June 20, 2018

Meet Eugen Weidmann, the Last Person Ever to Be Publicly Executed by Guillotine in 1939

The last public execution by guillotine was not as long ago as you may think. It actually took place in France in 1939, so there are plenty of people alive today old enough to have seen it.

Weidmann is placed in the guillotine seconds before the blade falls, June 17, 1939.

Eugen Weidmann (February 5, 1908 – June 17, 1939) was a German criminal who was executed by guillotine in France, the last public execution in that country

On June 17, 1939, Weidmann was beheaded outside the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles. The “hysterical behaviour” by spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions. Unknown to authorities, film of the execution was shot from a private apartment adjacent to the prison. British actor Christopher Lee – who was 17 at the time – witnessed the event. He would later go on to play headsman Charles-Henri Sanson in a French TV drama about the French Revolution, in which his character made prolific use of the device.

A mugshot of Eugen Weidmann in 1937.

Beginning with the botched kidnapping of an American tourist, the inspiring dancer Jean de Koven, Eugène Weidmann murdered two women and four men in the Paris area in 1937. His other victims included a woman lured by the false offer of a position as a governess; a chauffeur; a publicity agent; a real estate broker; and a man Weidmann had met as an inmate in a German prison. On the surface, his crimes seemed in most cases to have had a profit motive, but they generally brought him very small winnings. Born in Frankfurt-am-Main in 1908, Weidmann early showed himself to be an incorrigible criminal. He had been sent to a juvenile detention facility and then served prison terms for theft and burglary in Canada and Germany prior to his arrival in Paris in 1937.

After a sensational and much-covered trial, Weidmann was sentenced to death. On the morning of June 17, 1939, Weidmann was taken out in front of the Prison Saint-Pierre, where a guillotine and a clamoring, whistling crowd awaited him. Among the attendees was future acting legend Christopher Lee, then 17 years old. Weidmann was placed into the guillotine, and France’s chief executioner Jules-Henri Desfourneaux let the blade fall without delay.

Rather then react with solemn observance, the crowd behaved rowdily, using handkerchiefs to dab up Weidmann’s blood as souvenirs. Paris-Soir denounced the crowd as “disgusting”, “unruly”, “jostling, clamoring, whistling”. The unruly crowd delayed the execution beyond the usual twilight hour of dawn, enabling clear photographs and one short film to be taken.

After the event the authorities finally came to believe that “far from serving as a deterrent and having salutary effects on the crowds” the public execution “promoted baser instincts of human nature and encouraged general rowdiness and bad behavior”. The “hysterical behavior” by spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions.

Guillotine was the only mean of execution that the French republic had ever known, the device was in service from 1792 to 1977. For almost 200 years the guillotine executed tens of thousands of culprits (or not) without ever failing to deliver a quick and painless death.

While it is easy to see the guillotine as barbaric, it is actually a lot less gruesome than it looks. Capital punishment was very common in pre-revolutionary France. For nobles, the typical method of execution was beheading; for commoners, it was usually hanging, but less common and crueler sentences were also practiced. When Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin proposed the new method of execution to the National Assembly, it was meant to be more humane than previous capital punishments and also to be an equal method of death for all criminals regardless of rank.

Compared to many forms of capital punishment practiced to this day, the guillotine remains one of the best if we are judging based on pain and “cleanness”. In fact, the guillotine was developed with the idea of creating the most humane way to execute people. The condemned don’t feel pain, death is almost instantaneous and there are very few ways for things to be botched. The head of the victim remains alive for about 10-13 seconds, depending on the glucose and blood levels in his brain at the time. However, the head is believed to be more than likely knocked unconscious by the force of the blow and blood loss.

Weidmann is led away in handcuffs after his capture by police, Dec. 21, 1937.

Eugen Weidmann shows police the cave in the Fontainebleau Forest in France, where he murdered Janine Keller, June 17, 1938.

The trial, March 24, 1939.

Weidmann on trial in France, March 1939.

June 19, 2018

Pre-Marilyn Days, Here Is One of the Earliest Pictures of Model Norma Jeane in 1945

Before the glitz and the glamor that was Marilyn Monroe, there was Norma Jeane Mortenson: a curly-haired brunette who never expected to be anything more than a housewife.

Discovered at the factory by a photographer named David Conover. Soon, she quit her job and started modeling for the Blue Book Model Agency, posing in sensual pin-up photos that infuriated James Dougherty, her husband at that time.

Model Norma Jeane taken by M.O.Schwartz on May, 18th, 1945

In 1946, she moved on with her career and left her husband behind. She divorced Dougherty, dyed her hair blonde, and soon changed her named to Marilyn Monroe. From there, she would become a movie star, and leave her mark on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

She would become a legend unlike any the world has seen – and leave behind a life as a whole other person with a whole other name.

Here is an early photo of model Norma Jean that was taken by photographer M.O.Schwartz
on May, 18th, 1945.

Model Norma Jeane taken by M.O.Schwartz on May, 18th, 1945 and her certification sheet  below

Detail of the certification sheet:

Certification sheet of model Norma Jeane

Photographer or Studio: M.O.Schwartz

       Address: 426 St. Spring St

For value I received, I hereby consent that the pictures taken of me by the above named photographer on 5/18/45 at 426 St. Spring or any reproduction of them, may be used or sold by said photographer for the purpose of illustration, advertising or publication in any manner without limitation or reservation. I hereby certify and covenant that I am twenty-one years of age or over.

