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Stella Walsh, Olympic Female Sprint Champion

Stella Walasiewicz, later known as Stella Walsh, won the women’s 100-meter dash at the 1932 Olympics for Poland. Four years later, at the 1936 Berlin Olympics she took silver, beaten by the American, Helen Stephens. Stephens also set new world records for the 200m and the standing broad jump, and won the shot put. Stella...

Baron Larrey, Napoleon’s Surgeon General

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.

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.

Kim Kardashian’s Psoriasis

Kimberly Noel Kardashian, one of the most visible women in the United States today, suffers from psoriasis, a skin disease that causes raised red patches with silvery scales to form on her body. Three percent of North Americans or more than eight million people have this hereditary condition. Kardashian is a fashion...

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.

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.

Mickey Mantle and Liver Cancer

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.

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.

Hal Connolly, from Disabled Child to Olympic Gold

Harold Connolly was born with only one functioning arm. Because of that he had to fight to be accepted, so he worked harder than everyone else. He became such a fierce competitor in the hammer throw that he won a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. He was the first...

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...

Jim Fixx, Running Guru

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.

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.

Bess Myerson’s Highs and Lows

Bess Myerson won the 1945 Miss America contest because she was the most beautiful, most talented and at 5'10", the tallest entrant. She went on to become an adored television personality and then had a successful career in politics. However, this beautiful, brilliant and talented woman made terrible decisions in her personal life that eventually drove her from the limelight into scandal and obscurity.

Chadwick Boseman, The Black Panther

Chadwick Boseman was a movie actor who brilliantly portrayed baseball player Jackie Robinson (2013), singer James Brown (2014), and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (2017). In 2016, at age 40, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and never told the public about his serious diagnosis.

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.

Isabella Karle’s Nobel Prize Went to Her Husband

On October 3, 2017, Isabella Karle died of a brain tumor at age 95, four years after her husband, Nobel Prize winner Jerome Karle, died at age 94 of liver cancer. More than 70 years before their deaths, both were exposed to radiation when they worked in the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during World War II.

President Harrison Didn’t Die from Not Wearing a Hat

William Henry Harrison was a U.S. military officer and politician who died of pneumonia 31 days into his term, to become the first president to die in office. He was 68 years and 23 days old, and at that time, the average life expectancy for a man was only 38 years.

Humphrey Bogart’s Fatal Lifestyle

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.

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.

Bruce Lee: Fists of Fury

Bruce Lee was the most influential martial artist of the 20th century. In the 1970's, his fame as a movie star and martial arts instructor sparked North American interest in Asian martial arts. At age 32, he died suddenly from massive swelling of his brain, most likely caused by a rare reaction to aspirin....

Kirk Douglas: 23 Years of Rehabilitation After a Stroke

Kirk Douglas, who died at 103 on February 5, 2020, was one of the 20th century’s most famous actors. He starred in more than 90 movies and earned three Academy Award nominations, received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981 from President Jimmy Carter, and an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1996.

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.

Dr. Robert Atkins, King of Low-Carb Diets

Robert Atkins was a cardiologist who wrote The Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution books, promoting his weight-loss program that severely restricts carbohydrates and recommends fats and protein as the primary sources of calories.

Alma Mahler, Muse to Many

Alma Schindler Mahler is famous for marrying and having affairs with some of the most brilliant and accomplished men of the 20th century. She was a composer, sculptor and writer who wanted to be famous for her own intellectual creations, but she lived at a time when it was extremely difficult for women to be prominent in the arts. She took the next best approach by marrying and loving some of the leading musicians, composers, architects, painters and writers of the era.

Itzhak Perlman and Polio

Itzhak Perlman is arguably the most brilliant and beloved violinist of the 20th century and so far in the 21st. He is also so knowledgeable and coordinated that he has conducted many major orchestras. This is incredible because both of his legs are paralyzed from an attack of polio contracted at age...

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...

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.

Oliver Sacks and Melanoma of the Eye

Oliver Sacks died this week at age 82 of a melanoma in his eye that was diagnosed 11 years ago and recently had spread to his liver. He was a neurologist who wrote more than a dozen popular books that sold millions of copies, making him probably the most-read physician-author in the world. His...