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  #1  
Old 10-25-2005, 05:26 PM
TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW TLDRIDKJKLOLFTW is offline
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did Jim Henson die of AIDS?

I remember that Jim Henson suddenly "dropped dead" of pneumonia with little-to-no previous symptoms of health problems. It always struck me as bizarre at the time, but it seems even weirder in retrospect - how can a completely normal man suddenly drop dead of a relatively common, not-usually-fatal disease?

Did Jim Henson have AIDS? Was he a closeted homosexual that contracted the disease in the eigthies? Is there any speculation of this, or was it just a freak occurence of someone dying of what would normally be a minor illness?
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  #2  
Old 10-25-2005, 05:35 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VCO3
I remember that Jim Henson suddenly "dropped dead" of pneumonia with little-to-no previous symptoms of health problems. It always struck me as bizarre at the time, but it seems even weirder in retrospect - how can a completely normal man suddenly drop dead of a relatively common, not-usually-fatal disease?

Did Jim Henson have AIDS? Was he a closeted homosexual that contracted the disease in the eigthies? Is there any speculation of this, or was it just a freak occurence of someone dying of what would normally be a minor illness?
These rumors spread when he died, but I never saw any credible evidense. Basically, he was a workaholic who pushed himself past endurance when he had a case of walking pneumonia.
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Old 10-25-2005, 05:37 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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Not that it proves anything, but Henson was married for over thirty years and had five children.

Per this chart pneumonia was the 7th leading cause of death in the United States for the period of 1990-94, accounting for about 36 deaths per 100,000 people. So while deaths by pneumonia are unusual, they aren't unheard of my any means.
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  #4  
Old 10-25-2005, 05:43 PM
Cliffy Cliffy is offline
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Expanding on Khadaji's post, at the time, Henson's friends said that when he started to get sick they urged him to go to a doctor, but he didn't think he had the time.

--Cliffy
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  #5  
Old 10-25-2005, 05:43 PM
JillGat JillGat is offline
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Jim Henson died from Group A streptococcus bacteria, which occasionally is extremely virulent and can overcome the organs of the body and kill even a healthy man in his 50s. It's not common but it does happen.
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  #6  
Old 10-25-2005, 07:35 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Richard Hunt, a Muppeteer who performed Scooter, Statler, Beaker, and others, did die of AIDS.
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  #7  
Old 10-25-2005, 08:49 PM
Indyellen Indyellen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JillGat
Jim Henson died from Group A streptococcus bacteria, which occasionally is extremely virulent and can overcome the organs of the body and kill even a healthy man in his 50s. It's not common but it does happen.
It can even overcome & kill a healthy, athletic man in his late 20's/early 30's. (A friend of mine 8 years ago.) This bug is *dangerous* stuff.
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  #8  
Old 10-25-2005, 08:53 PM
Backwater Under_Duck Backwater Under_Duck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JillGat
Jim Henson died from Group A streptococcus bacteria, which occasionally is extremely virulent and can overcome the organs of the body and kill even a healthy man in his 50s. It's not common but it does happen.
I had two friends who almost died this way. Started out the same, with a bad cold/flu-like episode. Both refused to see a doctor, thinking it was nothing special. Both were brought to the hospital by other friends "just in the nick of time". It's a very nasty disease.
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  #9  
Old 10-25-2005, 09:08 PM
John F John F is offline
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Streptococcus is a nasty bitch.

I had one invade my defense system 2 years ago and my body turned on itself. I ended up with Rheumatic fever.

I thought Rheumatic fever was some extinct plague from ages gone by....nope.


