Tuesday 16 August 2011

The 42 Club

It is 34 years to the day that Elvis Presley crimped and heaved his way off of this mortal coil with a bomb bay full of crappins. Last night, when I was thinking about this, I was amazed to note that I seemingly knew how old he was when he died. As if my brain retaining such a detail was going to be much use. (I should point out to anyone who doesn't know that I have a better-than-average capacity to retain dates, but ages are normally therefore left down to arithmetic. I'm horrible at remembering names, but that's another post entirely).

Thanks to my brain and the warming confirmation that only Wikipedia (why would it lie?) can provide, I am able to tell everyone that The King was 42 years old. This is no age. I have just realised that I know people who are 42 years old and would be frankly very surprised and devastated if they went off for a poo but ended up meeting their maker. It's just not something you even consider to be within the realms of possibility.

However, in the spirit of the late Amy Winehouse's recent canonisation to the dubious honour of being in the 27 Club, I decided to take a look at some of the people who will be partying down with Elvis in the beyond, as his peer group.

Ted Bundy (Serial murderer; born Vermont, USA 24.11.1946; died Florida, USA 24.1.1989. Cause of death: State execution)

Ted Bundy is my all-time second favourite serial killer (no-one can ever replace Saucy Jack in my affections). For sheer, brutal, shark-eyed psychopathy, Bundy is without parallel in the modern world. He raped, murdered (and then usually raped again and again, necrophilia fans) approximately 35 women (including at least one minor) in a four year spell in the mid-1970s, roaming across the continental United States under a series of aliases and disguises, and twice escaping from prison. His execution, by electric chair, was pretty much the first order of business of the George H.W. Bush administration.

F. W. Murnau (Expressionist film maker; born 28.12.1888, Bielefeld, Germany; died 11.3.1931, California, USA. Cause of death: accident)

A remarkable man in any number of ways, Murnau was 6'11" tall and openly homosexual at a time when the majority of people were neither. He is also responsible for some of the most striking and important films of the silent era: Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror in 1922 and 1927's Sunrise. Murnau's career began in Germany but in 1926 he moved to Hollywood to much success and acclaim. He died in a car crash shortly before the premiere of his final film, Tabu.

Albert DeSalvo (Convicted serial killer; born 3.9.1931, Massachusetts, USA; died 25.11.1973, Massachusetts, USA. Cause of death: murder)

A controversial figure in American crime, DeSalvo was the handyman convicted as being the infamous Boston Strangler, who raped and murdered 13 women between 1962 and 1964. However, contemporary expert evaluations and subsequent investigations may reveal a different picture. Some have argued that the killings bore the hallmark of several different hands, whilst one psychological analysis suggested that DeSalvo's pathological need to be important saw him turn himself in. DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison, where he was serving a life sentence.

Prince Albert (Royal consort; born 26.8.1819, Coburg, Germany; died 14.12.1861, Windsor, UK. Cause of death: Typhoid fever (disputed))

The husband of Queen Victoria and the scourge of erections everywhere, Prince Albert's effects on his adoptive country were far-reaching indeed. As well as enormous impact on the life of its Sovereign, and his zeal for social and technological reform, he was also the father of Edward VII and the current British royal family still carry his name - Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. He died of typhoid fever after a prolonged spell of illness.

Robert Kennedy (Politician; born 20.11.1925, Massachusetts, USA; died 6.6.1968, California, USA. Cause of death: assassination)

The upstart member of America's most famous political dynasty. Kennedy was just 35 when his brother appointed him Attorney General in his administration. There, Kennedy did battle with Unions and organised crime, earning himself some influential enemies. After the assassination of his brother, Kennedy moved away from politics - not least due to his famously tempestuous relationship with his brother's Vice-President, Lyndon Johnson - until he returned to be elected as the Senator for New York in 1965. He was running for the Democratic Presidential nomination, for which he was the favourite, in California when he was gunned down by a pro-Palestine Jordanian, Sirhan Sirhan, in the Palace Ballroom Hotel, LA.

Queen Mary I (English Monarch; born 18.2.1516, Greenwich, UK; died 17.11.1558, Westminster, UK. Cause of death: cancer)

Britain's last Roman Catholic monarch cut such a swathe of destruction and vengeance through England during her five-year tenure that she is now better known as Bloody Mary. With great religious zeal, Mary tried to undo all of the damage to Catholic Britain that had been caused by her father Henry VIII's Reformation and continued under the reign of the similarly militant, but defiantly Protestant Edward VI. Her efforts to produce a child to rebuild a Catholic dynasty with her Spanish husband Philip II, however, ended in a series of phantom pregnancies, the last caused by the the uterine cancer which killed her.

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