At least 1 in 26 people will have epilepsy in their lifetime. It’s the fourth most common neurological disorder behind migraines, strokes, and Alzheimers.
It causes seizures, but the symptoms can be scary and differ from person to person. The most common are convulsions and unresponsiveness. Epilepsy can also be difficult to control and diagnose.
Many famous names aren’t immune to its effects and have quietly been managing it since childhood. Musicians and actors have had to stop their shows because they began to have a major seizure.
Keep watching to learn about celebrities with epilepsy you didn’t even notice.
Prince was born on June 7, 1958. He was proficient in keyboards, drums, bass, and other instruments.
The singer had epilepsy as a child and admits that his parents weren’t sure what to do about it. He sang about his experiences in the song The Sacrifice of Victor.
Rick Harrison owns the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas. It eventually became the location of the hit reality show Pawn Stars.
He says that as a child, he had to stay in his room away from the TV to prevent photogenic seizures. He read history books and generated an interest in the subject. That’s how he developed enough knowledge to know a little bit about everything customers bring into the shop.
Rick is also working to spread awareness about his condition. He’s working with the Epilepsy Foundation in his home state of Nevada.
Cameron Boyce was born on May 28, 1999. He was a teenage actor who shot to fame on the Disney Channel. He played Luke Ross on the show Jessie and Carlos and the TV film Descendants. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and died of a sudden attack on July 6, 2019.
Lil Wayne has been rapping since he was eight, but epilepsy was also a significant part of of his childhood. He revealed his condition in March of 2013 after several seizures put him in the hospital.
Like many epileptics, Lil Wayne can’t explain what happens during them because he blacks out. He’s even mentioned them in a few tracks.
Danny Glover is an actor who’s best known for playing Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon films. He had seizures from the age of 15 to 35.
Adam Horovitz, also known as Ad-Rock, is a member of the hip-hop group Beastie Boys. He’s had epilepsy for years and even experienced a grand mal seizure. They cause contractions and a loss of consciousness. They’re similar to what you’d see in an epileptic attack shown on TV or in a movie.
Hugo Weaving is a major Australian actor who’s been in several popular film series, including The Matrix and Lord of the Rings. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and began taking anticonvulsants to treat the condition since he had his first seizure at the age of 13. It also makes him unable to drive.
Neil Young is a member of popular bands such as Buffalo Springfield, Cros, Stills, Nash & Young. He’s been playing music for 50 years and had epilepsy for most of them.
He was diagnosed with epilepsy but hated the effects of the medication such as drowsiness and headaches. He looks to “personal stability” as a treatment instead. He wrote about his struggles in his 2007 memoir Waging Heavy Peace.
Lindsey Buckingham is the guitarist for Fleetwood Mac. He has a mild form of epilepsy and was hospitalized for seizures while on tour at the age of 29. He’s since controlled his condition with anticonvulsant drugs.
Scottish singer Susan Boyle showed the world not to judge a book by its cover when she went on Britain’s got Talent on April 11, 2011. She didn’t have any special outfit or physical features, but her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from the musical Les Miserables left the world in awe.
Despite her success, Susan says that her epilepsy made her childhood difficult. It would even cause her to frequently faint.
Margaux Hemingway was born on February 16, 1954, in Portland, Oregon. She was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of seven. She became a successful model and actress, but her condition continued to haunt her.
She died on July 1, 1996. The cause was attributed to suicide by overdosing on the anticonvulsant phenobarbital.
British singer Ian Curtis became the frontman for Joy Division. His story also ends in a tragic suicide.
He was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 22. The cover of the band’s album Unknown Pleasures resembles the tracing of an EEG used to monitor the condition but is actually radio emissions from a pulsar, a powerful star.
Ian had grand mal seizures while on stage. He even danced in a way that mimicked his convulsions.
Ian Curtis took his own life at 23 on May 18, 1980.
