Fitzharris ’04 Hosts New Series Investigating Famous, Mysterious Deaths

Lindsey Fitzharris
Lindsey Fitzharris ’04 hosts The Curious Life and Death Of…, a new Smithsonian Channel series.

Oct. 30, 2020

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Medical historian, bestselling author, and now, television host Lindsey Fitzharris ’04 re-examines some of history’s most mysterious deaths in The Curious Life and Death Of…, a new Smithsonian Channel series.

The six-episode series will re-air in November on the Smithsonian Channel (view upcoming air dates). It is also available to watch via several streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video.

“The show is a bit of everything,” Fitzharris told CBS Los Angeles. “It’s got the contemporary, it’s got the historical, and it’s definitely got the curious, mysterious factor.”

In collaboration with a variety of experts and eyewitnesses, Fitzharris uses science, tests and demonstrations to shed new light on famous deaths. The list of subjects includes 19th-century church school teacher and suspected axe murderer Lizzie Borden, Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones, an unidentified child from the sinking of the Titanic, Hollywood starlet Brittany Murphy, magician Harry Houdini and drug lord Pablo Escobar.

“One of the things that we try to do,” Fitzharris told CBS Los Angeles, “especially me as a historian, is to talk about the side stories, the things that people don’t really think about.” Through analyzing biographical details and other historical records, Fitzharris’ approach gives viewers a more holistic understanding of famous events in history.

A Mount Prospect, Illinois native, Fitzharris holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Illinois Wesleyan, and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Oxford, where she also studied as an undergraduate during her junior year through the IWU Pembroke Program.

Fitzharris’ debut book, The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine, won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Award for Literary Science in the United States and was shortlisted for both the Wellcome Book Prize and the Wolfson History Prize in the United Kingdom. Fitzharris is also the creator of the popular blog The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice, as well as the host of the YouTube series Under the Knife.

By Rachel McCarthy ’21 and Megan Baker ’21