Special Report

15 Famous People Who Allegedly Died of Food Poisoning

Source: Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Zachary Taylor
> Known as: President of the United States
> Date of death: July 9, 1850

A popular military leader and hero of the Mexican-American War, Zachary Taylor was elected president in 1848 but only served for 16 months before dying of a stomach ailment. He fell ill after consuming lots of cherries and iced milk during a fundraising event for the Washington Monument and died of acute gastroenteritis several days later. His specific cause of death remains debated.

William Stephens
> Known as: Dean of Winchester Cathedral (England)
> Date of death: Dec. 22, 1902

William Stephens was the Dean (or head) of Winchester Cathedral, in the English city of Winchester, from 1895 to 1902. At a mayoral banquet in that year, Stephens ate oysters that had been contaminated with raw sewage, and he died six weeks later from the typhoid fever he’d contracted as a result.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Gaston Méliès
> Known as: French silent film director
> Date of death: April 9, 1915

Brother of the famed film director Georges Méliès, Gaston Méliès was a noted (if unsuccessful) director in his own right, who spent several years filming around the Asian Pacific before moving to Corsica with his wife in 1913 – where he died from shellfish poisoning two years later at age 63.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Hersal Thomas
> Known as: Blues pianist and composer
> Date of death: June 2, 1926

Hersal Thomas was an American blues pianist and composer who recorded several songs in 1925 and ’26, including a session with young Louis Armstrong. While headlining at a music venue called Penny’s Pleasure Inn in Detroit, he contracted food poisoning and died at the young age of just 19.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Corinne Barker
> Known as: Silent film star
> Date of death: Aug. 6, 1928

Corinne Barker was an actress and costume designer during the silent film era. She became well-known for her appearances in Vitagraph films and also appeared in several Broadway productions. She died of food poisoning in 1928, at age 38.

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