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Earl Thomas Conley and Cerebral Atrophy

Earl Thomas Conley was a country music singer-songwriter who during the 1980s and 1990s had 24 Top-10 country singles including 18 that were Number One. Only Alabama and Ronnie Milsap had more number one hits during the decade. This month, at age 77, Conley died after spending many months in hospice care for cerebral atrophy, a condition that had caused progressive loss of memory over several years.

Jack Lemmon, American Icon

Jack Lemmon was an actor who starred in more than 60 films, won two Academy Awards and was nominated eight times. He was born into a wealthy but abusive family and died at age 76 from complications of colon cancer that had spread to his bladder.

Barry Marshall, from Quack to Nobel Prize

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.

Nelson Rockefeller’s Heart Attack

On January 26, 1979, Nelson Rockefeller, former Vice President of the United States, a four-term governor of New York and an heir to the Rockefeller family fortune, died at age 70 of a heart attack that was rumored to have occurred during extramarital sex. Rockefeller's family chose not to have an autopsy done; instead, he was cremated 18 hours after he was pronounced dead.

Kelly Catlin: Concussion, Depression and Suicide

Kelly Catlin was a world-class bicycle racer who won a silver medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics and gold medals in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 UCI Track Cycling World Championships. At the same time, she was a concert-quality classical violinist and an artist, was graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, spoke fluent Chinese, and was in the exclusive graduate school in mathematics at Stanford University when she committed suicide at age 23, on March 7, 2019

Luke Perry: Young Strokes

Luke Perry was a television actor and movie star for more than 35 years, most famous as Dylan McKay, a brooding and alcoholic teenager who was the son of a millionaire on the TV series Beverly Hills, 90210 from 1990 to 1995, and again from 1998 to 2000. He was ranked #6 in the list of "TV's 25 Greatest Teen Idols" (TV Guide, January 23, 2005).

Typhoid Mary’s Gall Bladder

Do you know why a healthy person who makes other people sick may be called a "Typhoid Mary"? There really was a Typhoid Mary. She was an apparently healthy person who caused more than ten documented epidemics of typhoid fever, at least three documented deaths, and probably many more cases that could not be confirmed.

Peter Tork of The Monkees

Peter Tork sang and played bass and keyboard for The Monkees, a television show about a band spoofing the The Beatles. The show ran for two years from 1966 to 1968 and won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy.

Albert Finney’s Kidney Cancer Treatments

Albert Finney was an English actor best remembered for his Academy-Award-nominated roles as the lawyer in Erin Brockovich, Geoffrey Firmin in Under the Volcano, Sir in The Dresser, Hercule Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express, and the title role in the 1963 classic, Tom Jones.

Scott Joplin, King of Ragtime

I cried when I heard the life story of Scott Joplin, and you will cry also. He was an African-American composer and pianist whose 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas paved the way for other black artists to develop ragtime music which would evolve into jazz. However, prejudice against blacks in late nineteenth century United States ran so deep that Joplin died penniless in a mental institution.

Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Heart Attacks

On January 22, 1973, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, died at his ranch in Johnson City, Texas, at age 65 from what was probably his fifth heart attack. He was one of the hardest-working presidents ever and could have lived much longer if he had changed the lifestyle factors that caused his first heart attack at age 47.

What Killed Alexander the Great?

In 323 BCE, Alexander the Great died suddenly at the very young age of 32. This month, more than 2,300 years later, Dr Katherine Hall of the University of Otaga in New Zealand gives a very strong argument that he died of nerve damage from Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Alexander never lost a battle and was one of the most successful military commanders of all time. By age 30, he had reached the edge of the known world (modern India), to form an empire that stretched from today's Albania to eastern Pakistan, the largest empire of the ancient world.

Cole Porter’s Horrendous Accident

This is the sad story of Cole Porter, one of America's greatest and most talented composers who won just about every award possible for songs and musical productions, and how his life was destroyed by a fall off a horse that caused pain for the rest of his life, depression, and eventually prevented him from creating new music (Med Gen Med, 2004;6(2):47). Today, you can still hear many of the more than 1,400 songs he wrote: "True Love", "Something to Shout About", "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to", and many more.

Robin Williams and Lewy Body Dementia

On August 11, 2014, we lost one of the greatest comics and actors of our time when Robin Williams took his own life at his home in California. He was 63. At the time of his death, there was a lot of speculation about his recent depression. His wife had not yet released the news that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and later, when his brain was examined, he was found to have suffered from Lewy Body Dementia.

Daryl Dragon of The Captain and Tennille

Daryl Dragon was a talented musician with serious medical problems who succeeded in the popular musical entertainment industry because of the incredible love, kindness and patience of his devoted wife, Toni Tennille. He played keyboards and she sang to form the very popular musical duo, The Captain & Tennille, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lili Marleen, the Peace Song of War

During World War II, both Allied and Axis soldiers on the front lines buoyed themselves up by listening to the same song, "Lili Marleen". The song was incredibly effective in raising the morale of soldiers living in the worst of conditions and not knowing when it would be their turn to be killed. The song is about a soldier who is called back to his barracks, forcing him to leave his love under the light of a lantern and he declares that he will return to her.

