Charlotte Rae was a stage, television and film actress and singer who, at age 52, became widely known and loved as Mrs. Edna Garrett in the TV shows "Diff’rent Strokes" and its spinoff "The Facts of Life" (1978-1987). As Mrs. Garrett, she was the cheerful, wise and strong housemother at a prestigious boarding school, where she always made the right decisions in dealing with issues facing teenager girls: dating, depression, weight control, alcohol and drugs. However, in real life, she was an alcoholic who suffered greatly from her affliction.
Early on the morning of July 2, 1961, sixty-one year old Ernest Hemingway, one of America's greatest writers and the winner of both the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize, sat in the foyer of his home and shot himself in the head with a double-barreled shotgun. I believe that his suicide was caused by his doctors' complete failure to diagnose hemochromatosis, a hereditary disease that was so well known and so easy to treat that he could have had no suffering at all.
Lynn Anderson was one of America's most popular country music singers in the 1960s and 70s, best known for her "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden." She died from a heart attack at the very young age of 67, most likely caused by her excessive intake of alcohol. Alcohol can damage cells throughout your body.
Blond, blue-eyed Tab Hunter was so good-looking that he became a leading Hollywood movie star of the 1950s and 1960s. He was very athletic as a competitive figure skater in his youth and a lifelong accomplished horseman, so he was featured in roles such as the baseball player in the 1958 musical film Damn Yankees. He was also a popular singer whose 1957 hit record, "Young Love," sold more than a million copies and was number one on the Hit Parade for six weeks.
Elizabeth Taylor was a British-American actress who was famous for more than 50 movies, two Oscars, eight marriages, countless lovers and a net worth at death of more than $600 million. Instead of the normal single row of eyelashes, she had a thick, dark fringe of extra eyelashes that helped to make her one of the most beautiful women in the world. Unfortunately, extra eyelashes are also part of a terrible disease called lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome that is inherited and is caused by a mutation of the FOXC2 gene.
Donald Ritchie ran more than 208,100 miles during his lifetime as one of the best ultramarathon runners of all time. He set more than a dozen international records for distances from 50 kilometers to 200 kilometers. Exercise has been shown in hundreds of studies to help prevent and treat diabetes, yet Ritchie died on June 16, 2018 at the very young age of 73 from complications from diabetes that he developed when he was 51 years old.
Chuck Vinci won gold medals at the 1956 and 1960 Olympic games and the 1955 and 1959 Pan American Games, and set 12 world records in the bantamweight class of weightlifting. He was arguably one of the world's greatest weightlifters before steroids and growth hormones were massively abused, primarily by behind-the-iron-curtain athletes.
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.
Neal E. Boyd was a kid who grew up in poverty in the tiny mid-western town of Sikeston, Missouri, and was raised by a loving single mother. From there he followed a path that eventually led him to win a million dollars and the 2008 national title on America's Got Talent.
In 1991, hikers in the Italian Alps discovered Otzi the Iceman, a man who was preserved in ice after his murder about 5,300 years ago. He was killed by a hard hit on his head and an arrow through his shoulder when he was about 46 years old. He is now entombed at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy with a life-size statue of him as he may have looked standing nearby.
The noted novelist Philip Roth has died at age 85 of heart failure, even though he had changed many of his lifestyle risk factors that caused him to suffer a heart attack at the very young age of 56, which required bypass surgery of all five arteries leading to his heart.
Browning Ross was truly the father of road racing in America. He was a member of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field teams in 1948 and 1952, and Pan American Games 1500 meter (metric mile) champion in 1951. He won many hundreds of long distance races through the streets of North American cities.
Humphrey Bogart was one of Hollywood’s most famous actors. In 1942, he starred in Casablanca, which won the 1943 Academy Award for Best Picture, got him nominated for Best Actor and made him the highest paid actor up to that time, with an income of more than $460,000 a year. As a high school student he was expelled from the prestigious Phillips Academy (Andover) for smoking and drinking, and he continued these harmful habits for the rest of his life.
