Celebrity Health Narratives and the Public Health


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About the Book

We follow celebrities on Twitter and Facebook, watch them on television, and read about them in supermarket checkout lines. Our relationship with celebrities has never been so immediate. Their personal trials are news headlines and water cooler talk.
Offering the first extensive look at celebrity health sagas, this book examines the ways in which their stories become our stories, influencing public perception and framing dialog about wellness, disease and death. These private-yet-public narratives drive fund-raising, reduce stigma and influence policy. Celebrities such as Mary Tyler Moore, Robin Roberts, Michael J. Fox, and Christopher Reeve—as well as 200 others included in the study—have left a lasting legacy.

About the Author(s)

Christina S. Beck is a professor and associate director of graduate studies in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University. She has authored or edited 11 books, in addition to multiple book chapters and journal articles, and her current research interests are at the intersections of health communication, fandom, and media studies. She lives in Athens, Ohio.

Nathaniel Simmons is a communication faculty member within the General Education Department at Western Governors University. His research primarily explores public-private negotiations within health and intercultural contexts. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Kelly E. Tenzek is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Communication at SUNY Buffalo, where she researches and teaches content related to difficult conversations. She lives in Williamsville, New York.

Stephanie M. Ruhl is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Clemson University. Her research interest is in the communicative experiences of health and healing. She lives in Clemson, South Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Christina S. Beck, Stellina M.A. Chapman, Nathaniel Simmons, Kelly E. Tenzek and Stephanie M. Ruhl
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 252
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7971-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1907-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface: Christina S. Beck 1

One. Personal Challenges, Public Struggles: An Overview of Celebrity Health Narratives and Implications for Public Health Conversations 5

Two. From Actress to Cancer Patient: Brooke ­Burke-Charvet Dances through Thyroid Cancer 21

Three. Just Like Kim: Fan Responses to Kim Kardashian’s Battle with Psoriasis 39

Four. “I never wanted to be the poster child for this”: Catherine ­Zeta-Jones and Bipolar II Disorder 51

Five. “I get diabetes just watching Paula Deen”: Public Responses to Paula Deen’s Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis 64

Six. Celebrity Body Image Narratives and the Media: A Framework for Personal Health Disclosure? 77

Seven. Celebrity Death Narratives in the Media: College Student Perceptions on Conversations and Disclosure 93

Eight. No “I” in Team: Impression and Boundary Management in Illness/Injury Narratives Involving Sports Celebrities 111

Nine. Blurring “Real” and “Reel” Life: Integration of Daytime Drama Actor Illnesses into Soap Opera Storylines and Health Promotion 132

Ten. A Tangled Web of Health Troubles: Giuliana Rancic’s Fight for a Family Goes Public 149

Eleven. Trust in Robin Roberts: The Journey of a Woman Who Breaks Her Own News 167

Twelve. She Turns the World Around with Their Smiles: Mary Tyler Moore Takes Kids to Congress 184

Thirteen. Continuing the Conversation 203

References 213

Index 237

Book Reviews & Awards

“turns a critical eye to the private-turned-public health narratives of celebrities, shared through television and print interviews and social media…. These personal health narratives of public figures inform and inspire people, drawing attention to public health issues and a variety of relatively unknown illnesses, as well as public policy on funding and research”—ProtoView.