charlotte’s polishing regimen

Raymonde Allain, 15 year old Miss France 1928

In 1923, aspiring Miss America Charlotte Nash, was only seventeen. She was reported as saying her impressive dimples were insured for a cool one hundred grand. She only managed to come fourth but theatre magnate, Fred G Nixon-Nordlinger, was suitably impressed by her beauty.

Dolly Dimples found here

She was a “diamond of purest water,” he said, just needing “a touch of polishing here and there.” Charlotte was trotted off to finishing school at Nixon-Nirdlinger’s expense, where she learned the niceties of deportment; to rise, sit, and carry herself with dignity. A few months into Charlotte’s polishing regimen, Fred withdrew her from finishing school and married the 18-year-old beauty in a sensational ceremony in Hagerstown, Maryland. Alas, he neglected to tell his young bride the not insignificant fact that he was already married to someone else.

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In fact, Fred Nixon-Nirdlinger had been married for the better part of twenty years which came to light while Charlotte and Fred were on their Paris honeymoon. Once she recovered from the dizzying bad news, Charlotte left him and returned to the United States.

Fast forward to 1931; after numerous reconciliations, a divorce, remarriage and two children, the couple were living in Nice.

Fred was drinking. Charlotte was sitting, studying Italian. Fred asked her what she was doing and from her answer he surmised that Charlotte must be interested in an Italian fellow, and he said so. She denied this. He accused her of trafficking with gigolos. Fred’s last words to her were, “I will kill you rather than let you have an Italian lover.” Charlotte beat him to it, and as she lay on the bed she retrieved her pistol and fired. The first bullet entered just under his left eye, a second bullet hit him in the chest. Two other shots went wild. Fred crumpled in a pool of blood.

The shooting death of the American millionaire became an overnight news sensation. As she came to court, the reporters noted that she “was attired in a smart tight-fitting, low-cut frock and wore a black coat with the collar turned up… a black cloche hat also shaded her face.”

image (of Bette Davis)

On cross-examination, Charlotte denied the prosecutor’s accusations that she danced and flirted with other men. She denied rumors of an affair with a swimming instructor. When all was said and done, the prosecutor came up with just two pieces of evidence that she was a wandering wife. One, he had a photograph of her in a fashionable bathing suit. Two, he read from a letter Charlotte wrote to a friend in which the unhappy young lady said — “There are nothing but constant rows. But I’ll be damned if I’ll stay home and sit in a corner reading. I am still young. Maybe when I’m his age I’ll do that.”

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Her lawyers were adamant. “It’s a clear case of self-defense,” said her lead defense attorney. “The fact that my client bought two months ago the revolver with which she shot and killed her husband does not indicate premeditation…. She simply purchased the weapon for use in case of extreme emergency to defend her life. How prudent this action was.” Her lawyer summed up his closing argument with the now famous declaration that “she is too beautiful to be bad.” The jurors — seven of whom were bachelors — apparently agreed; they acquitted Charlotte in nine minutes.

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Published in: on May 31, 2010 at 8:31 am  Comments (32)  
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de wolf in sheep’s clothing

Famous Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper was born Elda Furry. When she married actor DeWolf Hopper she consulted an astrologer cum numerologist who advised her to change her first name to Hedda. At least it sounded less like the names of DeWolf’s previous four wives: Edna, Ida, Ella and Nella.

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DeWolf was over 25 years older than Hedda. Bald from childhood (he had alopecia), Hopper wore wigs both on and offstage. In later years, a reaction to harsh medicines that he took for throat problems made his skin have a bluish tinge. With an insatiable appetite for young actresses, he left a long trail of wives and countless mistresses in his wake — he became known by the nickname “The Husband of His Country.”

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Hedda divorced him in 1922 and devoted herself to her gossip column, courting controversy wherever she went.

After publishing a blind item on Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy’s relationship, Tracy confronted her at Ciro’s and kicked her in the behind. Similarly, after she had printed a story about an extramarital affair between Joseph Cotten and Deanna Durbin, Cotten ran into Hopper at a social event and pulled out her chair, only to pull it out from under her when she sat down.  She reportedly tried to “out” Cary Grant and Randolph Scott as gay lovers, but Grant was too big a star even for her to touch. Joan Fontaine sent Hopper a skunk one Valentine’s Day with a note reading “I stink and so do you”. Hedda merely said that the skunk was beautifully behaved. She christened it Joan and passed it on to James Mason as a present.

Joan Fontaine

***In a March 1927 edition of Screen World Magazine, Hedda reported this April Fools Day story. EDITOR’S NOTE: Mae West was responsible for this new item being planted, and the so-called Queen of the Show Biz title. As she relates in her unpublished account of the match below, Mae was trying to promote herself to the Hollywood, and she thought beating the “IT” Girl, Clara Bow, would be her ticket to Tinsel Town.

