William J. A. Bailey

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William John Aloysius Bailey
Born (1884-05-25)May 25, 1884
Boston, Massachusetts
Died May 17, 1949(1949-05-17) (aged 64)
Education Boston Latin School
Harvard University, dropped out

William John Aloysius Bailey (May 25, 1884 – May 17, 1949) was a Harvard University dropout who falsely claimed to be a doctor of medicine, and who promoted the use of radioactive radium as a cure for coughs, flu, and other common ailments.[1] Although Bailey's Radium Laboratories in East Orange, New Jersey was continually investigated by the Federal Trade Commission, he died wealthy from his many devices and products, including an aphrodisiac called Arium, marketed as a restorative that "renewed happiness and youthful thrill into the lives of married peoples whose attractions to each other had weakened."[1]

Biography[edit]

Bailey was born on May 25, 1884 in Boston, Massachusetts and attended Boston Latin School. He was later accepted to Harvard University but did not graduate.[2]

In 1918, Bailey claimed that radium added to drinking water could be used to treat dozens of conditions, from mental illness and headaches to diabetes, anemia, constipation, and asthma.[3] Bailey became rich from the sale of Radithor, a well known patent medicine/snake oil that is possibly the best known example of radioactive quackery. Bailey created Radithor by dissolving radium salts in water to deliver 1 microcurie of radiation from each of 226Ra and 228Ra, claiming its curative properties were due to stimulation of the endocrine system. Radithor was advertised as "A Cure for the Living Dead" as well as "Perpetual Sunshine"[4]

In fact, Radithor was a lethal mixture, and was responsible for the death of Eben Byers in 1932, who died of radiation-induced cancer after drinking about 1,400 bottles of Radithor.[4][5]

Bailey also invented the Radiendocrinator around 1930. This was a cased source, intended to be worn against the skin.[6]

During World War II, Bailey was the wartime manager of the electronic division of International Business Machines.[7]

He died of bladder cancer on May 17, 1949.[2][6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kacirk, Jeffrey, Forgotten English, Harper, 1999.
  2. ^ a b "William J.A. Bailey". New York Times. May 18, 1949. Retrieved 2011-09-25. "William J.A. Bailey, inventor and writer, died here last night at the age of 64. Born in Boston, Bailey attended Boston Latin School and was graduated in ..." 
  3. ^ "Medicine: Radium Drinks". Time. Apr 11, 1932. Retrieved 2009-05-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Radium Cures". museumofquackery.com. 
  5. ^ "Death Stirs Action on Radium 'Cures'. Trade Commission Speeds Its Inquiry. Health Department Checks Drug Wholesalers. Autopsy Shows Symptoms. Maker of "Radithor" Denies It Killed Byers, as Does Victim's Physician in Pittsburgh. Walker Uses Apparatus. Friends Alarmed to Find Mayor Has Been Drinking Radium-Charged Water for Last Six Months.". New York Times. April 2, 1932. Retrieved 2011-10-01. "Federal and local agencies, as well as medical authorities in various parts of the country, were stirred to action yesterday as a result of the death of Eben M. Byers, wealthy Pittsburgh steel manufacturer and sportsman, who died here Wednesday at the Doctors' Hospital from causes attributed to radium poisoning resulting from the drinking of water containing radium in solution. ..." 
  6. ^ a b "The Radiendocrinator". Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Health Physics Historical Instrumentation Museum Collection. 
  7. ^ "William J.A. Bailey". Boston Globe. May 18, 1949. Retrieved 2011-09-25. "... for William Bailey 64 writer and wartime manager of the electronic division of International Business Machines Company who died last night will be held ..."