a durable mick

Michael Malloy (1873-1933) was an ex firefighting Irishman with dubious friends.


The events that led to Malloy’s death began in January 1933. He was, at the time, alcoholic and homeless. Five men who were acquainted with him, Tony Marino, Joseph Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg, plotted to take out three life insurance policies on Malloy and then get him to drink himself to death.

(click to enlarge) from Married to the Sea

Marino owned a speakeasy and gave Malloy unlimited credit, thinking Malloy would abuse it and drink himself to death. Although Malloy drank for the majority of his waking day, it did not kill him. To remedy this, antifreeze was substituted for liquor, but still, Malloy would drink until he passed out, wake up, and came back for more. Antifreeze was substituted with turpentine, followed by horse liniment, and finally mixed in rat poison. Still, Malloy lived.

(click to enlarge) from Married to the Sea

The group then tried raw oysters soaked in methanol. Followed by a sandwich of spoiled sardines mixed with poison.

When that failed, they decided that it was unlikely that anything Malloy ingested was going to kill him, so the Murder Trust decided to freeze him to death. On a night when the temperature reached -14 °F (-26 °C), Malloy drank until he passed out, was carried to a park, dumped in the snow, and had five gallons of water poured on his bare chest. Nevertheless, Malloy reappeared the following day for his drink. The next attempt on his life came when they hit him with Green’s taxi.


Murphy stood him up in the middle of the roadway, and Green backed up his taxi two full blocks to build up enough speed to complete the job. Somehow, Malloy stumbled to safety. They then took Malloy to Gun Hill Road. This time, Green hit him.

The gang gleefully retreated to Marino’s and again waited for an announcement of Malloy’s demise. For days nothing appeared in the newspapers.

Where was he? Malloy was recovering in the hospital under a different name, having sustained a fractured skull, a concussion and a broken shoulder. The indestructible barfly returned several weeks later to the speakeasy and announced he had an awful thirst.

Charles Bukowski, the original Barfly

On February 22, after he passed out for the night, they took him to Murphy’s room, put a hose in his mouth that was connected to the gas jet, and turned it on which is how they finally killed managed to kill him.

However, the members of the Murder Trust proved to be their own worst enemies—they talked too much and squabbled among themselves. Eventually police heard the rumors of what they did, and had the body exhumed. Green went to prison, and the other four members were executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing.

Malloy was reburied, and took with him to the grave the secret of a hardy and nearly indestructible constitution.

image found here

Published in: on August 24, 2010 at 7:53 am  Comments (46)  
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drunkards to the left, dancing parsons to the right


I found this strange list of the offences of naughty clerics and scandalous priests here

Alston, Edward, Parson of Pentìoe in Essex hath attempted the chastity of some women, and hath used very unchaste demeanours towards other women, snatching a handkerchief from one, and thrusting it into his breeches, and forcing her hand after it, and putting his yard into her hand, pulling up the coates of another, and thrusting his hand into the placket of another.

Dale, Curthbert, Rector of Kettleburrough, Suffolk, “ is a common swearer and curser, &c, hath read the Book of sports on the Lords day. And seeing a stranger in the Church put on his hat in sermon time, he openly then called him a saucy unmannerly clown, and the next Lords day took occasion in his Sermon again to speak of him being then absent, and to call him a saucy Goose, idiot, a wigeon, a cuckoo, and is a common Ale-house and Tavern haunter, and hath been often drunk, and frequently in his Pulpit, upbraideth his Parishioners, calling them Knaves, Devils, Rascals, Rogues, and Villains.

Gordon, John, Rector of Ockley, Sussex, “a common haunter of Ale-houses and Taverns, sitting and tippling there, night after night, and hath spent the whole Sabbath there, so that no Service nor Sermon was in his Church.

Hannington, Henry, Vicar of Hougham, Kent, a common and notorious drunkard, and oft, lying dead drunk in highways, and hath continued so for the space of twenty years and upwards, and useth to sing in his cups in the alehouse bawdy songs, and administered the Sacrament when drunk. And when he read the Book of Sports on the Lords day, there was Beer laid on in his Barn, and dancing and drinking there that day, and to give them the more time for it, he dismissed the Congregation with a few prayers, and left off preaching in the afternoon.

Shepard, Robert, of Hepworth, Suffolk, “a common drunkard, and frequenter of Taverns and Alehouses, lying and continuing drunk in the said houses diverse nights, sometimes twice or thrice a week, and is greatly suspected of incontinency, having had diverse maid-servants depart from his house great with child. And in his catechising and preaching, calls his parishioners black-mouthed hell-hounds, Firebrands of Hell, Bawling dogs and Church-Rollers.

Wells, John, Parson of Shimplyn, Suffolk, ” for that he is a common Alehouse haunter and common drunkard, and in his drunkenness hath lain abroad in the fields, lost his hat, fallen into ditches, and so bemired himself, that he hath been faine to be washed, and hath attempted the chastity of diverse women, and sold his Calves for kisses with them, and having locked himself up in a chamber in an inn with a lewd woman, after a long time the door was broken open upon him, upon his refusal to unlock it, and he was found in a very suspicious manner upon a bed with her.

image by Paul Avril

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 8:11 am  Comments (40)  
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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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

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.


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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