Famous people with dementia

Anybody can get dementia.  It doesn’t differentiate between colour, religion, nationality, or financial status.

Robin Williams was a most beloved actor and comic whose talents have always left me in awe.  When it was announced that he had committed suicide back in August 2014 I was shocked and sad that he had been driven by his demons to end his life.

His wife has since revealed that Robin had Lewy Body Dementia, the same condition I think Ma has.  The Guardian wrote a good article about this of which an excerpt follows.

“Taken all together, a severe case of dementia with Lewy Bodies means you potentially can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t stay awake, can’t trust what you see, can’t move, can’t understand what’s going on and can’t be happy.  Judging by Susan William’s (Robin’s wife) comments about the speed of progression of his symptoms, it sounds like Robin Williams had a severe case of dementia with Lewy Bodies.”

How horrible to suffer so and not know what’s going on.

Robin is not the only famous person who has suffered from dementia.

This year it was annoucned that Helen Reddy, aged 73, had been diagnosed with dementia and is now living in a Los Angeles nursing facility. Helen was the first Australian to win a Grammy in 1973 for her inconic song, ‘I am Woman’.

Former British Prime Ministers’ Harold Wilson (Alzheimers); Winston Churchill (multi-infarct dementia); and Margaret Thatcher (stroke induced dementia).

Singers’ Malcom Young of ACDC fame (dementia); Glen Campbell, County and Western singer famous for hits such as Rhinestone Cowboy is in the later stage of Alzheimers;  Perry Como, singer and entertainer (Alzheimers).

In 1983, US President and former actor, Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.  Six years after the end of his presidency he announced that he had Alzheimer’s disease and wanted to raise public awareness of the disease.

US actor Charlton Heston, who played Moses in ‘The Ten Commandments’ also had Alzheimer’s disease.  He also announced publicly that he had Alzheimer’s to raise awareness.

Rita Hayworth, a US film star, famous in the 1940s, became the ‘face of Alzheimer’s disease’ during the 1980s which went a long way to destigmatise dementia.

Other famous US actors affected by dementia include Peter Falk, who was famous for playing Columbo in the US TV series (Alzheimers). James Stewart, one of my favourite actors, best known for his movie roles in ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (Alzheimers plus another illness).  Eddie Albert of ‘Green Acres’ fame (Alzheimers); Charles Bronson (my 5th grade teacher was wildly in love with him), who always played the tough guy (Alzheimers);  Jack Lord of Hawaii Five-O fame (Alzheimer) and one of my favourite Star Trek characters, James Doohan (Alzheimers and Parkinson’s disease).

Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series, died of Alzhiemers in March 2015. He made a substantial donation to the Alzhiemer’s Research Trust and filmed a television program on his life with Alzhiemers.

Sugar Ray Robinson, famous US boxer (Alzheimers); E B White, author of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ (Alzheimers); Casey Kasem, US radio personality, growing up I always listened him on radio station 2SM (Lewy Body Dementia); and Rosa Parks, known as ‘the Mother of the Freedom Movement’, after being arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus and beginning the civil rights movement (Alzheimers).

People known to us Aussies include Don Lane, Australian TV personality) (Alzheimers); Hazel Hawke, wife of former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke (Alzheimers); and Neville Wran, Premier of NSW (Lewy Body Dementia).

And the list goes on… because dementia doesn’t discriminate.


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