Coffin Birth

Also known as "postmortem fetal extrusion." The term describes the phenomenon of a dead woman giving birth to a dead baby, the "birth" being caused by the buildup of gas pressure in her decomposing body. It's not known for sure that this actually happens, because no one has ever witnessed it, but archaeological evidence has led researchers to conclude that it probably does.

More info: Bones Don't Lie, Seeker, Wikipedia.

Posted By: Alex - Sat May 06, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Pregnancy

Billie Carleton’s Death and the Birth of a Genre

Original article here.

How did the hedonistic death of one minor actress lead to Fu Manchu and the Yellow Menace?

Read the whole story here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 21, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Addictions, Crime, Death, Literature, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1910s

The Los Angeles Pet Memorial

I was briefly in L.A. over the weekend, so I took the time to visit the L.A. Pet Memorial, my curiosity about it having been piqued after posting recently about how Blinky the Friendly Hen was buried there. It's up in northwest L.A., in Calabasas. If you're ever in the area, and want to do some sightseeing that's more off the beaten track, it's worth checking out. Some of the highlights below:

The coffin showroom, featuring pet-sized coffins

Inside the mausoleum

The grounds spread out over 8 acres. So the park is pretty big.

Yours truly by the grave of "Room 8" — the cat that lived at the Elysian Heights Elementary School. He was once known as the most famous cat in America.

Satan — We'll Miss You

Sir Pretzel Stick — I'll Remember You

Vicious — Our Precious Baby

I finally found the marker for Blinky the Friendly Hen. The front office didn't have a guide to the graves, so you have to find them on your own. Blinky turned out to be in the area directly across from the front office, about 8 rows back.

There's a number of other famous animals buried at the park, including Tawny the MGM lion, Hopalong Cassidy's horse, and one of the dogs from the Little Rascals. Plus, the pets of many celebrities are there — Charlie Chaplin's cat, Humphrey Bogart's dog, etc.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 11, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Death

Helmet Law Suicide

In 1992 California began requiring that motorcycle riders wear a helmet. Despondent, Gerald Marotta, 48, put on his helmet and shot himself. He left behind a note, "Now I can't ever ride again."

Attorney Wendy Lascher, who had challenged the law, said, "from what I heard about his note, I think the law did have something to do with his death, in that [riding without a helmet] apparently was his only outlet."

Los Angeles Times - Jan 10, 1992

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 31, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Suicide, 1990s

Death by Deodorant

Paige Daughtry, 12, is the most recent young person to die from overuse of deodorant. She reportedly used Right Guard deodorant like "it was going out of fashion." She was liberally spraying herself with the stuff in her parent's rented caravan, while the family was on holiday. She sprayed so much that it caused her to pass out, and she couldn't be revived.

As bizarre as it may sound to die from overuse of deodorant, this isn't the first time it's happened. If I had a kid, I don't think I'd let them use the spray stuff. It's toxic. I'd tell them to use solid deodorant, because that kind can't kill you.

Some of the other cases:

1998: 16-year-old Jonathan Capewell from Oldham. He was "a normal, healthy teenager who was not indulging in any form of substance abuse. He was simply overcome by excessive use of anti-perspirants."

2008: 12-year-old Daniel Hurley was "always putting gel on his hair and spraying deodorant." He was found collapsed in a bathroom after having sprayed "copious" amounts of Lynx Vice spray.

2015: 16-year-old Thomas Townsend of Kent was found collapsed, surrounded by 42 cans of deodorant. His mother said, "He would not take showers but would stand there with a deodorant and spray half the can on him."

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 30, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Hygiene, Baths, Showers and Other Cleansing Methods

Blinky the Friendly Hen

April 27, 1978: Artist Jeffrey Vallance bought a frozen chicken (a Foster Farms fryer) at a supermarket and then buried it at the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery, following a brief memorial service. He also installed a grave marker for the frozen bird, naming it "Blinky the Friendly Hen." He came to think of Blinky's grave as being like the grave of the Unknown Chicken, representing "all the millions of chickens who are slaughtered and sold as food."

According to, "Ten years later, he would have the body exhumed so an autopsy could be performed by UCLA's head of pathology. The tenth anniversary exhibit on the life of Blinky, at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles, featured a 'shroud of Blinky,' and a recreation of the cemetery's viewing room, with a rubber chicken lying in state. Blinky was later reburied at the cemetery."

It seems that there were also an event to mark the 30th anniversary of Blinky's funeral. The 40th anniversary is coming up next year, so perhaps there'll be another event in Blinky's honor.

Vallance also wrote a book commemmorating Blinky.

More info: Black Acrylic blog

Bridgewater Courier-News - Nov 3, 1983

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 03, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Animals, Art, Death, 1970s

Death by Space Helmet

Another example of the danger of reading comic books. From July 1954:

a man suffocated by a plastic raincoat round his head was trying to copy a space-helmet he saw illustrated in a "comic." He appeared to be trying to imagine the sensation of travelling through space.

See here for a previous example.

The Guardian - July 27, 1954

Perhaps the space helmet that inspired him looked something like this:

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 25, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy, Comics, Headgear, 1950s

The famous rhyming will

In 1830 Mr. Wheatstone, a solicitor of Chancery Lane died and left the following will, which was admitted to probate:

As to all my worldly goods now or to be in store,
I give to my beloved wife and her's, for evermore;
I give all freely! — I no limit fix!
This is my Will, and she's Executrix.

As far as I can tell, this is the first time anyone ever used this rhyming will, but it definitely wasn't the last. It caught on, and many other people subsequently used the exact same poem as their final will (slightly updating the language to make it more modern). It continued to be used at least up until the 1950s. I'm not sure if anyone has used it since then.

The London Observer - Apr 18, 1830

The New Bloomfield, Pa Times - Sep 27, 1870

Altoona Tribune - Nov 16, 1912

Battle Creek Enquirer - Mar 3, 1928

The Greenwood Index-Journal - Oct 16, 1950

The Louisville Courier-Journal - Aug 6, 1954

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 18, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Death

The Great Texas Monorail Disaster of 1968

Somehow this seems like a particularly ignoble way to go, as if you had a fatal bumper-car accident.

Full story here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Feb 07, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Death, Disasters, Fairs, Amusement Parks, and Resorts, Motor Vehicles, 1960s

Mount Mihara:  Japan’s Suicide Volcano

If you really have to do yourself in, suicide by volcano sounds pretty dramatic and exciting.

Original article here.

Wikipedia info here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jan 20, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Death, 1930s, Asia

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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