Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oscars Quiz 2013

The 85th Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, February 24, 2013.  As you prepare for the big show, why don't you try Number 16's third annual Oscar quiz.  There are 10 questions for you.  Ready?  Good luck!


1.  The classic 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz was nominated for six Academy Awards.  It won in two categories.  In which categories did The Wizard of Oz win its two Oscars?

A.  Judy Garland won for Best Actress for her role as Dorothy Gale and The Wizard of Oz was chosen Best Motion Picture.

B.  The Wizard of Oz won Oscars in the categories of Best Visual Effects and Best Costumes.

C.  The Wizard of Oz won Academy Awards in the categories of Best Musical Score and Best Song -"Over the Rainbow."

D.  Ray Bolger won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the Scarecrow and The Wizard of Oz was chosen Best Motion Picture.

E.  Margaret Hamilton won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her performance as the Wicked Witch of the West and "Over the Rainbow" won an Oscar in the Best Song category.

2.  Why is the Academy Award statuette nicknamed Oscar?

A.  It was nicknamed Oscar in honour of Oscar W. Reed, the first president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

B.  Although the origins of the nickname remain unclear, there is a popular story that the Academy librarian said that the statuette reminded her of her "Uncle Oscar."

C.  The man who designed the statuette was named Oscar Olson.

D.  The designer of the statuette was a big fan of the works of playwright Oscar Wilde.

E.   The statuette's designer's father was named Oscar.

3.  In 1928,  Janet Gaynor won the Academy Award for Best Actress.  What was significant about her achievement?

A.  She received the first Oscar statuette ever presented.

B.  She delivered the first acceptance speech at the Academy Awards.

C.  She was the first to win a Oscar for a performance in a silent film.

D.  She was the first to win an Oscar for a performance in a sound film.

E.  She won the first Oscar in the Best Actress category and it was the only occasion when a actress won one Oscar for multiple film roles.

Janet Gaynor circa 1931

4.  Meryl Streep has the highest number of Oscar nominations for acting with an impressive 17 nominations (She has won 3 times - twice for Best Actress and once for Best Supporting Actress).  Who holds the record for the male with the most Oscar nominations in the acting category?

A.  Jack Nicholson

B.  Paul Newman

C.  Robert De Niro

D.  Marlon Brando

E.  Al Pacino

5.  Robert Redford has received two Oscars.  One was a Lifetime Achievement in 2002.  What was the other?

A.  He won an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

B,  He won an Oscar in the Best Actor category for his performance in The Candidate.

C.  He won a Best Actor award for The Sting.

D.  Redford won an Academy Award for directing the film Ordinary People.

E.  He won an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in The Way We Were.

6.  Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for this year's Best Actor Award for his work in Lincoln. Which of the following statements about Day-Lewis is false?

A.  Daniel Day-Lewis is Scottish.

B.  Daniel Day Lewis is the son of a well known poet.

C.  Daniel Day-Lewis is married to the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller.

D.  Daniel Day Lewis is 55 years old.

E.  Daniel Day Lewis has an older sister named Tamasin Day-Lewis.

7.  Which individual has garnered the most Academy Awards?

A.  Jack Warner

B.  Walt Disney

C.  Stephen Spielberg

D.  David O. Selznick

E.   Cecil B. DeMille

8.  How much does an Oscar statuette weigh?

A.  7 1/2 pounds (3.4 kilograms)

B   6 1/2 pounds (2.94 kilograms)

C.  7 pounds (3.17 kilograms)

D.  8 1/2 pounds (3.85 kilograms)

E.  8 pounds (3.62 kilograms)

9.  In 1939, Walt Disney received an honorary Oscar for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  Who presented him with the special Oscar?

A.  Judy Garland

B.  An actress dressed as Snow White

C.  Shirley Temple

D.  His daughter Diane (born December 18, 1933)

E.  Mickey Rooney

10.  Has Leonardo DiCaprio ever won an Oscar?

DiCaprio in 2010

A.  Yes, DiCaprio won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Titanic.

B.  Yes, Leo won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?.

C.  Yes, he won an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performance in Blood Diamond.

D.  Yes, Leonard DiCaprio has won two Academy Awards.  His first Oscar was for Best Leading Actor for Titanic.  His received his second Oscar for Best Leading Actor for his portrayal of Howard Hughes in The Aviator.

E.  No, Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Academy Award.


1. C

Judy Garland singing "Over the Rainbow"

The Wizard of Oz received the Oscar in the categories of Best Musical Scoring - by Herbert Stothart and Best Song - "Over the Rainbow" - music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Edgar Yipsel Harburg.  Trivia Note: "Over the Rainbow" was almost cut from the film due to length.  Judy Garland was given a special Academy Juvenile Award in recognition of her performance.

2.  B

Although the source of the moniker is not clear, there is a well known story that Margaret Herrick, the Academy librarian who later became executive director, made a comment that the statuette resembled her "Uncle Oscar" (who was actually her cousin)..  Her cousin's full name was Oscar Pierce.  Trivia Note: "Oscar" was not officially adopted as a nickname by the Academy until 1939.despite the fact that the term was in use well before then.

3.  E.

In 1928, Janet Gaynor was the first to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Actress .  She  won for her performances in three films: Seventh Heaven (1927), Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) and Street Angel (1928).  This was the only occasion that an actress won the award for multiple film roles.  The rules were changed three years later.  Janet Gaynor died on September 14, 1984 at the age of 77.  She had never fully recovered from the injuries she received in a traffic accident in San Francisco two years earlier.

4.  A.

Jack Nicholson has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards for acting.  He has won 3 times - twice for Best Actor and once for Best Supporting Actor.  Nicholson's winning percentage is actually better than Streep's.

5.  D.

Robert Redford won an Academy Award for Best Director in 1981 for Ordinary People.

6.  A

Daniel Day-Lewis was born in London, England on April 29, 1957 (55 years old). of Anglo-Irish heritage on his father's side and currently holds both British and Irish citizenship.  His late father, Irish-born Cecil Day-Lewis, was the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.  His mother, London-born actress Jill Balcon, died of a bran-tumour in 2009.  Balcon, whose family was Jewish, had a Polish background on her mother's side and a Lithuanian background on her father's side. Cecil Day-Lewis and Jill Balcon also had a daughter, Tamasin Day-Lewis (born September 17, 1953), who became a documentary filmmaker and television chef.

Daniel Day-Lewis married Rebecca Miller, the daughter of American playwright Arthur Miller, in 1996.  They have two sons, Ronan Cal Day-Lewis (born June 14, 1998) and Cashel Blake Day-Lewis (born in May 2002).  Day-Lewis also has another son, Gabriel Day-Lewis (born in 1995) from his relationship with French actress Isabelle Adjani.

7.  B

To date, Walt Disney is the individual who has won the most Oscars.  Disney received a total of 26 Academy Awards, four of which were honorary.

8.  D

According to information on the website of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Oscar statuette weighs 8 1/2 pounds (3.85 kilograms).

9.  C

Walt Disney with Shirley Temple

In 1939, Shirley Temple presented a special Academy Award to Walt Disney for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  He was given one full-sized Oscar and seven mini statuettes.  Critics called Snow White "Disney's folly" because they didn't movie audiences would want to see a full-length animated film.  Boy, were they proven wrong!  By the way, Walt really had a daughter named Diane.  Her full name was Diane Marie Disney and she was born on December 18, 1933.  Now known as Diane Disney-Miller (she married football player Ron Miller in 1954), she is 79 years old.

10.  E

No, Leonardo DiCaprio has never won an Academy Award although he has been nominated three times.  He was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role foe What's Eating Gilbert Grape? in 1994, and Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Aviator in 2005 and Blood Diamond in 2007.


The Life and Death of Tim Horton

"What Tim did was never important to him.  It was always what the team did, and that was what made Tim a great player.  He was always behind you.  You don't know how much that means to a team.  He was the hub . . . everybody felt, 'Tim's back there.  We're solid.'" 
- Leonard "Red" Kelly, Tim Horton's teammate on the Toronto Maple Leafs

Many of us can only associate the name "Tim Horton" with the ubiquitous Canadian restaurant chain. For Toronto Maple Leaf fans during the 1960s, however, Horton was a genuine hockey hero.  He anchored the Leaf defence at a time when the Leafs actually won Stanley Cups.  During that turbulent decade, the Blue and White captured Lord Stanley's Jug four times - 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967.  Ah, those were the days of glory!  There was no Maple Sports and Entertainment and Toronto fans could actually afford to go to a game at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Tim Horton, the hockey player, is on my mind because today is the 39th anniversary of his death. He died in an automobile accident on February 21, 1974 near St. Catharines, Ontario.  At the time of his fatal crash, he was 44 years old and still an active player for the Buffalo Sabres.  The durable Horton played for 20 years in the National Hockey League, the majority of them as a stalwart defenceman for the Maple Leafs.

Miles Gilbert "Tim" Horton was born in Cochrane, a small northern Ontario town, on January 12, 1930.  He was the eldest child of Ethel and Aaron Oakley "Oak" Horton (His brother Gerry Horton was born in 1933).  Oak was a Canadian National Railway mechanic. In 1935, the Hortons moved to the small gold mining town of Duparquet, Quebec.  The family returned to Cochrane in 1938 and then moved to Sudbury, Ontario in 1945 when Tim was 15 years old.

While in Sudbury, Tim played for the Copper Cliff Jr. Redmen of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association from 1946 to 1947. He then went to Toronto after being awarded a scholarship to attend St. Michael's College School.  From 1947 to 1949, he played on the school's junior hockey team, the St. Michael's Majors, a farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In 1950, Tim turned pro when Leafs owner Conn Smythe offered him a 3-year contract to play for the Pittsburgh Hornets, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Leafs.  In 1952, Horton and the Hornets (doesn't that sound good?) won the Calder Cup, the league championship.   The city of Pittsburgh celebrated its first hockey championship since Lionel Conacher's Yellow Jackets won the United States Amateur Hockey Association championship in 1925.

On April 23, 1952, just two days after his team's Calder Cup victory, Tim married Delores "Lori" Michalek, an Ice Capades skater, in a small ceremony in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.  Lori, a native of Mount Oliver, Pennsylvania (a borough surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh) met Horton while he was playing for the Hornets.  Francis "King" Clancy, then coach of the Hornets, attended the wedding and the newlyweds drove to Daytona Beach, Florida for their honeymoon.  They settled into married life and raised their four daughters: Jeri-Lynn, Traci, Kim and Kelly.

Tim Horton and family

Tim Horton played his first NHL game and his first game in a Toronto Maple Leaf uniform on March 26, 1950.  During the 1951-52 season, he played four games for the Leafs but  it was not until 1952-1953 that he became a regular on the team.  In total, Horton played 17 full seasons and 3 partial seasons with the club, appearing on four Stanley Cup-winning teams under general manager and coach George "Punch" Imlach.

The Glory Days: Tim and Allan Stanley with Stanley Cup

In the 1960s, hockey players did not receive large salaries and Tim had to hustle to make a living in the off season.  During his career with the Leafs, he went into business with his friend, Jim Charade.  Charade was interested in capitalizing on Horton's celebrity as a hockey hero to establish a doughnut and coffee chain.  Tim was eager to establish a chain of burger joints and the two opened up a string of hamburger restaurants in the North Bay and Toronto areas.  The restaurants did not make a great of money and the enterprise soon fizzled out.

1964 was a banner year for Tim Horton.  The Leafs won their their third successive Stanley Cup and on May 17th of that year, the rugged defenceman opened his fist coffee and doughnut shop at 65 Ottawa Street North in Hamilton, Ontario at the urging of Jim Charade.  Coffee was 25 cents and doughnuts were 69 cents a dozen.  Two of Tim's own creations were featured on the menu: the apple fritter and the dutchie.  The little business flourished and Horton decided to expand it into a full-fledged franchise.  He appointed Nova Scotia-born Ron Joyce to be the store's first franchisee.

Ron Joyce

Joyce, a Hamilton police officer from 1956 until 1965, had already established a Dairy Queen franchise in Hamilton, and had become acquainted with Horton while eating at his doughnut shop during his days on the police beat.  In early 1966, after complaints from Joyce that he was not providing enough support, Charade resigned from the venture. according to an August 13, 2009 article in the Globe and Mail by Danny Gallagher.  Since Tim Horton was still in debt. Charade received very little financial compensation for his efforts. By the end of 1967, Tim and Ron Joyce had opened up two more stores and were full partners in a business that would eventually grow into an enormous restaurant chain, although Tim never lived to see the full extent of its success.

In March of 1970, Tim Horton was traded to the New York Rangers. A year year later, he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Horton spent only one season with the Penguins.  In 1972, former Leafs coach and general manager Punch Imlach signed Tim to a contract with the Buffalo Sabres although he was 42 years old at the time and extremely nearsighted.

On the day of his terrible car crash in 1974, Tim was driving home to Buffalo after a game in Toronto.  Although the  Sabres had been defeated by a  score of 4-2, Horton had been chosen as game's third stars.  After the game, he met up with his business partner, Ron Joyce, at the Tim Donut company office in Oakville. At about 3 a.m., Tim phoned his wife, Lori and his brother, Gerry.  In her 1997 book, In Loving Memory: A Tribute to Tim Horton, Lori writes that "Gerry recognized Tim had been drinking, and he tried to convince him to stay where he was."  Unfortunately, Tim did not heed his brother's advice.  He talked to Ron Joyce until about 4 a.m and left on his own.

Weather conditions were clear as the hockey star zoomed away in his custom built Ford DeTomaso Pantera.  Just after 4:00 a.m., a female motorist warned the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Burlington, Ontario about a speeding car on the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW). Officers were told on the police radio to watch out for the vehicle.  About a half hour later, a St. Catharine's police officer spotted Horton's Italian-built sports car (a contract extension bonus from the Buffalo Sabres).  The officer pulled his cruiser onto the highway and gave chase to the Pantera.  Tim lost control of his vehicle and crashed. He was thrown from his car as it flipped over several times.  His body was found 37.5 metres (123 feet) from the car.  At the time of the accident, he had been driving at a speed of over 160 km per hour (99.4 miles per hour).

