Remember last year how people were talking about how crazy 2016 was for celebrity deaths? It did seem like there was a lot more very famous people getting touched by death’s hand than usual or maybe there are just more celebrities these days and we’re more aware of what happens to them. Whatever it is, we understand that celebrities get sick and die. We all do. It’s sad but true. Actors are part of that agreement. Currently, there are many actors with illnesses we know about and many with illnesses we don’t know about. Some of these sick actors are able to work with ease, whereas some take a time-off temporarily. Then, there are those that take time-off permanently. These are the ones we’re concerned with.
As we mentioned, there may seem to be more celebrity deaths these days because of how many celebrities we have. There used to be like seven famous actors. Now, there are 700. With that many actors, it can be difficult to keep tabs on all of them. Many of the actors on this list are older. That’s usually how it works. Age brings sickness. Hell, age is its own type of sickness for many. But there’s a good chance you haven’t been staying up on the latest news about these stars. For these actors, their illnesses have taken too strong a hold for them to allow them to act anymore. They may do something very small here or there, but it's unlikely that they’ll ever do anything major again. Here are 15 Loved Actors Who Are Too Sick to Work Anymore.
15 Michael J Fox
There is a lot of talk out there about how fast Michael J Fox’s condition is deteriorating. Most of it is probably hyperbole, but there’s a lot of interest in it because of how popular the actor is. Still, Parkinson’s disease is a very serious illness and Fox is getting worse, just not at the rate that everyone thought. Fox says that his doctors told him he would be completely disabled by this point, which of course, isn’t true.
He has fun with his disease too. “The truth is that on most days, there comes a point where I literally can’t stop laughing at my own symptoms,” Fox said. “Just the other morning, I come into the kitchen. I pour a cup—a little trouble there. Then I put both hands around the cup. [My wife’s] watching. ‘Can I get that for you, dear?’ ‘Nah, I got it!’ Then I begin this trek across the kitchen…It starts off bad. Only gets worse. Hot java’s sloshing onto my hands. But the thing that makes it hilarious to me is, when I think of someone else watching all this and thinking, ‘Poor Michael can’t even get the coffee—it’s so sad!’” Even though he’s still got his sense of humor, don’t expect to see Fox back on the big screen (outside of voice work). It’s been a year since he appeared in anything, and he has nothing else planned. The nature of the disease makes it difficult for him to film in long stretches, so it looks like it's no longer in the cards.
14 Leah Bracknell
You may not be familiar with Leah Bracknell, but the Brits have a soap opera called Emmerdale and Tate is one of the long-serving members of the show. For 16 years, Bracknell was a cast member and she became somewhat of a national treasure. Bracknell would go on to act in The Royal Today and Doctors. Then, in October of 2016, Bracknell announced that she had terminal lung cancer. There was a public appeal to raise funds for an experimental treatment in Germany—a call for ₤50,000. The people responded and the money was raised in less than three days. We’re hoping that this works for Bracknell, though, sadly, we doubt very much that we’ll see her return to the screen.
13 David Prowse
David Prowse is the beloved actor who was the original Darth Vader. These days, Prowse’s health isn't all that great. Still, the man is 81 years old and looks to be doing well, all things considered. First, it was arthritis and some major replacement surgeries. Then, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fortunately, he announced that it was in remission in 2009. After that, there were reports of dementia but Prowse has denied those claims, saying it's merely old age. Whatever the truth is, Prowse himself admitted that remembering his lines is what kept him out of the new Star Wars films, and it will be the reason why he no longer works in the industry.
12 Ian McKellen And Judi Dench
Maybe not just yet. We hope not just yet. This is a two-for-one because neither actor admits their health is failing, but both have taken on much less than they used to. Ian McKellen is one of the true greats in the industry, so we want to milk out every ounce of acting left in his body. But, as his body ages, McKellen is finding acting a bit difficult. At age 77, McKellen says that remembering his lines is now his greatest challenge. It takes him about six months to memorize a script, which makes it quite the chore. So, as he’s about to embark on Hamlet Revenant, we have to wonder if this is his last role.
