Friday, November 16, 2007

All The People Who Died

"Fitzgerald had clearly been an alcoholic since his college days, and he became notorious during the 1920s for his extraordinarily heavy drinking. This left him in poor health by the late 1930s. According to Zelda's biographer, Nancy Milford, Scott claimed that he had contracted tuberculosis, but she states that this was usually a pretext to cover his drinking problems. However, Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli contends that Fitzgerald did in fact have recurring tuberculosis, and Nancy Milford reports that Fitzgerald biographer Arthur Mizener said that Scott suffered a mild attack of tuberculosis in 1919, and in 1929 he had "what proved to be a tubercular hemorrhage". It may be pure coincidence but two of Fitzgerald's least likeable characters have the initials "TB" (an acronym for tuberculosis) - Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby and Tommy Barban in Tender Is the Night. Given the extent of Scott's alcoholism, however, it is possible that the hemorrhage was caused by bleeding from esophageal varices—enlarged veins in the esophagus that result from advanced liver disease. Fitzgerald's lifelong smoking habit undoubtedly also damaged his health and brought on the heart problems that eventually killed him.

"Fitzgerald suffered two heart attacks in late 1940. After the first, in Schwab's Drug Store, he was ordered by his doctor to avoid strenuous exertion and to obtain a first floor apartment, which he did by moving in with Sheilah Graham. On the night of December 20, 1940, he had his second heart attack, and the next day, December 21, while awaiting a visit from his doctor, Fitzgerald collapsed in Graham's apartment and died. He was 44." (Plink.)

"Hemingway was upset by the photographs in his The Dangerous Summer article. He was receiving treatment in Ketchum, Idaho for high blood pressure and liver problems—and also electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression and continued paranoia, although this may in fact have helped to precipitate his suicide, since he reportedly suffered significant memory loss as a result of the shock treatments. He also lost weight, his 6-foot (183 cm) frame appearing gaunt at 170 pounds (77 kg, 12st 2lb).

"Hemingway attempted suicide in the spring of 1961, and received ECT treatment again. Some three weeks short of his 62nd birthday, he took his own life on the morning of July 2, 1961 at his home in Ketchum, Idaho, with a shotgun blast to the head. Judged not mentally responsible for his final act, he was buried in a Roman Catholic service. Hemingway himself blamed the ECT treatments for "putting him out of business" by destroying his memory; some medical and scholarly opinion has been receptive to this view, although others, including one of the physicians who prescribed the electroshock regimen, dispute that opinion.[citation needed]

"Hemingway is believed to have purchased the weapon he used to commit suicide at Abercrombie & Fitch, which was then an elite excursion goods retailer and firearm supplier.[38] In a particularly gruesome suicide, he rested the gun butt of the double-barreled shotgun on the floor of a hallway in his home, leaned over it to put the twin muzzles to his forehead just above the eyes, and pulled both triggers. [39] Despite the circumstances, the coroner, at request of the family, did not do an autopsy." (Plink.)

"Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia from 1957 until his death at Wright's Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi of a heart attack at the age of 64." (Plink.)

"Following Campbell's death Parker returned to New York City and the Volney. In her later years, she would come to denigrate the group that had brought her such early notoriety, the Algonquin Round Table:
'These were no giants. Think who was writing in those days - Lardner, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway. Those were the real giants. The Round Table was just a lot of people telling jokes and telling each other how good they were. Just a bunch of loudmouths showing off, saving their gags for days, waiting for a chance to spring them....There was no truth in anything they said. It was the terrible day of the wisecrack, so there didn't have to be any truth...'

"Parker died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in 1967. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation. Following King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Her executrix, Lillian Hellman, bitterly but unsuccessfully contested this disposition. Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O'Dwyer's filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years." (Plink.)

"In the late 1970s, Capote was in and out of rehab clinics, and news of his various breakdowns frequently reached the public. In 1978, talk show host Stanley Siegal did a live on-air interview with Capote, who, in an extraordinarily intoxicated state, confessed that he might kill himself. One year later, when he felt betrayed by Lee Radziwill in a feud with perpetual nemesis Gore Vidal, Capote arranged a return visit to Stanley Siegal's show, this time to deliver a bizarrely comic performance revealing salacious personal details about Radziwill and her sister, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

"In an ironic twist, Warhol (who had made a point of seeking out Capote when he first arrived in New York) provided the author with the platform for his next artistic renewal. Warhol, who often partied with Capote at Studio 54, agreed to paint Capote's portrait as "a personal gift"—rather than for the six-figure sums he usually charged—in exchange for Capote contributing short pieces to Warhol's Interview magazine every month for a year. Initially the pieces were to consist of tape-recorded conversations, but soon Capote dispensed with the tape recorder and chose instead to craft meticulously composed "conversational portraits" that applied his literary skills to the magazine's dialogue-driven format. Out of this creative burst came the pieces that would form the basis for the bestselling Music for Chameleons (1980). To celebrate this unexpected renaissance, he underwent a facelift, lost weight and experimented with hair transplants. Nevertheless, Capote was unable to overcome his reliance upon drugs and liquor and had grown bored with New York by the turn of the 1980s.

