This Holiday season, actress Blythe Danner has yet another reason to celebrate. The “Meet The Parents” star and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow just revealed that she is in remission after a years-spanning battle with oral cancer. While she no doubt is counting her blessings, her sobering battle with cancer undoubtedly brought up some difficult memories because back in 2002, her beloved husband Bruce Paltrow lost his battle to the very same disease.
In this video, we’re going to be documenting Blythe Danner’s incredibly heroic journey battling cancer while taking a look back at that unbelievably heartbreaking chapter of her life twenty years ago. We’ll also spend some time catching up with her daughter Gwyneth to see how she’s been affected by her parent’s health crisis.
Facts Verse Presents: Blythe Danner Almost Suffered the Same Fate as Her Late Husband
Against All Odds
When Blythe Danner was first diagnosed with oral cancer in March 2018, she says that the first thing she did was look up towards heaven and asked Bruce if he was ‘feeling lonely up there’. While cancer is something that will touch just about everyone’s lives at some point, it’s very unusual for a couple to have to face the same type of cancer. But before we get to that, let’s a take a little trip back in time to see what Danner’s early life and career was like, and what she’s been up to in recent years.
Danner, now 79, was born on the third of February, 1943. She grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsyvlania, where her father, Harry Earl Danner, worked as a bank executive. Her brother, Harry Danner, was an opera singer and actor while her sister Dorothy “Dottie” Danner, was a performer-turned director. So, clearly, she was never a stranger to the entertainment industry.
Danner attended a Quaker High School in Newtown, Pennsylvania, called George School. After graduating, she enrolled at Bard College. She went on to star in Off-Broadway productions such as the 1967 musical Mata Hari and 1968s Summertree.
Blythe quickly transitioned to performing on Broadway, appearing in productions such as 1968s Cyrano de Bergerac and 1969s The Miser. In 1970, she won a Tony for Best Featured Actress for her performance in the play Butterflies Are Free.
In 1972, Danner portrayed Martha Jefferson in the film adaptation of 1776. That same year, she appeared in an episode of Columbo, playing the unknowing wife of a man who committed murder.
Later that year, Danner enjoyed a starring role opposite Alan Alda in the film To Kill A Clown. After that, she appeared onscreen alongside Alda once again in an episode of M*A*S*H entitled “The More I See You”.
1974 was a big year for Danner, as that was the year that she appeared in the made-for-TV film F Scoot Fitzgerald and The Last of the Belles, as well as the major motion picture Lovin’ Molly. In 1976, she appeared in Futureworld alongside her co-star Peter Fonda.
A few years later, she appeared in the 1982 TV film Inside the Third Reich. In 1986, she starred in the feature film adaptation of Neil Simon’s semi-autobiographical play Brighton Beach Memoirs. For the next decade or so, Danner appeared in very few films or television shows and it likely seemed to her as if her acting career was beginning to run it’s course, but in 2000, she was thrust back into the spotlight after appearing opposite Robert De Niro in the comedy Meet The Parents. She would go on to reprise her role in the film’s sequels Meet The Fockers, which hit theaters in 2004, and 2010’s Little Fockers.
Not only did Blythe Danner’s film career get resurrected, but so did her TV career. From 2001 to 2006, she was a series regular on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, playing Will Truman’s mother, Marilyn. From 2004 to 2006, Danner was one of the main cast members of the comedy-drama series Huff.
To this day, Danner continues to make appearances both on the big and small screen. On TV, she’s appeared in shows such as Madoff, Odd Mom Out, American Gods, and Ridley Jones. Filmwise, she’s shown up in flicks such as 2018s What They Had and 2019s The Tomorrow Man.
Blythe’s Tumor Was In The Same Spot As Bruce’s
While working in London in 2018, Blythe suddenly started feeling very woozy. She also noticed that she was having trouble with her memory. That’s when she discovered a lump on her neck – right next to where her late husband Bruce had found his tumor in 1999.
After going to the doctor to have the lump looked at, Danner was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare variant of oral cancer that usually develops in the sufferer’s salivary glands. Blythe now admits that she hid her diagnosis from her children for a long time. All she wanted to do was ‘forge ahead’; as a mother, and the last thing she wanted to do was worry them.
When she finally told her daughter, Gwyneth, she was very shocked. Paltrow would later tell reporters that when she learned of her mother’s diagnosis, not only did she feel scared, but it felt especially eerie because of how similar it was to her father’s cancer.
