Asbestos can affect anyone and whether you are rich and famous, there’s no guarantee that you will be spared from the dreaded disease after being exposed.

Asbestos-related diseases, particularly  Mesothelioma,  does not choose its target. It can victimise young or old, rich or poor. In fact, there are famous people who suffered from the dreaded condition.

In view of driving awareness among people about the lethal effects of asbestos, here’s a  list that presents 7 of the most famous people who battled with and eventually died of mesothelioma.  

1. Steve McQueen (1930-1980)

Also known as “The King of Cool”, Steve McQueen is one of the most recognizable actors of his time. He is disputably one of Hollywood’s well-paid actors and is famous for his character in the 1960 film “The Magnificent Seven”.

Unfortunately, He died at a young age of 50 in 1998, after battling mesothelioma. Steve is a fan of motorbike and car racing, he himself a racer. It is suspected that the overalls he wore for racing are contaminated with asbestos, as the substance is known for its anti-heat properties. But it is believed that his initial exposure happened during his stint in the US Marine Corps.

2. Paul Gleason (1939-2006)

A memorable actor, Paul Gleason has been in the film industry for over 40 years until his death in 2006. He is best known for playing the role of the assistant principal in The Breakfast Club. He also appeared in box office films like Die Hard, All My Children and Trading Places. Paul is also an athlete by heart, starting as a football player at Florida State University, and later on appeared in many celebrity golf tournaments.

In 2006, he died of pleural mesothelioma. It is believed he was exposed to asbestos when he was still a teenager who worked for his father, a building contractor.

3. Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010)

A very talented and gifted musician, impresario, artist, performer and fashion designer, Malcolm McLaren is the prime mover of the punk movement in the 70s. He ran a fashion boutique ‘SEX’ with his then girlfriend, Vivienne Westwood. And he also managed the rock legend, Sex Pistols. All in all, he left an indelible mark on pop culture and music.

But he died of peritoneal mesothelioma in 2009, aged 64. His girlfriend suspected that Malcolm inhaled asbestos fibers when he smashed his design shop ‘SEX’ which is built in the 70s–the era when asbestos was still prevalent in many buildings.

4. Ed Lauter (1938-2013)

With over 200 movies under his belt, Ed Lauter is a respected veteran actor and comedian in Hollywood. His films include “Leaving Las Vegas”, “The Longest Yard”, “Trouble with the Curve”, “Sea Biscuit” and much more. Starring in TV series is also one of his turfs, he appeared in Charlie’s Angels, The X-Files and “Magnum Pi” among others.

Just five months after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, Ed died in 2013. The cause of his asbestos exposure isn’t clear among the family, however, his wife sued Forbes Motors, for suspecting her husband’s exposure to asbestos through automotive parts like clutches and brakes that commonly contain white asbestos.

5. Warren Zevon (1947–2003)

Warren Zevon is a singer-songwriter most famous for his hit songs “Werewolves of London” which has been covered by other artists, “Excitable Boy” and “Lawyers, Guns and Money.”. He is a frequent face in The Late Show with David Letterman where he filled in as the bandleader. In 2003, he released his final album, “The Wind”. It was the same year he died of mesothelioma. And in 2004, he posthumously received two Grammy Awards.

Jordan Zevon, his son who became a spokesman for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), suspect that he initially inhaled asbestos when he was a child. Jordan said that young Warren used to play in the attic of his father’s store in Arizona.

6. Harold Hopkins (1944-1911)

An Australian film and television actor, Harold Hopkins is best remembered for his appearances in classic films like Age of Consent, The Club and Gallipoli. He started his acting career after graduating in 1967 at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

His acting career ended at the age of 67. The family told the Daily Telegraph that he was exposed to asbestos when he worked as an apprentice carpenter in Queensland in early 1960.

7. Paul Rudolph (1918–1997)

Paul Rudolph is a world-renowned architect who served as dean of Yale School of Architecture for 6 years. His designs are famous for its massive geometric and modernist edge, and complicated floor plans. He designed the Art and Architecture Building of Yale, the Lipo Centre in Hong Kong and the Wisma Dharmala Sakti office in Jakarta.

When he was younger, he was conscripted to the U.S Navy for three years in the 40s. This was the time when he was heavily exposed to asbestos materials that were employed in military facilities. In 1997, his architecture career was ended after succumbing to peritoneal mesothelioma.

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