5 Celebrities Who've Undergone Coronary Bypass Surgery

News of Burt Reynolds' recent quintuple bypass surgery reminded me of when my Dad had the same operation back in 1997 at the ripe old age of 73. His age plus the dangers of anesthesia plus such a blocked-up ticker prompted the cardiologist to prepare us for the worst, but thanks to a combination of modern medicine and Dad's upbeat attitude when it comes to hospital stays (it's better than a hotel because pretty young girls give him sponge baths!) he's still going strong 13 years later. Here are a few other famous folks who owe their lives to just-in-time heart surgery.

1. David Letterman

The then-52-year-old Late Show host had a history of high cholesterol, and his father had died suddenly of a heart attack at age 57, so he knew deep down that he was at risk for heart disease. In early 2000, Dave's doctor saw something iffy during his stress test and scheduled Letterman for an angiogram. During the January 14, 2000, broadcast Dave's fear was palpable as he discussed the procedure with guest Regis Philbin (who'd undergone an angioplasty a few years back). Not only did he dread the procedure "“ which involved inserting a needle into the groin "very close to your deal" to inject dye "“ but he (like most folks) didn't like the idea of his rib cage being cracked open if the angio results were bad news. David viewed the films at 8:00AM with his cardiologist, saw the severe blockage in his left main artery, and phoned his executive producer at 8:30 to let him know that he wouldn't be reporting for work that day; he was undergoing quintuple bypass surgery. Five weeks later Dave was back on the job with his rib cage wired shut and veins from his legs grafted into his coronary arteries.

2. James Garner

Oh dear, talk about your bad timing"¦shortly after Rockford Files star James Garner was tapped to be a spokesperson for the beef industry, he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital for emergency quintuple bypass surgery.

Garner survived, but the Beef Council was forced to rethink its advertising strategy since the actor's heart blockage only reinforced the "red meat equals cholesterol" climate of the late 1980s. Garner's eschewing of vegetables in the spot just provided more fodder for late-night TV monologues.

3. Bill Clinton

While he was president, Bill Clinton squeezed in a daily jog whenever his schedule allowed. However, he earned a lot of snarky press (and a Saturday Night Live skit) when alert paparazzi shot pictures of him jogging into a McDonald's. The truth was out "“ the Commander-in-Chief had a weakness for Big Macs. Growing up as a good ol' Southern boy, it's safe to bet that he also gorged on less-than-healthy (but nevertheless delicious) meals of fried catfish, chicken-fried steak, fried okra, and greens cooked with bacon fat as a youth. In 2004 the former president could no longer ignore the chest pains and shortness of breath he'd been experiencing after a minimal amount of exertion. Medical tests revealed severe blockage in four of his coronary arteries, and bypass surgery was performed. All was well until February 2010, when Clinton experienced serious chest pain and ultimately received two stents to open up arteries that had become 90% blocked. Many pundits immediately accused Clinton of falling off the heart-smart menu wagon, but experts have since pointed out that genetics play almost as large a role in heart disease as diet. Some folks are just predisposed to plaque-filled arteries.

4. Rue McClanahan

One of the two surviving Golden Girls went in for a routine physical in November 2009. An irregular EKG led to further tests, which led to the operating room for emergency bypass surgery. The 75-year-old actress had been scheduled to be the guest of honor at "Golden: A Gala Tribute to Rue McClanahan" at San Francisco's Castro Theatre just one week after her unexpected surgery and was forced to beg off, stating: "My darlings, I'm just devastated that I'm going to have to miss my own tribute. Unfortunately, my doctor has laid down the law and I'm currently having some maintenance on the old ticker." All looked well for Rue until January 2010, when McClanahan suffered what her reps described as a "minor" stroke (a not all that uncommon occurrence for older folks after undergoing major surgery).

Maybe it's not exactly foreshadowing, but you can watch a clip of Rue as Blanche Devereaux after having a pacemaker implanted.

5. Regis Philbin

time-for-regisRemember what I said earlier about cholesterol and genetics? TV host Regis Philbin underwent his first angioplasty back in 1993 to clear out some clogged heart arteries. The experience, he said at the time, scared him and he began an exercise regime and paid close attention to his diet. Nevertheless in 2000 he had a second angioplasty, and in 2007 he started experiencing those same ol' symptoms "“ chest pains and shortness of breath. He told his Live with Regis and Kelly audience: "Darn it, I don't want to do it. Nobody wants to do it, I guess. But they tell me. And I had a second opinion, I did all those things [tests for heart disease], and so they're [the doctors] all in agreement that it should be the bypass." Surgeons unclogged three of Philbin's arterial arteries and he was back on the job five weeks later.

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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