1. Tracy Morgan
Tracy Morgan (1968–) is an American actor and comedian best known for his eight seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (1996–2003) and for his role as Tracy Jordan in the comedy series 30 Rock (2006–2013). He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2009 for his work on 30 Rock and has appeared in numerous films as an actor and voice actor.
On June 7, 2014, a tractor-trailer struck Morgan’s minibus on the New Jersey Turnpike, causing a devastating multicar crash that left Morgan with a life-threatening brain injury, a broken leg and broken ribs. The crash took the life of his longtime close friend, comedian James McNair. Morgan spent more than a week in a medically induced coma during which his life hung in the balance. When he awoke from his coma, he was blind for six days and faced a prolonged and grueling recovery. Morgan said he even contemplated suicide while recovering from the near-fatal crash and suffering from the loss of his friend. According to Morgan, “I thought I was going to die for a long time. My thoughts — I was in a very dark place. I was sitting right here, contemplating suicide. I couldn’t walk.”
Morgan was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her “SuperSoul Sunday” program. While Morgan was in a coma, he had an NDE during which he met God and was reunited with his late father, Jimmy Morgan. He described going to heaven while he was fighting to stay alive. “When you’re in a coma for eight to ten days, you’re basically knocking on the door.” Morgan described having a very clear vision during the time he was in the coma. “I don’t know if I was in the coma or in and out of the coma. But I remember … I was talking to my dad.” Morgan’s father passed away in 1987 after losing a battle against AIDS. When Tracy saw him, his father reportedly told him it’s not his time to die. “He had this green, this green thing on. I just remember him saying, ‘I’m not ready for you, son.'” The spiritual encounter was incredibly overwhelming for Morgan. “I started crying so hard. Probably harder than I cried at his funeral. I just kept saying, ‘Dad.’ He was my best friend in life.” According to Morgan, his dad told him he still had to “finish the job.”
Often in tears during the interview with Oprah, Morgan said he truly believes he was in heaven and that his late father encouraged him to return to the living world. “When you’re in a coma for eight to ten days, and you survive, trust me, you’re at peace,” he told Oprah. “I’ve been to the Other Side and I came back with gifts,” he added. “These jokes I’m giving y’all — they’re gifts!”
Morgan’s NDE also included a conversation with God. Morgan said God told him he still has plans for the him. “I went to the Other Side. This is not something I’m making up. Do you know what God said to me? He said, ‘Your room ain’t ready. I still got something for you to do.’ And here I am, doing an interview with you.”
After his trip to heaven, Morgan says he’s now a changed man and that he is transformed for the better. He now looks at his relationships in a new light. When asked by Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday if a person can ever be normal again after a near-death experience Morgan answered, “No. I told my wife that the other day. ‘Something’s different. The way I am with people.’ I find myself saying ‘I love you’ 200 times a day to strangers. I don’t care. I don’t have to know you to love you! That’s how we’re supposed to be as human beings. We’re supposed to take care of each other.”
He believes in taking care of people and becoming a better human being. The comedian now lives an ordinary life now. He is grateful to his wife and all those who love him. Morgan says he will be back in the comedy business, but he’ll never be completely the same. “Well, you’re never going to be normal after you go through something like that. You don’t die for a few weeks and then come back to normal, trust me. Something’s going to be missing, something’s going to be gained — you just got to live your life after that. But after surviving something like that, I’m probably never going to feel normal,” Morgan explained. Today, Morgan is upbeat about his recovery, saying he thinks the near-death crash has, in fact, made him funnier. Watch a YouTube video presentation of Tracy Morgan discussing his NDE.
2. Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour (1951– ) is a British-American actress best known for her performances in Somewhere In Time (1980), East of Eden (1981), War and Remembrance (1988), and the American television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1993–1998). She has earned an Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. When Seymour was 36 years of age, she had a severe case of the flu and was given an injection of penicillin. She suffered an allergic reaction which led to a near-death experience.
As Seymour described it in her book, Among Angels: “I literally left my body. I had this feeling that I could see myself on the bed, with people grouped around me. I remember them all trying to resuscitate me. I was above them, in the corner of the room looking down. I saw people putting needles in me, trying to hold me down, doing things. I remember my whole life flashing before my eyes, but I wasn’t thinking about winning Emmys or anything like that. The only thing I cared about was that I wanted to live because I did not want anyone else looking after my children. I was floating up there thinking, ‘No, I don’t want to die. I’m not ready to leave my kids.’ And that was when I said to God, ‘If you’re there, God, if you really exist and I survive, I will never take your name in vain again.’ Although I believe that I ‘died’ for about thirty seconds, I can remember pleading with the doctor to bring me back. I was determined I wasn’t going to die.” Then Jane suddenly found herself back in her body.
Seymour says, “I realized you take nothing with you other than the difference you maybe made in the world and/or the love that you shared with people you interact with.” Watch a YouTube video presentation of Jane Seymour discussing her NDE.
3. Peter Sellers
Peter Sellers (1925–1980) was the comic genius of a generation of actors. He brought brilliant characterizations to numerous films, including The Mouse That Roared (1959), Dr. Strangelove (1964), The Pink Panther (1964), and Being There (1979). He was known for his enthusiastic way of totally absorbing himself in his characters, even carrying roles offstage. He also suffered from sad moods between films. While he knew his characters thoroughly, he said that he really did not know who he was. Then Peter Sellers, the brilliant, confused actor, had a near-death experience.
Seated in a Hollywood mockup of a limousine’s back seat while shooting his last great film, “Being There”, he told Shirley MacLaine about his NDE, astonished that she did not consider him “bonkers.” In 1964, during the first of a rapid series of eight heart attacks, when his heart stopped and he was clinically dead, he had an out-of-body experience and saw the bright, loving light. In her book, Out on a Limb, Shirley MacLaine recounts Sellers’ experience: “Well, I felt myself leave my body. I just floated out of my physical form and I saw them cart my body away to the hospital. I went with it … I wasn’t frightened or anything like that because I was fine; and it was my body that was in trouble.” The doctor saw that Sellers was dead and massaged his heart vigorously, Meanwhile: “I looked around myself and I saw an incredibly beautiful bright loving white light above me. I wanted to go to that white light more than anything. I’ve never wanted anything more. I know there was love, real love, on the other side of the light which was attracting me so much. It was kind and loving and I remember thinking ‘That’s God'” Peter’s out-of-body soul tried to elevate itself toward the light, but he fell short: “Then I saw a hand reach through the light. I tried to touch it, to grab onto it, to clasp it so it could sweep me up and pull me through it.” But just then Sellers’ heart began beating again, and at that instant the hand’s voice said: ‘It’s not time. Go back and finish. It’s not time.'” As the hand receded he felt himself floating back down to his body, waking up bitterly disappointed.”
What effect did his near-death experience have on Sellers? In the book Peter Sellers: The Authorized Biography by Alexander Walker, the author states, “The repeated act of ‘dying’ became for Peter Sellers the most important experience of his life. Sellers said of death, ‘I’ll never fear it again.’ Family and friends found him more spiritual and reflective than before. He began to trust spiritualists over all others. Most (if not all) decisions were based on advice received from Maurice Woodruff, his clairvoyant and astrologer. The experience of resurrection intensified Sellers’ spiritual concern and friends discerned the start of a new introspectiveness, a sense of his not ‘being there’ in spirit, though present in body.” His wife Britt Ekland found it unnerving that her previously restless husband had now become so quiet. He was now “sitting still over lengthy periods, saying nothing, but staring at her with his thoughts turned inward.” He returned to England for an extended convalescence, but soon reverted to old habits and bought his 84th car, an expensive Ferrari.
