If 5% of the population – one in every 20 people – has fibromyalgia, why is it that we can currently only identify 10 celebrities with FM? When you think of the thousands of famous people in the world – the entertainment industry, athletes, politicians and business moguls – it’s logical to assume that FM has affected more than 10 of them.
I suspect, in fact, there are quite a few more well-known people with FM out there who have not yet made their diagnosis public. Some may be in denial, unwilling to admit it even to themselves. But my guess is that most simply don’t want others to know they have FM because of the negative impact it might have on their careers.
Of course, we in the FM community get excited when we hear of another celebrity who has fibromyalgia – not because we want to see anyone else suffer, but because we are hopeful that someone who is famous can help raise awareness for this often misunderstood illness.
There are also some famous people in history who we strongly suspect may have had FM, like Mexican artist Frida Kahlo or English nurse, Florence Nightingale. But since no one really knew about or diagnosed FM until more recent years, for the purposes of this list, we will stick to contemporary celebrities who have acknowledged having FM. ((in alphabetical order)
1. Frances Winfield Bremer – (American author) Ms. Bremer is the wife of Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, III who was appointed Presidential Envoy to Iraq in 2003. In 2007, she was designated as a spokeswoman for the National Fibromyalgia Association. She and her husband have made many public appearances advocating for fibromyalgia around the world.
2. Susan Flannery – (American actress) Ms. Flannery is best known as one of the original and current cast members on the popular TV soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. She made headlines in 2007 when she asked the show for medical leave so she could attempt to treat her fibromyalgia.
3. Morgan Freeman – (American actor, director and narrator) An extremely popular film actor, Mr. Freeman, has starred in numerous movies, such as The Shawshank Redemption and Driving Miss Daisy. In a 2012 interview in Esquire magazine, Freeman revealed that he has fibromyalgia. (See “Should Morgan Freeman Speak Out About Fibromyalgia?”)
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4. Janeane Garofalo – (American actress and comedian) Ms. Garofalo, an outspoken lady with an acerbic wit, has a long list of credits for her work in both films and TV. She often pokes fun at herself. A Boston Globe review of her standup routine said, “A doctor prescribed an antidepressant to treat her fibromyalgia, and she likes the effect: ‘I had no idea I was chronically dissatisfied,’ she said.”
5. Jo Guest – (English actress and TV host) Ms. Guest began her career modeling and has appeared in several adult magazines. In January 2008, she was a guest on the British TV show This Morning where she discussed a mystery illness which left her unable to work. Three months later, she returned to the show and reported that she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia as a direct result of help from viewers who had seen her previous appearance.
6. Rosie Hamlin – (American singer) Lead singer of the ’60s band Rosie and the Originals, Ms. Hamlin is best known for her song “Angie Baby.” In a 1969 interview with Life magazine, John Lennon named her as one of his favorite singers. She appeared on the cover of Fibromyalgia Aware Magazine in 2004 where she discussed her battle with FM.
7. Michael James Hastings – (American actor) Mr. Hastings is best known for his recurring role as Captain Mike on the TV series The West Wing. He is a passionate and active FM advocate with his own Website dedicated to fighting fibromyalgia. In 2013, Hastings was featured in an article by Dr. Oz about men with FM and is currently working on a film about fibromyalgia.
8. A.J. Langer – (American actress) Ms. Langer may be best known for her role as Rayanne on the popular, albeit short-lived, 1994 TV drama series My So-Called Life. Her FM symptoms began in childhood, although she wasn’t diagnosed until she was 21. Langer was featured on the cover of the very first issue of Fibromyalgia Aware Magazine in 2002.
9. Mary McDonough – (American actress) Most of us would recognize Ms. McDonough as Erin Walton from the long-running hit TV drama series The Waltons. She suffered with pain, fatigue and numerous other symptoms for 10 years before finally being diagnosed. In addition to fibromyalgia, Ms. McDonough has also been diagnosed with lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome.
10. Sinead O’Connor – (Irish singer and songwriter) Ms. O’Connor rose to fame in 1987 with her debut album “The Lion and the Cobra” for which she received a gold record and a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. In 2003, she revealed that she was suffering from fibromyalgia, which caused her to put her career on hold for several years.