30 Years of AIDS: Celebrities with AIDS

Through the development of the AIDS crisis, many members of the American general public thought the disease was isolated. For several years, it was actually known as the Gay Related Immune deficiency Syndrome. It wasn’t until the disease was found in women, drug users, and other every day, and well-known, people that it was treated like the epidemic it became.

After nearly 30 years, the AIDS crisis is not the same burning and terrifying pandemonium that it was in the early ’80s. But the face of the AIDS crisis is often dismissed as unfamiliar and not relevant. More than 33 million people live with the disease worldwide and it has caused the death of more than 2.1 million people. From the voice behind the muppet Scooter to the CEO of the toy company Hasboro, there are more celebrities, authors, musicians, sports figures and actors that are infected than ever before.

Emile Ardolino

The New York native film director, producer and choreographer netted 17 Emmy nominations, three Emmy awards, an Academy Award for Best Documentary and he directed one of the biggest cult classics of the 1980s, Dirty Dancing. He was also openly gay and HIV-positive.

Robert Reed

There’s no telling what Mrs. Brady would say if she found out Mr. Brady was HIV-positive, but that was, in fact, the case. The actor who played Michael Brady in the original 1970s television series, The Brady Bunch, died from cancer, but about a year before he passed away he tested positive for HIV.

Anthony Perkins

Anthony Perkins was nominated for an Academy Award and he won a Golden Globe in 1953. But most people will probably remember him as Norman Bates, the homicidal hotel owner in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. He died in 1992 from AIDS-related complications.

Richard Hunt

The man behind The Muppets’ Scooter, Janice, Beaker, Statler and Sweetums was HIV-positive and he died from the disease in 1992. He was also a frequent performer on Sesame Street.

Pedro Zamora

Time magazine rated this MTV Real World character’s on-screen wedding as the seventh most epic moments on Reality TV and President Clinton credited him with personalizing the AIDS crisis, especially for the Latino community. He died from complications due to AIDS in 1994.

Wladziu Valentino Liberace

Better known by his last name, Liberace was one of the highest-paid entertainers in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a regular guest on television shows such as the Red Skelton Show, The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. He was also one of the original Vegas superstars. He died from complications due to AIDS in 1987.

Bill Goldsworthy

Bill Goldsworthy played in the National Hockey League for 14 seasons between 1964 and 1978. He played in 771 NHL games; he scored 283 goals and had 541 assists. The Minnesota North Stars player retired his jersey in 1992. After he retired he went into coaching, but he died from AIDS-related complications in 1996.

Andy Bell

While working in a meat packing plant, Andy Bell answered a classified in the local paper looking for a singer. After being selected to join in a collaboration project known as Erasure, he helped bring the band to the top of the Euro-pop scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s. By 2009, 35 of the 45 singles released by the group reached the top of the UK Top 20. Bell is openly gay and has been HIV-positive for more than a decade.


Eric Lynn Wright, also known as Eazy-E, formed a group with superstar rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The N.W.A. became the premier hip-hop group and more members joined. With hits like “Boyz-n-the-Hood,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Fuck the Police,” the group became a lightning rod for criticism, but it also led to unprecedented rap fame. The Grandfather of Gangster Rap died in 1995 from AIDS-related complications.

Other notable people affected with HIV or AIDS

  • Singer Freddy Mercury
  • NBA player Magic Johnson
  • Althea Flynt – Wife of Hustler founder Larry Flynt
  • Olympic diver Greg Louganis
  • Porn star Mason Wyler
  • Porn star Joey Stefano
  • Porn star Johnny Rahm

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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