Hollywood Unsolved Death Mysteries

Crime story movies are very apt at portraying mysteries and intrigues on film if the right combination of director, cast, funds and a whole lot of other factors align.

But at times, a combination of different factors make the real-life Hollywood where many of these movies come from just as ripe for a crime story. Unfortunately. Because in these instances, the events are real and the people whose life is forfeit are as well.

Here’s¬†a few¬†Hollywood unsolved death mysteries that¬†to this day make many lower quality crime stories look like a joke compared to the real deal.

1. Natalie Wood

Hollywood unsolved death mysteries - Natalie Wood

You know Christopher Walken, right? Well he knew Natalie Wood, the actress most popular for “West Side Story” as well. Quite well, since their close-friendship is what caused Walken to be on the same yacht with Wood and her husband (Robert Wagner) the night she died in 1981.

Now if the fact that husband and wife + close friend alone on yacht can be explained easily, why she was found floating in the water, drowned, with (possible, hard to determine) bruises despite her husband’s police statement that she simply went to bed and left him and Walken to finish the argument that they were having, gets a bit trickier.

Especially if you take into account that the argument in question was, according to a later declaration by the ship’s captain, about Wood’s closeness to Walken.

2. George Reeves

One of the Hollywood unsolved death mysteries is that of George Reeves

The famous “Adventures of Superman” (1952 – 1958) actor is one of the most known Hollywood mysteries because he was found dead from being shot in the head. Notice the “being shot in the head” expression I chose, because despite the official police report that he had committed suicide from depression, his mother and a private detective she hired are sure that he would never have done such a thing and that he was in fact murdered.

By none other than his mistress Toni Mannix, wife of Eddie Mannix of MGM or by Eddie himself. Corroborating their claim is the fact that at the time of his death, his fiance Leonore Lemmon and three guests were downstairs. Yet they took long to call the police and were not immediately alarmed by the shot. As well as a supposed confession by Toni in 1999 to a publicist.

3. The Notorious B.I.G.

The list of Hollywood unsolved death mysteries includes Notorious BIG

By his real birth name Christopher George Wallace, Biggie smalls a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G. was one of the two major poles of the rap industry in the 90s alongside Tupac Shakur who was the other one. Biggie represented the East coast, while Tupac was the iconic leader of the West coast.

Their enmity is complex and not fully understood to this day, so it would take too long to present here. What is clear is that their story is entwined, in a twisted way, until the end. Because Biggie’s death took place in 1997, via drive-by, just six months after Tupac’s own death by drive-by.

To this day, it’s not known whether both rappers ordered and carried out each others’ death, or if they were actually eliminated for political and cultural reasons (because they were gaining too much power), or even if at least Biggie was the victim of an excessive police force (LAPD) that wanted to eliminate his influence on the town.

4. Elizabeth Short

Elizabeth Short is one of the Hollywood unsolved death mysteries

If instead of Elizabeth Short you would have read The Black Dahlia, it’s almost certain that something would have clicked in your memory. And there’s a high chance that the oft-repeated refrain: “The Black Dahlia Murder” would have come entirely (hey, there’s even a band with this name, among many other references of it in other domains).

What people know as The Black Dahlia Murder (due to the press giving it this bombastic name at the time, as it did for all particularly shocking murders) refers to the death of the actress Elizabeth Short in 1947.

This might just be the most gruesome murder that took place at Hollywood, because she¬†was found cut¬†in half, with signs of having had her arms tied and suffered torture, a nasty cut over her face from one side to the other and … drained of blood.

What’s even more galling and shocking is that the murderer was never even identified, let alone caught. Despite the fact that he anonymously toyed with policemen later, including mailing things from her purse!

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4.

6 Celebrities That Suffered From Depression

Depression is a seriously crippling condition, because it warps every aspect of your life. When you are constantly psychologically tired and unhappy, it also translates into physical tiredness which stops in their tracks all the efforts you might have otherwise made on a daily basis.

And the biggest problem is that it is a self-feeding problem. Because you are depressed, you get all the negative consequences, which in turn make you even more depressed and so forth. Which is why getting out of depression can be very difficult, requiring at least the support of family and friends, if not professional help.

Still, it is possible to get out of it and back to a happy, productive life. As the following¬†6 celebrities that suffered from depression demonstrate. And consider that in their case, they didn’t even have the privacy and peace the rest of us do, as the eyes of the world are constantly upon them.

1. Angelina Jolie

6 celebrities that suffered from depression - Angelina Jolie

Angelina got severely depressed in 2007 when her mother died. And she later shared that in that period she couldn’t focus on anything else except negative thoughts. Fortunately (and as a positive personal example to others) she found the solution herself, by deciding to accept the role in “Wanted”, which included a lot of stunts and ergo, lots of physical activity, which is one sure way to battle depression.

2. Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the 6 celebrities that suffered from depression

An example of how depression can sometimes manifest itself unexpectedly, Gwyneth Paltrow’s episode came after the birth of her son, Moses, in 2006. And the way this post-partum form of depression affected her was that she couldn’t access her emotions at all, being practically numb like “a zombie”, in her own words.

3. Kylie Minogue

The list of 6 celebrities that suffered from depression includes Kylie Minogue

Other times, depression can be a personally traumatic experience, as was Kylie’s case when she succumbed to it after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Taking time-off from work because of the needed surgery and chemotherapy only made things worse as it kept her mind free to obsess on the false perception that she will not be “normal” after her surgery anymore. Of course, she finally realized this was not so and got herself back together by creating a “new normal”, emerging stronger.

4. Catherine Zeta Jones

6 celebrities that suffered from depression - Catherine Zeta Jones

An image of class, strength and stability (including her long-term relationship with Michael Douglas), Catherine Zeta Jones placed herself in hospital care in 2011 for bipolar disorder (a mental affliction in which one oscillates between two states one being depression and the other mania). Key words being placed herself in the care of professionals. It appears stress was the cause as is also confirmed by some scientific opinions.

5. Russell Brand

Russell Brand is one of the 6 celebrities that suffered from depression.

Despite being a successful “funny man” (read stand-up comedian), actor and activist now, Brand’s early years were marked by over-eating, abusing¬†alcohol, taking drugs and even cutting himself, as he tried to cope with an absent father figure and his own sense of inadequacy and isolation. He was diagnosed with manic depression. But he managed to turn his thoughts to humor, focus on that, ignore those who tried to bring him down and succeeded in turning his life completely around.

6. Jim Carrey

The list of 6 celebrities that suffered from depression includes Jim Carrey

Another successful comedian and a legend of the genre, no one would expect Jim Carrey to be anything else but the raw energy recipient we see him as in most of his movies. But he was severely depressed after his second divorce (which emphasized the first as well), because depression can also be a need for someone else, not necessarily some internal lack or the death of a loved one.

As a consequence, he was put on Prozac (powerful psychiatric drug), which he took for “a long time”, as he says. But he realized that that is a crutch and he can’t keep relying on it forever, so he found the courage to part ways with it. Jim describes a healthy diet, supplements and being active as the key helpers he’s had to get back to a fulfilling existence when he stopped relying¬†on Prozac.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Easy Game Of Thrones Halloween Costumes

Some Game of Thrones Halloween costumes ideas.

Yes, yes, you’ve heard it before, but brace yourselves anyway, Halloween is coming. And as Game of Thrones is currently more popular than milk at a cat pub-crawl or Willy Wonka’s chocolate for curiously addicted kids, it’s safe to assume that you might just have to think of some¬†Game of Thrones Halloween¬†costumes to wear.

Whether you’ll be the one to lure your friends into Westeros by hosting a¬†GoT party, or whether you get sucked into it almost against your will (hey, it’s been known to happen), it doesn’t matter. The end result is that you’ll have to get your game on (of thrones, of course) and not let any of those up-starts out-do you.

There’s literally an avalanche of ready-to-buy Game of Thrones Halloween costumes, meaning a¬†Daenerys Targaryen costume, Jon Snow costume, Jaime Lannister costume, Margaery Tyrell costume, Robb Stark costume or just about any GoT costume can be yours fast, even delivered to your door, if you have the money for it.

