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Deaths of Famous People

Jim Henson and Toxic Shock Syndrome

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. In 1990 Henson died at age 54 from complications from a bacterial streptococcal infection called toxic shock...

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.

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.

Gerty Cori’s Nobel Prize

Gerty Cori was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, in 1947, for the discovery of how muscles covert sugar to lactic acid for energy during exercise and how the lactic acid then travels in the bloodstream to the liver where it is converted back to sugar for...

Medical History of Cocaine

From the 1860s through 1922, there were no laws to limit the use of cocaine and it was a common ingredient of patent medicines, including the original Coca-Cola, which was developed by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton. Two famous doctors of that time used cocaine regularly and experimented with its medicinal uses. and a third doctor described its use by his beloved fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Roger Bannister, First Sub-4-Minute Miler

Roger Bannister was the first human to run a mile in less than four minutes, even though his training was totally inadequate for world-class competition because he was a full time medical student who trained on a single 30-minute workout per day, compared to today's runners who train twice a day for as much as three hours.

Sam Shepard and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Sam Shepard was a prolific playwright, actor, screenwriter and director who acted in more than sixty films and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff, and wrote more than 55 plays, often focusing on the serious problems that occur in American family life.

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.

Emile Zola and Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Emile Zola was a famous French writer of the late 19th century and perhaps one of the most honorable and courageous men of all time. He repeatedly risked his life to defend Alfred Dreyfus, an innocent man who was falsely accused by corrupt French military and government officials of spying for...

Dr. Michael DeBakey’s Famous Surgery

If you were a heart surgeon, would you operate on this patient? • He is 97 years old • He will certainly die in the next few days if you do not operate • He invented the surgical procedure that he now needs, more than 40 years ago • He did research that has saved millions of lives •...

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.

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...

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.

John Kerry: Hip Replacements and Fractures

On May 31, Secretary of State John Kerry fell while cycling in France and broke his right femur (upper leg bone). He was riding slowly on level ground and struck a curb with the front wheel of his bicycle. His long history of competing in sports means that he probably has strong...

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...

Tom Hanks, Diabetes and YoYo Dieting

Tom Hanks' films have grossed more than $4.2 billion in the United States and Canada, and more than $8.4 billion worldwide. He is the highest grossing actor of all-time with an average of $107 million per film. Seventeen of his films have grossed more than $100 million. Hanks has...

Farrah Fawcett: The Price of Beauty

It may not be so good to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, a famous actress who was a four-time Emmy Award nominee and six-time Golden Globe Award nominee and who was ranked by TV Guide as "One of the 50 Greatest TV stars of All-Time". Beautiful, famous women often attract handsome promiscuous men who share their acquired and often incurable infections.

Micheline Ostermeyer, Olympian and Concert Pianist

It takes so much work and time to train to become outstanding at any endeavor that there are very few people who have risen to the top of the world stage in more than one field. One of the most impressive people who ever lived was Micheline Ostermeyer of France. She was born in 1922 and died at age 78 in 2001, and was a concert pianist who won three Olympic medals in the 1948 Olympics.

Bicycling is the Most Dangerous Professional Sport

Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi was killed by a truck on April 22, 2017. At age 37, he was at the peak of his career as a professional bicycle racer. He won the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps in Trento, Italy, eventually finished fourth in that tour, returned home that night, and went on a training ride the very next morning.

Raoul Dufy’s Rheumatoid Arthritis

Raoul Dufy, one of the most popular painters of the early 20th century, produced more than 6000 paintings that featured themes of happiness, luxury and pleasure. He was one of the first people with rheumatoid arthritis to be treated with cortisone and died from its side effects less than three years after he started...

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...

Wilma Rudolph, Polio Survivor

At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic Games. 80,000 spectators watched the 5-foot-11, 130 pound beauty win the 100-meter dash by more than three yards in a world-record 11 seconds. In the opening heat of the 200 meter run, she...

Did Roy Orbison Work Himself to Death?

Roy Orbison was one of America’s top singers and songwriters from 1957 to 1988. He sang his emotional ballads while standing still and wearing black clothes and dark-framed tinted glasses. Between 1960 and 1964, 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top 40. Elvis Presley said that his voice was the greatest and...

Nico’s Senseless Death

Nico (Christa Päffgen), one of the most fascinating entertainers of the 1960s, was born in 1938 in Cologne, Germany to a Yugoslavian father and a Spanish mother. Her early life was nothing but trauma.

David Koch and Prostate Cancer

David Koch was incredibly gifted, both genetically and financially, and became a chemical engineer, businessman, political activist, and philanthropist. With one of his brothers, he grew a vast inheritance into joint ownership of Koch Industries, and at the time of his death he was the 11th richest person in the world, worth $48 billion.

Toulouse-Lautrec: Inbreeding, Alcohol and Syphilis – a Bad Mix

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ranks with Cezanne, van Gogh, Monet and Gauguin as one of the best painters of the late 19th century. Throughout his career, which spanned fewer than 20 years, Toulouse-Lautrec created 737 surviving canvases, 275 watercolors, 363 prints and posters, and thousands of drawings. Ten years ago one of his paintings...

Peggy Lipton and Colon Cancer

Peggy Lipton was an American television star, actress, model, and singer who played one of three undercover cops on the popular ABC series, The Mod Squad, from 1968 to 1973. She was nominated for four Emmy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Series Drama in 1971.

Incredible Senior Athletes

This week at the USA Track and Field Championships for men and women over 30, 101-year-old Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins won her age-group 100 meters race in 40.12. She holds the World Record for 100-year-olds in the 100 meters at 39.62, an age-group world record by six seconds.

Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Heart Attacks

On January 22, 1973, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, died at his ranch in Johnson City, Texas, at age 65 from what was probably his fifth heart attack. He was one of the hardest-working presidents ever and could have lived much longer if he had changed the lifestyle factors that caused his first heart attack at age 47.

Tom Hayden’s Life of Protest

Tom Hayden was a radical protester and California politician who was widely despised for his anti-Vietnam War activities. On October 23, 2016, he died at age 76 of heart failure brought on by a lifetime of doing everything imaginable to cause the diabetes that destroyed arteries and nerves throughout his body.