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Author Archive for Michael J. Angelides


About Michael J. Angelides

Mike Angelides is a partner of Simmons Hanly Conroy. Over the last decade, Mike has helped recover millions of dollars on behalf of hundreds of clients suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers. View Full Profile


Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Steve McQueen

McQueen’s History of Asbestos Exposure

Steve McQueen was the top paid actor in 1974. He was also a father and a husband with great love for his family. Best known for his acting in movies such as The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, and Sand Pebbles, he also identified as a race car driver. Almost 34 years after his death on Nov. 7, 1980, cases of mesothelioma still run rampant.

asbestos exposure

Steve was exposed to asbestos all throughout his life—construction sites, sound stages, the lining of race car breaks, and so on. His most potent exposure to asbestos, though, occurred in his time with the U.S. Marines when he was required to remove asbestos lagging from pipes. Steve himself is quoted saying that the asbestos was so thick in the air he could barely breathe. Some say that Steve McQueen lived the American dream, transcending underprivileged origins and rising to fame and success. But, it was during his time doing blue collar work and serving his country when he was most subjected to the asbestos that would kill him.

The Mesothelioma Diagnosis & Death

When Steve was diagnosed in 1979 he was given no hope. He was assured by doctors that his ailment was incurable and essentially untreatable. In fact, his then-girlfriend Barbara Minty was not even informed by doctors that pleural mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos.

“The doctors in LA basically told us to enjoy the time we had left,” she said in an interview conducted 26 years after Steve passed. “I don’t remember exactly what they said about options. All I recall is that the doctors said surgery was out of the question and chemo didn’t really work. It was a rare cancer and all their patients had died.”

The couple refused to let the diagnosis rule their lives, though, and was married after his terminal diagnosis. In the months following, Steve went to Mexico. Motivated by his lack of options in the United States, he sought non-traditional treatment during his first visit and went into surgery for inoperable abdominal tumors during his second visit. It was in the hours after this surgery that he passed away from cardiac arrest.

The true tragedy of Steve’s story and every other story of mesothelioma deaths is that their deaths were preventable. The dangers of asbestos exposure were known as early as the 1930s, yet companies continued using asbestos-containing products without any warnings at the cost of thousands of lives.

Sadly, even today, approximately 3,000 people in the United States are annually diagnosed with mesothelioma. Many of whom were never warned about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Barbara Minty McQueen, in memory of Steve, works with the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, a non-profit organization focused on preventing asbestos-caused diseases through national and international education, advocacy and community initiatives. In July 2014, Barbara traveled to Washington, D.C., and spoke to the U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of banning the use of asbestos in America.

Families who have been impacted by mesothelioma deaths can also hold the companies responsible for their loved one’s asbestos exposure accountable through the civil litigation system by filing a mesothelioma lawsuit. Simmons Hanly Conroy has over 40 mesothelioma lawyers who have helped thousands of people and their families from around the country secure justice against the companies who harmed them.

If you or a loved one suffers from mesothelioma, click here to learn more about how we can help mesothelioma patients and their families.

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Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Paul Gleason

Paul Gleason’s iconic lines “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns” solidified him as the cantankerous antagonist in The Breakfast Club. While his role as the principal guarding rebellious 80s teens is his most famous, his death from pleural mesothelioma is less well known. Aside from being a casualty of asbestos exposure, Gleason was an actor with a full career on top of his dedicated family life and enthusiasm for sports.

Acting was not always his dream, though. Raised in New Jersey, the free-spirited Gleason ran away at the age of 16 and hitchhiked across the east coast playing baseball as he traveled. He settled down in Florida and attended Florida State University as a college football player.

After his time as a football player, Gleason joined the minor leagues in baseball and played two seasons professionally with the Cleveland Indians. Though he did not stay in professional sports, Gleason often participated in celebrity golf outings where he was known to meet with fans, conversing and signing autographs.

Gleason’s Acting Career and Mesothelioma Battle

Despite his reputation of friendliness to fans, many of his roles were that of the hard headed antagonist. He appeared in over 60 films. Some of the famous films and television shows you can find Gleason in include Trading Places, The Breakfast Club, Friends, Seinfeld and Die Hard.

paul gleason

In fact, it was during a standstill in his baseball career Gleason began to consider the idea of an acting career. This idea became reality when he was inspired to pursue his dream by his friend, and famous writer, Jack Kerouac. He developed his skills with Lee Strasberg, the acclaimed father of method acting. Gleason published a book of poetry shortly before his death, establishing yet another area of talent for the athlete and actor.

Sadly, Gleason met his untimely end at the age of 67 in May 2006.

