From Shakespeare's stories to royal gimmicks to Stephen King's modern masterpieces, the fertile minds of great writers have provided endless works of delicious fiction. But even the bard on his best day would struggle to compete with the bottomless pit of bizarre real-life stories.
As part of an ongoing series, Top Tenz presents our latest list of stunning events that can only be submitted under "Stranger Than Fiction".
. 8 Standing Tall
Among his many outstanding innovations and crazy promotions, Veeck (rhymes with "wreck") was an early advocate for the integration of the professional game. As the owner of the Cleveland Indians, he signed the first black player in the American League, Larry Doby . He also made Negro Leagues legend, Satchel Paige the oldest rookie of all time when the two future Hall of Famers helped the tribe win the 1948 World Series. But a messy divorce would later force Veeck to sell the team just to buy the lower Browns a few years later.
The baseball outsider tried his best to set up a competitive team in St. Louis, but the Cardinals in town were far superior in both talent and ticket sales. Then Veeck reached deep into his bag of tricks. On August 19, 1951, at Sportsman's Park he ordered Browns manager Zack Taylor to send a circus performer named Eddie Gaedel to the Pincher to pinch the Detroit Tigers.
Gaedel wore a children's uniform with the number 1/8 and stepped into the racket on the bottom of the first inning. The Detroit pitcher, Bob Cain, tried to locate the tiny strike zone, but walked on four consecutive fields with the pint-sized player. Before the triumphant Gaedel was replaced by a prize runner, he received a well-deserved standing ovation from the sparse crowd.
The following day, angry American League President Will Harridge canceled # 1/8's contract and accused Veeck of mocking the sport. Then all future deals had to be approved by the Commissioner of Baseball in advance. For those who hold points, Gaedel would later appear in another major league game – this time disguised as an alien when Veeck owned the Chicago White Sox. But that, dear reader, is a different story.
. 7 Family feud
Although an obscure Bosnian Serb would forever take over the rap for the start of the First World War one of the most famous monarchs in history is at the epicenter of war to end all wars. The British Queen Victoria (19659005), who ruled for 63 years, is rightly celebrated as the "grandmother of Europe". As a result, some of their direct descendants would eventually become warlords in the greatest (and bloodiest) family feud in Europe.
Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent took the throne at the tender age of 18 after her childless uncle, King William IV, died in 1837. Word count restrictions prevent further explanation of the wonderfully complicated process of British royal succession. But it is enough to say that she was lucky and many looks died so that she became queen.
Shortly after putting on the crown, she cultivated the family tradition and married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The incestuous union produced no fewer than nine children, all of whom later married to royal and noble families across Europe.
Looking back on July 28, 1914, when a 19-year-old Yugoslav nationalist named Gavrilo Princip murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo. Although Queen Victoria had been dead for over 13 years, her grandchildren now ruled a significant part of the planet. Unfortunately, they soon started to destroy it. Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II. began declaring war on his cousin Tsar Nicolas II. Of Russia . A few days later, the British George V joined the family struggle, which led to unprecedented slaughter and the deaths of over a million soldiers.
. 6 Beached Boy
Quentin Tarantino's newest film Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood his twisted love letter to Tinsletown mixes fact with fiction. Oddly enough, the nostalgic romp prompts the public to frequently expose any unbelief, including a scene where a washed-up stuntman thrashes martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Seriously? Fortunately, Tarantino doesn't miss the mark with Charles Manson rubbing shoulders with celebrities in the turbulent late 1960s.
Not surprisingly, the Beach Boys drummer and hell-raiser, Dennis Wilson picks up a pair of young hitchhikers and takes them to his home on Sunset Boulevard. When it turned out that the girls were Manson followers Ella Jo Bailey and Patricia Krenwinkel, the "good vibrations" ran out when their cult leader arrived at the party.
Manson and 17 others from his community soon moved into the party pad – the scene of a caligula-like debauchery with non-stop orgies and drug-induced hype. Wilson later provided his new buddy with coveted connections to the music industry such as Byrds producer Terry Melcher. In an interview with the Record Mirror in 1968, Wilson said openly: "I told them [the girls] about our involvement in the Maharishi and they told me that they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who & # 39; I recently got out of prison after 12 years. He got into a crime, but when I met him I found that he had great musical ideas. We are writing together now. “
Wilson even used the help of his older brothers Brian and Carl to fund and produce a recording session with the charismatic singer / songwriter. One of these songs, the eerily named "Cease To Exist", was later titled "Never Learn Not To Love" and released on the Beach Boys album 20/20 in February 1969 – less than six months previously the gruesome Tate-LaBianca murders .
Ultimately, success as a musician escaped Manson. He had a violent fallout with Wilson, who claimed the ex-fraudster owed him over $ 100,000 (and the cost of several visits to the doctor to treat his angry gonorrhea). For his problems, the drummer was recognized solely as the song's composer and had the false prophet look for glory elsewhere.
. 5 Howard's great obsession
More than 40 years after his death, the fascination for Howard Hughes remains great. His exploits as a record-breaking aviator, businessman and Hollywood Lothario offer endless intrigues to one of the most enigmatic (and richest) men of the 20th century. Among all his extraordinary accomplishments, Hughes' attempt to design lingerie would prove to be a pitiful failure.
His obsession with female anatomy reached dizzying heights while filming his film The Outlaw . The film was said to be a retelling of wild icons of the wild west Billy the Kid and Doc Holliday . But Hughes had a different vision. The producer / director / studio boss was all about breasts – especially that of the actress Jane Russell .
Hughes discovered Russell in 1940 as an unknown, 19-year-old, buxom brunette and immediately signed her an exclusive seven-year contract. The Mughal then cast his latest genius in the role of "Rio", a sexy senorita trapped in a love triangle between the two gunslingers. The avid filmmaker instructed his cinematographer Gregg Toland ( Citizen Kane ) to show Russell's split throughout the film – and even constructed a coarse piece of clothing with wires to further enhance her voluptuous figure present.
Naturally, the well-equipped Russell refused to carry the device. In her autobiography the actress described the ham design as "ridiculous and uncomfortable" and never wore it. Instead, she fooled her breast-obsessed boss by simply padding her bra with tissue paper. "He could design airplanes," she said. "But he wasn't a Mister Playtex."
. 4 Operation Mincemeat
"All warfare is based on deception." – Sun Tzu
Before Ian Fleming gained worldwide recognition as the author of the James Bond spy novels, he used his creative skills for British intelligence during the Second world War. He is credited with hatching an elaborate ruse, which is a corpse dressed to resemble an officer on the way to handing over secret documents. The phantom messenger was later dropped near the coast and eventually found its way into enemy hands.
With a wink and a nod at their dark sense of humor, British military officials codenamed the operation Operation Mincemeat . The trick that was to mislead the Germans about the Allied attack on Sicily was about a recently deceased Welsh tramp named Glyndwr Michael. He would soon assume a new identity as Captain (Acting Major) William "Bill" Martin of the Royal Marines. Despite the inconspicuous life and gloomy death of the dead, he would soon embark on an extraordinary adventure.
On the morning of April 30, 1943, a local sardine fisherman off the southwest coast of Spain made the cruel discovery of the lifeless body floating in the water. The mysterious soldier with a black briefcase on his waist was quickly brought ashore and handed over to German spies stationed in the area.
Later, the falsified documents found in the Attaché case revealed "top secret" plans that included a large-scale Allied invasion of Greece and Sardinia. The information ended up on the desk of Adolf Hitler who responded resolutely while being thoroughly deceived. The pathological scheme became one of the most bizarre chapters of World War II, interrupted by a cheeky message to the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in which he declared: “Minced meat swallowed. Rod, Line and Sinker. "
. 3 Feline Forces
Albert Schweitzer once said: "There are two ways to protect yourself from the misery of life: music and cats." The astute observation of the renowned philosopher and Nobel Peace Prize winner could also include the mention of cats taking refuge before the misery of the trench warfare during the First World War.
Volumes were written about the horrors and the senseless slaughter of the First World War. Weapons like machine guns, mustard gas and flamethrowers all contributed to the endless cemetery of “No Man's Land”. But without a doubt the conflict would be defined by life in the trenches that the Allies had overcome with a secret weapon: cats .
