There is much to be said about Lucille Ball, my idol, the pioneer in television who has given me many of the catch phrases and one-liners that I frequently use in my daily life. Her comedy contributed to the world and the entertainment industry far beyond the six seasons of I Love Lucy. After she became a household name in the 50s and 60s, the red headed funny lady was known as an icon and force to be reckoned with on and off camera.
Her death in 1989 at the age of 77, left the world with a great sadness at losing a modern day legend. Lucille’s death was caused by an abdominal aortic aneurysm just a week after having an upper aortic transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Hollywood. Like many in the early era of television, Lucille was a smoker. Her demise is believed to have been a result of many years of smoking.
A new episode of Autopsy: The Last Hours Of… on REELZ, shares some new information about the years leading up to Lucille’s death that could give a new perspective on the her death. The claim? She was taking Amyl Nitrate for years to treat chest pains. Amyl Nitrite is an antihypertensive medicine used to treat heart diseases—it’s also known commonly as ‘poppers’ which was prescribed, but highly used recreationally in the 80s.
A friend of Lucille’s in the 80s appears in the trailer saying:
I remember we were playing backgammon one night and all of a sudden she had a little shortness of breath and she took out poppers. Poppers were a sexual thing that certain people did back in the 80s.
Lucille had been prescribed the inhalant Amyl Nitrite to aid in her health condition as early as 1984, but forensic pathologist Michael Hunter believes her continuous use of poppers could be a clue in showing that her death was not sudden and instead an already established cardiovascular disease.
Hunter also shares in more detail with People:
The slow tearing of Lucille’s aortic lining that had presented itself to doctors eight days earlier had ended in what reports refer to as an aortic blowout. Surgery could not fix all the damage to this major blood vessel. But what led to this damage? Lucille’s death certificate states cystic medial necrosis as a contributing cause to her death. Cystic medial necrosis is the breakdown of muscle, collagen and elasten in the large blood vessels throughout the body. When they lose this elasticity and support, it makes them more liable to tear and rupture. But Lucille seemed so healthy just one month before her death. I want to investigate if there were any previously unknown causes of her heart problems.
Is there more to learn about the death of the beloved Lucille Ball and what could have occurred during her life to contribute to her death? It was a tragic end to the queen of comedy, but let this be a cautionary tale to those who still use poppers recreationally.
Tune in to Autopsy: The Last Hours Of…Lucille Ball on Sunday, March 10th on REELZ.
Here’s the trailer: