How Jeff Chandler Died from a Routine Surgery: The Tragic Story of a Hollywood Star

Jeff Chandler was a popular actor, producer, and singer in the 1950s, best known for his roles as Cochise in Broken Arrow and Phillip Boynton in Our Miss Brooks. He had a distinctive silver-haired appearance and a charismatic screen presence that made him one of Universal Pictures’ top stars. However, his life and career were cut short by a fatal complication from a seemingly minor surgery. Here is the tragic story of how Jeff Chandler died from a routine surgery.

The Back Injury That Led to the Surgery

According to Wikipedia, Chandler injured his back while working on the film Merrill’s Marauders in the Philippines in April 1961. The incident occurred when he played baseball with some of the film’s extras (soldiers from U.S. Army Special Forces). To relieve his pain, he got some injections, which enabled him to finish the production.

However, the injections did not cure his condition, and he was diagnosed with a spinal disc herniation, which is a condition where the soft inner part of a disc bulges out through a tear in the outer layer. This can cause severe pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling in the back or legs. According to The Celebrity Deaths, Chandler was advised to undergo surgery to remove the herniated disc and relieve the pressure on his spinal cord.

The Surgery That Went Wrong

On May 13, 1961, Chandler had surgery for his spinal disc herniation at Culver City hospital in California. However, something went terribly wrong during the operation. According to Interstim, an artery was damaged, and Chandler hemorrhaged. He lost a lot of blood and required multiple transfusions.

According to Emanuel Levy, on May 17, he had another emergency operation that lasted seven-and-a-half hours, during which he was given 55 pints of blood. On May 27, he had yet another operation, where he received an additional 20 pints of blood.

The Cause of Death: Blood Infection and Pneumonia

Despite the multiple surgeries and blood transfusions, Chandler’s condition did not improve. He developed a blood infection (septicemia) and pneumonia, which are serious complications that can occur after major surgery or blood loss. According to The Celebrity Deaths, he died on June 17, 1961, at the age of 42.

The Aftermath: Lawsuit and Legacy

Chandler’s death was a shock to his fans and colleagues, who mourned the loss of a talented and beloved star. His funeral was attended by more than 1,500 people, including Tony Curtis and Gerald Mohr, who were among those who carried his casket.

According to Wikipedia, an investigation ensued into Chandler’s death, which deemed malpractice, and resulted in his children suing the hospital for $1.5 million. They later settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

Chandler left behind a legacy of more than 50 films and several albums. He was also remembered for his generosity and kindness, especially towards his friend Sammy Davis Jr., who lost an eye in an accident and was offered one of Chandler’s eyes as a donation.

Jeff Chandler was a star who died too soon from a routine surgery that went wrong. His tragic story is a reminder of the risks and uncertainties of medical procedures and the fragility of life.

Doms Desk

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