6 Celebrities Who Narrowly Cheated Death In WTF Ways
People like to explain away success by saying "So and so leads a charmed life." But some celebrities might actually be charmed. As in there is some kind of magical force protecting them. Some of our most beloved luminaries have come shockingly close to death, only to be saved by the kind of circumstances that can only be explained by the existence of benevolent genies. Like how ...
South African Radicals Planned To Kill Paul Simon ... Until Steve Van Zandt Talked Them Out Of It
In 1985, Paul Simon was flying high. Unfortunately it was on a plane to apartheid South Africa, where he recorded his album Graceland. International artists were boycotting the country on account of the whole "horrible institutional racism" thing, so Simon's decision pissed off just about everyone. That "everyone" included the Azanian People's Organization (AZAPO), which moved Simon to the top of their hit list.
When Simon tried to return to South Africa to play a concert in 1992, AZAPO let their displeasure be known by bombing his concert promoter's office. Nobody was killed, but it was still a crazy level of political controversy for a musician whose audience is mostly milquetoast dads.
But things could have been a lot worse for Simon if it hadn't been for Steve van Zandt, who is both Bruce Springsteen's guitarist and Silvio Dante on The Sopranos (dude is practically a minor deity in New Jersey). In the late '80s, van Zandt was deeply involved in the international fight against apartheid, even traveling to South Africa to meet with AZAPO. While there, van Zandt was shown the group's assassination list and saw Simon's name at the top. They made it clear that they were really planning to retaliate for Graceland, because Amazon wasn't around back then and they couldn't just leave a bad review.
Van Zandt was not a huge fan of Simon, but he did manage to talk AZAPO out of killing him, arguing that "I understand your feelings about this; I might even share them, but ... it's not going to help anybody if you knock off Paul Simon." The group eventually agreed that such a move would probably be counterproductive in the long run. That's good, but we'd just like to point out how hilarious it is that van Zandt's best argument boiled down to "Listen, we all WANT to murder Paul Simon, but who's that going to help?" Anyway, they ended up killing Art Garfunkel, but the world has yet to notice.
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Mel Blanc Was Brought Out Of A Coma By A Doctor Addressing Bugs Bunny
In 1961, prolific voice actor Mel Blanc was in a head-on car accident and suffered a fractured skull. This man was the original voice of Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Tasmanian Devil, and oh yeah, Bugs Bunny. He was in a coma for two weeks, during which Warner Bros. presumably tried to figure out how to make 200 cartoons starring Petunia Pig.
The doctors couldn't get Blanc to respond in any way, until one day his neurosurgeon, Louis Conway, decided to try some light bullying. Dr. Conway came into the room and asked Blanc: "How are you feeling today, Bugs Bunny?" That's when Blanc, physically incapable of resisting a punchline, replied "Ehh, just fine, Doc" in Bugs' voice. Here are Blanc's son and Conway himself talking about the incident, in case you think we're making this up:
Conway then asked if Porky Pig was "in there" too, and Blanc responded with the swine's characteristic stutter. After cycling through a few more characters, Blanc suddenly awoke, perhaps stirred by the injustice of being made to work for free during a coma. He went on to make a full recovery. According to Dr. Conway, it was like the characters themselves were trying to save him. As if they were saying, "WE ARE NOT DONE WITH YOU YET, HOST. YOU WILL DEPART THIS REALM WHEN WE ALLOW YOU. SUFFER THE SUCCOTASH! SUFFER!"
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A Freak Storm Saved Mick Jagger From A Hells Angels Hit Squad
In December 1969, the Rolling Stones hired the rowdiest motorcycle gang in the world, the Hells Angels, to act as security during their massive free concert at California's Altamont Speedway. But the Angels, who were paid with a literal truckload of beer, somehow became drunk and violent, antagonizing the crowd and even knocking out Jefferson Airplane's frontman. They also fought with 18-year-old Meredith Hunter, who returned brandishing a revolver. The Angels stabbed and kicked him to death as an oblivious Jagger shook his butt to "Under My Thumb" 20 feet away.
