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    Famous Women Who Have Had Mastectomies

    . . . and a Couple of Men, Too

    Following are caricatures and bios of famous ladies who (whether or not they have had reconstruction surgeries) have undergone mastectomy procedures. Official websites, and other sites, are listed when they actively discuss cancer or mastectomies. You don't know these women because they've had mastectomies--you know them because they're famous for other things, like singing or acting. It just goes to show, having a mastectomy is an insignificant part of who you truly are.

    Amy Robach is a correspondent for ABC News, and has also worked for NBC. She ironically found out about her cancer as a result of doing a segment to encourage women to have mammograms. She had bilateral surgery.
    Anastacia Newkirk, who goes by Anastacia, is a pop singer who had bilateral surgery after being diagnosed with breast cancer twice.
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    Angelina Jolie is an award-winning actress, and also has been a volunteer for the United Nations. She is perhaps best known, in films, for her roles as Lara Croft and Maleficent. She wrote about having preventive mastectomies, due to being BRCA1+, in The New York Times.
    Ann Jillian is an Emmy Award-winning actress who openly underwent bilateral mastectomies in her 30s. She first acted as the character Bo Peep in the beloved Disney movie Babes in Toyland, which starred Annette Funicello. She has a long filmography in both movies and television, and now works as a motivational speaker. Her official website can be viewed at www.annjillian.com. She openly chose not to have reconstruction.
    Arvella Schuller is the wife of former televangelist Robert Schuller. She is a published writer of inspirational non-fiction.
    Barbara Bel Geddes acted on Broadway, on television, and in movies. One movie role was in Vertigo, starring Jimmy Stewart. She also starred on the television show Dallas.
    Betty Ford is probably most well-remembered for social cause advocacy, including recovery from addiction. She remained clothing-conscious following a mastectomy while she was First Lady of the United States, proving in a dignified manner that clothing with a higher neckline can still look fashionable and feminine.
    Caitlin Brodnick is a stand-up comedian who has appeared at such venues as The PIT in New York City. She had bilateral mastectomies, and has had a cancer documentary on Glamour magazine's website.
    Carly Simon is a singer and songwriter. Some of her most well known songs include "Anticipation" and "You're So Vain." She has also written several books for children. She had a mastectomy due to cancer in the 1990s.
    Christina Applegate is an actress who has starred in movies and also on television shows, including Married with Children, Samantha Who?, and Up All Night. The actress is open about being BRCA1+ and having bilateral mastectomies, and is a spokesperson for early detection and genetic testing.
    Debbie Wasserman Schultz is in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing her district in Florida. She has a genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and has had surgeries to address both concerns. While undergoing the surgeries, she continued to tend to her job responsibilities! Due to her own experiences, she has become an advocate for screening.
    Dianne (also known as "Dee Dee") Lennon is the eldest Lennon of the famous singing Lennon Sisters, who were first featured on The Lawrence Welk Show. Her story about surviving breast cancer can be read on St. John's website. She kept right on performing with her drainage tubes in!
    Elin Hilderbrand is a romance novelist, and is considered "the Queen of the Summer Novel." She sets her books around Nantucket Island, where she lives. She had bilateral surgery due to cancer.
    Emma Hannigan is an Irish author of fiction who had surgeries prophylactically after finding out, as a young mother, that she's BRCA1+. Despite having surgeries, she has had cancer several times. She has also written a nonfiction book about her cancer battle and gene, entitled Talk to the Headscarf.
    Erma Bombeck was an incredibly beloved newspaper columnist and book author who wrote about her experiences as a wife and mother in an engagingly humorous manner.
    Giuliana Rancic works for E! News and Fashion Police and is (obviously) obsessed with fashion, including red carpet attire. She has also appeared in movies and on televised events. After a breast cancer diagnosis, she underwent a double mastectomy.
    Happy Rockefeller was the wife of Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. She personally was a public delegate to the United Nations. Rockefeller had a double mastectomy very close to when First Lady Betty Ford did.
    Hoda Kotb, along with Kathie-Lee Gifford, hosts a morning television program on NBC. She is a highly recognizable news anchor who has been extremely open about her cancer experience.
    Jane Addams was a political and social activist. As an outreach to immigrants, she co-founded the first U.S. settlement house. Addams was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
    Joni Eareckson Tada is perhaps most well known for founding Joni and Friends, a ministry for the disabled, following a diving accident in 1967 that caused quadriplegia. She's also, among other things, a prolific author, artist, radio and television show host, and singer.
    Judy Blume is a famous author. Though she has written books for adults, she's most well known for her books for teens. They have often been controversial, yet have proven wildly popular with her intended audience.
    Julia Child was a beloved, Emmy award-winning televised chef and cookbook author. In her cooking and various television shows, she focused on fine dining. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy in the 1960s. You can read a bit about her cancer experience on Coping with Cancer magazine's website.
    Kathy Bates is an experienced actress and director. Among many roles--including on Broadway--she starred in the television show Harry's Law and in the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Bates is both a breast and ovarian cancer survivor, and has had bilateral mastectomies. Like some women who have had mastectomies, Bates developed a condition called lymphedema following surgery.
    Linda Ellerbee is a journalist who has worked for both ABC and NBC. She is perhaps most well known by those who grew up watching her as the host of Nick News on the cable station Nickelodeon. As a motivational speaker, she shares her cancer story with others, including that she had bilateral mastectomies.
