Heimlich Candidates

Famous people who have died by choking:

  • Tommy Dorsey, Nov. 26, 1956 (age 51)
  • Jimi Hendrix, Sept. 18, 1970 (27)
  • Bon Scott, Feb. 19, 1980 (33)
  • John Bonham, Sept. 25, 1980 (32)
  • Tennessee Williams, Feb. 25, 1983 (71)

Free Falling


A falling person reaches a top speed of around 120 mph. After that, all falls are equally dangerous: If you survive the lack of oxygen, a fall of 10,000 feet won’t necessarily hurt you any more than 2,000 feet.

During World War II, at least three airmen survived free falls of around 20,000 feet without a parachute. All three lost consciousness, and two of them landed in deep snow.

In 1972, a Yugoslavian flight attendant fell from 33,330 feet when terrorists blew up her DC-9 over Czechoslovakia. She broke both legs and was paralyzed from the waist down, but only temporarily.

Great Stork Derby

When financier Charles Vance Millar died in Toronto in 1926, he willed his fortune to the woman who had the most children in the next 10 years.

And people took him up on it — in the end, four women tied at nine births apiece. Each got $125,000.

The period is known as “The Great Stork Derby.”

And 5,000 Visitors Per Day

The White House has:

  • Six stories and 55,000 square feet of floor space
  • 134 rooms, including 35 bathrooms
  • 412 doors and 147 windows
  • 28 fireplaces
  • Eight staircases
  • Three elevators
  • A tennis court
  • A bowling lane
  • A movie theater
  • A jogging track
  • A swimming pool

Harry Truman called it “the finest prison in the world.”

Gentle Giant


Size was no impediment to Martin Van Buren Bates, a quiet schoolteacher who found that his enormous size (7’9″) served him better on the battlefields of the Civil War. The “Kentucky Giant” rose quickly from private to captain in the Fifth Kentucky Infantry; Union soldiers told of a “Confederate giant who’s as big as five men and fights like 50.”

After the war, Bates was touring Canada with a circus when he met Anna Haining Swan, another enormously tall person (7’5″), and they married in London, where Queen Victoria gave them two extra-large diamond-studded gold watches as wedding presents.

Their 18-pound child was stillborn, and they ordered an oversize house custom-built in Ohio, with 14-foot ceilings and giant furniture. “To see our guests make use of it,” wrote Bates, “recalls most forcibly the good Dean Swift’s traveler in the land of Brobdingnag.”

The pair toured again, and lost another son, this one 28 inches tall and weighing 22 pounds. “He looked at birth like an ordinary child of six months,” Bates wrote. But “with this exception our lot has been one of almost uninterrupted joy.”

When Anna died in 1886, Martin sold the house and married a woman of normal stature, with whom he lived peacefully until he died of nephritis in Seville in 1919.

Jimmy Hoffa’s Grave

Rumored whereabouts of Jimmy Hoffa’s body:

  • Buried in northern Michigan
  • Buried under the New Jersey Turnpike
  • Buried in an abandoned coal mine near Pittston, Pa.
  • Buried in Fresh Kills landfill, Staten Island, New York
  • Buried under the end zone at Giants Stadium in New Jersey
  • Buried in PJP Landfill in Jersey City, underneath the Pulaski Skyway
  • Mechanically converted to cement
  • Dissolved in an acid tank used to rechrome car bumpers
  • Rendered into fat at a rendering plant

His body has never been found, and in 1982 he was declared legally dead.

Ironically, his middle name was Riddle.