Real-life Ken dies of leukaemia at 20

Real-life Ken dies of leukaemia at 20
BATTLED CANCER: Brazilian real-life ‘Ken doll’, Mr Celso Santebanes, who spent £30,000 on plastic surgery, dies after a five-month battle with cancer.

The real-life equivalent of Barbie's boyfriend Ken has died following complications after being diagnosed with leukaemia in January.

Mr Celso Santebanes, a Brazilian model, died on Thursday after contracting pneumonia. He had been admitted to hospital on May 26 for chemotherapy, Daily Mail reported.

The 20-year-old was well known for having spent almost £30,000 (S$62,200) on surgery to turn himself into a human version of Ken.

His fame began when he appeared in a talk show when he was 16. He went on to win modelling contests, Daily Mail reported.

Mr Santebanes became increasingly engrossed with looking exactly like toy manufacturer Mattel's Ken doll and he had multiple operations to change how his face, lips and nose looked.

He also changed his last name from Borges Pereira to Santebanes, the name of his favourite character on a Mexican TV show.

Growing up, Mr Santebanes was fervently interested in dolls and even had a shelf full of them.

He said that people around him told him he looked like a doll and this was the impetus for his decision to become a human puppet.


As he became increasingly famous, he began charging up to £10,000 for each appearance and even launched his own range of Celso Dolls in Los Angeles, reported Daily Mirror.

After he was thrust into the limelight, he told a Brazilian newspaper: "This is so magical. My life has changed. I feel like the whole of Brazil is supporting me.

"People are sometimes frightened by the way I look and stop me to say how much I look like a doll.

"I do suffer a lot of prejudice. But the world is full of judgmental people, I don't care."

However, after being diagnosed with cancer, Mr Santebanes said he was started a "new cycle" of his life, adding that he was "no longer concerned with aesthetics".

"For me that doesn't matter. What matter is my health now and I will fight for it," he told the Latin Times.

He discovered he had cancer after he went for treatment for the infection caused by fillers that were injected into his legs in 2011.

Mr Santebanes' father, Mr Celia Borges, said: "When he was starting to fulfil his dreams, he discovered his illness and his dreams were interrupted. He had plans, but God had others."

This article was first published on June 08, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.