Mesothelioma, though rare, has had a number of notable patients. Hamilton Jordan, Chief of Staff for President Jimmy Carter and life long cancer activist, died in 2008. Australian anti-racism activist Bob Bellear died in 2005. British science fiction writer Michael G. Coney, responsible for nearly 100 works also died in 2005. American film and television actor Paul Gleason, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Principal Richard Vernon in the 1985 film The Breakfast Club, died in 2006. Mickie Most, an English record producer, died of mesothelioma in 2003. Paul Rudolph, an American architect known for his cubist building designs, died in 1997.
Bernie Banton was an Australian workers' rights activist, who fought a long battle for compensation from James Hardie after he contracted mesothelioma after working for that company. He claimed James Hardie knew of the dangers of asbestos before he began work with the substance making insulation for power stations. Mesothelioma eventually took his life along with his brothers and hundreds of James Hardie workers. James Hardie made an undisclosed settlement with Banton only when his mesothelioma had reached its final stages and he was expected to have no more than 48hrs to live. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd mentioned Banton's extended struggle in his acceptance speech after winning the 2007 Australian Federal Election.
Steve McQueen was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma on December 22, 1979. He was not offered surgery or chemotherapy because doctors felt the cancer was too advanced. McQueen sought alternative treatments from clinics in Mexico. He died of a heart attack on November 7, 1980, in Juárez, Mexico, following cancer surgery. He may have been exposed to asbestos while serving with the U.S. Marines as a young adult—asbestos was then commonly used to insulate ships' piping—or from its use as an insulating material in car racing suits. (It is also reported that he worked in a shipyard during World War II, where he might have been exposed to asbestos.)
United States Congressman Bruce Vento died of mesothelioma in 2000. The Bruce Vento Hopebuilder is awarded yearly by his wife at the MARF Symposium to persons or organizations who have done the most to support mesothelioma research and advocacy.
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After a long period of untreated illness and pain, rock and roll musician and songwriter Warren Zevon was diagnosed with inoperable mesothelioma in the fall of 2002. Refusing treatments he believed might incapacitate him, Zevon focused his energies on recording his final album The Wind including the song "Keep Me in Your Heart," which speaks of his failing breath. Zevon died at his home in Los Angeles, California, on September 7, 2003.
Christie Hennessy, the influential Irish singer-songwriter, died of mesothelioma in 2007, and had stridently refused to accept the prognosis in the weeks before his death. His mesothelioma has been attributed to his younger years spent working on building sites in London.
Bob Miner, one of the founders of Software Development Labs, the forerunner of Oracle Corporation died of mesothelioma in 1994.
Scottish Labour MP John William MacDougall died of mesothelioma on August 13, 2008, after fighting the disease for two years.
Canberra journalist and news presenter, Peter Leonard also succumbed to the condition on 23 September 2008.
Terrence McCann Olympic gold medalist and longtime Executive Director of Toastmasters, died of mesothelioma on June 7, 2006 at his home in Dana Point, California.