NASH BRIDGES/CBS/1996-2001 (Epilepsy)
Antwon Babcock (Cress Williams), black police detective assigned to the SIU division of the San Francisco Police Department. His character was introduced in the fall 2000 season.
On the episode NO. 617 “Blood Bots’ (aired 3/30/01) Antwon accompanied a group of officers to a warehouse to find a techno geek whose robot robbed a convenience store and killed the clerk on duty.
While busting into a warehouse, a rigged strobe light designed to blind the officers to booby traps, flashed brightly in the officers eyes. Immediately Detective Babcock retreated from the scene saying: “I gotta get out of here.”
Later, one of his fellow officers (Det. Dominguez) discretely noted that Antwon’s actions reflected someone who exhibited signs of epilepsy.
See also: Nash Bridges
NASH BRIDGES/CBS/1996-2001 (Alzheimer’s Disease)
Nick Bridges (James Gammon), father of San Francisco police inspector Nash Bridges who keeps getting kicked out of retirement homes and dropping by to visit his son. Nick is afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.
See also: Nash Bridges (2)
MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE/FOX/2000-2006 (Asthmatic)
Stevie Kenarben (Craig Lamar Traylor), an asthmatic black youth in a wheelchair who attends a special class for gifted kids (high IQ’s) with friend Malcolm (the show’s featured actor). When Stevie speaks, his breathing is labored and his delivery is slow but clear.
On the “Sleepover” Episode No.11, Stevie invites Malcolm over for a sleepover, and the two sneak out to a late-night games arcade (“You‘d be surprised how hard it is to get a wheelchair through a window”), where Stevie’s wheelchair is stolen (Malcolm ends up pushing Stevie around in a shopping cart).
Gary Anthony Williams and Merrin Dungey appear as Mr. & Mrs. Kenarben, Stevie’s extremely overprotective parents.
In season 5, viewers of the series learn that Stevie has only one lung.
NOTE: Another handicapped person on the program is a military school officer named Commandant Edwin Spangler. He is missing his right hand, has a patch over his left eye and a bum leg.
HOUSTON KNIGHTS/CBS/1987-88 (Multiple Sclerosis)
Annie Hartung (Madlyn Rhue), a wheelchair-bound police officer injured in the line of duty.
Madlyn Rhue was actually a victim of multiple sclerosis, a crippling disease affecting the nervous system. Her MS condition became apparent after a car accident some 10 years earlier.
She died from pneumonia at the age of sixty-eight at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills in Los Angeles, California.
Star Trek fans may best remember Madlyn Rhue as Lt. Marla McGivers, a Starfleet historian stationed on the USS Enterprise who fell in love with Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), a genetically engineered superman found in suspended animation on the SS Botany Bay, an ancient Earth spaceship from the 20th century. (Episode “Space Seed” aired February 16, 1967).
See also: Murder, She Wrote
FEELING FREE/PBS/1978 (Various Handicaps)
30-minute educational series designed to ease “mainstreaming” of handicapped children into normal school systems and life.
It featured regulars performing in studios and on location.
EARTH 2/NBC/1994-95 (The Syndrome)
Ulysses Adair (Joey Zimmerman/costar), disabled eight-year-old boy who needed to wear a clumsy life-support apparatus to negotiate the terrain of a planet called Earth 2 (actually known as G-889).
He suffered from “The Syndrome” caused by continuous life aboard a space station that deprived its occupants (who were forced to live there) of the benefits of naturally produced fresh air and water.
His mother Devon Adair (Debrah Farentino) hoped that the organic environment of the new planet would help cure her son of his technologically created affliction.
THE DISTRICT/CBS/2000-2004 (Huntington’s Disease)
Officer Nancy Parras (Elizabeth Marvel), red-haired female police officer assigned to work with the Chief of Police in Washington, DC.
On episode No. 51 “Old Wounds” (aired 11-02-2002) Nancy is back on the beat. While chasing a purse-snatching suspect, she loses her balance and falls off a ladder leading up the side of a building.
After a stint in the hospital and a routine blood test, her doctor discover she has the gene for the incurable neurodegenerative genetic brain disorder called Huntington’s Disease.
Later Nancy confides “I’ve been reading up on Huntingdon’s Disease. It’s a pretty miserable disease. It has no symptoms” (until it’s too late).
Offering support, Police Chief Mannion (Craig T. Nelson) tells her “When the symptoms start, I want you to tell me.” Nancy agrees.