Heimlich, developer of maneuver to save choking victims, dead at 96

Dec 17 (Reuters) - Henry Heimlich, the medical maverick who came up with a maneuver credited with saving thousands of choking victims but who damaged his standing as a proponent of the curative powers of malaria, died on Saturday at the age of 96.

Heimlich, a doctor who developed a life-saving technique to dislodge airway blockages, died at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati of complications from a massive heart attack he suffered on Monday, his family said in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Charleston gunman makes admission in handwritten note

A thoracic surgeon who often feuded with the established medical community, Heimlich said the maneuver which was named after him saved more than 100,000 lives. He claimed to have used it himself last May on another resident of the Cincinnati retirement home where he lived.

"It made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives," he once told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Heimlich came up with the ground-breaking technique in 1974 after reading about the high rate of deaths in restaurants that first were attributed to heart attacks, but later found to have been caused by diners choking on food.

88 PHOTOS
Notable deaths in 2016
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Notable deaths in 2016

Dale Bumpers

The American politician who served as the 38th Governor of Arkansas and in the United States Senate died on January 1. He was 90. 

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Craig Strickland

A country singer, Craig Strickland was the frontman for Backroad Anthem. He was 29. 

(Photo by David Becker/ACM2016/Getty Images for dcp)

David Bowie

A legendary English singer, songwriter and actor, David Bowie died on January 10. He was 69. 

(Photo credit RALPH GATTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Monte Irvin

The Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder died January 11. He was 96.

(Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)

Rene Angelil

A Canadian musical producer, talent manager and singer, Rene Angelil was also the manager and husband of singer Celine Dion. He was 73. 

(Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)

Alan Rickman

An English actor and director, Rickman was known playing a variety of roles including Hans Gruber in "Die Hard" as well as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. He was 69. 

(Photo by Phil Dent/Redferns)

Glenn Frey

The singer, guitarist, Frey was a founding member of The Eagles. He was 67. 

(Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Abe Vigoda

The well-known actor, Vigoda was best known for roles in "The Godfather" and "Barney Miller." He was 94. 

(Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

Paul Kantner

The founding member of Jefferson Airplane died January 28. He was 74.

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Maurice White

The founder of Earth, Wind, and Fire, died on February 3. He was 74.

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Edgar Mitchell

The Apollo 14 astronaut, who was the sixth man to walk on the moon, died on February 4. He was 85. 

(Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

Dave Mirra

The famed BMX biker host of an MTV reality show died Feb. 4. He was 41.

(Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic via Getty)

Antonin Scalia

The Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States died on February 13. He was 79.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Harper Lee

The author of the literary classic "To Kill a Mockingbird," died on February 19. She was 89.

(Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images)

George Kennedy

Best Supporting Actor winner for "Cool Hand Luke" and also co-star in "The Dirty Dozen" died on February 28. He was 91.

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Ashley Guindon

Guindon was responding to a domestic violence call on her first day on the job on February 27 when she was fatally shot. Two other officers were injured. She was 28.

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Joey Feek

An American country singer, Joey Feek performed with her husband Rory Feek before passing away after battling cancer. She was 40.

(Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/WireImage)

Pat Conroy

Author of several critically acclaimed novels, Pat Conroy penned "The Prince of Tides" and "The Great Santini." He was 70.

(Photo by Jeffrey Vock/Getty Images)

Nancy Reagan

The actress-turned-first lady died on March 6. She was 94.

(Photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidental Library/Getty Images)

George Martin

The producer for the Beatles, often called The Fifth Beatle, died on March 8. He was 90.

(Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)

Frank Sinatra, Jr. 

The singer and son of Ol' Blue Eyes, died on March 16. He was 72.

(Photo by Martin Mills/Getty Images)

Allen Jacobs

On March 18, Jacobs was shot by a 17-year-old boy he was interviewing about a weapons purchase. One other officer was injured. He was 28.

(Photo via REUTERS/Greenville Police Department/Handout via Reuters)

Rob Ford

The former mayor of Toronto died on March 22. He was 46.

