VIPatients App Goes Live !

This week, we launched a truly unique smart-phone Application = VIPatients    The new App is available on IPhone, and will soon be extended to Android.

As of December 2011, the app  30,000 individual medical problems / causes of death … for 19,328 famous people !

Users can access a single VIP by first or last name, or create a customized list by profession, disease, year of death … or any combination.   For example, list all famous movie stars who died of AIDS;  or all Popes who were murdered …….

A weekly alert will be automatically sent to subscribers, listing new additions to the data-base.


Lung Cancer and Hollywood

On August 26 1930, Lon Cheney, Jr. died of a lung tumor – the first movie actor to die of cancer.

Paul Newman was five years old.

Some people collect stamps – I collect death and disease.  For over 45 years, I’ve  scoured all available biographies, anthologies, major newspapers, the Internet … for the diseases and deaths of famous persons.  Stamp collections cost money and take up space.   Death arrives to my laptop free of charge.

The earliest Hollywood death of known causes was that of Director, Francis Boggs –  shot to death by an insane janitor named Frank Minematsu, in 1911.  As of October 2008, 1,799 movie people (including 173 porno stars, and 273 Producers / Directors) have succumbed to identifiable diseases or injuries.  Countless others died “after a long illness,” “suddenly,” “of natural causes,” etc and are not included in this analysis.

Trends in Hollywood deaths are contrasted with statistics for all famous persons in Figure 1.  Note that since 1950, the relative number of movie obits have actually decreased somewhat.

Cancer accounts for 29.1% of all death in Hollywood.  In fact, since the murder of Francis Boggs, cancer has accounted for 24.5% of all famous deaths; and movie people have accounted for 19.4% of all death among famous persons.  The specific type of cancer is mentioned in only 54% of death notices.  Lung tumors account for 29.2% of all famous cancers, but only 20.2% of cancers in Hollywood.  In contrast, 14.4% of Hollywood tumors have involved the brain, but only 9.6% of tumors among other famous folk.

In figure 2, I’ve summarized the cumulative number of cancer deaths for famous people in general, and for movie people specifically.  Note that the relative proportion of movie folk – and movie folk with lung cancer – has actually been decreasing over the past 90 years.

Lung Cancer Deaths in Hollywood

Cecily Adams

Buddy Adler

Edward Albert

Ramsay Ames

Victor Argo

Desi Arnaz

Bobby Astyr

Roscoe Ates

Kiyoshi Atsumi

Stanley Baker

Bea Benaderet

Carl Betz

John Boulting

Yul Brynner

Bruce Cabot


Paul Carr

Lon Chaney, Sr.

Chuck Connors

Gary Cooper

Bebe Daniels

Vittorio DeSicca

Jack Deveau

Walt Disney

Franklin Farnum

Glenda Farrell

Freddie Fields

Kathleen Freeman

Barbara Bel Geddes

Frank Gorshin

Betty Grable

Michael Greer

George Grizzard

Harald Heide-Steen, Jr.

Moe Howard

John Hoyt

Grethe Kausland

Stubby Kaye

Buster Keaton

Frederick Kerr

Diether Krebs

Andrew Kuehn

Perry Lopez

Herbert ‘Zeppo’ Marx

Frank McCarthy

Melina Mercuri

Gary Merrill

Ann Miller

Cameron Mitchell

Robert Mitchum

Agnes Moorehead

Gary Morton

Elena Nathanael

Lois June Nettleton

Paul Newman

Lloyd Nolan

Dennis O’Keefe

Felice Orlandi

Suzanne Pleshette

Robert Preston

Vincent Price

Joe Pyne

George Raft

Bernard Rapp

Herbert Rawlinson

Nicholas Ray

Rosaura Revueltas

Terence Rigby

Robert Ryan

Billy Sands

Cirio H. Santiago

Vincent Schiavelli

Delphine Seyrig

Mickey Shaughnessy

Olan Soule

Lionel Stander

Andrei Tarkovsky

Franchot Tone

Forrest Tucker

James Varney

David Wayne

Charlotte Zwerin

The complete “collection” of famous disease and death is available at , with expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.  On this site you can access the full medical history of any specific person (or animal); or generate a custom-designed list according to disease, profession, year … or any combination.  As of October, 2008 the website documents the 17,655 misfortunes of 12,457 famous persons


Airplane Accidents among World Leaders

In 1918, John P. Mitchell, Mayor of New York City, fell 500 feet to his death from an airplane.  At the time, it was assumed that he had forgotten to fasten his seat belt.   Mitchell thus became the first political leader to die during an airflight.  To date, 230 famous persons have died in airplane accidents, including 24 heads of state (listed below).  In fact, air travel has been listed as the cause of death for only 2.38% of world rulers, as compared to 2.24% of famous persons in other fields.

