Tina Turner: High Blood Pressure and Kidney Failure
Tina Turner died on May 24, 2023 at age 83 of kidney failure following many years of severe high blood pressure, a kidney transplant, colon cancer, and several strokes. She was a singer, dancer and actress who rose from depressing poverty and an abusive marriage to become the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll" as the lead singer of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, before divorcing him and becoming a very popular solo performer.
Roger Bannister, First Sub-4-Minute Miler
Roger Bannister was the first human to run a mile in less than four minutes, even though his training was totally inadequate for world-class competition because he was a full time medical student who trained on a single 30-minute workout per day, compared to today's runners who train twice a day for as much as three hours.
Fred Kummerow, Hero of the Trans Fat Battle
Fred Kummerow died at age 102 of arteriosclerosis, a disease that he had spent most of his life working to prevent. He was the first researcher to show that trans fats in margarines and many prepared foods cause plaques to form in arteries, with a paper published in Science in 1957.
Can You Die from Fear? The Baskerville Effect
You better believe that you can be scared to death. The “Felony Murder Rule” allows prosecutors in all 50 states to bring first-degree murder charges against a defendant if someone dies during a crime such as burglary, rape, or kidnapping, even if the defendant did not intend to kill the victim.
Harry Belafonte – Singer, Actor and Humanitarian
Harry Belafonte was a Jamaican-American singer, actor and activist who won three Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an Emmy Award, and a Tony Award and starred in several Hollywood films. Above all, he was a humanitarian who took the sides of the downtrodden and advocated the most good for the most people.
Robert Oppenheimer, Remorse for Being Father of the Atomic Bomb
The film Oppenheimer is scheduled to be released on July 21, 2023, by Universal Pictures. It describes the emotional price Robert Oppenheimer paid for creating the atomic bomb. Seventy-five years ago, on August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States detonated two atom bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing between 129,000 and 226,000 people.
Barry Marshall, from Quack to Nobel Prize
I love stories about quacks who become prophets. Medical breakthroughs are often made by doctors who were first ridiculed by their peers. In 1983, Barry Marshall and John Warren presented a paper to the Australian Gastroenterological Society claiming that stomach ulcers are caused by infection. They never finished their paper because they were laughed off the stage. Barry Marshall became so upset that he swallowed a vial of the bacteria taken from a patient who had stomach ulcers, went into shock and almost died.
Thomas Edison: “Sleep is a Waste of Time”
Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph, a long-lasting incandescent light bulb, the kinetoscope, the dictaphone, an autographic printer and rechargeable batteries. He improved the telephone by inventing the carbon microphone. He was arguably the world’s greatest and most prolific inventor, with more than 1093 patents in the United States and 512 more patents in other countries.
Beethoven’s Deafness and Death: DNA Analysis of Hair Samples
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and concert pianist (1770-1827) whose symphonies and other compositions are still among our most-beloved and often-performed classical music. In 1824, when Beethoven was 54, he finished conducting the first performance of his magnificent Ninth Symphony, and he could not understand why there was no applause.
Bobby Caldwell: Death from Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics
Bobby Caldwell was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist of R&B, soul, jazz, and adult contemporary music who was perhaps best known for "What You Won't Do for Love." In 2017, Caldwell was prescribed a quinolone antibiotic and suffered rupture of both Achilles tendons, followed by extensive nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. He continued to perform, even though he had to do it in a wheelchair, with a cane, and with people to help him.
Topol: 3500 Performances as Tevya in Fiddler On The Roof
Chaim Topol was an Israeli actor, singer, and illustrator, who was most famous for playing “Tevya “ more than 3,500 times from 1967 through 2009, in arguably the most popular musical of all time -- Fiddler on the Roof. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Tevya in the 1971 film adaptation. He was the best known of a long line of famous actors who played the role, including Zero Mostel, Theodore Bikel, Herschel Bernardi, Leonard Nimoy and many others.
Tom Sizemore: Brain Aneurysm
Tom Sizemore was a popular and prolific movie actor and television star who appeared in Saving Private Ryan, which was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Motion Picture Cast. His notable films include Black Hawk Down, Heat, Natural Born Killers, and Twin Peaks. He also was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for his role in the television series Witness Protection.