(Photo credit GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Malik Taylor, a.k.a. Phife Dawg

The rapper and co-founder of the legendary hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest died on March 23. He was 45.

(Photo by Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic via Getty)

Garry Shandling

The legendary stand-up comedian died on March 24. He was 66.

(Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

Patty Duke

The Oscar and Emmy-winning actress, former child star and mother of "Lord of the Rings" actor Sean Astin, died on March 29. She was 69.

(Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Chad Dermyer

During a training exercise at a Greyhound bus station on March 31, Trooper Dermyer was shot by a man who walked away from his luggage. The man was not a part of the exercise. He was 37.

(Photo via REUTERS/Virginia State Police/Handout)

Merle Haggard

Country music legend Merle Haggard died on his 79th birthday of complications from pneumonia.

(Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Will Smith

The former first-round NFL draft pick who played for the New Orlens Saints' Super Bowl-winning team, was shot to death after a traffic accident. He was 34.

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Doris Roberts

The actress, best known for her role as Marie Barone on the sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," died on April 17 at the age of 90.

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Michelle McNamara

The crime writer who founded the website TrueCrimeStory.com died on April 21 at the age of 46. She was the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt. No cause of death was provided.

(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

Prince

The incredibly talented and influential musician was found dead in his Minnesota home on April 21 from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl. He was 57-years-old.

(Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

Charles Keating IV

The former student-athlete, grandson of a banker and U.S. NAVY Seal was the third American service member to be killed in direct combat since the fight against ISIS began in 2014. He was 31.

(Photo courtesy U.S. Navy/Handout photo via Reuters)

William Schallert

The actor, who played roles in "Star Trek" and "The Patty Duke Show," among many others, died on May 8 at the age of 93.

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Susannah Mushatt Jones

Ms. Jones was a "supercentenarian," meaning she was the world's oldest living person and last living American born in the 1800's. At the time of her death she was living in East New York, Brooklyn, and had more than 100 nieces and nephews. She was 116.

(Photo By: Debbie Egan-Chin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Guy Clark

The Grammy-winning songwriter died after a long illness on May 17 at the age of 74.

(Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns via Getty Images)

Morley Safer

The CBS News legend, who hosted "60 Minutes," died at the age of 84 on May 19.

(Photo via REUTERS/Stephen Chernin/File)

Alan Young

The actor died on May 19 at the age of 96. He was best known for his role as Wilbur Post in the TV series "Mr. Ed."

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

John Berry (second from right)

One of the original members of the Beastie Boys died on May 19 at the age of 52, following a long battle with dementia.

(Photo via Wikipedia)

Harambe

After a 3-year-old boy climbed down into an enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Harambe the gorilla started to drag and hover over the child. Fearing for the boy's life, a zoo worker shot and killed Harambe. He was 17.

(Photo via REUTERS/Cincinnati Zoo/Handout via Reuters)

Muhammad Ali

The American boxing legend, widely revered as "The Greatest," is an icon in sports and activism. Ali, born Cassius Clay, died on June 3 at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

Kimbo Slice

Professional mixed martial artist Kevin Ferguson, better known as Kimbo Slice, rose to internet fame for backyard fights before fighting professional. The Bahamian-born American was reportedly diagnosed with heart failure and informed he needed a heart transplant days before his death in Margate, Florida. He died at age 42 on June 6.

(Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Gordie Howe

The NHL legend, known as "Mr. Hockey," scored 801 goals during his professional career and won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. He died on June 10 at the age of 88.

(Photo by Bettmann via Getty Images)

Christina Grimmie

The 22-year-old singer rose to fame following her third place finish on NBC's sixth season of "The Voice," The young star was shot and killed while signing autographs after an Orlando concert on June 11.

(Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting victims

On June 12, 29-year-old Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack/hate crime inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Click here to see a full gallery of those victims. 

(Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Michu Meszaros

The actor who played "Alf" in the popular '80s sitcom died at the age of 77 on June 12.

