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Cocoanut Grove Fire 1942 On Saturday, November 28, 1942 Boston's Cocoanut Grove nightclub was the site of one of the deadliest fires in American history. The night spot was owned by Barney Welansky who had connections to both the mayor and organized crime. It was quaintly reminiscent of Rick's Cafe Americain in the movie Casablanca--but its highly flammable tropical-style furniture and decorations made it a firetrap. There were more than 1,000 people inside although the legal capacity was 460. The fire is believed to have started when a busboy attempted to replace a light bulb in the dimly lit Melody Lounge in the lower level. He struck a match to help him see. Shortly thereafter patrons saw the palm fronds from a nearby artificial tree ignite. The fire rapidly spread along the walls and ceiling. Within five minutes the entire nightclub was ablaze. Many patrons attempted to exit through the revolving main door which quickly became jammed. Some secondary doors had been welded shut to prevent customers from leaving without paying their tabs. Other doors swung inward and made escape nearly impossible due to the crush of the crowd. All told, 492 people perished. Among the fatalities were Cowboy movie star Buck Jones and a couple who had been married earlier that same day. Welansky was convicted on multiple counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Tags: Cocoanut  Grove  Fire  1942 
Added: 29th September 2009
Views: 3664
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Iroquois Theater Fire 1903 The deadliest fire in American history occurred on December 30, 1903 at Chicago's sparkling new Iroquois Theater. The death toll was staggering: 602. The theater had only been open for 37 days and was ironically advertised as fireproof. A huge crowd of mostly women and children were present for a Wednesday matinee performance of a gala show starring Eddie Foy and featuring a cast of more than 500 extras. The fire began when a spotlight shorted out and ignited the ceiling decorations. Most of the cast managed to escape through a large rear door. However, when that door opened, the new cold oxygen source created a fireball that ripped through the rest of the theater. Many people died because they were unfamiliar with the newfangled lock mechanisms on the theater's doors. Other escape routes were blocked to prevent patrons from sneaking down to more expensive seats. An investigation later showed that fire officials had been bribed to overlook safety concerns so the theater could open for business in time for the lucrative winter holidays. The only person convicted of a crime was a lone man who was found guilty of stealing posessions from the dead.
Tags: Iroquois  Theater  fire  Chicago 
Added: 29th September 2009
Views: 1659
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Eddie Waitkus Shooting 1949 Ballplayer Eddie Waitkus was the shooting victim of an obsessed female fan. Waitkus had broken into the National League with the Chicago Cubs in 1941 but was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1949. Nineteen-year-old Ruth Ann Steinhagen of Chicago had become obsessed with Waitkus as a 14-year-old. When he was traded to the Phillies, she snapped. During a Phillies' road trip to Chicago on June 14, 1949, Steinhagen checked into the Edgewater Beach Hotel where the Phillies were staying. She left a note for Waitkus to come to her hotel room to discuss urgent business. Believing the note to be from a friend of a friend, Waitkus arrived at Steinhagen's room and was invited in. Steinhagen briefly excused herself and returned with a rifle. Steinhagen blurted, 'You're not going to bother me anymore!' Then she shot Waitkus in the chest and calmly phoned the hotel's front desk to report the shooting. Waitkus nearly died on the operating table several times, but pulled through. He continued his major league career until 1955. Steinhagen was never charged with a crime. Instead she was committed to a mental institution. After three years she was deemed sane and released. Waitkus' shooting inspired Bernard Malamud's story 'The Natural.' Waitkus died in 1972, at age 53, of esophogeal cancer. Steinhagen is said to still live on Chicago's north side.
Tags: Eddie  Waitkus  shooting  Ruth  Ann  Steinhagen 
Added: 26th October 2009
Views: 3019
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Starsky and Hutch TV opening After its 1975 pilot film proved a ratings success ABC gave approval for a full series of STARSKY AND HUTCH, an action-packed cop show that enjoyed a four season run. Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul starred as unorthodox plain clothes police officers Dave Starsky and Ken "Hutch" Hutchinson, fighting crime with the occasional assistance of their hip street snitch Huggy Bear (played by Antonio Fargas). Bernie Hamilton co-starred as their superior, Captain Dobey, and an additional star was the tire-squealing Ford Gran Torino that was frequently in the middle of the action.
