We don’t know whether celebrities suffer from mental illness because of their stressful job or the eccentricity helps in their work. But sometimes they are so disturbed that their career had to be put on hold. Here is a list of such celebrities.

1. Clara Bow

She was the first actress to be nicknamed the “It Girl”. She was named first box-office draw in 1928 and 1929. Her presence in a movie was said to have ensured investors of a safe return. At the peak of her stardom , she recieved 45,000 fan letters in a single month. But her career came to halt when she began showing signs of psychiatric illness which she might have inherited from her mother. She developed severe social anxiety and withdrew from public life and became a recluse. When her husband ran for the U.S. House of Representatives, she tried to kill herself, because she thought dying was better than a public life. In 1949, she checked into the Institute of Living to be treated for her chronic insomnia, where shock treatment was tried. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She left the institute and did not return to her family, dying a lonely death in her bungalow.

2. Frances Farmer

In 1935 when at age 22 she secured a seven-year contract with Paramount and she became one of the most talked-about new stars in the business. Everyone thought she would have a glorious career, but then she was unhappy with the opportunities the studio gave her and started hitting the bottle. This led to her getting dropped from her subsequent projects and getting a reputation for being difficult to work. In 1942 she was arrested and charged with DUI, which prompted Paramount to suspend her contract and her career was pretty much over. She kept getting arrested and her repeated misdemeanors got her placed in a private institution. She was institutionalized at Western State Hospital for five years where the doctors performed a lobotomy on her. She was placed in the high-security ward for the hospital’s violent patients. After she was released from the hospital there was an attempt at a comeback, but it failed. She died of cancer at age 70. Her life was the subject of the movie ‘Frances’, in which Jessica Lange portrayed her.

3. Gene Tierney

She was one of the biggest stars of the 1940s. She appeared in Laura, Leave Her to Heaven, Heaven Can Wait, The Razor’s Edge, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Whirlpool and Night and the City which are now deemed classics. But her career went to a standstill after the birth of her daughter. Her daughter was born with mental retardation which led to her depression. She could not concentrate on her work because of mental stress and had to withdraw from the cast of 1953’s “Mogambo”. After this she was hospitalized in New York City and later moved to the Institute of Living in nearby Hartford, Connecticut, where she received 27 shock treatments. She later became a critic of shock therapy and claimed that it had destroyed significant portions of her memory. She contemplated suicide when she was in the hospital by jumping out of a window on the fourteenth floor but decided against it because she didn’t want to be found as a mangled corpse. She was discharged from the hospital in 1958. She did attempt a comeback, but her best days were behind her.

4. Veronica Lake

She was known for her femme fatale roles in film noir of the 1940s and one of the most popular WW II pin-up girls. She appeared in classics such as The Blue Dahlia, Sullivan’s Travels, This Gun for Hire and The Glass Key. According to her mom she was diagnosed with schizophrenia in her childhood. This led to her uncontrollable temperament which dogged her whole life. It flared up after the failure of The Hour Before the Dawn, in which her portrayal of Nazi spy was lampooned by critics. She began drinking heavily because of which people refused to work with her. In 1948 Paramount decided not to renew her contract and that was a death knell to her career. She was arrested several times for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. She later worked as a cocktail waitress under the name “Connie de Toth”. She died of hepatitis in 1973 at age 50.

5. Brian Wilson

He was the founder and creative force behind The Beach Boys. The band’s seminal work Pet Sounds was released in 1966. In 1967 he suffered a nervous breakdown and resigned from regular concert touring and retreated to a background, creative role. In the early 1970s he sank to further seclusion and relied on heavy drugs to cope with depression. His weight ballooned to 300 pounds because of overeating. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and confessed that he heard voices in his head. The heavily anticipated follow up album to Pet Sounds, Smile was never finished due to his worsening mental health. Nevertheless his band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.

6. Syd Barrett

He was one of the founding members of the British band, Pink Floyd. He began doing drugs to cope with the stress and pressures of his career. His drug addictions got so bad that he was incapable of playing the guitar or singing during their live performances. He later experienced hallucinations, disorganized speech, memory lapses and intense mood swings. People now speculate he suffered from schizophrenia from the anecdotes. He was eventually fired from the band and he moved back in with his mother, in whose house he died at age 60.

7. Peter Green

He was the founder of Fleetwood Mac. He was a major figure in the “second great epoch” of the British blues movement. B.B. King called him ‘the only guitarist who ever made me sweat.’ Rolling Stone ranked him at number 58 in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. He was addicted to LSD and it tipped him over the edge and he was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was admitted in psychiatric hospitals undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. He had to abandon his musical career and it never really recovered. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. He died in 2020 at age 73.

This Post Has 3 Comments

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