Morbid Curiosity by Alan W. Petrucelli
Book Information
Perigee Trade
Paperback: 240 pages

The Disturbing Demises of the Famous and Infamous

Star Bucks the System!
Gee, and we thought having three Diet Cokes a day makes us jittery. In December 1979, after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs usually related to asbestos exposure, iconic ’60s movie he-man Steve McQueen (1930-1980) underwent surgery to remove several metastatic tumors in his belly. Radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed. McQueen, who loved racing cars, believed he got the cancer from his exposure to asbestos on movie sets, racing suits and helmets and the asbestos he removed from a ship during his time in the Marines.

When doctors told him the end was near, McQueen refused to accept the fact he would soon make a final great escape. So he made a getaway to Rosarita Beach, Mexico, where he underwent treatments that—well, the word “unconventional” fits nicely. Under the guidance of orthodontist William Donald Kelley (whose medical license had been revoked in 1976 after he claimed he had cured his own pancreatic cancer), McQueen subjected himself to coffee enemas, doses of 50 vitamins and minerals, psychotherapy, prayer sessions, massages and shampoos and intramuscular injections of live sheep and cow cells and laetrile, a substance extracted from apricot, bitter almond and peaches. Kelley’s argument was that caffeine stimulates certain nerves in the lower bowel that would then trigger a neurological reflex making the liver—the body’s main detoxification organ—work more efficiently.

So sure was “Dr. Kelley” of his “treatments” that he publicly announced the actor would be “completely cured and return to normal life.” McQueen believed him; and recorded a message that was aired over Mexican airwaves: “Mexico is showing the world a new way of fighting cancer through nonspecific metabolic therapies. Thank you for helping to save my life.”

Not. In late October 1980, a five-pound tumor was discovered in the actor’s abdomen. McQueen’s American doctors warned him the tumor was inoperable and that his heart would not withstand the surgery, but the actor refused to listen. On November 6, doctors operated to remove the cancerous mass, as well as others that had formed in his neck. He withstood the surgery, but he died the next day of cardiac arrest at a hospital in Juarez. His cremains were sprinkled over the Pacific Ocean.

The Last Words of Joan Crawford (1905-1977)?
“Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”
Friends knew the end was near when Crawford gave away her beloved Shih Tzu Princess Lotus Blossom. She died two days later at her New York apartment from a heart attack; she was also suffering from breast and pancreatic cancer. Her last words were directed to her housekeeper, who had begun to pray out loud. A funeral was held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home on May 10, 1977. The woman who, during the filming of Night Gallery, taught director Steven Spielberg to burp bequeathed to her two youngest children, Cindy and Cathy, $77,500 each from her $2,000,000 estate. However, she explicitly disinherited the two eldest, Christina and Christopher.

In the last paragraph of the will, she wrote, “It is my intention to make no provision herein for my son Christopher or my daughter Christina for reasons which are well known to them.” Crawford was cremated and her ashes placed in a crypt with her last husband, Pepsi chairman Alfred Steele, in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York. Her birth year was changed to 1908 . . . to make her younger.

Dolly Parton’s Final Wish? “I’m not ready to go yet, but when I do get to those pearly gates, I want God to pat me on the head and say, ‘You did good!’ I want to be remembered as someone who touched people and left behind worthwhile things for them to enjoy. I want to be remembered for being a good person who had a lot of love to give.”

- Marilyn Mania! The official county coroner’s report states that Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962) was “a 36-year-old well-developed, well-nourished Caucasian female weighing 117 pounds and measuring 65 ½ inches in length. The scalp is covered with bleach blonde hair. The eyes are blue. Fecal contents light brown and formed.” She was buried in a sea-green Pucci dress, a bouquet of miniature pink roses placed in her hands by former hubby Joe DiMaggio. At the viewing, Joltin’ Joe leaned over the corpse, kissed her forehead and reminded her “I love you! I love you! I love you!” Monroe often joked that she wanted her epitaph to read: Here Lies Marilyn Monroe—38-23-36.”