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Deaths of Famous People

Senator Orrin Hatch and Strokes

Orrin Hatch was an attorney whose 42 years in the U.S. senate from 1977 to 2019 made him the longest-serving Republican U.S. senator ever. He retired from the senate in 2019 and died at age 88 on April 23, 2022, one week after suffering a stroke.

Mickey Gilley and The World’s Biggest Honky-Tonk

Mickey Gilley was a country music legend who recorded 42 singles that reached the top 40 on the U.S. Country charts and 17 No. 1 country hits. His most famous songs include “Room Full of Roses”, “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time”, and “Stand by Me.”

Joe DiMaggio’s Famous Last Words

Joe DiMaggio was one of the greatest baseball players of all time. His 56-game-hitting streak record still stands today. He played in 10 World Series and his team won nine times. He was a three-time American League most-valuable player and 2-time champion of the American League in batting, home-runs, and runs-batted-in.

Naomi Judd: Hepatitis C, Depression and Anxiety

Members of the Judd family wrote that famous country music singer, Naomi Judd, died on April 30, 2022 at age 76 from “the disease of mental illness.” She suffered from depression and "hideous panic attacks" throughout her lifetime and finally committed suicide.

Ancel Keys and John Yudkin Were Both Right about Meat and Sugar

Ancel Keys was a prolific American scientist who is best known for his early work on heart attack risk factors in the 1950s. His theory was that dietary saturated fats and cholesterol raise blood cholesterol and blood pressure to increase risk for heart attacks.. Also in the 1950s, John Yudkin was the leading spokesman for the theory that sugar and other refined carbohydrates were the main culprits. Yudkin and Keys argued continuously, in journals and at medical meetings, about whether sugar or saturated fats were the prime cause of heart attacks.

Hemingway’s Suicide Caused by his Doctors

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.

Bobby Rydell and the Devastating Effects of Alcohol

Bobby Rydell was a rock and roll singer and actor who was a “teen idol” in the 1960s. He recorded 34 Top-40 hit-records and sold more than 25 million records, including Volare, Wild One, We Got Love, Kissin’ Time, Swingin’ School, Wildwood Days, and Forget Him. In 1963, he starred with Ann Margaret in the musical film, Bye Bye Birdie.

Stella Walsh, Helen Stephens and Lia Thomas: Should Transgenders Compete in Women’s Sports?

On Thursday, March 18, 2022, University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas became the first transgender woman to win an NCAA Division I swimming championship when she won the 500-yard freestyle with a season-best time of 4 minutes, 33.24 seconds. On February 1, 2022, the sport's governing body, USA Swimming, adopted an Athlete Inclusion, Competitive Equity and Eligibility Policy, and established a three-person medical panel to administer the policy and review applications for elite and non-elite categories.

William Hurt and Prostate Cancer

William Hurt was a stage, screen and television actor who won an Academy Award for best actor for Kiss of The Spider Woman, was nominated three other times for Academy Awards and starred in many popular films including Children of a Lesser God, Body Heat, The Big Chill, and Broadcast News.

Scott Hall, Wrestler Known as Razor Ramon, Dies at 63

Scott Hall was a "bad-guy" wrestling superstar who was inducted twice into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, previously WWF) Hall of Fame: in 2014 as Razor Ramon, known for wearing gold chains and flicking a toothpick at opponents, and in 2020 as a member of the “New World Order” with Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan.

Muhammed Ali: Parkinson’s Breakthroughs are Coming

Muhammed Ali was honored by presidents and kings as the most famous athlete in the world. He was an Olympic gold medalist and three-time heavyweight world champion. His ancestors were slaves in the pre-Civil War South with some Irish and English in their heritage. His mother, Odessa O'Grady Clay, was a domestic and his father was a sign painter. As a child, he suffered all of the indignities of segregation in the South and he told reporters, "I started boxing because I thought this was the fastest way for a black person to make it in this country."

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.