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Deaths of Famous People

Medical History of Cocaine

From the 1860s through 1922, there were no laws to limit the use of cocaine and it was a common ingredient of patent medicines, including the original Coca-Cola, which was developed by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton. Two famous doctors of that time used cocaine regularly and experimented with its medicinal uses. and a third doctor described its use by his beloved fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Munchausen’s Syndrome

Every physician eventually is asked to treat patients who fake illness, usually to get attention or for personal gain. In 1951, British physician Dr. Robert Asher described three patients who went from doctor to doctor with multiple fictional symptoms, many unexplained hospitalizations, and multiple scars from surgeries that never should have been performed in the first place. Their stories sounded so real that they convinced honest doctors to operate on them for no good reason.

Houdini’s Appendix

Harry Houdini was probably the most famous escape artist, magician, and stunt performer of all time. He usually appeared in a long coat and tie, and was one of the cockiest performers ever to appear on stage. He died at age 52 from a ruptured appendix, reportedly caused by being punched in the stomach.

Bernie Madoff, Lowlife Ponzi Schemer

On February 5, 2020, Bernard L. Madoff, the mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, filed a court brief asking to be released from his 150-year prison sentence because his doctors said that he had less than a year and a half to live due to end-stage kidney disease. His request was denied, and on April 14, 2021, he died in prison, apparently from heart failure brought on by his chronic kidney failure and a previous heart attack.

Rapper DMX, Destroyed by His Childhood

DMX (birth name Earl Simmons) was a very famous and successful American rapper, songwriter, actor and television star whose childhood was so brutal that it caused him to spend his entire lif.e breaking the rules of society and going in and out of prison. Childhood trauma can cause self-destructive behavior in adulthood

Garry Shandling’s High Blood Calcium

A blood calcium test is one of the routine blood tests done on normal physical exams. If your doctor ever tells you that your blood calcium is high, make sure that you find a cause. The most common cause of high blood calcium is a parathyroid tumor, which usually can be removed and you are cured. Otherwise it can harm and even kill you.

Alan Turing, Code Breaker and Computer Genius

This week, the Bank of England unveiled its new 50-pound note that features the brilliant World War II codebreaker Alan Turing. The 50-pound note is the highest denomination in circulation and its new design honoring Turing completes the change from paper to polymer currencies that include Winston Churchill on the five-pound note, author Jane Austen on the 10-pound note and artist J. M. W. Turner on the 20-pound note. Turing was selected by more than 250,000 public votes, an effort to atone for the unbelievable cruelty and prejudice against gay people that led Turing to suicide.

James Levine, Metropolitan Opera Conductor

James Levine was among America’s most acclaimed and successful orchestra conductors. He was the music director of the Metropolitan Opera, conducting 2,552 performances from 1976 to 2016, when he was felled by the ravages of Parkinson’s disease. He also directed the Munich Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and was the winner of eight Grammy Awards and the 1997 National Medal of Arts.

Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Middleweight Boxing Champion

Marvin Hagler was the undisputed middleweight boxing champion of the world from 1980 to 1987, knocked out 78 percent of his opponents and was knocked down only one time during his entire professional career. In 1982, he changed his legal name to “Marvelous Marvin” because network announcers at his fights often did not refer to him by his preferred nickname.

Merle Haggard: Be Good to Your Lungs

Merle Haggard was a legendary country music singer and guitar player with 38 songs that reached number one on the country charts, and 71 in the top ten. We have lost another great musical talent to the ravages of lung cancer and pneumonia, brought on by this generation's horrible treatment of their lungs.

Mozart and Sore Throats

In 1791, arguably the world’s most gifted composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, died at the very young age of 35. Today, no serious researchers believe that Mozart was poisoned because his medical history and his symptoms match those of a classic disease that can now be cured.

Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio Legend

Rush Limbaugh earned more than $84 million per year as the host of his famous talk radio show, with more than 15 million listeners each week. He was widely known for leading the conservative movement in the United States and was rewarded with induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame and National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

Larry Flynt, Free Speech Advocate

Larry Flynt was a publisher, businessman and promoter who was one of the most notorious producers of pornography, rising to fame and great wealth from his raunchy Hustler magazine. He built a $100 million business empire based on magazines, private clubs, casinos, sex-toy stores, videos, and three pornographic television channels.

Christopher Plummer, Oldest Oscar Winner

Christopher Plummer was a Canadian actor in film, theater and television, who was most famous for his 1965 performance as Captain Georg von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Over his incredibly active career, he won an Academy Award, two prime-time Emmy Awards, two Tony Awards, a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and a British Academy Film Award, and was nominated for many other honors.

