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Jim Henson and Toxic Shock Syndrome

Fifty years ago, Jim Henson created the Muppets, the world's most famous puppets, for the children's educational television show, Sesame Street. He won two Emmy Awards for his work, and sold his company to Walt Disney for $150 million. The beloved show has produced more than 4500 episodes.

Jackie Gleason’s Colon Cancer

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."

Liz Taylor’s Eyelashes: Clue to Rare Genetic Disorder

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.

Bob Hayes, World’s Fastest Human

For many years the world’s fastest human was Bob Hayes, the only man to win Olympic gold medals and a Super Bowl ring, and hold world records in the 60-, 100-, and 220-yard dashes and the Olympic 100-meter dash at the same time.

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.

Emily Dickinson, SAD Poet

Emily Dickinson was probably America’s greatest female poet, but during her lifetime she wrote only for herself. Because she felt that her work was of inferior quality, only seven of her 1768 poems were published during her lifetime. I will give you clues that should lead you to tell what disease she had. She spent...

John Harvey Kellogg, Right and Wrong

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.

Michael E. DeBakey, Father of Modern Heart Surgery

“He was probably the greatest surgeon who ever lived” (The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2005). Michael DeBakey personally performed more than 60,000 surgical procedures. He developed the surgical procedures to bypass blocked arteries in the neck, legs and heart. These surgeries have been performed on millions of patients. He developed artificial pumps for...

Eugene O’Neill’s Guilt and Death

When you were in school, you may have read some of Eugene O’Neill’s more than 50 plays, such as Long Day's Journey into Night, Desire Under the Elms, or A Moon for the Misbegotten. He was the only American playwright to ever win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Neil Armstrong’s Bypass Surgery

Neil Armstrong was a great American hero who:  • flew 78 combat missions as a Korean War military pilot,  • was a test pilot for new planes, and  • was the 1966 spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar mission. On July 20, 1969, he became the first human to walk on the moon.  He later...

Roger Ailes and Hemophilia

Seventy-seven-year-old Roger Ailes had hemophilia, a genetic inability to clot normally, so when he fell at his home on May 10, 2017, and hit his head, he bled into his brain which caused a subdural hematoma. The massive bleeding and tremendous pressure squashed his brain and killed him eight days later.

The On-and-Off Partnership of Tammy Wynette and George Jones

George Jones and Tammy Wynette, perhaps the most popular married country-singing couple of all time, told us a lot about their marriage and divorce. They were married for only seven years, but they wrote and sang together while they were married and for twenty years after they were divorced.

Lynn Anderson: Alcohol and Heart Attacks

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.

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.

Roger Moore’s Many Medical Problems

Roger Moore was an English film and television star who was most famous for having played secret agent James Bond in seven films from 1973 to 1985. In 1991, he was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for his work helping underprivileged children. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Bobbie Battista and Cervical Cancer

Bobbie Battista was one of the original CNN cable news anchors, starting in 1981 and continuing to broadcast there for 20 years. She died at the very young age of 67 after a four-year battle with cervical cancer.

David Cassidy, Teen Idol

David Cassidy achieved early fame as Keith Partridge in the 1970s musical sitcom The Partridge Family, and by his early twenties he was a singer and guitarist, had the top selling single record of the year, multiple Grammy nominations, a Golden Apple Award and a fan club of teenagers that was larger than those of Elvis Presley and The Beatles combined.

Denton Cooley, the Fastest Heart Surgeon

Heart surgeon Denton Cooley, who just died on November 18, 2017, was better than his peers in just about everything he did. He founded the Texas Heart Institute in 1972, where he and his team performed almost 120,000 open heart operations, 258,000 cardiac catheterizations and 270 heart transplants.

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.

Charlotte Rae and Pancreatic Cancer

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.

Ian Cognito: When Every Minute Counts

At age 60, British comedian Ian Cognito collapsed and died from a heart attack while performing on stage at a crowded comedy club on April 11, 2019. The audience thought that this was part of his act and did not realize that he was actually having a heart attack, when every minute counts for a rescue team to save his life.

Donald Ritchie, Ultramarathon Runner

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.

Simon Ramo Did Everything Right

On June, 27, 2016, aerospace pioneer Simon Ramo died at 103 years of age. His quality of life never deteriorated with old age. He played tennis regularly on his seven-acre estate in Beverly Hills.

Blaze Starr’s Flaming Couch

On June 15, 2015, 83-year-old Blaze Starr, probably the most famous burlesque stripper in North America, died of heart failure. She was famous because she: • had a 38DD bra size, a 24 inch waist and flaming red hair • was the prime tourist attraction of "The Block" in Baltimore in the 1950's, 60's and 70's •...

Eddie Van Halen and Mouth Cancer

Eddie Van Halen is considered to be one of the most accomplished guitarists of all time, and he led his hard rock band to international fame. He also developed new techniques and changes in his guitar that many other guitarists have copied, such as finger tapping with both hands on the guitar neck.

Famous Athletes with Asthma

Paula Radcliffe holds the world’s record in the women's marathon, has won the world championships in the marathon, half marathon and cross country, has won the European championship of 10,000 meters and cross country and the Commonwealth Games in the 5000 meters, has represented Great Britain in four Olympic games, and has won both...

Gustav Mahler and the Strep Throat that Killed Him

Gustav Mahler was born in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) to German-Jewish parents who were children of street peddlers. By age five, Gustav was an accomplished piano player and at 10 he played many public performances. By age 15, he was such a good pianist that the famous piano virtuoso, Julius Epstein, accepted him as a pupil at the Vienna Conservatory.

Joe Diffie and Many Other Musicians Have Died from COVID-19

I have no data to show that popular musicians are at greater risk of death from COVID-19 than the general population, but we note the headlines marking the passing of many beloved artists just in the past few days.

Elie Wiesel, Messenger to Mankind

Elie Wiesel was a Romanian-American Jewish writer, professor and the author of more than 50 books. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to show the world its moral responsibility to fight hatred, racism and genocide.

Julius Wagner-Jauregg’s Nobel Prize for Syphilis Treatment

In 1927, Austrian psychiatrist Julius Wagner-Jauregg received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for curing some patients with brain damage from syphilis by infecting them with malaria.