Dangerous Diabetes: Affliction of the Stars

The Grammy Award winner received the Congressional Legends Medal in 2005.



David Wells

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Wells' life changed in early March 2007 when he found out that he had type 2 diabetes. The 43-year-old left-hander, who has battled his weight in the past, probably had high blood sugar for a long time. He was scratched from a start in 2006 due to gout in his right foot, but with the diagnosis he pledged to make healthier lifestyle choices.

As Wells told the San Diego Union-Tribune after his diagnosis: "Obviously, this is a concern, but it's beatable. And I'm going to beat it. It's going to take some lifestyle changes, and I'm already making them."



Marcello Mastroianni

Oscar-nominated Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni appeared in 142 films during his long career. His credits include Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" and "8 ½." Mastroianni, known for his leading man roles and his Latin-lover persona, had a long romantic affair with the French actress Catherine Deneuve, with whom he had a daughter, Chiara, born in 1972. They separated a few years later but remained friends.

His father, who was also diabetic, went blind due to the illness and never was able to see his son's films. Mastroianni died in Paris in December 1996 at age 72.



Mae West

Mae West, the famous actress, writer and sex symbol, suffered from diabetes in the final 15 years of her life. The 5-foot-1-inch-tall blonde battled against the censorship of her time and against the illness. She was nearly 90 when she died in 1980, and is remembered for her 40 films and outspoken attitude.



Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR, served from 1985 until its collapse in 1991. For his efforts to reform the Communist state, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. He is currently the leader of the Union of Social-Democrats, a political party founded after the dissolution of the Social Democratic Party of Russia in 2007. He also manages his type 2 diabetes with medication.



Spencer Tracy

Best known for his roles in popular films from the 1930s to the 1960s, Tracy was also a diabetic. He was secretly diagnosed with diabetes in the late 1940s and it is likely complications of this disease that led to his death only nine weeks after "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" finished filming in 1967. At the time, Tracy believed public knowledge of his illness could have an adverse impact on his acting career.

Tracy, often maligned for his less-than-perfect looks, won back-to-back Oscars for his work on "Captains Courageous" (1937) and "Boys Town" (1938). He also painted in oils and worked for a number of causes, including animal welfare and children's charities.

Ray Kroc

The "Hamburger King" of McDonald's was diagnosed with diabetes at age 52. Although Kroc did not start the fast-food chain, he was largely responsible for growing the company into the corporation it is today. Kroc was included in the Time 100 list of the world's most influential builders and titans of industry, and amassed a $500 million fortune during his lifetime. He died Jan. 14, 1984, just days before McDonald's sold its 50-billionth hamburger.



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