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Famous People You Didn't Know Were Doctors: Part II


With all of their illustrious exploits as authors, athletes, and architects, you might not have known these famous people were also doctors.

“The life given us, by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.” ―Cicero

Here is second half of the list of 10 people you might not know held a medical degree, in addition to their other illustrious exploits. (Here’s part I)

Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

His book/movie titles are among the elite of science fiction entertainment: Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, The Lost World, The Terminal Man, Westworld, Twister, Disclosure, and the smash-hit TV medical show, ER. All were created by a man who began his writing career while a medical student at Harvard.

The Chicago-born physician-author has sold over 200 million books worldwide. And he’s an Oscar, Emmy, and Peabody Award winner. Steven Spielberg said Crichton “was the greatest at blending science with big theatrical concepts.”

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)

It’s “elementary” that a doctor would create Sherlock Holmes — because one did.

A Scottish-born physician, Doyle was the man who created the world famous fictional detective. Beginning in 1887 and for more than 60 epic, mostly short, stories, Doyle saw to it that Homes somehow solved the case. Holmes held deductive and reasoning powers of miraculous proportions.

Doyle had patterned Holmes after, Dr. Joseph Bell, one of his medical professors at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, where he graduated in 1881.

Roger Bannister (1929-today)

Running a medical practice requires patience. Running on a track requires speed. Bannister had both. Thus, it took a physician to be the first human being to run a sub-4-minute mile.

After disappointment at the 1952 Olympics and stiff competition to make mile history, Bannister broke the barrier in May 1954 at Oxford during an AAA meet. He would hold the mile record of 3:59.4 for just over 6 weeks. The English-born Bannister attended medical school at the University of Oxford and he went on to a notable career as a neurologist and Oxford college master.

And despite his fleet fame, Bannister said he would rather be remembered for his medical work.

William Thornton (1759-1828)

As doctors have seen with Obamacare, politics and medicine seldom mix. But with Thornton it did.

Born in the British Virgin Islands, Thornton was the designer of the glorious US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. He had won a 1789 contest to design the facility that would accommodate America’s new bicameral legislature.

A man of incredibly varied ability, Thornton was a respected painter, inventor, architect, and University of Aberdeen-trained physician (1784). He later served as the US Patent Office chief. George Washington had summoned Thornton to his deathbed, but the doctor reached Mount Vernon too late to treat “Our Founding Father.”

Ronan Tynan (1960-today)

While today’s doctors have little to sing about, one physician has taken it to a high art form. An internationally-renowned Irish-born tenor-singer, Tynan has performed for American presidents, Catholic cardinals, the MLB, and the NHL.

He earned his MD from Trinity College in Dublin in 1993 and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries. Birth defects and a 1980 auto accident had caused the amputation of his lower legs, but Tynan loves sports and is a gold medal Paralympics winner.

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