Streptococcus...
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  #10  
Old 10-25-2005, 09:33 PM
lorinada lorinada is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khadaji
These rumors spread when he died, but I never saw any credible evidense. Basically, he was a workaholic who pushed himself past endurance when he had a case of walking pneumonia.
He did not have walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is rarely fatal. See JillGat's post.
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  #11  
Old 10-26-2005, 06:35 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lorinada
He did not have walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia is caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. It is rarely fatal. See JillGat's post.
M. pneumoniae is rarely fatal, but it damn near killed my father earlier this year - he was in intensive care for 8 days with it. Dad is otherwise quite healthy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VCO3
Did Jim Henson have AIDS? Was he a closeted homosexual that contracted the disease in the eigthies? Is there any speculation of this, or was it just a freak occurence of someone dying of what would normally be a minor illness?
Um... where did you ever get the notion that pneumonia is a MINOR illness? Because it isn't, and never has been.

Pneumonia is a serious disease that, without the benefit of modern medicine, was frequently lethal in the bad old days, and still is where medical care is scanty. If you get sick and refuse to see a doctor you are denying yourself the benefits of modern medicine that makes pneumonia a disease people routinely survive instead of die from. There is nothing "freak" about neglecting yourself.

There is ZERO evidence/indication that Henson was homosexual. People contracted and died of pneumonia before HIV ever left Africa. Not everyone who gets or dies from pneumonia is gay.
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  #12  
Old 10-26-2005, 07:01 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink
Richard Hunt, a Muppeteer who performed Scooter, Statler, Beaker, and others, did die of AIDS.
I had never hard any rumour that Jim Henson was gay or died of AIDS, so I am absolutely convinced that any such rumour was based instead around Richard Hunt, who died soon after Henson, and as Thudlow mentions, of AIDS. Though I have no idea if Richard was gay.
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  #13  
Old 10-26-2005, 08:30 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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Streptococcus nearly destroyed my kidneys when I was nine.
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  #14  
Old 10-26-2005, 10:34 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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The only time I ever heard of this story was immediately after he died. Ted Koppel, in his “Nightline” program said something like, “. . . and people want to know. . . if it was AIDS.”

However. . . Remember that this was not that long after Rock Hudson died and Liberace died. In both their cases, there was a cover-up. Rock was suffering from “liver cancer,” and Liberace died from “pneumonia,” which, although possibly true, was a complication from his AIDS. I think there was a general suspicion at the time that if any celebrity died suddenly, the first thought was AIDS (unless it was a rock star, then you’s assume OD).
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  #15  
Old 10-26-2005, 01:15 PM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is pathognomic of AIDS, and henson didn't die of that.

People get confused because while viral pneumonias are usually mild illnesses, bacterial pneumonias (and especially hospital-aquired bacteria or virulent strains) can be life-threatening.

Once you've seen one healthy 20 year old in ICU because he thought that his pneumonia was "bronchitis" or "flu" you don't underestimate it.
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  #16  
Old 10-26-2005, 02:00 PM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
Liberace died from “pneumonia,” which, although possibly true, was a complication from his AIDS.
AIDS isn't an illness in and of itself, the S is for "syndrome," in this case an inability to fend off one or more of a series of component diseases. In the case of AIDS at least one variety of pneumonia is one.

Essentially anyone in the US who tests positive for HIV (and even especially in the early years some people who had a "presumptive diagnosis" thereof) and dies of a CDC-recognized component disease gets added statistically as an 'AIDS death,' although the more proximal cause of death will always be something more specific.
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  #17  
Old 10-26-2005, 02:21 PM
cowgirl cowgirl is offline
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So ... how's an amateur to know the difference between "stay home, drink juice and get plenty of rest" flu-like symptoms, and Group A streptococcus bacteria "get thee to a hospital" flu-like symptoms?



RIP Jim. We miss you.
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  #18  
Old 10-26-2005, 03:26 PM
BobT BobT is offline
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IANAD, but if you stay home, get rest, drink lots of fluid, take aspirin (or some other fever-reducing drug) and you find yourself getting worse, then I would go to the doctor.