Wilt Chamberlain’s Myocarditis
Wilt Chamberlain was possibly the greatest basketball player and the greatest athlete ever. The 63-year-old Chamberlain was reported to have died of heart damage called myocarditis, but how could arguably the world’s greatest and fittest athlete die of heart damage? A possible explanation would be venereal diseases, which are a common cause of myocarditis. Chamberlain wrote a book, A View from Above (published in 1991) in which he claimed that had had sex with more than 20,000 women.
Tim McCarver: Heart Failure in a Great Athlete
Tim McCarver was twice a major League all-star catcher and was a member of two World Series-winning teams during his 21 years of playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox. After his playing career, he became a TV broadcaster who won three Emmy Awards, called a then-record 23 World Series and 20 All-Star Games, and in 2016 was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. On February 16, 2023, he died at age 81 of heart failure.
Pelé, the Greatest Soccer Player Ever
Pelé was a Brazilian soccer player who was the best soccer player of all time because nobody could stop him from scoring. During his entire career, he averaged almost one goal in every game he played. He scored a Guinness World record 1,279 goals in 1,363 games because he could run faster than everyone else (under 11 seconds in the 100 meter dash) and jump higher than everyone else (more than six feet off the ground).
Bobby Hull, Hockey Star with a Dark Side
Bobby Hull was one of the best hockey players who ever lived. He played professional hockey for 23 years, from 1957 to 1980, and led the NHL in goals seven times. He played in 1,063 NHL games and accumulated 610 goals, 560 assists, 1,170 points and 640 penalty minutes. He added 62 goals and 67 assists for 129 points in 119 playoff games.
Gina Lollobrigida: In Seniors, a Broken Hip is Often Fatal
Gina Lollobrigida was an Italian actress who was called the most beautiful woman in the world in the 1950s and 60s. She was nominated for three Golden Globe awards and won one in 1961. She received a variety of other international awards, but she was perhaps best known for the incredible number of famous leading men who appeared with her in movies, on television and in public appearances.
David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash
David Crosby was a brilliant songwriter, singer and guitarist who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice for playing in his world-famous bands, the “Byrds” and “Crosby, Stills & Nash." Five of his albums were named to Rolling Stone's list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” On January 18, 2023 he died at age 81 with no cause given, but he could have died of many different conditions provoked by his incredibly unhealthful lifestyle that included excessive drinking excessively and taking many recreational and prescribed drugs (marijuana, psychedelics, cocaine, heroin and more).
Lisa Marie Presley: It’s Not Easy Being Born Famous
Lisa Marie Presley was the only child of Elvis Presley, the most dominant singer of all time, and actress Priscilla Presley. Lisa Marie wrote and recorded three albums, including a gold certified album in 2003, and was eventually the sole heir of Elvis’s fabulous wealth and Graceland estate. However, her hard life, early sexual abuse, drug use, yoyo dieting and four marriages took their toll on her health and she died when her heart stopped beating at age 54.
Barbara Walters: The Best and Brightest and Dementia
Barbara Walters was a brilliant television broadcaster for 65 years from 1951 through 2015. Her ability to ask the right questions at the right time made her the one chosen to interview some of the world’s most famous people, including: Fidel Castro, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Katharine Hepburn, Sean Connery, Monica Lewinsky, Hugo Chávez, Vladimir Putin, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Jiang Zemin, Bashar al-Assad, and every sitting U.S. president and first lady from Richard and Pat Nixon to Barack and Michelle Obama.
Franco Harris and the Immaculate Reception
Franco Harris was a running back whose 12,120 yards gained rushing over 13 seasons broke Jim Brown’s record, and he gained more than 1000 yards in each of eight National Football League seasons. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, four-time Super Bowl winner, the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, NFL rushing touchdowns leader, NFL 1970s All-Decade Team, and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. He was most famous for his "Immaculate Reception" on December 24, 1972 that gave the Pittsburgh Steelers their first playoff win ever.
