Versatile actor Danny Glover has been in some hundred movies and made dozens of television appearances, but the former community development worker had reason to believe that he would never be able to trust himself on the stage.
Glover was 15 years old when he had his first seizure.
He had several more seizures and many tests before being diagnosed with epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a seizure disorder of the neurological system. A seizure occurs when there is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. It isn’t a disease, but rather a symptom of some other disorder. The two main reasons for epilepsy are an injury to the brain or a chemical imbalance.
Often, it is not possible to determine the cause.
Although Glover’s seizures were mostly controlled by medication, there was always the threat of a seizure hanging over his head.
He could tell when a seizure was coming on because he would hear an unbearably loud noise.
“Eventually, I could recognize it happening.” Glover wrote in a blog on sharingmiracles.com, “Then I could say, wherever I was, ‘Something is happening to me. Please grab me. Please hold me. I’m about to have a seizure.“
An incident that he described as “transformative … in terms of this whole journey of epilepsy” occurred one evening in 1977, while doing a play at the Eureka Theater, a community theater in San Francisco.
It was his first major role in the area, so Glover was anxious. When that loud noise told him that a seizure was coming, he determined to try to take control of the situation. He went to the theater’s basement and paced back and forth, telling himself over and over again that he would not have a seizure.
After a few minutes, the symptoms diminished to the point that he felt he could risk going on with the production.
Glover lasted all the way through the performance, but the moment that the play was finished and he walked off stage, it was back. He said to the nearest person, “Grab me, I’m about to have a seizure.”
That experience was life changing. It gave Glover confidence that he could talk himself out of, or at least postpone, the onset of a seizure.
Live theater was no longer his enemy.
Glover stopped having seizures at age 35. It is unknown why they started when he was 15, or why they ended after 20 years.
Today, the award-winning performer still works to bring awareness to epilepsy. He supports the Epilepsy Foundation by contributing to programs for children and by volunteering his time to speak about the disorder.
Moving from stage to television and film, the actor is perhaps best known for the role of Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon movies. He has also appeared in other blockbusters like Top Gun, The Color Purple, The Royal Tenenbaums and Dreamgirls.
When he talks to children with epilepsy, Glover always tells them that the disorder doesn’t have to limit them, that they can achieve anything.
He certainly has.
Danny Glover is one celebrity who beat the odds.
Click here to read the full list of celebrities who Beat the Odds on their way to success.
Here are Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, too old for this sh-t: