You Are in Good Company. Famous People With Essential Tremor

Essential Tremor (ET) is a condition affecting an estimated 10 million people in the US, and 41 million people worldwide. It can affect people of any age, gender and race. It is so common, that it may not come as a surprise that some household names also live with ET.1

Probably the most widely known person with ET is former President Bill Clinton. Although for years people hypothesized that the former President had Parkinson’s disease, he dispelled that rumor by discussing his ET at a press conference in 2013.2

He explained that when he first recognized the tremor, he immediately went to his doctor for a diagnosis. He explained that he discovered that he had “a condition that sometimes you get with ageing. You may have noticed it; my hand has a little tremor when I’m tired and a lot of people do when they’re older.”2

Creator of the beloved Peanuts cartoon, Charles Schulz, turned his ET into his passion and livelihood. The characteristic wavy lines seen with patients who have ET can be spotted in his later drawings. Schulz complained that “sometimes my hand shakes so much I have to hold my wrist to draw.” However, ET did not stop Schulz and he continued to draw the cartoon by himself.3

In some drawings, his tremor is barely evident. For example, when a line depicting Charlie Brown’s head is executed in a flawless stroke. Yet he was able to incorporate his tremor into trickier details such as Lucy’s hair.3

The late actress Katharine Hepburn also lived with Essential Tremor. It affected her voice, head and arms, as well as her hands. The late actress provided a strong, courageous public image of essential tremor. The actress continued to perform and have an active public life despite fairly severe head and voice tremor.4,5

Other notables with ET include retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, director-writer-producer-comedian Adam McKay and creator of Downton Abbey, Lord Julian Fellowes. While ET can have an impact on your ability to function, there are people from all walks of life who are doing their best to thrive despite these challenges.4

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References:

  1. New York Times. Q&A; Head and Hand Tremors. https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/22/science/q-a-head-and-hand-tremors.html. Accessed May 20, 2021.
  2. Huffington Post. Bill Clinton opens up about hand tremor. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/bill-clinton-hand-tremor_n_2503432. Accessed May 20, 2021.
  3. Living Life With Essential Tremor. Charles Schulz & ET! https://livinglifewithessentialtremor.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/charles-schulz/. Accessed May 20, 2021.
  4. US News and World Report. The Truth About Essential Tremor: It’s Not Just a Case of Nerves. https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2015/11/11/the-truth-about-essential-tremor-its-not-just-a-case-of-nerves. Accessed May 20, 2021.

The Washington Post. Tremors can be a sign of Parkinson’s but also of more-benign conditions. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/tremors-can-be-a-sign-of-parkinsons-but-also-of-more-benign-conditions/2018/09/24/9fb0d1ae-9749-11e8-a679-b09212fb69c2_story.html. Accessed May 20, 2021.