Celebrity weight is always rising and falling in America, and while it may be fodder for some, obese celebrities have a serious disease that doesn’t improve under the glitzy lights of Hollywood. They’re “just like us” when it comes to health.
In the last year, Rosie O’Donnell suffered a heart attack, Al Roker revealed his struggles with gastric bypass surgery, and Jennifer Hudson released a memoir detailing her battle with self-image and weight loss. These particular celebrities are examples of a proactive and positive approach to a disease that kills an estimated 112,000 Americans each year, according to the CDC.
Those stars, and many others, have gotten the wake-up call. But others didn’t. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite entertainers who weren’t able to conquer their weight-related health issues, and as a result, died too soon.
Patrice O’Neal, 1969-2011
The comedian and actor was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in his 20s and had battled weight issues for much of his life. On October 19, 2011 he had a stroke and died of complications one month later at the age of 41.
Big Punisher, 1971-2000
Beloved hip-hop artist Big Pun, responsible for the hit song “I’m Not a Player,” was 5’2” and morbidly obese his entire adult life. Efforts to slim down were never successful, and on February 7, 2000 he suffered a heart attack and died at 698 pounds.
Chris Farley, 1964-1997
Saturday Night Live cast member and movie star Chris Farley always lived life dangerously and was an overweight alcoholic and drug addict – a lethal combination. Despite serious urging from his peers to get clean, Farley eventually died from a cocaine and morphine overdose at age 33. Atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries, was a key factor in the funny man’s death.
John Candy, 1950-1994
Actor and comedian John Candy was obese for the majority of his life and was experiencing renewed success in his film career when he died in his sleep of a heart attack on March 4, 1994. Gentle John was 43.
Mama Cass, 1941-1974
Singer of The Mamas and the Papas fame, Mama Cass was fasting four days a week in an attempt to lose weight in 1974. The stress this put on her overweight body led to a heart attack, and she died in her sleep. Contrary to urban legend, she did not die from choking on a ham sandwich.