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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2009

I'm very excited to bring you another edition of the Tuesday Timeline, even though today's subject happens to have had their career end rather abruptly, and on a sad note.  That's your only hint for right now as we enter the eighteenth day of March.

Of course, here in Canada, you'd never know that it was March 18 because apparently we're still in deep freeze/polar vortex mode.  Who ever heard of minus thirty degree temperatures in mid-March?

Well, unless you're on Antarctica.  Which is much colder.

Anyway, on this and every edition of the Tuesday Timeline, we take a look at all of the events that took place on this date, as well as celebrity birthdates.  So, let's begin with the former.

1314 - The twenty-third and final Grand Master of the Knights Templar - Jacques de Molay - is burned at the stake

1496 - Mary Tudor, Queen of France, is born

1741 - The New York Conspiracy of 1741 begins when New York Govenor George Clarke's complex at Fort George is deliberately burned to the ground

1766 - The British Parliament repels the Stamp Act

1850 - Henry Wells and William Fargo found the company that would come to be known as American Express

1865 - The Congress of the Confederate States of America adjourns for the final time

1892 - Lord Stanley donates a silver cup as an award for the best Canadian hockey team - would later come to be known as "The Stanley Cup"

1913 - The assassination of King George I of Greece takes place in Thessaloniki

1925 - Nearly seven hundred people lose their lives in the "Tri-State Tornado" which strikes Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana

1926 - Actor Peter Graves (d. 2010) is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota

1937 - A devastating explosion at the New London School in New London, Texas kills 300 people - most of the casualties were children

1941 - American singer-songwriter Wilson Pickett (d. 2006) is born in Prattville, Alabama

1944 - Mount Vesuvius erupts in Italy, killing 26 people and forcing thousands to flee their homes

1945 - The city of Berlin, Germany is beseiged by 1,250 American bombers during the tail end of World War II

1959 - President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs a bill into law which would formally declare Hawaii the fiftieth U.S. state - would go into effect five months later

1965 - Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov becomes the first person to walk in space

1970 - The United States Postal Strike of 1970 begins, lasting one week

1974 - Most OPEC nations end a five-month long oil embargo against the United States, Europe, and Japan

1990 - Twelve paintings are stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, valued at over $300 million

1992 - White South Africans vote to eliminate Apartheid from South African government rule

1996 - A deadly nightclub fire in Quezon City, Philippines kills 162 people

And, a very happy birthday goes out to the following people...Carl Gottlieb, Charley Pride, Kevin Dobson, Joy Fielding, Patrick Barlow, John Hartman, Ben Cohen, Irene Cara, Thomas Ian Griffith, Mike Rowe, Vanessa L. Williams, Jerry Cantrell, Queen Latifah, Dane Cook, Evan and Jaron Lowenstein, Sutton Foster, Rodleen Getsic, Mike Quackenbush, Virginia Williams, Adam Levine, Cornelius Smith Jr, Kyle Downes, Lily Collins, and Madeline Carroll.

And, now it's time to hop into our time machine and take a gander to see what date we'll be stopping at.

Hmmm.  March 18, 2009.  That was only five years ago, so I should be able to remember what exactly happened on that date.

And, as a matter of fact I do.  Sadly, the story that I have to tell about this date in history is not a happy one.  In fact, it's a tale in which one freak accident ended up costing a talented actress her life.

To begin the story, we must take a look at the one event that began the whole thing.

Our story begins a couple of days before our intended Tuesday Timeline destination, on March 16.

Now, as I explained in the beginning of this blog, we're currently in a deep freeze right here in Canada.  We've had countless spells of snow (some storms bringing as much as two to three feet of snow each go round), and the temperatures very rarely go above the zero mark.  I am having a really hard time believing that Spring is just in a few days.  At the rate we're going, Spring won't arrive until June 7!

But despite this longer than normal winter, there are some silver linings to be found.  And one of these silver linings is that the ski season tends to last longer, which means that more people are planning vacations at ski resorts, which means more business for the people who own the resorts.

Of course, I'm only speculating, as I've never been skiing in my entire life.

Anyway, the point that I'm trying to make is that our story begins at a ski resort - the Mont Tremblant Resort located in Quebec, Canada to be exact.  And, on March 16, 2009, a celebrity couple and their two children were on vacation at the ski resort hoping to get a few runs in before they had to return to work.  Little did the couple know that in just a matter of 48 hours, their vacation would take a tragic turn.

That couple was Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson, who along with their two children, Micheal and Daniel, were staying at the resort on a holiday.

Of course, everyone knows who Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson are.  Both of them were huge stars in 2009.  Irish-born Neeson was best known for his roles in "Schindler's List", "Nell", "Taken", and "Batman Begins". while Richardson was considered a double threat of sorts, partaking in film and theatre. 

Seriously, just have a look at some of the credits and accolades that Natasha Richardson had linked to her name.  Most people might remember her for her film roles in the 1998 remake of "The Parent Trap", but she also starred in other films such as "The Handmade's Tale", "Maid in Manhattan", "The White Countess", and "Nell".

Coincidentally, Richardson and Neeson fell in love while filming "Nell", and the couple tied the knot on July 3, 1994.

But as I mentioned earlier, Richardson didn't just shine in front of the camera.  She also flourished on stage.  She appeared in theatre off and on for several years with her first stage performance being 1983's "On The Razzle".  She also played the iconic role of Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 2005 and won a Tony Award in 1998 for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in the Broadway musical "Cabaret".

But on March 16, 2009, Natasha Richardson had decided to embark on another challenge.  She had never really gone skiing before, so she enrolled in a beginner's skiing class that was taught near the Mont Tremblant resort.  And at the beginning, it was a normal, everyday beginner's lesson.

That is, until Natasha suffered a fall during the lesson and sustained a nasty knock on the head as a result.

Now, normally this would not be much of a concern, as many skiers (both beginner and advanced) have sustained falls several times and gotten back up again.  What made this fall different was that Richardson was not wearing a protective helmet at the time of the accident.  And as a result, paramedics were dispatched almost immediately following the accident.

Because Richardson had gotten up after the accident, and was speaking normally without any hesitation or slurring of speech, it was believed that she was not badly hurt, and the ambulance left after the paramedics were told that they weren't needed.  Throughout the day, Richardson was asked if she wanted to go to the hospital for medical treatment as a precaution, but both times, Richardson refused to go.  She had it in her mind that she would be fine.

However, three hours later, Richardson began feeling extreme pain in her head, and the pain was getting worse.  She eventually allowed herself to be checked into hospital in Montreal, and by that time her condition grew worse.  By the time she was admitted into the hospital seven hours after the accident, her condition was critical, and she was losing consciousness. 

The next day, Richardson was transferred to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, still in critical condition, and while doctors tried their best to revive Richardson, she never did regain consciousness.

On the morning of March 18, 2009, Natasha Richardson was declared dead at just 45 years old.  The cause of death was listed as an "epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head", and was declared an accident.

What started off as a simple fall at a ski resort ended up being the one thing that killed Natasha Richardson.  And, of course, we could speculate about all the things that could have saved her life.  The most obvious one is that she could have been wearing a helmet.  It isn't known just how much lesser the damage would have been had she chose to wear one, but I imagine that it could only have helped.  A spokesperson for Mont Tremblant, Ian Galbraith, stated that while they recommended that all skiers and snowboarders wear helmets, it certainly wasn't enforced.  It certainly sparked debate as to whether or not helmets should be worn on ski mountains, and according to a report by BBC news, helmet use on ski resorts increased significantly after Natasha Richardson's death.

The epilogue of the story is this.  On March 19 - the day after Richardson's death - the lights on Broadway and on London's West End were dimmed to pay tribute to the actress, and a private service was held at St. Peter's Episcopal Church near Millbrook, New York.  And Liam Neeson has gone on to continue acting in several films - his most recent being 2014's "Non-Stop".  But he has never remarried since the death of his wife.

Certainly Natasha Richardson's death sparked a lot of debate about safety concerns at ski resorts...but her death left behind a huge hole in the acting world, both on Broadway and in Hollywood.  Natasha Richardson certainly had talent, and she is still missed.

And, her death left behind a hole in the Neeson-Richardson family that can never really be repaired.

Hard to believe that it's been five years since she passed away.  It doesn't seem that long.

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