But, apart from the money required, there is a down-side to buying your costume. Namely, that everyone can and will do so, to save time and trouble thinking about what to do/wear. So you might end up discovering someone else with the same stock and bland¬†version that you’re wearing.

Of course, it would be best if everybody could make their own Game of Thrones Halloween costumes. As high-fidelity as possible to the series.

However, if you’re not a die-hard cosplay expert or you simply don’t have the time to make your own elaborate Game of Thrones Khaleesi costume, fit for wearing on the series’ set among the recording cameras, that augments¬†your soon to be world-renowned acting brilliance (which I know you’ve dreamed of at least once), don’t worry.

There are easy, minimum effort Game of Thrones Halloween costumes solutions that you can go for. And some of them are even witty and subtle, which will earn you favor with your Tyrion dressed, tall as hell, hulking geek friend who will appreciate your display of intelligence and oddball courage.

(Warning: Some spoilers ahead).

1. Witty Bastard

One of the easy Game of Thrones Halloween costumes has to do with a contract.

For example, you can take a white t-shirt, then¬†a black marker (or special clothes paint or whatever you feel works best for you) and draw a rectangle with the word SAG-AFTRA on the first, top half (or first line) and ONE UNION on the bottom half/second line (SAG-AFTRA ONE UNION in a rectangle is the logo for the Screen Actor’s Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). Then write: “THIS AGREEMENT, made on¬†the 31st of October, 2015 between¬†HBO Inc.,¬†hereinafter called ‘Producer’ and Kit Harrington, hereinafter known as ‘Performer’…”

Now comes the fun part. If you think Jon Snow’s not dead and will return for season 6 (or is dead, but will return for season 6, wink wink), you can¬†continue the above paragraph with “… attests to the extension of the original agreement between parties, for an additional term of: 1 season, commencing upon¬†the expiration of the original term.” (of course, regarding the number of seasons, you can take your pick: 1, 3, 27…).

But. If you don’t think he’s coming back and is dead for good, you can simply leave¬†the first paragraph as it is, alone, with suspension marks and just¬†draw a diagonal red line over your whole t-shirt, to signify that the contract is terminated. You can even tear your t-shirt a bit to make it more dramatic.

2. Mellisandre’s Shadow Assassin

Game of Thrones Halloween costumes - Melissandre's Assassin spandex suit.

This one’s reeeeeeal easy, though considerably creepy. And I don’t mean that in the horror way, but in the hinting-at-intriguing-sexual-preferences, stalker, sort of way. Still, you’ve been warned so, if you still wanna do it, here’s how. Buy a black spandex full body suit (you’ll manage to find one; remember the above? intriguing. sexual. preferences).

Then, all you have to do is … smoke a lot. Like in the 3 packs per half hour range, which will probably kill you, so on second thought, don’t! Or if you really wanna go hardcore, tie a battery-powered smoke dispenser to your back (is there such a thing?). Which… might kill you if it suffers a malfunction or if you fall or something, so this might not be a good idea either. Perhaps you should forget about the smoke all-together and just get a plastic knife, act all assassin-y and trust in your friends’ imagination.

3. George R. R. Martin

George R. R. Martin can be one of the easy Game of Thrones Halloween costumes

Suspenders, shirt, sailor cap, beard. And you get to have the Game of Thrones costume to rule all Game of Thrones Halloween costumes. How hard can it be? Of course, there is the concern that the other party-goers will all stab you with blunt spoons until you succumb and croak like their favorite character that you mercilessly killed on a whim. But, hey, dontcha wanna live dangerously on Halloween?

4. Valar Morghulis

And speaking of that favorite character, a real easy get-up is to wear dirt-brown clothes and a green hat/head gear (or paint your hair green). Then figure out a way to tie a cross¬†or a¬†plastic/paper tombstone to your head and draw a skeleton (or a stick figure) in a tomb (or rectangle) on your chest and belly. Then write “Your favorite GoT character” above it. Done. You’ve simultaneously managed to complete your Halloween costume and guarantee the emotional breakdown of (at least) one of your friends. Or you can just take the old sheet-as-a-ghost act and write “Your favorite GoT character” on it. The principle remains the same.