Tags: Starsky  Hutch  David  Soul  Paul  Michael  Glaser  Antonio  Fargas  Bernie  Hamilton  Ford  Gran  Torino  1970s  TV  television  cop  show  police  crime  drama  action   
Added: 29th October 2009
Views: 1842
Rating:
Posted By: robatsea
Sal Mineo Murder 1976 Sal Mineo had an up-and-down acting career. His chief fame remains from playing opposite James Dean as a 17-year-old in Rebel Without A Cause (1956). By the 1960s Mineo could no longer be cast in youthful roles, and he was deemed wrong for adult lead roles. However, by 1976, Mineo's career had begun to turn around. Playing the role of a gay burglar in a San Francisco run of the stage comedy 'P.S. Your Cat Is Dead,' he received substantial publicity from many positive reviews and moved on to Los Angeles with the play. Arriving home after a rehearsal on February 12, 1976, Mineo was stabbed to death in the alley behind his West Hollywood apartment building. He was stabbed just once, but the blade struck his heart leading to immediate and massive internal bleeding. For years Mineo's murder was unsolved. However, a pizza deliveryman, Lionel Ray Williams, was sentenced to 57 years in prison for killing Mineo and committing 10 robberies in the same vicinity. Although there was considerable confusion relating to what witnesses had seen in the darkness the night Mineo was murdered, it was later revealed that prison guards reportedly overheard Williams admitting to the crime. Williams claimed he had no idea who Mineo was. Williams was paroled in the early 1990s, but was soon jailed again for criminal activity. Many of Mineo's friends believed that Williams was not the murderer, especially since a blond white man was seen running from the incident.
Tags: Sal  Mineo  murder 
Added: 19th November 2009
Views: 2542
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Richard Speck Murders 1966 On July 13, 1966, one of the most horrific crimes in American history occurred: Eight women aged between 21 and 23 were tortured and killed in a Chicago dormitory by Richard Speck. They were all student nurses who were a month away from graduation. The 24-year-old Speck (pictured here at his trial) was a lifelong felon whose lengthy criminal record included violent sexual assaults. On the night of the murders, Speck systematically killed his victims by strangulation or stabbing over a period of several hours. He also raped the eighth victim. Speck may have lost track of how many women were in the dorm room. A potential ninth victim, Cora Amurao, wriggled out of her bindings and hid under a bed while Speck's killing spree went on in another room. Amurao later identified Speck in court. Speck was found guilty and sentenced to die in the Illinois electric chair. The death sentence was later commuted on constitutional grounds. Instead Speck was given a 1,200-year sentence at Statesville Prison. For years Speck denied having any memories of the killings. However, in a 1978 interview he confessed to remembering everything. In a 1988 prison videotape, Speck was seen partying with fellow prisoners who were high on illegal drugs. The video recorded Speck mocking his victims. Portions of the video were broadcast nationally in 1996, increasing the support for capital punishment. By that time Speck was dead; he had died of a heart attack in prison on December 5, 1991, a day before his 50th birthday. No family member came forward to claim his body.
Tags: Richard  Speck  murderer 
Added: 23rd November 2009
Views: 4465
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Posted By: Lava1964
Our Gang - Scotty Beckett Scotty Beckett joined the Our Gang troupe in 1934 as a five-year-old. Wearing an oversized sweater and a backward baseball cap, the photogenic Scotty was the stereotypical 'cute kid.' He stopped doing Our Gang comedies after just two years to do roles in feature films. He had a successful acting career as a teen. Most notably he played the youthful Al Jolson in The Jolson Story (1946). However, by 1954, Beckett's acting career was over. His adult life was a series of bad marriages, alcoholism, drug abuse, small-time crime, and violent incidents. Once he engaged in a prolonged gun battle with police. On May 8, 1968 Beckett checked himself into a nursing home after receiving a beating. He died two days later from what may have been a suicide or a drug overdose. Beckett was 38 years old.
