Parkinson's disease

Updated 24 January 2018

Neil Diamond and 6 other famous people with Parkinson’s disease

Hit singer Neil Diamond recently retired from a tour because of Parkinson’s disease. We have a look at six other famous people who also suffered or are currently suffering from the illness.

On 22 January 2018 there were reports that the music legend Neil Diamond had retired from touring after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

According to HealthDay News, the 76-year-old singer apologised to fans who bought tickets for the last leg of his 50th anniversary tour.

"The onset of the disease has made it difficult to travel and perform on a large-scale basis," he explained.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement and causes trembling in the arms, hands, legs and jaw. It is caused when certain nerve cells die or become impaired. It affects around one in 100 people older than sixty.

While the symptoms can be controlled, there is nothing that can stop the disease from progressing.

Although the symptoms can be dramatically reduced, Parkinson’s disease can be challenging to live with as it doesn’t only cause difficulty of movement and cognitive skills, but can lead to depression, sleep problems, speech problems and pain.

The singer of hits like Sweet Caroline and Cracklin’ Rosie is not the only celeb affected by the illness. Here are six other famous people who are or were affected by Parkinson’s.

1. George H.W. Bush

It was reported in early 2017 that the former president of the United States had been placed in intensive care at the age of 92. Bush’s illness isn’t exactly Parkinson’s disease, but vascular parkinsonism, a disease that mimics the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and causes the same devastating difficulties performing cognitive skills.

George HW Bush

2. Michael J. Fox

The American-Canadian actor, famous for his roles in Back to the Future and Spin City, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. He was only 29 – an unusually young age for the onset of the disease. In 2000 he formally retired from acting after his symptoms worsened. Since then he has become an activist for Parkinson's and also created the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise awareness of the disease.

Michael J Fox

3. Billy Connolly

This Scottish comedian announced in 2014 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer on the same day. Luckily, his sense of humour is helping him laugh about the situation and he often makes fun of his symptoms during shows.

Billy Connolly

4. Charles M. Schulz

The name might not ring a bell, but he is the creator of the beloved cartoon Snoopy. Parkinson’s disease severely affected the movement of his hands, making his passion for illustrating difficult. He tried to alleviate his trembles with beta-blockers. Schulz passed away in 2000.

Charles M Schulz

5. Robin Williams

Shortly after his suicide in August 2014, Robin William’s widow Susan Williams disclosed that he had progressive Parkinson’s disease and only three years left to live. His condition became progressively worse before his death.

Robin Williams

6. Muhammad Ali

This widely celebrated American boxer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984. It is said that blows to the head during his boxing career or a motorcycle injury could have led to the onset of the disease. In 1998 Ali became involved with Michael J. Fox’s foundation to create awareness for the illness. He passed way in 2016. 

Muhammad Ali

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons