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John Trojanowski, Dementia Research Pioneer

Together with his wife, Virginia Man-Yee Lee, researcher John Trojanowski wrote more than 500 scientific papers that made him one of the world’s leading authorities on abnormally-folded proteins that damage the brain: tau proteins in Alzheimer disease, alpha-synuclein in Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease, and TDP-43 in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal degeneration.

How Did Stalin Die?

On March 1, 1953, after an all-night dinner with heavy drinking among four of the highest Russian government officials, the 73 year-old Joseph Stalin collapsed at his house. Later he was found unconscious on the floor, yet no doctors were summoned until the next morning.

Ray Charles, The Genius

Ray Charles was an incredibly talented singer and composer of jazz, blues, gospel, and country music.

Giacomo Casanova, the Great Lover

Casanova is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "a man who is a promiscuous and unscrupulous lover." Near the end of his life in the 1790s, he wrote a 12-volume, 3,800-page autobiography claiming that he slept with at least 136 women and some men, including nobility, servants, and prostitutes.

Waylon Jennings’ Years of Pain

Twenty years ago this week we lost Waylon Jennings, one of the all-time great voices of country music.  Jennings was a singer and songwriter who rose from poverty to great wealth and fame, with 54 albums and 96 singles listed among the top sellers between 1966 and 2002. He gave concerts and recorded with many of the most popular artists of his time including Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare, Kris Kristofferson and Mel Tillis.

Meat Loaf: COVID-19 and Immune Defects

Meat Loaf was a singer who won a Grammy award for the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance in the country for the song “I’d Do Anything for Love,” went on more than 30 tours to sell his records, and had three “Bat Out of Hell” albums that sold more than 65 million copies. He also appeared in more than 50 movies including Fight Club, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wayne’s World.

Sidney Poitier: Heart Failure, Dementia and Prostate Cancer

Sidney Poitier was the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, and his portrayal of real heroes helped to open the door for Black actors in the film industry. He received two Golden Globe Awards, a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and the BAFTA Fellowship for outstanding lifetime achievement in film. He appeared in many top movies including The Defiant One, To Sir, With Love, In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and A Raisin in the Sun.

Robert Durst, Pathological Killer

Robert Durst was a fabulously wealthy heir to one of the most powerful real estate companies in New York City, and a convicted murderer and suspected-serial killer who avoided appropriate punishment for more than 40 years by changing his name, disguising his face, moving from place to place, and finally dying while waiting for an appeal.

Al Capp’s Li’l Abner

From 1934 to 1977, Al Capp wrote the most-read comic strip in North America, Li'l Abner, about hillbillies in the fictional town of Dogpatch, Kentucky. It had 60 million daily readers in more than 1000 newspapers in 28 countries. Li'l Abner Yokum, a stupid but good-natured hayseed, was the son of...

John Madden and Diabetes

John Madden was 32 years old when the Oakland Raiders hired him to become the youngest head coach ever in the National Football League. He went on never to have a losing season, with an outstanding 103-32-7 record in his 10 seasons with the team. They made the playoffs eight times and won Super Bowl XI on January 9, 1977. His winning percentage of .759 remains the highest for an NFL coach with at least 100 victories. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at age 70 in 2006. After he retired from coaching in 1979, he arguably became even more famous as a career broadcaster.

Desmond Tutu Dies at 90 of Prostate Cancer

Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu came from a very poor black family in South African during apartheid’s darkest hours to become Archbishop of Cape Town in 1985 at age 54. He led the movement to rid South Africa of its system of racial segregation and white minority rule. In that capacity, he had to fight incredible abuse.

Neil Fingleton, Game of Thrones Giant

At 7 feet, 7.5 inches, Neil Fingleton was the tallest man in the United Kingdom. He played basketball at the University of North Carolina and Holy Cross College and as a pro in the United States, Spain, China, Italy, Greece and England. He later became an actor who played Mag the Mighty in the HBO fantasy series, Game of Thrones and the villain, The Fisher King, in BBC’s Doctor Who.