According to Walker, a couple of years before the NDE, Peter had played an earnest priest in “Heavens Above”, and developed a serious interest in Christianity (although he was born Jewish). During this time, following his father’s death in 1962, Sellers was drawn to long, serious discussions about life’s meaning with a neighboring vicar in London, the Rev. John Hester, “to try to reconcile the world of plenty he inhabited with the emptiness of soul that oppressed him.” After his NDE, he deepened his quest for spiritual truth, continuing his discussions with Rev. Hester, coming close to joining the church. In later years he practiced yoga, saying once that “Yoga has given me a tranquility I wouldn’t have thought possible.” The NDE strengthened Sellers’ conviction that he was a reincarnated soul whose power of mimicry sprang from memories of past lives. But in his current incarnation, at least, he felt lost. He did not know who he was and why he was on this earth. He explained to Shirley MacLaine: “I know I have lived many times before … that experience confirmed it to me, because in this lifetime I felt what it was for my soul to actually be out of my body. But ever since I came back, I don’t know why I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do, or what I came back for.”
According to Walker, spirituality gave Sellers some peace, but did not still his restless drift. In 1977 he complained that his yoga practice did not stop his heart disease: “After all, what did it do for me? I obeyed all the instructions. I said my prayers regularly. I did all the exercises for peace, tranquility, and happiness. And all that happened was that I got steadily worse.” Although Sellers’ NDE awakened him to a deepened spirituality, it did not usher in a major, lasting change in his soul’s makeup. The brilliant actor still felt lost. On July 24, 1980, at the young age of 54, Sellers collapsed from a final heart attack – only this time, it was his time to go.
4. Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011) was a British-American actress and humanitarian who began as a child actress in the early 1940s. She was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. Her breakthrough role was the film National Velvet (1944). She then made the transition to adult roles in Father of the Bride (1950) and A Place in the Sun (1951). She continued her career successfully into the 1960s and remained a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. The American Film Institute named her the seventh greatest female screen legend in 1999.
Taylor was interviewed by Larry King on CNN’s Larry King Live and spoke about her experience of having died on the operating table for five minutes while undergoing back surgery. She described passing through a tunnel towards a brilliant white light and encountering the spirit of Michael Todd (Taylor’s third husband who was killed in a plane crash in 1958), whom she referred to as her great love. She had wanted to stay in heaven with Todd, she said, but he had told her that she had work and life ahead of her, and he “pushed me back to my life.” Following her resuscitation, the eleven-person medical team — including doctors, nurses, etc. — witnessed Taylor’s testimonial of this event: “I was pronounced dead once and actually saw the light. I find it very hard to talk about, actually, because it Elizabeth Taylor, A Passion for Life: The Wit and Wisdom of a Legend sounds so corny. It happened in the late ’50s, and I saw Mike. When I came to, there were about eleven people in the room. I’d been gone for about five minutes. They had given me up for dead and put my death notice on the wall. I shared this with the people that were in the room next to me. Then after that I told another group of friends, and I thought, “Wow, this sounds really screwy. I think I’d better keep quiet about this. For a long time I didn’t talk about it, and it’s still hard for me to talk about. But I have shared it with people with AIDS because if the moment occurs and you’re really sharing, it’s real. I am not afraid of death, because I have been there.”
In an interview with America’s AIDS magazine, Taylor described her NDE again: “I went to that tunnel, saw the white light, and Mike [Todd]. I said, Oh Mike, you’re where I want to be. And he said, ‘No, Baby. You have to turn around and go back because there is something very important for you to do. You cannot give up now.’ It was Mike’s strength and love that brought me back.”
After many years of ill health, Taylor died from congestive heart failure at the age of 79 in 2011. Watch a YouTube video presentation and an ABC News video interview of Elizabeth Taylor discussing her NDE.
5. Robert Pastorelli
The late Robert Pastorelli (1954–2004) acquired a reputation as a skilled character actor in the 1980s and 1990s in films such as Outrageous Fortune (1987), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), Dances with Wolves (1990), Eraser (1996), and Michael (1996). His big break in television came in the role of the gruff but lovable house painter “Eldin Bernecky” on the series Murphy Brown, and he stayed with the show for seven seasons from 1988 to 1994.
On June 21, 1973, at the age of 19, Pastorelli had a near-fatal car accident which led to a near-death experience that literally changed how he was living, in a very dramatic way. He describes it as follows: “Late in the afternoon I was goin’ about 90 mph. It smashed right into the driver’s door. It hit me so hard it actually knocked the shoes off my feet. My car rolled over about four times on this big highway and the next thing I knew I was in intensive care with a collapsed lung. Every one of my ribs was shattered. I had lacerations to my head and face, and my kidneys, spleen and gall bladder were all ruptured. I was a mess. I was in excruciating pain. Then, in the next second, there was no pain. Suddenly I realized I was out of my body. I was floating above myself, looking down at my unconscious body lying in the hospital emergency room with my eyes closed. I could see tubes down my nose and throat. I knew I was dying and I thought, ‘Well, this must be death.’ I even saw a priest giving me the last rites. But it was the most peaceful feeling in the world. Then I saw my father starting to faint out of grief. Two nurses grabbed him and sat him down in a chair across the room. When I looked down and saw my father’s pain it had an effect on me. I firmly believe that at that moment I made a decision to live, not die. The next thing I knew I was waking up back in my body. Later, in the recovery room, when I was fully conscious, I told my father what had happened, his fainting and all. He was astounded.”
By August that year, everything had changed for Pastorelli. “After almost dying, things like a secure job and pension suddenly became meaningless … A goal like acting — which I thought was unattainable — became the only thing I focused on. If I hadn’t had the accident, I’d probably be dead or just sleepwalking through life … It was my destiny to have that accident.” he says. “I felt such freedom. I realized there’s a soiul and eternal life, that part of you can’t die, that the soul keeps recycling until we reach a point of bliss. I sound like Gandhi — I mean, Gandherelli, don’t I?”
Unfortunately, Pastorelli’s career went into decline after the death of his girlfriend under mysterious circumstances at his home in 1999. He died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2004. Sources say Pastorelli, 49, previously battled heroin addiction and had been depressed since the suicide of his girlfriend, Charemon Jonovich.
6. Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone (1958– ) is an American actress, film producer, and former fashion model. She first came to worldwide attention for her role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the sci-fi thriller Total Recall (1990) before achieving international recognition with her starring role in the erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992). She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her performance as Ginger McKenna in the crime drama film Casino (1995), directed by Martin Scorsese.
During interviews, Stone has revealed how she underwent a “white light” experience during a severe brain hemorrhage in 2001. Stone says she almost died from internal bleeding caused by a tear in an artery at the base of her skull sending her “into that vortex of white light” where she encountered dead friends. About her brain hemorrhage, she says “When it hit me, I felt like I’d been shot in the head. That’s the only way I can really describe it. It hit me so hard, it knocked me over on the sofa. And Phil was out of town and I called him and said, ‘I think I had a stroke.'”
Stone’s NDE occurred after the doctors performed an MRI on her. She was unconscious in the MRI tube, and when she came out, the doctors were talking to her. Then her NDE happened: “It’s sort of like passing out but you sort of pass up,” she said. The experience started off with an explosion of white light. “It’s just a lot of white light and you see people that have passed on, and they talk to you, and then you pop right back into your body,” Stone said. The experience, however, did not leave Stone surprised; instead she felt an “incredible sense of well-being,” and described the feeling as beautiful. “It’s a very near and very safe … and loving, and gentle, and OK [feeling], and there’s nothing to be afraid of,” she said. “I had a real journey with this, that took me to places both here and beyond that affected me so profoundly, that my life will never be the same … I get to be not afraid of dying and I get to tell other people that it’s a fabulous thing and that death is a gift. And not that you should kill yourself, but that when death comes to you, as it will, that it’s a glorious and beautiful thing. This kind of giant vortex of white light was upon me and I kind of — poof! Sort of took off into this glorious, bright, bright, bright white light and I started to see and be met by some of my friends. But it was very fast — whoosh! Suddenly, I was back. I was in my body and I was in the room.”