"After the revocation of his driver's license (the result of speeding near his Long Island residence) and a hallucinatory seizure in 1980 that required hospitalization, Capote became fairly reclusive. These hallucinations continued unabated and scans revealed that his brain mass had perceptibly shrunk. On the rare occasions when he was lucid, he continued to hype Answered Prayers as being nearly complete and was reportedly planning a reprise of the Black and White Ball to have been held either in Los Angeles or a more exotic locale in South America. ...

"Capote died in Los Angeles on August 25, 1984, aged 59.

"According to the coroner's report the cause of death was 'liver disease complicated by phlebitis and multiple drug intoxication.' He passed away at the home of his old friend Joanne Carson, ex-wife of late-night TV host Johnny Carson, on whose program Capote had been a frequent guest. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, leaving behind his longtime companion, author Jack Dunphy." (Plink.)

"In 1951 in Santa Barbara, Agee suffered the first two in a series of heart attacks, which ultimately claimed his life four years later at the age of 45. He died on May 16, 1955 (while in a taxi cab en route to a doctor's appointment) -- coincidentally two days before the anniversary of his father's death. He was buried on a farm he owned at Hillsdale, NY." (Plink.)

"Tennessee Williams died at the age of 71 after he choked on a eyedrop bottle cap in his room at the Hotel Elysee in New York. He would routinely place the cap in his mouth, lean back, and place his eyedrops in each eye. His brother Dakin and some friends believed he was murdered. The police report, however, suggested his use of drugs and alcohol contributed to his death. Many prescription drugs were found in the room. Williams' lack of gag response may have been due to drugs and alcohol effects. (Plink.)

"Lewis died in Rome on January 10, 1951 of advanced alcoholism. A final novel, World So Wide, was published posthumously." (Plink.)

"Jack London's death is controversial. Many older sources describe it as a suicide, and some still do. However, this appears to be at best a rumor, or speculation based on incidents in his fiction writings. His death certificate gives the cause as uremia, also known as uremic poisoning. He died November 22, 1916, in a sleeping porch in a cottage on his ranch. It is known he was in extreme pain and taking morphine, and it is possible that a morphine overdose, accidental or deliberate, may have contributed." (Plink.)

"Kerouac died on October 21, 1969 at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, one day after being rushed with severe abdominal pain from his St. Petersburg home by ambulance. His death, at the age of 47, resulted from an internal hemorrhage (bleeding esophageal varices) caused by cirrhosis of the liver, the result of a lifetime of heavy drinking. At the time of his death, he was living with his third wife Stella, and his mother Gabrielle." (Plink.)

"The painful editing led Wolfe to abandon Perkins and Scribner's, and to switch publishers to Harper and Row. However, on a 1937 trip to the West, Wolfe was stricken with pneumonia. Complications arose, and he eventually was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the brain. He was treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but the attempt at a life-saving operation revealed the disease had overrun the entire right side of his brain. He died three days later, never regaining consciousness." (Plink.)

"Thompson died at his self-described 'fortified compound' known as 'Owl Farm' in Woody Creek, Colorado, at 5:42 p.m. on February 20, 2005, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

"Thompson's son (Juan), daughter-in-law (Jennifer Winkel Thompson) and grandson (Will Thompson) were visiting for the weekend at the time of his suicide. Will and Jennifer were in the adjacent room when they heard the gunshot, though the gunshot was mistaken for a book falling, and so they continued with their activities for a few minutes before checking on him: 'Winkel Thompson continued playing 20 questions with Will, Juan Thompson continued taking a photo.' Thompson was sitting at his typewriter with the word 'counselor' written in the center of the page.

"They reported to the press that they do not believe his suicide was out of desperation, but was a well-thought out act resulting from Thompson's many painful medical conditions. Thompson's wife, Anita, who was at a gym at the time of her husband's death, was on the phone with him when he ended his life.

"What family and police describe as a suicide note was delivered to his wife 4 days before his death and later published by Rolling Stone Magazine. Entitled "Football Season Is Over", it read:
'No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won't hurt'

"Despite his best writing efforts, however, he grew ever poorer. He was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt. He was also deeply affected by Robert E. Howard's suicide. In 1936 he was diagnosed with cancer of the intestine and he also suffered from malnutrition. He lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, 1937 in Providence.

"Lovecraft was listed along with his parents on the Phillips family monument." (Plink.

"On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious and 'in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance,' according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died early on the morning of October 7. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name 'Reynolds' on the night before his death. Some sources say Poe's final words were 'Lord help my poor soul.' Poe suffered from bouts of depression and madness, and he may have attempted suicide in 1848.

"Poe finally died on Sunday, October 7, 1849 at 5:00 in the morning. The precise cause of Poe's death remains a mystery." (Plink.