List of Celebrities With COPD Vector

Top 15+ Celebrities With COPD Listed Out (2024)

by | Updated: May 14, 2024

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a prevalent yet often preventable illness that affects millions globally, including those in the limelight.

This article explores how COPD has impacted the lives of various celebrities, shedding light on their battles and how they’ve used their platforms to raise awareness about the disease.

What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a progressive lung disease that makes breathing difficult. It primarily includes two main conditions: emphysema, which involves damage to the air sacs in the lungs, and chronic bronchitis, characterized by prolonged inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

Common symptoms include breathlessness, persistent cough, and frequent respiratory infections. Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, though exposure to air pollution and genetic factors can also contribute. There is no cure, but treatments can help manage symptoms.

COPD Lungs Vector

Are There Any Celebrities With COPD?

Yes, there are several celebrities who have been diagnosed with COPD, a reflection of the broader societal issue with smoking and its long-term health impacts. These individuals often use their diagnosis to raise public awareness about the dangers of smoking and the importance of lung health.

Celebrities With COPD

  1. Amy Winehouse
  2. Loni Anderson
  3. Leonard Bernstein
  4. Johnny Carson
  5. Dean Martin
  6. Chris Schenkel
  7. Christy Turlington
  8. Leonard Nimoy
  9. Barbara Stanwyck
  10. Don Imus
  11. Pat Nixon
  12. Norman Rockwell
  13. Robert Mitchum
  14. King Edward VII
  15. Randy Meisner

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was an English singer and songwriter celebrated for her deep, expressive contralto vocals and eclectic mix of musical genres. Winehouse’s career was marked by widespread critical and commercial success but also by her struggles with substance abuse.

In 2008, she revealed she had early-stage emphysema, exacerbated by her smoking and drug use. Tragically, Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at the age of 27.

Loni Anderson

Best known for her role on the TV show “WKRP in Cincinnati,” Loni Anderson grew up in a household where both parents smoked and suffered from chronic bronchitis.

Rather than following in their footsteps, Anderson chose to advocate for public awareness about COPD, stemming from her firsthand experience with its impacts.

Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein, a luminary composer and conductor, achieved fame for his dynamic conducting of the New York Philharmonic and his musical score for “West Side Story.” A graduate of Harvard, Bernstein’s career was marked by his contributions to music and television.

He smoked heavily throughout his life, which eventually led to a long battle with emphysema, influencing his retirement announcement just days before his death.

Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson became an iconic figure in American television as the long-time host of “The Tonight Show.” His career spanned over three decades, where he became known for his sharp wit and comic timing.

Carson, who started smoking cigarettes during his time in the U.S. Navy, struggled with emphysema towards the latter part of his life, ultimately leading to his death from respiratory failure.

Dean Martin

Dean Martin, nicknamed “The King of Cool,” was an American singer, actor, and comedian known for his smooth voice and charismatic presence. Part of the legendary “Rat Pack,” Martin’s career spanned music, film, and television.

He was a heavy smoker, which led to a diagnosis of lung cancer in 1993. Martin died of complications from emphysema two years later.

Chris Schenkel

Chris Schenkel was a prominent sportscaster known for his long tenure with ABC Sports, where he covered a wide array of sports, including professional bowling, football, and the Olympics.

His broadcasting career began after serving in World War II and attending Purdue University. Schenkel was a smoker, which ultimately led to his death from emphysema in 2005.

Christy Turlington

Christy Turlington is a supermodel renowned for her campaigns with Calvin Klein and Maybelline. Named one of Glamour’s 2013 “Women of the Year,” she began smoking at 13 but quit at 26 after her father died of lung cancer.

A lung scan in 2006 revealed early-stage emphysema, which prompted her to become an anti-smoking activist. Despite her diagnosis, Turlington has remained active, running marathons and writing a book on yoga.

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy was an American actor, film director, and photographer best known for his role as Spock in the “Star Trek” franchise. Nimoy’s portrayal of the half-Vulcan, half-human commander became iconic.

Despite his success, Nimoy faced health challenges and in 2014, he publicly announced he had COPD, attributed to his years of smoking, even though he had quit about three decades earlier. He passed away in 2015.

Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck was an acclaimed American actress who appeared in a prolific 85 films in her 38-year film career. Known for her strong, independent roles, she received four Academy Award nominations and won an honorary Oscar in 1982.

Stanwyck also starred in the television series “The Big Valley.” A smoker since she was 9, Stanwyck suffered from COPD and heart failure, leading to her death in 1990 at the age of 82.

Don Imus

Don Imus was an American radio host, humorist, and philanthropist known for his controversial and often provocative morning show. Imus gained fame and notoriety through his “shock jock” style, which sometimes led to significant backlash.

Despite his on-air success, Imus’ health declined due to various complications from his lifestyle, including COPD. He died in 2019 from complications related to the disease.

Pat Nixon

Pat Nixon, wife of former U.S. President Richard Nixon, served as First Lady from 1969 to 1974. During her tenure, she was renowned for her dedication to public service and numerous goodwill missions abroad.

Despite her public persona, Pat was a heavy smoker in private, a habit that contributed to her developing COPD. She was hospitalized for complications from the disease in 1993 and died later that year from lung cancer.

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell was an iconic American painter and illustrator, whose works have become synonymous with idyllic American life. He illustrated more than 300 covers for “The Saturday Evening Post” over nearly five decades.

Rockwell’s paintings often depicted everyday scenarios and played a significant role in American visual culture. He was a smoker for much of his life, which led to emphysema, ultimately contributing to his death in 1978.

Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum was an American actor who was known for his rugged demeanor and understated acting style. He appeared in a variety of film genres but was particularly renowned for his roles in film noir and Westerns.

Mitchum’s screen presence was powerful, often embodying the archetype of the tough antihero. A lifelong smoker, Mitchum died from complications related to lung cancer and emphysema in 1997, just weeks before his 80th birthday.

King Edward VII

King Edward VII of the United Kingdom reigned from 1901 until his death in 1910. Known for his affable and sociable nature, Edward was also a heavy smoker, a habit that was common among men of his status during that era.

His smoking contributed to his deteriorating health, and he suffered from several episodes of severe bronchitis towards the end of his life. His smoking-related health issues were likely a contributing factor to his death.

Randy Meisner

Randy Meisner was a founding member of the Eagles, a band that played a significant role in shaping the sound of Southern California rock in the 1970s. He was known for his high-pitched harmonies and as the lead vocalist on the hit song “Take It to the Limit.”

Meisner’s health declined in later years, culminating in his death from complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2023. His passing was a significant loss to the music world.

Final Thoughts

The stories of celebrities coping with COPD highlight the disease’s indiscriminate nature and the critical importance of preventive measures, such as quitting smoking.

By examining these personal health struggles, we gain a deeper understanding of COPD’s impact and the significant role public figures can play in educating the public and advocating for better lung health.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.