(Photo via IMDB)

Lane Graves

While at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Matt and Melissa watched their son get attacked and dragged under water by an alligator. After 17 hours, officials found Lane's body and found traumatic injuries and drowning as the causes of death. He was 2.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Anton Yelchin

The 27-year-old actor, who played Pavel Chekov in the most recent "Star Trek" films, died from a freak car accident outside his home on June 19.

(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Pat Summitt

The head coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team turned the program around during her 38 years at the university and ultimately became the winningest coach in NCAA history with 1,098 career wins. The coaching icon died on June 28at the age of 64, just five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Alton Sterling

Alton Sterling's name made national headlines after he was shot several times at point blank range by two Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Louisiana, prompting nationwide protests from the Black Lives Matter movement. He was 37.

(Photo via East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters)

Philando Castile

Philando Castile was fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer after being pulled over in a St. Paul suburb. According to his girlfriend who was in the car with him during the shooting, Castile was reaching for his identification after telling the officer he was armed. He was 32.

(Photo via REUTERS/Eric Miller)

Dallas Police Officers

Five Dallas police officers -- Senior Cpl. Lorne Ahrens, Officer Michael Krol, Sgt. Michael Smith, Officer Brent Thompson, and Officer Patrick Zamarripa -- were shot and killed by a gunman during a protest on July 7. The gunman had expressed desire to kill white people and white police officers out of anger for the Black Lives Matter movement.

(Photo by Gary Miller/WireImage)

Brad Garafola

Three Baton Rouge police officers -- Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, and Cpl. Montrell Jackson -- were shot and killed on July 17 by a gunman in the aftermath of the police shooting of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling and related protests.

(East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS)

Montrell Jackson

Three Baton Rouge police officers -- Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, and Cpl. Montrell Jackson -- were shot and killed on July 17 by a gunman in the aftermath of the police shooting of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling and related protests.

(Baton Rouge Police Department/Handout via REUTERS)

Matthew Gerald

Three Baton Rouge police officers -- Sheriff's Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, and Cpl. Montrell Jackson -- were shot and killed on July 17 by a gunman in the aftermath of the police shooting of Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling and related protests.

(Baton Rouge Police Department/Handout via REUTERS)

Garry Marshall

The multitalented Hollywood legend was credited with creating the hit television series, "Happy Days," creating "The Odd Couple" and directing "Pretty Woman." He was 81.

(Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images)

Youree Dell Harris

Commonly referred to as "Miss Cleo," Dell was the iconic face of psychic hotline commercials in the late 1990s. She was 53.

(Video via YouTube)

David Huddleston

Huddleston had a prolific acting career in both television and film, most famously recognized for his role as the Big Lebowski in "The Big Lebowski." He was 85.

(Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Vanessa Marcotte

Google employee Vanessa Marcotte's body was found after she went for a jog while home visiting her mother in Princeton, Mass. She was 27.

(Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

John Saunders

Saunders was a longtime ESPN broadcaster and Sportscenter anchor. He was 61.

(Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

Kenny Baker

The English actor was best known for portraying the character R2-D2 in the Star Wars series. He was 81.

(Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)

Lou Pearlman

The American record producer and fraudster was best known for managing hit boy bands Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. He was 62.

(Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)

Gene Wilder

Born Jerome Silberman, the film and theater comic actor famously brought joy to movie lovers everywhere with his roles as Willy Wonka and Dr. Frankenstein. He was 82.

(Photo by robbie jack/Corbis via Getty Images)

Jon Polito

In his 35-year television and film career, Jon Polito amassed over 200 credits -- known best for his roles in "Barton Fink" and "The Big Lebowski." He was 65.

(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

Alexis Arquette

The transgender actress and activist was most widely known for her Boy George-inspired character in "The Wedding Singer."

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Edward Albee

An American playwright, Albee was best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" He was 88.

(Photo by Wendell Teodoro/WireImage)

Charmian Carr

The actress and singer was best known for her role as eldest Von Trapp daughter, Liesl, in the 1965 film version of The Sound of Music. She was 73.