Stone says the brain aneurysm changed everything for her and ushered in a dark period that ultimately gave her a new outlook on life. “I had to learn to walk, hear, write, talk, remember and everything all over again,” she says. “I thought that I was dying for a long time, even after I came home.” In the years that followed, her life came apart at the seams. In 2004, Stone and her husband Phil Bronstein divorced. In 2008, he was granted full custody of their son. “There was a part of me that felt like wow, I lost so much,” Stone says. “My career was basically over, my family was over, I got divorced, my child was taken away — a lot of my identity, I thought. I got down, down to it. And when I got down to it, it’s like being a phoenix. I was burned to the ground. Because everything I had been before, I thought, ‘I’m not any of those things anymore.'” Losing everything was like a death, she says. “But it’s not a bad thing. You know, death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Everything got richer for me through this experience. Everything got better for me through this experience. It was like starting over. Every death is a rebirth.” Watch a YouTube video presentation of Sharon Stone discussing her NDE.
7. Gary Busey
Gary Busey (1944– ), once Hollywood’s bad boy, is an American actor who has appeared in over 150 films including Lethal Weapon (1987), Point Break (1991), Under Siege (1992), The Firm (1993), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Busey was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Buddy Holly Story (1978). Busey has fought addiction with drugs and alcohol for several years, was nicknamed Gary “Abusey” by his wife. Busey has had supernatural encounters during which he nearly died three or more times in his life … a drug overdose, cancer, and an accident west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
But his most life-changing experience was a near-fatal motorcycle accident that occurred on December 4th, 1988. Busey was riding his 750-pound Harley Davidson without wearing a helmet when he crashed while traveling about 40-50 mph. He flung over the top of his motorcycle and hit head-first into the curb. He split his skull from the right temple to the top of his head, knocking a hole in his head as big as a 50 cent piece, and fractured his lower back. While undergoing brain surgery, Busey had an NDE:
“When I went to the Other Side there were balls of light in the air and three of them came down to my essence. I was about a foot long and a quarter of an inch wide. I wasn’t a boy or a girl. I had no emotions from earth. And the light on the left spoke to me in an androgynous voice, in thought telling me what I’ve been doing was good, direction I was going in, good, ups and down downs … [what] comes with the dinner on the unconscious menu. It said, ‘Where are you going now? You need to look for help in the spiritual realm.’ And then the voice said, ‘You may come with us now or return to your body and continue your destiny. It’s your choice,’ the light said.” Busey says that the balls of light surrounding him were angels; but they “didn’t appear in the form people see on Christmas cards. These angels floated around him and carried nothing but love and warmth — and this love is unconditional.” Busey continues, “I died after surgery and I went to the Other Side and I had quite a journey that started me in a new door of my life. Understanding that there’s more here than I thought there was … and that’s the way with everybody truly. There’s more in you than you think there is, and the giving and the loving you have, and not taking things personally, and not taking things seriously, will take you to a place of calm and relaxation where everything okay.”
As a result of his NDE, Busey has dedicated his life to Jesus and has been a prominent speaker at many Christian Promise Keepers rallies. He is no longer the “bad boy” of Hollywood. Watch a YouTube video presentation of Gary Busey discussing his NDE.
8. Larry Hagman
Larry Hagman (1931–2012) was an American film and television actor, director and producer best known for playing ruthless oil baron J. R. Ewing in the 1980s prime time television soap opera Dallas, and befuddled astronaut Major Anthony “Tony” Nelson in the 1960s sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie.
Hagman underwent a liver transplant in 1995. Years of heavy drinking resulted in cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. He was only weeks away from certain death at the time of his NDE which occurred in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit following his liver transplant operation. According to his autobiography, Hello Darlin’: Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life, Hagman described his experience as follows: “I was able to look over the edge. I got a little glimpse of what was the next step. I didn’t see a light some people see, but I had a wonderful feeling of bliss and warmth. The bottom line is love, that sounds corny, but it was just lovely, uplifting.”
Hagman recalled focusing on what he calls his “celestial song” which he believes each of us uniquely has, just waiting to burst forth. “Everyone has their own unique song, an inner melody that fuses each of us to the deep, modulating, harmonious hum of the celestial orchestra that’s the collective energy of everything that’s ever lived and ever going to live. It’s our life force. The power of the universe.” Hagman’s NDE gave him “a feeling that was ecstatically happy and familiar — and it confirmed what I’d always suspected, that every one of us living creatures is part of a collective energy that is also ecstatically happy and familiar. The culmination of that energy is love. It’s with us now, it always has been, and it always will be. Every one of us has this familiarity. We know it. The problem is, we bury it under so much apprehension and worry.” At some point in his NDE, Hagman understood that it was “not yet time to cross over.” Hagman was also allowed a deep insight and understanding about life and what comes after: “This was not the end. There were more levels, an infinite number of levels, of existence, each one adding to the hum of the cosmic orchestra, as if we’re always spiraling upward until we reach a state of atomic bliss.” It occurred to Hagman that every religion he knew of had tried to figure out the meaning of life and had essentially reached the same conclusion — the meaning of life is love. Hagman’s philosophy of life resulting from his NDE became: “Don’t worry. Be happy. Feel good.”
Hagman died on November 23, 2012, from complications of acute myeloid leukemia. Read Larry Hagman’s entire amazing experience here.
9. William Petersen
William Petersen (1953– ) is an American actor and producer who is best known for playing Dr. Gilbert “Gil” Grissom in the CBS series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation which ran from 2000 to 2015. Petersen also starred in such films as To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Manhunter (1986).
Petersen had an NDE in the 1980’s which he described in an interview for Playboy magazine (March 2004, page 139): “Years ago, doing a play in Chicago, I cut my finger in half onstage. We obviously had to stop because, well, I didn’t have a finger. By the time they got me to the ER, I had lost a lot of blood and passed out. I could hear the doctors working on me, saying that they had lost my vital signs. I was on the All That Jazz escalator with a long tunnel and a lot of white light. Then I specifically remember a dominant male voice saying, ‘It’s not your time. Get off the escalator. You’ve got shit to do.’ I came to and got sewed up. Something in me changed, a sort of knowledge that somewhere on the Other Side, its good. For weeks, the more I talked about it, the more freaked out people got. Some of them were like, ‘Okay, whatever: You took too many drugs.'”
About his NDE, Petersen says, “And there was a great desire to get to the light. I could tell it was a great, great place. Full of love and peace and crap like that. You know, postcard stuff. I remember the whole rest of the night I was sort of blissed out by having seen that.”
10. Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett (1926– ) is an American singer of traditional pop standards, big band, show tunes, and jazz. He is the founder of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens, New York. He had his first number-one song with “Because of You” in 1951 followed by several top hits in the early 1950s. In 1962, Bennett recorded signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco“. He has won 19 Grammy Awards, two Emmy Awards and has sold over 50 million records worldwide. But by the late 1970s, Bennett and his career was ailing. He had no record label, no manager, and he was performing almost exclusively in Vegas. Living in Los Angeles, he had a drug habit, a disintegrating marriage, and mounting debts. Bennett described what led to his NDE in 1979: “As hard as I tried to stay current with my taxes, my financial situation only got worse. The accountant called to say that the IRS was starting proceedings to take away the house. That night, in frustration I overindulged and quickly realized I was in trouble. I tried to calm myself down by taking a hot bath, but I must have passed out. And I experienced what some call a near-death experience.”
In his Bennett’s book, The Good Life: The Autobiography of Tony Bennett, he describes his NDE: “A golden light enveloped me in a warm glow” and a “clear, yellow peaceful plane that everybody who mentions a near-death experience sees” … “It was quite peaceful; in fact, I had the sense that I was jolted out of the vision.” Bennett continues, “I had the sense that I was about to embark on a very compelling journey. But suddenly I was jolted out of the vision … I knew I had to make major changes in my life … The tub was overflowing and Sandra was standing above me. She’d heard the water running for too long, and when she came in, I wasn’t breathing. She pounded on my chest and literally brought me back to life. As I was rushed to the hospital, the only thought on my mind was something my ex-manager Jack Rollins had told me about Lenny Bruce right after Lenny’s death from an overdose. All Jack said was, ‘The man sinned against his talent.’ That hit home. I realized I was throwing it all away, and I became determined to clean up my act.”