Similarly, Judi Dench has begun to struggle with memory problems herself. Dench also has macular degeneration, which has caused her to lose her eyesight gradually. She now has to have others read scripts to her as she tries to remember them as best as possible. At this point, she can still see but she can no longer travels by herself. Though Dench has said that she has no plans on retiring and hates it when people talk of her retiring (sorry Judi), her ability to take on new roles has diminished as much as her health. Dench has wrapped filming on her latest film, and while she says it’s not her last, we’ll believe that when we see it.
11 Jerry Stiller
Jerry Stiller, the man who will forever be known as George Costanza’s father on Seinfeld, hasn’t been around a whole lot lately. His latest performance was the very brief return in Zoolander 2, reprising the role he had in the first film. It probably helped that it was his son’s, Ben Stiller’s, film. This will almost certainly have been Jerry’s last role. After his wife, Anne Meara, passed away in 2015, Stiller took some time to himself. At 89 years of age, Stiller isn’t a young pup, so it’s understandable if he hung up his acting shoes. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with Stiller’s health, unless you consider a broken heart a real injury. Stiller and his late wife were married for more than 60 years, so losing her would sure feel like an illness.
10 Shannen Doherty
In March 2015, Shannen Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2016, she underwent a single mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Earlier this year, we learned that Doherty’s cancer is in remission. So that means she is coming back and start working right away, right? Well, sort of. There are a few projects that Doherty has completed, and there are a couple that she has started up, including two projects that have her reprising a character from yesteryear—Heathers and MallBrats. While these are certainly interesting movies and we’re eager to see Doherty in them, we doubt they’ll be large roles. Doherty’s health is still a concern, so it’s unlikely for her to return to a heavy workload anytime soon.
9 Betty White
Honestly, Betty White’s health seems to be perfectly fine. Hell, she’s still dating. But at her age, 95, health issues are an expectation. Still, White kept fairly busy, making appearances wherever she can and even acting still. Each year, however, she appears less and less and it now looks like she won’t be acting for much longer. Though she has said in the past that she has no plans to ever retire, White has nothing on her plate for 2017 or 2018. We won’t say that she can’t fill her schedule quickly, but it appears that we may only get a couple more performances out of her if any.
8 Wilko Johnson
Wilko Johnson is essentially two men. On the one hand, he’s the British rock icon. On the other, he’s the man who play Ser Ilyn Payne on Game of Thrones. Well, during his run on Game of Thrones, Johnson was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. It was in the late stages, so they gave him about a year to live. He left the show, did a farewell tour, and made peace with it. Then, something miraculous happened. Johnson underwent a radical surgery and it worked. “It was an 11-hour operation,” he said. “This tumor weighed 3kg—that’s the size of a baby! Anyway, they got it all. They cured me. Its’ so weird and so strange that it’s kind of hard to come to terms with it in my mind. Now, I’m spending my time gradually coming to terms with the idea that my death is not imminent, that I am going to live on.” While Johnson’s health seems stable, that doesn’t mean he’s going to return to acting anytime soon. We expect we’ve seen the last of Johnson on the big screen, though he may continue to make music for a while longer yet.
7 Regis Philbin
Sure, Regis Philbin is more of a host than an actor, but the difference is negligible. At 85 years old, Philbin isn’t a spring chicken, so it’s not all that shocking to say that his career is winding down. In the last few years, he’s appeared as a guest host primarily and has spent some time away from the spotlight. But if you were thinking that he was primed for a comeback, think again. Though we can’t confirm that he is sick currently, Philbin has had some major health issues in the past, including a triple bypass surgery. Plenty of media outlets are commenting on Philbin’s health without any hard information, so we don’t know if he just looks frail and sick or if he really is sick. What we do know is that his age and his health will keep him away from any sustained time in the spotlight.
