It’s not surprising that there are a lot of famous people who have Multiple Sclerosis, after all, every hour in the United States someone is diagnosed with the disease. It’s a chronic illness that attacks the central nervous system, but it’s not a diagnosis that will end your way of life, or career.
Take a look at these TV and movie stars who have continued their careers despite their diagnoses. This is in addition to the Musicians and Singers with MS which I have compiled, and the Sports Stars and Athletes with MS who are also heroes. You can also see a slide show above of stars with MS, and a video discussing some, as well as CLICK HERE for a WebMd.com list.
This isn’t the only list, and there are other celebrities, but we’ll keep adding to this, and the other lists as we find out more. These are the film and TV stars who were diagnosed and there are links to more information about them. In many cases, the stars kept working, and in some cases they kept their illness a secret.
Louise Arters. In 1977, she appeared with her twin sister in “Slap Shot” as the Sparkle Twins, and they also played twins in the 1974 “Great Gatsby” film. She was diagnosed with MS in 1985 just after they were supposed to star in a Broadway show. Now confined to a wheelchair, fans of the hockey film “Slap Shot” have helped her raise money for a van so she can be more independent.
Neil Cavuto. After experiencing tingling in his arms and blindness, the FOX News anchor thought his Hodkin lymphoma had made a comeback. No, it was MS. “With MS there is no cure,” he says. “I just try to take it day by day. If I can help anyone with MS or a disease and say, ‘It’s really your attitude,’ then I’m doing a service, not by constantly yapping about it, but by doing my job.”
Roland ‘Chubby’ Cloutier. Known as “Chubby Roland,” Cloutier was a popular television and radio personality in Hawaii during the 1950s and 1960s. He created a show that was a children’s part with games, stunts and prizes which also ran in Los Angeles. He worked while have MS for two decades, but the last decade of his life was confined to a wheelchair.
Bryan Forbes. This actor, writer and director was diagnosed in 1975 and remained in remission for nearly 30 years, crediting his gluten-free diet and a loving wife. The British actor starred in “The Angry Silence” in 1960 and “Stepford Wives” in 1975.
Annette Funicello. Singer, dancer, Mouseketeer, she had problems with balance and energy even during her famous beach movies with Frankie Avalon. She went public with her MS diagnosis in 1992 and was in and out of a wheelchair trying many different MS therapies. She died in 2013.
Teri Garr. The comedic actress (from “Young Frankenstein”) and dramatic ingenue (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) found herself stumbling and slurring words in 1983, but kept her troubles a secret. Finally, in 1999 she was diagnosed with MS, but didn’t go public with it until 2002. Now an ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society she advocates a healthy diet, exercise and a good sense of humor to battling the disease.
William Hartnell. This Shakespearean British actor played minor villainous roles in movies in the 1930s until he landed the role of the first “Doctor Who” in the wildly popular sci-fi TV series. He had to give up his role due to his increasingly debilitating MS in 1966 and Patrick Troughton took over the role.
Eve Hayes. Actress
Lena Horne. The famed “Stormy Weather” singer appeared in 16 films between 1938 and 1978, her last film being “The Wiz” with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. She died at age 92 in 2010, and although her cause of death is unclear, many obits cited that she had MS.
Frieda Inescort. An actress in the 1920s and 1930s, she began experiencing dizziness and disorientation in her final film, “The Crowded Sky” in 1960. She was soon diagnosed with MS and was forced to walk with a cane. By 1973 she was confined to a wheelchair and died in 1976 at the age of 74.
Jonathan Katz. This comedian, actor and voice actor who is best known for his starring role in the animated sitcom “Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist,” was diagnosed in 1996 with Multiple Sclerosis. He kept his illness a secret until it became too difficult to hide it, and now speaks publicly about the illness.
Carl Laemmle, Jr. The film producer was diagnosed with MS in 1960 and he was in charge of production at Universal Studios from 1928 to 1936. During that time, he produced classic movies such as “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man” and “Bride of Frankenstein.” After diagnosis, he lived in seclusion until he died in 1979.
David Lander. The actor known as “Squiggy” in TV’s “Laverne and Shirley” made people laugh from 1976 to 1983. He also appeared in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “A League of Their Own.” He kept quiet about his diagnosis for 14 years and first talked about his illness in 1999. He wrote about his MS experience in the book, “Fall Down Laughing: How Squiggy Caught Multiple Sclerosis and Didn’t Tell Nobody.”
Margaret Leighton. The British actress who worked with Bette Davis and Laurence Olivier vowed that her diagnosis in 1971 wouldn’t slow her down. Five years later she was unable to walk, and died of the disease at 53.
John Medica. The actor who was in the movie “Super Dave” and the “War of the Worlds” TV series was diagnosed in 2009 at the age of 40.
Jack Osbourne. The reality show star from “The Osbournes” is the only son of Ozzy and Sharon. In 2012 he was diagnosed with MS. He started a blog about the disease called “You Don’t Know Jack.”
Alison Peebles The actress thought at first her perpetual tiredness was the onset of menopause. In 2006, she came out about her illness in a frank TV special called “Multiple.” Her father also had MS.
Richard Pryor. The comedian and actor found out he had MS in 1986. He felt optimistic about it and said, “Since the earthquakes last year didn’t kill me, the drugs didn’t kill me, the fire didn’t kill me, and my ex-wives (God bless them all) didn’t kill me, there is no way I’m going to let the MS kill me.” He died in 2005 of a heart attack.
Madeline Rhue. The character actress appeared in many TV Westerns including “Gunsmoke,” “Have Gun Will Travel,” “Daniel Boone,” “Rawhide” and more. She was diagnosed in 1977 with MS and continued working on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives” and by 1985 was confined to a wheelchair. She continued to do parts that didn’t require her to walk or stand and died of pneumonia in 2003.
Fausto Rocha. The Brazilian TV actor starred in soap operas in the 1970s and 1980s. He was diagnosed with MS in 1998 and his wife said he deteriorated every day, but kept working, until his death in 2001.
Wendy Carol Roth. The TV producer for “The Phil Donahue Show” among others turned her MS diagnosis into a positive when she continued to hike even after being confined to a wheelchair. She was an advocated for the disabled and visited 40 national parks on a 32,000-mile journey in 1988 in her electric three-wheeled scooter. She died in 2001 at the age of 48.
Michaele Salahi. The reality show starlet made waves in Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of DC” and then infamously crashing a White House party in 2010. That year, she said she had MS for 17 years and kept it a secret. However, her estranged husband and Dr. Drew both said she has no trace of the illness.
Robert “Wingnut” Weaver – An actor and surfer, Wingnut starred in “Endless Summer 2” at the age of 48 and long after he was diagnosed with MS in 1997. He has not yet felt any problems with balance of timing because of the disease so far.
Montel Williams. The talk show host went public with his diagnosis in 1999 and not only has been a great educator about the disease, he also advocates the use of medical marijuana for the symptoms of the illness. He started a foundation to help research the disease and continues to speak out about effective treatments.