Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today
Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today

Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today

Khalid Elhassan - January 8, 2018

Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today
Albert Dekker. Listal

Hollywood Star Killed in BDSM Episode Gone Wrong

If you thought the death from autoerotic asphyxiation of David Carradine, of Kung Fu fame, was weird, it was pretty tame compared to the death of another famous actor, Albert Dekker (1905 – 1968). Decker was one of America’s greatest character actors, with a career that spanned 40 years in the theater and on the silver screen. During those decades, he accumulated a filmography of over 110 credits. He won accolades for notable performances in films such as East of Eden, The Killers, Dr. Cyclops, Kiss Me Deadly, as well as in his final acting role in The Wild Bunch.

He also won acclaim for having the moral courage during the hysteria of the Red Scare early in the Cold War, to stand up to and denounce the demagogic Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He was one of the few actors brave enough to do so, and it got him blacklisted in Hollywood. His career was derailed for years, during which he could find no work before the anticommunist hysteria finally subsided and he returned to acting.

In 1968, Dekker completed his final role in The Wild Bunch, left the set, and fell off the map. Friends and family grew worried after days passed without anybody hearing from him. After failing to show up for a date with his fiancee, fashion model Geraldine Saunders, she tried calling, but got no response. So she went to his apartment and pinned a note on a door already covered by other notes from friends and acquaintances. When she returned later that evening and found things still the same, she convinced the building manager to let her in the apartment. Inside the apartment, they found the bathroom door chained from the inside, and had to break it open. There, they discovered a dead Dekker, hanging from a leather belt.

The scene was so bizarre and grotesque, that Geraldine collapsed, and the building manager needed minutes to overcome the shock and gather his wits to call the police. Dekker was naked in the bathtub, with a ball gag in his mouth, a scarf covering his eyes, and his hands cuffed behind his back. In addition to the belt around his neck, there was another belt around his waist, tied to a rope binding his ankles. That rope, in turn, was looped around his wrist and clasped in his hand.

Sun rays were drawn around his nipples in lipstick, which was also used to draw a vagina on his stomach. A hypodermic needle was sticking out of each arm, and his right butt cheek had two needle punctures, above which the word “whip” was written in lipstick. His body was covered in other words written in lipstick, including “slave”, “cocksucker”, and “make me suck”.

His death was initially ruled a suicide, but after S&M toys and porn were found in his apartment, it was changed to accidental autoerotic asphyxiation while masturbating. Despite the coroner’s ruling, foul play was suspected and the death was and remains suspicious. For one, his fiancee knew that he had been keeping $70,000 cash in the apartment to buy a new house. The money, as well as expensive cameras and filming equipment, was never found. It also seemed incredible that Dekker could have tied himself in the manner in which he was discovered, all on his own. Whether he acted alone, or had a partner who panicked and fled after a kinky sex game went terribly wrong, or he was murdered, is a mystery that remains unsolved to this day.

Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today
Ticket to the hanging of Jonathan Wilde. Wikimedia

England’s Greatest Crime Fighter Was Also Its Greatest Criminal Kingpin

Jonathan Wilde (1682 – 1725) was an 18th century English master criminal. He reigned over an underground kingdom of thieves and highwaymen, ran a far-flung extortion racket, and was Britain’s biggest fence for stolen goods. After pretending to have finally seen the light and reformed his evil ways, the authorities turned to Wilde, gave him the title “Thief Taker“, and set him loose on the criminals running amok and terrorizing London.

Wilde took to his new job and title with a passion. He organized highly effective teams of thief catchers, who fell upon the criminals with a will, breaking up gangs and sending criminals to the gallows by the dozen. During his thief-catching career, at least 120 people were executed based on Wilde’s testimony and on information he provided to the authorities.

He also set up a side business as a private detective, recovering stolen goods for a fee. What he failed to inform his clients was that it was his own thieves who had stolen their goods in the first place. “Recovery” simply came down to Wilde sifting through his warehouses of stolen property. Far from having gone legit, Wilde had hoodwinked everybody, and the Thief Catcher became an even bigger criminal kingpin, ridding himself of competitors by delivering them to the authorities.

The term “double-cross” owes its origins to Wilde. He had a ledger in which the names of partners who ran afoul of him, and whom he was setting up for delivery to the authorities and the gallows, were marked with two Xs. He was finally brought down when a criminal double-crossed by Wilde accused him of fencing stolen goods. An investigation confirmed the accusation, and Wilde was arrested. At that point, many of his underlings turned crown evidence and testified against him. It was not long before his scheme of simultaneously being England’s greatest crime fighter, as well as England’s greatest criminal, came out. He was swiftly tried, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, where he had sent so many others to their deaths.

Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today
Edward VII’s specially designed heavy duty love chair. Twitter

King Edward VII’s Sexcapades

Today’s British tabloids would have had a field day with Albert Edward (1841 – 1910), who went on to reign as King Edward VII of the United Kingdom from 1901 until his death. He was no great shakes as a king, being a mediocrity both as a man and as a monarch. However, as a libertine, Edward VII shone, standing in stark contrast to his notoriously priggish mother, Queen Victoria, who lent her name to an uptight and prudish age.

Growing up, the then-Prince Albert, or “Bertie”, was a disappointment to his prim and proper parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. It started with Bertie’s first sex scandal, at age 16, with a prostitute. The queen was not amused. On the way back home from chastising Bertie for his wayward ways, his father caught pneumonia, which did him in. For the remaining four decades of her life, Queen Victoria blamed Bertie for killing her beloved husband and did all she could to keep him from succeeding her to the British throne.