Spoken as someone who called in sick to work yesterday with a fever and body aches. They're mostly gone (especially the fever) and I'm back to work.
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  #19  
Old 10-26-2005, 05:26 PM
Brynda Brynda is offline
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Minor hijack--if you haven't seen the new Jim Henson and the muppets stamps, get thee to a post office. They are really great. When you put them on a white envelope, the muppets seem to be breaking through the envelope.
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  #20  
Old 10-26-2005, 07:29 PM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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This is a bit of a hijack, but when Yasser Arafat died, there were rumors going around that he died of AIDS. Supposedly, his symptoms (what little we saw of them, at least) were consistent with late-stage AIDS. Specifically, he was losing weight rapidly, and by the time he died he was quite gaunt and sickly-looking. Plus, they were being very secretive about his illness, to the point of flying him to Paris for treatment. These same rumors claimed that Arafat was known to be gay, and probably caught AIDS from one of his bodyguards.
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  #21  
Old 10-26-2005, 08:37 PM
Kalhoun Kalhoun is offline
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I've had strep a number of times (as a kid) and you are sick as a dog from it. I think I would recognize it again and get my ass to the doctor. Yup! It's a beast. Nope! You don't want to fuck with it.
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  #22  
Old 10-26-2005, 10:38 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuanoLad
Though I have no idea if Richard was gay.
He was. See his obituary in the national gay news magazine, the Advocate, for example.

And regarding Yassar Arafat, I believe recent reports from the hospital pathology lab confirm that his death was a result of AIDS. Of course, some in the PLO are very upset about this, and trying to deny it.
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  #23  
Old 10-26-2005, 10:46 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brynda
Minor hijack--if you haven't seen the new Jim Henson and the muppets stamps, get thee to a post office. They are really great. When you put them on a white envelope, the muppets seem to be breaking through the envelope.
I tried to buy some on Monday, alas, but they were gone.

I'd be interested to hear more about Arafat, as last I'd heard, it was deemed unlikely that AIDS killed him.
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  #24  
Old 10-26-2005, 11:45 PM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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You may buy your Muppet stamps (and many others as well) directly from the U.S. Postal Service's Stamp Fulfillment Services at (800) 782-6724. It's a great resource for stamps and stamp-related stuff.
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  #25  
Old 10-26-2005, 11:58 PM
pesch pesch is offline
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Synchronisity alert: I was in the post office today and saw the stamps on the wall and thought "How neat, I didn't know that had been issued."

As for Yassir, this entry from Little Green Footballs contains two links, one to an Israeli newspaper

Quote:
The release of Yasser Arafat’s pathology report has reignited a heated debate about the former PA Chairman’s cause of death. Although no sources point to a definitive conclusion, most signs — including an admission by Arafat’s doctor Ashraf al-Kurdi, that the French doctors that cared for Arafat found the virus in his blood — point to AIDS. Still, some experts maintain that he was poisoned.

Al-Kurdi’s implausible allegation that the virus was given to Arafat by Israel to disguise poisoning was rejected outright by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s office, which according to a report in Haaretz, called the accusation “nonsense”.

After Arafat died on November 11, 2004 at the military hospital in Paris, top secret copies of his pathology report were handed over to Arafat’s widow, Suha, and senior Palestinian Authority officials.

On the date of his death, IsraelInsider reported that the hospital concealed the cause of his death, with the hospital citing French privacy laws; a concealment which strengthened the suspicion that Arafat had died of AIDS.

After the French rejected requests for Arafat’s medical records, as reported by IsraelInsider, suspicions grew even stronger. So strong that Israel conducted an inquiry into the possibility of AIDS. Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the accumulation of evidence — gathered by both intelligence and medical sources — suggested to Israel’s “intelligence branch” that such a possibility was “much more than speculation.”

Later, when IsraelInsider brought to light that the French had accepted a falsified death certificate indicating Arafat’s place of birth as Jerusalem, rather than his actual birthplace of Cairo, suspicions of a cover-up grew even stronger.

