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Jonathan Larson Death – Cause of Death: How did Jonathan Larson die?
American composer, lyricist and playwright, Jonathan David Larson died at his home in the early morning of January 25, 1996, ten days before his 36th birthday, the day before the first Off-Broadway preview performance of Rent.
An autopsy determined Larson died from an aortic dissection. His body was found on the kitchen floor by his roommate at 3AM. Larson had been suffering severe chest pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath for several days before his death, but doctors at Cabrini Medical Center and St. Vincent’s Hospital could not find signs of an aortic dissection even after conducting a chest X-ray and electrocardiogram, so his condition was misdiagnosed as influenza or stress.
A court found that Larson “was misdiagnosed at both hospitals” and a medical malpractice lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount. New York State medical investigators concluded that Larson may have lived if the aortic dissection had been properly diagnosed and treated with cardiac surgery. It has been speculated that Larson had undiagnosed Marfan syndrome, a claim promoted by the National Marfan Foundation at the urging of the New York State Health Department.
Larson was most famous for writing the musicals Rent and Tick, Tick… Boom!, which explored the social issues of multiculturalism, substance use disorder, and homophobia. He received three posthumous Tony Awards and a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Rent.