Bizarre Deaths in History

Steve Irwin (1962 – 2006)

Stephen Robert Irwin, known simply as Steve Irwin and nicknamed “The Crocodile Hunter”, was an iconic Australian television personality, wildlife expert, and conservationist. He achieved world-wide fame from the television program The Crocodile Hunter, an internationally broadcast wildlife documentary series co-hosted with his wife Terri Irwin. Together, they also co-owned and operated Australia Zoo, founded by his parents in Beerwah, Queensland. He died in 2006 after his chest was fatally pierced by a stingray barb whilst filming in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship MV Steve Irwin was named in his honour, christened by his wife Terri, who said “If Steve were alive, he’d be aboard with them!”

On 4 September 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray spine while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, at Batt Reef, which is located off the coast of Port Douglas in Queensland. Irwin was in the area filming his own documentary, Ocean’s Deadliest, but weather had stalled filming. Irwin decided to take the opportunity to film some shallow water shots for a segment in the television program his daughter Bindi Irwin was hosting, when, according to his friend and colleague, John Stainton, he swam too close to one of the stingrays. “He came on top of the stingray and the stingray’s barb went up and into his chest and put a hole into his heart,” said Stainton, who was on board Irwin’s boat the Croc One. The events were caught on camera, and a copy of the footage was handed to the Queensland Police. After reviewing the footage of the incident and speaking to the cameraman who recorded it, marine documentary filmmaker and former spearfisherman Ben Cropp speculated that the stingray “felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead”. In such a case, the stingray responds to danger by automatically flexing the serrated spine on its tail in an upward motion. Cropp said Irwin had accidentally boxed the animal in. “It stopped and twisted and threw up its tail with the spike, and it caught him in the chest. It’s a defensive thing. It’s like being stabbed with a dirty dagger.” The stinging of Irwin by the bull ray was “a one-in-a-million thing,” Cropp told Time magazine. “I have swum with many rays, and I have only had one do that to me…

His demand for a planned procedure of investigating all things natural marked a new turn in the rhetorical and theoretical framework for science. Although his political career ended in disgrace. where they put him into … a damp bed that had not been layn-in … which gave him such a cold that in 2 or 3 days as I remember Mr Hobbes told me. possibly coincidental events as related and causative of his death: “The Snow so chilled him that he immediately fell so extremely ill. both peerages became extinct upon his death. and bought a fowl. on the other hand. and Viscount St Alban in 1621. including Aubrey. created Baron Verulam in 1618. statesman. After stuffing the fowl with snow.Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) Francis Bacon. consider these two contiguous. jurist. “They were resolved they would try the experiment presently. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England. He then attempted to extend his fading lifespan by consuming the fowl that had caused his illness. Indeed. and died at the empty Arundel mansion. his dedication may have brought him into a rare historical group of scientists who were killed by their own experiments. Without heirs. that he could not return to his Lodging … but went to the Earle of Arundel’s house at Highgate. and made the woman exenterate it”. especially as philosophical advocate and practitioner of the scientific revolution. His works established and popularized an inductive methodology for scientific inquiry. Sir Francis Bacon came to Highgate near London. Bacon was knighted in 1603. he knew Thomas Hobbes. has him journeying to Highgate through the snow with the King’s physician when he is suddenly inspired by the possibility of using the snow to preserve meat. he died of Suffocation”. Death In April 1626. His most celebrated works include The New Atlantis. the scientific method. 1st Viscount St Alban KC was an English philosopher. much of which still surrounds conceptions of proper methodology today. Some people. They alighted out of the coach and went into a poor woman’s house at the bottom of Highgate hill. Aubrey’s vivid account. which portrays Bacon as a martyr to experimental scientific method. and author. he remained extremely influential through his works. often called the Baconian method or simply. the philosopher and friend of Bacon. Aubrey has been criticized for his evident credulousness in this and other works. A famous and influential account of the circumstances of his death was given by John Aubrey in his Brief Lives. Gregori Rasputin (1869 – 1916) . he happened to contract a fatal case of pneumonia. scientist. lawyer.

