There are relatively few famous people with schizophrenia because schizophrenia
is a brain disorder that typically strikes people when they are quite young
- age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous,
they are just starting out their professional lives after completing high school or college.
A recent Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Forbes Nash Jr., has a lifetime
history of Schizophrenia but is now doing very well, as has been well
documented in the book "A Beautiful Mind" and the academy award-winning
movie of the same name.
Many "historical diagnoses" are frequently not entirely certain
-- a "good guess" for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln,
wife of President Abraham Lincoln. Following is a list of famous people
who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of
suffering (or who had suffered) from schizophrenia.
- Tom Harrell, Jazz Musician
- Meera Popkin, Broadway Star
- John Nash - Mathematician/Nobel Prize Winner
- Albert Einstein's son - Eduard Einstein
James Watson's son (Dr. Watson is co-discover of DNA
and Nobel Prize winner)
- Alan Alda's Mother (Alan Alda is the famous TV actor from the series MASH)
- Andy Goram - Scottish Soccer Player/Goal Keeper
- Lionel Aldridge - Superbowl-winning
- Peter Green, Guitarist
for the band Fleetwood Mac
- Syd Barrett of the band Pink Floyd
- Alexander "Skip" Spence and Bob
Mosley - both members of the 1960's rock group Moby Grape (and Jefferson
Airplane for Skip Spence)
- Roger Kynard "Roky" Erickson, of
the Austin-based 1960's group TheThirteenth Floor Elevators
- Joe Meek - 1960's British
- James Beck Gordon (Jim Gordon) - James Gordon
had been, quite simply, one of the greatest drummers of his time
- Charles "Buddy" Bolden - Jazz
- Antoin Artaud - Dramatist, Artist
- Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln
(past-President of the United States)
- Vaclav Nijinsky, Famous Russian Dancer
Kerouac, Author, was diagnosed with Schizophrenia
- Tennessee Williams sister Rose Williams had schizophenia
Andy Goram - Scottish Soccer Player/Goal Keeper
- It has been reported in the UK Newspapers that Scottish goalkeeper
Andy Goram was playing for Rangers (and more recently as a sub with the
Manchester United FC Soccer club) was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Goram
is regarded as Scotland's top goalkeeper and among the best in Europe
despite the knee injuries which have dogged him throughout his Rangers
career. His superb reaction saves and bravery have earned him World Cup
recognition since earning his first Scotland cap while an Oldham Athletic
player in 1986.
(source:Tennessee WilliamsNotebooks,Edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton,Yale University Press, 2007)
Tom Harrell has been called the John Forbes Nash, Jr. of jazz. Against
considerable odds, Harrell has successfully struggled with schizophrenia
and become one of the most respected trumpeters and composers of the
past 30 years.
Meera Popkin, Broadway Star
Meera Popkin, was the star of Cats and Miss Saigon on Broadway and
in London's West End and was diagnosed with schizophrenia during this
time. Her life went from center stage and limousines to waiting tables
at Wendy's, but she's now back and is doing well. She is married and
(as of the interview in the Infinite Mind radio program below in 2004
suggests) is expecting a baby soon.
is Meera Popkin.
She played Ashley in the Las Vegas production of the play "Starlight
John Nash - Mathematician/Nobel Prize Winner
- The Lost Years of a Nobel Laureate (New York Times, 1994)
- Interview with John Nash
- The Genetics of Schizophrenia - Including Coverage of John Nash (Google Video)
- JOHN NASH: Genius, Nobel and Schizophrenia
- NPR Streaming
Audio - Recording of Interview with Sylvia Nasar
- NPR:Streaming Audio - Interview with Ron Howard, Director of "A Beautiful Mind"
Prize Archive Site w/Info on John Nash - references to books on
- Interview, Internet Audio:
Interview with John Nash on his experience with schizophrenia
(Real Audio Recording)
- Internet Video - Psychiatrist
Roberto Gil Discusses Schizophrenia and Recovery
Roberto Gil, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and
head of the Schizophrenic Research Unit at the New York State
Psychiatric Institute, talks about Mathematician John Nash's
unique case, the common symptoms associated with schizophrenia
and what family members can do to help. "It's a beautiful
outcome but not a typical outcome," says Gil.
- The Lost Years of a Nobel Laureate (New York Times, 1994)
- Books, Videos and Movies on John Nash
Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate
John Nash by Sylvia Nasar, Publisher: Touchstone Books;
(November 27, 2001) ISBN: 0743224574
Brilliant Madness - The Story of John Nash
John Nash was an eccentric mathematical genius whose sudden
youthful plunge into schizophrenia could have ended in obscurity
or tragedy. Instead, his 30-year battle against crippling mental
disease ended in triumph--and winning the 1994 Nobel Prize in
economics, as recounted in the blockbuster 2001 film, A Beautiful
Mind. This documentary features interviews with Nash, wife Alicia,
friends, and colleagues. DVD Special Features include bonus
interview with John Nash; out-takes of schizophrenia; Price:
$14.95 Video, $19.95 DVD.
Beautiful Mind (The Awards Edition) VHS-Version, Starring:
Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Director: Ron Howard, ASIN: B00005JKQZ
Beautiful Mind (Widescreen Awards Edition) DVD-Version,
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Director: Ron Howard, ASIN:
Eduard Einstein - Son of Famous physicist Albert
Einstein - Eduard was born in Zurich, Swizerland on the 28th
July, 1910 -- the second son of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Mileva
Maric (1875-1948). Eduard was a sensitive child and was often ill.