5. Lazy badassery

I saved for last the absolute minimum-effort¬†thing you can do. Just go however you like. No costume preparation at all. When your friends are hurt and dismayed that you didn’t deem it important to dignify them with a reciprocal involvement in their great initiative, simply smile at the most vocal of them and tell him her: “A man/a woman is wrong. A Faceless Man is many faced.”

Then¬†watch admiration fill them as they realize they’ve just been served by none other than¬†Jaqen H’ghar (among many other identities). If necessary, allay their final doubts by taking out a coin and twirling it about. You can even buy the a GoT coin replica from some places if you want to go the extra mile.

Oh and in the same vein of humor and subtlety, you can then stroll over to the pork dish and say: “Ah, yes. King Robert’s slayer. A man¬†thinks a slice would be nice.”

Your Young Robert Baratheon attired buddy in the corner will either protest or chuckle heartily.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4.

7 Under-sized Celebrities

It’s not easy being looked down upon. Especially when that happens literally as well as metaphorically, as is the case of persons who for one reason or another (genetics etc.) end up being considerably shorter¬†in height than the average.

Such persons have been called many names in the past ranging from “little people”, through “dwarves” to “midgets” and a slew of other negative words which I’ll not mention here. As a side-note some of these under-size persons nowadays consider the term “midget” to be offensive.

It’s understandable why they would be very defensive about their image considering that being under-size is not something liable to change anytime soon during the course of your life. However, apart from just imposing the required and justified respect such people deserve as human beings, some of them have gone farther and actually used their size to their advantage.

It’s about 7 under-sized celebrities that fit into this category, that I am going to talk about below.

1. General Tom Thumb

7 under-sized celebrities - General Tom Thumb

He was one of P.T. Barnum’s “freaks” (fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how he viewed it). Nevertheless, his 3-foot-4 height brought him celebrity as he went to sing, dance and make impersonations within Barnum’s show all over the world, including to royalty. His real name was charles Sherwood Stratton

2. Kenny Baker

Ooooor, as you might know him, R2-D2 of “Star Wars”. Yup, this man helped bring the little robot to life, so bow down before the legend, despite the fact that you never saw his face on camera during the series. At least now you know.

3. Warwick Davis

Warwick Davis is one of 7 under-sized celebrities

Another one who played in “Star Wars”, this time as the furry Ewok in “Return of the Jedi”. But he’s done much more than that. He’s also Professor Flitwick of “Harry Potter” and the evil leprechaun in the movie “Leprechaun” , among other roles he’s had.

4. Deep Roy

You’d probably recognize him better if he were to multiply a few tens of times. And put on some color. Because he played all of the Oompa Loompas in the 2005 remake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. He comes from East India and is 4-foot-4, but that didn’t stop him from scoring the above-mentioned iconic role. As well as many others he’s had including in “Planet of the Apes” and “Big Fish”.

5. Jyoti Amge

The list of 7 under-sized celebrities includes Jyoti Amge.

The shortest entry on our list and Guiness World Record holder, she is 2-foot-1 inches tall and also comes from India. Her form of dwarfism is ultra-rare. But she doesn’t mind and deals with it as a normal fact of life. Which she says won’t stand in her way of becoming a Bollywood actress.

6. Verne Troyer

As about iconic as it gets, Verne’s 2-foot-8 size was perfect for portraying the grandest shortest portrayal of evil that modern cinema gave us. That is “Mini-me” from “Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999). Verne’s performance in the movie is memorable and it spawned many memes, jokes and references which are still with us today

7. Peter Dinklage

7 under-sized celebrities - PEter Dinklage

Wait. I lied. This is as iconic as it gets. With his 4-feet-5, Peter Dinklage towers over many actors of the present, due to the¬†deliciously sarcastic, naughty, brave, drunk, witty, irritating, intelligent, strong, rational character that he portrays in the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones”:¬†Tyrion Lannister. And the way he portrays him is absolutely brilliant. As attested also by his winning a “Best Supporting Actor” Emmy specifically for this work. But that’s not all that he’s famous for. Because he’s also starred in “The Station Agent” (nominated for many awards), “A Little Bit Of Heaven”, “Elf” and “The Last Rites of Ransom Pride”, among other roles. One can only hope this talented man lives long so we can see more masterful performances in the future.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4.

