Home > News & Advice > News Obituaries > Famous Faces of Breast Cancer

Famous Faces of Breast Cancer

by Legacy Staff

October breast cancer awareness campaigns remind us, each year, to think about the seriousness of this dreaded disease. Seeing the names and faces of the more than 95,000 people honored in our Breast Cancer Memorial reminds us that the disease touches all of us… and we are reminded of this, too, when we see the names of famous women and also men who have died of breast cancer. Today, we honor and remember some of those celebrities.

SARAH HARDING (1981 – 2021)

Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images

SARAH HARDING (1981 – 2021) was a singer with Girls Aloud, a British girl group that dominated the U.K. pop charts in the 2000s with singles including “Sound of the Underground,” “I’ll Stand by You,” and “The Promise.” Harding was also a model for Ultimo lingerie, an actress, and a reality TV personality who won “Celebrity Big Brother” in 2017.

KELLY PRESTON (1962 – 2020)


KELLY PRESTON (1962 – 2020) was an actress known for roles in movies including “Jerry Maguire,” “Twins,” and “Sky High.” Her other memorable films include “Secret Admirer,” “Citizen Ruth,” and “What a Girl Wants.” Preston met her husband, John Travolta, while they were working together on the 1989 film “The Experts,” and they were married for 29 years.



Getty Images / Corbis / Neville Elder

ELIZABETH WURTZEL (1967 – 2020) was just 27 when she published her bestselling debut memoir, “Prozac Nation.” It detailed her long-running battle with depression, beginning when she was a child, and it became a sensation for its candid, sometimes funny and sometimes soberly insightful look at Wurtzel’s own heavily medicated life, warts and all.

DIAHANN CARROLL (1935 – 2019)

Getty Images / Anthony Barboza

DIAHANN CARROLL (1935 – 2019) was a groundbreaking actress and singer whose 1968 TV show “Julia” was the first to portray a Black woman with a professional career. Never before had a television show starred a Black woman with a job other than the stereotypical maids and mammies. In later years, Carroll joined the cast of nighttime soap opera “Dynasty” in 1984, playing the diva Dominique Deveraux, and she had a recurring role on TV in “A Different World.”

SUZANNE WHANG (1962 – 2019)

Suzanne Whang (1962–2019), former host of “House Hunters”
Getty Images / FilmMagic / M. Tran

SUZANNE WHANG (1967 – 2019) was the host of HGTV’s “House Hunters” from the show’s debut in 1999 through 2007. She was also an actress and comedian, and she had a recurring role as Polly Nguyen on “Las Vegas.” She won the Best Up & Coming Comedian Award at the 2002 Las Vegas Comedy Festival and the Andy Kaufman Award at the 2004 New York Comedy Festival. Before her death, Whang had been battling breast cancer for 13 years.

COKIE ROBERTS (1943 – 2019)

Getty Images / Walt Disney Television / Heidi Gutman

COKIE ROBERTS (1943 – 2019) was a pioneering journalist known for her work on NPR’s “Morning Edition” as well as co-anchoring ABC News’ “This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts.” Along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer, and Susan Stamberg, she was considered one of the “Founding Mothers” of NPR. Roberts was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress in 2008, and she won three Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award. American Women in Radio and Television named her one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting.

DAPHNE SHELDRICK (1934 – 2018)

Getty Images / Alberto E. Rodriguez

DAPHNE SHELDRICK (1934 – 2018) was a prominent conservationist who gave new life to orphaned baby elephants. She received global attention for her work raising more than 200 orphaned baby elephants, many of which were able to go back to the wild and raise their own families.

View Daphne Sheldrick’s obituary

NOREEN FRASER (1953 – 2017)

Getty Images / Michael Kovac

NOREEN FRASER (1953 – 2017) co-created the network TV special “Stand Up to Cancer.” A veteran producer of TV shows including “Entertainment Tonight,” “The Richard Simmons Show,” and ABC’s “Home Show,” Fraser responded to her own diagnosis with breast cancer by founding the Noreen Fraser Foundation, which supports research into cancer treatment and prevention.

