A curse is a solemn utterance to invoke a supernatural power to inflict harm or punishment on someone or something. Or it’s rubbish, simply a coincidental phenomenon in an irrational world. Here are 10 of the world’s most famous curses.
No. 10 - Curse of the Hope Diamond
Found in India, the 112-carat Hope Diamond is the largest deep-blue diamond in the world. It is also regarded as the most famous diamond in the world. Supposedly stolen from a temple of the Hindu goddess Sita, the diamond is notorious for the ill fortune that befell its possessors. It passed into the hands of King Louis XVI of France where it was worn by Princess de Lamballie and Marie Antoinette, both later beheaded along with Louis, during the French Revolution. Many reject the theory of a curse as simply marketing to enhance its notoriety. It was donated to the Smithsonian Institute in 1958.
No. 9 - The Madden Curse
Video games are fun, but not for the athletes who appear on the cover of "Madden NFL." The curse has it that any player who appears on the cover of the game will have a horrible season afterward, end up on the injured list, or fade into obscurity. Don’t believe? I submit to you: Michael Vick (Madden 2004), Donovan McNabb (Madden 2006), Shaun Alexander (Madden 2007), Vince Young (Madden 2008), Brett Favre (Madden 2009), Troy Polomalu (Madden 2010), and Peyton Hillis (Madden 2012). All had stellar careers prior to the “honor” of appearing on the game's cover. Not so much the season after, and sometimes beyond that. Best wishes to Calvin Johnson, the Madden 2013 cover athlete.
No. 8 - The Bjorketorp Runestone Curse
Don’t mess with scary-looking stones. These ruins are located in Sweden and were made in the sixth century or seventh century. No big deal, right? Until you read the (translated) inscription:
I, master of the runes(?) conceal here runes of power. Incessantly (plagued by) maleficence, (doomed to) insidious death (is) he who breaks this (monument).
Story has it that someone in the 15th century either didn’t know how to read or didn't care and tried to remove the stones in order to cultivate the land. While trying to light a fire to heat the stone (and then crack it with water), the man’s hair was set aflame from a gust of wind. The fire spread to the man’s clothes and he died. The stones are still standing for a reason.
No. 7 - The Kennedy Family Curse
More like Kenne-die. Has any other family in recent history encountered more bad luck? Among their misfortunes: President Kennedy, assassinated in 1963; Robert Kennedy, assassinated in 1968; Senator Ted Kennedy, survived a plane crash and later drove off a bridge that killed Mary Jo Kopechne, thus ending his presidential dreams; Robert Kennedy’s son died of a drug overdose, his other son died in a skiing accident; People magazine’s favorite poster boy, JFK Jr., died in a plane crash (along with his wife and her sister) while he was the pilot (a hobby his mother begged him not to take up); and most recently, Mary Kennedy, the estranged wife of RFK Jr., hanged herself.
No. 6 - The Poltergeist Curse
A scary movie made even creepier by a real-life curse. Four cast members died in the six years between the first and third movies. The curse is attributed to the real cadavers that were used as props in various scenes. The cast member deaths include Heather O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne, at the age of 12 from septic shock; Dominique Dunne, who played Dana, at the age of 22 after being strangled by her former boyfriend; Will Sampson, who played the medicine man in the second movie, from kidney failure; and Julian Beck, who played Henry Kane, of stomach cancer. And while Oliver Robins is still alive, he was almost choked to death on set by a malfunctioning mechanical clown. (FEARnet)
No. 5 - Curse of "Little Bastard"
1950s movie star James Dean was killed in a car accident when his 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, nicknamed “Little Bastard” crashed on a highway intersection near Paso Robles, Calif. Dean had owned the car only nine days when he died. One week before Dean’s death, actor Alec Guinness had a premonition and told Dean never to get in it because the car looked sinister. And in an eerie twist of fate, just two weeks prior to his death, Dean made a public service announcement about the dangers of driving fast, saying, “Remember, slow down. The life you save might be mine.”
Although the body of the car was wrecked, the engine survived and was purchased by a racing enthusiast, Dr. Eschrid. Eschrid loaned parts from the engine to his friend, Troy McHenry. During the same race, McHenry lost control of his car and he died when he hit a tree, and Eschrid’s car flipped over, but he survived with serious injuries.
As for the wreckage, it was purchased by car customizer, George Barris. He loaned it out for use in safety exhibits. Accidents continued to occur in relation to the car until 1960, when the wreckage mysteriously vanished.
No. 4 - The Superman Curse
He might be the Man of Steel, but the people who portray him end up in some serious misfortune. George Reeves, who played him on television from 1952 to 1958, committed suicide. Christopher Reeve, from the films, became paralyzed after falling from his horse. (Also, Dana Reeve, Christopher’s wife, died of lung cancer at the age of 44 even though she didn’t smoke.) Lee Quigley, who played Superman as a baby in the 1978 film, died in 1991 at the age of 14 due to solvent abuse. Margot Kidder, who played Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve, suffers from bi-polar disorder. Sometimes Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are mentioned because they were screwed over by the rights holder, DC Comics. Tom Welling, however, from the late CW show "Smallville," seems to be doing just fine. For now.
No. 3 - Curse of the Billy Goat
Don’t mess with a man and his goat. In 1945, Cubs fan and Billy Goat Tavern owner William “Billy” Sianis brought his pet goat to the World Series at Wrigley Field. Sianis and his goat were evicted because the team’s owner, Philip K. Wrigley, thought the goat smelled. As he left angrily, Sianis supposedly said, “Them Cubs, they aren’t gonna win no more.” True to his curse, the Cubs lost the 1945 World Series to the Detroit Tigers and have not appeared in one since (1908 was the last year they actually won the World Series). Cubs fans over the years have brought in priests to bless the field, stadium and dugout, and have blown up the infamous "Bartman ball," but it hasn't helped. There's always next year, though. Right, Cubs fans?
No. 2 - The 27 Club
No, this isn’t the television program you see hosted by Pat Robertson. This one is hosted by Death, and includes Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Dave Alexander, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and, most recently, Amy Winehouse. What do the club members all have in common? They were gifted musicians who died at the age of 27. What is it about that age? Is it the peak of partying? Or is this a curse for talents no mortal should have?
Next: Why You Should Never Pass Out First
No. 1 - Curse of Tutankhamun's Tomb
The most famous of all curses, archaeologist Howard Carter, with financial backing from Lord Carnarvon, found King Tut’s tomb and its treasure in 1922. All was well until a few months later when Lord Carnarvon died due to an infection from an insect bite. By 1929, eleven people associated with the tomb had died of unexpected causes including Carnarvon’s relatives and Carter’s personal secretary. The press had a field day. Some believe there was an inscription, "Death comes on wings to he who enters the tomb of a pharaoh," on King Tut's tomb that put a curse on anyone who entered. Many theorized there was no curse at all, but simple biology. When the tomb was opened, the explorers were exposed to dormant mold spores, which could cause death to those with compromised immune systems. Ironically, if not for the curse, King Tut might have remained a footnote in history.