Cancer, a formidable adversary, has taken the lives of numerous iconic figures, including those celebrated for their contributions to the realms of entertainment, politics, journalism, and beyond. These individuals, renowned for their talent, influence, and lasting legacies, faced a common enemy in their final battles. Their courageous struggles against various forms of cancer speak volumes about their resilience, leaving behind not just their impactful work but also inspiring stories of strength and determination. From actors to politicians, musicians to journalists, each of these luminaries grappled with cancer, leaving an indelible mark on their respective fields and the hearts of their admirers.
Aretha Louise Franklin
Aretha Louise Franklin, renowned as the “Queen of Soul,” graced the world stage as an American singer, songwriter, and pianist whose impact transcended generations. Born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, Franklin’s extraordinary talent and soulful voice led Rolling Stone to crown her the greatest singer of all time, a testament to her unmatched vocal prowess. Her musical legacy, spanning over 75 million records sold globally, solidifies her place as one of the best-selling music artists in history. Amidst her celebrated career, Franklin privately battled pancreatic cancer, a formidable foe that claimed her life on August 16, 2018, in Detroit, Michigan. Throughout her life, Franklin’s contributions to music and her unparalleled vocal talent resonated profoundly, leaving an indelible mark on the world. Her legacy endures, inspiring countless artists and fans alike, ensuring that her soulful melodies and unparalleled voice remain eternally cherished.
David Robert Jones
David Robert Jones, known globally as David Bowie, left an indelible mark as an English singer, songwriter, musician, and actor, emerging as a trailblazing figure in the music industry. Born on January 8, 1947, in Brixton, London, Bowie’s avant-garde style and innovation positioned him as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, shaping diverse genres and challenging artistic norms. His multifaceted career spanning decades witnessed reinventions and artistic evolution that captivated audiences worldwide. Tragically, Bowie privately battled liver cancer, an affliction that claimed his life on January 10, 2016, in New York City, leaving an immense void in the music world. His legacy as a visionary artist and cultural icon persists, continuing to inspire musicians and artists across generations, ensuring that his boundary-pushing creativity and unparalleled impact endure as an eternal legacy.
Gregory LeNoir Allman
Gregory LeNoir Allman, with his deep passion for rhythm and blues, played a pivotal role in shaping the distinct blend of genres within the Allman Brothers Band, infusing their music with rock, jazz, and country influences. His journey in music, starting from his roots in Nashville, Tennessee, echoed a resonance that captivated audiences globally. Despite his untimely departure on May 27, 2017, due to liver cancer, Allman’s legacy endures as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring musicians, perpetuating his impact and imprint on the ever-evolving landscape of music.
Donna Adrian Gaines
Donna Adrian Gaines, famously known as Donna Summer, was an American singer and songwriter who became a huge star in the 1970s during the disco era. She was nicknamed the “Queen of Disco” because her music was loved by people all around the world. Born on December 31, 1948, in Boston, Massachusetts, her songs captured the hearts of many and made her music famous worldwide. Sadly, Donna passed away on May 17, 2012, in Naples, Florida, after battling lung cancer. She left behind a musical legacy that continues to touch and inspire people, ensuring that her songs and influence remain cherished in the world of music.
Linda Louise McCartney
Linda Louise McCartney, also known as Lady McCartney, was an American with many talents: she was a photographer, musician, animal rights activist, vegetarian cookbook author, and entrepreneur. She played the keyboard and sang harmonies in the band Wings, alongside her husband, Paul McCartney from the Beatles. Born on September 24, 1941, in Manhattan, New York, Linda made a mark with her varied interests. Sadly, she passed away on April 17, 1998, in Tucson, Arizona, after bravely fighting breast cancer. She left behind a legacy of creativity, activism, and compassion. Her dedication to animal rights and her passion for vegetarianism continue to inspire people, while her contributions to music and art remain celebrated. Linda McCartney’s memory lives on through her family, her work, and the causes she championed.
George Harrison MBE, an English musician, singer, and songwriter, gained worldwide recognition as the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Born on February 25, 1943, at 12 Arnold Grove, he soared to fame with the band, contributing his musical talents and creative flair. Harrison’s melodies and songwriting helped define an era of music. He married twice, first to Pattie Boyd from 1966 to 1977, and later to Olivia Harrison from 1978 until his passing. George and Olivia had a son named Dhani Harrison. Sadly, on November 29, 2001, in Los Angeles, California, George Harrison lost his battle with lung cancer, leaving behind a musical legacy that still resonates today. His influence as a musician and his spirit of innovation continue to inspire artists and music lovers around the world, ensuring his place among the legends of music history.