View Noreen Fraser’s obituary


Getty Images

MARYAM MIRZAKHANI (1977 – 2017) broke new ground for women in mathematics when she won the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014. Sometimes called the Nobel Prize of mathematics, the award is given every four years to mathematicians under age 40. Mirzakhani was the first woman to win the award since its inception in 1936.

View Maryam Mirzakhani’s obituary

BIMBA BOSE (1975 – 2017)

Getty Images

Italian-born model BIMBA BOSE (1975 – 2017), who graced the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. In a 2016 interview with Lecturas writer Luis Nemolato, she characterized her illness as “something personal. It is to live an adventure.” “I do not have to talk if I do not want to talk,” Bosé told her interviewer. “I already said two years ago that I had cancer when I was diagnosed, and I never said I was cured … That you look good on the outside does not mean … that inside is fine.”

View Bimba Bose’s obituary

MARNI NIXON (1930 – 2016)

David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

American singer and actress MARNI NIXON (1930 – 2016) famously ghost sang for leading actresses in films including “The King and I” and “West Side Story.”

View Marni Nixon’s obituary

MORAG SILLER (1969 – 2016)

Daily Mail

“Coronation Street” stars were ‘completely devastated’ after Scottish actress MORAG SILLER (1969 – 2016), who played Reverend Esther Warren in the ITV1 soap, died of breast cancer. The Edinburgh-born actress, who last year appeared alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in the Barbican Theatre’s production of “Hamlet,” was diagnosed with cancer five years ago.

View Morag Siller’s obituary


Fairfax NZ

In October 2016, New Zealand photographer MARTI FRIEDLANDER (1928 – 2016) revealed that she was suffering from late-stage breast cancer. When she died, social media was flooded with tributes to the iconic artist from political figures, photographers, artists, writers, and her many friends.

View Marti Friedlander’s obituary

JACKIE COLLINS (1937 – 2015)

Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Best-selling novelist JACKIE COLLINS (1937 – 2015), who thrilled millions of readers with her scandal-soaked tales of Hollywood, mobsters, and L.A. private investigators, died of breast cancer at 77. Her daughter Rory was later treated successfully for stage 1 breast cancer.

View Jackie Collins’ obituary

YVONNE CRAIG (1937 – 2015)

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

American actress YVONNE CRAIG (1937 – 2015) played the sexy, crime-fighting Batgirl in the 1960s TV hit “Batman.” She began her career as a ballet dancer, the youngest member of The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, with which she toured for three years.

View Yvonne Craig’s obituary

ANNE KIRKBRIDE (1954 – 2015)

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Actress ANNE KIRKBRIDE (1954 – 2015) was a star of British soap opera “Coronation Street” for more than 40 years. She played the long-suffering, much-married Deirdre Barlow.

View Anne Kirkbride’s obituary


Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

MARY ANN MOBLEY COLLINS (1939 – 2014) graduated from Ole Miss in 1958, the same year she won the Miss America crown. She became an actress a few years later, with credits including such TV shows as “General Hospital” and “Perry Mason,” and films such as “Girl Happy” with Presley, and “Three on a Couch” with Jerry Lewis. It was on that film that she met her husband, actor Gary Collins, who died in 2012.

View Mary Ann Mobley Collins’ obituary

MARCIA STRASSMAN (1948 – 2014)

Getty Images / WireImage / Gregg DeGuire

Actress MARCIA STRASSMAN (1948 – 2014) played Julie Kotter in the U.S. TV sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” and also starred in the movie “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and its sequels.

View Marcia Strassman’s obituary

BERNIE NOLAN (1960 – 2013)

Getty Images

BERNIE NOLAN (1960 – 2013) was lead vocalist of musical sister act the Nolans, who had an international hit in 1979 with “I’m in the Mood for Dancing.” Nolan later achieved success as a television and stage actress in the UK. Nolan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.

