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Real ‘Norma Rae’ Dead Of Cancer After BattleWith Health Insurer
Real ‘Norma Rae’ dead of cancer after battle with health insurer
By Daniel Tencer | PuppetGov
Insurers’ delays are ‘almost ... like murder,’ Sutton said.
The woman whose life inspired the 1979 film Norma Rae has died of cancer after struggling with her health insurance company, which had delayed her treatment.
Crystal Lee Sutton was 68. She had struggled for several years with meningioma, a form of brain cancer.
She became a hero to the labor movement in the 1970s, when she took on her employer, a North Carolina textile plant, and unionized the factory floor. Her story became famous nationwide in 1975 after New York Times reporter Hank Leiferman wrote Crystal Lee: A Woman of Inheritance.
In 1979, her story was turned into the movie Norma Rae, a thinly-veiled fictional adaptation of Sutton’s struggle to unionize the J.P. Stevens plant in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. Sally Field won an Oscar for her portrayal of the character inspired by Sutton.
As Daily Kos blogger hissyspit points out, last year Sutton gave an interview to the press where she described a struggle with her health insurer over treatment. The Times-News in Burlington, North Carolina, wrote in 2008:
[Sutton] went two months without possible life-saving medications because her insurance wouldn’t cover it, another example of abusing the working poor, she said. Read more.