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Celebrity victims of mesothelioma


Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that has one known cause: Exposure to asbestos.

Many mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos in their jobs years ago. Others may have experienced secondary exposure, such as family members of individuals who were exposed on the job. Sometimes, victims do not know where or when asbestos exposure occurred.

One thing is for certain: Mesothelioma does not discriminate. People from all walks of life can find themselves facing a diagnosis. Celebrities included.

Here are some famous people who suffered from mesothelioma and other types of cancer caused by asbestos exposure:

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen was a popular American actor who starred in many movies in the 1960s and 1970s, including The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. He was the highest paid actor in the world in 1974.

In 1978, he started experiencing a persistent cough and shortness of breath. He gave up cigarettes, thinking this was the cause, but his symptoms persisted.

In 1979, he underwent a biopsy, and it was discovered that he had pleural mesothelioma. He sought alternative medical treatments in Mexico, but eventually he succumbed to the disease in 1980.

McQueen believed asbestos exposure occurred when he was in the Marines and worked at removing asbestos lagging from pipes. He also thought he may have been exposed on movie sets.

Merlin Olson

Merlin Olson was an actor, announcer, and football player. He played for the Los Angeles Rams and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On television, he played the part of Jonathan Garvey on Little House On The Prairie.

Olson was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2009. He filed a lawsuit against 25 companies for asbestos exposure, including 20th Century Fox and NBC studios. He believed he was exposed to asbestos at various times in his life, including when he worked at construction jobs as a boy.

He died in 2010 at the age of 69.

Donna Summer

Donna Summer was a five-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and painter. She is known for her hit disco-era songs "Hot Stuff", "Bad Girls", and "I Feel Love".

She was diagnosed with lung cancer, although she didn't not smoke. She believed that the cancer was caused by inhaling toxic fumes and dust after the September 11th attacks in New York City. The air was polluted with asbestos, mercury, lead, and other contaminants.

She died in 2012 at the age of 63.

Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon was an American singer and songwriter. He is perhaps best known for his 1978 hit "Werewolves Of London".

In 2002, Zevon developed a chronic cough and started experiencing dizziness. He admitted to having a phobia of doctors, and hadn't seen one in 20 years. However, at a dental appointment his dentist urged him to see a doctor. He did, and eventually learned that he had pleural mesothelioma.

Zevon appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman on October 30, 2002. He was the only full-hour guest ever to appear on the show.

When Letterman asked him, "from your perspective, do you know something about life and death that maybe I don't know?", Zevon replied, "not unless I know how much - how much you're supposed to enjoy every sandwich."

Zevon died on September 7, 2003. He lived to see the births of his twin grandsons and the release of his final album The Wind, which he began recording after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.


Every mesothelioma case is unique, and the lives of victims and family members are undoubtedly changed. Victims of mesothelioma should be aware of their legal rights and options, as well as their treatment options.

Free consultation: Talk to an attorney from Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook & Brickman, LLC, by calling 866-594-8765. We represent clients nationwide.

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