The Doctor (Death) Is In

Illustration by Bob AulLast week, the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutesran a flawed two-part report on the late Dr. Larry Ford, an Irvine bio-tech entrepreneur, and his connection with Dr. Wouter "Dr. Death" Basson, who headed South Africa's germ-warfare program during that country's apartheid regime. The connection had something to do with odd-looking vials (cholera? Anthrax? Typhoid?) that authorities found in Ford's Woodbridge home after he (Ford) committed suicide in March 2000, which wasn't long after he arranged (unsuccessfully) to have a business associate killed. That associate, Orange County businessman James Patrick Riley, survived the hit with a gunshot wound to the cheek and ear, which, we suppose, makes him Dr. Deaf.

The 60 Minutes report, titled "Dr. Death and His Accomplice," failed in its repeated reference to Basson as "Dr. Death"—as if he were the one and only Dr. Death, when, in fact, "Dr. Death" ranks high in popularity as a nickname for homicidal maniacs—right alongside the "Butchers," "Mad Dogs" and "Liddy Doles" of the world—but also as a general-usage nickname of such ubiquity as "strongman," "the Italian Stallion" and "first certifiably retarded president of the United States." As a help, we offer this guide to 10 Dr. Deaths.

Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Physician who assisted in numerous suicides of terminally ill patients, sparking a national debate on the right to die and unleashing a host of Angel of Death wannabes.

David Scott Weekly. No relation. Former business partner of Ron Lister (the 1980s coke-running spook and former Laguna Beach cop) and former Naval Academy classmate of Oliver North, Weekly is an ex-CIA and Vietnam veteran who later became a mercenary of such repute that, when he wasn't being called "Dr. Death," he was being called "the real MacGyver," which means he's either very resourceful or has a cheap haircut.

E. Scott Reckard. Former cop reporter for the Ontario Daily Report—now a business reporter with the LA Times—so nicknamed for his omnipresence at Inland Empire murder scenes. Pretty much the last guy you wanted to see wandering by your double-wide meth lab.

Theodor Geisel. Deranged author of bizarre tales recounting people force-fed spoiled dairy products and several tomes concerning a closeted talking cat who engages in emotional terrorism by preying upon latchkey children. He . . . wait . . . my bad . . . That's Dr. Seuss.

Oscar Edwards. Current UCLA All-American strong safety.

Steve Williams. Professional wrestler, former Oklahoma football player.

Dave Fennell. Former defensive tackle for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Fennell, since retired and now graying, was recently introduced at an Eskimos game where a media-type cracked that he was now "Dr. Death Warmed Over."

Brent Guerrieri. Flag-football player for the Federal Fidelity Eagles of the Jupiter, Florida, flag-football league. Still, a flag-football Dr. Death seems to lose something in the translation as this recounting of the Eagles 14-8 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars proves: "Brent 'Dr. Death' Guerrieri cut across the middle for a nice catch and had several drive-stopping flag pulls."

Jason Death. Rugby hooker for Auckland Warriors. Even when not using his nickname—his is "Doctor," his father's is "Sudden"—there is something disconcerting about Jason's surname as witnessed by this from the Sunday Star-Times of Auckland: "The Green Machine won the title, but there was also heartache for Death. 'It was disappointing, but it is the way the cookie crumbles,' said Death."

Skip Thomas. Former Oakland Raiders defensive player of note on team that has featured the likes of the Ghost (Dave Casper), the Snake (Ken Stabler), the Assassin (Jack Tatum), the Hitman (Gary Fencik) and the Loon (Al Davis).


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