Only a quick post today, as I’m leaving for Death Salon at stupid o’clock in the morning and really need to start packing a case before I wind up on a train with nothing but a ticket and a confused expression.
I’ve come across this photograph many times whilst searching for post mortem photography on the net, and I have to admit that for quite a while I just assumed it was a carefully put together fake. Eventually I looked into the story behind the image and discovered that it was in fact the work of renowned Mexican street photographer Enrique Metinides.
This picture was taken on Avenida Chapultepec and Calle de Monterrey in Colonia Roma. She was a very famous journalist who wrote some really good books. That day she had a book-release party and was on her way there. She was all made up, going to pick up her sister to go to the event. Crossing the street, two cars crashed and then ran her over. This picture is great because she has all her makeup on and she just doesn’t look dead even though she is.
Metinides was born in Mexico City in 1934. He began his photographic career at only ten years old and continues to this day.
This rather pretty little post mortem photograph is currently for sale on eBay. I like to have a trawl through what’s available, but as I’ve said before I long ago made the decision not to buy ‘actual’ photographs, simply because of the cost.
If you’re interested, the photo is on a ‘buy it now’ deal at $47.99 (auction closes 29th April).
I love this post mortem photograph – the lady is propped in what was probably her favourite chair in a very smart dress and ruffle collar.
There is a man’s portrait just visible on the table behind her – perhaps her husband or lost love? Or maybe not – perhaps I’m just being overly romantic about it. It does seem to be intentionally placed there, though.
As this post mortem image was found swimming in the depths of Tumblr, I have absolutely zero background information on it.
Anyone recognise any cultural references? I know we’ve identified the geographical background of photos from the style of funeral customs before now. Any and all info and suggestions are, as always, most gratefully received!
Eliza Lam gained tragic notoriety when her body was found in a water tank on the roof of the Cecil Hotel, Los Angeles in February 2013, after other guests had complained about quality and taste of the water coming out of the taps. Yes, I retched at that snippet, too.
Not only had the 21 year old student apparently managed to drown herself in a tank that was almost impossible to access and which had to be cut open to free her body (the coroner deemed her death to be ‘accidental’), but CCTV footage showed that prior to her death she had been acting very bizarrely indeed…
To make things even creepier, the Cecil Hotel has a dark history of death and murder. Notorious serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka the Night Stalker, lived at the Cecil during his reign of terror in the 1980′s, and Jack Unterweger stayed at the hotel whilst working on an article about prostitution 1991. He is thought to have murdered at least three sex workers during his time in residence and was widely believed to have chosen the Cecil as a base in homage to Ramirez.
There’s love, there’s obsessive love, and then there’s ‘no holds barred downright nuts obsession masked as love’…
Elena de Hoyos was hospitalised at the Marine Hospital in Key West in 1930, suffering from tuberculosis. She almost immediately caught the eye of Carl Tanzler, a radiologist at the hospital. Not only did Tanzler notice her, he believed that he recognised her as his ‘true love’, whom he had apparently seen in visions.
Despite Tanzler’s best efforts with medications and unlikely treatments such as x-rays, de Hoyos died on October 25th, 1931. Not only did Tanzler insist on paying for the funeral, he also (with the permission of her family) commissioned a mausoleum in Key West cemetery, which he visited on a nightly basis after de Hoyos’ interment.
From Wikipedia (there are many web pages about Tanzler, but nearly all just quote Wiki anyway):
One evening in April, 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery where Hoyos was buried and removed her body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transporting it to his home. He reportedly said that Elena’s spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with a favorite Spanish song. He also said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave.
Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with wire and coat hangers, and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of the decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos’s hair that had been collected by her mother and given to Tanzler not long after her burial in 1931.
Tanzler filled the corpse’s abdominaland chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Hoyos’s remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition.
After seven years, de Hoyos’ family heard rumour of what had been happening and Tanzler was arrested. The corpse was put on display for a brief time in a local funeral home and it was said that as many as 6,800 people viewed it before de Hoyos was finally reinterred at Key West, this time in an unmarked grave.
Rather surprisingly from a modern perspective, Tanzler was generally viewed with sympathy and seen as something of a romantic. It’s certainly a step up from laying flowers tidily on a grave…
Tanzler’s case took so long to come to court that all charges against him were eventually dropped as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired. He made a wax effigy of de Hoyos using a death mask and lived with it until his death on July 3, 1952.
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Thanks to Nickie H for the heads up about this amazingly bizarre story. I always appreciate contributions and suggestions – if you have anything you’d like to share with other readers, please get in touch.
Alabaman Rube Burrow was a train robber, primarily in Texas. He was killed in Linden, Alabama, where he had been captured and handcuffed to a bench. Using a hidden pistol, he got free from the handcuffs, then went looking for another of his captors who had taken his Marlin rifle. Burrow was killed in the ensuing gunfight.
Good old Wikipedia actually has a really nice collection of information – click here (opens in new window).
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I always appreciate contributions and suggestions. If you have anything you’d like to share with other readers, please get in touch.
This vintage photograph was sent in by Laurie S., who explained that although she had read that there was no such thing as a ‘standing’ post mortem photograph, the ‘dotted in’ eyes on this subject intrigued her.
I happen to think that there are occasional examples of standing post mortem images, but I am very far from being an expert and am well aware that other website owners would disagree with me wholeheartedly. Each to their own, as they say.
Anyway it’s a moot point in this case, because I don’t think for one moment that the gentlemen in this photo (which hadn’t been described or sold as a post mortem) is anything other than alive*, and the eyes had simply come out a bit blurred so the photographer did a bit of early photo editing.
Your thoughts, lovely readers?
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*at the time the photo was taken. Yes I know he’d be dead by now, hahaha, if only I had a pound for every time I’d heard that quip, etc etc…