Audrey Hepburn was a movie star, ballet dancer, model and humanitarian who suffered such extreme starvation as a child during the Nazi occupation of Holland that she came out of World War II weighing only 88 pounds in a 5'6" frame. She was extremely thin all her life. She died at age 63 of a very rare cancer of her appendix.
Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing, reformed the British public health system, improved military medicine and dedicated her life to caring for the sick. She earned her reputation by caring for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War. In 1854, she arrived in Turkey with a group of 38 volunteer nurses that she had trained.
A recently-published medical journal article claims that Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician after whom Asperger’s syndrome is named, was involved in the Nazi euthanasia program to sterilize or kill retarded, emotionally-disturbed and sick children in the 1930's and 40s (Molecular Autism, April 19, 2018). If this is true, he certainly should not continue to have the honor of having the medical syndrome named after him.
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.
Jackie Gleason was the most famous television actor of his time and he was so hilarious that reruns of his shows and movies are still popular today. At age 33, he became Chester A. Riley in the television production "The Life of Riley". At age 36, he starred in "The Jackie Gleason Show" as a series of characters who yelled a lot and murdered the English language. One of his most popular characters was Ralph Kramden, a brash, blustering, bumbling bus driver who always bullied his wife, Alice. These sketches became Gleason's most popular show, "The Honeymooners."
Milt Campbell, one of the greatest and most versatile athletes who ever lived, died at age 78 of diabetes and prostate cancer. Research shows that prostate cancer will affect almost every North American male if he lives long enough, and risk is markedly increased in men who have diabetes.
Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States (1829-1837), the first who was brought up in poverty and the first not to come from either Massachusetts or Virginia. He certainly was one of the toughest presidents who ever lived.
One of the world's greatest theoretical physicists died on March 13, 2018 at age 76. In spite of suffering from ALS which left him able to move only a few muscles in the side of his face, he opened new ground on how we view the origin and possible end of the universe. He defined "black holes" as we know them today.
Madame Marie Curie was one of the most brilliant and hard-working people who ever lived. She won two Nobel Prizes and helped her husband and daughter each win one. Her death certificate read that she died of pernicious anemia caused by radiation from her many experiments with radium and polonium, the two elements that she discovered.
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.
Billy Graham came from relative poverty, milking cows and plowing fields on a family dairy farm near Charlotte, NC, to become a Southern Baptist minister and the best-known North American evangelist of the 20th century. He hosted his huge crusades from 1947 until his retirement in 2005, and reached an even wider audience through television and radio broadcasts.
I couldn't believe 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. He sold more than a million copies of his book The Complete Book of Running, published in 1977. He was a close friend and had been a guest on my radio show.
John Harvey Kellogg was a medical doctor and director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, a hospital, spa and expensive hotel that helped to heal sick people primarily by getting them to eat a plant-based diet. To help people eat more plants, he and his brother, Will Keith Kellogg, invented "Corn Flakes" by putting whole grains though rollers and toasting them.
Mickey Mantle went from extreme poverty in Oklahoma to become the superstar center fielder of the New York Yankees of the 1950s and 1960s, and arguably the greatest switch hitter in the history of baseball. He hit 536 home runs and had the highest stolen base percentage.
For 50 years, Freud was one of the most revered scientists on earth. Then researchers discovered neurotransmitters, chemicals that pass messages from one nerve to another. They found that people who hallucinate and are not able to think clearly are schizophrenic because their brains make too much dopamine or glutamate, and that people are depressed because their brains make too little norepinephrine and serotonin;
At 7 foot, 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.
It wasn't the Russians who defeated Napoleon in the War of 1812; it was Napoleon's surgeon general, Baron Larrey. Napoleon was set to conquer the civilized world, but he was done in by Russia's horribly cold winter. Baron Larrey made matters worse by telling the soldiers to rub snow on their frozen hands. Rubbing snow on frostbite removed their skin, which led to infection and death.