along the Tura River in the Tobolsk guberniya in Siberia. Murder The legends recounting the death of Rasputin are perhaps even more bizarre than his strange life. Pokrovskoye. but he did not. quite the contrary. According to Greg King’s 1996 book The Man Who Killed Rasputin. where he gradually gained a reputation as a starets with healing and prophetic powers. His experience there. ending in physical exhaustion. and Maria. in the end. The Tsar perceived the very real threat of a scandal and ordered his own investigations. turned him towards the life of a religious mystic and wanderer. The date of his birth remained in doubt for some time and was estimated sometime between 1863 and 1873.S. Suspicions that Rasputin was one of the Khlysts threatened his reputation right to the end of his life. led to rumors that religious and sexual ecstasy were combined in these rituals. When he was around the age of eighteen. during the time of his journeying. Rasputin married Praskovia Fyodorovna Dubrovina in 1889.Rasputin was born a peasant in the small village of Pokrovskoye. new documents surfaced revealing Rasputin’s birth date as January 10. Indeed. Rasputin visited a holy man named Makariy. along the Tura River. and together they formed a survivors’ support group. It also appears that he came into contact with the banned Christian sect known as the khlysty. On June 29. In 1903. Iliodor had appealed to women who had been harmed by Rasputin. travelled to Greece and Jerusalem. he spent three months in the Verkhoturye Monastery. Rasputin also had another child with another woman. Makariy had an enormous influence on Rasputin. He pronounced the affair to be a private one closed to debate. whose impassioned services. Recently. Shortly after leaving the monastery. Rasputin arrived in Saint Petersburg. Varvara. and they had three children. whose hut was nearby. he left his home in Pokrovskoye as a strannik and. 1914. Alexander Guchkov charged him with being a member of this illegal and orgiastic sect. The murder of Rasputin has become legend. possibly a penance for theft. he fired his minister of the interior for a “lack of control over the press”. In 1901. a former prostitute who had become a disciple of the monk Iliodor. 1869 O. named Dmitri. when he was attacked suddenly by Khionia Guseva. in Siberia. combined with a reported vision of the Mother of God on his return. which is why it becomes difficult to discern . remove Rasputin from his position of influence. who would model himself after him. once a friend of Rasputin’s but now absolutely disgusted with his behavior and disrespectful talk about the royal family. he had either just received a telegram or was just exiting church. some of it invented by the very men who killed him. a previous attempt on Rasputin’s life had been made and had failed: Rasputin was visiting his wife and children in his hometown.

He also had tremendous success composing the music for the comedies of Molière. In fact. but he had a very natural talent to play the guitar and violin and to dance. According to legend. a group of nobles. musical or otherwise. It is. He came into Louis XIV’s service in late 1652. it was not in the cakes or wine. in which the King and Lully himself danced. because. He was appointed as the composer of instrumental music to the king and conducted the royal string orchestra of the French court. leading to his death two months after the incident. however. which pleased the king immensely. He refused to have his toe amputated even if the wound had turned gangrenous and had spread. if her father did eat or drink poison. early 1653 as a dancer. although Vasily Maklakov had supplied enough poison to kill five men. While conducting the Te Deum in honor of Louis XIV’s recent recovery from sickness. where they served him cakes and red wine laced with a massive amount of cyanide. Lully composed many ballets for the King during the 1650s and 1660s. L’Amour médecin. Conversely. he was discovered by the Duke of Guise and taken to France by him. A scurrilous poem on his patroness resulted in his dismissal. In 1646. He studied the theory of music under Nicolas Métru. after the attack by Guseva. and avoided anything with sugar. 1916. Biography Lully had little education.exactly what happened. Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632 – 1687) Lully was an Italian-born French composer who worked most of his life as the appointed musician in the court of Louis XIV of France. Lully was so deeply engrossed on keeping the tempo by banging his long staff against the floor that he struck his toe so hard that the would developed into an abscess. generally agreed that. formed his own Petits Violons. his musical talents were cultivated. he had hyperacidity. and Le Bourgeois gentil homme. on December 16. apparently lured Rasputin to the Yusupovs’ Moika Palace. led by Prince Felix Yusupov and the Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich (one of the few Romanov family members to escape the annihilation of the family during the Red Terror). including Le Mariage forcé. He composed some music for the Ballet de la Nuit. where he entered the services of Mademoiselle de Montpensier as a scullery-boy. With the help of this lady. she expressed doubt that he was poisoned at all. Maria’s account asserts that. having decided that Rasputin’s influence over the Tsaritsa had made him a far-toodangerous threat to the empire. Rasputin was unaffected. He tired of the lack of discipline of the Grande Bande and. with the King’s permission. It was when he met Molière that together they created .

in 1884. Anderson. the daughter of a wealthy Ohio family. which earned him the nickname “Jobby”. “Life. Ohio. in Elyria. the third of seven children of Erwin M.the Comedie-Ballet. he died in 1895. who used his “courage” as an example.Anderson moved back to Chicago. Soon after. The cause of death was peritonitis after he accidentally swallowed a piece of a toothpick embedded in a martini olive at a party. in 1900. Virginia. Sherwood Anderson (1876 – 1941) Anderson was born in Camden. he married Cornelia Lane. Ohio. Ohio. After the war. created a new privilege which essentially gave Lully complete control of all music performed in France until his death. Not Death. Louis XIV’s interest in ballet waned as he aged. he left his position as president of the Anderson Manufacturing Co. He was buried at Round Hill Cemetery in Marion. . Family difficulties led Erwin to begin drinking heavily. In 1904. and his dancing ability declined and so Lully pursued opera. He was called up but did not see action in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. After Erwin’s business failed. he divorced Lane and married Tennessee Mitchell. Anderson’s final home. Virginia. and may be toured by appointment. and Emma S. the family was forced to move frequently. Anderson described the entire episode as “escaping from his materialistic existence. Ohio. he enrolled at Wittenberg University in Springfield. finally settling down at Clyde. working again for a publishing and advertising company. and left his wife and three small children to pursue the writer’s life of creativity. Ohio. Death Anderson died in Panama at the age of 64. when he enlisted in the United States Army. In 1916. He fathered three children while living in Cleveland. known as Ripshin. where he managed a mail-order business and paint manufacturing firms. young Sherwood found various odd jobs to help his family. He bought the privilege for opera from Pierre Perrin and. He left school at age 14. In November 1912 he suffered a mental breakdown and disappeared for four days. His epitaph reads. with the backing of Jean-Baptiste Colbert and the king. Ohio. is the Great Adventure”. Anderson moved to Chicago near his brother Karl’s home and worked as a manual laborer until near the turn of the century. and later Elyria. Eventually he secured a job as a copywriter in Chicago and became more successful.” which garnered praise from many young writers. Partly as a result of these misfortunes. still stands in Troutdale.

