“Found dead in hotel room” is a familiar newspaper headline that sells copies. There is something sad yet sordid that appeals to the voyeur in many if not all of us, and we want to know more. A hotel room suggests for many of us a sense of holiday, perhaps romance, perhaps affluence, but when a death occurs there suspicions are usually aroused and the care-free spirit of romance turns to something more sinister. A hotel room can also be somewhere lonely, anonymous, the ideal place for clandestine meetings, a place far from home and friends and family. Somewhere that the public may view as the perfect location for something dark.
And not without reason. Some of the more high profile guests who have expired in hotel rooms have done so in some style and by their own hand. Others have had a bit of help from someone else’s hands. The names that come most readily to mind are those of David Carradine and Michael Hutchence who are deemed to have commited suicide in their hotel rooms, perhaps unintentionally, but many others have met their end in hotel rooms too. They didn’t all commit suicide, they weren’t all murdered, but even dying from natural causes in a hotel room raises public interest. It’s something that shouldn’t happen.
This American singer died in the Hilton Hotel Cardiff in April 2006 half way through a concert tour. The 65 year old known especially for his 1960s hits like “24 hours from Tulsa” had toured continually over the previous 40 years, and showing no signs of ill health had performed up to his usual high standard at St David’s hall. The next morning he was found dead in bed by his tour manager. Foul play was ruled out and the final conclusion was that he died of heart disease that had been undetected. His family had stayed in the US and weren’t with him. He died alone and far from home.
this 33 year old US rapper (”real” name Chad Butler) was found dead in a hotel room in Los Angeles in December 2007. Again there was no hint of foul play or self injury. The levels of prescribed medication found in his body were not sufficient to have induced death. However the rapper suffered from sleep apnea, a condituion whereby the sufferer stops breathing for a short while during sleep. This usually rights itself and the sleeper wakens, however the prescription medication may have made it difficult for Pimp C to waken and correct the halted breathing, and this is thought to have resulted in his death.
Born in southern Italy in 1972, Gatti was brought up in Montreal, Canada, moved to Jersey City where he was based during his boxing career, then returned to Montreal upon his retirement from the sport. Visiting Brazil for his sister’s wedding with his Brazilian wife and young son in July 2009, he was found dead from head injuries in the family’s hotel room in Ipojuca. His wife Amanda was initially arrested and charged with murder but then released and a verdict of suicide accepted. Canadian officials however were not satisfied with the suicide verdict and pursued their own line of inquiry following a second autopsy commissioned by the ex-boxer’s family. He was 37 years old.
one of Italy’s literary heroes of the post war period, Pavese met his death in the Roma e Rocca Cavour hotel in Turin on 27 August 1950, the year in which he was awarded the Strega prize for his book La Bella Estate. Pavese is credited with having made English and American literature accessible to the Italian reading public by way of his translations.
It is widely held that Pavese’s disillusionment with politics and the abrupt end to a romance with American actress Constance Dowling prompted him to overdose on Barbiturates. The suicide was seen by many as particularly dark and theatrical since it seems to act out the last scene of his book Tra Donne Sole (translated into English as Among Women Only).
There are many others, mostly ordinary people who died unexpectedly on holiday. Such an occurance is of course more than just distressing to a family. Arrangements have to be made, the husband or wife of the deceased is invariably alone in a strange town, there is the agony of police investigations to be endured to ensure that there has been no foul play. Some die alone, on business perhaps, and the family is left to wonder about how their father, mother, child or whoever spent their last hours alone.
But there are still those headline grabbing incidents involving the rich and famous, and whether for them death comes by way of natural causes, murder, intentional suicide or autoerotic misadventure, there still seems to be something that compels the general public to stop and stare.