Famous Faces of MS
Learn about those who rose to fame despite their multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease that targets the brain and spinal cord. It affects the coverings to nerve cells that can diminish spinal and brain function such as vision problems, tingling in extremities, and pain.
While MS can seem challenging, many people have worked past their disease to accomplish great things. Click “next” to learn who just a few of them are. You may be surprised.
Annette Funicello is by far the most famous Disney Mouseketeer. After dropping the mouse ears, she starred in numerous beach-themed movies alongside Frankie Avalon. While filming the 1987 movie Back to the Beach, Annette first had signs of MS. In 1992, she publically announced she had the disease and retired from acting. In 1993, she started the Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders at the California Community Foundation to help fund research of multiple sclerosis.
(Photo courtesy of i-collect.com)
Richard Pryor is often called the best comedian ever and was the inspiration for many of the most successful comedians in the last three decades. Using profane and vulgar language, this Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actor and comedian gave society an uncompromising view of contemporary culture, politics, and racism. In 1986, Pryor was diagnosed with MS, which slowed his career until he retired for health reasons. He died in 2005 at the age of 65.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Light)
Montel Williams is a decorated Naval leader and Emmy-award winning talk show host. His popular program, The Montel Williams Show, aired from 1991 to 2008. In 1999, Williams was diagnosed with MS. Shortly thereafter, he created the MS Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to education and research of multiple sclerosis.
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)
Richard Cohen won three Emmys as a journalist with CBS news, long after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1973 at the age of 25. He was often reluctant to talk about his MS because he didn’t want to be defined by the disease.
He explains living with MS for 30 years—along with two bouts of colon cancer— in his memoir, Blindsided: Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir. He is married to TV host Meredith Vieira.
(Photo courtesy of broadwayworld.com)
Another veteran journalist, Neil Cavuto, also has MS, but continues to get the stories. Now as Senior Vice President of Business News for Fox News Corp., Cavuto has been named “the best interviewer in broadcast business news.”
Cavuto’s continuation to work boggles even his doctors: after cancer and with MS, brain scans show he shouldn’t even be able to walk or talk.
(Photo courtesy of Fox News)
Clive Burr may only have been the drummer for the band Iron Maiden from 1980 to 1982, but he provided the percussion for their breakthrough record The Number of the Beast. After Iron Maiden, he didn’t play in many big bands before being confined to a wheelchair due to his MS.
The concert series Clive Aid that began in 2004 is named after Burr to raise awareness and money for MS and cancer programs.
Comedienne and actress Teri Garr was in a string of successful movies in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. She was even nominated for an Oscar for her role in the 1982 movie Tootsie. In 2002, she publically announced she was diagnosed with MS to let others know they weren’t alone. She has been extremely active as a steward for MS research and education. She was given the Ambassador of the Year Award by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Light)
As you just read, a multiple sclerosis diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful life. With proper treatments for multiple sclerosis, the disease is becoming easier to manage and these aforementioned celebrities are only a glimpse of the proof.
If you are concerned that you might have some of the symptoms, learn the early signs of MS to see if it’s time to see your doctor and get the help you need.