Tim Horton was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Catharines General Hospital.  Police denied that Horton had been drunk when he crashed his vehicle.  An autopsy was performed beginning at 10:30 a.m. that same morinng.  The autopsy report was kept secret for many years until a reporter for the Ottawa Citizen, Glen McGregor, obtained it through Ontario's Freedom of Information law.  In 2005, McGregor wrote a story based on what he had discovered.   It wasn't until February of 2011 that he released the full report on his blog.

The report reveals that Tim had been driving with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.and he was found with Dexamyl pills on his body.  According to McGregor, "Horton was likely taking these to stay competitive.  He was still playing at age 44 and probably felt he needed an edge to keep up with players 20 years younger."

After Tim's tragic death, his widow inherited half of her husband's business. She assumed control of the company along with Ron Joyce.  In 1976, however, Joyce offered her $1 million and a Cadillac Eldorado for her shares in the chain, which at that time consisted of 40 stores.  Lori accepted the offer and Joyce became the sole owner.  Years later, she decided that the business transaction had been unfair and that $1 million dollars had not been enough.  She launched a $10 million lawsuit against Joyce and another suit against the lawyer who represented her at the time of the transaction.

During the trial, Tim's widow informed the court of her addiction to alcohol and pills, including painkillers. She told the story of her 20-year struggle with substance abuse, beginning in the 1960s, and she claimed that she wasn't mentally competent when she made her deal with Ron Joyce.  The judge, however, was not convinced.  In 1993, Lori lost her lawsuit and a subsequent request for an appeal was declined in 1995.

Lori Horton died of a massive coronary on December 23, 2000 after eating a Christmas dinner.  She was 68 years old at the time of her passing.  In 2001, as part of its Life and Times series, the CBC broadcast a documentary entitled Tim Horton: The Perfect Husband by Canadian filmmaker Daniel Gelfant.  At the beginning of the film, Lori says, "I didn't forgive him at first.  As far as I'm concerned, he killed himself - he kind of walked out on me and the girls."

From the late 1970s  until the late 1990s, Tim Hortons began to franchise under the management of Ron Joyce. In 1995, Tim Horton's merged with Wendy's International Inc. and Joyce sold his shares of Tim Hortons to the  hamburger chain.  As part of the agreement, Joyce received shares in Wendy's. In late 2005, Wendy's announced its intention to sell between 15% and 18% of its interests in Tim Hortons.  This was done in ian initial public offering on March 26, 2006.  The company also said it would spin off its remaining interest in Tim Hortons to shareholders.

Ron Joyce is now over 80 years old and a billionaire.  He has sold his stocks in Wendy's and retired from management.  He still remains active in his holding company and serves as Chairman Emeritus of The Tim Horton Children's Foundation, a charity he established in 1974 to honour Tim Horton's love of children. It is a not-profit organization that provides a camp environment for youngsters from disadvantaged and low income homes.


* Tim's younger brother, Gerry, also played hockey.  Although Gerry Horton never made the NHL, he was good enough to play for the Oshawa Generals.  He died in 1994 while playing hockey in North Bay, Ontario.

* Tim's mother, Ethel, had named him "Tim" before his birth but was too ill to attend his christening. His father  had him christened "Miles Gilbert" after his two grandfathers.  Tim's official given names were never used except for formal documents.  To family and friends, he was always "Tim."

* During his many years as a Toronto Maple Leaf, Tim Horton wore number 7.  During his stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he wore number 24 and also number 3. With the New York Rangers, Horton wore sweater number 3 and was the first to wear that number for the Rangers after Harry Howell.   He wore number 2 as a Buffalo Sabre because Rick Martin already had the number 7. The Sabres retired Horton's number 2 during the 1995-1996 season.  That same season, the Maples Leafs honoured his number 7.

Tim wearing number 24 for Pittsburgh

Tim as a Buffalo Sabre

* In an ironic twist of fate, Jeri-Lynn Horton, Tim and Lori's eldest daughter, married Ron Joyce's son, Ron Joyce, Jr.

*  Tim played in 1,446 regular season NHL games and scored 115 goals and 403 assists for a total of 518 points.  He was an all-star player six times.

*  Tim had poor eyesight and wore thick glasses off-ice.

* Tim Horton was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977.

Tim Horton's plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto

* Tim's original store in Hamilton has been rebuilt but it remains in the same location on Ottawa St.

* It wasn't until 1994, 30 years after Horton established his first shop in Hamilton, that a Tim Hortons restaurant opened in Tim's hometown of Cochrane, Ontario.

* As of July 1, 2012, there were 4,071 Tim Hortons restaurants worldwide including 3,355 in Canada, 745 in the United States, 20 in the United Arab Emirates and three in Oman.  There are also some Tim Hortons franchises in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

* Jim Charade died on July 23, 2009, of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.  He was 74 years old.