Then, when IsraelInsider reported that Arafat’s family had admitted that to publicize the medical truth would harm the Palestinians, the possibility of AIDS grew even likelier still.

According to a report in Haaretz, Arafat’s pathology report findings are finally about to be published for the first time. The conclusions will appear in the revised edition of “The Seventh War,” by Israeli journalists Amos Harel and Avi Isacharoff, and released next week by Yedioth Ahronoth in Hebrew.

Although Israeli and foreign doctors who have seen the report say the details do not lead to a definitive conclusion on what caused the death — “a discussion among a large number of medical experts... shows that it is impossible to pinpoint a cause that will explain the combination of symptoms that led to the death of the patient,” reads the report in Haaretz — several indications (besides historical evidence and al-Kurdi’s admission) suggest that he may have in fact had AIDS.
The New York Times says their look at the records "dispells a rumor that he may have died of AIDS" but notes:
Quote:
But even the French doctors never discovered the specific cause of the infection that led to the bleeding disorder, the records show. “It’s a big puzzle,” said a specialist in infectious diseases.

The records make no mention of an AIDS test, an omission the experts found bizarre. An Israeli infectious disease specialist said he would have performed the test, if only to be thorough and to refute the rumors that surrounded the case.
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  #26  
Old 10-27-2005, 12:26 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pesch
As for Yassir, this entry from Little Green Footballs contains two links, one to an Israeli newspaper
I did read that Ha'aretz concluded it was AIDS. We'll see what else comes out.
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  #27  
Old 10-27-2005, 07:35 AM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23
I did read that Ha'aretz concluded it was AIDS. We'll see what else comes out.
What is Arafat's official cause of death? The article quoted above says that his death certificate is obviously fake, but does anyone know what it says?
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  #28  
Old 10-27-2005, 10:34 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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Re: Arafat.

I'm thinking about this, and really, this is all medical information that is supposed to be confidential (death doesn't end confidentiality).

Allegations of a "cover-up" are somewhat odd, and the fact that Israel is so interested in Arafat's cause of death rather points to a smear campaign.

In the grand scheme of things it matters very little what someone died from and breaches of patient confidentiality help no-one.
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  #29  
Old 10-27-2005, 11:23 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
(death doesn't end confidentiality)
Is that the case? I'd like to see some legal authorities, because I'm not at all sure that this is clear.

Under the common law, for example, a dead person has no privacy rights.
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  #30  
Old 10-27-2005, 11:30 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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You try and get your family doctor to tell you confidential information about dead patients and see how far you get.

It's a serious breach of medical ethics.
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  #31  
Old 10-27-2005, 01:07 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is pathognomic of AIDS, and henson didn't die of that.
Clarification: Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is pathgnomonic of a suppressed immune system.

While most cases are related to HIV infection, others can get it too. A summary from emedicine.com:

Causes: PCP occurs only in immunocompromised individuals, particularly patients with cell-mediated immune deficiencies. Patients at risk include the following:

Persons infected with HIV
CD4 count less than 200 and not on PCP prophylaxis
Evidence of oropharyngeal thrush or fever, regardless of CD4 count
Patients with HIV who have undergone splenectomy - May have spuriously high CD4 count
Patients with hematologic malignancies
Patients on long-term steroids or immunosuppressant therapy, including patients with systemic vasculitis or other autoimmune diseases
Organ-transplant recipients
Patients with other immune deficiencies
Thymic dysplasia
Severe combined immunodeficiency
Hypogammaglobulinemia
Patients with severe malnutrition
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  #32  
Old 10-27-2005, 08:20 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diceman
What is Arafat's official cause of death? The article quoted above says that his death certificate is obviously fake, but does anyone know what it says?
No cause of death is listed.

French law allows this to be omitted from the death certificate, and Arafat's wife requested that it be left off his death certificate.
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  #33  
Old 10-27-2005, 08:41 PM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackmannii
Clarification: Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is pathgnomonic of a suppressed immune system.

