Des O'Connor's secret Parkinson's diagnosis

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 9 January 2021
Des O'Connor

Des O'Connor

Des O'Connor was diagnosed with Parkinson's three years before his death but decided to keep his illness a secret

Des O'Connor was secretly battling Parkinson's when he died.

The 88-year-old presenter passed away two months ago from sepsis and his widow Jodie Brooke Wilson has revealed he was diagnosed with Parkinson's three years ago but wanted to keep his illness private.

She told the Daily Mail newspaper: "Des actually had Parkinson's. Des dealt with it very privately. He didn't want people to feel sorry for him and for it to be what they first thought about when they saw him. He was diagnosed in 2017 but he thinks he had had it for a while.

"He remembers doing 'The Wizard Of Oz' [in 2012] at the London Palladium when he was playing the wizard. In one of the scenes he had to be put in a hot-air balloon and go up into the gods. He had to stay there for a little bit. He remembers sitting in the hot-air balloon and looking down at his hands and seeing a tremor. He remembers thinking it strange, but never thinking it was Parkinson's-related."

However, Jodie, 51, says her husband – who died in hospital where he had been admitted following a fall – maintained his sense of humour until the end.

She said: "The day he fell, I called the paramedics, who came so quickly and lifted Des up. I think Des had his arm around one of them and said to him, 'Do you want to dance?' Everybody laughed.

"That's Des. He was my best friend. He was my soulmate. He was the kindest, funniest person. I feel very blessed he was in my life for 30 years."

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