Another Celebrity with Alzheimer’s - Pat Harrington Jr.

Emmy Award Winner Pat Harrington, Jr. is one of many celebrities who have suffered from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Aging brings many challenges to families and finances. Planning in advance is essential.

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Another Celebrity with Alzheimer’s - Pat Harrington Jr.
6 Min Read January 7th, 2016 Updated:November 6th, 2020

Many celebrities have had to suffer from some form of dementia, including Alzheimer's. Daniel Patrick Harrington Jr. was one of these famous people that remind us that cognitive decline impacts all people. 

Daniel Patrick Harrington Jr. was known as the actor who played "The Super" on the hit TV comedy "One Day at a Time." He passed away on January 6, 2016, at age 86. His role as the cocky superintendent Dwayne Schneider helped make him a star. The CBS comedy "One Day at a Time," aired from December 1975 to May 1984, starred Bonnie Franklin as a divorced mom raising two teenage girls (Mackenzie Phillips, Valerie Bertinelli) in an apartment in Indianapolis.

Harrington joined an ever-growing list of celebrities who have suffered or are now suffering from Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Perhaps the most prominent celebrity who suffered from Alzheimer's is former President Ronald Reagan. 

Interesting enough, it was then-President Reagan who, in 1983, designated November as National Alzheimer's Awareness Month. Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994. 

Celebrities Who Suffered from forms of Dementia

Other celebrities who have suffered from this disease include: 

  • Sean Connery
  • AC/DC's Malcolm Young
  • Baseball star Tom Seaver
  • Singer Glen Campbell
  • Legendary actor Charlton Heston
  • Legendary actress Rita Hayworth
  • University of Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team head coach Pat Summitt
  • Singer Perry Como
  • Star of "Death Wish," actor Charles Bronson
  • Painter Norman Rockwell
  • Professional boxer Sugar Ray Robinson
  • Composer Aaron Copeland
  • TV's "Penguin" actor Burgess Meredith
  • "Golden Girls" actress Estelle Getty
  • "Columbo" TV actor Peter Falk
  • Legendary actor James Stewart
  • Actor Eddie Albert
  • Actress Evelyn Keyes
  • Author and writer E.B. White
  • Mother of the "freedom movement" Rosa Parks
  • "Star Trek's Scotty" actor James Doohan 
  • Comedian Robin Williams
  • Radio personality and voice actor Casey Kasem 
  • Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
  • TV news reporter Barbara Walters
  • Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain 

As for Harrington, he won a Golden Globe in 1981 and an Emmy Award in 1984 for his work on the show. He died surrounded by his family, his daughters Tresa and Terry reported on Facebook. Their father had had Alzheimer's and had been hospitalized following a fall.

65+ Population is Growing - More People Suffer from Cognitive Decline

Alzheimer's is one of many issues that cause people to require help with activities of daily living or supervision due to memory issues. The need for long-term care services has increased over the years as more people live longer than ever before. According to the Census Bureau, the number of U.S. adults 65 and older — 54 million — is expected to nearly double to 95 million by 2060. 

There is a growing aging population. In addition to the Baby-Boomers and the younger end of that group, the Late-Boomers, you have Generation X. Gen Xers are projected to outnumber Boomers in 2028, when there will be 63.9 million Gen Xers . All his aging increases risk of dementia and long-term care.

Dementia Care Costly - Family Often Become Caregivers

According to a report published by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Magazine, dementia's care costs are generally out-of-pocket unless a person has Long-Term Care Insurance. Health Insurance and Medicare pay little or nothing toward this type of care.

All too often, family members either become full-time or part-time caregivers. Being a caregiver places tremendous burdens on them physically, emotionally, and even financially. 

Paid care is costly and will drain even substantial estates. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator shows a national average for a nursing home well over $100,000 a year. Most extended care is delivered at home or in adult day care centers or assisted living and memory care facilities. These costs are also expensive.

Harrington's Family Heartbroken

"My heart is broken to pieces, and I will cry and cry until I just won't."


"I weep, knowing that he is not long on this earthly plane, cussing at him today to get him to open his mouth to eat the pureed food, as his swallowing mechanism isn't functioning so well, but then alas, he opens his mouth for ice cream."


"I break down, laying my head on his chest, and the first sign of recognition, as he places his hand behind my head to comfort me. He wanted to ease my pain," she explained. "I pray that whatever happens, in the next days or weeks, that it is for the best."

Tresa Harrington, daughter

Harrington's Career

Harrington worked opposite James Garner in the 1963 films The Wheeler Dealers and Move Over, Darling and also showed up on the big screen in Easy Come, Easy Go (1967) with Elvis Presley, The President's Analyst (1967) with James Coburn, 2000 Years Later (1969) with Terry-Thomas and The Candidate (1972) with Robert Redford.

On television, Harrington appeared on many game shows and on such series as Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Beverly HillbilliesThe Flying NunF TroopThe MunstersThe RookiesMcMillan and WifeThe Wayans Bros., Murder, She Wrote, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

In 2012, Harrington made his final onscreen appearance, appearing as the apartment building manager on Bertinelli's Hot in Cleveland.

Caring for Those with Alzheimer's

With more and more people getting older, we see more and more people suffer from cognitive decline. With the changes in a person's health, body, and mind as they get older, the memory loss will require supervision and extended care.  

Without any advance plan, the family, a spouse or an adult child, will provide the supervision. When more long-term care is required, adult day care might help delay the need for a facility or 24/7 home care.

In the more advanced middle stages of Alzheimer's, it becomes necessary to provide more care to keep the person with dementia safe. Many assisted living facilities have memory care units, and many facilities specialize in memory care.  

Cost of Care is Expensive

A nursing home might be required to provide the comprehensive care that those in much more advanced dementia may need. All this care is expensive, and the challenges on family and finances are extensive. 

Many American families look to affordable Long-Term Care Insurance as the solution. With a policy in place, the person with a policy knows they will not become dependent on their family, nor will they drain income and assets from the high costs of care services. 

Long-Term Care Insurance is medically underwritten, so you must have reasonably good health to obtain a plan. The best time to obtain coverage is when you are in your 40s or 50s, but you may still find affordable coverage when you are older if you have good health. 

Seek the assistance of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. Be sure they represent the major companies since premiums can vary over 100% between companies. 


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About the Author

An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.

LTC News Contributor James Kelly

James Kelly

Contributor since August 21st, 2017

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