Tags: Our  Gang  Scotty  Beckett 
Added: 24th November 2009
Views: 2342
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
James Bulger Murder Case 1993 One of the truly shocking crimes of the late twentieth century was the abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool, England. His killers were two 10-year-olds, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who committed the crime for no discernible reason. James wandered away from his mother, Denise, at the New Strand Shopping Centre on February 12, 1993. His mutilated body was found on a nearby railway line two days later. Thompson and Venables, who had skipped school, were photographed by a security camera leading Bulger away. They took Bulger two miles from the mall where they tortured him and bludgeoned him to death with bricks, stones, and an iron bar. The killers then placed the child's corpse on the railway tracks to make Bulger's death appear to be an accident. They were charged with Bulger's abduction and murder on February 20. The twosome were found guilty on November 24, 1993, thus becoming the youngest people ever to be convicted of murder in England. The trial judge sentenced them to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure, with a recommendation that they should be kept in custody for 'very, very many years to come,' recommending a minimum term of eight years. Shortly after the trial, the Lord Chief Justice ordered that the two boys should serve a minimum of 10 years, which would have made them eligible for release in February 2003 when they were both 20. The outraged British public felt the sentence was far too lenient. The editors of The Sun newspaper began a petition asking Home Secretary Michael Howard to increase the killers' time in custody. The petition eventually topped 300,000 signatures. This campaign was successful. In 1995 Howard announced the boys would be kept in custody for a minimum of 15 years, meaning that they would not be considered for release until February 2008 when they would be 25 years old. In 1997, the Court of Appeal ruled that Howard's decision was unlawful, and the Home Secretary lost his power to set minimum terms for life-sentence prisoners under 18 years of age. The High Court and European Court of Human Rights have since ruled that, though the parliament may set minimum and maximum terms for individual categories of crime, it is the responsibility of the trial judge, with the benefit of all the evidence and argument from both prosecution and defense council, to determine the minimum term in individual criminal cases. After a parole hearing in June 2001, Thompson and Venables were released on a 'life licence' after serving just eight years. The hearing concluded that 'public safety would not be threatened by their rehabilitation.' An injunction was imposed after the trial, preventing the publication of details about the boys, for fear of reprisals. The injunction remains in force, so their new identities and locations cannot be published (although this ruling only applies to the United Kingdom). They walk among us today, protected by legal anonymity. Meanwhile the hapless James Bulger remains two years old forever...
Tags: murder  James  Bulger  Jon  Venables  Robert  Thompson  Britain 
Added: 15th December 2009
Views: 3639
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Troubled Actress Gail Russell Gail Russell was a dark-eyed beauty who starred with some of the most popular leading men in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s, including John Wayne, Joel McCrae and Alan Ladd. Born in Chicago on September 21, 1924, Russell was a shy child and often hid beneath her parents' piano when they entertained. The family moved to Los Angeles when she was 14. Even though art was Russell’s passion, her mother convinced her to audition at Paramount Studios. Gail was offered a standard seven-year contract at $50 a week. Upon graduating from high school, she signed with Paramount. Russell suffered terribly from stage fright. She made her first film appearance at 19 in Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour. The following year she appeared in Lady in the Dark. Although Russell’s role was minor, the film was nominated for three Oscars, which boosted her career. Russell's raven hair and enigmatic beauty was particularly suited to the ghost story plot of The Uninvited, her second film of 1944. During filming, Russell’s stage fright was so great that one of her co-stars suggested alcohol as a means to calm her nerves. Russell completed the film, but lost 20 pounds and later suffered a nervous breakdown. This film was also nominated for an Oscar, drawing even more attention to the young starlet. Russell played Emily