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Weird Wonderful World Visits The Mystic Museum

In the premiere episode of Weird Wonderful World, hosts Shane Madej and Ryan Bergara visit The Mystic Museum oddities shop in Burbank, California.

Watch Shane and Ryan, hosts of the new series Weird Wonderful World, get a glimpse at the cursed objects, mounted insects, last rites kits, taxidermy and other oddities inside The Bearded Lady’s Mystic Museum.

Watch them summon Alfred Hitchcock and question John F. Kennedy about the Umbrella Man in a seance, and play a rousing game of GUESS THAT BONE!

3 Strange Cases of Missing Brains

What do the brains of Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy and deceased patients of the Texas state mental hospital have in common?
Brains of famous people missing

Brains on the side of the road? Residents of a village in New York were alarmed to discover nine brains along the street last week. An examination by a veterinarian determined the brains were most likely those of dogs or sheep, and noted that one had been professionally preserved in formaldehyde.

According to the report, “Mishaps with preserved brains are not uncommon.

I’m sure many of you in the Cult of Weird community would agree that a spectacularly abnormal brain in a jar, or one whose neurons once fired inside the skull of a famous person, would make a great addition to the collection. But beyond that, what if you had access to a brain that could change our understanding of human consciousness? Or alter the course of world events?

Einstein’s Brain Stolen During Autopsy

Vintage photo of Einstein's brain from 1955
Einstein’s brain

If you had the opportunity to find out what made Einstein so special, could you pass it up? Pathologist Thomas Harvey decided he could not.

Harvey just happened to be on call at Princeton Hospital on April 18th, 1955 when the Nobel prize-winning physicist passed away. Einstein wanted his body cremated and scattered in a secret location. When Harvey found himself alone in the morgue with the opportunity to find out what made the genius tick, however, he decided he could not let that happen.

So Harvey stole Einstein’s brain.

He eventually obtained permission to keep it and study it, determining that it was indeed not normal.

Slices of it can be seen at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Brains Missing from the University of Texas

Smooth brain specimen from Malformed
Smooth brain specimen from the University of Texas collection. Photo by Adam Voorhees.

The University of Texas State Mental Hospital was home to an extremely rare collection of unusual brains taken from deceased patients of the Austin State Hospital, formerly the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, as far back as the 1950s. When Adam Voorhees and Alex Hannaford began documenting the collection for their book Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital, they discovered many of the specimens were missing.

The university eventually released a statement that the missing brains were destroyed in 2002 during a routine disposal of biological waste.

JFK’s Missing Brain

Bullet fragments seen in x-ray of John F. Kennedy's brain
X-ray shows bullet fragments in JFK’s brain

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. During the autopsy, his damaged brain was removed and stored in the National Archives. In 1966, it was discovered that Kennedy’s brain was missing. No one knows where it went, why it was taken, or the whereabouts of the organ today.

The fate of JFK’s brain remains a mystery.

Weird Book Club Recommended Reading

Court Battle Over the Coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald

The coffin of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is the subject of a case being heard in a Texas Court.
The coffin of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is the subject of a case being heard in a Texas Court

48 hours after he gunned down President John F. Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963, assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot himself by a distraught local while being transported by police. Robert Oswald, Lee’s older brother, made funeral arrangements and buried him on November 25th in a No. 31 Pine Bluff coffin.

The coffin was exhumed in 1981 to confirm the identity of the remains inside. After medical tests confirmed it was, in fact, the JFK assassin and not a Soviet imposter as conspiracy theories suggested, Oswald was returned to the grave in a new coffin. The original remained in storage at Baumgardner Funeral Home in Fort Worth.

In 2010, the funeral home sold the rotting pine box for $87,468 through a Los Angeles auction house, along with the embalming table and Oswald’s death certificate.

Robert Oswald, now 80 and in failing health, recently became aware of the sale. He is petitioning a Texas court to block it, claiming it is “ghoulish” and in bad taste. He just wants the coffin destroyed as he thought it had already been.

Funeral home owner Allen Baumgardner Sr., who assisted in the 1981 exhumation, insists it is “part of history” and his right to sell it since it was never claimed.

via New York Times

Update: Judge makes a decision in case of Lee Harvey Oswald coffin

The Lobotomy of Rosemary Kennedy

Rosemary Kennedy was lobotomized at the age of 23 to calm her violent mood swings and spent the rest of her life incapacitated.
Rosemary Kennedy's lobotomy in 1941 left her permanently incapacitated

Rosemary Kennedy, the younger sister of John F. Kennedy, was lobotomized at the age of 23. Doctors recommended the procedure to calm her violent mood swings in 1941.

Dr. James W. Watts, who carried out the lobotomy with Dr. Walter Freemen, explained the crude procedure in the book The Sins of the Father: Joseph P. Kennedy and the Dynasty he Founded by Ronald Kessler.

With Rosemary awake, under a mild tranquilizer, Watts made a surgical incision “no more than an inch” in her brain through her skull. He then used an instrument that looked like a butter knife to cut brain tissue. As Watts cut, Freeman asked Rosemary questions, had her recite the Lord’s Prayer, count backwards, etc.

“We made an estimate on how far to cut based on how she responded,” Watts explained.

When she began to become incoherent, they stopped.

Rosemary Kennedy before the lobotomy

Rosemary spent the rest of her life incapacitated, under the care of nuns at an institution in Wisconsin until her death in 2005, at the age of 86.