celebrities Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years  

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Celebrities live lives with which most people are unfamiliar. Even their deepest, darkest, most personal secrets sometimes make their way into newspapers, online, or into the tabloids. On one hand the celebrity lifestyle is wonderful, but on the other side it can be highly invasive and upsetting for the celebrity in question. Which is why it shouldn't be surprising that there are many celebrities who kept diseases secret.

Once they're diagnosed with sometimes fatal diseases, the outpouring of false sentiment can be enough to turn even the most upbeat person cynical. There have been a great number of famous people with secret illnesses who only spoke about their disease once they were free and clear. Other celebrities who were secretly sick never spoke about their issues. Only after their passing do their friends and family tell the public about their affliction.

Which celebrities kept their diagnoses secret? Famous people including David Bowie, Cobie Smulders, and Freddie Mercury are below.
Brad Grey is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo: Emmanuel Wong/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures

Brad Grey was considered a giant in Hollywood. Grey, fomerly the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, had an eye for up-and-coming talent and greenlit some of the studio's biggest blockbuster successes - including Transformers. But he harbored a secret from most of his Hollywood pals - Grey was dying of cancer.

Grey died on May 14 from an undisclosed case of cancer, which shocked many of his friends. Friends and colleagues told the Los Angeles Times they had no idea he was sick, and the last time they saw him he was greeting guests at the Chateau Marmont. 

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Age: 58

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Profession: Television producer, Entrepreneur, Film Producer

Credits: The Departed, The Sopranos, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Larry Sanders Show NewsRadio, + more

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Gene Wilder is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo: Freebase/GNU Free Documentation License

In the wake of Gene Wilder's death, at the age of 83, on August 29, 2016, the comedian's family announced he had been privately suffering from Alzheimer's for three years before passing. According to a statement released by Jordan Walker-Pearlman, a nephew Wilder raised like a son: 

The decision to wait until this time to disclose his condition wasn’t vanity, but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him 'there’s Willy Wonka,' would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment or confusion. He simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.

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Age: 83

Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States of America

Profession: Comedian, Screenwriter, Author, Actor Writer, + more

Medical Conditions: Sexual assault, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Credits: Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, The Producers

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David Bowie is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo: Alberto Botella/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

David Bowie's death sent shockwaves across music and film communities worldwide. Hardly anyone realized the singer and actor had been suffering from liver cancer for the 18 months before he died. According to reports, the performer wanted to go "without any fuss."

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Age: Died at 69 (1947-2016)

Birthplace: Brixton, London, United Kingdom

Profession: Film Score Composer, Arranger, Record producer, Songwriter Musician, + more

Credits: Labyrinth, Basquiat, The Hunger, The Man Who Fell to Earth

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Steve Jobs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo: Matthew Yohe/via Wikimedia Commons

The Apple CEO died suddenly in 2011 after a secret battle with cancer. The innovator had staved off pancreatic cancer for nearly two decades but let very few people (Disney CEO Bob Iger was one) knew of his diagnosis.

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Age: Died at 56 (1955-2011)

Birthplace: California, United States of America

Profession: Businessperson, Entrepreneur, Inventor, Designer

Cause Of Death: Respiratory arrest, Pancreatic cancer

Place Of Death: Palo Alto, California, United States of America

Medical Conditions: Pancreatic cancer

Credits: Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview, The Pixar Story, Toy Story, The Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires

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Freddie Mercury is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo: kentarotakizawa/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

The Queen lead singer was diagnosed with AIDS very early on in the epidemic's initial outbreak. He made his final public appearance almost 26 years ago, and while members of the band knew he was battling the disease, Mercury kept it a secret from fans and the public, denying all reports.

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Age: Died at 45 (1946-1991)

Birthplace: Stone Town, Zanzibar City, Tanzania

Profession: Record producer, Pianist, Musician, Singer-songwriter Singer, + more

Cause Of Death: AIDS, Pneumonia

Place Of Death: Kensington, London, United Kingdom

Medical Conditions: AIDS

Credits: Metropolis, Ted, Shaun of the Dead, Moulin Rouge!

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Charlie Sheen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo: Tinseltown/Shutterstock

In November 2015, Charlie Sheen told the Today show that he was HIV positive, and had been for four years. Once rumors began spreading, the actor could no longer hide his diagnosis.

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Age: 51

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

Profession: Television director, Television producer, Film Producer, Screenwriter Actor, + more

Credits: Two and a Half Men, Wall Street, Anger Management, Hot Shots!

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Robin Williams is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo:  uploaded by Larry Taylor

Williams's suicide was seemingly brought on by depression, which the actor had been battling for years. However, in the days following his death, his wife claimed the onset of Parkinson's, which had begun a few years prior, was what pushed him to take his own life.

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Age: Died at 63 (1951-2014)

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America

Profession: Screenwriter, Actor, Voice acting, Stand-up comedian

Credits: Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Jumanji, Aladdin

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#35 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

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Alan Rickman is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Celebrities Who Kept Their Fatal Illnesses Secret for Years
Photo:  Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

A shocking death for film fans, Rickman had been keeping his cancer diagnosis a secret for some time, according to a statement. Clearly Rickman wanted to endure the fatal disease on his own without fanfare.

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Age: Died at 69 (1946-2016)

Birthplace: Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom

Profession: Film Producer, Screenwriter, Graphic Designer, Actor Voice acting, + more

Credits: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Die Hard, Galaxy Quest

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#53 on The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

#3 on The Best English Actors of All Time

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#42 on The Best Actors in Film History

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