Heads up, this isn't a dramatization. A real person is stabbed to death in this video. Just an FYI before you hit play.
A jury found that the Angels were acting in self-defense, but the Stones were still rather unhappy with their service. Jagger vowed to never again employ them. Distraught over losing Keith Richards' nephew's bar mitzvah (plus more beer), the Angels decided to retaliate. A bunch of them loaded some guns on a boat and headed for Jagger's vacation home via the sea, planning to show him how wrong he was about their violent tendencies by, uh, killing him?
But according to the FBI agent who uncovered the plot, a mighty storm hit the Angels' boat, throwing all the men and their weapons overboard. They made no further attempts on Jagger's life. Yes, the Rolling Stones were saved by Neptune himself. Well, their frontman was, anyway -- nothing can kill Keith Richards.
Steve McQueen Survived The Manson Murders Thanks To Infidelity
On August 8, 1969, Steve McQueen was set to attend the fated dinner gathering which Charles Manson's followers would ambush, killing Sharon Tate and four other (less famous and therefore less important) guests. Oddly, McQueen was already acquainted with the cult leader; a couple of months prior, a hopeful Manson had approached him with a screenplay and didn't take his rejection well, leading to an altercation. Manson walked away with a broken nose and made notes about killing McQueen and faking a suicide. There's exactly a 0% chance the killers would have told McQueen "Oh shit, huge fans, you can go" if he'd been at the house that night.
Luckily, according to McQueen's then wife, the actor "ran into a chickie and decided to go off with her instead." He even invited the gal pal to the party at first, but she had other, more sensual ideas. And that's how Steve McQueen's unfaithful dong saved his life. Or saved some killers from ending up with broken noses, maybe. We'll never know.
Johnny Rotten And Kim Cattrall Missed The Same Doomed Flight
John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon and Kim "the horniest one from Sex And The City" Cattrall have exactly two things in common: the word "sex" in their official merchandise, and the fact that they narrowly missed being blown up over Scotland in 1988.
It seems too on-brand to be true, but Cattrall says that shopping saved her life. The actress was booked on Pan Am Flight 103, which was brought down by a bomb planted by Libyan terrorists, killing 270 people. It would have been 271 if it wasn't for Cattrall's last-minute decision to buy her mother a teapot, which put her on a flight 45 minutes later.
Lydon's Final Destination story is even more frivolous. The Sex Pistols singer and his wife simply did not have their bags ready in time and got to the airport late, meaning they also accidentally avoided a fiery death. Still, the most shocking takeaway from this is that rich people will throw away first-class tickets like used napkins, damn.
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Christian Bale's Pedantry Saved Adam McKay From A Heart Attack
Before starring in 2018's Vice, Christian Bale wanted to find out what it feels like to be Dick Cheney. Here's the problem: Cheney is more heart attack than man. He had his first coronary at age 37, and he liked it so much that he just kept having them. All Bale could really do was research, so he studied up. Then, when it came time to shoot (the movie, not the hunting buddy), director Adam McKay started talking about how a heart attack's first symptom is pain in your left arm. But Bale corrected him. According to his research, the first symptoms are frequently stomach pains and nausea. We're guessing McKay just let it go, because arguing with Christian Bale on a movie set isn't fun.
The following year, after filming had wrapped, McKay was working out with his new trainer when he was hit with stomach pains and nausea. Most people would think that was just last night's midnight burrito coming back to haunt them, but Bale's words echoed in his mind ...
"Damn, I love that song."
McKay swallowed a bunch of baby Aspirin and called 911. He made it to the hospital as fast as possible, where he found out he'd been right: It was a heart attack. Doctors said McKay's actions in those first minutes saved him from permanent damage. To commemorate his survival, McKay stuck the hospital's scan of his heart in the movie as a double for Cheney's. Anyway, between that and the screaming, that's why it's best to listen to Christian Bale on set.
Alan is on Twitter and writes about podcasts here.
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