After this NDE, Bennett did make the changes he needed for his life and career to turn around. With the help of his manager/son Danny, he began to appeal to younger audiences with his music. Beginning with scheduled concerts at colleges and small theaters, he eventually got re-signed to Columbia Records in the mid-1980s although he hadn’t recorded an album in eleven years. Bennett also appeared on hip shows like The Simpsons and MTV’s Unplugged. His Unplugged disk won Bennett a Grammy. Bennett exhibits all the aftereffects of a person who has truly had a profound, life-enhancing NDE.
11. Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland (1935– ) is a Canadian actor whose film career spans 50 years. He is known for playing a diverse range of characters, both leading and supporting, including such films as M*A*S*H (1970), Kelly’s Heroes (1970), Animal House (1978), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), Ordinary People (1980), JFK (1991) and Cold Mountain (2003).
According to Jean Ritchie’s book, Death’s Door: True Stories of Near-Death Experiences, while filming Kelly’s Heroes, Sutherland had an NDE when he became ill with a severe case of meningitis and his body shut down. Sutherland describes it: “Suddenly the pain, fever and acute distress seemed to evaporate. I was floating above my body, surrounded by soft blue light. I began to glide down a long tunnel, away from the bed … but suddenly I found myself back in my body. The doctors told me later that I had actually died for a time.” Southerland says his NDE has made him more honest with himself and a better actor: “If you get on the Other Side, you’re really alone with yourself,” he says. “I gave a commencement speech at the University of Toronto this year. One section had to do with being honest with yourself. There’s no point in not being (honest); when you die, you die alone. You want to be at one with yourself and responsible to yourself. You really do not want to have too many regrets.”
12. Erik Estrada
Erik Estrada (1949– ) is an American actor, voice actor, and police officer best known for his co-starring lead role in the police drama television series CHiPs which ran from 1977 to 1983. His film credits include The Cross and the Switchblade (1970), Airport (1974), Midway (1976), National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002), and numerous appearances on TV.
In August 6, 1979, while working on the set of CHIPS, Estrada had a horrific accident which resulted in an NDE that he will never forget. Estrada describes: “It was a shot where me and Larry Wilcox, who is my partner on the show, we’re running out of a building and we jump on the bikes and we’re chasing a car.” But then something went terribly wrong and instead of being seated on top of his motorcycle, Estrada suddenly found the 600-pound vehicle on top of him. Wilcox was the first to be at his side and the Vietnam veteran kept Estrada from going into shock. Both of Estrada’s wrists were broken and his lungs were punctured and filling up with blood. He was having trouble breathing and had a lot of internal bleeding. Wilcox rode with Estrada in the ambulance. Wilcox states: “I’ll never forget it. I could see in his eyes — death — and I’ve seen it, you know, I know what it looks like … It’s almost like the spirit’s leaving the body.” At the hospital a priest came in to give him his last rights. Doctors had anticipated that Estrada had ruptured his aorta and his heart. Death could be a matter of seconds. At first they thought they would have to immediately perform open-heart surgery. But the situation almost miraculously ruled that out. But Estrada still had other serious life threatening conditions to deal with including collapsed lungs, numerous broken ribs and several unspecified internal injuries.
While he was in intensive care, Estrada had an NDE: “At the foot of my bed were four people that I knew: a friend of mine from New York, my Dad who was in a wheelchair — he was always in a wheelchair — my mother, and a friend of the family who was with my mother. And they were looking at me; but they had really sad faces on them. My mother was crying. So I got out of the bed and walked towards them. And I was maybe three, four inches away, five inches away from them. And they didn’t see me. They just kept looking, like looking through me. They were looking past me. And I turned around and I saw what they were looking at.” At this point, Estrada’s spirit was no longer in his body. Shocked at seeing himself outside of his body, Estrada knew the only way he would ever leave the intensive care unit alive was by re-entering his physical body. But something else happened instead: “Suddenly I was in a long corridor with bright lights, beautiful music, and a feeling of great peace. But something seemed to be blocking my progress. A voice told me, ‘You’ve got to go back. You’ve a lot still to do. You’ve achieved success and stardom but you haven’t achieved personal happiness and peace of mind.'” After hearing this voice, Estrada found himself back in his body.
13. Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds (1936-2018) was an American actor, director and producer who has starred in many television series and feature films, such as Deliverance (1972), The Longest Yard (1974), Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and The Cannonball Run (1981). He also won two Golden Globe Awards, one for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy for Evening Shade (1990-1994) and one for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture for Boogie Nights (1997).
In 1983, on his first day of shooting the film City Heat (1984) with Clint Eastwood, Renolds was accidentally hit in the face with a metal chair during a fight scene which broke his jaw and shattered his temporomandibular joint. Reynolds was restricted to a liquid diet, causing him to lose over 30 pounds by the time filming wrapped. His condition made headlines in the tabloids, which speculated he had AIDS. What Reynolds actually was suffering from was temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ disorder, the pain from which would later cause an addiction to the analgesics used for pain relief. Reynolds describes the pain as “worse than a migraine … It never stops … You can’t stand up. You can’t move your head. It’s like the worst seasickness all day long. And you lie there in bed.” In response to the pain, Reynolds became addicted to a collection of painkillers including morphione. But he nearly died from an addiction to the controversial sleeping pill Halcion which he was hooked on for more than four years. The pain from the injury was so intense that he took five to six pills at a time and as many as 50 a day. But when he tried to quit his addiction cold turkey, something went terribly wrong. Because of his severe dependence on the drugs, and because of his sudden lack of intake, Reynolds slipped into a coma for eight to nine hours. Reynolds told the story of his addiction and his NDE in a 1992 issue of TV Guide. Reynolds said that during the time he was comatose in a Los Angeles hospital, doctors brought in his wife, Loni Anderson, so she could say goodbye to him. He stated, “I went into a coma for about eight or nine hours. At one point they tell me that the doctors brought Loni in to say goodbye to me. And I had the whole out-of-body experience. I heard the doctor say, ‘We’re losing him.’ And I was going.”
14. Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase (1943– ) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer who rose to fame as a key cast member in the debut season of Saturday Night Live. Chase is also well known for his portrayal of the character Clark Griswold in five National Lampoon’s Vacation films, and for his roles in comedies including Foul Play (1978), Caddyshack (1980), Seems Like Old Times (1980), Modern Problems (1981), Fletch (1985), Spies Like Us (1985), and Three Amigos (1986).
While working on the film Modern Problems, Chase was electrocuted which resulted in an NDE. Chase was playing the role of an air traffic controller who developed telekinetic powers after being exposed to radioactive soap suds. According to Rena Fruchter’s biography of Chase, I’m Chevy Chase and You’re Not, Chase was being prepared for a sequence in the film during which he was dreaming of landing a plane. Large lights were put on his arms for the scene, and the special effects people had arranged to attach the lights with plastic and rubber insulation over his shirt. The director thought the lights should be attached directly to his skin; but Chase hated electricity and knew AC power was deadly. But no one involved agreed with him. “It’s perfectly safe,” they said. “Don’t worry. We can test it.” Chase gave in. They attached the lights and “turned the juice on. For ten seconds, I was screaming, as this electric current was going through my body. Screaming ‘Turn it off, turn it off!'”
Known for being a prankster, everyone thought Chase was joking around. So they ignored him and continued the test. “They thought I was kidding, until I hit the floor.” Chase nearly died in this episode of his life and it resulted in an NDE. “I woke up with a paramedic infiltrating my arm with a needle, trying to get an IV hooked up.” The pain of the attempt woke Chase up. “I remember opening my eyes and I was laid out on a blanket.” Chase was then taken to an emergency room.
