Robin Leach was best known as the host of the 1984-95 television series, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which featured palatial homes, yachts, expensive cars and lavish lifestyles of wealthy entertainers, athletes and corporate executives. Leach died prematurely at the very young age of 76 from a second stroke, which occurred 10 months after his first stroke that cost him the ability to speak and use his right side.
Leach’s signature line on his show was “champagne wishes and caviar dreams,” and he tried to live with some of the same extravagance as his rich and famous guests. His excess is seen in later photographs that show how much weight he had gained and usually have him holding a cigar and a drink. His weight gain was primarily in his belly, signifying that he was most likely a diabetic, a major risk factor for strokes.
Early Start in Journalism
He was born in London and decided at an early age that he wanted to be a journalist. He went to Harrow High School and at age 14 edited the school magazine, The Gayton Times. At 15 he became a general news reporter for his borough’s local paper, the Harrow Observer. He started a monthly glossy local magazine at age 17, and at 18 he became the youngest page-one reporter ever for the Daily Mail, the UK’s second-biggest selling newspaper.
In 1963, at age 22, he immigrated to New York where he wrote for the New York Daily News, People and Ladies Home Journal. He became show business editor of The Star, and launched GO Magazine at age 26. Then he moved on to television, and at age 43 he became the famous host of his own television series, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, which ran for 11 years. According to Leach, in 1981 Ronald Reagan replaced Jimmy Carter’s peanut-farmer image with that of Hollywood wealth and elegance, so he felt it was time to show how the rich really live. His first guest was the then-richest man in the world, Adnan Khashoggi, who showed off his vacation home in Kenya, apartment in New York City, plane and yacht.
When his television show ended, Leach moved to Las Vegas where he wrote for the Las Vegas Sun and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He also wrote cookbooks and was featured on a television program that promoted Las Vegas restaurants.
Risk Factors for Strokes
Strokes after age 60 are usually caused by a sudden shutting off of blood flow to the brain by a clot or by pressure from bleeding. An unhealthy lifestyle markedly increases risk for strokes. Notice how many of the risk factors for a stroke Robin Leach probably had:
• High blood pressure
• Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke
• A diet high in red and processed meats, fried foods, sugar-added foods and drinks with sugar in them and a diet low on fruits, vegetables, nuts seeds and beans (Int J Prev Med, 2013 May; 4(Suppl 2): S165–S179)
• Obesity, particularly abdominal obesity
• Diabetes (more than doubles stroke risk)
• High cholesterol
• Lack of exercise
• Narrowed neck arteries
• History of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) — a sudden loss of brain function or control of muscles that clears up soon afterwards
• Atrial fibrillation, in which clots accumulate in the upper heart and travel to block blood flow to the brain
• Blood disorders such as high red blood cells or platelets, or sickle cell anemia
• Drinking alcohol
• Use of recreational drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines or heroin
• Sleep apnea
• Having had a previous stroke
Dr. Gabe Mirkin is a Villager. Learn more at www.drmirkin.com