Yesterday was December 9th and my birthday. I decided to play that fun game of looking to see who else was born on the same day as me, but with a twist. Below is a list of some of the more interesting people who died on the same day that I was born…
John Eleuthere du Pont, millionaire murderer – John Du Pont was the youngest child of the wealthy Du Pont family and grew up on a 200 acre farm outside Philadelphia. He earned a PhD in ornithology and spent several years on birding expeditions to the Philippines and remote islands across the South Pacific. He’s credited with the discovery of two dozen species and wrote several books on birds and also one on sea snails. In 1980 he paid nearly a million dollars for a rare stamp from British Guiana. During the 1980s, Du Pont developed an avid interest in competitive wrestling and at the age of 55 competed in the Veteran’s World Wrestling Championships in Colombia, and later at events in Rome and Bulgaria. He donated extensive amounts of money to US wrestling programs and after his mother’s death turned the family farm into a world class wrestling facility. Several wrestlers lived on the compound with him, including Olympic wrestler David Schultz. On a January day in 1996 Du Pont’s wife and one of his security guards saw him shoot Shultz dead in the driveway of the estate. At the trial Du Pont pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to 13 to 30 years in a minimum security prison. On December 9, 2010 Du Pont was found dead in his prison bed.
Other Great Reads: Dying wishes of the rich and misogynistic
Theodore Shackley aka The Blonde Ghost, Rogue CIA Agent – Shackley served in World War II and was later recruited by the CIA and ran their office in Miami, Florida. He was responsible for Operation Mongoose, a project which aimed to use Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist regime in Cuba. The Soviets learned about the project, to deter any further American intervention on the island they constructed a series of nuclear missile launching sites on Cuba. When American spy planes spotted the construction the US Navy formed a blockade around the island and demanded the sites be dismantled and the material returned to Russia. The result was the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tense two weeks in which it seemed, more so than at any other point in history, that a civilization-ending nuclear war was about to begin.
During the Vietnam War Shackley was stationed in Laos, where the CIA worked to pit Hmong villagers against the North Vietnamese. Shackley purportedly ran the Phoenix Program, a secret assassination campaign against Viet Cong infrastructure and was also involved with Operation Cherry, a rogue CIA operation aimed at assassinating Cambodian Prince Nordom Sihanouk. In 1976, Shackley was made Deputy Director of Covert Operations, serving under CIA director George H.W. Bush. Shackley left the CIA in 1979 but was involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, in which in exchange for Americans kidnapped in Lebanon the US sold arms to Iran in order to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, who were trying to overthrow the Sandinista government. During the scandal and its resulting court cases it was purported that Shackley helped run a secret CIA assassination program. On December 9, 2002, the Blonde Ghost died.
Other Great Reads: Everything you need to know about planning a funeral
Joseph Bramah, Beer Press and Water Closet Inventor – Bramah was born in Stainborough England in 1748 and later moved to London to complete a carpentry apprenticeship. He took a job with a firm installing water closets (aka toilets) which had just recently been invented but had a tendency to freeze in cold weather. Bramah helped improve the design by replacing the usual slide valve with a hinged flap that sealed the bottom of the bowl. He later started a locks company, which became famous for crafting locks resistant to picking. Bramah created the infamous “Challenge Lock”, which had 18 iron slides and 1 central spring. He offered 200 guineas to anyone who could pick it, 67 years later an American locksmith named Alfred Charles Hobbs finally did—it took him 16 days. Bramah also invented the hydraulic press, a paper-making machine, a machine for automatically printing bank notes with sequential serial notes, a fountain pen and a “beer engine”, the pump used to bring beer from a cask in the basement of a pub to the tap. One of Bramah’s last inventions was a hydrostatic press capable of uprooting trees. While at work on a project in a forest in Hampshire that utilized the device he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia. Bramah died on December 9, 1814; 167 years later I was born.