Emil Zatopek, the Best Distance Runner

Most runners today still think that Emil Zatopek was the greatest runner who ever lived. At the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, he won three gold medals in the 5,000 meters, the 10,000 meters and marathon, all in Olympic and world record times, a feat that will probably never be equaled.

Larry King, a Life of 60,000 Interviews

As his doctor and friend, I knew Larry King as the hardest working person I have ever met. He hosted a nightly national Mutual Broadcasting System talk show on 500 radio stations from 1978 to 1994, which were rebroadcast until 2010.

Babe Didrikson Zaharias, the Best Female Athlete

Babe Didrikson Zaharias was named the best female athlete of the 20th century.  In the 1932 Olympics, she became the only track and field athlete, male or female, ever to win individual Olympic medals in a running, throwing and jumping event. She set four world records: • She won the 80-meter hurdles in a world-record 11.7 seconds and breaking her previous world-record she set in a preliminary heat.

Tommy Heinsohn, Beloved Boston Celtic

Tommy Heinsohn was inducted into the National Basketball Association Hall of Fame twice, first as a player and then again as a coach. He spent 60 years with the Boston Celtics, as a player from 1956 to 1965, their coach from 1969 to 1978, and more than 30 years as a broadcaster of their games.

Phyllis McGuire, Last of the McGuire Sisters

Phyllis McGuire, lead singer of the “McGuire Sisters” who were famous in the 1950s and 1960s, died on December 29, 2020 at age 89 in Las Vegas. In 1968, she left her singing career for a multi-year affair with equally famous Sam Giancana, who a notorious gangster and leader of the Chicago mob.

Bobby Farrell of Boney M

Today my favorite song is “The Rivers Of Babylon”, the second highest-selling single of all time in the UK. I heard the song for the first time a few weeks ago on YouTube. It was recorded in 1978 by “Boney M,” whose original members were with the band from 1976 until 1986. They all came from the Caribbean: Bobby Farrell came from Aruba, Liz Mitchell and Marcia Barrett were from Jamaica and Maizie Williams was from Montserrat, an island in the Lesser Antilles.

Linus Pauling and Prostate Cancer

Linus Pauling died at age 93 of prostate cancer, a disease that affects nearly 100 percent of North American men over age 90. He was one of the most influential chemists of all time, and also a peace activist, author, and educator. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962 for his campaign against nuclear weapons testing.

Charley Pride, Country Music Superstar, Dies of COVID-19

Charley Pride was the first Black superstar of country music. He grew up in abject poverty and wanted to be a professional baseball player. He had the talent, but an elbow injury at age 24 cut short his baseball pitching career.  To make enough money to feed his family, he started singing at baseball games, night clubs and social events.

Rafer Johnson, Olympic Decathlete, Dies from Stroke

Rafer Johnson was one of America’s greatest athletes. He was the world record holder and 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, having won silver in the 1956 Olympics and also gold in the 1955 Pan American Games. He was the star of his Kingsburg High School's football, baseball and basketball teams and won the 1953 and 1954 California state high school decathlon championships.

Diego Maradona, Troubled Best Soccer Player

Diego Maradona was widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time. He could dribble the ball through an entire opposing team and could kick the ball where the goalie couldn’t reach it.

John Enders, Vaccine Pioneer

The year 2020 will be remembered for the incredible ground-breaking research leading to vaccines to prevent COVID-19, which may progress to new vaccines that will prevent almost any known viral infection in humans, even though they do not contain any weakened or living virus. The same techniques are likely to be used to prevent...

Paul Hornung: Another Football Great Felled by Dementia

Paul Hornung was better than everyone else on a football field, according to Frank Leahy, his coach at Notre Dame, who said, “He could run through opposing teams like a mower going through grass.” Vince Lombardi, his coach with the Green Bay Packers., said, “Paul Hornung is the greatest player I've ever coached . . ."

Frank Sinatra, Voice of the 20th Century

Frank Sinatra was the most famous popular singer in the world from the 1940s on, with every performance accompanied by screaming and swooning teenagers. His countless friends included presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, members of Britain's royal family and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Sean Connery, Dementia and Death from “Natural Causes”

Sean Connery was a Scottish movie star who was the original James Bond in seven Bond films between 1962 and 1983. He was voted by People magazine to be the "Sexiest Man Alive" in 1989 and the "Sexiest Man of the Century" in 1999.

J. Michael Lane: Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Last as Long as Smallpox?

J. Michael Lane was an epidemiologist who spent most of his life as probably the major player in helping to eradicate the smallpox virus. He traveled to Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and other countries to combat outbreaks and create vaccination programs.

Tyler Amburgey, Hockey and COVID-19

Tyler Amburgey was good enough to play on the United States National Hockey under-age-18 teams from 2007 to 2009, and then was a very talented player for the next eight years for six minor league hockey teams.