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5 Other Famous Transplants

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s heart transplant has been getting a lot of attention lately. And, while the nature of Cheney’s political career makes him an obvious target for discussion and debate, the Veep is definitely not the first celebrity to undergo a major organ transplant:

1. Mandy Patinkin – Corneal Transplants
The Tony and Emmy award-winning actor (a.k.a. The Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya) suffered for years from a degenerative eye disorder called Keratoconus. After initially being treated with contact lenses, Patinkin’s condition worsened to the point where a full transplant was needed. He received the corneal transplant in his right eye, followed by a transplant in his left eye a year and a half afterward.

2. Robert Altman – Heart Transplant
The celebrated director of MASH, Nashville and Gosford Park was accepting a Lifetime Achievement award at the 2006 Oscars when he revealed for the first time that he'd undergone a heart transplant years before:

"I'm here under false pretenses … Eleven years ago I had a heart transplant, a total heart transplant. I got the heart of, I think, a young woman who was in about in her late thirties. By that kind of calculation you may be giving this award too early because I think I've got about 40 years left."

Sadly, he was wrong on his estimate. He passed away later that year from leukemia.

3. Natalie Cole – Kidney Transplant
The story behind Cole’s kidney transplant is especially heart-wrenching. The musician and daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole first received news that a long-awaited kidney was available while sitting at the bed of her cancer-stricken sister. After being told she’d have to be at the hospital within two hours to undergo the surgery, Cole made the difficult decision to go through with it. While the transplant surgery was successful, her sister sadly passed away while it was in progress.

4. George Lopez – Kidney Transplant
Talk about having leverage in divorce proceedings. In 2004, the comedian’s then-wife donated one of her kidneys to him. In 2011 they finalized an end to their 18-year marriage.

5. Mickey Mantle – Liver Transplant
In June of 1995, the hard-drinking Yankee slugger received a controversial liver transplant, necessitated by the extensive damage done to his liver by cirrhosis and Hepatitis C. Following the procedure, Mantle delivered a plain message to the public about his years of drinking: "This is a role model: Don't be like me.” When he passed away barely two months later, the already-brewing controversy fueled by the apparent ease and speed with which Mantle received a new liver became even more hotly debated.

[If you're interested in learning more about becoming an organ donor, visit here.]

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Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
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The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, MLive.com reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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