Famous People Who Died of AIDS

21 Jul 2011, 17:06
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rock hudson pic

Rock Hudson was an American actor who starred in many films and several TV programmes. He was well renowned for his role in romantic comedies and as a romantic leading man (often acting opposite Doris Day), playing of his masculine looks.


He was voted ‘Star of the Year’, ‘Favourite Leading Man’ and many other roles and completed around 70 films over four decades making him something of a Carry Grant-type figure. It was ironic in a way then that for all this time he was hiding his homosexuality and would succumb to, and eventually die of, AIDS at the age of 60.


kimberly bergalis


Kimberly Bergalis is an unusual addition to this list as someone whose fame actually came from their experience with AIDS as someone who would become a pivotal symbol in the debate regarding AIDS testing for health professionals. With no celebrity status before her debacle, it was a tragic way to acquire fame.


As the eldest of three daughters, Bergalis was born in 1978 and attended the University of Florida to major in business. Here she had two serious boyfriends but never lost her virginity and had never used any kind of drugs.


In 1987 she had two molars removed by her dentist Dr David J Acer. Tragically, Dr Acer had been diagnosed with AIDS that year and shortly before Bergalis began to show symptoms herself.


CDC tests suggested that it was Acer who infected Bergalis and several of his other patients. HIV can spread from patient to doctor, doctor to patient or even patient to patient via reusing unsterilized instruments (scalpels, hypodermic needles etc). Today almost all such instruments are disposable.


freddy mercury with cigarette


Lead singer, composer, instrumentalist and front man in the band ‘Queen’, Freddie Mercury was a flamboyant and outwardly gay rock star who had many hits and achieved a high level of fame.


Among his most successful hits were Bohemian Rhapsody, Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, Don’t Stop Me Now, We Are the Champions, Crazy Little Thing Called Love.


When he was diagnosed as HIV positive he decided to hide this status from the general public and didn’t announce his illness until the day before he died which was a source of controversy among those who though he could raise awareness for illness.


However his illness did find its way into the lyrics of his songs with tracks such as ‘The Show Must Go On’ and the never completed album ‘Made in Heaven’ strongly indicating his terminal condition.




Liberace was a famous pianist and entertainer of Italian and Polish descent and was the highest paid entertainer in the world around the same time that Elvis and the Beatles.


He public denied being homosexual (though it’s highly likely that he in fact was) and it remains a mystery how and when he became HIV positive.


keith haring bright


Keith Haring was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988. It remains unclear exactly how Haring got HIV, but it has been speculated that he received the virus through unprotected sexual intercourse or drug use.


A collection of people that Haring was acquainted with died from AIDS. This includes model Tina Chow, who was one of the first heterosexual women to become infected with the disease. Chow died from an AIDS related illness January 24, 1992.


Haring was a homosexual man. In 1989, he established the Keith Haring Foundation to fund AIDS research and children’s programs. Keith Haring died on February 16, 1990, of AIDS-related complications.


He was only 31 years-old. Keith’s last public work was painted on the rear wall of the convent of the Church of Sant’Antonio in Pisa, known as the mural Tuttomondo. His imagery has become a recognized visual language of the 20th century.


howard ashman


At the time of his death, Ashman was in the middle of working on Aladdin. Three of his songs were featured, Arabian Nights, Friend Like Me, and Prince Ali. Along with Menken, Ashman is the co-recipient of two Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and two Academy Awards.


His second Academy Award, in 1992, was awarded posthumously for Best Original Song (Beauty and the Beast). In the middle of the 1980s, Howard Ashman was diagnosed with HIV. After a long fight with the disease, he passed away from complications on March 14, 1991.


Howard Ashman was a homosexual. His life partner was a man named William P. Lauch, who joined Menken in accepting Ashman’s posthumous Academy Award. In a moving speech, Lauch proudly declared, “Howard and I shared a home and a life together”, He went on to note that this was “the first Academy Award given to someone lost to AIDS”.


In 2001, Ashman was named a Disney Legend. The movie Beauty and the Beast is dedicated in his honor. “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful”.


isaac azimov


Sci-fi author Isaac Asimov contracted HIV from a blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery. The cause of his April 6, 1992, death was listed as heart and kidney failure but 10 years later his widow revealed that both those causes were AIDS related.


anthony perkins with cat


Anthony Perkins was born in New York City. He made his film debut in the movie The Actress (1953). In 1957, Perkins received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Friendly Persuasion. He also won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year. In the late 1950s, Anthony Perkins released three pop music albums as “Tony Perkins”.


His single Moon-Light Swim was a hit in the United States, peaking at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. Perkins also acted in theater and received a collection of Tony Award nominations.


Perkins was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989, and kept his illness a closely-guarded secret for fear that he would not be able to get an acting role. Despite his illness, Perkins worked until the very end. He died on September 12, 1992, from pneumonia related to AIDS. At the time of his death, Anthony had been married to photographer Berry Berenson for 19 years and had two children.


Perkins was reported to have been bisexual, and had a close relationship with actors Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, and dancer Rudolf Nureyev.

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