The program, started at the Duke University Medical Center, was built around a sparse diet of white rice and fruit.
Shelley Winters, Lorne Green and Buddy Hackett made their way to Durham, N.C. in their heydays to take part in the program, and it became one of the best-known diet centers in the country.
The Rice Diet Program was founded in 1939 by Dr. Walter Kempner, who was associated with Duke University at the time. Before modern drugs, Kempner developed the diet to combat high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
The Rice Diet split from the university in 2002, five years after Kempner died. Kitty Gurkin Rosati brought the diet back into popularity with a series of books including "Rice Diet Solution."
But new diet crazes appear every season, and added to the increasing popularity of weight-loss surgeries, the Rice Diet fell out of favor with modern dieters.
Rice Diet owner Dr. Robert Rosati, Kitty's husband, closed the center's doors in November, and was unable to close a sale with any of three potential buyers to restart the program.
Rosati said her husband is ready to retire, but that they still want to lead health retreats using the Rice Diet Program brand name.