(Photo by Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Shawty Lo

Born Carlos Rico Walker, the hip hop artist was a founding member of the group "D4L" and best known for his single debut album, "Dey Know." He was 40.

(Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Bill Nunn

Nunn was a character actor best known for his portrayal of Radio Raheem in Spike Lee's 1989 film "Do the Right Thing." He was 62.

(Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/USA Network/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jose Fernandez

A Cuban-born MLB pitcher, Jose Fernandez was headed for a career Fernandez tragically died this year in a fatal boating accident off the coast of Miami. He was 24.

(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

Arnold Palmer

Seen by many as the greatest golfer in the sport's history, Palmer was known for his down-to-earth persona and ability to transform the once exclusive recreation into a common pastime. He was 87.

(Photo via REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo)

Lesley Zerebny and Jose Vega

Zerebny, 27, and Vega, 63, were both shot and killed on October 8 when responding to a domestic disturbance in Palm Springs, California.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Dylan Rieder

Both a model and skateboarder, Dylan Rieder passed away after battling Leukemia. He was 28.

(Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)

Tommy Ford

Best known for his role as Tommy Strawn in the sitcom Martin, Tommy Ford died in October. He was 52.

(Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)

Bhumibol Adulyadej

Known as King Bhumibol the Great, Bhumibol Adulyadej was the longest-serving monarch in the world at the time of his death, having been the Thai king since 1946. He was 88.

(Photo via REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo)

Tom Hayden 

An anti-war and civil rights activist in the 1960s, Tom Hayden married fellow liberal Jane Fonda and eventually served as a lawmaker in the California legislature. He was 76.

(Photo by Paul Warner/Getty Images)

Benjamin Marconi

Detective Benjamin Marconi, 50, was shot while sitting in his patrol car outside of his police station in Texas on November 20.

(Courtesy of San Antonio Police Deparment/Handout via REUTERS)

Florence Henderson

One of the most famous TV moms in American history, Henderson was known by most as character "Carol Brady" from "Brady Bunch"

(Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Fidel Castro

A famous Cuban politician and revolutionary figure, Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for nearly 50 years as prime minister and president until his retirement in 2009. He was 90.

(Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photography/Getty Images)

Peter Vaughan

The British actor died at age 93. He is most known for his role as Maester Aemon in the HBO hit series "Game of Thrones" from 2011-2015.

(Photo by Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images)

Greg Lake

A member of the XXX band Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Greg Lake died after “a long and stubborn battle with cancer." He was 69.

(Photo by Roberto Serra - Iguana Press/Redferns via Getty Images)

John Glenn

A member of NASA's "Mercury Seven," John Glenn was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth and eventually became a politician, serving as a U.S. senator from Ohio. He was 95.

(Courtesy NASA/Handout via REUTERS)

Alan Thicke

The actor, known best for his role in 'Growing Pains,' died on December 13 at age 69. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Craig Sager

The legendary NBA reporter passed away after a battle with cancer. 

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Zsa Zsa Gabor

The Hungarian-American actress and socialite died on December 18.

(Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)

George Michael

The singer and LGBT advocate passed away on Christmas Day. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/Files)

Carrie Fisher

The actress, best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the 'Star Wars' movies, suffered a heart attack and died at age 60. 

(Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

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An ordinary person could be a hero with "the Heimlich Maneuver" - it requires no equipment, no great strength and only minimal training.

The popular wisdom at the time called for repeatedly slapping the back of person struggling with an obstruction of the passage to the lungs.

But Heimlich, who was then at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, believed the back slaps could force the blockage deeper. To prove his method, he took anesthetized lab dogs, blocked their windpipes with hunks of meat attached to strings in case of emergency and developed a technique that would send his name around the world.

The Heimlich Maneuver called for the rescuer to stand behind the choking victim, apply the thumb-side of a fist to a spot just under the diaphragm and between the lungs. By pushing sharply on that spot, a surge of air from the lungs would then expel the blockage.

"Dad was a hero to many people around the world for a simple reason: He helped save untold numbers of lives through the innovation of common-sense procedures and devices," his family said in the statement. "But he was not only a physician and medical inventor, he was also a humanitarian and a loving and devoted son, husband, father and grandfather."

