Famous Faces of Parkinson’s Disease
A myriad of celebrities and public figures have faced Parkinson’s disease. Many have turned their condition into a personal crusade to advance research and awareness.
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Introduction Slide
Parkinson’s disease is one of the most common nervous system disorders. A diagnosis is most common after age 50, and while it affects both genders, it’s more common in men. Parkinson’s disease is one of progression—it may begin very quietly with a small hand tremor—but it will eventually affect almost every part of the body. There is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, although research is making advances every day. The cause of Parkinson’s disease is still a mystery, which means doctors can’t accurately predict who will develop it and who won’t. These prominent actors, musicians, and politicians and other well-known figures have all faced a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis.
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Muhammad Ali
The boxing champion began showing signs of Parkinson’s disease shortly after retiring from boxing in 1981, and he was diagnosed with the disease in 1984 at the age of 42. Though his doctors are not entirely sure, his Parkinson’s disease may be the result of repeated blows to the head during boxing matches.
Photo courtesy of Alan Light
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox
Most famous for his role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies, he was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1991 at the age of 30. He went public with his diagnosis in 1998 and committed himself to working for Parkinson’s research. He eventually established the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which raises money for research.
Photo courtesy of www.johnnycashstore.com
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Johnny Cash
In 1997, the country singer/songwriter announced he was battling Parkinson’s disease. Despite his illness, he enjoyed a late-career resurgence before his death in 2003.
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Maurice White
The founder, producer, and leader of the R&B band Earth, Wind, and Fire announced he has Parkinson’s disease in 2000, after being diagnosed eight years before. He has since worked to raise awareness about the disease and to help fund research for better treatments and a cure.
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease George Wallace
While campaigning for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1972, the former governor of Alabama was shot and paralyzed. In his later years, he faced many struggles as a result of this injury, made no easier by a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in the early 1990s.
Photo courtesy of Alan Light
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Estelle Getty
In 2000, the actress best known for her role as Sophia on The Golden Girls announced she had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for several years. She eventually passed away in 2008 from natural causes.
Photo courtesy of www.billygraham.org
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Billy Graham
The evangelist pastor announced in 1992 that he has Parkinson’s disease. Today, at age 93, he continues to act as pastor to the President in a role he has fulfilled for many years, despite the illness.
Photo courtesy of Roger Higgins
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Charles Schultz
Likely best known for the endearing characters in his Peanuts comic strip, Schulz was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his later years. In 1999, several years after being diagnosed, he retired the strip.
Photo courtesy of The Department of Justice
Famous Faces of Parkinson's Disease Janet Reno
In 1995, while serving as the Attorney General of the United States under President Bill Clinton, Reno announced that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She stayed in office until 2011. Since leaving office, she has become an advocate for Parkinson’s disease research.