Penny Marshall, Death by Diabetes

This is the story of a brilliant and highly successful lady who thought that she was stupid, incompetent and unattractive. Penny Marshall was an outstanding actress, director and producer. In the 1970s, she received three nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Musical or Comedy for playing Laverne DeFazio in the sitcom Laverne & Shirley.

Richard Nixon’s Paranoia

On April 18, 1994, Richard Nixon suffered a massive stroke at his home in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Four days later he sank into a coma and died at age 81. Famous people from all over the world, including five U.S. presidents, attended his funeral. President Bill Clinton's eulogy talked about Nixon's accomplishments in foreign affairs and did not mention his constitutional crimes.

Paul Robeson, Voice of the Downtrodden

Paul Leroy Robeson was an All-American football player who became a world-famous singer and actor. He spent his entire life fighting for the rights of the working class and against ignorance and prejudice. Robeson was born in 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey, the youngest of five children of Reverend William Drew Robeson, a Presbyterian minister and escaped slave, and Maria Louisa Bustill Robeson, a schoolteacher. He grew up in Westfield, NJ at a time when blacks were discouraged from attending high school.

George H.W. Bush and Vascular Parkinsonism

On November 30, 2018 George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, died of vascular Parkinsonism, a disease with many of the same risk factors as those for strokes and a heart attack. However, he did not have the two major risk factors for heart attacks: He was not overweight and he exercised regularly (and vigorously, at least in his younger days).

Micheline Ostermeyer, Olympian and Concert Pianist

It takes so much work and time to train to become outstanding at any endeavor that there are very few people who have risen to the top of the world stage in more than one field. One of the most impressive people who ever lived was Micheline Ostermeyer of France. She was born in 1922 and died at age 78 in 2001, and was a concert pianist who won three Olympic medals in the 1948 Olympics.

Clark Gable’s Heart Attacks

Clark Gable had just about every known lifestyle risk factor for the heart attack that killed him at the very young age of 59. Perhaps best known for his role as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind (1939), he was the leading man in more than 60 motion pictures and was nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

The Death of Benjamin Franklin

On April 17, 1790, The Pennsylvania Gazette announced the death of its 84-year-old founder, Benjamin Franklin. More than 20,000 people attended his funeral, about 70 percent of the people who lived in Philadelphia at the time. His coffin was carried by the most important men in the State of Pennsylvania and escorted to Christ Church by a crowd of citizens that included printers and members of the American Philosophical Society, which he had founded.

Mickey Rooney, Ninety Years Onstage

Mickey Rooney was truly one of the most enduring and talented performers of all time. He could act seriously, tell jokes and be funny, sing, and dance in his many roles in the theater, Broadway, vaudeville, radio, TV and more than 300 movies over his 90-year career. He starred in 43 films between ages 15 and 25 and was Hollywood's top box office draw from 1939 to 1941.

My Favorite Poet, Edgar Allan Poe

Halloween is a good time to think about ghosts and spooky deaths. I think that the greatest poem for Halloween is The Raven, written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1845. It’s my favorite poem. Every sentence is a metaphor to teach us about philosophy, sadness, death, fatalism and life. Every word has a musical tone.

Paul Allen and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

Paul Allen was ranked as the 44th-richest person in the world ($20.3 billion), co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates and then went on to found his own company, Vulcan Inc., that owned research, media, technology and spaceflight companies. He owned three major sports teams and gave away more than $2 billion for philanthropic projects in science, education, wildlife conservation, the arts and community services. He suffered from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and died at age 65 on October 15, 2018, from septic shock brought on by the cancer and its treatment.

Farrah Fawcett: The Price of Beauty

It may not be so good to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, a famous actress who was a four-time Emmy Award nominee and six-time Golden Globe Award nominee and who was ranked by TV Guide as "One of the 50 Greatest TV stars of All-Time". Beautiful, famous women often attract handsome promiscuous men who share their acquired and often incurable infections.

The Scandalous Life and Death of President Harding

Warren G. Harding was the 29th president of the United States and has been voted America's worst president ever in many polls including one by Harvard's Arthur Schlesinger. In the summer of 1923, near the end of the second year of his presidency, rumors started to spread of his affairs and the criminal actions of many of his appointees.

Dwight Eisenhower: The History of Bed Rest

From 1900 to 1940, doctors routinely put people to bed for at least two months after a heart attack. In the 1950s the first studies came out to show that men who were put to bed after a heart attack were more likely to die than those who were active. Doctors responded by shortening bed rest from two months to two weeks.

Winston Churchill, the Most Influential Man of the 20th Century

During World War II, Britain's Prime Minister, Winston Churchill saved the free world with his inspirational speeches and by refusing to hand Britain over to Hitler, even though some members of the royal family and Parliament wanted to surrender their country.