Valerie Kathryn Harper
Valerie Kathryn Harper, an actress from America, started her career dancing on Broadway and later appeared in the musical Li’l Abner. She became famous for playing Rhoda Morgenstern on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and its spinoff, “Rhoda.” Born on August 22, 1939, in Suffern, New York, Valerie captivated audiences with her talent. She was married to Richard Schaal from 1964 to 1978 and then to Tony Cacciotti from 1987 until she passed away. Sadly, Valerie Harper died on August 30, 2019, in Los Angeles, California, after fighting brain cancer. Her acting on TV made a big impact, and her bravery during her illness continues to inspire many. Valerie Harper’s roles and her strength remain treasured in the world of entertainment, making her a beloved figure in television history.
Sir John Vincent Hurt CBE, a celebrated English actor, graced the stage and screen for more than five decades, earning praise as one of Britain’s finest. Revered by director David Lynch as “simply the greatest actor in the world,” Hurt possessed a voice that stood out as one of Britain’s most distinctive. Born on January 22, 1940, in Chesterfield, United Kingdom, Hurt’s profound talent left an indelible mark in the acting realm. He shared his life with Anwen Rees-Myers, marrying her in 2005 until his passing, and was a father to Sasha John Vincent Hurt and Nick Hurt. Unfortunately, on January 25, 2017, in Cromer, United Kingdom, Sir John Hurt passed away after battling cancer. His legacy as an exceptional actor and the unmistakable quality of his voice endure, leaving an enduring legacy in the world of entertainment.
Patrick Wayne Swayze
Patrick Wayne Swayze, an American actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter, was known for his remarkable lead roles that ranged from romantic to tough and comedic characters. He was also recognized for his appearance and image in the media, earning the title of “Sexiest Man Alive” by People magazine in 1991. Born on August 18, 1952, in Houston, Texas, Swayze left a lasting impact with his talent. He was married to Lisa Niemi from 1975 until his passing and had siblings Don Swayze, Bambi Swayze, Vickie Lynn Swayze, and Sean Kyle Swayze. Sadly, on September 14, 2009, in Los Angeles, California, Patrick Swayze lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. His roles in movies, his dance moves, and his charm continue to be cherished, leaving a legacy in the entertainment world that remains cherished and celebrated.
Farrah Leni Fawcett
Farrah Leni Fawcett, an American actress, gained fame as a nominee for four Primetime Emmy Awards and six Golden Globe Awards. She became a global sensation with her role in the first season of “Charlie’s Angels.” Born on February 2, 1947, in Corpus Christi, Texas, Fawcett’s talent was undeniable. She was previously married to Lee Majors from 1973 to 1982 and had a son named Redmond O’Neal. Unfortunately, on June 25, 2009, at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, Farrah Fawcett passed away after battling anal cancer. Her memorable performances and her impact in “Charlie’s Angels” continue to hold a special place in television history, leaving an enduring legacy that still resonates with audiences today.
Paul Leonard Newman
Paul Leonard Newman, an American icon, was more than just an actor—he was a film director, a race car driver, a philanthropist, and an entrepreneur. Born on January 26, 1925, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Newman’s talent and versatility knew no bounds. He was married to Jackie Witte from 1949 to 1958 before finding lifelong love with Joanne Woodward, his wife from 1958 until his passing. Their children, Scott Newman and Melissa Newman, were part of Newman’s cherished family. Sadly, on September 26, 2008, in Westport, Connecticut, this extraordinary man bid farewell after battling lung cancer. Newman’s legacy extends far beyond the silver screen, encompassing his passions for racing, his generous philanthropy, and his entrepreneurial spirit. His impact in entertainment and beyond continues to inspire, leaving an enduring mark on the world.
Sydney Irwin Pollack, an American filmmaker, wore many hats as a director, producer, and actor. He was known for helming both successful and highly respected movies. Born on July 1, 1934, in Lafayette, Indiana, Pollack’s influence in the film industry was immense. He was married to Claire Griswold from 1958 until his passing and shared a family with three children: Rebecca, Steven, and Rachel Pollack. Tragically, on May 26, 2008, in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California, Pollack lost his battle with stomach cancer. His talent behind the camera earned him an Academy Award for Best Directing, but his impact extended far beyond accolades, shaping the landscape of cinema and leaving an indelible mark on the world of filmmaking.
