. In the scene, Lee’s character walks into his apartment and discovers his fiancée being beaten and raped, and a thug played by actor Michael Massee fires a Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver at Lee’s character as he walks into the room.
In the film shoot preceding the fatal scene, the prop gun (which was a real revolver) was loaded with improperly-made dummy rounds, improvised from live cartridges that had the powder charges removed by the special effects crew, so in close-ups the revolver would show normal-looking ammunition. However, the crew neglected to remove the primers from the cartridges, and at some point before the fatal event, one of the rounds had been fired. Although there were no powder charges, the energy from the ignited primer was enough to separate the bullet from the casing and push it part-way into the gun barrel, where it got stuck – a dangerous condition known as a squib load. During the fatal scene, which called for the revolver to be fired at Lee from a distance of 2–15 ft, the dummy cartridges were replaced with blank rounds, which contained a powder charge and the primer, but no solid bullet, allowing the gun to be fired with sound and flash effects without the risk of an actual projectile. However, the gun was not properly checked and cleared before the blank was fired, and the dummy bullet previously lodged in the barrel was then propelled forward by the blank’s propellant and shot out the muzzle with almost the same force as if the round were live, striking Lee in the abdomen.
After Massee pulled the trigger and shot Lee, Lee fell backwards instead of forwards as he was supposed to. When the director said “cut”, Lee did not stand up and the crew thought he was either still acting or kidding around. Jeff Imada, who immediately checked Lee, noticed something wrong when he came close and noted Lee was unconscious and breathing heavily. Medic Clyde Baisey went over and shook Lee to see if he was dazed by hitting his head during the fall, but did not think Lee had been shot since there was no visible bleeding. Baisey took Lee’s pulse, which was regular, but within two to three minutes it slowed down dramatically, and stopped.
Lee was rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. Attempts to save him were unsuccessful and after six hours of emergency surgery, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:03 pm on March 31st 1993. He was 28 years old. The shooting was ruled an accident due to negligence.
Lee was buried next to his father at the Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. A private funeral attended by 50 took place in Seattle on April 3rd. The following day, 200 of Lee’s family and business associates attended a memorial service at actress Polly Bergen‘s house in Los Angeles. Among the attendees were Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, David Hasselhoff, Steven Seagal, David Carradine, and Melissa Etheridge.
In August of 1993, Lee’s mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers alleging negligence in the death of her son. The suit was settled two months later under undisclosed terms.
In an interview just prior to his death, Lee quoted a passage from Paul Bowles‘ book The Sheltering Sky, which he had chosen for his wedding invitations; it is now inscribed on his tombstone: Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless…
Last Week’s Birthdays
Kevin Kline (74), F. Murray Abraham (82), Ryan Reynolds (45), Emilia Clarke (35), Sam Raimi (62), ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (62), Cat Deeley (45), Christopher Lloyd (83), Jeff Goldblum (69), Bob Odenkirk (59), Derek Jacobi (83), Catherine Deneuve (78), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (46), Andrew Scott (45), Kim Kardashian West (41), Everett McGill (76), Ken Watanabe (62), Viggo Mortensen (63), Danny Boyle (65), Snoop Dogg (50), Sandra Dickinson (73), Rebecca Ferguson (38), Jon Favreau (55), Michael Gambon (81), John Lithgow (76), Pam Dawber (70), Zac Efron (34), and Jean-Claude Van Damme (61).