Due to its durability and fire-resistant properties, asbestos was commonly used in building materials, such as insulation and roofing shingles. However, this naturally occurring mineral can be dangerous to health if it is inhaled. Asbestos fibers are tiny and can become airborne when the materials that contain them are disturbed or damaged. When inhaled, these fibers can become lodged in the lining of the lungs and cause serious health problems, including asbestosis (a scarring of the lung tissue), lung cancer, and mesothelioma (rare cancer that affects the lining of the chest or abdominal cavity).
While asbestos is now banned in many countries, it can still be found in older buildings, including theaters and other performance spaces. This can pose a significant risk to actors and other performers who may be exposed to asbestos while on stage. A number of famous actors also suffered from this exposure which led to their illness and eventually death in some of them. Here is a list of some famous actors that suffered from asbestos exposure while on stage.
Ed Lauter was 74 when mesothelioma claimed him in October. He was a character actor in more than 200 movies and TV shows since the early 1970s. Lauter was diagnosed with mesothelioma but only lived five months after the diagnosis before he passed away. The movie star was born in Long Beach, N.Y., and received his first showbiz break in 1968 by landing a part in a Broadway play. In 1971, Lauter was cast for an episode of the detective series “Mannix” — the first in a long, long line of small-screen crime shows to feature him. Among them: “Charlie’s Angels,” “Hawaii Five-0,” “Magnum, P.I.,” The A-Team,” “Miami Vice,” “NYPD Blue,” and “CSI.”
After his death, his widow, Mia Lauter, claims he developed mesothelioma because of all that acting he did. Pointing out the fact that the production studios where he worked brimmed with asbestos. And, because he worked in so many pictures and series, his asbestos exposure was very high. This explains why he was diagnosed with asbestos-related disease. This prompted Mia Lauter to initiate a lawsuit against the CBS television network and GE (which earlier owned the NBC television network).
Another high-profile actor who was affected by asbestos exposure was Michael Douglas. He revealed in 2010 that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer after being exposed to asbestos on stage. Douglas attributed his cancer to the use of asbestos-containing stage dust, which he inhaled while performing in plays and movies.
In a 2015 interview, McKellen revealed that he had been exposed to asbestos while working on stage in the 1960s and 1970s. He stated that many theaters at the time were built using asbestos-containing materials, and that actors and crew members were often exposed to the toxic fibers as a result.
The dangers of asbestos exposure are not limited to actors and performers. Stagehands, crew members, and other theater workers may also be at risk of exposure to asbestos while working in older theaters. It is important for theater owners and workers to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to protect themselves and others from exposure to asbestos by conducting proper asbestos inspection.