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Famous People Who Died of Cancer

Updated July 8, 2020 486.7k views1.4k items

Cancer strikes indiscriminately, and can even affect some of the most famous people in the world. This is a list of famous people who died of cancer, including photos, birth dates, professions, and other information. You might also be interested in celebrities who were diagnosed with cancer before 40 and famous cancer survivors. These celebrities who died by cancer are listed alphabetically and include the famous cancer victims’ hometown and biographical info about them when available. Famous people with cancer who later passed away from the disease include actress Farrah Fawcett, Lyn Nofziger, George Low, and more. These notable cancer deaths include modern and long-gone famous men and women, from politicians to religious leaders to writers. 

Cancer is a disease that ravages millions of people every year, and unfortunately for these athletes, actors, musicians, and other celebrities, it doesn't matter how much money or fame you possess. There are plenty of well-known names who have succumbed to the disease, like Steve Jobs, Bob Marley, Ronald Reagan, singer David Bowie, and Frank Zappa. It's always tragic when an actor dies of cancer, so we hope for those who are currently dying of any major illnesses. 

Featuring recently dead movie stars and many more, 

Everyone on this list has cancer as a cause of death somewhere in their public records, even if it was just one contributing factor for their death.

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  • Mary Kay Letourneau

    Mary Kay Letourneau
    Photo: Metaweb / GNUF

    Mary Kay Letourneau passed away on July 6, 2020, following a battle with cancer. She was 58.

    Her family was with her in her home, including Vili Fualaau, her former student and ex-husband. He had been giving her 24-hour care leading up to her death. 

    Letourneau infamously pleaded guilty to raping then 13-year-old Fualaau when she was his 34-year-old teacher. She gave birth to the couple's first child before serving seven years in prison, and then the two had another after she was released. Fualaau had filed for a legal separation in 2017, after almost 12 years together.

    Mary Kay Schmitz, formerly Letourneau (born January 30, 1962) was an American former schoolteacher who pleaded guilty in 1997 to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child, her student, Vili Fualaau, who was 12 or 13 at the time. While awaiting sentencing, she gave birth to Fualaau's child. Her plea agreement called for six months in jail, with three months suspended, and no contact with Fualaau for life. The case received national attention. Shortly after spending three months in jail, the police caught Letourneau in a car with Fualaau. A judge found that she had violated the conditions of the plea agreement and revoked her parole. The judge re-sentenced Letourneau to the maximum... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: 58
    • Birthplace: Tustin, California
  • Kellye Nakahara
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use

    Kellye Nakahara, a star of the 70's TV show M*A*S*H, passed away in Pasadena on February 15th. The 72 year old had been battling cancer, and leaves behind a son, daughter, and a husband of 52 years.

    Aside from M*A*S*H, Nakahara also made appearances in Little House on the Prairie, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, NYPD Blue. She even had a stint working on Pasadena's Arts and Culture Comission. Her costars reacted with love and support in the wake of the news, saying of the star: "She was a treasure. She was sunshine on the set" and "May her memory continue to brighten our days."

    Kellye Nakahara (born 1950) is an American actress, best known for playing Nurse Kellye in 165 episodes of the television comedy M*A*S*H.... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: 70
    • Birthplace: Oahu, Hawaii, United States of America
  • Nikita Pearl Waligwa

    Disney actress Nikita Pearl Waligwa, known for her role as Gloria in Disney's Queen of Katwe, passed away on February 15th, after a battle with a brain tumor. She was 15 years old. Both Nikita's high school and her Queen of Katwe co-star Lupita Nyong'o posted tributes to the young actress on their social media, saying she was "a darling to many" and a "sweet, warm, talented girl."

    • Age: 15
    • Birthplace: Uganda
  • Chris Duncan died of brain cancer in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona on September 6, 2019. He was 38 years old.

    Duncan was the former outfielder who helped bring home the 2006 World Series win for the St. Louis Cardinals. During his career, Duncan hit .257 with 55 home runs and 175 RBIs in 281 games. This occurred over five seasons with the Cardinals. Following his baseball career, he was a sports radio host at WXOS-FM in St. Louis.

    • Age: 39
    • Birthplace: Tucson, Arizona