    Lynn Redgrave and her daughter wrote a book about her cancer journey, entitled Journal: A Mother and Daughter's Recovery from Breast Cancer. More can be discovered at www.redgrave.com. Ms. Redgrave was a member of a family renowned for its acting abilities, and personally acted in theater, on television, and in film.
    Mary Wickes, an acting icon with a distinctive look, appeared in such movies as The Trouble with Angels and White Christmas; and on TV shows, including Dennis the Menace. As a result of her mastectomy, as is the same for many women, she developed lymphedema in her arm.
    Michelle Heaton is a singer who was a member of the group Liberty X. She has also appeared on reality television. She had preventive surgery due to being BRCA2+.
    Mindy Cohn is probably most well known for her role as Natalie on The Facts of Life. She had a double mastectomy following a cancer diagnosis.
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    Minnie Riperton was a singer, songwriter, and recording artist. In a time when it was not commonly talked about, Riperton went public about having breast cancer. Comedic actress and former Saturday Night Live star Maya Rudolph is her daughter.
    Montel Williams formerly hosted the TV talk show The Montel Williams Show. He is now an advocate for such causes as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and healthy eating. Due to a misdiagnosis, Williams had bilateral mastectomies, without reconstruction, as a young man.
    Myrna Loy was a prolific actress in the 1920s-1940s. She starred in the original Cheaper by the Dozen movie, and its sequel, Belles on their Toes.
    Nancy Reagan is most well-known for her role as the wife of the late U.S. president Ronald Reagan. Before being First Lady, however, she had a successful career as an actress, both on Broadway and with MGM.
    Natalie Schafer, an actress who played various high society parts over the years, was delightful in her role as "Lovey" Howell, the wife of Thurston Howell III, on Gilligan's Island. She had bilateral mastectomies.
    Olivia Newton-John is probably most remembered for playing Sandy in the movie Grease, opposite John Travolta. However, she has also been a singer and clothing designer. You can learn about The Olivia Newton John Cancer Centre at www.oliviaappeal.com
    Rene' Syler is a journalist and writer. She was a host of CBS' The Early Show. Though she's not a carrier of one of the known genetic defects that can lead to breast cancer, major family history led to her decision to have prophylactic surgery.
    Richard Roundtree is an actor, who, among many other roles, played the title character in Shaft. He has been open about his experience dealing with male breast cancer. More of his story can be found on Essence's website, where he shares about how this disease impacts a surprising number of men.
    Rita Wilson is a producer, singer, and actress (in movies, television, and on Broadway). One of the most well-known movies she appears in is Sleepless in Seattle. All of that being said, one of her other claims to fame is that she's married to actor Tom Hanks. Wilson had bilateral surgery due to cancer.
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    Ruth Handler, cofounder of Mattel, was probably most well known for "inventing" Barbie. However, she also had a mastectomy following cancer, and went on to work on creating prostheses she felt were more realistic. The brand she developed is Nearly Me.
    Sandra Lee, who has had a double mastectomy, is a celebrity cook, has starred on various shows on Food Network, is an author of many books, and also has her own magazine. Lee is a Daytime Emmy Award winner. She's married to the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
    Samantha Harris is the former cohost of Dancing with the Stars and also worked on Entertainment Tonight. While she was given the option to have a lumpectomy (after an initial one) due to her cancer diagnosis, she opted to have bilateral mastectomies.
    Sarah Ophelia Cannon was a comedian from Tennessee who appeared on Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw as the character Minnie Pearl. She never seemed to go anywhere without wearing her flowered hat, complete with prominently hanging price tag. There is now a cancer foundation in Minnie Pearl's name. The website is located at www.minniepearl.org.
    Shannen Doherty is an actress well known for her roles in such television shows as Little House on the Prairie, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Charmed.
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    Sharon Osbourne, perhaps originally best known as "Ozzy Osbourne's wife," is now a celebrity in her own right, after appearing on such hits as the reality show America's Got Talent and talk show The Talk. She had prophylactic (before cancer) mastectomies, due to having a breast cancer gene.
    Shelley Morrison played a nun in The Flying Nun (opposite Sally Field), and has acted in television on General Hospital and Will & Grace.
    Shirley Temple Black was the beloved, be-dimpled '30s actress with blonde ringlets. However, her career did not end with childhood stardom. She later worked in Republican politics, including a job as American ambassador, and on the boards for causes she believed in. www.shirleytemple.com talks a bit about her conquering breast cancer.
    Tatyana Kot is an actress on stage and in movies, as well as a ballerina. She had to have bilateral surgery due to cancer, and was back up and acting very soon afterward.
    Tig Notaro is a stand-up comic and actress. She had mastectomies due to having cancer on both sides, and decided not to have reconstruction or wear prostheses.
    Vivian Vance, an Emmy Award-winning actress, is most widely known for her starring role on I Love Lucy as Ethel, Lucy's long-suffering best friend and the wife of the cantankerous Fred Mertz.
    Wanda Sykes wears many hats--including that of a writer, comedian, and actress who has starred in movies and film. To lower her risk, she opted to have bilateral surgery after finding out she had early-stage breast cancer.

    Do you know of another celebrity who has had a mastectomy and openly shares about it? Please send an e-mail to let me know. The contact page has a form so you can participate even if you wish to remain anonymous.

    Inclusion does not imply endorsement by either party. It is believed all the women above have openly disclosed having mastectomies, and would hopefully be delighted to know other women can find strength and inspiration in their stories. If this is in error, please use the form above to let me know. Images are caricatures drawn by Melissa especially for use exclusively on the site. Many thanks to all the Flattops who keep their eyes and ears open for new inclusions. Page started in July 2006.