“Boxing is in Mae’s blood. The daughter of pro fighter “Battling Jack” West, Mae knows her way around the ring, and loves it! Says she: “Look, dearie, if there’s any thing better than “SEX” it’s lacing on the gloves, stepping in the ring, and punchin’ the daylights out of some hussy! There ain’t no canvas made I’d ever lay on. Besides, I know plenty other places that give me more pleasure.”

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Hedda’s rival Louella Parsons then supposedly wrote this riposte

“About the upcoming bout, Clara Bow purrs, then hisses: “I can’t wait! I love to fight so much! I love the smell of my leather boxing gloves! I don’t care how good a fighter Mae West is. I got twelve years on her, and I’m fit and in fighting trim. She’s old news, Louella, and when I’m done, she’s gonna be dead news!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Parsons-Hopper animosity is of course legendary, but research indicates that it ran much deeper than professional rivalry. Both women had boxed on the underground circuit in their youth, and clashed in a number of bitterly fought matches, with Hedda the stylish boxer and Louella the shorter brawler. Of the three known bouts, Hedda outpointed Louella over six rounds; Louella knocked out Hedda in the fourth in the rematch; and the two fought to a bitterly contested draw over 12 rounds in the rubber match.”

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*** found at Reocities which appears to specialise in April Fools Day Boxing Stories. None of the characters actually participated in any of this…..

Published in: on May 30, 2010 at 7:49 am  Comments (32)  
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t shirt friday 28.5.2010

last friday of the month is t shirt friday. healingmagichands is joining in. anyone else? And many thanks to syncopated eyeball for giving me this great tee! Hooray for Malach – he’s in a tee too

Published in: on May 28, 2010 at 9:07 am  Comments (34)  
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the doctor does little

Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham Fiennes was very upset when he heard 20th Century Fox planned to make a film in his picturesque village.

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He was seconded into the SAS, and promptly expelled following an unfortunate incident – “that Castle Combe business” – in which he was fined £500 for plotting, with the aid of flares and some plastic explosive, to blow up bits of the set of Dr Dolittle, which was apparently causing enormous inconvenience to the good residents of that idyllic Wiltshire village.

My favourite Dr Dolittle animal

Of course, this escapade is not the only thing that Ranulph is known for. While travelling to the North Pole in 2000, he developed frostbite.

Evacuated by air the following day, Fiennes underwent emergency treatment but was told that he would have to wait five months while the only partially damaged tissue healed and his “gnarled, mummified, witch-like talons” could be safely amputated.

Frostbite (not Ranulph’s) found here

So he decided to do the job himself. “I purchased a set of fretsaw blades at the village shop, put the little finger in my Black & Decker folding table’s vice, and gently sawed through the dead skin and bone just above the live skin line,” he writes. “The moment I felt pain or spotted blood, I moved further into the dead zone. I also turned the finger around several times and cut into it from different sides. This worked well, and the little finger’s knuckle finally dropped off after some two hours of work.” It took him five days to do the rest; a job, he says, well done.

The star of Dr Dolittle was Rex Harrison. During the making of the film, he was invited to present an award at the Directors’ Guild Annual Awards dinner. A limo was booked to pick up Rex and his wife Rachel Roberts and drive them to the ceremony. When the chauffeur rang the doorbell, he discovered the Harrisons were far from ready.

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Rex and Rachel were joyfully soused and soaking wet. They had both been drinking in the pool and Rachel answered the door wearing her bikini as a waistband. Rex was wandering around minus his toupee and with his left testicle hanging out of his trunks. The studio sent over a “wrecking crew” of hairdressers, makeup and wardrobe people to make them presentable.

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According to Mark Harris, the behind-scenes shenanigans of Mr and Mrs Harrison were legendary.

The man was anti-Semitic, passive-aggressive, alcoholic, avaricious, and egomaniacal. His wife, the severe and perpetually stewed actress Rachel Roberts, was a toxic presence on the set. Apparently in keeping with the movie’s subject, she embarrassed herself with dog yowling imitations, and even got bestial with a basset hound.

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Sir Ranulph has a couple of cousins in the movie business, Ralph and Joseph. Ralph is famous for his escapade with a Qantas Flight Attendant.

Actor Ralph Fiennes considers himself to have been the victim of a sexual aggressor in an alleged mile-high sex scandal.

Hos media manager, Sara Keene, declared flight attendant Lisa Robertson had instigated the incident in a toilet cubicle of a Qantas flight between Darwin and Mumbai.

