Robert Schimmel: The Life and Death of a Comedian Forced to Become Invisible

Comedian Robert Schimmel died last month at the age of 60.

Whether or not you agreed with his lifestyle (he left his first wife for his daughter’s friend, and married and divorced her), if you knew his work you couldn’t help liking him.  He was just so honest.  I think of his life as tragically funny. Bob Schimmel had survived a bad blood transfusion, a heart attack and the loss of his 11-year-old son to cancer.

In 2000 he was diagnosed with Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Due to his illness he was forced to bow out of his new sitcom that had just started production.

Throughout these hardships, somehow he was still able to make people laugh.  But in the last couple of years of his life he contracted cirrhosis of the liver due to the blood transfusion that he had had years ago.  He needed a liver transplant.

Those close to Bob told him he needed to keep his illness a secret or he would not get booked by comedy clubs and other venues.  His belly distended from the disease, he would wear a raincoat in order to keep his illness invisible so he could keep on working.  I know so many chronically ill people, including myself, who have been forced to hide their pain or fatigue just so they could keep their jobs. Forced to hide swollen joints, make excuses and keep on working through tremendous pain.

Earlier this year, perhaps no longer being able to to be dishonest with his audience, Bob revealed that he needed a liver transplant on The Howard Stern Show.  After that he received support from fans and new fans, many offering help, and even offering to donate part of their liver.  Perhaps people can be more giving and understanding than we sick people realize.

Ironically, Bob died as a result of his injuries in a car crash, although his poor health contributed to him not being able to survive the accident.

He is survived by his father, his sister, a brother, and five children.  I like to think of him now making them all laugh in Heaven.

SheKnows Entertainment was a contributing source for this post.


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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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5 Responses to Robert Schimmel: The Life and Death of a Comedian Forced to Become Invisible

  1. Michelle says:

    Although I have no chronic illness, I understand where this post comes from. My son is autistic, and I struggle with who I tell vs who I don’t tell for the same reason: some people will be hugely supportive and make accomodations while others will shun him. And how do I know which is which?
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Im Not Quite Sure It Fits =-.

  2. lisleman says:

    Not one of the comedians I know. I have heard that many of the best comedians have very tragical off stage lives.
    .-= lisleman´s last blog ..Fridays for flying fragments =-.

  3. It’s always tragic when people have to hide who they are and how they live… especially when their issues are through no fault of their own. My son has autism and we don’t hide it… but I know so many people who deny who they are and how they feel because they don’t think it’s ‘socially acceptable’
    I always admire people who speak out and share their experiences and try to help others in their situations…
    .-= Heather ~ Acting Balanced Mom´s last blog ..Update on Tristen Mahaffey =-.

  4. Mrs4444 says:

    Every day day, disabled people with jobs are forced to pretend, I guess. This story is sad, but I’m glad you linked it up.
    .-= Mrs4444´s last blog ..Better Late Than Never =-.

  5. Unknown Mami says:

    I am not familiar with him, but I don’t think anyone should have to hide. It’s hard enough having to deal with a chronic condition without having to keep it a secret.

    Thank you so much for the support you have shown me. I am truly grateful.
    .-= Unknown Mami´s last blog ..I Comment Therefore I Am =-.

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