"I Kept My Illness A Secret For Years": Kathleen Turner Opened Up About The Debilitating Condition That Ruined Her Career

Date October 9, 2018

Kathleen Turner's battle with the condition that ruined her career

Kathleen Turner, who is 64 now, used to be one of Hollywood’s go-to actresses back in the ‘80s. You may remember her in such hits as Prizzi’s Honor, The Jewel of the Nile, Romancing the Stone, and Peggy Sue Got Married. She was a sex symbol of the decade, a title she’s still proud of. But why did she vanish from the big screen?


READ ALSO: Kathleen Turner Opens Up About Her Career, ‘Gross’ Trump’s Handshake, And The Bet Michael Douglas And Jack Nicholson Made Over Her

In the 90s, Turner’s movie career hit a downturn. There were some wild rumors about the actress, and most had to do with her being an alcoholic.

It took Turner a while to reveal the true cause of her decline: her struggle with rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating condition that causes widespread joint pain.


Speaking to Vulture, the actress said:

Rheumatoid arthritis hit in my late 30s – the last of my years in which Hollywood would consider me a sexually appealing leading lady … At that time there was very little public knowledge about autoimmune diseases, so my illness was a source of bad mystery.

The standard treatment for RA at the time of Turner's diagnosis was “massive doses of steroids,” and that brought on a string of nasty side effects. In the interview with Vulture, the actress recalled being unable to hold a bottle and people around her thinking she was just drunk.


The disease and treatment she received for it affected Turner’s appearance. The medicines also had an effect on her memory, making her less able to memorize lines for the roles. Turner became despondent and started drinking excessively. She was struggling but still didn't open up about the disease at that point.

Speaking to The Guardian, Turner said:

I fired the doctor who told me I’d be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life after my diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in 1992. I can’t exaggerate what a battle it was against the endless pain and fear of what I’d end up like. I kept my illness a secret for years, I had no choice. I was called a drunk and had awful things said about the way I looked, it was so cruel.

After all, Turner managed to beat addiction. Now that there are better treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, the actress feels much better and continues doing what she loves. She has appeared in numerous stage productions and started teaching acting. Life goes on for her!


READ ALSO: 9 Early Symptoms And Signs Of Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is rheumatoid arthritis and what are its symptoms?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the joints and causes inflammation and widespread pain. Most of those affected by RA are women.

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According to Mayo Clinic, rheumatoid arthritis can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • tenderness, warmth, and swelling affecting the joints;
  • joint pain and stiffness;
  • fatigue;
  • low-grade fever;
  • weight loss.

Symptoms usually start in smaller joints (such as those in your fingers and toes) and spread to larger joints as the disease gets worse.

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If you have joint pain that is not related to something you’ve been doing, see your doctor. It may not be rheumatoid arthritis, but it’s important to know the cause of this symptom anyway.

READ ALSO: Sadie Frost Tries To Find New Ways To Deal With Her Rheumatoid Arthritis

This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for any harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.