Dr. Death

Nickname given to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a physician who took the limelight in 1990-91 when he advocated helping people to die. He called himself an “obitiatrist,” preferring to be known as someone who engaged in “medicide.”

Dr. Death provided the “means, expertise, counseling and assuredness” to leave this world in peace. Critics however called him a “serial mercy killer.”

The controversy over his tactics in helping patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, or other terminal/painful disorders kill themselves made this physician the man of the hour in the media.

He made the rounds on the talk show and news magazine circuit defending his position, even appearing as a guest on ABC NEWS NIGHTLINE hosted by Ted Koppel.

Dr. Death’s suicide list included an Alzheimer patient whom he helped die in June of 1990; and two Michigan women, a former elementary school teacher who had suffered from a painful genital disorder and a former housewife with Multiple Sclerosis both whom died in a double doctor-assisted suicide on October 23, 1991.

Dr. Death wasn’t in this for the money, however. He provided his suicide machine at no cost. The machine consisted of three bags of solutions that dripped into an intravenous line attached to the body of the person to die.

In the case of a person whose veins were too weak to take an intravenous needle, Dr. Death had a back-up system-a face mask attached to a canister of carbon monoxide.

On November 22, 1998 CBS 60 MINUTES news magazine broadcast Dr, Kevorkian actually administering death to a patient. The following week he was accused of 1st degree premeditated murder by the State of Michigan and later found guilty of second degree murder in March of 1999. Dr. Kervorkian’s videotape of the injection death of Lou Gehrig’s disease patient, Thomas Youk, prompted his arrest.

Michigan Judge Jessica Cooper sentenced Kevorkian to 10 to 25 years in prison but not before she rebuked his behavior, saying, “You had the audacity to go on national television, show the world what you did and dare the legal system to stop you. Well, sir, consider yourself stopped.”

Note: In 1991, The Hemlock Society published their controversial suicide manual entitled Final Exit.

The 5/9/95 broadcast of THE LATE SHOW with David Letterman featured the top ten Dr. Kevorkian Pick Up lines: No.10 “Some call me Dr. Death, but you can call me Dr. Love”; No.5 “If you ever want out of the relationship…that can be arranged”; and No.1 “Can I buy you a last drink?”

On the 12/9/98 installment of THE TONIGHT SHOW, host Jay Leno mentioned Dr. Kevorkian’s Christmas TV special entitled “Not a Creature Was Stirring.”

On the sitcom LEARNING THE ROPES/SYN/1988-89, professional wrestler Steve “Dr. Death” Williams doubled as a wrestler known as “The Masked Maniac.”


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Insulting Nicknames, News and Investigative Reporting

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