* Tim and Lori Horton are buried at the York Cemetery in Toronto.

EDITOR'S UPDATE (February 22, 2014) - Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the death of Tim Horton.

EDITOR'S UPDATE (January 23, 2016) - The Toronto Maple Leafs have inducted Tim Horton, former captain Dave Keon and goaltender Turk Broda to their Legends Row Monument.  Keon and representatives of the families of Horton and Broda were honoured tonight at the Air Canada Centre prior to the Leafs' game against the Monntreal Canadiens (Tim was represented by his eldest daughter Jeri-Lynn).  Bronze statues of the three players will be unveiled and added to the monument.

EDITOR'S UPDATE (February 3, 2019) - Ron Joyce passed away on January 31, 2019 in Burlington, Ontario.  He was 88 years old at the time of his death. 

-  Joanne

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Some thoughts and trivia for Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.   Let's go beyond the chocolates and flowers and reflect upon some quotes concerning that most powerful of emotions - romantic love.

Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone.  It has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.

- Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 -  American writer
From The Lathe of Heaven [1971]

The course of true love never did run smooth.

- William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
From A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act 1, Scene 1, lines 109-10)

I want to do with you what spring does with cherry trees.

- Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), Chilean poet
From Every Day You Play [1969]

He's more myself than I am.  Whatever our souls are made of his and mine are the same.

- Emily Bronte (1818-1848), English novelist and poet
From Wuthering Heights [1847]


On Valentine's, 1996, Prince married Mayte Garcia, his backup singer and dancer.  They had a son named Boy Gregory who was born with Pfeiffer Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.  The child died a week after birth.  Prince and Mayte divorced in 1999.

Prince and Mayte Garcia wedding  photo

Meg Ryan married fellow actor Dennis Quaid on February 14, 1991.  The couple, who had starred in two films together (D.O.A. and Innerspace), became the parents of a son, Jack Henry Quaid, born April 24, 1992.  In 2000, Ryan became involved with Russell Crowe while the two were filming Proof of Life.  She and Quaid separated and their divorce became final on July 16, 2001.  It was a bitter breakup with Meg accusing Quaid of long-time unfaithfulness.

Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan

The late Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead, married Deborah Koons, his third wife and widow, on February 14, 1994 in Sausalitio, California before family and friends.  Garcia died of a heart attack on August 9, 1995 at the age of 53 after a long struggle with drug abuse.

Deborah Koons

On Valentine's Day, 1984, Elton John married Renata Blauel, a German music engineer.  The wedding took place in Sydney, Australia with Olivia Newton-John in attendance.  A second ceremony was held in Britain a few days later for Elton's family.  The two were divorced on November 18, 1988 after which John declared that he was exclusively gay and could not ignore his sexual orientation.

Elton and Renata on their wedding day in 1984


* Comedian Jack Benny, born February 14, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois. Died of pancreatic cancer December 26, 1974 at the age of 80.

*  Frederick Douglass, African-American writer, orator, social reformer and abolitionist who escaped from slavery.  Born in Talbot County on the East Shore of Maryland (Although the exact date of his birth is unknown, he was probably born in either 1817 or 1818).  Douglass chose to celebrate his birthday on February 14th because his mother, a slave woman named Harriet Bailey, would refer to Frederick as her "little Valentine"). Frederick Douglass died of a massive heart attack or stroke on February 20, 1895.

Frederick Douglass

* Jimmy Hoffa, American labour union leader with links to organized crime.  Born in Brazil, Indiana on February 14, 1913.  Disappeared July 30, 1975.  Declared legally dead July 30, 1982.  No body has ever been found.although Tony Zerilli, whom the FBI considers to be a key figure in Detroit's Mafia, recently told Detroit reporter Mark Santia, that the former Teamster's boss is buried in a vacant lot in the northern part of
Oakland County, Michigan.  Hoffa was last seen at the Red Fox restaurant in suburban Detroit.

* Carl Berstein, American investigative journalist and author.  Born February 14, 1944 in Washington, D.C.  Famous for uncovering the Watergate Scandal along with fellow Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

* Florence Henderson, American actress and singer, born February 14, 1934 in Dale, Indiana.  Best known for her role as Carol Brady, the mother on the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch, Florence turns 79 today.

* Thomas Malthus, British scholar, political economist and clergyman, known for his theories about population.  Born February 14, 1766 in Surrey England.  Died December 9, 1834 in Bath, England at the age of 68.

Thomas Malthus

* Gregory Hines, American singer actor, dancer and choreographer.  Born February 14, 1946 in New York City.  Died of liver cancer in Los Angeles, California on August 9, 2003 at the age of 57.

Gregory Hines

George Ferris, Jr., creator of the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition.  Born February 14, 1859, in Galesburg, Illinois.  Died of  typhoid fever, November 22, 1896, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the age of 37.

