Study Revises Cause of Death for Playwright O’Neill
Nobel Prize-winning playwright Eugene O’Neill died from a rare form of brain deterioration called cerebellar cortical atrophy, not Parkinson’s disease as was previously thought, researchers who studied the author’s autopsy report in today’s New England Journal of Medicine. The results also show that alcohol abuse played no role in his death.
During the last 12 years of his life, O’Neill gradually lost the ability to control his hands. And in his final 12 months, the author had difficulty swallowing, his head and body swayed and speaking became difficult, though his mind was not affected. Eventually, O’Neill was confined to bed. He died in Boston in 1953 after a bout of pneumonia at age 65.
Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II