Scottish Daily Mail

Time to call Ghost­busters

- Com­piled by Charles Legge

QUES­TION What be­came of Wil­helm von Hom­burg, once de­scribed as the Ger­man an­swer to Muham­mad Ali? Few peo­ple might re­mem­ber wil­helm von Hom­burg the boxer, but many will re­mem­ber the film Ghost­busters II.

The plot re­volved around an at­tempt to res­ur­rect a vil­lain­ous sor­cerer called Vigo the Carpathian, trapped in a gi­ant paint­ing housed in the fic­tional Man­hat­tan Mu­seum of Art where Dana Bar­rett (Sigour­ney weaver) worked. The im­pos­ing fig­ure in the paint­ing was, in fact, von Hom­burg.

Von Hom­burg was born Nor­bert Papen Grupe, in Berlin on Au­gust 25, 1940. His fa­ther, Richard, was a Nazi sol­dier who es­caped most of the fight­ing be­cause of his skills as a boxer.

At the end of the war, Richard was im­pris­oned by the Bri­tish. Af­ter his release, he boxed pro­fes­sion­ally from 1946 to 1952 be­fore turn­ing to pro­fes­sional wrestling. He went on the road in Italy with Primo Carn­era — aka the Am­bling Alp, a 6ft 6in for­mer world heavy­weight box­ing cham­pion turned wrestler.

In 1960, Richard em­i­grated to the U.S. where he and his son Nor­bert, by then a 6ft 3in blonde gi­ant, fought as tag-team part­ners called The Vik­ings.

As a wrestler, Nor­bert called him­self Prince wil­helm von Hom­burg, and his charisma made him fa­mous when he switched to box­ing in 1962. He made his pro­fes­sional de­but in Los An­ge­les on July 20, 1962, in a tied bout with Sam wy­att. over eight years, he had 46 bouts with 29 wins in the light heavy­weight and heavy­weight classes.

In 1966, Nor­bert was dis­qual­i­fied in the 11th round of his match in the euro­pean light heavy­weight cham­pi­onship. He had knocked down Ital­ian Piero Del Papa (the first man to do so) in the first round and was win­ning, but in the 11th, the French ref­eree de­clared an il­le­gal head-butt and called the match for Del Papa.

Nor­bert said later: ‘I was the best thing Ger­man box­ing had back then, and then I had a 70-year-old French­man as the ref­eree. we all know what the Ger­mans did to his par­ents and his sis­ter.’

Nor­bert was a colour­ful char­ac­ter. Af­ter re­tir­ing from box­ing, he be­came es­tab­lished in the Ham­burg un­der­ground, as­so­ci­at­ing with gangs, pimps and drug deal­ers. Through­out his box­ing ca­reer, Nor­bert had taken bit parts in movies and TV shows. In a 1964 episode of Gun­smoke called The Pro­moter, he played a bareknuckl­e boxer who is of­fered a bribe.

Nor­bert got his big act­ing break a decade later with a bit part as one of Hans Gru­ber’s (Alan Rick­man) Ger­manspeak­ing goons in Die Hard. This se­cured him his big­gest role as Vigo, and he went on to have small roles in the movies Diggs Town, The Pack­age, eye of The Storm, In The Mouth of Mad­ness, The Devils Bri­gade and The wreck­ing Crew.

Nor­bert’s life later spi­ralled into de­cline. He lived in a trailer in the Mal­ibu/Santa Monica Moun­tains with his dog, Kiss. In 2004, he moved to the house of wal­ter Staudinger (Ger­many’s version of Paul Ray­mond) in Mex­ico where he died of prostate can­cer on March 10.

T. P. Jones, Wake­field, W. Yorks.

QUES­TION When did it be­come a le­gal re­quire­ment to have mo­tor in­sur­ance? Which was the first com­pany to in­sure mo­torists?

LLOYD’S of Lon­don of­fered the first mo­tor in­sur­ance in 1901. Back then, cars were such a nov­elty that spe­cific poli­cies didn’t ex­ist, so the first un­der­writer to pro­vide an au­to­mo­bile pol­icy wrote a marine pol­icy for the car, as if it were a ship on dry land.

A dra­matic in­crease in car own­er­ship af­ter world war I, in­ad­e­quate traf­fic rules, poor high­ways and the in­creas­ing num­ber of accident vic­tims, es­pe­cially pedes­tri­ans, led to a 1928 Royal Com­mis­sion.

on its rec­om­men­da­tions, the gov­ern­ment en­acted the Road Traf­fic Act of 1930, a com­pre­hen­sive statute pro­vid­ing for (a) the reg­u­la­tion of mo­tor ve­hi­cles and traf­fic on roads; (b) the pro­tec­tion of third par­ties against risks aris­ing out of the use of au­to­mo­biles; (c) amend­ing the high­way laws; and (d) the grant of power to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to reg­u­late pub­lic ser­vice ve­hi­cles.

Sec­tion 35 of the Act made it un­law­ful, un­der penalty of a fine up to £50 or up to three months’ im­pris­on­ment and, sub­ject to the court’s dis­cre­tion, dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion for a year to ob­tain a li­cence, to use or to per­mit an­other per­son to use an au­to­mo­bile un­less there was in force an in­sur­ance pol­icy in re­spect of the third­party risks spec­i­fied in the Act.

Den­nis Wil­lis, Bris­tol.

QUES­TION What are ‘ten­ter­hooks’?

FUR­THER to the pre­vi­ous an­swer, in the vil­lage of Helmshore, Lan­cashire, dur­ing the late 19th and early 20th cen­tury, there were a num­ber of woollen mills that used the ‘fulling process’.

Be­fore the use of Fuller’s earth, hu­man urine was used as a fulling agent as it had a sim­i­lar ef­fect.

In or­der to col­lect the urine, vil­lagers were is­sued with earth­en­ware pots which were kept out­side their front doors and which they filled from their cham­ber pots. Th­ese were emp­tied by the mills, and the house­holds earned 1d per pot.

My old com­pany, Por­ritts & Spencer, paid 1½d for ev­ery full pot. How­ever, they took their sup­plies from Methodist (non-drink­ing) house­holds only, which gave them a bet­ter, stronger prod­uct.

Don Fraser-Clark, Clitheroe.

IS THERE a ques­tion to which you have al­ways wanted to know the an­swer? Or do you know the an­swer to a ques­tion raised here? Send your ques­tions and an­swers to: Charles Legge, An­swers To Cor­re­spon­dents, Scot­tish Daily Mail, 20 Water­loo Street, Glas­gow G2 6DB. You can also fax them to 0141 331 4739 or you can email them to charles. legge@dai­ly­mail.co.uk. A se­lec­tion will be pub­lished but we are not able to en­ter into in­di­vid­ual cor­re­spon­dence.

 ??  ?? Vil­lain­ous: Wil­helm von Hom­burg as sorcerer Vigo in Ghost­busters II
Vil­lain­ous: Wil­helm von Hom­burg as sorcerer Vigo in Ghost­busters II

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