Join Wonderwall.com as we take a look at the celebrities who’ve faced multiple sclerosis, a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system and occurs when the immune system attacks nerve fibers and sheathing in the brain and spinal cord…
Actress Arleen Sorkin — the original voice of the DC Comics character Harley Quinn and a star on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” — died in August 2023 at 67 years old after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, a rep for her husband, television producer and screenwriter Christopher Lloyd, confirmed to Entertainment Weekly.
“We will always remember our dear Arleen for her immense generosity of spirit,” her family said in a statement. “Talented, yes, and dogged, too, as evidenced by her tenacious, decades-long fight with a terrible disease. But more than that, she was a loving presence in the lives of her two boys, Eli and Owen; her mother, Joyce; her brothers, Robert and Arthur; and the countless other children, old and young, whom she took under her beautiful wing over the years.
“It’s a sad day for us, but a joyous one, too,” her family added, “knowing how many people today are summoning her memory and smiling.”
Keep reading to see other stars who have been diagnosed with MS…
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In 2018, Selma Blair publicly shared that she’d been diagnosed with MS. A year later, she arrived at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party and walked the red carpet with a cane.
Since then, the “Cruel Intentions” and “Legally Blonde” actress — who competed on “Dancing With the Stars” in the fall of 2022 but had to drop out during week 5 after doctors determined her body had “taken a hit” and the exertion had become “way too much for the safety of my bones,” Selma explained — has been incredibly candid about living with the disease and has given fans an inside look at her life in her book “Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up,” which was published in 2022.
“Living with MS is not as bad as I thought it would be. It’s also way worse, she wrote, as reported by The Guardian. “My particular experience with this disease is that it has affected every inch of my body, from scalp to marrow. If I stand up too quickly, I fall. If I’m triggered by anything where I don’t know the outcome, I can’t speak. I sweat through my clothes, but I’m freezing.”
She continued, “If I don’t take my meds, I cannot feel my body. I don’t know if I’m sopping wet or getting frostbite. Without my meds, I also lose the ability to speak. When I’m in a flare, I sound like a tantrum-throwing toddler, distraught and gasping for breath. I sometimes choke when I eat. I am sometimes incontinent.”
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In August 2021, Christina Applegate revealed on Twitter that she’d been diagnosed with MS “a few months” earlier. “It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going,” she wrote.
Five months later, the “Married… With Children” alum, who’s also a breast cancer survivor, shared on social media that though shooting the 2002 comedy “The Sweetest Thing” with actress Selma Blair was “so fun,” it was also “sad both of us have MS.”
In a 2022 interview with The New York Times promoting the third and final season of her hit show “Dead to Me,” the Emmy winner revealed that the Netflix series took a five-month production break so she could focus on her health. “There was the sense of, ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better.’ There is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me,” Christina said, adding that she’s angry and is “never going to accept” her diagnosis, which followed mobility issues.
She further revealed that she depended on a wheelchair to navigate the show’s set, struggled to shoot on warmer days and was unable to walk or stand without support. “This is the first time anyone’s going to see me the way I am. I put on 40 pounds; I can’t walk without a cane. I want people to know that I am very aware of all of that,” she said. “If people hate [the new season], if people love it, if all they can concentrate on is, ‘Ooh, look at the cripple,’ that’s not up to me. I’m sure that people are going to be, like, ‘I can’t get past it.’ Fine, don’t get past it then. But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to [the characters].”
In February 2022, Christina told the Los Angeles Times that she believes the 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards — where she was nominated for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for her work on “Dead to Me” — would be her final awards show as her health battle progresses. “It’s my last awards show as an actor probably, so it’s kind of a big deal,” she said. “Right now, I couldn’t imagine getting up at 5 a.m. and spending 12 to 14 hours on a set; I don’t have that in me at this moment.”
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In 2016, “The Sopranos” alum Jamie-Lynn Sigler publicly shared that she’d been secretly living with multiple sclerosis for 15 years at the time. “I can’t walk for a long period of time without resting. I cannot run. No superhero roles for me,” she told People magazine. “Stairs? I can do them, but they’re not the easiest. When I walk, I have to think about every single step, which is annoying and frustrating.” In 2019, Jamie-Lynn, who has two children with husband Cutter Dykstra, penned an essay for Shondaland.com in which she said that MS has made her recognize how strong she really is. “MS — any chronic illness, really — becomes your whole family’s disease, not just your own. It affects our daily choices, and while sometimes I resent that, it has also made me see how strong I am,” she wrote. “I am there for [my kids] each and every day.”