View Bernie Nolan’s obituary

CHRISSY AMPHLETT (1959 – 2013)

Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

CHRISSY AMPHLETT (1959 – 2013) is known best as the singer of the 1990s hit “I Touch Myself,” recorded with her rock band, the Divinyls. Seen here during her run in the musical “The Boy From Oz,” she remained popular in her native Australia until her death from breast cancer and multiple sclerosis in 2013.

View Chrissy Amphlett’s obituary

PATRICIA BLAIR (1933 – 2013)

Everett Collection

In the 1960s American actress PATRICIA BLAIR (1933 – 2013) played leading roles in television Westerns such as “Daniel Boone,” opposite Fess Parker, and “The Rifleman” with Chuck Connors.

View Patricia Blair’s obituary

YVONNE BRILL (1924 – 2013)

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

YVONNE BRILL (1924 – 2013) was a pioneering rocket scientist who invented a more efficient thruster to keep satellites in orbit. When she died in 2013, a New York Times obituary ignited controversy when it lead with Brill’s “mean beef stroganoff” and her devotion as a wife and mother, rather than her brilliant accomplishments as a scientist.

View Yvonne Brill’s obituary

JANICE VOSS (1956 – 2012) 


Engineer and astronaut JANICE VOSS (1956 – 2012) flew five space shuttle missions, tying the record for U.S. women in space.

View Janice Voss’ obituary

RAYLENE RANKIN (1960 – 2012)

The Chronicle Herald

Canadian singer RAYLENE RANKIN (1960 – 2012) was one of the mothers of contemporary Celtic music and a founding member of the Rankin Family. She died in Halifax after a long battle with cancer.

View Raylene Rankin’s obituary

COLLEEN WALKER (1956 – 2012)

AP Photo

A successful LPGA Tour player from 1982 to 2004, COLLEEN WALKER (1956 – 2012) was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. Here she is seen celebrating her victory in the Women’s Senior Golf Tour’s Hy-Vee Classic in 2001.

View Colleen Walker’s obituary

EVA EKVALL (1983 – 2011)

AP Photo

EVA EKVALL (1983 – 2011) became Miss Venezuela in 2000 at age 17. In 2010 she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer after the birth of her only child. She documented her fight against the disease in a book, “Fuera de Foco” (Out of Focus), before her death.

View Eva Ekvall’s obituary

Visit the Breast Cancer Memorial Site

Breast Cancer Memorial Site

Visit the Breast Cancer Memorial Site to read about tens of thousands who lived with breast cancer. Sign a special book of condolence dedicated to all who have died.

Go to Memorial Site

SHELAGH DELANEY (1938 – 2011)

The Independent

SHELAGH DELANEY (1938 – 2011) was 19 when her play “A Taste of Honey” opened. “A Taste of Honey” was part of Britain’s cultural revolution of the late 1950s, when well-made plays and films gave way to the gritty realism of working-class life. It was the era of kitchen-sink drama and Angry Young Men. Delaney was an Angry Young Woman.

View Shelagh Delaney’s obituary

LAURA ZISKIN (1950 – 2011)

AP Photo

LAURA ZISKIN (1950 – 2011) was a successful Hollywood producer, whose credits include “Pretty Woman,” “What About Bob?” and the Spider-Man franchise. She also was the first solo female producer of the Academy Awards telecast. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she co-founded the charity Stand Up to Cancer.

View Laura Ziskin’s obituary


AP Photo/Peter Kramer

ELIZABETH EDWARDS (1949 – 2010) was diagnosed during husband John Edwards’ unsuccessful U.S. vice-presidential campaign in 2004. She continued to advocate for health care reform even as her health and marriage deteriorated.

View Elizabeth Edwards’ obituary

LYNN REDGRAVE (1943 – 2010)

AP Photo

Like many other members of her famous family, LYNN REDGRAVE (1943 – 2010) found success as an actress, receiving an Oscar nomination for “Georgy Girl” (1966) and winning a Golden Globe in 1999 for her role in the film “Gods & Monsters.” She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.

