Paul Karason, known as the real-life “Blue Man,” and “Papa Smurf,” has died. He was 62 years old.
Karason passed away Monday in a Washington hospital. He was admitted last week after suffering a heart attack, stroke and bout of pneumonia, his estranged wife, Jo Anna Karason told “Today” on Tuesday.
Karason became famous after an appearance on the “Today Show,” where he discussed the condition that caused his skin to permanently turn a deep blue, known as argyria. He started turning blue 15 years ago after he began using a colloidal silver to treat a skin condition.
Argyria occurs in people who eat of breathe in silver compounds over a long period, and silver is deposited in the skin and in other parts of the body, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Despite its skin color changing effects, argyria is not known to be harmful.
Although silver has been long known to have antibacterial properties used to fight infections, the FDA banned colloidal silver in 1999 because it leads to argyria.
A cause of death was not immediately known, according to his wife.
“He has been too ill to work for a while,” his wife said, acknowledging that Karason had a history of health problems, most of them heart and smoking related. His blue colored skin had kept him out of the public eye for most of his time.
“He didn’t like to go out in public much, only when he thought he needed to, like to go the bank or to pick up tobacco,” she said.
Sources: Today, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention