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Robin Williams Made a Movie About a Parkinson’s Drug

Posted By Katie Levingston On August 15, 2014 @ 2:07 pm In Entertainment | No Comments

As details of Robin Williams’ death [1] continue to emerge, we learn more about the actor’s life. His wife, Susan Schneider, has revealed that he was struggling with a recent diagnosis of early Parkinson’s disease.Robin Williams [2]

“Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression [3], anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” she said in a public statement.

Nearly 25 years ago, Williams costarred, with Robert De Niro, in a widely acclaimed movie about a drug used to treat Parkinson’s.

>> Robin Williams’ 10 Unforgettable Roles [4]

In the 1990 film Awakenings, based on neurologist Oliver Sacks’ 1973 memoir of the same title, Williams plays Dr. Malcolm Sayer (a character based on Sacks), who uses a drug called L-dopa on patients with Parkinsonian symptoms so severe that they seemed to be frozen. Sacks first saw success with the drug – widely considered “the gold standard for treating Parkinson’s disease” [5] - on these encephalitis lethargica cases.

De Niro plays a patient, Leonard Lowe, who is “awakened” after Williams (Sacks) uses L-dopa on him and gains the inspiration to live a full life.

YouTube Preview Image [6]

Soon after Awakenings was released, Robert Ebert, the late movie critic, posed some questions [7] that Williams might have been trying to answer himself in his final days: “Who are we, anyway? How much of the self we treasure so much is simply a matter of good luck, of being spared in a minefield of neurological chance? If one has no hope, which is better: To remain hopeless, or to be given hope and then lose it again?”

Michael J. Fox, who after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s [8] in 1991 founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research [9], tweeted his surprise in hearing of Williams’ diagnosis: “Stunned to learn Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn predated his diagnosis. A true friend; I wish him peace.”

The foundation’s Fox Feed blog posted yesterday [10] about the link between Parkinson’s and depression.

>> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages. [11]

“Depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s disease, separate from the emotional response that comes with a diagnosis,” the blog said. “As many as 50 percent of people with Parkinson’s show clinically significant symptoms of depression at some point in their disease course.”

Williams, it turns out, was a devoted supporter of the Michael J. Fox Foundation. He regularly performed at the foundation’s annual benefit, A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to Cure Parkinson’s Gala [12], which raises nearly $5 million each year for Parkinson’s research.

Photo: Reed Saxon/AP Photo


>>Next: 10 Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss [13]


Also of Interest


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Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/08/15/robin-williams-made-a-movie-about-a-parkinsons-drug/

URLs in this post:

[1] Robin Williams’ death: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/08/12/robin-williams-our-funny-troubled-cousin/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[2] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/400-robin-williams-parkinsons.jpg

[3] depression: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-09-2013/dep?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[4] >> Robin Williams’ 10 Unforgettable Roles: http://www.aarp.org/entertainment/style-trends/info-2014/robin-williams-photo.html#slide1?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[5] “the gold standard for treating Parkinson’s disease”: http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/parkinsons-disease/levadopa-(l-dopa).html

[6] Image: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAz-prw_W2A

[7] posed some questions: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/awakenings-1990

[8] who after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s: https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/michael-story.html

[9] Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research: https://www.michaeljfox.org

[10] Fox Feed blog posted yesterday: https://www.michaeljfox.org/foundation/news-detail.php?michael-fox-foundation-statement-on-depression-and-parkinson-disease

[11] >> Get travel discounts with your AARP Member Advantages.: http://discounts.aarp.org/travel/index/uSource/HCTN?intcmp=AE-BL-TRV-DISC

[12] A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to Cure Parkinson’s Gala: https://www.michaeljfox.org/research/opportunities-for-industry/sponsorship-opportunities.html

[13] >>Next: 10 Drugs That May Cause Memory Loss: http://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-05-2013/drugs-that-may-cause-memory-loss.html?intcmp=AE-BL-LEADIN

[14] Low Vitamin D May Double Risk of Dementia: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/08/08/low-vitamin-d-may-double-risk-of-dementia/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[15] 4 Surgeries You Should Avoid: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-05-2011/4-surgeries-to-avoid.html?intcmp=DSO-SEARCH-AARPSUGG-HEA-4-surgeries#slide1?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[16] Fight fraud and ID theft with the AARP Fraud Watch Network.: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/?intcmp=AE-BL-ENDART-ADV-FWN

[17] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?keycode=U9ZTPH9&intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[18] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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