Royal and famous patients 4. Movie stars
Although working in the National Health Service at The Middlesex hospital in London, I (like many) had to run a small private practice on the side to survive. I learned a lesson rather early from one patient who claimed to be a famous film star in his country in (or next to) the Mediterranean. He gave his address as the Savoy, one of the top hotels in London. When our discussion turned to evaluating the cause of his stomach problems, we explored his diet. He thought his diet was perfect, explaining that he ate only fish caught from the back of his yacht, and drank only wine from his own vineyard. I was impressed, and adjusted my fee, but came back to earth rather quickly when the bill came back from the Savoy, saying “not known at this address”.
A real movie star whose name everyone would recognize (unless perhaps too young) consulted me about a painful fundamental problem. She said it felt like “sitting on a hot tin roof”. She would have known.
And another star anecdote, not at all amusing, but seared in my memory. In 1980 I was working at The Middlesex Hospital in central London. Although trained and mainly working as a gastroenterologist (stomachs etc), in the then British system I had to take my turn on “emergency call”, supervising patients being admitted with any acute medical problem. While I was on duty, a well-loved British star arrived by ambulance in the late stages of a severe heart attack and did not survive. His friend Spike Milligan was distraught. The patient was Peter Sellers, aged 54, star of so many special classic movies that we all still enjoy today. The Pink Panther series, Being There, I’m all right Jack, The Ladykillers, and my favorite, Dr Strangelove, in which he plays 3 key roles. Although made in 1964 in black and white it has a strange relevance today. You might want to watch it ……What a legacy, what a loss.