Signed:    Norma Jeane

  Lee Bush

The Model in Britain's Sex-and-Spy Profumo Scandal: 22 Vintage Photos of Christine Keeler in the 1960s

Christine Keeler (1942–2017, Orpington, Kent) was an English model who, as one of the central figures in the Profumo affair, contributed to the collapse of the Conservative government of Harold Macmillan.

At age 16, Keeler left home and moved to London to work as a fashion model. Over the next two years she took a number of different jobs, eventually becoming a dancer at a Soho gentlemen’s club that catered to the upper classes. There she met Charles Ward, a physician who was connected to some of the most politically and socially powerful families in England. Keeler moved in with Ward, and he acted as her patron, introducing her to men who moved in his circle, including Eugene Ivanov, a Russian military attaché and intelligence agent with whom Keeler became romantically involved.

In July 1961 Keeler met John Profumo, the secretary of state for war, at one of Ward’s parties, and the two began a short-lived affair. Rumours of the relationship leaked to the press, but Profumo was quick to deny them, going so far as to lie before Parliament in March 1963. Evidence of the affair quickly accumulated, however, and Profumo resigned in June 1963. Largely due to the scandal, the Macmillan government was voted out of office within a year.

At the height of the media flurry surrounding the Profumo affair, Keeler posed for a series of publicity shots with photographer Lewis Morley. The most famous of those images, featuring a nude Keeler astride a wooden chair, became one of the most iconic photographs of the 1960s. Keeler subsequently retreated to private life, emerging in 2001 with the biography The Truth at Last: My Story. The events of the Profumo affair were dramatized in the film Scandal (1989).

On 5 December 2017, Keeler’s son Seymour Platt announced that his mother “passed away last night at about 11.30 p.m.” at the Princess Royal University Hospital in Locksbottom, Greater London. She had been ill for some months, suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was aged 75.

20 Historic Photos of Africans in European Zoos From the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries

Only in 1935-36 in Europe were closed the last cells with blacks in zoos - in Basle and Turin. Before this time white people willingly looked at blacks in captivity (as well as at the Indians and Eskimos).

Already in the 16th century Africans were brought to Europe as exotic, much like the animals of the new open land - chimpanzees, llamas and parrots. But until the 19th century blacks lived primarily in the courts of rich people, illiterate commoners could not see them even in books.

That all changed in the modern era - when the majority of Europeans do not only learned to read, but was emancipated to the point that they that has requested the same comfort that the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy had.

In 1880s the zoos have become filled with exotic animals from the colonies and also with negroes - eugenics ranked them as the simplest representatives of the fauna.

The only excuse for the Europeans can be the fact that many whites up to the early 20th century really did not understand the difference between the black man and the apes. It's well known that Bismarck onse came to look at the African in Berlin Zoo who has been placed in a cage with a gorilla: Bismarck really asked to show him where in fact a human in this cage.

By the early 20th century Africans were kept in zoos in Basel and Berlin, Antwerp and London, and even in Russia Warsaw. Most often zoo keeper placed in the cells so-called "Ethnographic village", when in the cages were placed several black families. They walked there in the national costumes and led a traditional lifestyle - digging something with a help of primitive tools, woving mats, cooking on a fire.

However, the traditional African way of life was not invented for the European winter. According to the data of the Hamburg zoo, only between 1908 and 1912 twenty-seven black people died here during the exposition.

20 Vintage Photos of Young Jackie Chan in His Early Kung Ku Movies

Jackie Chan played a fair few small roles and did a lot of stunts in movies before taking the lead in some of the films listed further down. He had a minuscule part in Come Drink with Me at the age of 16 and even the highly regarded A Touch of Zen (among other films), before doing stunts in Bruce Lee’s films Fist of Fury and Enter the Dragon. Jackie is a big Bruce Lee fan and did a lot of uncredited work in films during those years of his fame – in movies like Hapkido.

But it was after the death of Bruce Lee that Jackie was being given the opportunity to take on bigger roles. Although it was mainly because the big wigs wanted him to become the next Bruce Lee, they put him in films like The New Fist of Fury, a sequel to the original Bruce Lee’s film.

Of course he eventually broke through into the Kung Fu comedy scene with Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master and became the legendary actor everyone knows today.

Glamorous Photos of Jacqueline Bisset in the 1960s and 1970s

Born 1944 in Weybridge, Surrey, England, Jacqueline Bisset began her film career in 1965, first coming to prominence in 1968 with roles in The Detective, Bullitt, and The Sweet Ride, for which she received a most promising newcomer Golden Globe nomination.

In the 1970s, Bisset starred in Airport (1970), Day for Night (1973) which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Deep (1977), and Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978), which earned her a Golden Globe nomination as Best Actress in a Comedy.

Her other film and TV credits include Rich and Famous (1981), Class (1983), her Golden Globe-nominated role in Under the Volcano (1984), her Cesar-nominated role in La Cérémonie (1995), her Emmy-nominated role in the miniseries Joan of Arc (1999) and the BBC miniseries Dancing on the Edge (2013), for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (television).

Bisset received France's highest honour, the Légion d'honneur, in 2010.

These glamorous photos that show the beauty of young Jacqueline Bisset in the 1960s and 1970s.


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