Fame equals death!!! (Or, I’m happy I’m an obscure loser.)

CBS has a report noting that famous people in performance fields (sports, music etc) die younger than famous people in more boring fields (business, military.) I would have guessed performance stress would be the major killer, perhaps indicated by heart attacks, but cancer seems to the be the major culprit, indicating that people in these demographics make poor health decisions (smoking, booze, etc.) Some intellectuals have theories about the psychological mechanisms at work.

Study author Richard Epstein, director of the Clinical Informatics & Research Centre at The Kinghorn Cancer Centre in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, said in a press release that while the study can’t prove that choosing the performing arts or an athletic career means choosing an earlier death, it does bring up some interesting points.

“First, if it is true that successful performers and sports players tend to enjoy shorter lives, does this imply that fame at younger ages predisposes to poor health behaviors in later life after success has faded? Or that psychological and family pressures favoring unusually high public achievement lead to self-destructive tendencies throughout life? Or that risk-taking personality traits maximize one’s chances of success, with the use of cigarettes, alcohol or illicit drugs improving one’s performance output in the short term? Any of these hypotheses could be viewed as a health warning to young people aspiring to become stars,” he commented.

Honey Langcaster-James, a psychologist who specializes in celebrity behavior, warned the BBC that there are very few celebrities so the pool isn’t big enough to really study the effects of fame on people’s lifespan. Still, she had some theories on why performance-related fame may lead to an earlier demise, including “the pressure to live up to a public image, which can lead to risky behaviors” or “particular personal characteristics predispose people to wanting a career in the public arena.”

However, there’s not a wide spread in death ages; a sports performer is, at worst, losing 5 years by choosing their vocation. And famous people still seem to live longer than the national average.

1 Response to “Fame equals death!!! (Or, I’m happy I’m an obscure loser.)”


  1. john

    I dunno, it’s interesting when they die. So, fuck em.