3 Famous People with Huntington’s Disease

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7 out of 100,000 people on the planet are affected by Huntington’s disease. I know this doesn’t seem like a huge number but the mortality rate is growing every year and it might continue until there is a cure for it.

Western Europe, Australia, and Venezuela are some of the countries seeing a rising number of Huntington’s disease cases registered every year. [1]

Usually, we don’t get to hear about Dementia-affected famous people but there are a few celebrities who have taken it upon themselves to inform and educate the populace. 

This post is about a handful such famous people with Huntington’s disease. Note that I am not diagnosing the people I am about to discuss further in the post. Their health status is publicized in newspapers and broadcast on the radio.

Here Are the 3 Famous People with Huntington’s Disease

#1 Marianna Palka, Actress

Marianna Bronislawa Barbara Palka, 37, born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland is a celebrity actress, screenwriter, producer, and director.

At age 17, she moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and joined Atlantic Theater Company as a student.[2]

Unlike most of Huntington’s disease patients, Marianna knew that she was at a 50 percent risk of inheriting this fatal disease. She was aware of the fact that someday in the future, the symptoms might just show up.

When she was young, her father, in his 30’s, was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease after showing indications like extreme mental and physical decline.[3]

Besides, her father’s two brothers and mother had suffered from Huntington’s disease as well.

She went for the diagnostic gene test after finding out about her two cousins testing positive for the same test. [3]

In “The Lion’s Mouth Opens”, a short documentary film, Lucy Walker recreates the courageous moments Marianna actually lived while going through the tough period of finding out the results of her genetic test.

#2 Woody Guthrie, Journalist, Musician (1912-1967)

Woody Guthrie was an American musician and a celebrity songwriter; well known for his song “This Land Is Your Land”.  Born in Okema, Oklahoma, he later moved to Pampa, Texas, a small town which suffered greatly due to the severe dust storms are known as “The Dust Bowl”. [4]

It was due to “The Dust Bowl” that he got sparked to write the song “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You”. He later relocated to California and eventually to New York.[5]

In the late 1940s, Woody’s behavior became extremely intolerant and violent, which begin to affect his relationships and work. The real cause of his illness was unknown until 1952 when he was eventually diagnosed with Huntington’s disease.

Unable to control his muscles, his condition got worse and he was hospitalized numerous times, and finally took his last breath at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, New York, in 1967.

Here are some sweet lyrics from his song “Do Re Mi”.

California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see,

But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot

If you ain’t got the do re mi

Woody Guthrie

#3 Trey Gray, Drummer

Trey is a successful drummer in a band called “Brooks and Dunn”. Born in Indianapolis, IN, USA, he had a passion for music since childhood.

He worked as a drummer with the celebrity country singer “Faith Hill” for seven glorious years.

At age 30, Trey’s future looked very bright and he was getting ready to take his drumming career to the next level.

But unfortunately, he hit a bump in the road when he found out about his uncle and later mother were diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Huntington’s disease.

In 2003, Trey’s gene test results came out to be positive but the drummer showed courage and continued to work with the band “Brooks and Dunn”.[6]

In an interview with Brent Weber of Oklahoma City’s Fox 25 Morning News, Trey expressed gratitude for what he has experienced up till now and the success that he has had.

He said, “I have had an unbelievable life and I feel very blessed.”

He has been a real inspiration for those suffering from Huntington’s disease and is willing to make the best out-out this one precious life.

Don’t Know What Huntington’s Disease Is?

It’s a deadly neurodegenerative disease that damages a person’s brain in such a way that it alters the way they move, think, and behave.

The part of the brain responsible for sorting out the incoming and outgoing signals get affected causing the brain cells in that part to die slowly.

Moreover, Huntington’s disease has also widened its reach to celebrities and famous people all over the world.

Final Thoughts on These Celebs With Huntington’s Disease

Although the fatal symptoms of Huntington’s disease have not yet kicked in, Marianna Palka and Trey Gray are currently fighting with the fear of anticipation of them.

Unfortunately, Woody Guthrie could not live longer and passed away at the age of 55.

These celebrities are an inspiration to those currently battling Huntington’s disease.


  1. my son passed from huntington, his brother and their father, and the fathers identical twin and his aunt and grandmother and her sister and their father, but I was blessed my daughter is hd free…

  2. Huntingtons disease doesn’t care if you are famous or not it’s awful to watch the ones you love knowing their is nothing you can do for them

  3. Since it is such a rare disease, it is wonderful for Trey and Marianna to share with the world. Wish HD could have a Day or a Fund raiser like MS or Cancer or Heart disease or ? It is a true and serious SAD tragic disease.

  4. My foster Son was diagnosed with HD after his 3rd stint at a Chem/dependency clinic on his 18th birthday. His bio father was removed from Federal Prison serving a 2nd degree murder verdict & placed in a mental institution after his diagnosis. All I can do is not enough! Tell me how you find hope in this, anybody? I’m at a loss….

  5. My 27 year old son was diagnosed, just last year. I’m so afraid for his twin brother, so we all truly live in Faith!
    Their father, uncles and aunts carry the gene as well. This was all so new to me.. let’s get the word out!!!!
    It’s literally a silent killer…

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