Arnold Palmer, a Great Athlete who Died of Heart Failure
Arnold Palmer was called "The King" because he was considered to be among the world's greatest and most popular golfers of all time. From 1955 to 1973, he won 92 national and international championships, with 62 of them on the U.S. PGA Tour. In 2004 at age 75, he gave President Bush golf tips before being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also designed more than 300 golf courses in 37 states, 25 countries, and five continents.
Tammy Wynette and the Pain of Gall Bladder Disease
Tammy Wynette rose from poverty in rural Mississippi to become one of the most famous female country music singers. She sold more than 30 million records, had 57 Top-40 country hits between 1967 and 1988, won two Grammy Awards, three Country Music Association awards, eight Billboard awards and 16 BMI songwriter awards.
Kirstie Alley and Colon Cancer
Kirstie Alley was an actress who gained fame when she joined the cast of Cheers in its sixth year, after Shelley Long ("Diane") left the popular series. Alley was nominated four times for Emmy awards, and received one for Cheers and one for David's Mother. She appeared in many movies including Star Trek II and Look Who's Talking with John Travolta, and has a motion picture star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. On December 5, 2022 at age 71, Alley died a short time after being diagnosed with colon cancer.
Marty Robbins, Heart Attacks and Sleep Deprivation
Forty years ago this week we lost Marty Robbins at the tragically young age of 57. Robbins was one of the top country singers and songwriters from the 1940s to the 1980s, and today you will still hear his "El Paso," "Big Iron" and many other classics. He won two Grammy Awards and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. At the same time he was a successful stock car racer who was in 36 NASCAR races from 1966 to 1982 and had six top-10 finishes.
Bruce Lee and Hyponatremia
Bruce Lee was the most influential martial artist of the 20th century. In the 1970's, his fame as a movie star and martial arts instructor sparked North American interest in Asian martial arts. He brought Asian martial arts to North America by founding Jeet Kune Do, which is the basis for modern mixed martial arts. On July 20, 1973, at age 32, he died suddenly with massive swelling of his brain. The cause of his brain swelling was not proven by an autopsy, but was originally reported as possibly caused by sensitivity to aspirin. Now, almost 50 years after his death, a well researched paper with solid journal references explains that he probably died from hyponatremia, drinking too much water
Did Brahms Have Sleep Apnea?
Along with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms is one of the “Three Bs”, who are considered to be among the world’s greatest composers of classical music. He was a brilliant virtuoso pianist who also composed for symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, piano, organ, violin, voice, and chorus.
Ted Kennedy’s Brain Cancer
Ted Kennedy was a successful United States senator from Massachusetts for almost 47 years, from 1962 until his death in 2009 from a brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme. He died 15 months after his diagnosis. Today we have no successful treatment for this type of brain tumor; surgical resection, irradiation and chemotherapy are ineffective treatments, with an average life expectancy after a diagnosis of 14-16 months. A possible cure comes from promising research on mRNA-based gene transfer that has been going on for more than 15 years and is the research that led to the development of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines used to help prevent COVID-19.
Samuel L. Katz: Measles Vaccines Saved Thousands of Lives
Samuel Katz died of “old age” at age 95 on October 31, 2022. He was a pediatrician and virologist who saved thousands of lives by developing the measles vaccine more than 50 years ago, and went on to become chairman of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine. While he was a resident in training at the Boston Children’s Hospital, he was one of the doctors who treated polio patients in the epidemic of the summer of 1955. I was a junior at Harvard at that time and saw patients and their parents lined up for more than three city blocks around the hospital on Longwood Avenue and Blackfan Street, trying to see doctors who had no means whatever to prevent or cure polio.
Jerry Lee Lewis, “The Killer”
Jerry Lee Lewis, nicknamed "the Killer," was a world famous rock and roll singer and songwriter and one of the most influential pop pianists of the 20th century. He played the piano with his fists, elbows, heels, and rump, and often kicked the piano bench aside, sat on the piano, played standing up or even jumping on top of the piano. He set his piano on fire after a performance of his best-known hit, "Great Balls of Fire."