List of deaths from laughter
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This is a list of notable people who have died from laughter, in chronological order.
- Zeuxis, a 5th-century BC Greek painter, is said to have died laughing at the humorous way he painted the goddess Aphrodite – after the old woman who commissioned it insisted on modeling for the portrait.
- One ancient account of the death of Chrysippus, the 3rd-century BC Greek Stoic philosopher, tells that he died of laughter after he saw a donkey eating his figs; he told a slave to give the donkey neat wine with which to wash them down, and then, "...having laughed too much, he died" (Diogenes Laërtius 7.185).
- In 1410, King Martin of Aragon died from a combination of indigestion and uncontrollable laughter triggered by a joke told by his favourite court jester.
- In 1556, Pietro Aretino "is said to have died of suffocation from laughing too much".
- In 1660, Thomas Urquhart, the Scottish aristocrat, polymath, and first translator of François Rabelais's writings into English, is said to have died laughing upon hearing that Charles II had taken the throne.
- In 1799, William Cushing, a pauper who lived in the parish of St Andrew's, Norwich, England, died from "a fit of excessive laughter, which lasted five minutes."
- In 1893, farmer Wesley Parsons laughed to death over a joke told in Laurel, Indiana. He laughed for nearly an hour. He then died two hours after the incident.
- On 24 March 1975, Alex Mitchell, from King's Lynn, England, died laughing while watching the "Kung Fu Kapers" episode of The Goodies, featuring a kilt-clad Scotsman with his bagpipes battling a master of the Lancastrian martial art "Eckythump", who was armed with a black pudding. After 25 minutes of continuous laughter, Mitchell finally slumped on the sofa and died from heart failure. His widow later sent The Goodies a letter thanking them for making Mitchell's final moments of life so pleasant. Diagnosis of his granddaughter in 2012 of having the inheritable long QT syndrome (a heart rhythm abnormality) suggests that Mitchell may have died of a cardiac arrest caused by the same condition.
- In 1989, Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist, who was observing a screening of the 1988 comedy film A Fish Called Wanda, laughed uncontrollably at a scene where Michael Palin's character has food stuffed into his nose and mouth, to the point that his heart rate rose to an estimated 250–500 beats per minute, leading to a fatal heart attack.
- Bark, Julianna (2007–2008). "The Spectacular Self: Jean-Etienne Liotard's Self-Portrait Laughing".
- Laërtius, Diogenes. Lives, Teachings and Sayings of the Eminent Philosophers, with an English translation by R.D. Hicks (1964-1965). Cambridge, Massachusetts/London: Harvard UP/W. Heinemann Ltd.
- Morris, Paul N. (October 2000). "Patronage and Piety: Montserrat and the Royal House of Medieval Catalonia-Aragon" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-03-04.
- Waterfield, Gordon, ed. First Footsteps in East Africa, (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1966) p. 59 footnote.
- Brown, Huntington (1968). Rabelais in English Literature. Routledge. p. 126. ISBN 0-7146-2051-3.
- The History of Scottish Poetry. Edmonston & Douglas. 1861. p. 539.
- "The Gentleman's Magazine". May 1799.
- "10 truly bizarre Victorian deaths". BBC News. 25 December 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
- "The Last Laugh's on Him". Urban Legends Reference Pages. 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2007-06-23.
- Ross, Robert (2000). The Complete Goodies. London: B T Batsford.
- "Man Dies Laughing at The Goodies". Daily Mail. London. 29 March 1975.
- "A Goodies Way to Go — Laughing". Eastern Daily Press. Norwich. 29 March 1975.
- Staveacre, Tony (1987). Slapstick! The Illustrated Story of Knockabout Comedy. Angus & Robinson.
- Singh, Anita (21 Jun 2012). "Man who died laughing at Goodies had Long QT syndrome". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2015.