What is Crohn’s Disease?
Living with a painful, incurable and auto-immune chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (“IBD”), is like giving your apartment keys to the most annoying, irritating and distasteful people you have ever come across in life knowing they may stop in and come live with you at ANY MOMENT, without ANY NOTICE and stay for as long as they want. And like the painful cramps, unpredictable hospitalizations, countless surgeries and medications with lethal legal disclaimers so long and comprehensive they make merely crossing the street seem like modern day warfare, these folks can now stop by your apartment at any time to disrupt your life with no end in sight to the devastation and uncomfortable feelings they cause.
Celebrities & Crohn’s Disease
I would feel so much better about my personal plight if I knew that George Clooney “felt my pain” and despite Crohn’s Disease was still able to appear to be such a dashing and charming gentleman. So, I did a few searches on the Web to find out which Celebrities have been brave enough to face the untrue and unfair “Bathroom Stigmas” associated with Crohn’s Disease to go on and offer some hope to their fans or just to ordinary people who don’t want to feel so alone in their seemingly private battles with such a devastating illness. Since we live in a society where Fame and Pop Culture are so influential that they affect public perception of a disease and thus the amount of money raised to finding treatments and even a cure, I thought it would be interesting to see if there is a list of such “hip” IBD folks. Hey, if Clooney has Crohn’s, then I’m sure even Colitis will soon be cool to add to the lexicon of hipsters. After all, there are many courageous celebrity cancer patients such as Lance Armstrong (i.e. testicular cancer) and Farrah Fawcett (i.e., anal cancer) who have used their fame to shine a light on other very sensitive diseases where none had shone before. Thankfully, many other celebrities have since followed suit offering their support and persona to a wide array of causes such as Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis and several other similar serious chronic illnesses.
George Clooney does NOT have Crohn’s Disease
As far as I could tell from my research, George Clooney DOES NOT HAVE CROHN’S DISEASE. I’m glad for him but secretly I must admit I would have had a lot of fun working on fund-raising events with him as I know he’s the type of “Stand-Up Guy” who would do all he could to help. But keep in mind that a person’s fame and its value, duration or related employ-ability, unfortunately, can be adversely affected by fear, for example, of the public’s perception that a sexy leading lady might have Crohn’s Disease and thus need to use the bathroom in the middle of seducing the Actor playing James Bond! By analogy, think of what happened to actress Anne Heche’s career as a beautiful seductress after she told the world she was a lesbian? Alright, that is not the best example because she also said she was at times two different people and I believe she told talk show Host Larry King that she, or her other half, also communicated with Martians, but you get my point.
I’ve worked in the entertainment industry as an attorney and business affairs executive so I know that many people understandably suffer silently with image-debilitating illnesses such as Crohn’s Disease due to fear of reprisals from decision-makers or sponsors who would cut their professional ties and financial support if they knew that these celebrities were mere mortals and thus subject to all the medical problems which befall the rest of society. You’d think that some sponsors would cleverly capitalize on this humanity “relate-ability” factor but “Sex Sells” and most times nothing short of perfection is demanded for marketing campaigns. For example, picture a TV commercial in which Clooney and Brad Pitt share a private moment over some Blue Label Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky in which Pitt turns to the camera and says, “Don’t let Crohn’s Disease stop you from enjoying life. It may take me longer to drink due to bathroom runs and I do get a little more gas in the morning, but Johnnie Walker Blue is what I drink when I like to chill.” Wow, would that would raise awareness of Crohn’s, but it would also affect the types of Scripts Brad Pitt receives after that particular Public Service Announcement for Crohn’s Disease goes public. (Note: I used Clooney and Pitt SOLELY as a JOKE and I have NO IDEA if either has Crohn’s Disease.)
Celebrities and “Underground Crohnies”
Please understand that I am not at all judging some celebrities for simply keeping their private lives “private” because I understand why, if need be, they must be “Underground Crohnies.” I just wish life were different and that fame and decision-makers were more understanding of human frailties. In any event, below is the list of the most prominent celebrities my November 29, 2011, Google Search revealed who have gone public with their Crohn’s Disease.
It is a very funny and disease-revealing list because there has to be more than TEN (10) celebrities IN THE WORLD with Crohn’s Disease (and in some cases I even had to stretch the label of “celebrity” a bit just to come up with 10). Regardless of the number, I thank them and only hope they serve as role-models for other people and celebrities in highly visible positions to bring attention to Crohn’s Disease (and other challenging chronic illnesses) so that the general public doesn’t just see it as an embarrassing illness that must be hidden like some lethal bathroom plague.
Celebrities with Crohn’s Disease
Cynthia McFadden – ABC News correspondent and “Nightline” Anchor.
Frank Fritz – One of the stars of the History Channel’s reality series American Pickers, is an antiques treasure hunter who has battled Crohn’s Disease for more than a quarter century.
Mike McCready – The lead guitarist for the band, Pearl Jam.
David Garrard – Former starting quarterback for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mary Ann Mobley – The Brandon, Mississippi beauty who was crowned Miss America in 1959.
Shannen Doherty – Former star of the TV show, Beverly Hills, 90210, told Star magazine in 1999 that she had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.
Dwight D. Eisenhower - The 34th President of the United States was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1956 and required surgery for the condition just six months before his reelection bid.
George “The Animal” Steele – His given name is William James (Jim) Myers, but professional wrestling fans know him as George “The Animal” Steele. His career in the wrestling ring spanned more than two decades, culminating in his induction into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1995.
Thomas Menino – Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts. The longest-serving Mayor in the history of the city.
Kevin Dineen – 19-year National Hockey League (“NHL”) veteran career who is now coach of the Florida Panthers.