Subscribe to Dr. Mirkin's free FITNESS & HEALTH NEWSLETTER      
Home Deaths of Famous People

Deaths of Famous People

Dallas McCarver, Bodybuilder, Dead at Age 26

At age 21, Dallas McCarver won the IFBB North American Bodybuilding Championship to become the youngest professional bodybuilder ever to win a pro qualifier competition. In the next five years, he grew to weigh 300 pounds on 6'1" frame, won many bodybuilding competitions, and became well-known as one of the strongest and most dedicated professional bodybuilders in the world.

What Killed Mario Lanza at Age 38?

On October 7, 1959, singer Mario Lanza died suddenly at age 38 of a heart attack just as he was getting ready to check out of a medical clinic in Rome. He didn't mean to kill himself, but his entire adult life was full of behaviors and actions that are known to cause heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and premature death.

Why Did Ultimate Warrior Die at 54?

The Ultimate Warrior, one of the most famous professional wrestlers of all time, died of a heart attack at the very young age of 54 on April 8, 2014, just days after he was inducted into the World Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was walking to his car with his wife outside a...

Wilt Chamberlain’s Heart Attack

Wilt Chamberlain was possibly the greatest basketball player and the greatest athlete ever. The 63-year-old Wilt Chamberlain was reported to have died of a heart attack.

Rich Piana: Why Do So Many Bodybuilders Die Young?

In August 2017, the world-famous body builder Rich Piana collapsed from a heart attack while his girlfriend was giving him a haircut. He died after two weeks in a medically-induced coma, at the age of 46. A search of his apartment revealed more than 20 bottles of steroids.

Comparing the COVID-19 Pandemic to the 1918-1920 Flu Pandemic

It appears that the current COVID-19 pandemic will not be anywhere near as harmful as the swine flu influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 that started near the end of World War I, infected 500 million people, and killed about 39 million people, which was 2.3 percent of the world’s population of 1.7 billion people at that time.

Audrey Hepburn’s Rare Cancer

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.

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.

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.

Kenny Rogers, The Gambler

Kenny Rogers recorded 65 albums, sold more than 165 million records, was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and sang more than 120 hit singles that were the top recordings in the country for a total of more than 200 weeks.

Edith Piaf, Old Too Young

Edith Piaf was a French cabaret singer who became famous throughout the world during the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. She captivated listeners with her sad, seemingly autobiographical songs of lost love, sorrow and deprivation.

Paul English: Why Pneumonia is Such a Common Cause of Death in Seniors

Paul English was Willie Nelson's drummer and best friend for nearly sixty years. In 2014, English told a Rolling Stone writer that Willie Nelson had saved his life, saying, "If I hadn’t gone with Willie, I would be in the penitentiary or dead."

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.

What Killed Babe Ruth at Age 53?

Babe Ruth was arguably the greatest baseball player who ever lived. When he retired from baseball in 1935, he held the record for most home runs (714), had a batting average of .342, batted in 2,213 runs, had a slugging percentage of 690, got on base 47.4 % of the time he batted, scored 2,174 runs, hit for 5,793 total bases, and was walked 2,062 times. Forget about what goes on today. Ruth did all this without taking anabolic steroids.

C.W. Post, Entrepreneur and Huckster

C.W. Post was a brilliant huckster who invented Grape Nuts and Postum. He founded Post Cereals, which eventually became General Foods, one of the largest processed food  companies in the world.

Can You Die from Fear? The Baskerville Effect

You better believe that you can be scared to death. The “Felony Murder Rule” allows prosecutors in all 50 states to bring first-degree murder charges against a defendant if someone dies during a crime such as burglary, rape, or kidnapping, even if the defendant did not intend to kill the victim.

Ilya Metchnikoff: Yogurt, Aging and Auto-Intoxication

This is the story of a world-famous scientist who noticed that the Hunzas of Kashmir and the Georgians in Eastern Europe lived to very old age, that they ate yogurt every day, and that yogurt is loaded with lactobacilli bacteria.

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.

Ray Charles, The Genius

Ray Charles was an incredibly talented singer and composer of jazz, blues, gospel, and country music.

Don Imus, Prostate Cancer and Emphysema

Don Imus wore an old cowboy hat as the confrontational radio host of “Imus in the Morning,” who shouted tasteless, obscene, sexist, homophobic and even racist remarks about people in the news over more than 100 radio stations to become the "shock jock of radio." In 2009 he was diagnosed with localized prostate cancer and treated with watchful waiting.

President John F. Kennedy: Should Health Records Be Released?

John F. Kennedy was probably the sickest U.S. President ever. He suffered from a disease called Autoimmune Polyglandular Syndrome, which was not described until 1981, 18 years after he was assassinated (Medicine, 1981;60(5):355-62). This disease made him miserable by knocking off his thyroid and adrenal glands, and probably his parathyroid glands also.

Doris Day and Pneumonia in Older People

Doris Day was the top box-office movie star earner in the United States four times and won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Legend Award from the Society of Singers, and the 1989 Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. At age 97, she died suddenly of pneumonia, a lung infection characterized by cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

Richard Feynman, Physicist and Humorist

Feynman was one of the greatest theoretical physicists of all time. He helped to develop the atomic bomb during World War II and solved the mystery of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. He won the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics for his discoveries in quantum electrodynamics.

Ron Lester and Morbid Obesity

Ron Lester was a Hollywood actor who became famous for playing Billy Bob, the 500-pound high school football player in the 1999 blockbuster movie, Varsity Blues. He also starred on the WB Television series Popular. At age 30, after his massive obesity had caused him to have four arthroscopic knee surgeries and two "mild" heart attacks, he had gastric bypass surgery and eventually lost 349 pounds, going from 508 pouns down to 159 pounds.

Peter Sellers’s Many Heart Attacks

Peter Sellers was a very talented British film actor, comedian and singer who could create characters and copy accents so effectively that he often played several different roles in the same film. He was nominated three times for an Academy Award, and four times for Golden Globe’s best male actor award. His most famous role was that of Chief Inspector Clouseau in the five Pink Panther films.

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.

Phyllis George and Polycythemia Rubra Vera

Phyllis George was named “Miss Texas” at age 21 in 1970, quickly followed by winning "Miss America." At age 25, She became famous as the most prominent woman is sports broadcasting, co-hosting the National Football league’s weekly pregame show with Brent Musburger, Irv Cross and Jimmy the Greek.

John Havlicek: Parkinson’s Disease in Athletes

John Havlicek was one of the most gifted athletes ever.  Over 16 seasons with the Boston Celtics from 1962-1978, he scored 26,395 points, averaged 20.8 points a game, was named to five NBA all-defensive teams, won eight NBA championships and played in 13 All-Star games. 

Louisa Moritz: Death from “Natural Causes”

Louisa Moritz was a Cuban-American actress who played mostly dumb blonde roles in several films and TV situation comedies. She was best known for her role as Rose in the 1975 film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, with Jack Nicholson.

Johnny Miles Was My Hero

“Unknown Kid Wins the Greatest of All Marathons” -- That was the Boston Post headline in 1926. The most unbelievable upset ever in a major marathon was pulled off by Johnny Miles, a 20 year-old who had never entered a marathon.