The electric cuffs had left black burn marks on Chase’s arms, but more seriously, the electricity ended up burning the muscles in his arms and shoulders. It took a couple of years for Chase to heal completely during which he was weakened and depressed. Chase often found himself crying uncontrollably while in the hospital. The doctor explained to him that the electrocution had caused a near-death experience and that a strong emotional response was not unexpected. Chase spent a few days in the hospital and went back to the set. “For at least a year, I wouldn’t turn a light on or off. I asked Jayni to do it,” Chevy remembers.
Chase says he fought off the effects of his NDE by working, but he still remained weak and depressed. A few months later, he was shocked to learn of the death of John Belushi. John’s death on March 5, 1982, from a mixture of heroin and cocaine, was difficult for Chevy to handle. He couldn’t figure out how to deal with it. He was angry, devastated, and yet couldn’t seem to mourn Belushi’s death. He didn’t go to the funeral; the loss stayed with him for a long time, and it wasn’t until several years later that he finally broke down and cried.
15. Eric Roberts
Eric Roberts (1956– ) is an American actor, the brother of Academy Award winning actress Julia Roberts, whose career began with a well-received performance in King of the Gypsies (1978) for which he earned his first Golden Globe Award nomination. His second Golden Globe nomination came for his portrayal of Paul Snider in Star 80 (1983), followed by Globe and Academy Award nominations for his supporting role in Runaway Train (1985). He achieved recent recognition for his feat of acting in over 150 films between 2013 and 2015. He also starred in the Dannion Brinkley true account of his NDE, the movie Saved by the Light (1995).
In June of 1981, when Roberts was 25 years-old, he was involved in a vehicle accident which left him with a severe brain injury and in a coma. During his coma, he had an out-of-body experience and an NDE. When he returned to his body and awoke from his coma, he had severe memory loss. Then a mysterious Romanian couple, whom Roberts wasn’t acquainted with, appeared at his bedside and told Roberts they knew him. They told him he was severely injured and would have to take a particular medicine to regain his memory. Once Roberts was able to leave the hospital, he followed their instructions and his memory was restored as they foretold. The bizarre aspect to Robert’s entire experience was that no one else at the hospital had seen the Romanian couple.
Roberts was driving his Jeep at about 35 or 40 mph when he took his hands off the wheel for a moment and his eyes of the road. The result was an accident that left him with significant facial and head trauma, and comatose for four days. During his coma, he had an out-of-body experience. He describes it as follows: “Now I’m not out of the coma … but I see ‘myself’ over myself … my face looking at my face — I could actually feel my breath. I’m that close. Then I started rising … and I rise so high that the bed is about the size of my thumbnail. I can either come back to my body or not, and I chose to come back to my body.”
When he awoke from his coma, he remembered little of his life. His arm was in a sling. He had intravenous tubes coming out of his body, and he couldn’t feel the right side of my body. He had hit the left side of his body so hard that the right side was about totally gone of any feeling. The doctor told him his heart had stopped twice.
Two days later, while Eric was depressed and contemplating living with severe memory loss for the rest of his life, an elderly couple looking like gypsies whom he didn’t recognize came to visit him in the hospital. They said they were from Romania and they gave him specific instructions about medicine to take that would help him regain his memory. They told him he must start taking “Vasta Macoline” because he “had suffered a tremendous brain injury” and he’s “going to have a severe loss of memory.” They also told him that after about a month of taking Vasta Macoline, he would have to begin taking “the hard stuff” called “Aslavital” or “Gerovital”. They explained to Roberts that “Aslavital” or “Gerovital” is a “youth serum” and a “memory enhancer”. They also said the medicine was illegal, but can be gotten under the counter in most drug stores. They wrote down the names of the medicines for him, smiled, then turned and slowly left the room. After a month of hospitalization, it took Roberts about a week or two until he decided to go to the pharmacy to ask about these medicines. He went to the pharmacy where he knew the pharmacist and staff well to get the Aslavital and Gerovital. Roberts discovered the medicine was not approved by the FDA; but because the pharmacist knew Roberts, he sold it to him. Roberts took the medicine as the mysterious couple suggested and within a week his memories began to return. No one else at the hospital had seen the mysterious couple from Romania.
16. George Lucas
George Lucas (1944– ) is an American filmmaker and entrepreneur who is best known as the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, as well as the founder of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. Five of Lucas’s seven features are among the 100 highest-grossing movies at the North American box office. He is one of the American film industry’s most financially successful filmmakers, and has been personally nominated for four Academy Awards. He is also considered a significant figure in the New Hollywood era.
As a youngster, Lucas was considered a punk – a non-achiever, romantic, unathletic, unassertive, and not studious. According to his father, he was good at only two things: cruising and hanging out. Wanting to race cars seemed to be his only ambition. While Lucas was in high school, he had his heart set on becoming a professional race car driver. Then on June 12, 1962, just three days before he was to graduate from high school, without warning or advance behavior cues, Lucas was involved in a spectacular, near-fatal car crash which made him suddenly aware of his mortality. While driving his souped-up Autobianchi Bianchina, another driver going 90 mph broadsided him, causing Lucas’ car to flip over, nearly killing him. For three days he hung between life and death and was hospitalized for two weeks more. Lucas was not conscious of having an NDE, yet he behaves as if he’d had one.
It was such a horrible accident, it caused him to lose interest in racing as a career and reevaluate his life. He became obsessed with the idea of living a meaningful life, transforming overnight from a “directionless loafer” into “the guy who always works harder than everyone else.” Lucas states, “You can’t have that kind of experience and not feel that there must be a reason why you’re here. I realized I should be spending my time trying to figure out what that reason is and trying to fulfill it.” His convalescence left him little to do but read: mostly science fiction and comic books. Since the accident, he views every day as a bonus. “In high school, I lived to be a race car driver. I was in a very bad accident and so then I reevaluated all that. I said maybe there’s something else for me. Maybe there’s a reason I survived this accident that nobody should have survived which nobody should have survived. I should be dead. From that moment on, I said, you know, I’m going to get an extra day. I’m gonna get an extra day and today is my extra day. So, I got a bonus. It did give me a perspective on life that said, you know, basically I’m operating on extra credit. I can do anything I want, so therefore, let’s just go for it. I’m never afraid of dying. What I’m getting is bonus material.” Eventually, his dream developed into a love of film and photography of car races. Capturing the nostalgia of his teenage years in the early 1960s resulted in his first box office hit with the film American Graffiti. This in turn allowed Lucas to take a bolder artistic risk. He told Time magazine, “I wanted Star Wars to have an epic quality, so I went back to the epics. Whether they are subconscious or unconscious, whatever needs they meet, they are stories that have pleased or provided comfort to people for thousands of years.”
But it was stumbling on mythologist Joseph Campbell’s work about the hero’s journey, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, that brought Lucas’ efforts into focus. Lucas says that if it hadn’t been for Campbell’s influence, he may have still been writing Star Wars years later. Joseph Campbell often noted that while “mythic structure” is universal, myth itself must be kept fresh through reinterpretation. Every generation must recontextualize myth to suit their times, to create their own road map for how to fit best into the world. One of Campbell’s messages is that mythic structure is more than the underlying archetype of a good story; myth teaches us how to live well. Lucas learned the underlying mythic principals of storytelling through Campbell’s writings. And it appears Lucas used the movie Star Wars to create a mythic map of his life using various mythical elements associated with his life. Lucus’ nickname in high school was “Luke”, the same name as Luke Skywalker, the main character in the movie. As it was with Lucas, Skywalker struggled to find his place in the vast universe. You can see it in how Skywalker looked to the stars for answers. Like Skywalker, Lucas was stuck in the backwoods (Modesto, CA) and dreamed of adventures far away. The hero, Skywalker, reaches the edge of death (against Darth Vadar), receives a piece of magic (the Force), then brings that magic back home to save his community (defeating the dark side). Campbell teaches how the archetypal “belly of the whale” (i.e., the near-death experience) tends to be where the hero finds the magic he’ll later use to overcome his final ordeal. Star Wars, as a universal myth, is powerful because it is an embodiment of the universal lessons Lucas learned from his NDE. After the release of Star Wars, Campbell and Lucas became friends. Campbell credited Lucas with reinvigorating the mythic force in the modern world. In return Lucas reignited worldwide interest in Campbell’s ideas, which have had profound repercussions on world culture in general and Hollywood in particular. Lucas once called Campbell “my Yoda.” Watch an Oprah video interview presentation of George Lucus discussing his NDE.
17. Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne (1948– ) is an English singer, songwriter, and television personality who rose to prominence in the early 1970s as the lead vocalist of the band Black Sabbath, widely considered to be the first heavy metal band. Osbourne has also had a successful solo career, releasing 11 studio albums. Osbourne’s longevity and success has earned him the informal title of “Godfather of Heavy Metal”
In 2003, Osbourne “died twice” in an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) bike accident which left him in a coma for eight days with multiple injuries including fractured vertebrae, eight rib fractures, a partially collapsed lung and a badly fractured left collarbone. The accident happened at his 150-acre Victorian estate in Buckinghamshire, England while riding across the sprawling, uneven landscape for what would be one unexpected trip. Osbourne said at the time of his accident he was going, “pretty fast,” and was not wearing a helmet while on the 600-pound vehicle. He was riding with his bodyguard who recalled the accident. “I see the bike hit some berms, and it starts to bounce, and Ozzy’s holding on,” said Sam Ruston. “But what happens is the back end of the bike comes up off the ground, throwing him forward and over the handlebars.” Ruston explained that the ATV whipped on top of Osbourne, landing on his back, neck and shoulder. “As the bike’s tumbling and he’s tumbling, he actually somehow gets entangled in the bike, and he’s rolling with the bike,” said Ruston. When Ruston approached the fallen star, he was lying face down and needed a lot of help. “I turned him over and I put my head on his chest, and I hear — no breath, no heartbeat, nothing,” said Ruston.
Osbourne says, “If it wasn’t for Sam I probably wouldn’t be here. He had to bring me back to life twice.” When Osbourne stopped breathing a second time, Ruston again provided assistance. “He was the weirdest blue color when I turned him over … so — I again cleared his throat, and — I just gave one good breath, and he started breathing again.” An MTV camera crew member radioed for emergency help. Osbourne was then rushed to the hospital and placed in intensive care.
He described his confusion he had felt on gradually coming round from his coma. “I didn’t know where I was or how long I’d been there. I would drift in and out of consciousness. Other times there would be a white light shining through the darkness, but no F##king angels, no one blowing trumpets and no man in a white beard.” Osbourne, who has battled addictions to drink and drugs, said the crash finally made him “grow up.” Osbourne stated, “You are bopping along through life and have your ups and downs, but it is amazing how two or three seconds can totally change your life.” “It was just a terrible, a terrible accident,” said Osbourne. “The last thing I remember, what I do remember is I got on the bike and, and something in my mind went ‘bad move. There’s something’s really bad is gonna happen.’ And I go oo-huh-oh.”
18. Nikki Sixx
Nikki Sixx (1958– ) is an American musician, songwriter, radio host, and photographer, best known as the co-founder, bassist, and primary songwriter of the band Mötley Crüe. On December 23, 1987, after a night of drug-fueled partying Sixx injected himself with one last syringe of heroin — and promptly passed out cold. Unfortunately, this overdose wasn’t like the others; he had turned blue, and couldn’t be roused. In Sixx’s book, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, a recent U.S. transplant named Sally McLaughlin recalls frantically giving the rocker mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The paramedics arrived and gave Sixx adrenaline, although not before he had an out-of-body experience. As he recounts in The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band: “I tried to sit up to figure out what was going on. I thought it would be hard to lift my body. But to my surprise, I shot upright, as if I weighed nothing. Then it felt as if something very gentle was grabbing my head and pulling me upward. Above me, everything was bright white. I looked down and realized I had left my body. Nikki Sixx — or the filthy, tattooed container that had once held him — was lying covered face-to-toe with a sheet on a gurney being pushed by medics into an ambulance.”
Amid this pandemonium, word leaked to the radio and other members of the band that Sixx had died. But then — miracle of miracles — Sixx eventually woke up just a few hours later. True to form, he was not thrilled to be in the hospital, and left it in style.
Sixx celebrated the 25th anniversary of his NDE in December 2012 in a very public manner, posting on Facebook: “25 years ago today I had two almost-fatal drug overdoses that changed my life forever. I can’t even see myself these days as that kid who was running head strong into the abyss, but I know he taught me how to live when he finally decided to do it for himself.”
Sixx told CNN that during this 1987 close call, he went out of body and “saw things I shouldn’t have been able to see. I saw the hotel hallway, the ambulance, the limo that was there. I couldn’t have seen that because there was a sheet over me.” In fact, the two adrenalin shots that restarted his heart also inspired the song, Kickstart My Heart. Five years later, Nikki Sixx says he kicked the habit for good — and is now said to be two decades sober.
19. Roy Horn (of Siegfried & Roy)
Roy Horn (1944-2020) was one of the German-American duo of former stage magicians and entertainers known as Siegfried & Roy. Horn’s other partner is Siegfried Fischbacher; and together, they were known for their spectacular appearances with white lions and white tigers. From 1990 until 2003, the duo performed at the Mirage Resort and Casino which was regarded as the most-visited show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On October 3, 2003, the great stage show that was Siegfried & Roy came to an abrupt end. During a live show at the Mirage, Horn was apparently bitten in the neck by his 380-pound, 7-year-old male white tiger named Montecore in front of 1,500 horrified audience members. Crew members separated Horn from the tiger and rushed him to University Medical Center. Horn was critically injured, sustained severe blood loss and was not expected to live. The show’s producer said, “The first three days were truly touch and go … [Siegfried] had to make some very quick decisions, life-saving decisions” about whether doctors should perform those potentially dangerous operations. Doctors described Horn’s survival as a miracle. According to Shriver, “This is a guy who had come back from the impossible. He has defied everybody’s single belief that he would be here today.” Indeed, Horn had defied all odds and made a remarkable recovery, despite having part of his brain removed, suffering a crushed windpipe and being partially paralyzed. By 2006, Horn was talking and walking (with assistance from Siegfried), although he has not yet gained use of his left side. The injury to Horn prompted the Mirage to close the show, and in February 2009, the duo staged a final appearance with Montecore as a benefit for the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. In 2010, Siegfried & Roy retired from show business.
During an hour-long NBC special with Maria Shriver called “Siegfried & Roy: The Miracle,” doctors described how they resuscitated Horn, whose heart stopped for about a minute. In the interview with Shriver, Horn described the NDE he had while on the operating table. “I saw a bank of white light, and then I saw all my beloved animals,” Horn said. “For a moment I stepped out of my body.” Asked by Shriver what he was thinking at the time, Horn said, “Dear God, let this be just a bad nightmare.” It is not uncommon for people to have NDEs and see their beloved pets in heaven.
Siegfried and Roy have strongly disagreed with the reports claiming Roy was attacked by the tiger. They insist Roy had suffered the stroke while on stage and any injury by the tiger was secondary and accidental. They insist Montecore was merely responding by picking up Roy and moving him out of the way to protect him, accidentally severing his artery in the process. While being taken to the hospital, Roy said “Montecore is a great cat. Make sure no harm comes to Montecore.” Montecore died in 2014 at the age of 17 after a Montecoreshort illness. Horn released a statement upon the tiger’s death: “The world has lost one of its most majestic creatures and I have lost a brother. I will forever believe it was his concern for my safety and well-being that caused him to act as he did on that night long ago. We spent many hours together and he never failed to bring me great joy and wonderment. It was my great honor to be beside him at the end. He is now playing with his siblings in White Tiger heaven … His contribution to the avalanche of awareness for conservation and preservation has made him unforgettable. His spirit will live forever with Siegfried & Roy and his multitude of fans.”
20. Jeremy Kagan
Jeremy Kagan (1945– ) is an American film and television director, screenwriter, and television producer whose feature film credits include the box-office hit Heroes (1977), The Big Fix(1978), The Chosen (1981), The Journey of Natty Gann (1985), Big Man on Campus (1989), By The Sword (1991), and Golda’s Balcony (2006). Kagan has won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing, a Directors Guild nomination, a CableACE Award for Best Dramatic Special, a Golden Globe Award nomination and more.
In 1994, while participating in a Native American sweat lodge ritual, Kagan had an NDE. After leaving his body, he reportedly entered a personal hell, escaping, and then exploring various spiritual realities. Among other things, Kagan reports becoming aware of everything he had ever perceived, actual or My Death: A Personal Guidebookimagined. His personal story, or life review, eventually morphed into the story of humankind which he felt he had created: “Everything I had seen and heard — all the events I have known about, all the media I had watched, every movie, TV show, book, image, human I had met or seen or heard about — all of them — I had made them all up! Everything known on my path as this particular human being had been of my making. My imagining. And all the creations made by others — even the very existence of others — all of this had originated in my mind.” Watch a YouTube video presentation of Jeremy Kagan discussing his NDE. Kagan published a book in Amazon Kindle format about his NDE entitled My Death: A Personal Guidebook.
21. Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) was a Hollywood actor, an American politician who served as the 33rd Governor of California (1967-1975), and the 40th President of the United States (1981-1989). Reagan’s policies have been credited for the prosperous economy of the ’80s; for bringing a peaceful end to the Cold War; and for restoring American pride, morale and faith in the American Dream. When he left office, Reagan held an approval rating of 68% percent, matching those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and later Bill Clinton, as the highest ratings for departing presidents in the modern era.
Twice President Reagan faced life-threatening experiences and twice he reported having encounters with angelic beings who comforted him and helped pull him through his medical crises, says a book by Mary Beth Brown entitled, The Faith of Ronald Reagan. As Reagan was fighting for his life after being shot by John Hinckley on March 30, 1981, he was having trouble breathing. His skin had turned so pale, Nancy Reagan remembers, “He was the color of paper — just as white as a sheet, with dried blood around his mouth.” President Reagan later recalled looking up from the gurney and praying. Half-conscious, he realized someone was holding his hand. “It was a soft, feminine hand,” he writes in his autobiography, An American Life. “I felt it come up and touch mine and then hold on tight to it. It gave me a wonderful feeling. Even now I find it difficult to explain how reassuring, how wonderful, it felt.” Despite great efforts to find out who was holding his hand, no one in the hospital could help the president. Reagan’s children believe those mysterious nurses who helped pull their father through this life-threatening ordeal were angels. “Patty believes they were angels, and so do I,” said Michael Reagan, who wrote the foreword to The Faith of Ronald Reagan.
The president had experienced a similar event when he was critically ill with viral pneumonia many decades before. He had been working on a movie with Shirley Temple when he became gravely sick. Reagan described days and nights of shivering with chills and burning with fever. His temperature kept rising, and it was difficult to breathe. “Finally I decided I’d be more comfortable not breathing,” recalled Reagan. “I don’t know what time of night it was when I told the nurse I was too tired to breathe. ‘Now let it out,’ she’d say. ‘Come on now, breathe in once more.’ This went on all night.” Reagan says he decided to keep breathing out of courtesy to the nurse. Once again, despite his efforts to thank the mysterious nurse, Reagan could never locate her. This led family members to consider other possibilities — such as angelic visitations. In The Faith of Ronald Reagan, Brown makes the case that the secret ingredient to Reagan’s astonishingly successful presidency, never before explored fully in print, was his deep Christian faith.
Even in death, Reagan demonstrated how miracles could still happen to him. Reagan’s brain had been destroyed by Alzheimer’s after over a decade of suffering from the disease. He had not been able to recognize his wife Nancy for a number of years. He could no longer talk, walk or feed himself. Then on June 5, 2004, at 93 years of age, after being in a coma for several days, Reagan miraculously opened his eyes. He then rose, stared for awhile directly into Nancy’s eyes for one last look of deep acknowledgment, then took his last breath and died. Reagan’s daughter Patti told People magazine: “At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked Ronald Reagan straight at my mother. Eyes that hadn’t opened for days did, and they weren’t chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and full of love. And they closed with his last breath. If a death can be lovely, his was.” Patti and her brother Ron were standing next to their father’s bed when the astonishing interchange between their parents took place. “In his last moment he taught me that there is nothing stronger than love between two people, two souls,” she states. “It was the last thing he could do to show my mother how entwined their souls are and it was everything.” The former President died just before Michael Reagan entered his father’s room, but he said the look on Nancy face revealed she had been given a gift even as she began to mourn her loss. “His last earthy look was at his wife, his next look was at the face of God,” Michael Reagan told People. The Reagan’s personal physician, Dr. John Hutton, could not rule out the possibility that Ronald Reagan recognized his wife of 52 years just before he died. “Whereas one could not explain it on any medical or physiological terms, I think there must be something to this,” Hutton said. “It’s something that if you believe in it, you should take great joy and happiness in your belief,” he said, adding that such moments have more to do with “the belief of people and their faith.”
Despite having had years to prepare for his departure, Patti said the reality was crushing her mother, said the article, titled “Reagan rose from coma for last look at Nancy.” After nursing her husband of 52 years through a final devastating decade of Alzheimer’s — what is commonly known as “the long goodbye” — Mrs. Reagan was relieved at his passing according to the article. “While it is an extremely sad time for Mrs. Reagan, there is definitely a sense of relief that he is no longer suffering and that he has gone to another place.”
The deathbed phenomena experienced by Reagan during his end-of-life coma is known in the medical literature as “terminal lucidity” (PDF). It is considered by parapsychologists as evidence suggesting the mind can function without a brain; and therefore, evidence suggesting survival of consciousness after death. Terminal lucidity often comes as a complete surprise to those who attend the dying, and the dying person may appear completely restored to mental health for even minutes and hours before death. According to terminal lucidity pioneer researcher Michael Nahm, “The most remarkable cases involve patients whose brains were destroyed by diseases such as tumors and Alzheimer’s disease, but who seemed to recover shortly before death with their memory being intact.” He defines “terminal lucidity” as “the re-emergence of normal or unusually enhanced mental abilities in dull, unconscious, or mentally ill patients shortly before death, including considerable elevation of mood and spiritual affectation, or the ability to speak in a previously unusual spiritualized and elated manner.”
22. Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash (1932–2003) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author, who was widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century and one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. His crossover appeal won Cash the rare honor of multiple inductions in the Country Music, Rock and Roll and Gospel Music Halls of Fame. He traditionally began his concerts with the simple “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”, followed by his signature song, Folsom Prison Blues.
According to Cash: The Autobiography, Cash had several personal spiritual experiences including an NDE in 1988. His first spiritual experience came when his older brother, Jack, died, of whom he was very close to. In May 1944, Jack was pulled into a whirling head saw in the mill where he worked and was almost cut in two. He suffered for over a week before he died on May 20, at the age of 15. Cash often spoke of the horrible guilt he felt over the incident. His father was away that morning, but he and his mother, and Jack himself, all had premonitions or a sense of foreboding about that day, causing his mother to urge Jack to skip work and go fishing with his brother. Jack insisted on working, as the family needed the money. On his deathbed, Jack said he had visions of heaven and angels. Decades later, Cash spoke of looking forward to meeting his brother in heaven. Johnny wrote that he had seen his brother many times in his dreams, and that Jack always looked two years older than whatever age Cash himself was at that moment.
Then in 1968 Cash had a second spiritual experience — a spiritual epiphany — while inside the Nickajack Cave in Tennessee. He entered the large cave when attempting to commit suicide while under the heavy influence of drugs. He descended deeper into the cave, trying to lose himself and “just die”, when he passed out on the floor. He reported being exhausted and feeling at the end of his rope when he felt God’s presence in his heart and managed to struggle out of the cave (despite the exhaustion) by following a faint light and slight breeze. To him, it was his own rebirth. Later, his family help him conquer his addiction and June Carter agreed to marry Cash after he had “cleaned up”. Cash curtailed his use of drugs for several years since then and rediscovered his Christian faith. But according to longtime friend Marshall Grant, Cash’s 1968 rebirth experience did not result in his completely stopping use of amphetamines. However, beginning in 1970, Cash ended all drug use for a period of seven years.
