Donna Summer was known as the "Queen of Disco" and "The First Lady of Love." She was at the peak of her fame when on May 17, 2012, she died of cancer at her home in Naples, Florida. Shockingly, her fans, friends and even some family members had no idea she was even ill.
REELZ's new docuseries Autopsy: Donna Summer gives fans an inside look back at the late singer's secretive life and tragic final days. What really killed Donna Summer?
"When Donna no longer had to worry about being super slim and sexy, she was finally able to enjoy the food she had denied herself for so many years," says the late star's biographer, Josiah Howard, in the docuseries.
"She just was happy. She was happy to be living once again like a real person," adds Howard.
Despite how joyful food made Summer during her final years, her health did not benefit from the extra weight.
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"It's clear that Donna's more relaxed attitude to her body image and the easing-off of pressure from being in the public eye meant that Donna did overeat, to the point of clinical obesity," says Dr. Michael Hunter.
And though obesity is associated with a number of cancers, he explains that it is not thought to cause lung cancer — the condition that essentially took Summer's life.
"Donna's whole life was built on hiding behind a mask. And I found evidence that hiding her true self from the world also led to a hidden dependency, one that could've impacted on her early death," adds Hunter.
Autopsy: Donna Summer airs Sunday, February 24 at 8 ET / PT on REELZ.
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