Wednesday, 21 December 2016


My obituary of Henry Heimlich, inventor of the eponymous manoeuvre to deal with choking, is up at the Guardian online, you can link to it here. It is pretty much as filed; the biggest cut was some information about his wife Jane. I found it fascinating that she wrote a book called Things Your Doctor Won't Tell You, and co-authored another about Homeopathy. Given Heimlich's sometime shaky status with the medical establishment, that seemed somehow telling. I'm not sure the ubiquitous nature of her father, Arthur Murray, and his self-promoting dance empire, would be clear in Britain; I debated trying to make a connection with his son-in-law and his self-promotion, and later learned (but from only one source) that Arthur Murray  Heimlich's medical school.  But the connection seemed interesting, particularly in light of all the celebrity endorsements his technique received in its early days (including New York mayor Ed Koch, see photo).

They also cut my mention that Heimlich's father moved to New Rochelle to work as a prison social-worker, which also seemed interesting to me: those two influences seemed to combine to define his own personality. And the antipathy shown by his son Peter, whose campaign against his father was virulent and lasted for decades, is something worth its own story, if not novel.

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