While most cases are related to HIV infection, others can get it too. A summary from emedicine.com:

Causes: PCP occurs only in immunocompromised individuals, particularly patients with cell-mediated immune deficiencies. Patients at risk include the following:

Persons infected with HIV
CD4 count less than 200 and not on PCP prophylaxis
Evidence of oropharyngeal thrush or fever, regardless of CD4 count
Patients with HIV who have undergone splenectomy - May have spuriously high CD4 count
Patients with hematologic malignancies
Patients on long-term steroids or immunosuppressant therapy, including patients with systemic vasculitis or other autoimmune diseases
Organ-transplant recipients
Patients with other immune deficiencies
Thymic dysplasia
Severe combined immunodeficiency
Hypogammaglobulinemia
Patients with severe malnutrition
You missed those on marrow suppressive chemotherapy.
As an aside, Pneumocystis is carried by birds, I'm not completely sure if it occurs commonly else where, but in the U.S. mid-west, nearly everyone has antibodies to it. It was how we tested to see if someone could mount an antibody response. (Research project) It was injected intradermally, like a TB test, then read in 3 days. In a year of testing only one healthy volunteer came up negative. He was English and had only been in the area one week.
This was before HIV was recognized. I doubt if it's used routinely today.
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  #34  
Old 10-27-2005, 08:45 PM
Enola Straight Enola Straight is offline
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IIRC the A&E Biography, Jim Henson was a Christian Scientist; modern medicine is against his religeon.

When he finally, reluctantly, went to the hospital, it was too late.
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  #35  
Old 10-27-2005, 08:53 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
I'm thinking about this, and really, this is all medical information that is supposed to be confidential (death doesn't end confidentiality).
. . .
In the grand scheme of things it matters very little what someone died from and breaches of patient confidentiality help no-one.
No, this isn't true, under the laws of most countries. Only a few countries allow a death certificate without listing the actual cause of death. And in many, putting false information can subject the doctor to legal charges.

In fact, this information can help many people.

After all, the purpose of medical confidentiality is to ensure that people get treated for diseases, even 'loathsome' diseases that might cause others to shun them if they knew about it. Obviously, this is not very relevant any more after the patient dies. At that point, society's interest in keeping track of diseases & deaths for public health purposes is more important. Thus the existence of government agencies as the CDC & WHO, and their regular publication of reports about this. (See the US CDC's weekly Morbidity & Mortality Report http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/mmwr_wk.html, for example.)

In the law, patient confidentiality for live patients is often trumped by the needs of maintaining the health of the general public in society. Think of the requirements for immunizations for schoolchildren, or the mandatory isolation & quarantine imposed on communicable disease outbreaks, such as SARS a few years ago. When the patient is dead, this is even more weighted in favor of the living members of society.
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  #36  
Old 10-27-2005, 09:29 PM
Diceman Diceman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net
No cause of death is listed.

French law allows this to be omitted from the death certificate, and Arafat's wife requested that it be left off his death certificate.
Interesting. That's a pretty big hint that Arafat's condition was something that might be considered embarrassing or shameful. You don't hide the cause of death if it's cancer, or a stroke, or something common like that.
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  #37  
Old 10-27-2005, 09:54 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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I've seen many people die of pneumonia. If you are elderly and already weakened by heart, lung and kidney problems, infection can be fatal despite the best antibiotics. If you are healthy and young, some strains can still be dangerous, even deadly.
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  #38  
Old 10-28-2005, 04:59 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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t-bonham@scc.net-there is a difference between collecting epidemiological data, with NO PATIENT IDENTIFIERS and breaching confidentiality by saying "Mr. So and So died of AIDS". Do you see the difference?



And I'm sorry, I meant to say PCP is an AIDS defining condition in an HIV positive person, rather than PCP is pathognomonic of AIDS. Apologies.
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