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Deaths of Famous People

Houston McTear, a Natural Runner

One of the greatest natural track athletes of all time died from lung cancer at age 58. He went from extreme poverty to athletic riches and back to extreme poverty, never having won an Olympic medal. He was unknown to most people but is a legend to all true fans of track and field.

Horace Fletcher, the Great Masticator

Horace Fletcher was known as "The Great Masticator," who said "Nature will castigate those who don't masticate." More than 100 years ago, in 1913, his book Fletcherism tried to convince people to chew their food to a liquid pulp. He claimed that this would help to control weight and prevent diabetes.

President Eisenhower Changed the Way Doctors Treat Heart Attacks

On Sept 23, 1955, the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was staying at his in-laws’ house in Denver and went to play golf at the Cherry Hills Country Club. There he suddenly developed pain in his chest and belly. That evening, he had dinner with his physician, Major General Howard Scrum Snyder, and went to bed early, still complaining of pain.

Jack Lemmon, American Icon

Jack Lemmon was an actor who starred in more than 60 films, won two Academy Awards and was nominated eight times. He was born into a wealthy but abusive family and died at age 76 from complications of colon cancer that had spread to his bladder.

Was Hans Asperger a Nazi?

A recently-published medical journal article claims that Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician after whom Asperger’s syndrome is named, was involved in the Nazi euthanasia program to sterilize or kill retarded, emotionally-disturbed and sick children in the 1930's and 40s (Molecular Autism, April 19, 2018). If this is true, he certainly should not continue to have the honor of having the medical syndrome named after him.

John Singleton: High Blood Pressure and Strokes

John Singleton was a film and TV director, screenwriter, and producer who, in 1991 at age 24, became the first African American and the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, for his film Boyz n the Hood.

D.L. Menard, the Cajun Hank Williams

America's greatest Cajun singer, D.L. Menard, died this month from heart failure that was probably caused by cancer. Twenty-five years ago, he suffered his first heart attack and 16 years ago, his wife died of a heart attack associated with her diabetes.

Larry Flynt, Free Speech Advocate

Larry Flynt was a publisher, businessman and promoter who was one of the most notorious producers of pornography, rising to fame and great wealth from his raunchy Hustler magazine. He built a $100 million business empire based on magazines, private clubs, casinos, sex-toy stores, videos, and three pornographic television channels.

Jean Shepard and Parkinson’s Disease

On September 29, 2016, country music lost one of its all-time greats. Most of you have heard Jean Shepard singing "Dear John Letter" with Ferlin Husky, the first post-World War II record by a female country singer to become the number one country song and sell more than a million records.

Paul Prudhomme: The Perils of Morbid Obesity

Paul Prudhomme died Thursday, October 8, 2015, at age 75. He was an internationally famous chef and restaurateur who, in the early 1980's, used blackening and spicing of fish and chicken in the Cajun and Creole traditions to build a food empire. He started a cooking craze that spread worldwide through his...

Eva Peron and Cervical Cancer

From 1945 to 1952, Eva Peron was the wife of Juan Peron, the most powerful man in Argentina. When she first met him, he was a general who seized the dictatorship of the country. She was the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman and his mistress.

Charles Darwin and Panic Disorder

Charles Darwin was one of the most influential scientists of all time. He was the first person to clearly define evolution as selective breeding in which favorable variations in an organism are passed on, and unfavorable variations are dropped, so that the species on earth today have gradually evolved from common ancestors.

Hank Williams and Spina Bifida

Hank Williams was one of the America's most influential singers and songwriters, with 11 number-one and 35 Top-10 songs on the Western Best Sellers list. In a recording career that lasted only six years, he wrote and performed classics we still hear today such as "Your Cheatin' Heart," "Hey Good Lookin'," "I Saw the Light", "Cold, Cold Heart", "Jambalaya" and many more.

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.

Srinivasa Ramanujan, Math Prodigy

Perhaps the most amazing mathematician of all time was Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan (1887-1920). He worked out incredibly complicated problems and expanded our knowledge of elliptic functions, continued fractions and infinite series. During his 32 years of life, he wrote about nearly 4000 math problems and almost all of his solutions have proven to be...

Waylon Jennings’ Years of Pain

Waylon Jennings was a country 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 most of the popular artists of his time including Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bobby...

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.

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.

Gene Wilder: Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Alzheimer’s

Gene Wilder was a beloved American stage, screen and TV actor who made people laugh just by being himself. He was also a successful screenwriter, film director and author. He is best remembered for the movies where he appeared to be naive and childlike: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein . . .

Fausto Coppi’s Mysterious Death

Fausto Coppi was the best international cyclist in the years before and after World War II because he was the best climber, time trialer and sprinter. He won the Giro d'Italia five times (1940, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953), the Tour de France twice (1949 and 1952), and the World Championship in 1953. ...

Antonio Vivaldi’s Asthma

Antonio Vivaldi was born in Venice on March 4th, 1678. He became a famous opera and classical music composer because he had asthma. He was known as the “Red Priest” because of his red hair that he inherited from his father. His father was a barber and a professional violinist who taught Antonio to play...

Marit Bjorgen, Cross Country Skier

Marit Bjorgen was born in 1980 and is the most successful female cross-country skier of all time, winning world-championship short-sprint races as well as those in all the longer-endurance races. She has won six Olympic gold medals, 18 FIS World Ski Championship gold medals, 110 individual FIS World-Cup gold medals, and 29 (the most ever) gold medals in Cross-Country World Cup sprints.

Who Killed President Garfield?

Who really killed the 20th President of the United States, James Abram Garfield? On July 21, 1881, 200 days after being elected president, Garfield was boarding a train in Washington DC when Charles Guiteau fired two bullets at him. One caused a superficial arm wound. The other entered in the right side of his...

Nancy Reagan, First Lady with Many Causes

Nancy Reagan was a film actress and First Lady from 1981 to 1989 as the wife of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States. She is perhaps best remembered for her courageous role as spokesperson and primary caregiver during her husband's 10 year battle with Alzheimer's disease. Caring for him wore her out physically and emotionally and she became much less active. She died of heart failure at age 94.

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.

Joan Rivers: No Procedure is Risk-Free

UPDATE - 11/13/14 The New York Department of Health and Human Services has now determined that Joan Rivers died from brain damage caused by lack of oxygen. The report states that her medical records contain discrepancies regarding the dose of propofol she was given before surgery, and that the clinic failed "to ensure that patient...

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.

Garry Shandling’s High Blood Calcium

A blood calcium test is one of the routine blood tests done on normal physical exams. If your doctor ever tells you that your blood calcium is high, make sure that you find a cause. The most common cause of high blood calcium is a parathyroid tumor, which usually can be removed and you are cured. Otherwise it can harm and even kill you.

Kurt Masur, Conductor and Hero

The world lost one of its great orchestra conductors when Kurt Masur died this week at age 88. He helped to prevent a massacre in East Germany in 1989, and helped to sustain American spirits after the attack on New York's World Trade Center in 2001. On October 9, 1989, after the fifth successive Monday...

Roger Ebert and Thyroid Cancer

Roger Ebert was the Chicago Sun-Times film critic who joined the Chicago Tribune film critic, Gene Siskel, in hosting a nationally-acclaimed show on PBS television. He was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for reviewing movies and the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame....