The Quick 10: 10 Celebrities Almost Felled By Food


A really good opener for this Q10 would be to tell you about this time I was choking and had my life saved by some wonderful person who knew how to do the Heimlich. Unfortunately, I have no such story.

The celebrities below do, though. Can you imagine how embarrassing the obituary would be? "Carrie Fisher, famous for her portrayal as the iconic Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, passed away today after choking on a Brussels sprout that she was forced to eat because she was so stoned."

Needless to say, thank God these people were saved. Here are their stories, as researched by the always-wonderful Meg McGinn.

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2. If a choking incident could possibly be sexy, this was probably it (although I doubt it was): it involved a near-nude Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan. When they were filming a sex scene in Die Another Day, Pierce made Halle laugh and she started choking on some fruit (a fig, according to IMDB). Pierce has said that he was thinking about giving her the Heimlich, but was a little concerned about wrapping his arms around her while they were both practically naked. Luckily, he didn't have to make up his mind about the appropriateness of the situation "“ she coughed up the fig and they went on filming.

3. Who hasn't tried to swallow a pill dry (or even just not swallowed it right) and gotten that big lump stick in your throat? Cher is proof that mundane things like that happen to celebrities, too. She was backstage at the rehearsal of a Broadway play when she starting choking on a vitamin. She apparently tried to dislodge it with some bread, but when that didn't work, Robert Altman gave her the Heimlich.

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She was rushed to the Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap, Va., where it was safely removed. She later donated part of her pay as a guest star on General Hospital to the real hospital that she credited with saving her life.

5. Tom Brokaw, to the rescue! When news anchor John Chancellor sent a chunk of Gouda down the wrong pipe in 1979, it was lucky that Tom was there. The Heimlich Manuever was only a few years old at the time, and the new technique had recently been demoed on his show. "[Chancellor] turned very red and then very gray," Brokaw said. So he performed the Heimlich and popped out the cheese, and Chancellor went on the air a few hours later as planned.

6. Ed Koch, the former mayor of NYC, was eating at a restaurant in Chinatown in 1981 when he choked on"¦ something. "I choked on what we said was watercress," he said six years after the incident. "There was a debate as to whether it was watercress or spare ribs. A vote was taken and the vote was watercress." Apparently, his staff was concerned that spare ribs would be offensive to some of his constituents.

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8. He's not the only sports broadcaster to be threatened by food that took a wrong turn. In the 90s, former USC QB Pat Haden was on broadcasting duty at a Rams/Falcons game when he was viciously attacked by some broccoli. His new on-air partner, Verne Lundquist, performed the Heimlich on him. It didn't look like anyone else was going to: "I'm not sure what I would have done if I hadn't known anybody in the restaurant. Nobody was running to help." Maybe the other restaurant patrons were UCLA fans.

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10. Long before John Hinckley, Jr., tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan, a peanut tried to do him in. He was on an airplane headed around the campaign trail and casually tossed a peanut and caught it in his mouth "“ unfortunately, just as the plane was taking off. The force of the takeoff pushed his head against the seat and I guess lodged the peanut in a bad spot. Aide Mike Deaver rushed to help the future President, performed the Heimlich Maneuver that Reagan had taught him, and "the wayward nut popped quietly off the bulkhead." In typical Reagan fashion, he had a quip at the ready: "I'm sure glad I taught you that darn thing."

Obviously, I've left off President Bush choking and passing out because of a pretzel, but I think we all know about that one.

Have you narrowly avoided death by food? Tell us about it in the comments.