She failed to get him removed from the line of succession, but often remarked that her longevity and long reign were due to her determination to outlive Bertie and prevent him from ever becoming king. She did her best, but after a 64-year reign, Victoria finally died in 1901, and after a long wait that he thought would never end, Bertie became king at age 60.

During the decades-long wait for becoming king, Bertie became notorious for his relentless quest to gratify his sexual appetites. It did not matter whether it was with cheap hookers or top-notch French aristocratic ladies and courtesans. From discrete liaisons to publicized affairs with famous actresses to wife-swapping orgies, Bertie was insatiable and down for it all.

He was a big fan of Paris’ elite brothels, especially its most exclusive whorehouse, La Chabanais. There, he had his own room, decorated with his coat of arms and furnished to his specific tastes. Those tastes included a specially designed chair, named siege d’amour, which he had installed in his whorehouse room. By the 1890s, Bertie had become an obese, middle-aged, and out-of-shape man. So he had the heavy-duty love chair custom made to enable him to have sex without crushing his partners, and also to position them just right for royal access, with minimal exertion and contortions on his part.

Top 10 Historic Scandals That Would Cause a Firestorm Today
Captain Kidd dangling from a gibbet. History Today

Manhattan Socialite and Philanthropist Hanged For Piracy

The Scotsman William Kidd (circa 1645 – 1701) was one of New York City’s leading citizens and socialites, who became personal friends with at least three governors of the colony of New York. Among his philanthropic civic activities, Kidd had played a leading role in building New York City’s now historic Trinity Church. There was thus little in his background to indicate that he would end up swinging from the gallows, executed as the notorious pirate, Captain Kidd.

Kidd’s first sea command was as a privateer, commissioned in 1689 by the governor of Nevis to fight the French. He was granted what were known as “letters of marque”, authorizing him to prey on French vessels for the duration of hostilities between Britain and France. Later, he was issued additional letters of marque by the governors of New York and the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

In 1695, Kidd’s mission was expanded. He was presented with a letter of marque signed by King William III, giving him a roving commission to attack pirates in the Indian Ocean. The voyage started inauspiciously: sailing out of London in a newly equipped ship, the 34 gun and 150 men crew Adventure Galley, Kidd offended a Royal Navy captain by failing to salute his warship. The captain retaliated by stopping the Adventure Galley, and seized half of its crew to press them into the Royal Navy.

Crossing the Atlantic short-handed, Kidd made it to New York, where he replenished his crew with whatever out-of-work seafarers he could find. Most of them were hardened criminals and former pirates. Sailing into the Indian Ocean, a third of Kidd’s crew died of cholera by the time they reached the Comoros Islands. To top it off, he was unable to find any of the pirates he had been sent to hunt down.

The enterprise seemed a failure, and the crew, getting antsy, urged him to attack some passing vessels in order to make the voyage worth their time. When Kidd declined, his men threatened mutiny. Under pressure, he gave in, and reluctantly started attacking ships not covered by his privateering letters. By 1698, he had abandoned reluctance and any pretense of privateering, and turned full pirate. That year, he sealed his fate when he attacked a British East India Company ship. The powerful company exerted its influence in London, and Kidd was declared a pirate and outlaw.

Unbeknownst to him, by the time he returned to the American Colonies, Kidd’s public image had been transformed into that of an infamous pirate. During his absence, attitudes towards piracy had changed from the wink, wink, nudge, nudge, which had been the norm when he began his voyage. Now, crackdown was in the air, and the authorities were eager to make an example of somebody.

Kidd was thus very unlucky to return when he did. He was arrested as soon as he arrived in Boston, and he was sent in chains across the Atlantic for prosecution in London. There, word of his previous connections with government elites caused a scandal, and the powerful supporters whom he had expected to defend him abandoned him in droves. He was swiftly tried and convicted, and on May 23, 1701, he was hanged. His corpse was then left to rot in a cage on the Thames for all to see.

 

Sources For Further Reading:

Sun Sentinel – Jfk, Rfk And Marilyn Monroe: Power, Politics and Paramours?

Business Insider – The FBI Warned Bobby Kennedy A Book Was Coming Out Revealing His Affair with Marilyn Monroe And Blaming Him for Her Death

Alarabiya News – Bobby Kennedy Ordered Murder of Marilyn Monroe

People – All About Marilyn Monroe’s Alleged Affairs with JFK and Brother Bobby

Vanity Fair – Unlucky Star: The Brief, Bombastic Life of Rudolph Valentino

The Guardian – What Gossip Over Rudolph Valentino’s Sex Life Says About The Silents

Defense Media Network – The Mark 14 Torpedo Scandal

Medium – Ballad of the 13-Year-Old Bride

The Vintage News – Roscoe Arbuckle – The Story Of The Man Who Mentored Charlie Chaplin And Discovered Artists Such As Buster Keaton And Bob Hope

ABC News – Carradine’s Death Likely Sex Accident

History Extra – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert: What Was Their Relationship Like?

BBC News – Queen Victoria: The Real Story of Her ‘Domestic Bliss’

Australia News – King Edward VII’s Bizarre Sex Chair Has Confused Everyone

The Scotsman – The Brutal End Of Greenock’s Treasure Island Pirate

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