Allen died on December 31. Alexander Litvinenko (1962 – 2006) . George Allen Field. and boarded the bus back to Long Beach State soaking wet. Las Vegas on November 17. who was showered by some of his Long Beach State players with an ice cold bucket of Gatorade in celebration of their season-ending win over the University of Nevada. Coach Allen stayed on the field for media interviews for quite a while in his drenched clothing. where his father. After his death.S. Allen was born in Detroit. he even granted media interviews for some time under the cold weather with a piercing wind and boarded the bus back to Long Beach State still in his drenched clothing.George Allen (1918 – 1990) Allen was an American Football coach. 1990 from ventricular fibrillation in his home in Palos Verdes Estates. Since then. Shortly before his death. 1990. His players gleefully hoisted him on their shoulders as photographers snapped away. in education from Eastern Michigan University. the soccer and multipurpose field area on the lower end of campus was dedicated in his honor. He earned varsity letters in football. A youth baseball field in Palos Verdes Estates is also named after him. was on the field that day and remembers that the temperature was in the fifties with a biting wind. he acknowledged that he had not been feeling completely well. Las Vegas on November 17. However. Navy’s World War II V12 program. Michigan. He graduated with a B.S.S.S. the Daily Forty-Niner. 1990. Allen went to Alma College and later at Marquette University. 1990. Earl Raymond Allen. The sports editor of the Long Beach State’s newspaper. California at the age of 72. Michigan as working as a chauffeur to a private family. he had promised a winning season to a football program on the verge of collapse. census records for Wayne County. and Allen went out a winner. in Physical Education in 1947. and in his final game delivered on his promise. Clair Shores. where he was sent as an officer trainee in the U. Afterwards. He finally succumbed to pneumonia on December 31. Allen noted that he had not been completely healthy since some of his Long Beach State players dumped a Gatorade bucket on him following a season-ending victory over the University of Nevada. Death Allens’s death may have been indirectly caused by a Gatorade shower. track and basketball at Lake Shore High School in St. Allen said his season at Long Beach State was the most rewarding of his entire career. was recorded in the 1920 and 1930 U.He attended the University of Michigan where he earned his M.

who fled his country to the United Kingdom where he was granted political asylum in 2000. born in England in 1756 and died at Franklin County.then there is a contradiction with his mothers year of death and he may have become a licensed distiller at the age of 16. He graduated from secondary school in 1980 in Nalchik and was then drafted into the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as a Private. to Calaway Daniel and wife Lucinda Cook. He was born in September. Litvinenko was hospitalized on November 1. 2001 when his health unexpectedly deteriorated. he came to America and married . he matriculated in the Kirov Higher Command School in Vladikavkaz. Daniel was one of thirteen children of Welsh descent. as the distillery claims a founding date of 1866. His murder marked the start of a new era of nuclear terrorism. It was later discovered that he had been poisoned with significant amounts of the rare and extremely toxic radioactive element polonium-210. Daniel was born in Lynchburg. Tennessee. daughter of James Watson Cook and wife Mary Riddle. If the 1850 date is correct. After graduation in 1985. thus becoming the first known casualty of deliberate radiation poisoning. and in his 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel author Peter Krass maintains that land and deed records show the distillery was actually not founded until 1875. Litvinenko became a platoon commander in an Internal Troops regiment that guarded valuables in transit and in 1988 moved to the KGB. Jack Daniel (1850 – 1911) Jack Daniel’s grandfather was among the first of those who sailed from the tiny harbor in Cardigan. was originally from Wales. Wales to the New World in the United States in approximately 1807. Other records list his birth date as September 5. He died three weeks later. After a year of service. although seemingly no one knows the exact date.Alexander Litvinenko was born the son of physician Walter Litvinenko in the Russian city of Voronezh. 1846. Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian State Security Services. Ceredigion. His paternal grandfather Joseph Daniel. Tennessee in 1814.

who was born in Scotland in 1762 and also came to America.Elizabeth Callaway. Since Jack Daniel never married and did not have any children. . under his wing. in 1853. Motlow had a head for numbers and was soon doing all the distillery’s bookkeeping. Jack later died from blood poisoning at Lynchburg in 1911. due to failing health. he took his favorite nephew. Tennessee. Jack Daniel gave the distillery to his nephew. In 1907. having died at Ridgeville. Lem Motlow. Moore County.

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