Heimlich wrote about his discovery for a medical journal and it began to spread due to media coverage. A man in Washington state who came to a neighbor's rescue was credited with being the first person to use the Heimlich Maneuver shortly after reading a newspaper story about it. The charismatic doctor also busily promoted the technique, including appearances on late-night television talk shows with Johnny Carson and David Letterman.

RELATED: Hollywood deaths this year:

52 PHOTOS
Celebrities who died in 2016
See Gallery
Celebrities who died in 2016

Glenn Frey (67): Nov. 6, 1948 - Jan. 18, 2016 

(Photo by George Pimentel/Getty Images)

George Michael

(Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)

Merle Haggard

(Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)

Carrie Fisher

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Natalie Cole (65): Feb. 6, 1950 - Dec. 31, 2015

(Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)

Pat Harrington Jr. (76): Aug. 13, 1929 - Jan. 6, 2016

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Zsa Zsa Gabor

(Credit: Betty Galella via Getty Images)

Michael Galeota (31): Aug. 28, 1984 - Jan. 10, 2016

(Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)

David Bowie (69): Jan. 8, 1947 - Jan. 10, 2016 

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Alan Rickman (69): Feb. 21, 1946 - Jan. 14, 2016 

(Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Qatar Goodwood Festival)

Dan Haggarty (74): Nov. 19, 1941 - Jan. 15, 2016

(Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Tommy Kelly (90): April 6, 1925 - Jan. 26, 2016

(Photo by FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Abe Vigoda (94): Feb. 24, 1921 - Jan. 26, 2016 

(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)

Joe Alaskey (63): April 17, 1952 - Feb. 3, 2016

(Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage for The Lippin Group)

Maurice White (74): Dec. 19, 1941 - Feb. 4, 2016

(Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Vanity (57): Jan. 4, 1959 - Feb. 15, 2016

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

George Gaynes (98): May 3, 1917 - Feb. 15, 2016

Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Angela "Big Ang" Raiola (55): June 30, 1960 - Feb. 18, 2016

(Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Harper Lee (89): April 28, 1926 - Feb. 19, 2016

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Lee Reherman (49): July 4, 1966 - Feb. 29, 2016

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/WireImage)

Bud Collins (86): June 17, 1929 - March 4, 2016

(Photo by Uri Schanker/WireImage)

Joey Feek (40): Sept. 9, 1975 - March 4, 2016

(Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/WireImage)

Nancy Reagan (94): July 6, 1921 - March 6, 2016

(Photo by Michael Kovac/FilmMagic)

Sir George Martin (90): Jan. 3, 1926 - March 8, 2016

(Photo by Steven Lawton/FilmMagic)

Garry Shandling (66): Nov. 29, 1949 - March 24, 2016


(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

Patty Duke (69): Dec. 14, 1946 - March 29, 2016

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Daisy Lewellyn (36): Jan. 15, 1980 - April 8, 2016 

(Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)

David Gest (62): May 11, 1953 - April 12, 2016 

PHOTOGRAPH BY Laurentiu Garofeanu/ Barcroft USA /Barcoft Media via Getty Images

Doris Roberts (90): Nov. 4, 1925 - April 17, 2016

(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Joanie "Chyna" Laurer (46): Dec. 27, 1969 - April 20, 2016 

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Prince (57): June 7, 1958 - April 21, 2016

(Photo by ©2007 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rickey Smith (36): May 10, 1979 - May 5, 2016 

(Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)

William Schallert (93): July 6, 1922 - May 8, 2016

(Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Tonita Castro (63): 1953 - May 8, 2016

(Photo by FOX via Getty Images)

Morley Safer (84): Nov. 8, 1931 - May 19, 2016 

(Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)

Janet Waldo (96): Feb. 4, 1920 - June 12, 2016

(Photo by John Heller/WireImage)

Muhammad Ali (74): Jan. 17, 1941 - June 3, 2016 

(Photo by Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images)

Theresa Saldana (61): Aug. 20, 1954 - June 6, 2016 

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/WireImage)

