Famous People with Bipolar Disorder

A wide variety of well-known people have been linked to bipolar disorder. Long lists have been compiled to show that mental illness does not have to stop anyone from achieving success in life. It's not always easy, however, to know for sure if someone's name should be on the list.

The Price of Success?

Among entertainers who have been associated with the mood disorder are Stephen Frey, Spike Milligan, Richard Dreyfuss, Patty Duke, Carrie Fisher, Linda Hamilton, Margot Kidder, Vivien Leigh, Maurice Bernard, and Ben Stiller. Film directors said to be bipolar include Tim Burton and Joshua Logan.

Singers Rosemary Clooney, Connie Francis, and Charley Pride appear on the lists, too. Still other well-known personalities who have been linked to this illness are astronaut Buzz Aldrin, humorist Art Buchwald, television personality Dick Cavett, left-wing activist Abbie Hoffman, musician-raconteur Oscar Levant, Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, and news host Jane Pauley.


The guessing game of bipolar versus other disorders is reflected in two legends: Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. Biographies on these famous stars make note of eating and sleeping problems as well as dramatic mood swings. Yet both stars also abused alcohol and other drugs. Was the drug use connected to bipolar disorder or did they just abuse drugs?

Some of the above celebrities have published memoirs describing their experiences with bipolar disorder. Others have discussed their medical history with the press.

Past Accomplishments

Many others not listed above are rumored to have the mood disorder. The same is true of many famous people of the past. The list of past musicians, artists, writers, and statesmen fill pages and includes names like Vincent Van Gogh, Robert Schumann, and Emily Dickinson. It's important to remember, however, that many mood, personality, and anxiety disorders as well as other medical conditions can produce symptoms like those seen in bipolar disorder. When combined with the lack of detailed medical records, it's difficult to be certain that any particular individual had bipolar disorder. However, since the disorder is so prevalent, it is likely that many famous, creative people in the past had some form of the disease.


What political leaders had bipolar disorder?

The behavior of statesmen has been studied for evidence of unipolar or bipolar symptoms. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill are among the colorful and influential historical figures that experienced extreme, at times debilitating, moods.

The list of artists, writers, and musicians who apparently struggled with at least some form of depression or showed signs of bipolar tendencies is long and impressive. It should convince people that the apparent presence of depressive or bipolar symptoms need not prevent someone from achieving extraordinary success in life. However, remember that not everyone with bipolar disorder can be expected to have exceptional talents. Civilization is based on the efforts and support of people who live decent, moderately productive lives. If you can achieve that, you are accomplishing a great deal.

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