Real-Life, Strange Curses

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A curse (also called an imprecation, malediction, execration, malison, anathema, or commination) is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity: one or more persons, a place, or an object. In particular, “curse” may refer to such a wish or pronouncement made effective by a supernatural or spiritual power, such as a god or gods, a spirit, or a natural force, or else as a kind of spell by magic or witchcraft; in the latter sense, a curse can also be called a hex or a jinx. In many belief systems, the curse itself (or accompanying ritual) is considered to have some causative force in the result. To reverse or eliminate a curse is sometimes called “removal” or “breaking”, and is often believed to require elaborate rituals or prayers. Listed below are some of the stranger, more recent curses.

27 Club
tumblr_m5gwajbRXZ1qejz7ro1_1280The 27 Club is a term that refers to the belief that an unusual number of popular musicians have died at age 27, often as a result of drug and alcohol abuse, or violent means such as homicide or suicide.

The “club” has been repeatedly cited in music magazines, journals and the daily press. Several exhibitions have been devoted to the idea, as well as novels, films and stage plays. There have been many different theories and speculations about the causes of such early deaths and their possible connections. Cobain and Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross writes “The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27.”

Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison all died at the age of 27 between 1969 and 1971. At the time, the coincidence gave rise to some comment, but it was not until the death of Kurt Cobain, about two and a half decades later, that the idea of a “27 Club” began to catch on in public perception.

My Way Curse
desktop-1445275058The “My Way” killings are a social phenomenon in the Philippines, referring to a number of fatal disputes which arose due to the singing of the song “My Way”, popularized by Frank Sinatra (peaking at #27 on Billboard Hot 100 in 1969), in Karaoke bars. A New York Times article estimates the number of killings to be about six up to 2010. Another source estimates at least 12 between 2002–2012. Opinions differ over whether the possible connection is due to the coincidence that the song was simply frequently sung amid the nation’s karaoke bars where violence is common or to the aggressive lyrics of the song itself.

Otzi The Iceman Curse
otzi_tattoosInfluenced by the “Curse of the pharaohs” and the media theme of cursed mummies, claims have been made that Ötzi is cursed. The allegation revolves around the deaths of several people connected to the discovery, recovery and subsequent examination of Ötzi. It is alleged that they have died under mysterious circumstances. These persons include co-discoverer Helmut Simon and Konrad Spindler, the first examiner of the mummy in Austria in 1991. To date, the deaths of seven people, of which four were the result of some violence in the form of accidents, have been attributed to the alleged curse. In reality hundreds of people were involved in the recovery of Ötzi and are still involved in studying the body and the artifacts found with it. The fact that a small percentage of them have died over the years has not been shown to be statistically significant.

The Curse of “Little Bastard”
1451066716197265477The “curse” of James Dean’s car, the Little Bastard, has become part of America’s cultural mythology. Warren Beath, a James Dean archivist and author, believes the source of the myth is Hollywood’s George Barris, the self-described “King of the Kustomizers”, who says he was the first to purchase the wrecked Little Bastard. Barris promoted the “curse” after he placed the wreck on public display in 1956. Over the years, Barris described a series of accidents that mysteriously occurred from 1956 to 1960 involving the Little Bastard, resulting in serious injuries to spectators and even a truck driver’s death. Porsche historian Lee Raskin states many claims regarding the “curse” of the Little Bastard appear to have been based on Barris’ 1974 book, Cars of the Stars.

Timur’s Tomb Curse
Timur_reconstruction03Timur’s body was exhumed from his tomb on 19 June 1941 and his remains examined by the Soviet anthropologist Mikhail M. Gerasimov, Lev V. Oshanin and V. Ia. Zezenkova. It was determined that Timur was a tall and broad-chested man with strong cheek bones. At 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 meters), Timur was tall for his era. The examinations confirmed that Timur was lame and had a withered right arm due to his injuries. His right thighbone had knitted together with his kneecap, and the configuration of the knee joint suggests that he had kept his leg bent at all times and therefore would have had a pronounced limp. Gerasimov reconstructed the likeness of Timur from his skull and found that Timur’s facial characteristics displayed Mongoloid features with some Caucasoid admixture. Oshanin also concluded that Timur’s cranium showed predominately the characteristics of a South Siberian Mongoloid type.

It is alleged that Timur’s tomb was inscribed with the words, “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble.” It is also said that when Gerasimov exhumed the body, an additional inscription inside the casket was found, which read, “Whomsoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I.” In any case, three days after Gerasimov began the exhumation, Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the largest military invasion of all time, upon the Soviet Union. Timur was re-buried with full Islamic ritual in November 1942 just before the Soviet victory at the Battle of Stalingrad.

King Tut’s Curse
tutankhamunThe belief of the curse was brought to many people’s attention due to the sometimes mysterious deaths of a few members of Howard Carter’s team and other prominent visitors to the tomb shortly thereafter. Carter’s team opened the tomb of Tutankhamun (KV62) in 1922, launching the modern era of Egyptology.

The famous Egyptologist James Henry Breasted worked with Carter soon after the first opening of the tomb. He reported how Carter sent a messenger on an errand to his house. On approaching his home the messenger thought he heard a “faint, almost human cry”. Upon reaching the entrance he saw the bird cage occupied by a cobra, the symbol of Egyptian monarchy. Carter’s canary had died in its mouth and this fueled local rumors of a curse. Arthur Weigall, a previous Inspector-General of Antiquities to the Egyptian Government, reported that this was interpreted as Carter’s house being broken into by the Royal Cobra, the same as that worn on the King’s head to strike enemies (see Uraeus), on the very day the King’s tomb was being broken into. An account of the incident was reported by the New York Times on 22 December 1922.

The first of the “mysterious” deaths was that of Lord Carnarvon. He had been bitten by a mosquito, and later slashed the bite accidentally while shaving. It became infected and blood poisoning resulted. Two weeks before Carnarvon died, Marie Corelli wrote an imaginative letter that was published in the New York World magazine, in which she quoted an obscure book that confidently asserted that “dire punishment” would follow any intrusion into a sealed tomb. A media frenzy followed, with reports that a curse had been found in the King’s tomb, though this was untrue. The superstitious Benito Mussolini, who had once accepted an Egyptian mummy as a gift, ordered its immediate removal from the Palazzo Chigi.

The tomb was opened on 29 November 1922.

Lord Carnarvon, financial backer of the excavation team who was present at the tomb’s opening, died on 5 April 1923 after a mosquito bite became infected; he died 4 months and 7 days after the opening of the tomb.

George Jay Gould I, a visitor to the tomb, died in the French Riviera on 16 May 1923 after he developed a fever following his visit.

Prince Ali Kamel Fahmy Bey of Egypt died 10 July 1923: shot dead by his wife.

Colonel The Hon. Aubrey Herbert, MP, Carnarvon’s half-brother, became nearly blind and died on 26 September 1923 from blood poisoning related to a dental procedure intended to restore his eyesight.

Sir Archibald Douglas-Reid, a radiologist who x-rayed Tutankhamun’s mummy, died on 15 January 1924 from a mysterious illness.

Sir Lee Stack, Governor-General of Sudan, died on 19 November 1924: assassinated while driving through Cairo.

A. C. Mace, a member of Carter’s excavation team, died in 1928 from arsenic poisoning

The Hon. Mervyn Herbert, Carnarvon’s half brother and the aforementioned Aubrey Herbert’s full brother, died on 26 May 1929, reportedly from “malarial pneumonia”.

Captain The Hon. Richard Bethell, Carter’s personal secretary, died on 15 November 1929: found eating poison in his bed.

Richard Luttrell Pilkington Bethell, 3rd Baron Westbury, father of the above, died on 20 February 1930; he supposedly threw himself off his seventh floor apartment.

Howard Carter opened the tomb on 16 February 1923, and died well over a decade later on 2 March 1939; however, some have still attributed his death to the “curse”.

Cursed Phone Number
spookyIn the early 2000s, a Bulgarian mobile phone company called Mobitel issued the number (+359) 0888 888 888. Although certainly easy to remember and a tad unusual, there is nothing on the face of it that should seem especially sinister or evil about this particular mobile number. In fact, the number 8 is actually considered quite lucky in some countries, such as China, where companies will pay big money in order to purchase phone numbers that hold as many 8s as possible. However the tale of Mobitel’s all-8 number is not one of luck, but rather of death and whispers of mysterious curses, as since that fateful day when the now notorious phone number was first released, it seems that every single person who has owned it has met with an untimely, often violent death.

The first person to own the ominous number was the CEO of the company himself, Vladimir Grashnov. Within less than a year of acquiring the number, the relatively young, 48-year old executive was quickly ravaged by a highly aggressive form of cancer and died in 2001.

The next person to own the number in the wake of the first death was a Bulgarian crime boss by the name of Konstantin Dimitrov. In 2003, the 31-year old Dimitrov was reportedly in the Netherlands on business to inspect his flourishing drug smuggling operation, traveling along with his fashion model girlfriend. As the two were having a luxurious dinner at an upscale restaurant in Amsterdam, a lone gunman approached out of the night and wildly fired upon them, injuring the woman and killing Dimitrov.

The seemingly very unlucky phone number found its way to its next owner, a real estate agent named Konstantin Dishliev. In this case, it appears that Dishliev had been living a double life, an estate agent by day and a prolific trafficker of cocaine by night. In 2005, Dishliev was leaving an Indian restaurant in the Bulgarian capital of Sophia when he was gunned down right there on the street by an unknown gunman, sustaining multiple fatal gunshot wounds and leaving him lying in a pool of blood.

Curse of Tippecanoe
tecumseh-and-the-prophet1The name Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh’s Curse) is used to describe the regular death in office of Presidents of the United States elected or re-elected in years evenly divisible by twenty, from William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840) through John F. Kennedy (1960). Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, was wounded by gunshot but survived; George W. Bush (2000) survived his terms in office, despite at least one close assassination attempt.

The name “Curse of Tippecanoe” derives from the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. As governor of the Indiana Territory, William Harrison used questionable tactics in the negotiation of the 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne with Native Americans, in which they ceded large tracts of land to the U.S. government. The treaty further angered the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, and brought government soldiers and Native Americans to the brink of war in a period known as Tecumseh’s War. Tecumseh and his brother organized a group of Indian tribes designed to resist the westward expansion of the United States. In 1811, Tecumseh’s forces, led by his brother, attacked Harrison’s army in the Battle of Tippecanoe, earning Harrison fame and the nickname “Old Tippecanoe”. Harrison strengthened his reputation even more by defeating the British at the Battle of the Thames during the War of 1812. In an account of the aftermath of the battle, Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet, supposedly set a curse against Harrison and future presidents elected during years with the same end number as Harrison. This is the basis of the curse legend.

The Omen Curse
Omen_ver4No film in history has had worse luck than The Omen. Hell, nothing in history has had worse luck than The Omen. The Jews have had better luck.

During filming scriptwriter David Seltzer’s plane was hit by lighting, as was star Gregory Peck’s, as was executive producers Mace Neufelds’.

Lucky for all of them, lighting doesn’t strike twice. But know what does? IRA bombings. A hotel Neufeld was staying at during production was bombed by the IRA, as was a restaurant the director and actors were scheduled to eat at. Luckily no one died.

An assistant to special effects consultant John Richardson on the other hand, wasn’t quite as lucky. On Friday the 13th of August 1976, Richardson crashed his car in Holland. His assistant was sliced through by the car’s front wheel. Scrambling out of the wreckage, Richardson looked up and saw a road sign: Ommen, 66.6km.

One of the film’s tiger handler’s died. Gregory Peck’s son shot himself. A plane scheduled for use in the film, which was rescheduled and used for a commercial flight instead, crashed and killed everyone on board.

We’re not saying we believe in curses. We’re just saying we should probably stop making movies about Satan.

 

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