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5 celebrities who battled brain tumors

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Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 11:00 am

“The Avengers” is finally hitting theaters on Friday, May 4. After several individual character films, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury and The Hulk will be teaming up for this highly-anticipated Marvel project. Replacing Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Hulk will be Mark Ruffalo, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in the early 2000s. After undergoing surgery to remove the tumor — which was found to be benign — Ruffalo made a full recovery and has since continued his Hollywood career. He’s not the first celebrity to battle a brain tumor. Here is a list of five others:

Elizabeth Taylor

This beloved actress underwent surgery in 1997 to remove a benign brain tumor. The two-time Oscar winner suffered from many health issues throughout her life, but she is remembered fondly for her beauty and movie career. In March of 2011, Taylor died from complications related to congestive heart failure.

The latest news regarding Taylor? Former teen queen Lindsay Lohan has been cast to play her in a made-for-television flick. Lohan’s career is in need of a revival, but I’m not sure I can get on board with this decision. Lohan has yet to show great acting range, and I’m not sure she can pull this off. I guess the final judgment will come when the project debuts.

Bob Marley

Reggae artist Marley succumbed to a malignant melanoma that started in his toe and eventually spread to his brain and lungs. When Marley was diagnosed, a decision was made to keep the cancer a secret so that he could continue working. Unfortunately, the disease became too much to bear, as Marley passed away at the young age of 36.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy Marley’s music, especially “One Love.” And it would also be a lie if I told you Hollywood didn’t embrace his material. If you’ve seen “In Her Shoes,” “Knocked Up,” “I Am Legend” or “Changing Lanes,” chances are good you’ve been exposed to Marley tunes.

Susan Hayward

Oscar winner Hayward was diagnosed with brain cancer. She died in 1975. As far as her films go, 1958’s “I Want to Live!” garnered the most attention. Her role as Barbara Graham earned her the 1959 Academy Award trophy for best actress.

Hayward’s diagnosis is part of a scandal relating to a movie called “The Conqueror.” The 1956 flick has been the subject of conjecture, as all of the principal cast and its director had cancer. According to IMDB, John Wayne, Agnes Moorehead, John Hoyt, Pedro Armendáriz, Hayward and Dick Powell (director) were all cancer victims. It has been hypothesized that they were exposed to dangerous radioactive toxins while filming.

Tug McGraw

The New York Mets/Philadelphia Phillies pitcher died of brain cancer in 2004. McGraw has been credited with originating the “You Gotta Believe” line when he played for the Mets. In 1973, the New York team went to the World Series after spending a lot of the season in last place.

Any loyal country music fan should know what ties Tug to the industry. If you don’t know, here is the lowdown: Tug is the father of recording artist Tim McGraw. I hate to be cliché, but Tim’s hit song, “Live Like You Were Dying,” fits the subject matter too well.

Mary Shelley

Shelley, who is famous for writing “Frankenstein,” passed away in 1851 of a brain tumor. What’s the connection to Tinseltown? Well, when you take into consideration that 60 projects (movies, shorts, videos, etc.) have given writing or concept credit to Shelley, it’s hard to deny the association.

Case in point: “Young Frankenstein,” “Child of Frankenstein,” “Bride of Frankenstein” and many others.

© 2015 The Norfolk Daily News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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