“She initiated the encounter,” Ms Keene said, in the first confirmation from the Fiennes camp that an incident did occur.

“This woman seduced him on a plane. She was the sexual aggressor.”

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Reports that Lisa Robertson is the owner of a basset hound may have been greatly exaggerated….


no animals were harmed in the writing of this post

When Richard Fleischer was directing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea he came up against a few problems. One of these involved filming Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre being attacked by a shark.

Kirk with Brigitte Bardot

“Since there’s no way to work in the water with a live shark, the plan was to catch and kill one, then hook it up to a cable system so it could be pulled down through the water like a dive bomber. Everyone on the crew had a suggestion about how to kill a shark. The consensus was that you had to whack it very hard between the eyes with a ball peen hammer to kill its brain, then it had to be left out in the sun for a day to make sure it had died.

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We went ahead and hit the shark on the head with a hammer, left the lifeless body on land in the hot sun for 24 hours then prepared to hook it up to the cable rig. At the last minute, I decided to wire its mouth shut with piano wire. The initial footage looked great, then Till Gabbani, the underwater cameraman agreed to use a small camera roped to the shark’s back to get a more sensational shot of the faked attack.

image found here

About halfway though the filming, with Gabbani ‘riding’ the shark and holding the camera, something strange started to happen. The shark was not going in the direction the cable was pulling, it had revived and was swimming on its own. Lunging past Douglas and Lorre, it suddenly took off and swam away, with Tills and the camera still attached to its back. He wasn’t able to free himself until the shark dived for deep water, loosening the slip knot that held the camera and rupturing both Gabbani’s eardrums before he got away

Peter Lorre found here

Fleischer hadn’t finished all the scenes he’d planned to do with the shark so he offered a substantial bonus to anyone who could bring it back. As its jaws were still wired shut it wouldn’t be dangerous. Two US Navy frogmen joined in the hunt and were the lucky finders. One of the frogmen grabbed the shark by the tail and gave it a healthy shake trying to force it to swim forward. Then he began shoving it from the side and shook its tail again

“Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder, it was his partner pointing out the open unwired mouth of the 8 foot case of mistaken identity. He had been trying to persuade the wrong shark back into the filming area. I was sitting on the barge waiting on news of the search when two frogmen exploded out of the water like beach balls and landed on the deck….. we never did find our escapee……”

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These are some of the mistakes that were noticed by others after the film was released

When the natives are coming down the stairs of the Nautilus, the lead native is wearing a wedding band.

When the giant squid appears, it is swimming toward the Nautilus with its tentacles first. While squid can swim in both directions, they normally move mantle first with tentacles trailing due to much better movement through the water. Also, if the squid was moving with the tentacles in front, they would trail toward the back, not stay rigidly in front of it, like a person’s arms stretched out.

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When the natives flee and get back in their boats to paddle away, a native in the foreground boat clearly uses his spear as a pole against the sea bottom to turn the boat to port. The Nautilus is just a few feet in the background; if the water was really shallow enough to pole from a boat, the Nautilus would be grounded and its deck dozens of feet above the water.

The shark that goes after Ned and Conseil is a nurse shark. This species is actually quite harmless and shy of divers.

Perhaps that’s why the frogmen lived to tell their tale……

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sultans of bling

Fahd bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud was the one time King and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia.

From the hotel Incosol just outside Marbella, Fahd directed the construction of his Marbella property, Mar Mar Palace, modelled on the White House. Tales of excess and extravagance, of sex and shopping sprees, filled the pages of the world’s tabloid press.

Fahd was known as the King of Bling, the Sultan of Splendour. His personal wealth was estimated at Euro 25 billion and he was reputed to earn more in a minute that any monarch in history did in a year”.

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He arrived at Malaga International Airport in his own customised Boeing-747. Its fittings included a solid gold toilet, gold cutlery and plates, and a gold throne. He turned up with his latest toy; a customised pen that could sign a cheque in gold ink. He also had the casino fountain gush only Cristal champagne while he was at the table.

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His half brother King Khaled owned a private jet too. As he suffered from heart trouble he had an operating theatre installed so his doctors could perform open heart surgery in midair should this be necessary. When Queen Elizabeth visited King Khaled in 1979, he arranged a desert picnic for her with 50 lambs roasted on a spit, enormous silver dishes of lobster and a unicorn carved out of butter.

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In 2005, Fahd’s health took a turn for the worse and he was back in Marabella.

When King Fahd last summered in here in 1999, he and his vast retinue spent €90m. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, jewellers and florists are waiting expectantly after estimates that the royal party will this time spend up to €6m (£4m) a day.