7 Pioneer Filmmakers Lost To Time

Art is a fickle mistress, as has many times been proven the case. An artist’s “destiny” cannot really be predicted, or to be more coldly rational, his/her public evolution¬†and legacy are part of a causal chain with many many factors involved which most of the time are outside of his direct control and subject to wild fluctuations depending on the “spirit of the times” or a given society’s culture, norms and values. Therefore, the conclusion of this causal chain cannot be determined with the insufficient information he/she or any of his/her peers have at the beginning of his/her career.

So it’s no surprise that you have one hit wonders that pop up bright as a comet and fade just as fast. Or on the contrary, slow starters who amaze the world with their talent and skills in the later part of their lives. Or chaotic up and down performances from artists who one day are amazing and then for a while (or a good while) are … disappointing to say the least. Then, some of them have comebacks.

Then, of course, there’s “the greats”. The ones that everyone knows because of their (as much as humanly possible) constant masterful outputs.

But what about those who were “greats”, but for one reason or another, simply disappeared from memory. Yes, as scary and unfair as this sounds for an artist, it happened enough times¬†in our history. Which is why, in a feeble and minor attempt to right some of these injustices, you can read below about¬†7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time.

1. Francis Martin Duncan

7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time - Francis Martin Duncan

If you like today’s lengthy and informative documentaries (BBC, Discovery, National Geographic etc.), you probably have Mr. Duncan to thank. As he is the first to create a nature documentary in 1903. It’s called “Cheese Mites” and it was done using a combination of still photography and a microscope, which Duncan came up with. It features cheese mites going about their business, as I’m sure you’ll be surprised to find out.

2. James Williamson and George Albert Smith

These two pioneered most of the editing concepts still used today. The idea of creating a narrative by alternating the distance in the shots comes from them. In “Grandma’s Reading Glass” for example, of 1900, you can see the first POV ever. They did other cool stuff too, including breaking the¬†fourth wall in “The Big Swallow” (1901).

3. William Dickson

William Dickson is one of the 7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time.

We can no longer conceive of a movie without sound. But that was the case for a long time. So, thank pioneers like William Dickson who made the very first partially successful attempt at a recording with both video and sound in 1894’s “Dickson Experimental Sound Film”. Though this attempt was on separate supports and not synchronized. However, he claimed he achieved success in 1899 (still well before the first official movie with sound, “The Jazz Singer” of¬†1927), but this recording has yet to be found.

4. Oscar Micheaux

The list of 7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time includes Oscar Micheaux.

This man, who was an African-American actor, fought to break some pretty impressive barriers at the time, and succeeded. Namely he made the first lengthy black movie to be shown in a “whites only” cinema. And his movies were¬†shown more than once, including in theaters in Europe, despite being low-budget works as he had constant¬†financial, legal and technical obstacles.

5. The Skladanowsky brothers

Everyone knows another set of brothers (the Lumieres) as the inventors of public cinema. But, surprisingly, the Skladanowsky brothers are the absolute first to have had a screening of a series of 9 second movies for which the audience paid to see. And all of this happened on the 1st of November 1985, a few weeks before the famous Lumieres premiere. But the projection system which the latter had was better, so they were remembered while the Skladanowskys were not.

6. Jean Painleve

7 pioneer filmmakers lost to time - Jean Painleve

This man managed (among many other achievements), to invent the technology needed for making the first underwater photos and movies, at the dawn of cinematography. Watch his documentary of 1934 “L’Hippocampe” in which he filmed sea-horses underwater.

7. Alice Guy-Blanche

Perhaps fiction is one of the most important things in art, with its ability to broaden mental horizons and its impulse for¬†us to use our imagination. As the Lumieres’ screening of just a year earlier¬†was still very much something that the world was trying to get used to, and all early movies shown presented facts of life, realities, Alice made a short about a woman magically picking babies from a cabbage patch. It’s called La Fee au Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) and it was filmed in 1896.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4.