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

Deaths of Famous People

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.

Ernest Duchesne, the Father of Antibiotics

Getting credit for a great scientific discovery is sometimes just a matter of luck. You all know that penicillin can be made by fungi to kill bacteria, but most of you do not know the sad story that more than 120 years ago, antibiotics were first discovered by an obscure medical student

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.

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.

Ida Keeling, Setting Running Records at 100

Two years ago, Ida Keeling (born May 5, 1915) set the world record for a 99 year old woman in the 100-meter dash at 59.80 seconds. At age 95 she set the world record for running 60 meters at 29.86 seconds. Her brain matches her athletic prowess. She can recall names and dates immediately. Running as she ages has given her life more meaning and purpose, which is very important as she probably has many more years to live,

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...

Daryl Dragon of The Captain and Tennille

Daryl Dragon was a talented musician with serious medical problems who succeeded in the popular musical entertainment industry because of the incredible love, kindness and patience of his devoted wife, Toni Tennille. He played keyboards and she sang to form the very popular musical duo, The Captain & Tennille, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mal Whitfield, Olympian and Tuskegee Airman

Mal Whitfield was twice Olympic champion at 800 meters and one of America's greatest track and field athletes ever. Whitfield set six world records, won eight United States national titles, was elected to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1974 and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 1988.

Mozart and Sore Throats

In 1791, arguably the world’s most gifted composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, died at the very young age of 35. Today, no serious researchers believe that Mozart was poisoned because his medical history and his symptoms match those of a classic disease that can now be cured.

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.

Charlie Daniels and Hemorrhagic Strokes

We have lost another country music legend -- Charlie Daniels died on July 6, 2020, at age 83.  He was a singer, songwriter and fiddler who was most famous for writing and performing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." He was elected to the Grand Ole Opry in 2008, the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.

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.

Eugene O’Neill’s Guilt and Death

When you were in school, you may have read some of Eugene O’Neill’s more than 50 plays, such as Long Day's Journey into Night, Desire Under the Elms, or A Moon for the Misbegotten. He was the only American playwright to ever win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

What Killed President Andrew Jackson?

Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States (1829-1837), the first who was brought up in poverty and the first not to come from either Massachusetts or Virginia. He certainly was one of the toughest presidents who ever lived.

Peter Tork of The Monkees

Peter Tork sang and played bass and keyboard for The Monkees, a television show about a band spoofing the The Beatles. The show ran for two years from 1966 to 1968 and won an Emmy Award for outstanding comedy.

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.

Bart Starr, Legendary Quarterback

Bart Starr was a good, but not great, college quarterback who wasn't selected until the 17th round of the 1956 NFL draft after 199 other players were picked. In the next 15 years, he: • led the Green Bay Packers to five NFL titles including three consecutive league championships (1965–1967) • was the Most Valuable Player in winning the first two Super Bowl championships • won the league MVP award in 1966 • was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame • had the highest post-season passer rating (104.8) of any quarterback in NFL history • had an incredible career completion percentage of 57.4

William Coley, Quack or Prophet?

I love stories about quacks who become prophets. Medical breakthroughs are often made by doctors who are first ridiculed by their peers. In 1890, Dr. William Coley, a bone surgeon in New York City, found the medical records of a patient who was dying from cancer that had spread through his body and he...

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...

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.

George Michael: Fatty Liver and Dilated Cardiomyopathy

George Michael was an English singer, songwriter and producer who sold more than 115 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-seling music artists of all time. His solo album "Faith" sold 20 million copies.

Vera Caslavska, the Most Courageous Olympian

Vera Caslavska was the heroine of the 1968 Olympics, not because she was the dominant athlete at these games in which she won four gold and two silver medals in gymnastics, and not because she had won 35 Olympic medals as well as the World and European championships.

The Scandalous Life and Death of President Harding

Warren G. Harding was the 29th president of the United States and has been voted America's worst president ever in many polls including one by Harvard's Arthur Schlesinger. In the summer of 1923, near the end of the second year of his presidency, rumors started to spread of his affairs and the criminal actions of many of his appointees.

Cass Elliot: Young Death from Morbid Obesity

Cass Elliot was “Mama Cass”, the close-to-300 pound contralto lead singer of The Mamas and Papas, a dominant folk rock vocal group in the late 1960s. They sold more than 40 million records, with six of their albums making it to the Billboard top ten.

Franz Schubert, Syphilis and Mercury Poisoning

Two centuries ago, Franz Schubert composed music that today is among the most frequently performed music by classical orchestras, piano soloists, singers and choruses. Although he died before his 32nd birthday, he wrote more than a thousand original compositions including 600 choral works.

Sinead O’Connor’s Fibromyalgia

Sinead O'Connor is an Irish singer and songwriter who became famous in the late 1980s and has been a strong moralist, speaking out against war and against the abuse of women and children. Her career has been interrupted by bipolar disorder and fibromyalgia. In the spring of 2012, she appeared on...

Phyllis McGuire, Last of the McGuire Sisters

Phyllis McGuire, lead singer of the “McGuire Sisters” who were famous in the 1950s and 1960s, died on December 29, 2020 at age 89 in Las Vegas. In 1968, she left her singing career for a multi-year affair with equally famous Sam Giancana, who a notorious gangster and leader of the Chicago mob.

J. Michael Lane: Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Last as Long as Smallpox?

J. Michael Lane was an epidemiologist who spent most of his life as probably the major player in helping to eradicate the smallpox virus. He traveled to Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and other countries to combat outbreaks and create vaccination programs.

Freud and Dreams

For 50 years, Freud was one of the most revered scientists on earth. Then researchers discovered neurotransmitters, chemicals that pass messages from one nerve to another. They found that people who hallucinate and are not able to think clearly are schizophrenic because their brains make too much dopamine or glutamate, and that people are depressed because their brains make too little norepinephrine and serotonin;

Charley Pride, Country Music Superstar, Dies of COVID-19

Charley Pride was the first Black superstar of country music. He grew up in abject poverty and wanted to be a professional baseball player. He had the talent, but an elbow injury at age 24 cut short his baseball pitching career.  To make enough money to feed his family, he started singing at baseball games, night clubs and social events.