George Ferris, Jr.

Did you know that the phrase :"Sweets for the sweet" comes from Shakespeare?   It's a line from Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1.  It is also a misquote because the actual line in Hamlet is "Sweets to the sweet."  They are the words of Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, as she scatters flowers on the grave of Ophelia.

A Happy Valentine's Day to all from Number 16.

- Joanne

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sherlock Holmes and Anne of Green Gables: What's happening to our classic literary characters?

:Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller in Elementary

I prefer to think of myself as open-minded and amenable to change. There are limits and boundaries to my broadmindedness, however, especially with regard to classical literary characters.  For example, I am greatly disturbed by the CBS television series Elementary in which English actor Jonny Lee Miller portrays Sherlock Holmes as a recovering drug addict in New York City.  His sidekick, Watson, is a woman named Dr. Joan (rather than John) Watson, played by New York-born actress Lucy Liu.

Elementary is actually an American version of the BBC's Sherlock in which Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman play Holmes and Watson in a contemporary British setting.  It was originally commissioned as a 13-part series.  Its ratings have been high.  In fact, it proved so popular with television audiences that CBS decided to extend it to a 22-episode season.  The show is being broadcast on the Sky Living channel in the United Kingdom.

There is little doubt that Elementary is enjoying great popularity and success.  I'm not arguing that the series does not have any merit.  Neither am I suggesting that does not deserve to be watched. I'm just opposed to its use of the names of the famous sleuth and his loyal assistant.  Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, as conceived by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, are British to the core.  It is part of their very essence.  If you take away their London setting, you might as well be talking about another story.  I would have no objections to a series about a New York-based detective who solves crimes with the help of a female assistant - just don't call  the detective Sherlock Holmes.

- traditional Anne of Green Gables

A new cover for a box set of Anne of Green Gables novels portrays Anne Shirley as blond and buxom.  Say it isn't so!  Folks, this is literary sacrilege!  It's certainly not the red-haired, freckle-faced, rail-thin Anne created by author L.M. Montgomery.  Montgomery must be turning over in her grave to see what has been done to her creation.  Here's what Beth Cavert of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society told CBC's As it Happens radio program:  "There isn't one element of that picture - from the arm position, to the hair, to the face, to the shirt, to the body - that says Anne of Green Gables in any way."

Montgomery's classic 1908 novel has been in the public domain since 1993.  Therefore, it can be published by anyone without the approval of the original copyright holder.  The new edition was released in November as part of Amazon's CreateSpace self-publishing agency.  I can't help but wonder if the publisher of this new edition of Anne novels has actually read the stories?  Has this U.S. publisher even heard of Prince Edward Island?   Anne is just 11-years old, for goodness sake. when the series begins and her red hair and pigtails play an integral role in the plot?  I'm scratching my head.  What next?  Will someone relocate Anne of Green Gables to New York or California or Paris or Tokyo (She has plenty of Japanese fans).

As you can tell, I'm not in favour of radically changing classical fictional characters.  At some point, very little remains of the author's creation and the author's vision.  Anne of Green Gables is as woven into the fabric of Prince Edward Island as Sherlock Holmes is to the foggy streets of London or Huckleberry Finn to the Mississippi River.  Can you imagine good old Huck on the Thames or the Tiber or the Ganges?  Ooops!  I'd better not give anyone the idea.  I wouldn't want Mark Twain to be turning over in his grave too.

Editor's Note (February 17, 2013)  The image of the blond Anne of Green Gables has been removed from Amazon's website.

- Joanne

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Richard III: Mystery solved - but was he that bad?


Researchers have confirmed 'beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton unearthed in Leicester, England is that of the 15th century English monarch, Richard III.  Born on October 2, 1452, Richard was 32 years old.when he was defeated by the forces of  Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485.  He was the last English king to die in battle and the last of the Plantagenet kings.  His death brought an end to the War of the Roses, an internecine struggle between the Houses of York and Lancaster (the two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty).

Richard's skeleton was discovered last September on the first day of a 3-week excavation.  It was uncovered among the ruins of the choir of Greyfriars Church, beneath a social services parking lot.  According to historical records, the slain monarch was buried at the long-gone church.

Richard's skeletal remains were found in good condition, although severe trauma to the skull was evidenced and the feet were missing.  The skeleton also showed abnormal lateral curvature of the spine (Richard was known to be hunchbacked).  The hands were crossed and there was no sign of a coffin or burial shroud.

DNA samples from Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, a direct descendant of Richard's, sister, Anne of York, provided further evidence that the skeleton was indeed that of the king.  Michael, a 55-year-old furniture maker who lives in London, recently visited Bosworth Field.  He told The Guardian of London that it was a an uncanny experience.  "Standing in that field and thinking, 500 years ago Richard III died here,   "It very strange," he said, "and stranger still to think there's a tiny bit of my DNA , that was also in Richard."

Ibsen's mother, Joy, who died four years ago, was a British journalist who immigrated to Canada while in her 20s.  In 2005, historian John Ashdown Hill, contacted Joy and informed her that she was a 16th generation niece of Richard's eldest sister.  Joy was disbelieving, but finally agreed to provide a DNA sample.  After her  death, Michael moved to London.  The DNA sample was forgotten until Michael received a call concerning the archaeological excavation in Leicester.  As an ancestor of Richard III, he was asked to be present and to contribute a new sample of DNA.  Ibsen was most happy to comply with the request.

History and literature have not been kind to Richard III whom Shakespeare immortalized in his famous play, The Bard paints a very unflattering portrait of Richard his his oft-quoted historical drams, believed to have been written over a century after the ill-fated monarch's death.  He portrays Richard as a Machiavellian ogre; but was the king really a ruthless tyrant or was he merely the target of Tudor propaganda?  Is it a case of the old cliche that history is written by the victors or was Richard guilty of being a tyrant?  Perhaps it is a combination of both.

During his brief reign, King Richard introduced some important liberal reforms such as the right to bail.  He thought it was unjust  for offenders of minor crimes to be denied their liberty before trial.  In addition, he legislated that English law must be written in English rather than in Latin or Old French. He also relaxed restrictions on books and printing presses and standardized the system of weights and measures.

Yet Richard's accomplishments are overshadowed by one huge blemish on his record, namely the alleged murder of his nephews, the  "princes in the tower."  The princes were Edward V of England and his younger brother Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, the only sons of King Edward 1V.  When Edward IV died unexpectedly in 1483, he left his two boys, aged nine and 12, to the care of his brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, who would later become King Richard III.  Upon his brother's death, Richard was appointed Lord Protector of England, the de facto ruler of the realm.

The two boys were placed in the Tower of London by their uncle, ostensibly to protect them from plots against them and to prepare young Edward for his coronation as king.  The brothers, however, mysteriously disappeared and it was assumed that they were murdered.  When their uncle ascended to the throne, many believed that he was responsible for the murder of  the boys, although the evidence was circumstantial.

Once he had defeated Richard at Bosworth Field, Henry Tudor, who assumed the throne as King Henry VII, accused his deceased adversary of  the "shedding of infants' blood."  In 1502, a courtier named Sir James Tyrrell, allegedly confessed the murder of the two princes.  Some claimed that Tyrrell hired agents to perform the dirty deed for him.  None of this, of course, has been proven.  Nor has there been any concrete evidence that Richard III ordered the murder of his nephews, although he is far from exonerated from any link to that heinous crime.  It is unlikely that it will ever be  known who really killed the princes.

Portrait of the "Princes in the Tower" 

Note: the above portrait, entitled The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower, 1483, is the work of English artist John Everett Millais, 1878.


In keeping with archaeological custom, the remains of Richard III will be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral, the nearest consecrated ground.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: September 6, 2013 - It seems that Richard III was infected with large parasitic worms.  Researchers who unearthed the reviled monarch's skeleton beneath a parking lot in central England last year discovered a large number of roundworm eggs in the soil near his pelvis.  In a study published online in the prestigious British medical journal Lancet on September 4, 2013, experts concluded that the eggs came from an infection that the king had had during his life since there were no eggs near the king's skull and only tiny amounts in the soil close to his grave.

- Joanne

Friday, February 1, 2013

Evelyn Dick and the Torso Murder

Aside from Karla Homolka, Evelyn Dick, the "torso murderer" of the 1940s, is perhaps the most notorious woman in Canadian history.  Journalist Paula Todd, however, was able to locate Homolka on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe where the convicted killer resides with her husband (the brother of her long-time prison lawyer) and their three children.  Unlike Homolka, Evelyn Dick's fate is shrouded in mystery.  If she is still alive her whereabouts are unknown to the public and she would be 92 years old.  If deceased, the details of her death are also unknown.

Let's go back to Hamilton, Ontario on March 16, 1946.  On that day, a group of  children discovered a dismembered body laying part way down the side of the Niagara Escarpment (referred to as "The Mountain" by Hamilton residents).  It turned out to be the torso of an adult male whose head, arms and legs were nowhere in sight.  With the help of doctors and a positive identification from a brother-in-law, police were able to identify the remains of 40-year-old John Dick.  His estranged wife, Evelyn, was suspected of involvement in the gruesome murder.

Evelyn Dick was worn in Beamsville, Ontario (near Niagara Falls) on October 13, 1920.  Her parents, Donald and Alexandra MacLean, moved the family to Hamilton where Donald found employment as a streetcar conductor with the Hamilton Street Railway Company.  He later secured an office job with the company and used his position to pilfer from the company.  Young Evelyn enjoyed hosting parties and she had a reputation for spending money lavishly on items such as jewellery and furs.  She always seemed to have a steady supply of cash.