Shannon Gleason-Grossman, his daughter, said of his death to mesothelioma;  “He was an athlete, an actor and a poet. He gave me and my sister a love that is beyond description that will be with us and keep us strong for the rest of our lives.”

He died abruptly in Burbank, California just three weeks after his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. It is believed that Gleason was exposed to asbestos as a teenager working on building sites with his father.

Read more famous deaths from asbestos exposure and mesothelioma to learn about other actors, singers, and athletes who have suffered from mesothelioma.

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Famous Mesothelioma Deaths: Warren Zevon

Born in January 1947, rock singer Warren Zevon was best known for his sardonic wit and dark humored songs. This famously outlandish star died from mesothelioma, a lung cancer from asbestos exposure. Some of his best known songs include “Werewolves of London”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band.”

mesothelioma deathsSon of a Russian-Jewish gangster and a frail Mormon mother, Zevon’s love of music began with studying classical piano as a child. Although classical music served as a starting point, by the time Zevon was performing in Los Angeles, his music had taken on its characteristically eccentric twist.

His first album, released in 1969, went unnoticed. But, he is now heralded by legends such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen. His 1978 album “Excitable Boy” was his first big success and continues to be the best-selling album of his career.

Warren Zevon’s Battle with Mesothelioma

With the influences of Celtic, rock, and country music, Zevon’s career began and ended on David Letterman’s night time talk TV shows. He frequented the shows throughout his life and made one of his last public appearances on the Letterman Show, where he spoke candidly of his then-recent mesothelioma diagnosis.

“I keep asking myself how I suddenly was thrust into the position of travel agent for death,” he said, reflecting on his music, which so often dealt with death. “But then, of course, the whole point of why it’s so strange is that I had already assigned myself that role so many years of writing ago.”

He admitted on the Letterman Show that he had not been to a doctor in 20 years and only choose to go after chest pains that turned out to be symptoms of mesothelioma. At this point, the cancer was too advanced for anything but palliative treatment. Unfortunately, his trial with mesothelioma was often referred to as lung cancer and assumed to be a result of his life-long smoking habit.

Although this misinformation muddled reports of his mesothelioma death at the time, it is now clear that asbestos exposure was the true culprit. There is no consensus on how he was exposed to asbestos, but his song “The Factory” laments a worker’s life in a factory filled with asbestos.

He chose to focus his energy on producing one last album, entitled “The Wind”, which was released two weeks before his death. Despite the tragedy, he expressed that dealing with mesothelioma lent him new creativity. Indeed, his album “The Wind” won him a Grammy award and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Collectively, Zevon received five posthumous Grammy nominations. Having passed away in September 2003 at age 56, he is survived by his two children and two grandchildren. His son Jordan Zevon is both a musician and an advocate for asbestos awareness. Jordan recently performed at the Alton Miles for Meso 5K race, which raised over $27,000 for the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, of which Jordan is the national spokesperson.

Learn more about famous mesothelioma deaths from our asbestos attorneys.

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Asbestos Victims Take Action: How to Tell Congress to Oppose H.R. 982

House Resolution 982, or the so-called ‘FACT Act,’ if passed, would require asbestos trusts to release confidential information about asbestos victims including their work history, family information and the last four digits of their social security numbers.

This bill denies and delays justice for thousands of asbestos victims. Stand with them and tell your Representative to oppose H.R. 982 when it comes up for a vote this Wednesday.

You can visit them in person or give their office a call and express your concerns about H.R. 982. Here’s how to do so, based on Take Justice Back’s “How to Contact Congress Guide.”

1.  Find your members of Congress here.

2.  Give them a call to ask them to vote NO on H.R. 982.

  • Remember that they will want to know your name and address so they can write you a letter back, acknowledging your concern and their position on the issue.
  • Please know that if you do not leave your name and address with staff, they will not pass your concerns onto your Representative. So it’s really important to let them know who you are!

3.  On the call, tell them about your concerns. Make sure to include:

  • The bill helps big corporations who have gotten rich from asbestos continue to profit from the suffering of their employees and consumers.
  • This bill allows Big Asbestos corporations to delay and deny justice until asbestos victims die. That’s not right!
  • Congress should be protecting our safety and wellbeing, not helping corporations profit from putting us in danger.
  • Veterans have been disproportionately impacted by asbestos and will be disproportionately harmed by this bill.  While veterans represent 8% of the nation’s population, they comprise an astonishing 30 percent of all known mesothelioma deaths that have occurred in this country.  Mesothelioma is horrific asbestos disease for which there is no cure.

4.  If you would prefer to e-mail your member of Congress, send an e-mail on Take Justice Back’s website here!

Thank you for your support!

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