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Bud Abbott was born on October 2, 1897, in Ashbury Park, New Jersey. He later became half of the comedy duo Abbott and Costello.
Out of all of the celebrities with epilepsy, Bud may have had the most difficult time trying to hide his condition. He tried everything from tricks to heavy drinking to keep the audience from noticing it.
Abbot and Costello made 26 films and were at the top of the world during WWIII. When Bud had a seizure on stage, they tried to work it into the act with Lou carrying him off-stage.
Medical troubles continued to follow Bud Abbott until the end of his life. He died of cancer at the age of 76 on April 24, 1974.
Richard Burton was a Welsh actor. He was famous for his Shakespearean performances, especially his performance in Hamlet in 1964.
His epilepsy didn’t fade through childhood, and he had it most of his adult life. Instead of taking medication or talking to a doctor, he self-medicated with alcohol. It contributed to his many health problems, including cirrhosis of the liver. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 69 on August 4, 1984.
Michael Wilding was an actor known for the series of films he made with Anna Neagle and for appearing in two Hitchock films; Under Capricorn in 1949 and Stage Fright in 1950. He even has the distinction of joining Richard Burton as one of Elizabeth Taylor’s 8 husbands.
Michael Wilding died at the age of 66 on July 8, 1979. Epileptic seizures caused him to fall down a flight of stairs and injure his head.
Pete Duel is known for playing Hannibal Heyes in the show Alias Smith and Jones. He developed epilepsy after head injuries in a car crash.
Pete suffered both absence seizures where he would stare off and become unresponsive and tonic-clonic ones where he would convulse and then become fatigued.
Pete took phenobarbitol and Dilantin, the best anticonvulsant medications available at the time. He unfortunately made the mistake of mixing them with alcohol.
He became an alcoholic and died on December 13, 1971, under mysterious circumstances. He allegedly argued with his girlfriend Dianne Ray and then shot himself in the head.
Chris Knox is an indie musician from New Zealand. He’s been in bands such as Toy Love and Tall Drawfs.
He’s one of many musicians who’s used his condition to inspire his music. He has a song called Lapse and an entire album titled Seizure.
Jimmy Reed was a popular blues singer. He was nearly given the proper diagnosis of epilepsy in 1957. Doctors thought he was suffering from delirium tremens, a condition that comes from alcohol withdrawal.
Jimmy Reed died of a seizure at the age of 51 on August 29, 1976.
George Gershwin was one of the most prolific composers in all of musical history, making hits such as American in Paris and Porgy and Bess. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and pushed through it until his tragic death at only 39 years old on July 11, 1937.
Truman Capote is best known for writing Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He believes his epilepsy was brought about by years of drug and alcohol use. He eventually died of liver failure on August 5, 1984.
Jonathan Davis is known for leading the metal band Korn. He also believes that years of drug use brought about his epilepsy.
He became addicted to benzodiazepines after his son was diagnosed with diabetes. The withdrawal process came with convulsions and delusions, but he later recovered.
Richard Jobson is a singer and filmmaker. He used to lead the punk rock group Skids.
He was diagnosed with epilepsy and is willing to speak about it openly. He experiences absence seizures and doesn’t know what’s happening during them.
Mike Skinner was the frontman of the band Streets. He was diagnosed with epilepsy at age seven. He hasn’t had a seizure since he was 20, but many patients have them recur. He also believes that the condition has contributed to his musical success.
Ward Bond appeared in over 200 films, including It’s a Wonderful Life and The Searchers. He’s best known for his work on the series Wagon Train from 1957-1960.
The world may not have been able to enjoy Ward for as long as they did if not for his epilepsy. It excluded him from the draft for WWII.
Bob Fosse is arguably the biggest name in dance and choreography. He had a seizure onstage during rehearsal for The Conquering Hero in 1961 and had to make his epilepsy diagnosis public.
Do you have epilepsy or know anyone who does? Let us know in the comments below.