In December of 1988, after having emergency double coronary bypass surgery, Cash developed double pneumonia and his life suddenly hung in the balance. During that time, he reportedly caught a glmpse of heaven during an NDE but was brought back. He described traveling toward a “peaceful light”, but became very angry at having to return. His NDE totally convinced him of the reality of heaven: “I just don’t have any fear of death … I’m very much at peace with myself and with God … And when he sees fit to take me from this world, I’ll be reunited with some good people I haven’t seen for a while … That great light is a light that now leads me on and directs me and guides me. That great light is the light of this world. That great light is the light out of this world, and into that better world. And I’m lookin’ forward to walkin’ into that great light.” Cash says his NDE is something that completely changed his life. After his NDE, Cash became more spiritual and he produced more gospel albums.
Cash died on September 12, 2003, at the age of 71 from complications from diabetes — less than four months after the death of his wife. It was suggested that Johnny’s health worsened due to a broken heart over his wife’s death. Watch a MTV video presentation of Johnny Cash discussing his NDE.
23. George Foreman
George Foreman (1949– ) is an American former professional boxer. In his boxing career he was a two-time world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist. Outside the sport he went on to become an ordained minister, author and entrepreneur. Foreman has been inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The International Boxing Research Organization rates Foreman as the 8th greatest heavyweight of all-time.
In 1977, Foreman participated in a boxing match in Puerto Rico against the skilled opponent Jimmy Young, The fight lasted for 12 rounds and resulted in Foreman losing in a decision. After the fight, Foreman returned to his hot, stuffy dressing room. The building’s air-conditioning wasn’t working that night, and it was intensely hot and smothering. Still running on adrenalin, Foreman paced back and forth in the room trying to cool down. Sweat pouring down his face and chest, he had never been so hot in his life. Suddenly, he was overcome with the fear that he was about to die. In Foreman’s autobiography, God in My Corner: A Spiritual Memoir, Foreman wrote: “I had heard about boxers dying after big fights. Was I next? That’s not going to happen to me! I assured myself.” Then an otherworldly voice interrupted his thoughts, “You believe in God. Why are you afraid to die?” This voice only terrified Foreman even more. In fact, the heavy weight champion of the world said he had never been so afraid in his life. He believed in God, but not in religion which he thought was only for the “pitiful”.
With death staring him in the face, Foreman had a life review where he saw “favorite things that had happened during my life, recalling them like a video tape running fast-forward, as though I knew somehow that it was about to end.” At this point, Foreman was crying and trying to make a financial deal with the voice. Foreman was very rich at the time and he bargained that he would give his money to poor. The voice replied, “I don’t want your money. I want YOU!” Finally, Foreman said, “God, I believe in You — but not enough to die.” It was then that Foreman collapsed to the floor and had an out-of-body experience. It was later determined he was suffering from exhausting and had a heatstroke.
Foreman described his NDE as follows: “Instantly I was transported into a deep, dark void, like a bottomless pit … I was suspended in emptiness, with nothing over my head or under my feet … This was a place of total isolation, cut off from everything and everyone … It can only be described as a vacant space of extreme hopelessness … I knew I was dead, and this wasn’t heaven … Sorrow beyond description engulfed my soul, more than anyone could ever imagine … If you multiplied every disturbing and frightening thought that you’ve ever had during your entire life, that wouldn’t come close to the panic I felt … Although I couldn’t see anyone, I was aware of other people in this terrible place — The place reeked with the putrid smell of death … This place was a vacuum without light, love, or happiness … In that place, I had no hope for tomorrow — or of ever getting out.”
Then Foreman screamed with all his might, “I don’t care if this is death. I still believe there’s a God!” Instantly, what appeared to be a gigantic hand reached down into the darkness and pulled Foreman out of the void. With that, he suddenly found himself back in his body on the table in the dressing room. He awoke with great joy! He was no longer in hell; and God had rescued him. While on the table, Foreman suddenly had a vision of Jesus standing over him, thorns on his head, and blood dripping on Foreman’s head. Upon seeing this, Foreman described an intense born-again experience: “Every hostile emotion had been drained out of me, and a spigot of God’s love had been turned on inside me, filling me up, and overflowing out of me.” To the total surprise of everyone in the dressing room, Foreman suddenly sat straight up and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Jesus Christ is coming alive in me!” Jumping off the table and overcome with an intense love for everyone, Foreman then hugged everyone in the room — telling them how much he loved them. Everyone, most of whom had known Foreman for years, didn’t know what to think about this unusual behavior. It was so out of character for him; he wouldn’t stop talking about Jesus, and no one could shut him up. He was now praising the name of Jesus, the name everyone had only heard him use in vain. His doctor / friend tried to explain it away by telling him, “George, you just got your bell rung.”
Since his NDE, Foreman says he is no longer afraid of dying and has found great peace and happiness with himself and God. Foreman eventually stopped boxing and became an ordained minister, initially preaching on street corners before becoming the reverend at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Houston and devoting himself to his family and his congregation. He also opened a youth center bearing his name. Foreman continues to share his conversion experience on Christian television broadcasts such as The 700 Club and the Trinity Broadcasting Network and later joked that Jimmy Young had knocked the devil out of him. Watch a YouTube video presentation of George Foreman discussing his NDE.
24. Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley (1935–1977) is one of the most celebrated, influential musicians, and most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. He is the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music with estimated record sales of around 600 million units worldwide. He is regarded as the catalyst for the cultural revolution that was Rock and Roll, with its racially mixed origins facilitating a new acceptance and appreciation of black culture. In this regard, Little Richard said of Presley, “He was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn’t let black music through. He opened the door for black music.” Today, Elvis is the second highest-earning deceased celebrity with Michael Jackson being the first..
Immediately after Elvis’ untimely death at the age of 42, there were numerous alleged sightings of him. This resulted in a long-standing theory among his fans is that he faked his death. Fans have noted alleged discrepancies in the death certificate, reports of an alleged wax dummy in his original coffin and numerous accounts of Presley planning a diversion so he could retire in peace. But this phenomenon, commonly known as “Elvis sightings,” are known to parapsychologists as a real phenomenon called “after-death communications” or ADCs. In Elvis’ case, the ADC reports of Elvis’ apparition appearing to living people occurred much in the same way Jesus reportedly appeared to his disciples after his death. ADCs are a very common phenomena, especially among people who have recently lost a loved one and are grieving.
After Elvis died, some people also reported seeing Elvis during an NDE. NDEs frequently involve the experiencer being greeted by someone – usually someone they deeply love, such as a deceased family member, a religious figure such as Jesus, or the so-called “Being of Light.” So when Elvis died, people who knew Elvis or had special feeling for Elvis, began reporting being greeted into heaven by Elvis himself. For example, according to Dr. Melvin Morse in his book on NDEs entitled Transformed by the Light, a 45-year old Mid-western teacher saw Elvis in an intense light during her NDE. The woman had met Elvis when she was a child. The following is her near-death testimony:
“I entered into a dark tunnel and suddenly I was in a place filled up with love and a beautiful, bright light. The place seemed holy. My father, who had died two years earlier, was there, as were my grandparents. Everyone was happy to see me, but my father told me it was not my time and I would be going back. Just as I turned to go, I caught sight of Elvis! He was standing in this place of intense bright light. He just came over to me, took my hand and said, “Hi, Bev, do you remember me?”
The number of reported “Elvis sightings” have been so great, that Dr. Raymond Moody wrote an entire book about them entitled Elvis After Life. Moody is the author of Life After Life; and coined the phrase “near-death experience.” He is the considered the “father” of the NDE phenomenon. Because of the large number of devoted Elvis fans, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that people having NDEs should be greeted by a King – the King of Rock and Roll.