Industry News

Asbestos goes to Hollywood

Asbestos Goes To Hollywood!

… Actually, It’s Been Lurking Around The Set For Decades

I know that people of all walks of life are enthusiastic readers of this monthly feature, and this includes (I assume) Hollywood actors.  So this edition goes out to YOU, Hollywood actors, and to anyone who knows a Hollywood actor, or has ever seen one, live, on TV, or up on The Big Screen.

This month, we remember Ed Lauter, who was a famous Hollywood actor you may remember as “Mobster #3” in Leaving Las Vegas.

Actually, Ed had a great long career that spanned 40 years in film and television, and though his name might not be familiar, you saw him if you watched movies or TV during the past few decades.  He performed roles big and small in more than 200 productions.

Ed Lauter lived to the ripe old age of 74 years and 50 weeks, but probably would have lived to a riper, older age if he hadn’t been exposed to asbestos during his long acting career.

“What?” I can almost hear you say.  “He wasn’t a construction worker, or a Navy seaman… how did good ol’ Ed get exposed to asbestos, and end up dying from that exposure when he contracted uncurable mesothelioma, as an actor?”

Well, he did, and his family is suing the studios in which he worked for Ed’s wrongful death.


Asbestos Has Played The Villain For Years

“What?” I can almost hear you say, again.  “I thought asbestos was illegal in the United States!”

And asbestos was illegal for a fleeting moment in the 1980s, and is still illegal, but only kinda.  You can’t mine it, or manufacture stuff with asbestos in this country, but you can still import all kinds of asbestos-laden materials (from flooring and insulation to powdered cosmetics and fake jewelry).

Tons of asbestos are imported into the U.S. every year, and as a result, we’re surrounded by asbestos.  This is okay, kinda, when the asbestos isn’t “disturbed” by, say, a house fire, a broken-pipe flood, or a DIY project gone wrong.

But when asbestos products are disturbed – or when they contain powdered asbestos – the stuff is deadly.  It breaks down into microscopic shards which impale themselves in your lungs – even if you’re a famous actor, like Ed Lauter – and can cause such deadly diseases as mesothelioma lung cancer.

It turns out Ed Lauter, and hundreds of other famous actors, have been exposed to asbestos for decades.

Manufacturers of the fake snow used in such classics as Holiday Inn and It’s A Wonderful Life used asbestos to make that widely-used product.  Stuntmen like Steve McQueen were exposed to asbestos in the “fire proof” suits they wore during their stunts.  (Steve McQueen succumbed to mesothelioma, too.)

And when directors shot scenes of destruction, with buildings or cars being blown up, they unwittingly released lots of asbestos shards o’death into the air.

Ed Lauter worked for 20 years in studios which were known to have contained substantial amounts of asbestos.

Even today, film and television studios still use older sets which undoubtedly contain lots of the ugly stuff.

Ed Lauter, we hardly knew ye.  Especially if we missed Leaving Las Vegas.  Rest in peace!  Meanwhile, for the rest of us, the danger of asbestos exposure still exists.  If you have any reason to suspect you have airborne asbestos on your property, or floating around the set of your current acting project, give us a call.  We can help you get the place tested, and then help you get the problem, if any, solved.  Asbestos is a super-evil villain… professional abatement can be your hero.