DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Donna Summer (aged 63)
American singer and songwriter
LaDonna Adrian Gaines (December 31, 1948 – May 17, 2012), widely known by her stage name based on her married name Donna Summer, was an American singer, songwriter and actress. She gained prominence during the disco era of the late 1970s. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Summer was the first artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the United States Billboard 200chart and charted four number-one singles in the US within a 12-month period. Summer has reportedly sold over 230 million records worldwide, making her one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. She also charted two number-one singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the US and a number-one single in the United Kingdom.
DEATH: Summer died on May 17, 2012 at her home in Naples, Florida, aged 63, from lung cancer. Generally a nonsmoker, she believed the cancer was caused by inhaling toxic fumes and dust from the September 11 attacks in New York City. Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Hunter considered that belief “unlikely” in a 2019 episode of the Reelz TV series Autopsy: The Last Hours of…, citing the fact that Summer was in a hotel when the attacks happened and would not have been nearly as affected by the resulting dust cloud as first responders. In the Autopsy episode, Dr. Hunter pointed out Summer’s family history of cancer as well as her performances in smoke-filled venues. Summer was survived by her husband, Bruce Sudano, and her daughters Mimi (with ex-husband Helmut Sommer), Brooklyn Sudano, and Amanda Sudano.