Kimbrough in the 1944 comedy Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. The following year she starred as a schoolteacher opposite Alan Ladd in Salty O'Rouke, another Oscar-nominated film, then with Joel McCrae in the supernatural tale The Unseen. In 1946 she starred in Our Hearts Were Growing Up, a sequel with Diana Lynn. Before the year was over she completed yet another movie, The Bachelor’s Daughters, with Adolphe Menjou. Still, Russell continued to experience stage fright, liberally using alcohol to deal with it. In 1947, Russell performed one of her most famous roles as the innocent Quaker love of John Wayne in The Angel and the Badman. Rumors circulated that Russell and Wayne were having an affair, though they both denied anything more than friendship. In 1949, Russell once again starred as John Wayne's love interest in Wake of the Red Witch. When she learned that her husband had cast Russell in this role, John Wayne’s wife, actress Esperanza (Chata) Bauer, exploded in an alcoholic, jealous rage. When Wayne returned home late from the cast party, Bauer aimed a gun at her husband and pulled the trigger. The bullet barely missed Wayne’s head. Months later, Russell married her long-time boyfriend, television actor Guy Madison. In 1953, Russell was called to testify in John Wayne’s divorce trial and once again, Russell and Wayne both denied the affair. Two weeks later Russell was arrested for drunk driving, which fueled more rumors about an affair and caused serious damage to her marriage. Her alcoholic reputation so troubled Paramount executives they refused to renew her contract. Then Russell and Madison divorced, adding to her despair. In 1955, Russell left the scene of the crime after rear-ending another vehicle while intoxicated. In 1957 she drove her new convertible through the glass windows of Jan's Restaurant in Beverly Hills, pinning the janitor beneath her vehicle. Russell was picked up by Universal Studios and continued to star with some of the most famous names in Hollywood, including Randolph Scott. However, in August of 1957, when she failed to appear in court, officers were sent to her home and found her drunk and unconscious. The hearing was held at General Hospital where she was bedridden with severe effects from alcoholism. She joined Alcoholics Anonymous and stayed with this organization for a year, to no avail. In 1961, Russell starred in her last movie, The Silent Call. When filming was completed, she locked herself in her Los Angeles studio apartment, sketching and drinking. On August 27, 1961 Russell died from an alcohol-induced heart attack. She was just 36.
Tags: actress  Gail  Russell 
Added: 18th December 2010
Views: 4438
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964
Dunblane School Shooting On March 13, 1996, unemployed former shopkeeper and former Scout leader Thomas Watt Hamilton committed one of the most dastardly crimes in the history of Great Britain. That morning Hamilton walked into the Dunblane Primary School in Dunblane, Scotland. Although Great Britain has strict gun control laws, Hamilton was armed with two 9-mm Browning HP pistols and two Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers--all legally held. He was carrying 743 cartridges, and fired his weapons 109 times. After gaining entry to the school, Hamilton made his way to the gymnasium and opened fire on Gwen Mayor's class of five- and six-year-olds (shown in the photo), killing or wounding all but one person. Fifteen children died together with Mayor who was killed trying to protect them. Hamilton then left the gymnasium through the emergency exit. From the playground he began shooting into a mobile classroom. No one was injured there because an alert teacher had warned her class to take cover under their desks. Hamilton also fired at a group of children walking in a corridor, injuring one teacher. Hamilton returned into the gym and killed himself with a bullet to the head. A further 11 children and three adults were rushed to the hospital as soon as the emergency services arrived. One of these children was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. The motive for the shooting is unknown, but Hamilton was well known in Dunblane for being odd and creepy. He had been stripped of his scout leader credentials and his private sports clubs had been shut down by local officials because of Hamilton's alleged paedophilic tendencies toward young boys. Among the uninjured pupils at the school was eight-year-old future tennis star Andy Murray who seldom discusses that day's tragic events.
Tags: Scotland  mass  murder  Dunblane   
Added: 29th January 2011
Views: 3104
Rating:
Posted By: Lava1964

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