Ronnie Claire Edwards (83): Feb. 9, 1933 - June 14, 2016

(Photo by Jack Mitchell/Getty Images)

Anton Yelchin (27): March 11, 1989 - June 19, 2016

(Photo by Victor Chavez/WireImage)

Noel Neill (95): Nov. 25, 1920 - July 3, 2016

(Photo by John M. Heller/Getty Images)

Bill Cunningham (87): March 13, 1929 - June 25, 2016

(Photo by CLINT SPAULDING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Teddy Rooney (66): April 13, 1950 - July 2, 2016

(Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

Garry Marshall (81): Nov. 13, 1934 - July 19, 2016

(Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

Gene Wilder (83): June 11, 1933 - Aug. 29, 2016

Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Rene Angelil (73): Jan. 16, 1942 - Jan. 14, 2016

(Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Alexis Arquette (47): July 28, 1969 - Sept. 11, 2016

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Robert Vaughn (83): Nov. 22, 1932 - Nov. 11, 2016

(Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

Gwen Ifill (61): Sept. 29, 1955 - Nov. 14, 2016

(Photo by Andrew Toth/FilmMagic)

Florence Henderson (82): Feb. 14, 1934 - Nov. 24, 2016

(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)

Alan Thicke (69): March 1, 1947 - Dec. 13, 2016

(Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images)

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Heimlich collected anecdotes about Heimlich rescues throughout his life. Among them were the aide who saved Ronald Reagan during his 1976 presidential campaign and Tom Brokaw coming to the aid of fellow NBC newsman John Chancellor.

Actress Cher was saved by director Robert Altman and Clint Eastwood once prevented a partygoer from choking. In 2015, a 13-year-old boy was able to clear a classmate's blockage after learning the move watching the cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants."

'ONLY METHOD'

It took more than a decade for the medical establishment to adopt the Heimlich Maneuver, partly because there had been no official human trials. The American Red Cross recommended it only as a secondary method to back-slapping.

In 1984, Heimlich was given the prestigious Lasker Award for public service. A year later C. Everett Koop, then the U.S. surgeon general, said the Heimlich method should be "the only method" used for choking victims.

In 1986, it was officially recommended as the primary anti-choking technique by the Red Cross, although the organization would reverse that decision in 2006, saying "abdominal thrusts" should only be a secondary method.

As the Heimlich Maneuver became part of American culture, its namesake sought more innovation. He thought his technique should also be used to clear mucus from the lungs during an asthma attack and was better than cardiopulmonary resuscitation for drowning victims - claims that were dismissed by authorities such as the Red Cross and the American Medical Association.

Heimlich damaged his credibility further by espousing malaria therapy, saying the high fevers of malaria stimulated the body's immune system enough to counter AIDS, cancer and Lyme disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discounted that theory, but under Heimlich's direction, human malaria therapy trials were conducted in Mexico, China and Africa because they would never have been permitted in the United States.

"I don't follow all the rules if there's a better, faster way to do it," he told the Los Angeles Times in a 1994 interview. "If your peers understand what you've done, you are not being creative."

His fiercest critic turned out to be son Peter, who had once played in a band called Choke and done the music for Heimlich's promotional film. The son devoted himself to debunking Heimlich's work - first in a pseudonymous blog - and denounced him as the creator of "a remarkable unseen history of fraud."

Heimlich's work with malarial therapy to fight AIDS was briefly a popular cause in the mid-1990s, especially in Hollywood, where celebrities hosted fundraisers for his research and donors included Jack Nicholson, Bob Hope and Ron Howard.

Dr. Edward Patrick, a longtime collaborator who died in 2009, issued a press release in 2003 saying he was the co-developer of the Heimlich Maneuver.

Heimlich also was credited with inventing a valve that bears his name and is used to prevent air from filling the chest cavity in trauma cases.

Heimlich and Jane Murray, daughter of dance school magnate Arthur Murray and a proponent of alternative medical methods, were married from 1951 until her death in 2012. They had four children.

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