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Famous People Who Survived The Spanish Flu

2 Apr 2020 10.2k views28 items

The first recorded case of what would be labeled the Spanish flu came in March 1918 at an Army training facility in Fort Riley, KS. By the time the influenza pandemic came to an end in December 1920, an estimated 500 million people - more than one-quarter of the world's population at the time - had been infected. The death toll was estimated to be anywhere from 17 to 50 million, with some believing it could actually be as high as 100 million. 

This disease did not discriminate. It infected the young and the old, men and women, the healthy and those with underlying health issues. But counted among the pandemic's survivors are a number of famous people. Among the celebrities who came down with, but survived, the Spanish flu were world leaders such as Woodrow Wilson, Hollywood stars Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish, and authors Franz Kafka and John Steinbeck.

Who would have guided the United States through the Depression and WWII if FDR had perished in the pandemic? How would England have changed if King George V and his 24-year-old son Edward had taken over the throne? Would Steinbeck have ever written The Grapes of Wrath if he hadn't contracted the Spanish flu as a teenager - an event that reportedly changed his view of life? And would Mickey Mouse have ever existed if a teenaged Walt Disney had not survived his bout with the virus? These are just a few of the questions we can ask about how the 1918-1920 Spanish influenza pandemic could have affected the future.

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