From 1914 to 1918, an estimated 500,000 four-legged commands were used in the trenches, where they hunted and killed disease-transmitting rats and mice. Their tasks also extended to ships at sea and served as mascots. The practice goes back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians who worshiped furry cats for their ability to keep naval ships and royal palaces free of vermin.
So next time your cat meows for attention or requires a fresh bowl of chow. Be careful not only to meet their needs, but also to thank them for the military service of their ancestors.
. 2 No rest for the bad guys
The murder of the famous silent film director William Desmond Taylor had all the prerequisites for a box office hit. Shine. Secret. Greed. And even a few uninvited ghosts.
On the morning of February 2, 1922, Taylor was found dead in his bungalow in Los Angeles. He had most likely been shot in the back the previous night, resulting in a massive police investigation into yet another sensational 20s crime that would make headlines for months.
Several top-class Hollywood players were interviewed, including the director's former cocaine-addicted girlfriend, Mabel Normand . The popular actress, one of Taylor's many lovers, was the last person to see him alive on the evening of his death. After extensive interrogations, the LAPD ruled them out as suspects despite ongoing accusations from tabloids of the day.
Ultimately, the authorities were unable to find credible evidence or manufacture the murder weapon. Taylor's family had buried his remains at Hollywood Forever Cemetery where the story takes its most shocking (and most absurd) turn. A determined reporter named Florebel Muir orchestrated the kind of crazy advertising stunt that could only have happened in La-La-Land.
Muir, the Hollywood correspondent for the New York Daily News, tried to outsmart her rivals with a half-baked plan with Taylor's butler Henry Peavey. Three days before Taylor's murder, Peavey had been arrested for "social vagrants" – and Muir hoped she could get a confession out of him. She eventually hired a Chicago hoodlum called Al Weinshank to disguise herself as a ghost and hide in the cemetery near Taylor's mausoleum.
One night after luring Peavey to the tomb, the creepy gangster suddenly appeared in a white sheet and shouted, "I am the ghost of William Desmond Taylor! You murdered me! Admit it, Peavy! “Not surprisingly, the butler gave a hearty laugh before giving part of his thoughts to the conspirators. As far as the spirit is concerned, Weinshank later joined the real dead after he left St. Valentine's Day Massacre .
. 1 Docked and loaded
The drug culture of the 1960s and 1970s affected all corners of society and eventually changed to the world of sport. In major league baseball, pill popping before the games became routine, as did playing the star-spangled banner. Former Pittsburgh Pirates Ace Dock Ellis claims that he never played a sober game – and even once threw a no-hitter under the influence of LSD .
Ellis made his MLB debut in 1968 as a hard-throwing right-hander. He quickly became one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, leading the pirates to five division titles and one world championship in 1971. He became an outspoken advocate of racial equality at a time when athletes were prevented from expressing their opinions. The All-Star jug also became drug and alcohol dependent to cope with the pressure to perform at the highest level.
In addition to coolers with cold beer amphetamines such as amphetamine and dexamyl (known as "greenies" at the time) were a common staple in changing rooms throughout the league. On a memorable occasion, Ellis decided to drink acid on what he thought was a day off while visiting friends in Southern California. However, when he was "taller than a Georgia Pine," he learned that the pirates had planned to start the first double-headed game against San Diego two nights later in the evening.
After he ran into the stadium, he swallowed a few "greenies" to compensate for his drug-driven journey. Ellis then went to the hill on June 12, 1970 and wrote baseball history. When the medication became effective, he started hallucinating and tried to concentrate. Pirate catcher Jerry May had to put a reflective tape on his fingers so Ellis could see his signals. In the end it was not nice (he went eight and hit a couple of Batters), but Ellis closed the Padres 2-0.
He played a total of 12 major league seasons in an injury-ridden career full of ups and downs. Ironically, he regretted the rare milestone because he overshadowed his much more significant achievements  outside of sports. After retiring in 1980, he entered a drug abuse rehabilitation program and devoted his life to sobriety and helping other athletes fight addiction. He also became a spokesman for raising awareness of sickle cell disease (a disease he fought most of his life) and worked to raise funds for medical research.
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