When the world loses a celebrity to a cancer death, it gets another glimpse as to why cancer is one of the top causes of death in the United States. Take a walk back in time with these celebrities whose lives were cut short by cancer.
Famous Musicians Who Died of Cancer
Far too many professional musicians, across all genres, have lost their lives to cancer. Examples include:
Forever remembered as the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer. She passed away on August 16, 2018 at the age of 76.
David Bowie, the British rock star who will forever be remembered as Ziggy Stardust, lost his life to liver cancer. He died on January 10, 2016 at the age 69.
Gregg Allman, of The Allman Brothers Band, died from liver cancer on May 27, 2017. He was 69 years old.
Grammy winning recording artist Donna Summer died of lung cancer on May 17, 2012. She was 72 years old.
Wings musician Linda McCartney, wife of Paul McCartney, she died from breast cancer on April 17, 1998. She was just 56 years old.
Former Beatle and solo recording artist George Harrison died of lung cancer on November 29. 2001. He was 58 years old.
Reggae superstar Bob Marley died of melanoma on May 11, 1981. He was just 31 years old.
Stage and Screen Celebrities Who Died of Cancer
Entirely too many beloved actors, actresses, and other movie and theatre industry professionals have lost their lives to cancer. Examples include:
Indian actor Irrfan Khan, known for roles in Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi, passed away of neuroendocrine cancer on April 29, 2020. He was 53 years old.
Actress Valerie Harper, of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda, on August 30, 2018. She was initially diagnosed with long cancer, then leptomeningeal carcinomatosis. She was 80 years old.
British actor Sir John Hurt died of pancreatic cancer on January 25, 2017 at the age of 77. His 50+ year career included roles in An Englishman in New York, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Elephant Man, and many other movies and television shows.
Dirty Dancing and Ghost actor Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer on September 14, 2009. He was 57 years old.
Charlie's Angels actress and model Farrah Fawcett died of anal cancer on June 25, 2009. She was 62 years of age.
Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman died from lung cancer on September 26, 2008. The actor, philanthropist and race car driver was 83 years old.
Oscar-winning director and actor Sydney Pollack lost his battle with stomach cancer on May 26, 2008. He was 65 years old.
Suzanne Pleshette, known for her roles on the stage, screen and television (including The Bob Newhart Show), passed away from lung cancer on January 19, 2008. She was 70 years of age.
Actor, talk show host, and game show creator Merv Griffin lost his life to prostate cancer on August 12, 2007. He was 82 years old.
Stage and screen legend Anne Bancroft died from uterine cancer on June 6, 2005. She was 73 years old.
This legendary award-winning film actor died from lung cancer on June 11, 1979. He was 72 years of age.
U.S. Political Figures Who Died of Cancer
Cancer has taken its toll on many who chose to serve the U.S. by holding political office. Examples include:
Arizona senator and former prisoner of war John McCain died of brain cancer on August 25, 2018. He was 81 years old.
Hawaii senator Mark Takai passed away from pancreatic cancer on July20, 2016. He was 49 years old.
Long-time Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy died of brain cancer on August 25, 2008. He was 77 years old.
Jo Ann Davis
Virginia senator Jo Ann Davis passed away from breast cancer on October 6, 2007. She was 57 years old.
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885. He was 63 years old.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Esteemed former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died May 19, 1994 from cancer of the lymphatic system. She was 64.
High-Profile Professionals Who Died of Cancer
Many well-known business leaders, journalists, and other notable individuals with household names have died from cancer. Examples include:
Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple Computers, died at the age of 56 from a rare type of pancreatic cancer, known as an "islet-cell neuroendocrine tumor." He passed away on October 5, 2011.
Emmy-winning journalist Ed Bradley, best known for his work on 60 Minutes, lost his life to leukemia at the age 65. He passed away on November 9, 2006.
Los Angeles, California, lawyer Johnnie Cochran made history as OJ Simpson's defense attorney in 1995's "trial of the century." Cochran was 67 when he died from brain cancer on March 29, 2005.
ABC's World News Tonight lost a dear friend on August 7, 2005, when legendary newsman Peter Jennings succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 67.
Creator of Mickey Mouse and founder of the Disney empire, Walt Disney lost his life to lung cancer at the age of 65. He passed away on December 15, 1966, just one month after his cancer diagnosis.
The Far-Reaching Impact of Cancer
Cancer affects people from all walks of life, from ordinary citizens to entertainment industry superstars to political leaders and titans of industry. It does not discriminate. Cancer affects people in every corner of the world, in all age groups, and every income level - even celebrities. When a famous person loses his or her battle with cancer, the individual's death is grieved not just by friends, family members, and colleagues, but also by fans and others whose lives they have touched through their work and deeds.