Suzanne Pleshette, an American actress known for her work in theatre, film, television, and voice acting, commenced her career on stage before transitioning to films in the late 1950s. Her notable appearances include roles in acclaimed movies like “Rome Adventure,” Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” and the beloved animated film “Spirited Away.” Born on January 31, 1937, in Brooklyn Heights, New York, Pleshette’s talent spanned various entertainment mediums.
She had marriages with Tommy Gallagher from 1968 to 2000, Tom Poston from 2001 to 2007, and briefly with Troy Donahue in 1964. Unfortunately, on January 19, 2008, in Los Angeles, California, Suzanne Pleshette passed away due to lung cancer. Her legacy as a versatile actress, her contributions to cinema, and her distinct voice continue to be remembered and cherished in the world of entertainment. Suzanne Pleshette rests in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City.
Edward Moore Kennedy
Edward Moore Kennedy was a committed American politician and lawyer, dedicating nearly five decades of service as a senator from Massachusetts until his passing in 2009. As a member of the Democratic Party and part of the influential Kennedy family, he held a prominent role in the Senate, being the second most senior member at the time. Born on February 22, 1932, in Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy’s life was deeply intertwined with politics from an early age.
He was married to Joan Bennett Kennedy from 1958 to 1982 and later to Victoria Reggie Kennedy from 1992 until his passing. His children included Edward Kennedy, Jr., Patrick Joseph Kennedy, and Kara Kennedy. Regrettably, on August 25, 2009, in Hyannis Port, Barnstable, Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy passed away after battling cancer. His enduring impact on American politics, his extensive tenure in public service, and his family’s lasting influence remain a significant part of his lasting legacy.
Kyle Mark Takai
Kyle Mark Takai, an American politician hailing from Hawaii, served in the United States House of Representatives for Hawaii’s 1st congressional district from 2015 to 2016. Prior to his role in Congress, he dedicated two decades serving in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1994 to 2014. Born on July 1, 1967, in Honolulu, Hawaii, Takai’s commitment to public service was rooted in his education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he graduated in 1993, following his time at Pearl City High School in 1985.
He was survived by his spouse, Sami Takai, and their children, Matthew and Kaila Takai. Tragically, Kyle Mark Takai passed away on July 20, 2016, in Honolulu, Hawaii, after battling pancreatic cancer. His dedication to Hawaii’s representation and his service to the community remain a significant part of his enduring legacy.
John Sidney McCain III
John Sidney McCain III, an American politician and distinguished United States Navy officer, dedicated over three decades to serving as a United States senator from Arizona. Born on August 29, 1936, in Coco Solo, Panama, McCain came from a family deeply rooted in military service; his father, John S. McCain Jr., and mother, Roberta McCain, both influenced his life profoundly. He served his country honorably as a naval aviator before entering politics. McCain married Carol McCain in 1965, and they had children together. In 1980, he wed Cindy McCain, with whom he shared a family.
Throughout his senatorial tenure from 1987 until his passing on August 25, 2018, in Cornville, Arizona, McCain was recognized for his dedication to public service and received notable awards, including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart. His death was attributed to glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. McCain’s unwavering commitment to his country, his bipartisan approach in politics, and his legacy as a respected leader remain an integral part of American political history.
Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis, an American figure known for her roles as a socialite, writer, photographer, and book editor, served as the First Lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963 during her marriage to President John F. Kennedy. Born on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, New York, Jacqueline, or Jackie Kennedy, was a pivotal figure in American history.
She had two children with President Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy, and tragically lost a son, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. After John F. Kennedy’s assassination, she later remarried Aristotle Onassis from 1968 to 1975. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis passed away on May 19, 1994, in New York City due to blood cancer. Her grace, elegance, and cultural contributions endure as a significant part of American heritage, shaping the legacy of the White House and transcending her time as the nation’s First Lady.
Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr
Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr., an American television host and media mogul, kicked off his career as a singer on radio and in big bands before gracing film and Broadway with his talents. From 1962 to 1986, he captivated audiences as the host of his own talk show, “The Merv Griffin Show.” Born on July 6, 1925, in San Mateo, California, Griffin’s influence on entertainment was vast. He was married to Julann Wright from 1958 to 1976 and had a son named Tony Griffin.
Merv Griffin passed away on August 12, 2007, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to prostate cancer. He rests at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary in Los Angeles. His legacy as a charismatic host and his significant contributions to television continue to inspire and entertain audiences, leaving an enduring mark on the world of entertainment.
