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LETTERS

Celebrity illnesses

October 25, 2003

PATRICK GOLDSTEIN's column, "Breaking the One Last Taboo" (Oct. 21), on the extraordinary measures entertainment industry indivuals take to hide their illnesses, seemed particularly ill-timed, coming as it did on the day after Robert De Niro announced his diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Of course, it made infinite sense that Rock Hudson, Brad Davis and scores of others would conceal AIDS, given Hollywood's homophobia. But for every high-profile individual cited by Goldstein who chose to keep their medical problems concealed, there seem to be an equal number who elected to disclose the state of their health. I am referring to the likes of Michael J. Fox, Charlton Heston, Annette Funicello, Richard Pryor, Donna Fargo and, most especially, Ronald Reagan, all of whom cited in their announcements their hope that bringing their illnesses into the open would result in a greater public understanding of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases.

Jim Pinkston

Los Angeles

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