Michael Nesmith of “The Monkees”

Mike Nesmith was a guitar player and writer of popular songs who was a member of the 1960s pop rock band “The Monkees.” The Monkees television show, which ran from 1966 to 1968, was a situation comedy series about a band that wanted to be the Beatles, but could not match their success. In reality, for a short time The Monkees did become as famous as the Beatles. They won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy and had several number one Billboard chart songs, such as "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," and "I’m a Believer."

Bob Dole, Better than the Best

Bob Dole was a United States senator from Kansas for 27 years, from 1969 to 1996; the Republican Leader of the Senate for 11 years, the Senate Majority Leader for three years, the Republican presidential nominee in 1996 and the vice presidential nominee in 1976. He died at age 99 from lung cancer after a lifetime service to our country, in spite of suffering many serious medical problems.

Stephen Sondheim and Sudden Death in Older People

Stephen Sondheim was one of the most popular and best-known American composers of the 20th century. His many musicals included West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd. He won nine Tony Awards, an Academy Award, eight Grammy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, a Laurence Olivier Award, and the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Glen Campbell’s Dementia

Glen Campbell was the son of a sharecropper who went from childhood poverty to wealth and world fame as a country singer, but he spent his last several years suffering from dementia and died from its complications at age 81 on August 8, 2017.

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.

The Sad Story of Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter and her brother Richard sang together to form "The Carpenters", one of the leading singing groups in the 1970s. When she died of heart failure at age 32, she made the world painfully aware of a disease called anorexia nervosa.

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.

Colin Powell: Vaccination to Protect the Immune-Compromised

Colin Powell was the first African-American Secretary of State, the 16th U.S. national security advisor and a 4-star general who was the 12th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He died from COVID-19 because he had multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer that prevented his immune system from functioning normally.

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.

What Killed Mario Lanza at Age 38?

On October 7, 1959, singer Mario Lanza died suddenly at age 38 of a heart attack just as he was getting ready to check out of a medical clinic in Rome. He didn't mean to kill himself, but his entire adult life was full of behaviors and actions that are known to cause heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and premature death.

George Jones – Sad Life, Sad Songs

George Jones lived and sang about sorrow and poverty, and became one of the greatest country music singers of all time, He recorded more than 900 songs and charted the most country hits, paying the price of spending a tremendous amount of time on the road,

Alice Coachman, First Olympic Gold to a Black Woman

Alice Coachman should have been one of the most famous female athletes of all time. She was the 1948 Olympic high jump champion and the winner of 25 national track and field championships, including ten consecutive U.S. high jump championships and five national outdoor 50 meter sprint championships, and was the star guard on...

Johnny Cash, the Man in Black

Johnny Cash wrote more than 1500 country songs and became America's most famous country singer. His fans included every president in his lifetime from Richard Nixon on, and almost everyone recognizes his voice.

Jim Fixx, Running Guru

A huge number of studies have shown that running helps to prevent heart attacks, so I couldn't believe the news that running guru Jim Fixx had died of a heart attack at age 52 after his daily run in Hardwick, Vermont. He was the guy who made running popular, healthful, and desirable.

Ed Asner: “Lou Grant,” “Elf” and “Up”

Ed Asner was an American actor and television star whose most famous character was Lou Grant, who first appeared on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in 1970. He was so well-liked that when the series ended in 1977, he was given his own show based on the same character for five more years.

Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones Drummer

Charlie Watts was the drummer for 58 years with The Rolling Stones, arguably the top hard rock band in the world with an estimated 250 million records sold. The Rolling Stones won three Grammy Awards and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame.

Mary Tyler Moore and Type I Diabetes

Mary Tyler Moore was one of the most famous female television stars in North America, first as a wife and mother on The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1966) and then as a single working woman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977) where she became a role model admired by women all over the world.

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul

As one of the most versatile American singers of all time, Aretha Franklin was best known for singing soul music and popular and gospel songs, but with less than two hours’ notice, she was able to use her powerful mezzo-soprano voice to sing a great opera aria when she stepped in to replace Luciano Pavaroti at the 1998 Grammy Awards.