The Oscars


Credit: The Kobal Collection

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Best On-Screen Illness

by Michael Gollust

Portrayals of death, disease, and disorder have yielded some of film's most indelible performances: Debra Winger's turn as a dying mom in Terms of Endearment, Jack Nicholson's obsessive-compulsive rituals in As Good as It Gets. Hollywood has certainly learned how to use health problems to tug at our heartstrings. But just because a performance is emotionally powerful doesn't make it accurate.

In honor of Oscar season, we've asked's medical experts to review some of Hollywood's most memorable health-related roles. In the following slideshow, they separate fact from fiction and help you decide what you can—and shouldn't—learn about health and medicine from the silver screen.

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