Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Actors are now able to disclose life-limiting illnesses

Alan Alda's declaration that he is in the early stages of Parkinson's disease is confirmation of how the viewing public and TV producers have matured. Alda is not the first prominent actor to carrying on working through a disabling condition. Michael J Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 1991 and has continued to work until very recently, even incorporating his handicap in the role of Lewis Canning in The Good Wife. Attracting rather less media attention, Teri Garr's revelation of multiple sclerosis has not stopped her working.

Time was general knowledge of a major disability would have been box office poison. I remember Esmond Knight as a character actor in TV dramas in the 1960s and 1970s. I was unaware that he had been effectively blinded in active service in the Royal Navy. Primarily a stage actor, his fellow RSC members would have known, but he made sure that audiences were none the wiser.

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