The most famous “blue man” — known as “Papa Smurf” — has died.
Paul Karason was born a fair-skinned, freckled boy with reddish blond hair. But later, he developed skin with a bluish tinge against his shock of white hair, the result of a rare medical syndrome known as argyria or silver poisoning from dietary supplements.
Karason died at the age of 62 this week after being treated for pneumonia at a Washington hospital after having suffered a heart attack. He’d also previously had a severe stroke, his estranged wife Jo Anna Karason told NBC’s Today.
ABCNews.com interviewed Karason in 2008. At the time he lived in Oregon. He said the blue tinge had started more than a decade before that when he saw an ad in a new-age magazine promising health and rejuvenation through colloidal silver. He drank about 10 ounces a day of the home-brew that he dissolved in water.
Yeah, bad idea…
Karason said he hadn’t even realized his skin had turned a shade of blue until an old friend came to visit.
“And he looks at me and he says, ‘What have you got on your face?’ ‘I don’t have anything on my face!'” Karason said. “He says, ‘Well, it looks like you’ve got camouflage makeup on or something.’ And by golly, he came in and he was very fair-skinned, as I used to be. And that’s when it hit me.”
In those first months, he didn’t notice a change in his skin color. But there were changes in his health.
“The acid reflux problem I’d been having just went away completely,” he said. “I had arthritis in my shoulders so bad I couldn’t pull a T-shirt off. And the next thing I knew, it was just gone.”
As for whether it was the colloidal silver that had cured him, Karason said, “there’s not the slightest doubt in my mind.” As recently as the 1950s, colloidal silver was a common remedy for colds and allergies.
R.I.P. sir, may your aqua-tinted soul rest peacefully.
Image via ABC