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10 Famous People Who Died of ALS

ALS is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or also known as Lou Gehrig Disease. It is characterized as neurodegenerative disorder, which leads to the weakness of the muscle and greatly impact the physical function. In most cases, doctors do not know the reason a person is affected with ALS.

Studies show that 5,600 people or 15 new cases each day are diagnosed with ALS in the United States. Half of the people who had the diagnosis may be able to live three or more years while twenty-five percent may be able to survived 5 years or more. Over the years, ALS has affected common and famous people. This list of celebrities or famous people who died of ALS includes information like the victim’s hometowns and other biographical information.

Ten Famous People Who Died of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis): 

10. Ezzard Charles

Ezzard Charles Boxer
Ezzard Charles, was a professional boxer from America. He was born in July 7, 1921 who grew up to become a world champion in September 1950. Charles was able to win different amateur championships, which include the golden crowns for welterweight and middleweight. He outpointed Joe Louis in 15 rounds in July 18, 1951. However, he had lost knockout to Jersey Joe Walcott in the round seven. He was inducted in the Ring magazine’s Boxing Hall of Fame in 1970. Charles died of ALS in May 27 at the age of 53.

9. George Yardley

George Yardley 1958
George Yardley, former player of Detroit Pistons was the first player in the NBA to score 2,000 points in a season. In his seven seasons in NBA, except for his rookie year, he had joined the All-Star team. Yardley was able to break the 1,932-point record that was previously held by George Mikan. He also served in military in the Naval Air Station in Los Alamitos for two years before settling down. He had retired his jersey in 1960. Then he had started his engineering business in California. He died with ALS at the age of 75.

8. David Niven

Famous People Who Died of ALS
He is Award Academy winning actor. Some of his movies are “A Matter of Life and Death”, “Around the World in Eighty Days” and “The Pink Panther”. He also served in the army after the Great Britain had declared war in 1939. In fact, he was one of the first actors who returned and joined the army. After the war, he returned to Hollywood and he received the Legionnaire of the Order of Merit. The recognition was given to Lt. Col David Niven by General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

He was diagnosed with ALS in 1981. After the diagnosis, his speech would slur in interviews. People then thought that he was drunk but it was the effect of ALS to him. In his last two films, his voice had to be dubbed. Unfortunately, he had lost the ability to communicate in his last days. He also dropped from 230 lbs to 110 lbs. He succumbed to the disease on July 1983 at age 73.

7. Lane Smith

Famous People Who Died of ALS
He was born in April 29, 1936. Smith is best known for playing the role of Perry White in the well-loved series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He also starred in “The Final Days” as Richard Nixon. Also he received a Golden Globe award nomination in the best actor category for a miniseries in 1990. He learned that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease in April of 2005. After two months, he died on June 13, 2005. He was 69 years old at the time of his death.

6. Mao Zedong

Famous People Who Died of ALS
Mao was the founder of People’s Republic of China. He was a Chinese communist leader and was responsible for disastrous policies of Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. Mao was born in December 23, 1893, to a peasant family. After receiving training to be a teacher, he went to Beijing where he started to work in the University Library. During that time, he started reading and studying Marxist literature. He then founded the Marxist Communist Party in Hunan. In October 1949, Mao proclaimed the founding of People’s Republic of China.

Six months prior his demise, he suffered from poor health. He had multiple lung, heart ailments and unconfirmed Parkinson’s disease. He also had ALS but it was kept secret from the public.

5. Dieter Dengler

Famous People Who Died of ALS
There are only two survivors out of seven from the Pathet Lao prison camp in Laos. The two survivors are Pisidhi Indradat and the other one is Dieter Dengler. Dengler was a United States Navy pilot during the Vietnam War. He was lucky to be rescued after 23 days on the run. He had received the Navy Cross and left the Navy in 1968. And, he became an airline pilot and continued flying for TWA until his retirement in age 59.

He had diagnosis in 2000 and had succumbed to ALS in February 1, 2001. Also he was given full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

4. Jacob Koppel Javits

Famous People Who Died of ALS
He was a Representative and Senator from New York. Javits was born May 18, 1904 in New York City. He studied in public school and attended night classes and in 1926, he received law degree from New York University Law School. He started practicing his law profession in 1927. Javits is a Republican and had served in the 80th Congress and three succeeding Congress thereafter. He resigned from his position in December 31, 1954. He also served as a Republican Senator and assumed his duties in 1957.

Javits was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The disease had crippled and confined him to a wheelchair while using a portable respirator in order to breathe. Before he died, he had testified in a House Select Committee on Aging. He advocates the right of the dying to die with dignity. He died on March 7, 1986 at Palm Beach Florida.

3. Jon Stone

Famous People Who Died of ALS
He was an Emmy Award winning writer, director and producer of Sesame Street. He had created some popular characters including Cookie Monster and Big Bird. In fact, he wrote the pilot script of the hit program. In addition, he was one of the writers and one of the three original producers. He even remained as a director until 1996.

He also wrote some children’s books, which include “The Monster at the End of This Book” which sold over ten million copies since it was published. According to his daughter, Polly, his father had died from complications of ALS at age of 65.

2. Paul Cellucci

Famous People Who Died of ALS
He was a former governor of Massachusetts and had served as U.S ambassador to Canada. He was the U.S ambassador to Canada until 2005. But in 2001, he had publicly announced that he was diagnosed with ALS.

After his announcement, he became active in supporting ALS research. He had supported the University of Massachusetts ALS Champion Fund. According to the school, under Cellucci’s leadership, they were able to raise $2 million dollars. After 2 years of publicly announcing his ill, Cellucci had died of complications from ALS at the age of 65.

1. Lou Gehrig

Famous People Who Died of ALS
Lou Gehrig was a popular American baseball player between the 1920’s and 1930’s. He had several Major League record and was known to his fans as “The Iron Horse”. He first signed in the Yankees in 1923 with a $1,500 bonus. Also he became a full pledged Yankee and 1925 and was able to play for the next 13 years.

However, in 1938, something was wrong the way he plays. It was obvious that he had lacked his strength in the playing field. Doctors had diagnosed that he was suffering with a problem in his gall bladder. His game was affected with his health problem, he decided not to play anymore on May 2, 1939.

On June 19, his 36th birthday, doctors in Mayo Clinic had diagnosed Gehrig with ALS. Because of the disease, he was not able to return to the playing field again. In July 4, 1939, Paul Gallico, a sportswriter had suggested that Gehrig’s team had Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day. On that day, he stood in the center of the Yankee Stadium and in front of 62,000 fans that came to attend the appreciation day.

As Gehrig stood in the stadium, he expressed his gratitude to all. He also called himself “as the luckiest man on the face of the Earth”. The event was one of the most touching moments in American sports and everyone present was teary eyed.

The prognosis of his ALS is grim, his paralysis was increasing and he would later have difficulty in swallowing and speaking. He was given a life expectancy of three years after the diagnosis.

In June 2, 1941, he succumbed to ALS complications. At that time, the whole country had mourned. Thousands of notes and condolence telegrams were received at their home in New York.

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