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The Author Of Leaving Las Vegas Committed Suicide Shortly After Hearing About The Movie

Leaving Las Vegas is a bleak film that reminds us there was a time when Nicolas Cage was actually a good actor, rather than a voodoo-practicing, pyramid-building madman screaming about bees. It’s a movie about a man who sells all his possessions and moves to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, so we’re already off to a pleasant start.

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Cage’s character finally dies after making love to his prostitute paramour, which is probably symbolic of man being reborn through love or something, right? Nope! It’s symbolic of the author being depressed as hell and eventually killing himself too.

The movie is based on a semi-autobiographical book by author John O’Brien, who had a similar struggle with alcohol addiction. In and out of rehab, and only precariously sober long enough to crank out the books that became his legacy, O’Brien’s life was easily as dark as his fictional counterpart’s. Now, you might think that hitting the big time and finding out your work is about to be adapted by an acclaimed film director would help with the whole “depression” thing, but nope. O’Brien never managed to overcome his demons, and wound up committing suicide a couple weeks after signing over the film rights to Leaving Las Vegas. Anyway, here are some bunnies.

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The Whale From Free Willy Was Liberated After A Fan Campaign … And Died Trying To Get Back To Humans

Free Willy and its sequels follow the journey of a young orca in captivity, and the humans who try to guide it to freedom. It was a massive hit. So massive, in fact, that it inspired an organization to free the whale who portrayed Willy, an Icelandic-owned orca named Keiko. The Free Willy-Keiko Foundation received funding from Warner Bros. studios, as well as from children and schools around the world.

With pressure building, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources worked to integrate Keiko back into the wild and orca society. It … didn’t work out. Released from Iceland in 2002, Keiko made a beeline for Norway, a nearly thousand-mile journey that was thought to be a search for its human caretakers. Once in Scandinavian waters, the whale refused to integrate into whale society. Trackers found that Keiko kept swimming up to boats and trying to interact with humans, who probably had no idea they were giving the cold shoulder to a film star.


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Unwilling or unable to fend for himself, Keiko eventually died of a combination of undernourishment and pneumonia in 2003, less than a year after being released. But at least everyone involved learned a valuable lesson: Never try anything, because everything is horrible. The end.

Taylor Daine is an Indianapolis-based person who tweets at @turtledovejones. Rani Baker created the surreal horror video games DEATH SWORD and YOU CAN’T GO HOME, among others. You can keep up to date about her projects (and get free stuff!) on her Patreon. You can see Tiagosvn’s depressing real-life epilogue to this article on his Twitter.

The guy who financed Keiko’s reintroduction also had a terrible epilogue to this story too — check out Money From Thin Air: The Story of Craig McCaw for more.

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