Read more

 JENNIFER LYON (1972 – 2010)

Fernando Leon/Getty Images

American JENNIFER LYON (1972 – 2010) gained fame as a contestant on Survivor: Palau, taking fourth place. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, she used her reality show celebrity to raise awareness and promote cancer charities.

View Jennifer Lyon’s obituary

NAOMI SIMS (1948 – 2009)

Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

Widely regarded as the first Black supermodel, NAOMI SIMS (1948 – 2009) broke down barriers when she appeared on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal in 1968. After retiring from modeling in the early 1970s, she started her own collection of beauty products, eventually growing her line into a multimillion-dollar business.

View Naomi Sims’ obituary

ALAINA REED (1946 – 2009)

© Columbia Pictures Television / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Actress ALAINA REED (1946 – 2009) memorably portrayed Olivia on U.S. children’s television staple “Sesame Street” and Rose Lee Holloway on the TV sitcom “227.”

View Alaina Reed’s obituary

WENDY RICHARD (1943 – 2009)

Getty Images / Photoshot

WENDY RICHARD (1943 – 2009) was a fixture of British television for decades, initially as Miss Shirley Brahms on sitcom “Are You Being Served?” and later as working-class matriarch Pauline Fowler on soap opera “EastEnders.” She battled cancer for a number of years after an initial diagnosis in 1996.

View Wendy Richard’s obituary

KAY YOW (1942 – 2009)

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987, KAY YOW (1942 – 2009) coached the U.S. women’s basketball team to an Olympic gold medal in 1988. She amassed over 700 wins coaching collegiate basketball, most of them during her 34 years as head coach of North Carolina State University.

View Kay Yow’s obituary


AP Photo / Rusty Kennedy

St. Louis native GEORGIA FRONTIERE (1927 – 2008) became a hometown hero when, as owner of the NFL’s Rams, she moved the team from Los Angeles to St. Louis. She is seen here hugging the Super Bowl trophy in 2000 after the Rams defeated the Tennessee Titans.

View Georgia Frontiere’s obituary

MOLLY IVINS (1944 – 2007) 

Getty Images

Her colorful and humorous political columns reflected her populist Texas background. After writing for the New York Times, MOLLY IVINS (1944 – 2007) eventually landed at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram where her column was syndicated to 400 newspapers. Ivins was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999.

View Molly Ivins’ obituary

GRACE PALEY (1922 – 2007)

AP Photo

American poet GRACE PALEY (1922 – 2007) wrote short stories and poetry, taught literature and was an active promoter of pacifism. Her short story “Goodbye and Good Luck” has been reprinted in many collections and adapted into a musical.

View Grace Paley’s obituary

SIOBHAN DOWD (1960 – 2007)


There are examples of outstanding writers who have made their mark in print late in the course of their lives, but there are few, arguably, who have done so to such startling effect as SIOBHAN DOWD (1960 – 2007). In the last two and a half years before her death, Dowd handed her publisher four remarkable novels for older children. Two – “A Swift Pure Cry” and “The London Eye Mystery” – have both gone on to critical and popular acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic.

View Siobhan Dowd’s obituary

JANE TOMLINSON (1964 – 2007)

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

In 2000, mother-of-three JANE TOMLINSON (1964 – 2007) was given just six months to live. But she vowed not to give in to breast cancer, and went on to cycle across America and the length of Britain as well as taking part in countless marathons and triathlons. She raised almost £2 million for charity in a series of gruelling endurance events and was hailed as an inspiration to all those with incurable diseases.

View Jane Tomlinson’s obituary

KAREN FRACTION (1958 – 2007) 

Wikimedia Commons

Best remembered for her recurring role as Dr. Perry in “SeaQuest 2032,” American actress KAREN FRACTION (1958 – 2007) also played Jennifer Parker on Nickelodeon’s family sitcom “My Brother and Me.” Fraction died of breast cancer in 2007, five years after her diagnosis.

View Karen Fraction’s obituary

SORAYA (1969 – 2006)

AP Photo

Colombian-American singer SORAYA (1969 – 2006) won a Latin Grammy for best female album in 2004 and worked to educate Hispanic women about breast cancer. She died of the disease at 37.

