Celebrities with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Health Writer
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Matt Iseman

Matt Iseman is best known for hosting American Ninja Warrior. Matt is a doctor turned stand-up comic, actor, and television host. He won “Celebrity Apprentice” in 2017, representing the Arthritis Foundation. Matt first noticed symptoms of RA in 2000 but even though he was a physician, he rationalized the pain until he could hardly move his neck and was sleeping 10-12 hours a day, he told Pain Pathways. He manages his symptoms with a combination of medication and exercise and doesn’t allow his RA to prevent him from living life on his terms.

[Read our full interview with Matt Iseman about his life with RA.]


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Camryn Manheim

Camryn Manheim, who won an Emmy for her role as Ellenor Frutt on the TV show "The Practice," was diagnosed with RA in 2004. She first noticed pain in her hands while teaching sign language to her son’s preschool class. After eight months of searching for answers, she was diagnosed with RA, she told People magazine. In 2005 she teamed up with the Arthritis Foundation for the “Camryn Manheim Speaks Out About RA” to help raise awareness of this disease.


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Megan Park

Megan Park is a Canadian actress who has appeared in numerous movies and TV series — best known for her role as Grace Bowman on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” She was diagnosed with RA as a child but didn’t announce it until 2015 when she teamed up with Joint Decisions in a program to empower people living with RA. She told People magazine that having RA has made her more empathetic and reminds her that everyone has a story, even if you don’t know it.


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Grace Bannon

Grace Bannon is an actress known for her roles on “The Middle” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” She was diagnosed with RA at age 15, when symptoms suddenly appeared and within a few weeks she couldn’t get up the stairs because of the pain. She teamed up with the Arthritis Foundation to help bring awareness to juvenile RA and made a guest appearance at the Juvenile Arthritis Conference in 2016.


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Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner, a famous actress who was at the height of her career in the 1980s with films such as "Romancing the Stone," "Body Heat," and "Peggy Sue Got Married," was diagnosed with RA in the 1990s. Although RA interfered with her ability to work for several years, she told the Sunday Post, she has continued to act on Broadway. In 2002 she spearheaded an RA awareness campaign to educate about the disease.


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Michael Kuluva

Michael Kuluva is a professional figure skater turned American fashion designer.  During the 2016 fashion week, Michael showcased his newest collection, Creaky and Tipsy, an offshoot from his brand, Tumbler and Tipsy.  He chose to reveal his RA in the hopes of helping others feel less alone and encourage those with RA to “take charge of their health and maintain a positive attitude toward daily management,” he told CreakyJoints.org.

[Watch our video interview with Michael Kuluva about how he turns his life with RA into fashionable art.]


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Aida Turturro

Best known for her role as Tony Soprano's sister Janice on the HBO show, "The Sopranos," Aida Turturro teamed up with the Arthritis Foundation as a national spokesperson for rheumatoid arthritis in 2000. Turturro was diagnosed with RA when she was 12.


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Kristy McPherson

Kristy McPherson is a professional golfer who was diagnosed with systemic-onset juvenile arthritis at age 11 according to the Arthritis Research Foundation. She is currently playing on the LPGA Tour. She has said she took up golf because after being diagnosed, she was no longer able to play sports that involved running and jumping.

[Read our full interview with Kristy McPherson on her life with RA, and how others perceive her condition in her competitive life with sports.]


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Meredith Boyd

Crowned Mrs. Georgia International in 2008, Meredith Boyd is now a beauty queen and a spokesperson for the Arthritis Foundation. Diagnosed as a teen, Boyd has had surgery to ease her pain, but cannot take RA meds due to another condition.


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Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey was known as a founding member of the popular rock band the Eagles. He died in 2016 due to complications of his RA, ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia.


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James Coburn

James Coburn (1928-2002) was a famous actor particularly in the 1960s, when he appeared in many action and western movies, such as "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape." In the arthritis world, Coburn was known for making grand statements about curing his rheumatoid arthritis with alternative treatments as he did in an interview with Larry King.


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Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball (1911-1989), a legend in the comedy world, who was known for her physical comedy and energy playing Lucy on" I Love Lucy," is rumored to have struggled with RA since the age of 17.


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Rosalind Russell

Rosalind Russell (1907-1976) was a famous stage and movie actress, who rose to fame in the 1930s. Her most notable performances were in the movies "His Girl Friday" and "Auntie Mame." She was also nominated for five Golden Globes and won all of them. She was diagnosed with RA in 1969 according to an article in the Washington Post, and died of breast cancer with complications from her RA in 1976.


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Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir (1841-1919), the famous 19th century French artist known for his impressionist paintings had RA. Though his first bout struck around 1898, he continued to paint and create artwork his entire life, according to an article in the Journal of Medical Biography. His RA was severe and crippling, but he found creative ways to paint despite his pain and deformed hands.