It’s almost unfathomable to figure out what goes on behind the screen. Consider judging an actor’s freckles behind the thick layer of makeup, and you’re bound to miss them. But this example is just the tip of the iceberg. On-screen appearance is akin to a spell that prevents you from seeing the reality behind it. This includes a peek into the lives of celebrities. You wouldn’t even know if the star is silently struggling with the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s behind all that glamor.
Essentially, the heart of the matter revolves around the glitz of the film industry that is valued at $38 billion. The film industry is centered around churning out movies for keeping the audience engaged and entertained. As of 2016, the US cinemas released 736 films, which is two times the number of movies released in 2000.
This means new stars shine every year on the movie sets with the old ones blending in the background. So, you’d never really figure if any celebrity is part of the 5.5 million patients with Alzheimer’s disease. There are about 200,000 individuals under 65 who suffer the early onset of the neurodegenerative disease. The rest, 5.3 million develop the mental disorder above the age of 65.
Several stars excel at keeping their personal lives in a bubble wrap, away from the prying eyes of the media. It’s only after they bite the dust that the cause of their death is revealed as a disease. So here are six celebrities who have lost their lives to Alzheimer’s diseases:
Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011, Malcolm Young was a Scottish-Australian songwriter and musician. He also sat at the helm of the rock band, AC/DC as its guitarist and co-founder. Young succumbed to his battle with the mental disorder on November 18, 2017. He was known among the circle of the best rhythm guitarists.
His band’s famous song, “You Shook Me All Night Long” made it to the 35th position on the US’s Hot 100 pop singles chart in 1980. Malcolm Young’s career took a halt, as he found out that he had Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. As Young was taken into fulltime nursing care, one of his family’s representatives disclosed that he “has [had] a complete loss of short-term memory.”
Unlike Malcolm Young who was tight-lipped about Alzheimer’s, Campbell had been open about dealing with dementia. Glenn Campbell was an American actor, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and television host. His songs in the 1960s and 1970s brought him a lot of fame. Campbell was also prominent for hosting a music variety show on CBS television named, “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.”
Till date, however, he is remembered as the singer of the famous song, “Rhinestone Cowboy.” The singer announced his diagnosis in 2011 and continued to sing during the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The disorder, however, took over Campbell who had sung 21 songs in the Top 40 hits at 81 years in 2017.
Charles Bronson was another celebrity who falls in the 10% of people who have Alzheimer’s dementia in the US. Bronson was a famous American actor who is known for his famous roles in movies. These include “The Great Escape,” “The Dirty Dozen,” “Once Upon a Time in the West,” and “The Death Wish series.”
Bronson’s career came to a stop as he developed Alzheimer’s. One of his friends, the former Hollywood producer, Peter Bart commented about him, “Charlie may look homicidal, but in reality, he’s all heart. Charlie’s dirty secret is that he has always been an emotional, caring man, a sweetheart.” The debilitating disease paired with pneumonia took this superstar’s life in 2003.
Etta James, the music legend also suffered Alzheimer’s, the progressive disease that still doesn’t have a cure. The American singer’s talent span around several genres. These included jazz, soul, gospel, blues, R&B, and rock and roll. James’ career launched in 1954, and she came to be known for her hits such as “Tell Mama,” “The Wallflower,” and “At Last” to name a few.
In 1993, James’ name was also included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was after a year of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis that she broke the news in 2010. The songstress’s son, Donto James described her condition as, “She’s been in a pretty big battle.” A blood infection and other ailments aggravated her health further. She passed away at 73.
Patricia Summitt was renowned for her stellar role as the basketball head coach of Lady Volunteers at the University of Tennessee. Her career shined with 1,098 wins, which is the highest in the NCAA basketball history. Summitt retired with an excellent record of 1,098-208. At 59, she announced her early-onset Alzheimer’s that consumed her just after five years in 2016.
However, the star was steel strong in her battle with the disease. As she announced her diagnosis, she told Knoxville News Sentinel, “There’s not going to be any pity party, and I’ll make sure of that. Obviously, I realize I may have some limitations with this condition since there will be some good days and some bad days.”
Peter Falk, an American celebrity, was known for his legendary role in the television series, Columbo. He played Lieutenant Columbo but, toward the end of his life, Alzheimer’s picked clean his memory of the character. The role had fetched him a Golden Globe Award and four Primetime Emmy Awards. He also appeared in the role of the grandfather in the movie, “Princess Bride.”
The progression of his disease hit a fast note after a hip-replacement surgery in 2010. Recent research holds the operation responsible for the accelerated progress of Alzheimer’s. The study has revealed that surgery corresponds with a rapid Alzheimer’s deterioration and increased rate of brain death. Toward the end, Falk’s daughter described his condition as one that made him vulnerable to fraud. She said he could be “deceived into transferring away property.” He died in 2011.