8. In the 1930s, an Irish alcoholic and homeless man survived despite being fed antifreeze, turpentine, poison, etc., by his acquaintances attempting insurance fraud. He even survived after being left in the snow and getting hit by a taxi. His ability to beat death earned him the nickname “Mike the Durable.”
Michael Malloy was a homeless Irish man who lived in New York in the 1920s and 1930s. He was a former firefighter and is famously remembered in history as “Mike the Durable” and “Iron Mike” who survived numerous murder attempts by five of his acquaintances who would have gained $3,500 through an insurance fraud if the ploy had succeeded. Tony Marino, Joseph “Red” Murphy, Francis Pasqua, Hershey Green, and Daniel Kriesberg together hatched the plan to kill Michael and prove the death accidental. They even had included a corrupt insurance agent in the plan and started to work on their plan in January.
Michael was an alcoholic and Marino, who was the owner of a speakeasy, thought that if he gave him unlimited credit, he would drink himself to death. But though Michael did abuse the credit and drank most of the time, he kept appearing in the bar for free liquor. Seeing the plan failing, they then started to mix antifreeze in his drinks, but still, it did nothing to him and he continued to drink as usual. Next, antifreeze was substituted with turpentine, then horse liniment and rat poison, but nothing could kill him.
At one time, Francis Pasqua claimed that he saw someone die after eating oysters with whiskey, so they made him eat raw oysters soaked in wood alcohol. This failed to kill him too. When they finally learned that nothing that Michael would ingest could kill him, they looked for other ways to kill him. One night they made him drink until he passed out. He was then carried outside and dumped in the snow. To make sure he would die, they poured 19 liters of cold water on his chest and left the scene. The following day, Michael appeared for his free drinks. After that, they hit him with a taxi moving at 72 kilometers per hour, but he recovered within three weeks and came back to the bar for more drinks.
Tired, they took a final approach and one night after he had passed out, they put a hose in his mouth and connected that to a gas jet. This killed him in an hour, and he was pronounced dead of lobar pneumonia. The police got suspicious when they heard stories of “Mike the Durable” in the town and eventually, the ploy was discovered. They were able to kill Michael finally, but never got the money they wanted. (source)
9. Michael I became King of Romania when he was just five. His family was friends with Hitler, but he sided with the Allies, only to be occupied by USSR after the war was won. He received the highest Soviet honor and Legion of Merit from the USA. He remained in exile for most of his life working as a farmer, pilot, and stockbroker.
Michael I, the last King of Romania, wasn’t really a crazy character like many others in this list, but his life was really a crazy one. He lived an incredibly sad and unstable life which forced him to become a chicken farmer at one point of time, a pilot at another, and a stockbroker yet another time, all while he was technically the king of Romania.
Born in 1921, King Michael was the son of King Carol II and Queen Helen. His father was the reason for most of his hardship growing up. Shortly after his birth in 1925, his father eloped with his mistress, Elena Magda Lupescu, renouncing his rights to the throne. When, in 1927, his grandfather King Ferdinand died, he was made the King before his sixth birthday. He reigned for three years before his father returned in 1930 and became the king. His mother Helen was exiled, and King Carol II tried to replace her with his mistress. He reigned until 1940 after which a pro-Nazi military dictator, Marshal Ion Antonescu, ousted him for being anti-German by staging a coup and reinstalling 18-year-old King Michael as a “puppet” King. After tolerating Marshal for years and establishing secret relationships with the Allies, he orchestrated a coup against Marshal and arrested him in 1944. He broke Romania’s alliance with Germany shocking Hitler and sided with the Allies. His move cut short the Second World War by about six months. But once the war was over, the USSR occupied his country. For his move, he was awarded the highest degree, Chief Commander of the American Legion of Merit by U.S. President Harry S. Truman as well as the Soviet Order of Victory by Joseph Stalin. But then, his country was occupied by the USSR.
Frustrated, he went on a strike and refused to sign any decree of the communist government. But under the pressure of the Allies, he could not do much. In December 1947 when he returned to Romania after attending a marriage, he was made to sign his own abdication at gunpoint and was exiled. He could not return to his own land for the next four decades. While in exile, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1948. In 1990, after 43 years, he returned to Romania with a 24-hour visa but was forced to leave by the police before that. Two years later, he was allowed to return to Romania to celebrate Easter, but seeing his immense popularity among people, he was not allowed to enter the country again by the ruling government. But in 1997, the government was replaced by a new one, and this time his citizenship was restored.
After the restoration of his Romanian citizenship, he lived partly in Switzerland and partly in Romania until his death in 2017. (source)
10. A British soldier fighting in the two World Wars was shot in ears, eye, hips, ankle, and ribs but survived. He tore off his own fingers when the surgeon didn’t want to amputate them. He was captured but escaped and captured again, then went on to write a book in which he claimed he frankly “enjoyed the war.”
Lieutenant General Adrian Carton de Wiart defied death so many times in his life that his story almost sounds like folklore, except that it is not. Born in Brussels, Belgium in 1880, he joined the British Army without getting his father’s permission after dropping out of Oxford College. He wasn’t even a British citizen, but he falsified his name and age. Soon after enlisting, he was sent to South Africa to fight in the Second Boer War. Fighting in the war, he was shot in the belly and groin, and therefore he had to go back to England for treatment. That was just the start of his hard-to-believe career and the first of the many injuries that were to come.
Adrian was in Somalia in 1914 when the First World War had started and was trying to capture a fort held by the enemy. This time, he was shot in the eye, and another bullet struck his ear. This left him blind in one eye, but this also allowed him to get out of Somali and move to England where, according to him, the real action going on. He continued fighting on the Western Front where he was again shot in head, hips, ear, ankle, and ribs. One of his hands was also severely damaged that when a surgeon said that his fingers of the damaged hand didn’t require amputation, he tore them off. His hand was eventually amputated.
In the Second World War, 60-year-old Adrian was sent on a mission to Yugoslavia, but his plane started malfunctioning midair over the Mediterranean Sea. It was actually shot down. He fell into the cold water a mile away from land but swam to shore only to be captured and taken as a prisoner by the Italians.
He managed to escape from the camp he was taken to only after two days but was recaptured after enjoying freedom for eight days. He made four more failed attempts to flee. He was kept a prisoner there for two years before being released in 1943. Adrian later went on to write his autobiography Happy Odyssey in which he wrote: “Frankly, I enjoyed the war.” (source)