A local florist is to supply €1,500 of fresh flowers to the palace daily during the royal visit. Five hundred mobile phones have been ordered, the palace will receive 50 specially ordered cakes a day and a direct line of credit has been set up with the nearest branch of a leading department store, which is to remain open round the clock to satisfy instantly every royal whim. A plane will fly in weekly from Ryadh bringing the King water from Mecca, dates, lamb, rice and spices.

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Another Saudi royal who loves a plane or two is Prince Alwaleed bin Tahal. He already had a Boeing 747 but added to his fleet an Airbus A380

In addition to a 70-inch flat screen, the dining room features cabinets (to the left and right of the table) that house 42-inch pop-up monitors.

Just a glimpse into how the really really really rich folk live……


Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 8:30 am  Comments (51)  
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oh olga

The Shell Oil heiress Olga Deterding was known as the Mad Millionairess. For several years she lived like a louche socialite in a glossy white penthouse with realistic sculptured sheep nibbling at the grass coloured carpet. Her partners included television personalities Alan Whicker and Jonathan Routh and she was friends with restaurateur Peter Langan, the original “enfant terrible” of gastronomy. Langan once bet her £5 that she would not sit naked all afternoon by the street window of his restaurant – but she did.

Olga Kurylenko NOT Olga Deterding

Routh was one of the stars of Britain’s version of Candid Camera

Candid Camera was launched on an unsuspecting public in 1960 and became an instant success with viewers, who relished the misfortunes of Routh’s hapless victims. In the first programme he pushed an engineless car into a garage and told the mechanic that it had just broken down. The garage man opened the bonnet to find nothing there. Routh played dumb. Utterly bewildered, the mechanic then looked under the car and in the boot before summoning his mates to see if he’d missed something. Eventually, one of them pronounced to general astonishment that, indeed, there was no engine.

Jonathan Routh

On another occasion he posted himself from Sheepwash, Devon, to the offices of the Daily Mail in Fleet Street, claiming that he was too scared to go to London on his own. As “livestock”, parcels had to be accompanied at all times, he was put in a postman’s care for the duration of the journey and delivered for £2. The postman was silent throughout. Routh thought this episode demonstrated the height of English tolerance and good manners.

Postman found here

Routh also discovered a talent for naive painting. He restricted his subject matter principally to Queen Victoria and nuns because, he said, “faces, arms and legs were beyond me”. For Victoria he created imaginary journeys that she undertook to exotic places such as Jamaica, where Routh eventually settled as a semi-recluse.

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Nuns were depicted drinking Coca-Cola, bouncing on trampolines, being shot from cannons, driving racing cars, flying balloons and picnicking in the jungle. The pictures were incorporated into a succession of children’s books, including The Nuns Go to Africa, The Nuns Go to Penguin Island, and Jamaica Holiday: The Secret Life of Queen Victoria. There were also a number of Mona Lisa paintings, showing her naked, drinking tea, smoking a cigarette and holding a tin of spaghetti.

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Olga and Peter Langan shared a love of fine wine and whiskey.

His creation was food-as-theatre; when you stepped into Langan’s cream-painted Mayfair restaurant with its black-clad staff and exotically-dressed patrons, it was as if you were stepping on to a West End stage. In Langan’s Brasserie, everyone was a star.

Langan by Richard Young

An irate patron once brought him a cockroach she had found – Langan laughed and swallowed it with a swig of champagne. The designer Emillo Fiorucci came to dine, bringing his dog. Langan, not liking the dog’s looks, got down on his hands and knees and bit it.

Wayne Sleep, Peter O’Toole, the actresses Deborah Kerr and Jill Bennett and doyennes of bad behaviour such as Molly Parkin were regulars.

Molly Parkin

Wayne Sleep, at the height of his celebrity, reciprocated Peter’s gift of a case of chilled champagne after a Covent Garden first night by dancing naked across the Odin’s tabletops, startling the occupants of a nearby nurses’ home

One day he was told that Princess Margaret was dining in the restaurant with her cousin, the Earl of Harewood ‘Oh, is she now?’ he asked puckishly. ‘And what did she eat?’ On being told it was merely a coddled egg, he approached the table, not entirely sober. ‘And how was the ******* egg then?’ he inquired solicitously ‘I’m amazed you’d be bothered to go out, just to eat one of them. Don’t they know how to do them at the Palace?’ Staff say he had to be physically restrained from goosing the princess as she left, but it was Langan’s unique talent to act and speak offensively, yet not cause offence.

Margaret became a regular.