World Leaders Who Have Died in Airplane Accidents

2010Lech KaczynskiPoland
2004Boris TrajkovskiMacedonia
1997Abdul Rahim GhafoorzaiAfghanisan
1994Cyprien Ntaryamira  Burundi
1994Juvenal Habyarimana Rwanda
1988Muhammad Zia  Ul-HaqPakistan
1986Samora Machel  Mozambique
1981Jaime Roldos AguileraEcuador
1981Omar Torrijos Panama
1980Francisco Carneiro Portugal
1979Ahmed Ould  BouceifMauritania
1977Dzemal Bijedic  Jugoslavia
1976Joel Rakotomalala  Madascar
1971Lin Piao  China
1969Rene BarrientosBolivia
1967Humberto Castelo  BrancoBrazil
1966Abdul Salam ArifIraq
1961Dag Hammarskjold  United Nations
1959Barthelemy Boganda  Central African Republic
1957Ramon Magsaysay  Philippines
1945Subhas Chandra  BoseIndia
1943Wladyslaw SikorskiPoland
1940Jose Felix EstigarribiaParaguay
1936Arvid Lindman  Sweden

This material has been abstracted from – an up-to-date source for the diseases and deaths of ALL famous persons.  The site is interactive, allowing to search for the diseases of any given VIP (living or dead); or generate lists according to disease, profession, year of death, etc.  As of 2010, contains over 25,000 medical diagnoses which have affected almost 14,000 VIP’s.  Access all of this information, with expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.


Brain Tumors and Cell Phones – Trends among VIP’s

Much controversy surrounds the possible role of cellular telephones in the etiology of brain tumors.  One approach to the problem might be an analysis of cancer trends before and following the current wave of mass-usage of cell phones during the early 1990’s     The obituaries of famous persons, a fairly homogeneous population, was used to examine the relative contribution of brain cancer to mortality statistics during this period.   An interactive website, follows the diseases and deaths of all V.I.P’s.   As of October, 2009, the site contains 13,500 famous ‘patients’ – of whom 235 were known to have suffered from brain tumors.   The following graph depicts trends in brain tumors during the period before – and during – the era of cellular telephones.  Since the number of famous persons who die grows constantly, data were analyzed to show the relative contribution of brain tumors to death, and to cancer death as a whole.  These data fail to show any evidence of increasing brain tumor incidence.  Access all of this information, with expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.



Senator Kennedy – the 230th VIP to Die of Brain Cancer

As of this week 2,999 famous persons (VIP’s) have died of cancer. The tumor type  was recorded in 2,124 cases – of which brain cancer accounted for 230 (10.8%).  Thus, Senator Edward Kennedy joins a growing list of VIP’s with this disease.  Other victims have included:

  • Movie people:  Pamela Britton, Susan Hayward, Arthur Kennedy, Pola Negri, Ann Pennington, Zachary Scott, Alexis Smith, Francois Truffaut and Bobby Vann
  • World leaders:  Claire Booth Luce, Mo Mowlam and Sir Thomas Raffles
  • Music greats:  William “Cat” Anderson, Sergio Franchi, George Gershwin, Johnnie Mercer, Ethel Merman, Lou Rawls and Barnard “Buddy” Rich
  • Sports personalities:   Bobby Bonds, Milt Davis, Dick Howser, Walter Johnson, Tommy Jones, Wayne Maki and Pete Rozelle.
  • Authors:  John Galsworthy, Thor Heyerdahl, Chaim Potok and Mary Shelly.

The complete list is available at – an interactive site that follows all of the diseases and deaths … of all famous persons, in real time.  Users can access the medical history of a single “VIP” or generate a list based on disease and or profession.  Or access all of this information with expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.


Suicide among World Leaders

Today, May 23, former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun jumped to his death.

The only other world leader known to have committed suicide in this way was Chechoslovakian President, Jan Masaryk (1948) – though many believe that he was actually murdered.

Throughout history, 538 world leaders have been murdered; but only 68 have commited suicide (only 0.58% of all deaths in this group).  In other words, the ratio of murders to suicides is eight-to-one.

Details are given for 49 suicides in this particular “profession” – the preferred method being gunshot (20 cases).  Eight others died of drug overdose, six using knives or other sharp objects, and five by hanging.

Among the more bizarre methods used, Roman Ruler Cato the Younger (died 44 B.C.E.) killed himself by pulling his intestines out through a battle injury; while Cleopatra VII (30 B.C.E.) is said to have exposed herself to the bite of an asp.  Four additional Roman rulers of the period committed “suicide by proxy” – having themselves killed by servants.

A single ruler, Ludwig II of Bavaria, has the dubious distinction of being the only world leader to drown himself (in 1886).

A comprehensive, interactive source for all diseases and deaths – in  all famous persons – is available at

These lists are from, an interactive website that follows the diseases and deaths of all famous persons.  Lists include famous animals, singers, politicians, sports heroes, movie stars, serial killers … over 13,000 to date.   Users can access the medical history of a single person; or generate a list based on disease, profession, year of death – or any combination.   Or access expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.


Influenza: Obama and Other VIP’s

The possibility that President Obama was exposed to swine-flu in Mexico reminds us that even famous people are at risk of potentially fatal infectious diseases.  In fact, Influenza has been implicated in the deaths of 43 well known people to date.   The list includes two American Presidents – Martin Van Buren (died 1862) and Benjamin Harrison (1901).   At least eight other world leaders may have died of the disease:

World Leaders Who Have Died from Influenza

1862Martin Van BurenUnited States
1901Benjamin HarrisonUnited States
1925Takaaki KatoJapan
1932Paolo BoselliItaly
1936Archduke  Frederick HapsburgHungary
1951Antonio CarmonaPortugal
1953Francesco  NittiItaly
1965Adolf ScharfAustria
1974Juan PeronArgentina
1999Amintore FanfaniItaly

Other cases of fatal Influenza

1768Lawrence SterneAuthor
1835William CobbettPublisher
1891Helena BlavatskyTheosophist
1895Thomas Henry HuxleyPaleontologist
1896John HaydonDescribed Down’s syndrome
1898Lewis CarrollAuthor
1900John RuskinPhilosopher
1907Dmitri MendeleyevPhysicist
1918Amadeo de Sousa-CardosoPainter
1919William Allen SturgePhysician
1925Elwood HaynesAutomobile inventor
1926Krao FariniBarnum - ‘Missing Link’
1926Charles GriffesClassical composer
1928Floyd BennettAviator
1928Edward J.  ConnellyActor
1928Theodore RobertsActor
1929Roscoe JacksonFounder of Hudson Motors
1929Lillie LangtreeActress
1936Billy MitchellAmerican military
1937Jean HarlowActress
1948Hack WilsonBaseball player
1957Shoghi EffendiBahai leader
1962Jacques IbertComposer
1966Estelita RodriguezActress
1967Ali Osman KhanIndian Ruler -– World’'s richest man
1968Tallulah BankheadActress
1976Angela  BaddeleyActress
1976Luchino ViscontiMovie Director
1981Sir Claude AuchinleckEnglish military
1988Trevor HowardActor
2005John Paul II  Pope
2008Jules DassinMovie Producer

In some cases, the diagnosis of “Influenza” was speculative, or one of multiple diseases given as the cause of death.

These lists are from , an interactive website that follows the diseases and deaths of all famous persons.  Lists include famous animals, singers, politicians, sports heroes, movie stars, serial killers … over 13,000 to date. Users can access the medical history of a single person; or generate a list based on disease, profession, year of death – or any combination.  More detail with expanded content and functions on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.


VIP’s (Very Important Patients): How did they die in ’08 ?

On December 31, the Media once again recounted all of the wars, earthquakes, divorces, births, rapes, sporting records …. Inevitably, a long list of famous persons will have passed on: most “after a long illness,” “suddenly” or “of natural causes.”
427 famous folk died of specified misfortunes in 2008. For the purpose of this research, “famous” is defined as “well recognized by the general public at large.”

Cancer was recorded as the reason for death in 38.9% of notable deaths, while heart attack or stroke accounted for 16.7%.
7.1% died of pneumonia and 6.2% vehicular accidents (half of these related to automobiles).
3.1% were murdered and 3.3% committed suicide.
An additional 9.4% succumbed when their liver, lungs, kidneys or heart “failed”; while 6.6% died because their brains did likewise (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc).
During the past two decades, a small number of fatal conditions have continued to account for most deaths among the famous and infamous; however, the relative ranking of some diseases appears to be changing.
A cause of death was specified for 4,652 VIP’s during 1990 to 2008.

The most obvious change has been the fact that people rarely die of AIDS any more.
287 famous persons are known to have contracted AIDS.
172 have died of the disease since 1989, but only 20 since 1999.
In contrast, the contribution of cancer to famous death increased significantly during the same period.
Cancer accounted for 25.7% of VIP obits in 1990, and 35.8% in 2008.
In fact, throughout all of history, 2,708 famous persons have died of cancer.
91% of these deaths have occurred since 1900, 87% since 1950, 56% since 1990 … and 5.8% during the single year, 2008 !

Of course, “cancer” is not a single disease. The nature of fatal tumors was specified in 65% of cancer obits. During 1990 to 2008, the relative proportion of fatal lung and brain cancers has remained fairly constant. The contribution of breast and hematological malignancy (leukemia and lymphoma) has declined, while prostate and colon tumors have increased accordingly.
Cancer of the pancreas, a relatively unfamiliar tumor, is actually more common than breast, prostate or colon cancer as a cause of death in this population.


We should not assume that VIP-death reflects mortality trends among the general population. Indeed, famous persons are “not like the rest of us.” Many follow a life style which might invite medical misfortune, while enjoying access to excellent medical facilities. Thus, an analysis of mortality in this group might not represent the incidence of nonfatal diseases. In any case, diagnoses which we read in obituaries are often based on speculation or tend to stress the more sensational misfortunes of famous people.  This and much more on the new IPhone app = VIPatients.


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