A noted comedian who has appeared on stage and on screen for nearly 50 years has announced a devastating health diagnosis: He has Parkinson's disease.
On Sunday, Richard Lewis, best known for his regular appearances on HBO's enduring comedy series "Curb Your Enthusiasm," released a video on Twitter to share the diagnosis with his fans. In the video, Lewis claimed that just three and a half years ago, he was at the top of his game and thinking about retiring when his health took a "rocky" turn.
"[O]ut of the blue, the s*** hit the fan," he said.
In short order, Lewis underwent four surgeries to address issues with several different parts of his body, including his back, shoulder, and hip. Then, about two years ago, Lewis noted another distressing physical limitation: He could no longer walk with a normal gait.
"I started walking stiffly," he recalled. "I was shuffling my feet."
A neurologist soon afterward determined that Lewis had developed Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder which affects the nervous system and can often produce noticeable side effects, such as tremors, stiff movements, slowness of pace, and postural instability. The diagnosis prompted Lewis to restructure his life and his priorities.
"I'm finished with stand-up," he claimed. "I’m just focusing on writing and acting."
Despite his condition, Lewis expressed contentment with his life and optimism about his future.
"Luckily, I got it late in life," the 75-year-old New York City native said. "And they say you progress very slowly, if at all, and I’m on the right meds, so I’m cool."
"Everything is cool," he reiterated. "And I love my wife, I love my little puppy dog, and I love all my friends and my fans."
"It was bad luck, but it's life," he stated.
Lewis first became a national name in the 1980s and '90s, when he made regular appearances on late-night comedy shows, including the "The Tonight Show" and "The Late Show with David Letterman." He also appeared in popular movies like "Robin Hood: Men in Tights," "Leaving Las Vegas," and "Wagons East" with late comedian John Candy.
Richard Lewis's First Appearance on Letterman, February 25, 1982 (fixed)www.youtube.com
For much of his career, Lewis battled an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. His struggles even caused him to take a break from comedy from 1991 to 1994, when he became sober. Four years after that, he met Joyce Lapinsky, whom he married in 2005. It is believed that the couple does not have children.
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