Princess Margaret by Lord Snowden

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 6:53 am  Comments (36)  
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Grace beyond redemption

***Grace Metalious wrote the biggest selling potboiler of 1956. The Christian Herald described her book, Peyton Place, as “Bad – quite beyond redemption.” The fact that it was written by a young housewife made it even more scandalous.

Neighbours buzzed about her poor homemaking skills and the nickname of “It’ll Do” that Grace had given her house. There were rumours that she didn’t wash dishes and fed her children peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches for lunch. Some of the stories were started by Grace herself such as the time she arrived at the Beverly Hills Hilton in a dusty convertible wearing an old western costume pretending to be a Texas oil millionaire. When shown to the suite she had booked, she adopted a false southern accent and expressed amazement upon discovering that hotels had indoor plumbing.

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Grace hated Hollywood and the film version of her book. “All the women in Hollywood are either blondes, redheads or raven haired” she said. “Not one has plain brown hair or wears a size 32A brassiere.”

Perhaps she overlooked Mia Farrow who went on to portray the character of Allison MacKenzie in the television series of Peyton Place. Mia, who described her own slender figure as being a kind of 20-20-20, was from a Hollywood family. Her mother was actress Maureen O’Sullivan, her father was director John Farrow and her godmother was the famous and feared celebrity columnist Louella Parsons.

Mia marries Frank

Like Grace, Louella also hated being a housewife. Her third husband, “Docky” Harry Watson was a Beverly Hills urologist who had gained a reputation as “clap doctor” to the stars. His friendliness with local medical labs gave Louella more than one scoop on who was pregnant or ailing in Hollywood. A popular story about the party-loving Docky told how he once fell down drunk on the floor and stayed there. When someone moved to help him up, Louella cried “Oh don’t touch him please, he has to operate at 8 o’clock tomorrow morning.” Needless to say this item was not printed in her column.

Louella and blonde friend

Parsons had long been known as “love’s undertaker” for her reports on celebrity breakups. When Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were quarreling she wrote impatiently that she’d like to spank the both of them for bad behaviour. Her 30th anniversary as a columnist was marked by a Masquers Club event at which Eddie Cantor candidly admitted “I”m here for the same reason everybody else is – we were afraid not to come.”

Eddie Cantor

Despite her hearty public image, health problems began to plague Louella. She took comfort in prayer, kneeling on her back lawn by a 10 foot statue of the Virgin Mary which was automatically bathed in light every evening at dusk. The last few years of her long life were spent in a nursing home where she died in 1972.

The Hollywood life was kinder to Louella than Grace. She died of alcoholism at age 39. “If I had to do it over again,” she once remarked, “it would be easier to be poor. Before I was successful, I was as happy as anyone gets.”

*** excerpt from The Bad and The Beautiful by Sam Kashner and Jennifer MacNair

Published in: on May 23, 2010 at 8:46 am  Comments (41)  
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dining with the queen on corset friday

queenwilly and The King have invited me to dinner and a movie at the castle tonight so since I’ve no time to take a new corset friday photo,  here are two outtakes from a few months back

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 7:47 am  Comments (38)  
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an aristocratic hobby

The popular Earl of Mar fell to his death in April of 1975. He has largely been forgotten now, but his strange hobby still makes for an interesting read. Especially as reported by The Milwaukee Journal

An ancestral Earl of Mar

“Pigeon kicking is a sport that, like the Earl’s family, goes back to antiquity. A true aficionado does not simply stroll up to a pigeon and aim his boot in its direction. If he missed he could find himself flat on his back and helpless to counter a riposte from the bird.

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A long period of training is required to develop the leg muscles and bodily reflexes. As any member of the House of Lords can tell you, it’s best to start with something inanimate; a badminton shuttlecock for instance. Lord Featherstonehaugh, whose family was big in guano, spent every afternoon from 1909 to 1927 having Lady Featherstonehaugh hit shuttlecocks towards him so he could practice kicking them back.

Soviet Improvised Technology

Through such practice His Lordship developed a right leg 8 inches longer than the left.

One factor that has kept pigeon kicking a minority interest is the question of exactly what to wear. Some sportsmen sally forth in red riding coats and bowlers, others prefer Harris tweed and umbrellas. The feminine auxiliary generally wears gardening hats, heavy mittens and a determined expression.

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Most followers of this sport tend to keep quiet about it, preferring to let common folk remain in ignorance of this aristocratic hobby. The Earl of Mar was more forthcoming and listed his recreation in “Who’s Who” as kicking pigeons.

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The report into his death did not go into details on how he managed to fall from his fifth floor apartment but those who know how annoying a pigeon strutting along a ledge can be will draw their own conclusions.

Published in: on May 20, 2010 at 8:33 am  Comments (42)  
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