A 1990 Cadillac hearse listed on EBay at $6,995.
Queen of the Dead – dateline April 30, 2012
• Oh, dear. You know those Passion Plays—the religious kind, not the porno kind? Well, Brazilian actor Tiago Klimeck, 27, was playing Judas, and you know that scene where he hangs himself? You see what’s coming, don’t you . . . During a Good Friday outdoor performance in Sao Paulo, his safety harness slipped, and photos show fellow cast members draping him in a shroud and carrying on with the show, not realizing the poor guy wasn’t breathing (which, I hope, means he was not in pain!). He died on April 22, after 17 days in the hospital on life support.
• Italian lawyer Ngo Dinh Le Quyen, 53, died in a traffic accident in Rome on April 16 (her sister, Ngo Dinh Le Thuy, had also died in a car accident, in France, years ago). Le Quyen was in charge of a center for migrants in Rome, and worked with immigrants, refugees, shelters for men, women and families, day care centers—but what really made her news was her parentage. She was a daughter of high-glam Dragon Lady Madame Nhu of South Vietnam, who died last year at 86. Madame Nhu was the theatrically evil First Lady (married to President Diem’s brother) from 1955-63, and I was sent into ecstasies of guilty delight reading her obits and clipping photos of her, in her satin sheath dresses and bouffant ‘do. From the Telegraph: “When Buddhist monks set themselves on fire . . . she laughed. ‘I would clap hands at seeing another monk barbecue show,’ she wrote, promising to take mustard as a condiment at the next immolation.” You have to take your hat off to such Mr. Burnsian evil, though of course one has to applaud her less-glamorous daughter for doing such good works.
• In Baroness news, one must report on the death (on April 24, at age 62) of Shireen Olive Ritchie, Baroness Ritchie of Brompton. Now, I picture someone with that name swanning around waving a lorgnette and saying things like, “Oh, Tibbles, get my date book—Lord and Lady Ferncliffe are coming to dinner!” To my disappointment, though, she was an active politician (in the Conservative Party, representing the Brompton ward) and was a member of zillions of committees and panels (the Family Justice Review Panel, the London Youth Crime Prevention Board, something called the Supporting People Commissioning Body—as opposed to those anti-people commissions, I guess). She was also the stepmother of Guy Ritchie, making her—from 2000-08—Madonna’s mother-in-law! How I treasure fantasies of Madonna showing up at Brompton House—or wherever the hell they lived—for Boxing Day, complete with her fake British accent and lorgnette, dragging a corgi behind her. The Baroness confessed that the first time she met her daughter-in-law, “I was rather embarrassed and said something like: ‘Tell me dear, how did you get into the music business?’ I knew that she was supposed to be the Queen of Cool but I’d never heard her music.” Bliss! Margaret Dumont could not have done better.
• Eight-year-old William Lawlis Pace was accidentally shot in the head by his older brother, with their father’s .22-caliber rifle in the barn on their family’s Texas farm. But this is not the kind of story you expect: that happened in 1917, and Bill Pace just died this past April 23, at the age of 103, the bullet still nestled happily in his head after 94 years! The Guinness World Record folks called him the person who had lived longest with a bullet in his head, not a record I plan to go for. “His parents did a great job of not letting it affect his life,” said Pace’s son on his 100th birthday. “He even played sports; he was a catcher in baseball. If you saw him right now, you think maybe he had a stroke. His mouth was pulled to one side and he had poor use of his right eye.” Kids, don’t try this at home!