In 1914 Albert Einstein moved with his family to Berlin. Since Mileva
fell ill in Berlin and the marriage with Albert Einstein was degenerating,
Mileva moved a short time later with her sons back to Zurich. 1919
the Einstein's divorce was completed. It has been said that Eduard
and particularly his older brother Hans Albert (1904-1973) suffered
much from the separation of their parents.
Eduard, a very good pupil, was particularly noticeable due to his
high intellectual and musical gifts. Despite the separation from Mileva,
Einstein visited his sons and Mileva frequently in Zurich. In 1929
Eduard began studying medicine and wanted to become a psychiatrist.
In 1930, at the age of twenty years, Eduard developed schizophrenia.
In 1932 he moved for the first time to the "Burghoelzli",
a psychiatric sanatorium in Zurich.
In the autumn 1933 Albert Einstein and his second wife, Elsa emigrated
to the United States. There he found a new place in Princeton, New
Jersey. In 1938 Eduard's brother, Hans's Albert, moved with his family
Starting from 1948, after the death of his mother, Eduard lived continuously
in the "Burghoelzli", where he died 1965. Source: http://www.einstein-website.de/
Alan Alda's Mother
The famous actor Alan Alda has recently (late 2005) published an autobiography in which he talks a great deal about his mother's schizophrenia. The book is titled: Never Have Your Dog Stuffed : And Other Things I've Learned (click for book details)
"My mother didn't try to stab my father until I was six," actor and author Alan Alda writes at the beginning of his autobiography. The child of a well-known actor, Alda (born Alphonso D'Abruzzo) spent his early years on the road with a burlesque troupe. The time spent on the stage wings, watching his father perform, made a profound impact on the youngster, igniting a desire to entertain others that has stayed with him his entire life. Just as profound was his mother's losing battle with mental illness; Alda spent much of his adult life attempting to reconcile his resentment of her outbursts and unmanageable behavior coupled with her unbridled enthusiasm for life and encouragement.
From an Interview in USA Today, November 2005
USA Today: You’re pretty forthcoming in your new autobiography. What was the hardest part to write?
Alan Alda: I think (it was) really coming to terms with my mother -– you know, because my mother was psychotic -– and having a mother who is schizophrenic and paranoid is tough. You adjust to it in various ways, and I think one of the ways I adjusted to it was to step back from it a little bit.
I realized as I was writing about her (that) even though I had come to terms with her in many ways in my head, I had kept myself from knowing much about schizophrenia, because it was kind of painful for me. So while I was writing the book, I called up scientists I had interviewed on my science program, Scientific American Frontiers, and I started learning more about it.
I got a much greater understanding of what she went through – especially the idea that her hallucinations took place in the same part of her brain that all of our nightmares take place. I have experienced what she went through, except I could wake up from it, and she never could.
Lionel Aldridge - Superbowl-winning Football
Peter Green, of the band Fleetwood Mac
Peter Green - Back from the Brink
Syd Barrett of the band Pink Floyd
Stories on Syd Barrett's Life:
Alexander "Skip" Spence, Bob Mosley - both members of the 1960's
rock group Moby Grape (and Jefferson Airplane for Skip Spence). As a
article from Insurgent Country (http://www.insurgentcountry.com) mentioned in 1998 "Moby Grape's two most innovative songwriters,
Spence and BobMosley, had descended into schizophrenia. Spence is still
under residential care, unable to perform, while Mosley was homeless
in the mid-1990s. But he rejoined the band for its previous New York
show in August 1997."
Kynard "Roky" Erickson, of the Austin-based 1960's
group TheThirteenth Floor Elevators. Around 1967 Erickson was arrested
for drug possession, and locked in a psychiatric hospital for schizophrenia.
When Erickson came out of the psychiatric hospital (1972), he published
a book of poetry. Despite his mental instability, he hit the scene again
during the rush of psychedelic revival and punk-rock, with dark humor
and a taste for the supernatural that carried him away from his origins,
towards a macabre rhythm and blues, with lyrics filled with alarming
Meek - 1960's British record producer ("Telstar").
From 1960 until his premature death six years later, Joe Meek released
245 singles, 45 of which made the Top 50.
James Beck Gordon (Jim Gordon) - James Beck
Gordon had been, quite simply, one of the greatest drummers of his time.
In the Sixties and Seventies he had played with John Lennon, George
Harrison, Eric Clapton, the Everly Brothers, the Beach Boys, Judy Collins,
Joe Cocker, Frank Zappa, Duane Allman, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne and
Joan Baez. But the music came to and end as he developed schizophrenia.
(right) on tour with Jackson Browne (left), 1978
An Overview of Jim Gordon's Life
Charles "Buddy" Bolden - Schizophrenia
at the Root of Jazz
Antonin Artaud - Dramatist, Artist (may
have had schizophrenia)
Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln
(past-President of the United States)
Vaclav Nijinsky, Famous Russian Dancer
- Nijinsky Film
'The Diary Of Vaslav Nijinsky -- The Unexpurgated Edition' - a review
- Nijinsky Ballet Created - "Germany's Hamburg Ballet is recreating
the life of one of the dance world's superstars in a spectacular work
by John Neumeier titled "Nijinsky," currently on a national
The two-act, full evening work covers the legendary career of Russian
dancer Vaslav Nijinsky from his engagement by impresario Serge Diaghilev
for his Ballets Russes in 1909 to his final public performance in
1919, which was followed by years moving in and out of mental sanitariums
until his death in 1950. There have been other ballets about Nijinsky,
but none is as biographically thorough as Neumeier's." from
UPI Story on this new ballet - Nijinsky
Here is another list that someone has developed - the NAMI list
of famous people with mental illness.