But instead of letting her diagnosis hold her back or get the better of her, Danner immediately got to work fighting it. After two early surgeries and spending a couple of years exploring alternative treatments, Blythe underwent a third surgery in 2020 facilitated by Dr. Mark DeLacure. Fortunately, the surgeon was successful in removing the cancerous tissue, and since then, Blythe has been cancer-free.
Speaking about her mother’s experience, Gwyneth noted that Blythe went through the ordeal with grace. She went on to say that she was amazed by how strong she was able to be in the face of adversity.
While Blythe had to undergo both radiation and chemotherapy, she says that at no point in her cancer battle was she ever quaking in her boots or living with the fear of death. The actress says that her unique views on mortality dramatically shifted after the death of her husband in 2002. The two had been happily married for 33 years and brought two children into the world during their time togerther.
Danner says that she has never gotten over Bruce’s death. According to her, he was the heart of her family, and since his death, life has been significantly less colorful. But despite the grief that she has had to contend with in the last two decades, she’s never lost sight of what’s most important. Danner knows that if Bruce was still around, he’d want her to keep fighting while focusing on what matters most – her family.
These days, Blythe constantly surrounds herself with her family. The grandmother of four says that nothing makes her happier than being around children.
Not only has she been a devoted mother and grandmother, but Danner has also committed herself to advocacy work with the Oral Cancer Foundation. That organization strives to raise awareness for oral cancers, which an estimated 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with every year.
According to the foundation’s Executive Director, Brian Hill, the best way to combat the disease is by screening for early warning signs as soon as possible. A quick screening by a dental professional is not only inexpensive and painless, but it’s also potentially life-saving. Hill also advocates for vaccinating children for HPV, a virus that often leads to cancers of the mouth.
Regret Led Gwyneth Paltrow To Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle
Gwyneth is probably more recognized these days for her healthy approach to living than she is for her film roles. While she’s become a fierce advocate for healthy, holistic living in recent years, she hasn’t always been such a beacon for wellness.
Her passion for health and fitness actually has come from a place of immense sadness. When her father, Bruce, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 1999, she had to spend the next couple of years watching the man that raised her with love and virtue get torn apart by the disease and the treatment that he received in an attempt to combat it.
Paltrow saw his treatment as particularly brutal. Throughout his cancer battle, she began thinking out of desperation that there had to be something that she and her family could do to help him. That’s when she started researching food and nutrition.
Bruce passed away in 2002 after suffering a heart attack spurred on by complications of his cancer. Touching on his death in 2005, Paltrow expressed regret that she hadn’t done enough to clean up her father’s diet and get rid of his cancer. She went as far to say that she felt at least partly responsible for his tragic death. To cope with these feelings of guilt, Paltrow has since made it her mission to spread a message of health and wellness.
The Goop founder is now confident that she is on the right path. That being said, she’s come under fire in recent years for advocating treatments, remedies, diets, and beliefs that many deem to be pseudo-scientific. For example, at one point, she went on an 8-day goat milk cleanse in an attempt to rid her body of heavy metals and parasites. On another occasion, she used her platform to preach about the supposed wonders of ‘bee sting facials’.
Paltrow additionally has encouraged her followers to insert egg-shape stones into their intimate nether-regions and has perpetuated the debunked theories of Masaru Emoto, a Japanese pseudo-scientist who believed that human consciousness could somehow affect the molecular structure of water.
Now, we’re not going to weigh in on each and every one of Gwyneth Paltrow’s more sensational health claims and we’re certainly not going to say that she’s wrong in attempting to discover novel ways to improve one’s health, but it’s undeniable that her claims haven’t always been met with open arms by the scientific community. That being said, you’ve got to applaud her for taking her health and the health of others so seriously. It must have been devastating for her to lose her father in the tragic way that she did, and when her mother was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2018, it had to have felt a lot like deja vu.
We’re just happy that Blythe Danner’s cancer is in remission and that Gwyneth seems to have found her true calling in life.
With that, we’ll go ahead and wrap this video up. But before you go, take a moment to share your thoughts with us in the comments. Did you know that Blythe Danner was diagnosed with the same rare form of oral cancer as her late husband, Bruce Paltrow, and that Bruce’s death is what led his daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, to dedicate her life to health and wellness?