Anne Bancroft, an esteemed American actress, was widely admired for her remarkable talent and adaptability on screen. She earned numerous prestigious awards throughout her illustrious career, including an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two Tony Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Cannes Film Festival Award. Born on September 17, 1931, in The Bronx, New York, Bancroft left an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.
She was married to Martin May from 1953 to 1957 and later to Mel Brooks from 1964 until her passing. Bancroft had a son, Max Brooks, and a grandson named Henry Michael Brooks. Sadly, she passed away on June 6, 2005, at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York due to uterine cancer. Her legacy as an outstanding actress and her numerous accolades solidify her place as a revered figure in the world of acting, standing among the select few to achieve the distinguished Triple Crown of Acting. Top of Form
John Wayne, known as The Duke, was an iconic American actor celebrated for his roles in Western and war movies, leaving an indelible mark on Hollywood’s Golden Age. Born Marion Robert Morrison on May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, he epitomized heroism and strength on the silver screen. Wayne’s impact extended far beyond his acting career, resonating with audiences worldwide. He was married thrice—to Josephine Wayne from 1933 to 1945, Esperanza Baur from 1946 to 1954, and Pilar Pallete from 1954 until his passing. Wayne fathered four children: Patrick, Ethan, Aissa, among others. On June 11, 1979, he passed away at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles due to stomach cancer. Standing tall at 1.93 meters, his enduring influence in film solidifies his legacy as an immortal legend in cinematic history.
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t just a president—he was a military hero too. He led the Union Army to victory during the Civil War before serving as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. Born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, Grant made history with his leadership.
He married Julia Dent Grant in 1848 and became president on March 4, 1869, representing the Republican Party. Grant’s time in office ended on March 4, 1877. He passed away on July 23, 1885, at the Ulysses S. Grant Cottage National Historic Landmark in Gansevoort, New York, due to throat cancer. His legacy remains tied to his Civil War achievements and his presidency, marking pivotal moments in America’s past.
Edward Rudolph Bradley Jr. was a renowned journalist and news anchor famed for his impactful work on shows like 60 Minutes and CBS News. He kicked off his career reporting on the radio in Philadelphia, delving into major events like the 1964 race riot. Born on June 22, 1941, in Philadelphia, Bradley gained recognition for his exceptional reporting skills.
Throughout his life, he was married three times—to Patricia Blanchet, Priscilla Coolidge, and Diane Jefferson. His interviews earned him prestigious awards, and he proudly graduated from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Sadly, he passed away on November 9, 2006, at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York due to complications from leukemia, a form of white blood cell cancer. His dedication to journalism and impactful storytelling remains an enduring part of his remarkable legacy.
Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings CM, a Canadian-American television journalist, made an indelible mark as the sole anchor of ABC World News Tonight from 1983 until his passing in 2005 due to lung cancer. Born on July 29, 1938, in Toronto, Canada, Jennings’ journalistic journey was marked by dedication and excellence.
He was married to Kayce Freed from 1997 until his death and was a loving father to Elizabeth and Christopher Jennings. His educational journey took him through Trinity College School, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, and Lisgar Collegiate Institute. Peter Jennings’ impactful career and commitment to delivering news touched the hearts of many. His unfortunate demise on August 7, 2005, in Manhattan, New York, due to lung cancer, marked the end of an era in television journalism, leaving behind a legacy of integrity and dedication in reporting.
Walter Elias Disney
Walter Elias Disney, an American animator, film producer, and entrepreneur, was a trailblazer in the animation industry. Born on December 5, 1901, in Hermosa, Chicago, Illinois, Disney’s contributions revolutionized cartoon production. His achievements as a film producer earned him the most Academy Awards and nominations by an individual. Married to Lillian Disney from 1925 until his passing, he was a devoted father to Diane Disney Miller and Sharon Mae Disney, as well as a cherished grandfather to several grandchildren including Walter Elias Disney Miller and Christopher D. Miller. Disney’s legacy transcends his death on December 15, 1966, at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, due to lung cancer. He rests at Forest Lawn in California. His visionary work and creative innovations continue to enchant audiences worldwide, leaving an enduring impact on the animation and entertainment industry.
The stories of these renowned individuals stand as testaments to their enduring impact on the world. Their talent, contributions, and courageous battles against cancer continue to resonate with audiences, inspiring generations and ensuring their legacies live on. Though cancer claimed their lives, their spirits endure through their remarkable achievements, leaving behind a legacy that transcends the confines of time and space, shaping the world and leaving an indelible mark in their respective fields. These luminaries, though gone, remain eternal in the hearts and memories of those they influenced and continue to influence, reminding us of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.