You may have heard the story of Jim Fixx
, who became famous promoting the health benefits of running, and then dropped dead at age 52 of a massive heart attack during his daily jog. Well, we've compiled a list of anti-Fixxes: guys who led lives that scream out early death, but instead just kept on trucking.
Max Schmeling, age 99
As we're learning through studies of ex-football players
, getting your skull rattled over and over does terrible things for longevity. But that didn't stop heavyweight champion Max Schmeling, who fought 70 pro fights during the 15-round era (not to mention countless amateur bouts and exhibitions) from living to the ripe old age of 99.
William S. Burroughs, age 83
When he wasn't writing groundbreaking "obscenities
," beat writer William Burroughs was supporting his 50-year heroin habit, surviving the AIDS epidemic as a gay man who liked to party, engaging in the kind of gun and knife play that led to him lopping off one of his fingers and killing his common-law wife during an alcohol-fueled game of William Tell.
In other words, his longevity was a giant middle finger to just about anyone who has ever made a claim on "decency."
J.R. Simplot, age 99
They're called French fries, but it's the Americans who have borne the brunt of this hopelessly unhealthy (but delicious) potato product. This probably has something to with J.R. Simplot, the Idaho farmer-turned-potato-baron who invented the frozen fry, and later became McDonald's primary supplier of the waist-expanding, artery-hardening side order. For drowning our nation in a vat of boiling beef fat
, Simplot and his presumably healthy cardiovascular system made it to 99, and he died with a net worth of over $3 billion.
Roy Sullivan, age 71
Sullivan survived seven documented lightning strikes between the ages of 30 and 65. The odds of this happening are roughly one in 22,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. (And that's before factoring in that each strike has a good chance of permanently eliminating any chance of suffering another.) Upset by a romantic rejection, the park ranger killed himself at age 71, probably convinced he was the only one who could ever do the job.
Keith Richards 1943 -- ????
Whenever a major musical figure dies before his time, it serves as a stark and baffling reminder
that an improbable chemistry project named Keith Richards still walks among the living. Now that the Rolling Stones' axeman has ridden his pact with the dark lord well into his seventh decade, the line "... and yet Keith Richards lives" can be attached to the end of the obituary of even really sick old people.
Marine Corps Col. Kenneth L. Reusser, age 89
Ruesser, the most decorated Marine aviator in history, survived 253 combat missions and is the only man to be shot down in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. His crash in Vietnam was particularly fiery, and he required skin grafts on over 35 percent of his body. The Colonel courted danger in his civilian life too -- he paid for college by racing motorcycles.
Grigori Rasputin, age 47
In an attempt to end his influence over Russia's royal court, Rasputin's enemies fed him enough cyanide to kill five men. Father Grigori was unaffected. So they shot him in the back.
However, when they checked on his body hours later, Rasputin lunged at his attackers. After taking three more bullets at close range, Rasputin was still fighting to get up. Next they beat the mystic with clubs, castrated him, bound his hands, wrapped him in a rug and dumped him in the freezing Reva River.
Rasputin was able to escape his bounds, and only drowned after trying to claw his way back up through the ice. While it's true the Mad Monk died at 47, he gets credit for surviving the bulk of his horrific last day. (And those crazy, crazy eyes.)