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5 Celebrities Who've Experienced Bell's Palsy

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Bell’s palsy can seem like an alarming medical condition. It usually occurs without warning—some sort of trauma to the facial nerve causes the muscles on one side of your face to become weak, and as a result, that side of your face appears to droop. You may also experience symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, and difficulty tasting food. There’s also not any one specific trigger for the condition, although it can frequently be caused by a virus such as chickenpox, German measles, mumps, influenza B, or infectious mononucleosis, among others. Sound scary? Well, if you are currently struggling with Bell’s palsy, you can take comfort in a few things. It is usually temporary—resolving in about six months—and rarely reoccurs.

You also are not alone if you’ve ever had Bell’s palsy—many well-known celebrities have also experienced this medical condition. Here are five famous people who have lived with—and recovered from—Bell’s palsy.

1. Angelina Jolie

angelina jolie smiling

Jolie made headlines when she talked about BRCA genes and choosing to undergo preventive surgeries because of her hereditary risk for breast and ovarian cancers. However, the Oscar winner and humanitarian also was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy back in 2016. She told Vanity Fair magazine that acupuncture helped her during her recovery.

2. Pierce Brosnan

pierce brosnan looking into the camera

Even James Bond isn’t immune from Bell’s palsy. Before he starred in the action franchise, Brosnan contracted Bell’s Palsy in the 1980s while on location for a movie. (Filming reportedly continued, although Brosnan had to keep the affected side of his face away from the cameras until the palsy went away.)

3. George Clooney

george clooney smiling

The famous actor-director known for his dapper, rakish good looks and charm had an early onset of Bell’s palsy, back when he was only 14 years old. Kids teased him about his facial disfigurement, and Clooney told “Rolling Stone” that he figured out early on that he had to develop a thick skin and be able to joke about it, too—one of the earliest roots of his acting career.

4. Terrence Howard

terrance howard smiling

Like Clooney, the “Empire” star also had a case of Bell’s palsy when he was a teen. His reported method of curing the problem was a bit unorthodox (and not doctor recommended)—he allegedly used electric wires from a razor to shock the muscles in his face every day for months until he was healed.

5. Amy Brenneman

Amy smiling

The actress is well-known for her roles in TV (“Private Practice,” “The Leftovers” and “Judging Amy”) as well as film (“Heat,” “City of Angels,” “The Jane Austen Book Club”). What may not be as well-known is that she also is a celebrity who had Bell’s palsy. In a post on her website, Brenneman, while discussing surgery for another medical condition and working through illness, wrote that she “danced onstage when stricken with Bell’s palsy.” In response to a fan’s inquiry on Twitter, Brenneman said her case of Bell’s palsy lasted a month before she recovered completely.

Though Bell’s palsy is undoubtedly a scary thing to experience, those with this condition should know they are not alone, and treatment options are available.

Originally published: June 28, 2018
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