Thomas Noguchi's 15 years as the chief medical examiner for Los Angeles County earned him the sardonic nickname of "Coroner to the Stars." Noguchi graduated from Nippon Medical School in 1951; he was appointed a deputy coroner for Los Angeles County in 1961 and became the county's chief medical examiner in 1967. As such he performed or oversaw autopsies on celebrities including Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, and Robert F. Kennedy. Noguchi became a celebrity in his own right, and his high profile made him a somewhat controversial figure. He stepped down as chief coroner in 1982 but continued to work with the county, finally retiring in 1999. His 1983 memoir Coroner was a best-seller.
Noguchi was widely considered to be the model for Jack Klugman‘s character in the TV series Quincy… Noguchi was president of the National Association of Medical Examiners from 1982-83.