fred rogers
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Fred Rogers

Millions of Americans grew up with the gentle life lessons on friendship and kindness he taught. The ordained Presbyterian minister created and starred in the children’s television show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired on public television from 1966 to 2001. Rogers died of stomach cancer in 2003 at the age of 74.

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liz claiborne
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Liz Claiborne

The fashion designer had a very rare form of cancer that attacks the peritoneum -- the tissue around your stomach. She died in 2007 at the age of 78. Claiborne built a fashion empire by creating stylish, affordable business-wear options for millions of women who joined the corporate workforce in the 1970s. Hers was the first company founded by a woman to reach the Fortune 500.

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john wayne
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John Wayne

The iconic Hollywood star died in 1979 at the age of 72 after battling lung and stomach cancer. He portrayed dozens of cowboys and military men over a career that spanned 50 years. His on-screen persona was tough, brave, and almost always morally upright.  He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1970 for True Grit.

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ronnie james dio
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Ronnie James Dio

This pioneer of heavy metal music died at the age of 67. He became lead singer of the band Black Sabbath in 1980 after the departure of Ozzy Osbourne, and also had a successful solo career. He canceled a tour after revealing in late 2009 he was fighting stomach cancer and died less than a year later.

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deforest kelley
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DeForest Kelley

The Georgia actor already had an impressive resume of credits from the stage, movies, and television before he landed the role that would define his career: Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, chief medical officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Kelley was 79 when he died of gastric cancer in 1999. He starred in the original Star Trek television series from 1966 to 1969 and in six Star Trek films.

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michelle thomas
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Michelle Thomas

An especially rare and aggressive kind of cancer called desmoplastic small round cell tumor took the life of this actress at age 30. She appeared on The Cosby Show in the late 1980s and starred in the ‘90s sitcom Family Matters. She had a tumor removed from her stomach in 1997 and died after the cancer came back the following year.

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ken watanabe
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Ken Watanabe

The Oscar- and Tony-nominated actor has survived cancer three times. He was treated for acute myeloid leukemia in 1989 and 1994, and had surgery for early-stage stomach cancer in 2016. The Japanese actor crossed over to international success with the 2003 film The Last Samurai, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. He was nominated for Best Lead Actor for his starring role in The King and I on Broadway in 2015.

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peter otoole
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Peter O’Toole

His first major film role was one of his most acclaimed: the title character in Lawrence of Arabia, which earned him his first of eight Academy Award nominations. Gastric cancer nearly ended the English actor’s life at the height of his career in the 1970s. But he survived, and went on to perform in movies and theater for four more decades, until shortly before his death in 2013 at age 81.

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james baldwin
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James Baldwin

The grandson of a slave, writer James Baldwin was a powerful voice of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. His best-known works include the novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, the play Blues for Mister Charlie, and the essay collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time. He lived most of his adult life in France and died of stomach cancer at age 63 in 1987.

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napoleon bonaparte
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Napoleon Bonaparte

In the months leading up to his death in 1821, this French leader had severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and serious weight loss -- classic symptoms of gastric cancer. And an autopsy showed a large tumor in his stomach. Napoleon was a military leader who expanded French power throughout most of Europe. He was defeated by the British at the battle of Waterloo and died in exile at age 51.

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gertrude stein
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Gertrude Stein

Paris in the early 20th century was a magnet for artists and intellectuals, and she was at the center of it. Together with her partner, Alice B. Toklas, Stein hosted gatherings of some of the most famous creative minds of the time. She was a writer and poet in her own right who experimented with form and language. Stein died of stomach cancer in 1946 at the age of 72.

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john ford
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John Ford

He was one of the most successful and influential movie directors of the 20th century. He made dozens of Westerns and war movies, and filmed documentaries for the U.S. military during World War II. Ford is credited with making John Wayne a star. He won five Academy Awards and was presented with the Medal of Freedom by President Richard Nixon. Ford died of stomach cancer in 1973 at age 78.

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enrico fermi
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Enrico Fermi

The Italian physicist is credited with bringing the world into the nuclear age. Fermi won the Nobel Prize in 1938 for his work with radioactivity and atom-splitting. He set off the first controlled nuclear reaction while working at the University of Chicago in 1942 and went on to help develop the atomic bomb. He died of stomach cancer in 1954 at age 53.

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gloria grahame
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Gloria Grahame

She won an Academy Award for her supporting role in 1952’s The Bad and the Beautiful, and she played memorable characters in It’s a Wonderful Life and Oklahoma. But Grahame is best known as a sultry femme fatal from film noirs of the 1950s. She had breast cancer in the late 1970s and was 57 when stomach cancer took her life in 1981.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/13/2020 Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD on June 13, 2020


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Variety: “John Wayne, 72, Dies of Cancer,” “Sony Classics Buys Annette Bening’s ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.’”

New York Times: “’Duke,’ an American Hero,” “Liz Claiborne, Designer, Dies at 78,” “Gertrude Stein Dies In France, 72,” “John Ford, the Movie Director Who Won 5 Oscars, Dies at 78,” “DeForest Kelley, 79, Creator Of Dr. McCoy on ‘Star Trek,’” “James Baldwin, Eloquent Writer In Behalf of Civil Rights, Is Dead,” “Gloria Grahame, 55 Motion Picture Actress, Dies.”

Cancer Today: “A Beautiful Neighbor.”

HuffPost: “Liz Claiborne, the Legend, the Woman – the Cancer Victim.”

Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology: “Napoleon Bonaparte’s Gastric Cancer: A Clinicopathologic Approach to Staging, Pathogenesis, and Etiology.”

Encyclopedia Britannica: “Napoleon I,” “Napoleonic Wars,” “Gertrude Stein,” “Enrico Fermi.”

Malcolm, J. Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice, Yale University Press, 2007.

Rolling Stone: “Metal Icon Ronnie James Dio Dead at 67 After Cancer Battle.”

Central Intelligence Agency: “A Look Back … John Ford: War Movies.”

People: “Doctor to the Stars,” “Forever Young.”

American Association for Cancer Research Foundation: “Actor Ken Watanabe Diagnosed with Stomach Cancer.”

BBC News: “Ken Watanabe delays Broadway return for cancer treatment.”

Toronto Sun: “Actor Peter O’Toole, 81, dies after long illness.”

Schwartz, D. The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age,” Basic Books, 2017.

Los Angeles Times: “Classic Hollywood: Remembering Gloria Grahame before ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.’”

Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD on June 13, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.