There are many rumours about historical figures and sexually transmitted infections. In the past, when it was difficult to get a doctor’s diagnosis, anyone with a grudge could start such rumours about sexual health and promiscuity, particularly if someone appeared in poor health. Here are some famous figures, however, who definitely did have diagnosed STIs:
The infamous gangster Al Capone had advanced syphilis when he was finally released from prison in 1939. Alphonse Gabriel Capone checked into a hospital in Baltimore for private treatment under the name of ‘Mr Martini’. When this information was leaked to the media, doctors covered for the gangster and claimed he was suffering from a nervous system disorder. When he died, his obituary mentioned nothing about the disease but did mention paresis, a neuropsychiatric disorder often resulting from syphilis.
The well-known occultist Aleister Crowley caught gonorrhoea as a teen, confessing in one of his books that he caught it from a prostitute in Glasgow. It was this incident that led to him being excluded from the Tonbridge School in England. Whilst studying at Cambridge as a young man, he was unfortunate enough to contract syphilis from another prostitute.
Henri de Toulouse-Latrec
The famous post-impressionist painter died in 1901 from syphilis and alcoholism. As well as his paintings, he was also known for his genetic abnormality, in that he had unusually short legs. He often painted prostitutes which led fellow painter Edgar Degas to claim that his work ‘stank of syphilis’. He could well have contracted the disease from one of his many models, but nobody knows for sure. Sadly, he lived before penicillin was available so might have been treated with mercury instead. If you think you might have contracted any form of STI, make sure you get checked out with Home STI kits London from https://www.bexleysexualhealth.org/chlamydia_screening/
Maurice Barrymore was a famous stage actor who lived between 1849 and 1905. He is the great-grandfather of American actress Drew Barrymore. He was diagnosed with syphilis in 1901 after going insane during a performance in New York. Sadly, he spent the remaining years of his life in institutions and died in a private sanatorium.
Another gangster, the infamous John Dillinger was diagnosed with gonorrhoea in 1924. The diagnosis came about when he was first sent to jail for a 6-year sentence. The treatment at the time was a rather painful procedure that involved injecting silver nitrate into the urethra! He got up to no good and tried to escape during his first 3 months, which resulted in an extra year being added to his sentence. Considering his treatment though, is it any wonder he was filled with an intense desire to leave?