Jack Osbourne was just 26 when he was diagnosed with relapse-remitting MS in 2012. The news came just weeks after his first child, daughter Pearl, was born. Nearly a decade later, the former MTV reality TV star told People magazine that he was feeling “great” despite his diagnoses. “I’m feeling really, really well, you know, I haven’t had any significant MS flare-ups in a long time. I exercise a lot. I do a bunch of jujitsu. I’m great.”
Comedian Richard Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. He lived with the increasingly debilitating disease for nearly 20 years, until he died in 2005 following his third heart attack. “MS is a very strange disease. I didn’t know anything was wrong at first, the s*** just crept up on me,” the lauded comic once told Entertainment Weekly, adding that “The MS really started going downhill in 1990. … We take so much for granted, but man, lose the movement of your legs and you begin to take a closer look at life.”
In October 2022, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” alum Emma Caulfield Ford — who celebrates her 50th birthday on April 8, 2023 — revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair that she was diagnosed with MS 12 years earlier. “I woke up one morning and the left side of my face felt like there were a million ants crawling on it,” the “WandaVision” and “Agatha: Coven of Chaos” actress said. “It was like an out-of-body experience… I’m like, ‘No, that’s not possible.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ [The doctor] was very matter of fact about it. It was literally a kind of nightmare.”
The “WandaVision” actress initially hid her condition from those she worked with because she “didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity not to hire me.” She explained, “There are already plenty of reasons to not hire people, reasons most actors don’t even know. ‘You look like my ex-girlfriend… You’re too short. You’re too tall. You look mean. You look too nice. You don’t have the right color eyes.’ I knew in my bones that if you talk about this, you’re just going to stop working. That’s it.” Despite the challenges of the disease, Emma’s spirits are high. “Truthfully, my attitude is not crumbling under the fear of ‘what if’ or ‘what can,’ or ‘what has’ for other people,” she said. “I just have to keep going.”
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Former talk show host Montel Williams revealed his MS diagnosis in 1999. At the time, he’d been living with the disease for 20 years. “I don’t consider myself a patient. I’m a survivor,” he said during the launch of “My MS: Second Act” in 2019. “It doesn’t make me any more special, but it’s given me the opportunity to share with so many others who also suffer from MS.” Every time he was able to share his story, explained Montel — who founded The Montel Williams MS Foundation to help other survivors — “I got feedback from people who said it made a difference in their lives… It wasn’t like I had changed that much from before the diagnosis. But I also realized that by not being alone, by talking about it and sharing my experiences with others, I found people in similar circumstances.”
Ann Romney, the wife of U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. An advocate for MS research, the former first lady of Massachusetts established the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in 1999.
Oscar-nominated actress Teri Garr felt MS symptoms nearly 16 years before she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 1999. She went public with her diagnosis in 2002 when she appeared on “Larry King Live,” saying, “When things slowed down, it was either the MS or that I’m a stinking actress, so I chose to believe it’s the MS… There’s definitely fear and misunderstanding out there about what MS is, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to me to go out and talk about it.”
Father-and-son singers Alan Osmond and David Osmond are both living with multiple sclerosis. Alan, a member of the famed family musical group The Osmonds, has primary-progressive MS, which is a less common type of the disease. David, who’s performed as a member of the Osmond Brothers Second Generation, has the most common form: relapse-remitting MS. “It took me some time before I was ready to take an active approach to treating MS. I eventually realized that I was just coping and not doing everything I could to actively manage the disease,” David told MS Focus Magazine. “Treating relapsing MS early is a crucial part of managing it… Everyone’s experience with relapsing MS is different, so I would encourage anyone living with the disease to talk with their doctor about which treatment option would be best for them.
Canadian R&B singer Tamia was diagnosed with MS in 2003. The “Into You” and “Officially Missing You” singer first felt symptoms around the same time her husband, former NBA player Grant Hill, was dealing with a knee injury. “Initially, I thought I was not going to tell anyone because I didn’t know exactly what it was,” she told Jet magazine. “I didn’t want anybody to take it as my being weak or anything. I just didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t have a lot of information on it.” The mom of two has since become more vocal about living with the autoimmune disease. “Ultimately one of the reasons that I could bounce back and get a grasp on my health right now is because I found it early. It’s important to know your body. If the doctors keep sending you home, keep going back until you get the answers that you need. That’s what I did.”
In 2019, Everclear rocker Art Alexakis penned an open letter to his fans revealing his MS diagnosis. The singer-guitarist discovered he had MS three years earlier following a car accident. He underwent a series of MRIs and other tests for the tingling and numbness he felt in his arm and was later told he has relapse-remitting MS. “The more I found out about MS, the more a lot of things started making sense, he explained. “It explains why I have had balance and gait problems for the last 10 years, it helps explain why I have had a higher sensitivity to heat and cold, and why I don’t have the energy, vigor and razor sharp memory that I had 10 years ago. I thought it was just me getting older.”
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