11 Celebrities With Crohn's Disease

Here are 11 celebrities who have Crohn's disease. Learn how they deal with their diagnosis.

  • Crohn's disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that is pretty common and affects more people in the US each year.
  • Your immune system attacks your digestive tract, particularly the small intestine, leading to severe gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and pain.
  • These celebrities are examples that you can live with Crohn's disease.

You may have heard of Crohn's disease but may not know much about it. It's fairly common, with 100 to 300 people per 100,000 people having it. It's becoming more and more common in the US.

Here are some facts about the chronic disease and 11 people who achieved celebrity for their deeds—not their Crohn's disease diagnosis—and how they dealt with the condition.

What Is Crohn's Disease?

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory disease that affects your digestive system and can be incredibly challenging. A rogue immune system response attacks your digestive tract, causing inflammation and tissue damage.

It can happen to any part of your digestive system but mainly occurs in the small intestine and the beginning part of the large intestine. Anyone can get the disease, but it most commonly happens in your late teens and twenties.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps and pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Like many autoimmune diseases, the symptoms tend to cycle, getting worse during flare-ups and then subsiding.

Cynthia McFadden

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NBC News correspondent McFadden first experienced the excruciating pain of Crohn's disease, which her friends euphemistically dubbed "George," in her sophomore year of college.

"They weren't going to say, 'Did you have 15 diarrhea attacks today?'" McFadden explained. "So, instead, they'd ask me, 'How's George?'"

After a bout of internal bleeding in 1979, she had 15 feet of intestine removed. McFadden, who has worked to raise awareness about the disease with the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), has been mostly in remission ever since.

Frank Fritz

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Fritz, one of the stars of the History Channel's reality series "American Pickers," was an antiques treasure hunter who battled Crohn's for almost 40 years.

"Crohn's is like a duck," Fritz said. "Ducks look calm, floating quietly on the surface of the water, but underneath they are paddling like crazy. It's the same for people with Crohn's—on the outside you can't really tell, but I'm working really hard to stay in control as much as I can."

Mike McCready

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Rocker McCready, the lead guitarist for Pearl Jam, considers himself a lucky man, despite having Crohn's disease. McCready said he is blessed to make a living doing what he truly loves.

McCready is a spokesperson for CCFA and is heavily involved in raising public awareness of the disease and in fundraising efforts.

David Garrard

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When Jacksonville Jaguars starting quarterback Garrard began to have severe stomach pains after meals, Garrard knew something was amiss. "I just thought I had a stomach virus," Garrard said. "It was three months before I asked anyone to check me out."

In 2004, doctors removed 12 inches of Garrard's intestine and put him on a treatment plan to help him regain weight and return to the gridiron.

Garrard has been a spokesperson for CCFA's campaign, In the Zone for Crohn's, which raises money for disease research and education.

Mary Ann Mobley

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The Brandon, Miss., beauty was crowned Miss America in 1959. Three years later, as Mobley's acting and singing career began to take off, Mobley developed Crohn's disease.

"It is a dreadful disease for the fact that it affects so many people emotionally," Mobley said. "I remember before I went into remission having a two-year-old daughter and wanting to get up to do things with her and simply not having the energy to get up from the bed and go to the sofa in the den."

Shannen Doherty

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The teen drama "Beverly Hills, 90210" catapulted this Memphis-born actress to stardom in the early 1990s.

Doherty was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in childhood. However, Doherty has kept many of the details of her battle under wraps, reportedly claiming it's not sexy for a woman to say, "I've got to go to the bathroom right now."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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The 34th president of the United States was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 1956 and required surgery for the condition just six months before his reelection bid.

President "Ike," who served as supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, won a second term despite his public battle with heart and gut problems.

George "The Animal" Steele


His given name was William James (Jim) Myers, but professional wrestling fans knew him as George "The Animal" Steele. Steele's fight with Crohn's disease began in 1988 and he had surgery in 2002 to remove his colon.

Steele's career in the ring spanned more than two decades, culminating in his induction into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame in 1995.

Thomas Menino


In 2004, doctors confirmed that Boston Mayor Menino's recurring intestinal woes were caused by Crohn's disease. Menino, the city's longest-serving mayor, fell ill after downing peanuts and Cracker Jack at a Red Sox game in 2004. He was hospitalized for abdominal pain.

In 2009, at age 67, he was elected to his fifth four-year term.

Ben Morrison

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For stand-up comedian and actor Ben Morrison, wrenching gut pain and profuse diarrhea aren't just symptoms, they're grist for comic genius. His one-man show, Pain in the Butt (also known as Pain in the Ass), explores "the lighter side of Crohn's disease."

Morrison, seen on MTV's "Punk'd" and "NBC's Last Comic Standing," was diagnosed with Crohn's in his senior year of high school.

Kevin Dineen

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The Canadian right-wing struggled with Crohn's disease throughout his 19-year National Hockey League career, particularly in the early years after his 1987 diagnosis.

Dineen, who was a coach of the Florida Panthers, described the disease was "a real eye-opening experience" because there's no quick fix. "This is a chronic, debilitating disease that's with you for life," said Dineen. "It took me a couple of years to come to grips with that."

A Quick Review

Crohn's disease is a chronic autoimmune disease that is pretty common and affecting more people in the US each year. Your immune system attacks your digestive tract, particularly the small intestine, leading to severe gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and abdominal cramps and pain. It can also cause fatigue. The celebrities above are examples that you can live with Crohn's disease.

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  1. National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus. Crohn disease.

  2. National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Definition & Facts for Crohn’s Disease.

  3. National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms & Causes of Crohn’s Disease.

  4. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Mike McCready's Story.

  5. Crohn's & Colitis Foundation. Mary Ann Mobley & Gary Collins' Story.

  6. Pappas TN. President eisenhower’s bowel obstruction: the story of his surgeons and their decision to operateAnnals of Surgery. 2013;258(1):192-197. doi:10.1097/sla.0b013e318299aeeb

  7. George "the Animal" Steele. Halls of Fame.

  8. New York Times. National Briefing | New England: Massachusetts: Mayor Has Crohn's Disease.

  9. Boston Archives. Mayor Thomas M. Menino records.

  10. Ben The Morrison. Ben Morrison Crohnsultant.

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