Former Baywatch actor Mike Newman is opening up about a 16-year health battle that forced him into retirement. Photo / Supplied
The 66-year-old retired star, who portrayed lifeguard Mike “Newmie” Newman on the hit television series, told People magazine he was first diagnosed in 2006 when family and friends started to point out changes in his movements and urged him to see a doctor.
Newman revealed he was given medication to treat his Parkinson’s symptoms and was later diagnosed with the degenerative illness.
“Everything changes,” the former firefighter shared. “All those things that you thought you were going to do with your children and grandchildren, pictures we were going to take, all the plans I had … stopped.”
Newman featured on 150 episodes of Baywatch from 1989 to 2000, but turned his back on the limelight when his time on the show ended.
“If you didn’t have to be there, why would you be?” he jested to the publication.
However, Newman is planning on making his return to the to the silver screen in a four-part docuseries titled Baywatch: The American Dream, in which he will share intimate details about his life and his battle with Parkinson’s.
The actor revealed to People he was reluctant at first to talk about his disease in the docuseries, saying he didn’t want to be labelled as “the guy with Parkinson’s”. Newman decided to share his story after hanging out with the docuseries’ director Matt Felker, with whom he is close friends.
Baywatch: The American Dream will take an in-depth look at the long-running show, as well as the cultural impact it had, and will include interviews with former cast members Pamela Anderson, David Hasselhoff and Jason Momoa.
Newman recalled in his interview with People how his real-life job as a lifeguard assisted him in stepping into a larger role in the series. He remembered giving advice to the show’s writers regarding water rescue scenes in return for more lines on the show and volunteering to do stunts that others were too scared to do.
“I was too useful for them to get rid of me,” Newman said with a giggle. “I basically started off as a stuntman, and after seven years of being out of the opening credits, I finally was anointed and allowed to be in the front of the show.”
Newman has shed light on his life since Baywatch, revealing he exercises for 45 minutes every day, which he claims is the “best treatment” for Parkinson’s. He told the publisher his workout routine includes swimming, kayaking and running on the beach.
“I’ve been training for this,” he said “Somebody that was 65 and not very athletic, if they got the news that they got Parkinson’s, it wouldn’t turn out as well. I got them all beat, I guess, if we could call it ‘beat’.”
However, Newman called Parkinson’s a “sinister” disease, revealing the symptoms “march forward so slowly that you barely notice that they’re changing”.
“It’s a slow burn,” he revealed. “Parkinson’s disease doesn’t wait for you. It keeps on ploughing in.”
Newman said he agreed to feature in the docuseries as long as the production team worked in collaboration with the Michael J Fox Foundation and Cedars-Sinai to raise funds and awareness for people battling Parkinson’s.
“This may not help me,” he said. “But it’s going to help someone down the road.”
The former actor added that he hoped sharing his personal struggle with the degenerative disease would comfort and inspire others with Parkinson’s.
Despite Newman confessing there are “a lot of things” he would have done “differently” in his life, he proceeded to gush about his family, the “good people” that he met during his acting career and the experiences he had during his time on Baywatch.
“Where would I be without it?” he said of the hit series. “Well, it would’ve been kind of a boring life, I guess.”
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