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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He was arguably the greatest baseball batter ever. He played 19 years for the Boston Red Sox and every one of those 19 years, he was an American League All-Star. In 1941, he had a batting average of 406, which remains the highest batting average in the major leagues since 1924 and at that time, it was 45 points higher than any other player in the league. He also led the league in runs scored, home runs, walks, getting on base and slugging percentage.
Burt Reynolds was a famous film and television star, producer, and director who had it all. He was extremely good looking, incredibly popular with the ladies, a gifted movie star who could be absolutely hilarious, a college scholarship athlete who was a potential All-American, and a much sought-after actor who became fabulously wealthy.
Robin Leach was best known as the host of the 1984-95 television series, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which featured palatial homes, yachts, expensive cars and lavish lifestyles of wealthy entertainers, athletes and corporate executives. Leach died prematurely at the very young age of 76 from a second stroke, which occurred 10 months after his first stroke that cost him the ability to speak and use his right side.
Neil Simon was America's premier play and movie writer. His more than 30 plays and 30 movies won a Pulitzer Prize, three Oscars, three Tony awards, 17 Tony nominations and four Academy Award nominations. He once had four successful plays running at the same time on Broadway, and in 1983, he became the only living person to have a Broadway theater named after him.
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.
Gustav Born was a physician and pharmacologist who taught the world about blood clotting. In 1945, he was posted as a British army doctor in Hiroshima, and noticed that most of the survivors of the atomic bomb suffered from chronic bleeding. He demonstrated that exposure to radiation destroys the body's platelets to cause the bleeding and laid the basics for treatment of bleeding and clotting disorders, some of which are still used today.
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.