View Soraya’s obituary

Visit the Breast Cancer Memorial Site

Breast Cancer Memorial Site

Visit the Breast Cancer Memorial Site to read about tens of thousands who lived with breast cancer. Sign a special book of condolence dedicated to all who have died.

Go to Memorial Site

SHIRLEY HORN (1934 – 2005)

Frans Schellekens/Redferns

SHIRLEY HORN (1934 – 2005) was a unique singer, with one of the slowest deliveries in jazz and a very unusual way of phrasing, putting stress on certain words and letting others slip away. She cherished her repertoire, making audiences feel that she was cutting through to the stark truths of songs like “Here’s to Life” and “You Won’t Forget Me.”

View Shirley Horn’s obituary

WENDIE JO SPERBER (1958 – 2005)

AP Photo

American actress WENDIE JO SPERBER (1958 – 2005) starred in the television version of “Private Benjamin” and also appeared opposite Tom Hanks on the sitcom “Bosom Buddies.” According to Hanks, she became “a walking inspiration” after she was diagnosed with cancer.

View Wendie Jo Sperber’s obituary

SYREETA WRIGHT (1946 – 2004) 

David Redfern/Redferns

Singer-songwriter SYREETA WRIGHT (1946 – 2004) collaborated on some of the best songs of the Motown era, including hits from the Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas. As a songwriter, she penned “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” and “If You Really Love Me” and other hits with then husband Stevie Wonder. Wright died of congestive heart failure, a side effect of the treatment she was receiving for breast and bone cancer.

Read more

NINA SIMONE (1933 – 2003)

Wikimedia Commons

A classically trained pianist with a rich, low tenor, NINA SIMONE (1933 – 2003) was a unique performer who excelled in a number of styles including blues, jazz, gospel and folk. She had breast cancer for several years before she died in her sleep at her home in France.

Read more

ROD RODDY (1937 – 2003)

Lawrence Lucier/Getty Images

Although he didn’t originate “The Price Is Right” catchphrase “Come on down!,” he did make it his own. ROD RODDY (1937 – 2003) announced for the TV game show from 1986 until his death in 2003, the same year he was diagnosed with breast cancer. In his remaining months, he worked to raise awareness of male breast cancer.

View Rod Roddy’s obituary

JUNE JORDAN (1936 – 2002)

radcliffe.harvard.edu / June Jordan Papers

JUNE JORDAN (1936 – 2002) came of age as a poet when the voices of Black female writers were just beginning to be heard. Like the careers of Audre Lord and Alice Walker, Jordan’s was forged by the Black arts movement of the ’60s and ’70s. Her poetry was imbued with advocacy for the poor, for women and the disenfranchised.

View June Jordan’s obituary

FAYE DANCER (1925 – 2002) 


A center fielder for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League from 1944 to 1950, FAYE DANCER (1925 – 2002) was known for stealing bases and pushing back against league control of players’ private lives. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990.

View Faye Dancer’s obituary

DORIS COLEY (1941 – 2000)

Getty Images

DORIS COLEY (1941 – 2000), far left, was a founding member of the Shirelles, a girl group that included Beverly Lee, Shirley Owens and Addie “Micki” Harris. In 1960 they scored a No. 1 hit with “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.”

View Doris Coley’s obituary

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD (1939 – 1999) 

Dezo Hoffmann / Rex Features, courtesy Everett Collection

An icon of the swinging ’60s, UK native DUSTY SPRINGFIELD (1939 – 1999) had a string of soulful hits including “Son of a Preacher Man,” “I Only Want to Be With You” and the critically acclaimed album “Dusty in Memphis.” She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, two weeks after her death from breast cancer.

Read more

LINDA MCCARTNEY (1941 – 1998)

AP Photo/HO

LINDA MCCARTNEY (1941 – 1998) was a noted music photographer in the 1960s when she met her future husband Paul McCartney, with whom she formed the band Wings. She later turned her interest in vegetarian cuisine into a line of popular cookbooks and the Linda McCartney Foods brand of vegetarian and vegan food. McCartney was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995.