In 1942, Evelyn gave birth to a daughter.  She claimed to be married to a soldier stationed overseas whose last name was `White."  Mr.  White`s existence, however, was never proven.  The baby, Heather White, was mentally disabled and required a great deal of care from her mother and grandparents.  The following summer. Evelyn gave birth to a stillborn child.  Then, on September 5, 1944, her son, Peter David White, came into the world.  It has never been clear who fathered these children.

By June of 1945, Alexandra MacLean had separated from her hard-drinking husband and moved into downtown Hamilton apartment with daughter Evelyn.  Not long after, Evelyn shocked her mother by announcing that she intended to marry someone named John Dick, a streetcar driver for the Hamilton Street Railway, in two weeks` time.  Alexandra was not even aware of the existence of a man by that name in her daughter`s life.

Nevertheless, on October 4, 1945, Evelyn married Dick, a Russian immigrant 14 years her senior.  The marriage was a sham and the couple did not even live together most of the time.  When John disappeared, he was living with his cousin, Alexander Kammerer.  It was Kammerer who reported John missing since March 6, 1946.

Soon after the identification of John Dick's remains, Evelyn was taken to police headquarters for questioning.  She reacted to the news about her husband by declaring, "Don't look at me.  I don't know anything about it."  She then told a tale about a Mafia hitman who had been looking for John. The police did not believe her story because hard evidence proved otherwise.  There were bloodstains on the upholstery of a car Evelyn had borrowed that matched John's blood type and bits of human bones were discovered in the backyard of her home.  On March 19, 1946  three days after the discovery of her husband's torso on Hamilton Mountain, Evelyn Dick was arrested.

Several week later, during the investigation of John Dick's murder, another grisly discovery was made.  The body of Evelyn's baby son, Peter David White, was discovered in an old suitcase enclosed in cement in the attic of her home.  Evelyn then made statements implicating herself, her lover William Bohozuk and her father Donald MacLean in the murders.  The trio all faced murder charges.

In October of 1946, Evelyn Dick's case came before the courts.  The sensational "black widow" murder trial was front page news and scores of people congregated outside the courthouse during the proceedings.  It is interesting to note that  prominent Hamilton lawyer John J. Sullivan, who defended Evelyn during her first trial, would later run unsuccessfully for the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party in 1950.  After nine days of testimony, however, the jury quickly delivered a guilty verdict.

On January 7, 1947, Evelyn was sentenced to death by hanging for the murder of her husband.  Famed lawyer J.J. Robinette appealed her case and won an acquittal for his client on the basis that Evelyn's statements to police were improperly admitted into evidence and that the judge had not provided the jury with proper instruction.  In 1947, Evelyn went on trial for murder again.  This time she was found guilty of manslaughter in the death of her baby son and sentenced to life in the Kingston Prison for Women.  Her father was sentenced to five years for being an accessory to murder.and Bill Bohozuk was acquitted because Evelyn refused to testify at his trial.

In 1958, after serving 11 years in prison, Evelyn Dick was paroled.  Ales Edmison,, a senior member of the National Parole Board, provided her with a new identity because he thought she was entitled to a fresh start.  To this day, Hamiltonians never tire of speculating about what happened to the infamous Mrs. Dick after she was released from the Kingston Penitentiary. According to Jeff Mahoney in his October 17, 2011 article in the Hamilton Spectator, the most accepted version of Evelyn's fate appears to be that she settled in London, Ontario or Kitchener.  Mahoney stresses , however, that her exact location has never been pinpointed although there have been reported sightings of the evasive woman.

According to the late journalist Brian Vallee in his 2001 book, Torso Murder: The Untold Story of Evelyn Dick, Evelyn married a well-to-do man who was never learned of her true identity.  She relocated to Western Canada where she was able to elude private detectives and the press in their attempts to track her down. Vallee, who never met Dick, obtained his information from third parties and go-betweens.

In a March 15, 2005 article by Charlie Gillis in Maclean's magazine, Vallee is quoted as saying, "Evelyn had the help of everyone in power keeping her secret."   "These days, he told Maclean's, "police go around advertising when an offender's about to get out of jail."

I  can't help wondering what would have happened if Evelyn Dick had been released from prison in 2013 rather than 1958.  With modern technology and social media, it would be extremely difficult for her to remain hidden from the public eye. She certainly would not have been able to vanish as she did.


* According to Brian Vallee's book, Evelyn Dick's mother, Alexandra MacLean, died on July 7, 1964.  Her father, Donald MacLean, was released from prison in April of 1951.  He died on May 3, 1955 at the age of 77.  Bill Bohozuk died in Hamilton in 1996.

- Joanne