10 Non–Rock Stars Who Died at the Tragically Young Age of 27

© Laurence Baker/Corbis

On Saturday, Amy Winehouse passed away and became the latest member of Club 27—an exclusive club you don’t want to be in. Club 27 is headlined by musicians Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Brian Jones, who all died of a drug overdose, suicide, or accident at that young age. But the musically inclined aren't the only ones who die at 27. Here are 10 other people who didn’t live to see 28.

1. Pope John XII. One of the youngest Popes ever, Pope John XII sat on the papal chair from 955-964. He was a rather unethical Pope whose crimes against the chair allegedly included adultery, gambling and even murder. He died under suspicious circumstances, but the rumor is that he was “stricken by paralysis in the act of adultery” at the young age of 27.

2. Pat Tillman. The NFL player, who turned down a $3.6 million contract to enlist in the U.S. Army after 9/11, was just 27 when he was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

3. Henry Moseley was an English physicist with a promising future ahead of him; he had already identified gaps in the periodic table and was measuring the X-ray spectra of chemical elements. And then World War I hit, so Moseley turned down a job at Oxford to enlist in the Royal Engineers of the British Army. He had served as a technical officer in communications for just four months when he was shot in the head by a sniper on August 10, 1915. “In view of what he might still have accomplished," Isaac Asimov once wrote, "his death might well have been the most costly single death of the War to mankind generally,”

4. Joseph Merrick. The unfortunate fellow you probably know better as The Elephant Man died in 1890, following a lifetime of being exhibited, prodded and poked at. To this day, experts are still not sure what caused Merrick’s deformities, though they think his ailment did contribute to his death at the age of 27. His doctor, Frederick Treves, believed that Merrick had attempted to sleep horizontally in bed like most people do, and as a result, asphyxiated due to the weight of his head.

5. American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat died of a heroin overdose in 1988. It’s said that when Andy Warhol died the previous year, Basquiat was so distressed that his attempts at staying sober took a nosedive. He died in his studio at the age of 27.

6. French mathematician François Proth died of unknown causes in 1879. Though he was young, the self-taught Proth had already developed four theorems and the Proth number.

7. Alfonso XII. Alfonso’s mother, Isabella II of Spain, abdicated in his favor in 1870, making him King of Spain at the age of 13. That gave him nearly 15 years of ruling before he died of tuberculosis in 1885. His youngest child, born seven months after his death, was the grandfather of Juan Carlos I, the current King of Spain.

8. Alain-Fournier was the author of Le Grand Meaulnes, considered by many to be one of the most important works of French literature. It was also his only work. Though he had started another, it was incomplete when he, like Henry Moseley, enlisted to serve his country during WWI. He died a month after joining up in 1914, but his body wasn’t identified until 1991. Alain-Fournier was his pseudonym, by the way - his real name was Henri Alban-Fournier.

9. Reggie Lewis. The pro basketball player had been with the Boston Celtics for six years when he collapsed on the court during an off-season practice at Brandeis University on July 27, 1993. His cause of death was determined to be sudden cardiac arrest.

10. We're reaching on this one, but John Wilkes Booth was a month away from his 27th birthday when he assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Booth, of course, was killed almost two weeks later.

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Museum of the City of New York
New York City Exhibition Celebrates the Rebellious Victorian-Era Women Who Made History
Museum of the City of New York
Museum of the City of New York

At a time when women wore corsets and hooped skirts, the American Jewish actress Adah Isaacs Menken caused quite a stir when she appeared onstage in men’s clothing. It was the early 1860s, and her portrayal of a man in the play Mazeppa saw her ride into the theater on a horse while wearing a flesh-colored body stocking. Critics were shocked, but Menken paid no mind. Both on stage and in her daily life, she continued to disregard the norms of that era by cutting her hair short and smoking cigarettes in public.

Menken is just one of the daring women featured in a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York. Rebel Women: Defying Victorianism celebrates the New York women who challenged the rigid expectations of the Victorian era, and includes a collection of photographs, clothes, and prints from the period.

A caricatures of the "Grecian bend"
Museum of the City of New York

The 19th century was a period of constraints for women. "During this era, a woman could be considered a rebel simply by speaking in public, working outside the home, or disregarding middle‐class morality or decorum," according to a museum statement. “Yet 19th‐century New York City was full of women who defied those expectations in both overt and subtle ways.”

The exhibit highlights the accomplishments of historic figures who contributed to the advancement of women’s rights, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but it also casts a light on lesser-known figures—many of whom history was unkind to.

A photo of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
Museum of the City of New York

An illustration of women voting
Museum of the City of New York

There’s Ann Trow Lohman, also known as “Madame Restell,” who was dubbed “The Wickedest Woman in New York” for providing birth control to women. Similarly, Hetty Green earned the moniker “The Witch of Wall Street” for her successful career as a stock broker.

Visitors will also learn about a predecessor to Rosa Parks: Elizabeth Jennings Graham, a black New Yorker who refused to get off of a segregated street car in 1854.

Not all of the women had such noble goals, though, and the exhibition shows that men didn’t have a monopoly on crime. Notorious pickpocket and con-woman Sophie Lyons used her smarts and beauty to steal from wealthy men and earned a reputation as "the most notorious confidence woman America has ever produced."

The exhibition will be on view until January 6, 2019, and tickets can be purchased online.

Marshall McLuhan, the Man Who Predicted the Internet in 1962

Futurists of the 20th century were prone to some highly optimistic predictions. Theorists thought we might be extending our life spans to 150, working fewer hours, and operating private aircrafts from our homes. No one seemed to imagine we’d be communicating with smiley faces and poop emojis in place of words.

Marshall McLuhan didn’t call that either, but he did come closer than most to imagining our current technology-led environment. In 1962, the author and media theorist, predicted we’d have an internet.

That was the year McLuhan, a professor of English born in Edmonton, Canada on this day in 1911, wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy. In it, he observed that human history could be partitioned into four distinct chapters: The acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the then-emerging electronic age. McLuhan believed this new frontier would be home to what he dubbed a “global village”—a space where technology spread information to anyone and everyone.

Computers, McLuhan said, “could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization,” and offer “speedily tailored data.”

McLuhan elaborated on the idea in his 1962 book, Understanding Media, writing:

"Since the inception of the telegraph and radio, the globe has contracted, spatially, into a single large village. Tribalism is our only resource since the electro-magnetic discovery. Moving from print to electronic media we have given up an eye for an ear."

But McLuhan didn’t concern himself solely with the advantages of a network. He cautioned that a surrender to “private manipulation” would limit the scope of our information based on what advertisers and others choose for users to see.

Marshall McLuhan died on December 31, 1980, several years before he was able to witness first-hand how his predictions were coming to fruition.

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