Read more

ROXIE ROKER (1929 – 1995)

AP Photo

Remembered best for her role as Helen Willis on TV sitcom “The Jeffersons,” American actress ROXIE ROKER (1929 – 1995) is also the mother of musician Lenny Kravitz, grandmother of actress Zoe Kravitz, and cousin of “Today” show host Al Roker.

Read more

DANITRA VANCE (1954 – 1994)

Getty Images

American actress and comedian DANITRA VANCE (1954 – 1994) is best remembered for her single season as a cast member on television’s “Saturday Night Live” (1985-86). Her recurring characters included Cabrini Green Jackson and That Black Girl, a parody of 1960s sitcom That Girl. Vance was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990.

Read more


AP Photo

A nurse anesthetist for most of her life, VIRGINIA CLINTON KELLEY (1923 – 1994) died of complications from breast cancer in 1994, less than a year after her son Bill Clinton became president of the United States.

View Virginia Clinton Kelley’s obituary

JILL IRELAND (1936 – 1990)

Getty Images / Silver Screen Collection

English actress JILL IRELAND (1936 – 1990) appeared in many films with her husband, Charles Bronson (1921 – 2003). After her diagnosis in 1984, she wrote two books chronicling her battle with breast cancer and became a representative for the American Cancer Society.

View Jill Ireland’s obituary

BETTE DAVIS (1908 – 1989)

Wikimedia Commons / RKO Radio

A legend of the silver screen, BETTE DAVIS (1908 – 1989) was the first person to be nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning two. Often described as feisty, she gave performances that were always worth watching, even in lesser films. She died of breast cancer in 1989.

Read more

V. C. ANDREWS (1923 – 1986) 

Wikimedia Commons

V. C. ANDREWS (1923 – 1986) didn’t turn to writing until she was in her 50s, but once she did she was prolific. Her books such as “Flowers in the Attic” often dealt with family secrets and forbidden love. She left behind notes for many unfinished novels when she died of breast cancer in 1986.

Read more


Wikimedia Commons / Department of Housing and Urban Development

Under President Jimmy Carter, PATRICIA ROBERTS HARRIS (1924 – 1985) served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development and later as secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, becoming the first Black woman to hold a cabinet-level position. She died of breast cancer in 1985.

Read more

INGRID BERGMAN (1915 – 1982) 

Everett Collection

One of the great beauties and talents of the silver screen, Swedish actress INGRID BERGMAN (1915 – 1982) appeared in numerous classic American and European films, including Casablanca. She won three Oscars and continued to act for several years after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Her daughter is actress Isabella Rossellini.

Read more

BARBARA LODEN (1932 – 1980)

Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Stage and film actress BARBARA LODEN (1932 – 1980) was a regular on the Ernie Kovacs show and appeared in several projects directed by her second husband, Elia Kazan, including “Splendor in the Grass.” “Wanda,” a film she wrote, directed, and starred in, won the international film critics award at the Venice Film Festival in 1970. She died in 1980 after a two-year battle with breast cancer.


Wikimedia Commons / United States Congress

An actress who became a three-term U.S. Representative from California, HELEN GAHAGAN DOUGLAS (1900 – 1980) ran against Richard Nixon for the U.S. Senate in 1950. During that campaign she helped popularize the nickname “Tricky Dick” after his accusations that she was a Communist sympathizer. She died of breast and lung cancer in 1980.

Read Helen Gahagan Douglas’ obituary

MINNIE RIPERTON (1947 – 1979)

Wikimedia Commons

Singer-songwriter MINNIE RIPERTON (1947 – 1979), mother of actress Maya Rudolph, had a hit in 1975 with “Loving You.” Given only six months to live after her diagnosis in 1976, Riperton publicly disclosed her illness and became a representative for the American Cancer Society at a time when most celebrities kept such news private.

Read more

VIVIAN VANCE (1909 – 1979)

Wikimedia Commons

VIVIAN VANCE (1909 – 1979) provided the perfect foil for Lucille Ball, first as Ethel Mertz in “I Love Lucy” and later as Vivian Bagley on “The Lucy Show.” Vance died in 1979 of a combination of breast and bone cancer. She was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1991.

Read more

FANNIE LOU HAMER (1917 – 1977)


In 1964, FANNIE LOU HAMER (1917 – 1977) helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was established in opposition to her state’s all-white delegation to that year’s Democratic convention. She brought the civil rights struggle in Mississippi to the attention of the entire nation during a televised session at the convention. The following year, Hamer ran for Congress in Mississippi, but was unsuccessful in her bid. She helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

Read more

DIANA HYLAND (1936 – 1977) 

Wikimedia Commons / ABC Television

DIANA HYLAND (1936 – 1977) met her boyfriend John Travolta on the set of “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” and had just been cast in the television series “Eight Is Enough” when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977. The disease spread quickly and she died after completing only four episodes. She was posthumously awarded an Emmy for “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.”

ROSALIND RUSSELL (1907 – 1976) 

Wikimedia Commons

ROSALIND RUSSELL (1907 – 1976) credited her lengthy acting career to never becoming a “sex symbol.” She found success opposite Cary Grant in the screwball comedy “His Girl Friday” and won awards as Mame Dennis in “Auntie Mame.” She died of breast cancer in 1976.


AP Photo

JACQUELINE SUSANN (1918 – 1974) began her career as an actress on stage and television. Her first book, “Every Night, Josephine!”, was about her poodle, but her greatest success was the blockbuster “Valley of the Dolls.” She privately fought breast cancer throughout her writing career after being diagnosed in 1962.

Read more

KAY FRANCIS (1905 – 1968)

Wikimedia Commons

KAY FRANCIS (1905 – 1968) was one of the biggest movie stars of the 1930s, gracing magazine covers and starring in films remembered more for glitz and glamour than dramatic quality. Her career faded after World War II, but she managed her money well and left more than $1 million to charity when she died of breast cancer in 1968.

Read more

 JUDY HOLLIDAY (1921 – 1965)

Wikimedia Commons

Regarded as one of the great comedic actresses, JUDY HOLLIDAY (1921 – 1965) won an Oscar for her performance in “Born Yesterday.” She starred alongside Jack Lemmon in his first two films before returning to Broadway, where she won a Tony Award for the 1956 musical “Bells Are Ringing.” Holliday died of breast cancer in 1965.

Read more

RACHEL CARSON (1907 – 1964) 

Wikimedia Commons

Author of the 1962 book “Silent Spring,” marine biologist and conservationist RACHEL CARSON (1907 – 1964) raised awareness of the negative environmental impact of synthetic pesticides. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter in 1980.

Read more

HATTIE MCDANIEL (1895 – 1952)

Wikimedia Commons

For her portrayal of Mammy in “Gone With the Wind,” HATTIE MCDANIEL (1895 – 1952) became the first Black person to win an Academy Award. When she died, her request to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery was denied because of racial segregation. In 1999, new owners placed a memorial cenotaph for her in the park, which is now a popular tourist destination.

Read more

JULIETTE GORDON LOW (1860 – 1927) 

Wikimedia Commons

JULIETTE GORDON LOW (1860 – 1927) founded the Girl Scouts of America in her home in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912. In 1923, she was diagnosed with breast cancer but kept it secret until she died. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 on the occasion of the Girl Scouts 100th anniversary.

Read more

MARY ANNING (1799 – 1847) 

Wikimedia Commons

MARY ANNING (1799 – 1847) was an English fossil collector, dealer, and paleontologist who became known around the world for important finds she made in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in the county of Dorset in Southwest England. Anning’s discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time, providing evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth. Anning died from breast cancer in 1847 at the age of 47.

Read more

Visit the Breast Cancer Memorial Site

Breast Cancer Memorial Site

Visit the Breast Cancer Memorial Site to read about tens of thousands who lived with breast cancer. Sign a special book of condolence dedicated to all who have died.

Go to Memorial Site

More Stories