Lucy was on that Jungle Juice.
A brand new episode of Autopsy, The Last Hours Of … is looking for new details about the death of comedy queen and I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball. And the special reveals something you might not have known about Ball: she was using poppers for years before her death to ease constant chest pain.
“I remember we were playing backgammon one night and all of a sudden she had a little shortness of breath and she took out poppers,” a friend says in an interview in the episode teaser. He then goes on to say that poppers were a thing people did “back in the 80s.”
In the trailer, forensic pathologist Michael Hunter says that Ball died of a rupture of the aorta, but that her poppers use is a clue that there might have been a long-standing issue with her heart.
“Poppers are a strong smelling inhalant often associated with sex,” Hunter says in an explanation I needed because I had never heard of them. “But it’s original purpose was as a prescription drug to treat pain in the chest.”
Hunter says that Ball was using the poppers as early as 1984, five years before her death, aiding what could have been warning signs of an already-established cardiovascular disease. Ball died in April 1989 when her aorta ruptured, which led to an immediate cardiac arrest. However, Hunter says her poppers use may show that there was a problem long before the rupture.
“I want to investigate if there were any previously unknown causes of her heart problems,” Hunter told People.
To be clear, Hunter is not saying poppers contributed to Ball’s death, but that her use of the drug is a clue that her death was not sudden, as she was prescribed the drug to ease chest pains.
Because they are popular among gay men, poppers were once blamed as being a major factor in the AIDS epidemic, believed by some health experts to suppress the immune system.
If you want to know more about Ball’s love of poppers, or her death, the episode of Autopsy airs on Sunday, March 10 on Reelz.