6 Carl Reiner
At 95 years old, it’s no wonder that Carl Reiner is on this list. Every other day it seems, there is some hoax about Reiner dying or his health fading. Truthfully, the guy is in good shape for 95. That doesn’t mean he’s going to be appearing in anything in the future, though. He is slated for some voice work, but we expect that’ll be it for the legendary actor. When asked about his health, Reiner said, “My brain is still going but my feet and the rest of me barely make it…not this part [taps his head]. I think I write better than I used to." Reiner is still going strong, but acting is strenuous work. There’s plenty of standing and walking in acting. This is not a 95-year-old’s game. Reiner isn’t sick in the traditional sense. But as we said, old age is its own kind of sickness.
5 Charlie Sheen
Even though Charlie Sheen is medicated and appears to be doing quite well in dealing with his disease ever since declaring himself to be positive of HIV, there’s a very good chance that his acting career is over. Sheen has just completed filming for the film 9/11 and there has even been whispers of a third Major League film. If this film does get off the ground, then we might change our minds. It would seem like a no-brainer for Sheen to come back and do that film, but outside of that, acting is a thing of the past for Sheen. As his health has gotten worse, his attitude and demeanor has changed as well, so he seems happy trying to help others like him afflicted with HIV. Maybe that'll be his new calling.
4 Angela Lansbury
After Angela Lansbury’s husband died in 2003, she announced that she would not be taking any more major acting roles. Since then, she’s appeared in quite a few projects, though none of them overly involved. As we speak, filming for Mary Poppins Returns is going on and this will likely be Lansbury’s final role. When that film comes out in 2018, Lansbury's career will have stretched 74 years. That is remarkable. Even though Lansbury has announced that her health is good, she acknowledges that she has moments and days when she is not feeling completely like herself. At 91 years old, we commend Lansbury for even considering new acting roles, but everything that is offered to her these days (outside of Mary Poppins Returns) is turned down. She spends her time with her family and relaxing.
3 Stan Lee
Stan Lee may not do a whole lot of acting, but he does show up in more movies than most. The Marvel man is now 94 years old, which has made it tough for him to put in his work. He recently cancelled two appearances at Comic Con earlier this year because of his health. Later, he reported, “Been feeling almost back up to snuff. So time to send out the battle cry: Excelsior!” Another more detailed report said, “After a second visit to the doctor this morning, he was advised to rest and recuperate rather than risk getting worse. We wish him a speedy recovery and though we are disappointed, we want what is best for Stan, our dear friend.” Obviously, Lee’s health is bound to deteriorate with his age, but we're just hoping that Lee’s cameos in the upcoming films have already been filmed because it's unlikely he'll be shooting any more moving forward.
2 Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynolds, the legendary film star, has finished wrapping up a few films set for release this year, but that will likely be it for the star. At age 81, Reynolds is now frail and riddled with health issues. In 2009, Reynolds had a major back surgery, which helped stave off some issues for a while. But now, they are creeping back into his life as old age slows him down. The following year, 2010, Reynolds had a heart bypass. Today, Reynolds walks gingerly with a cane and has difficulty moving around. He jokes that his condition is because he did all his own stunts. We hope to see Reynolds alive and well for many years, but we are almost certain that he won't be appearing in any films from here on out.
1 Terry Jones
Terry Jones, the incredible comedian from the Monty Python troupe, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a condition that affects speech, memory, and behavior, in 2015. Jones’ condition wasn’t announced until 2016 when it became too difficult for him to give interviews anymore. People were concerned when Jones was unable to learn his lines in 2014, so he went and got tested and found the truth. Unfortunately, this means that Jones won’t be performing and won’t be giving any future appearances. At least we’ll always have the old stuff.
Sources: Wikipedia; IMDB; THR; Daily Mail
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