The popular 1980s actress was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, and her actor husband has opened up about his wife’s condition.
She made her name in 80s police drama The Gentle Touch as Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes, in a role that was considered ground-breaking for featuring a female detective in a lead role (this pre-dated Helen Mirren by a good few years).
However, Jill’s husband, actor Alfred Molina, has revealed that his wife is now in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease and is finding it extremely heartbreaking. Jill was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 although it’s thought she was struggling with memory problems since 2010.
Speaking at an event recently, Molina said:
‘Alzheimer’s is a cowardly disease. It creeps up on you from behind and by the time you realise you’ve got it you’re probably not realising much else. It’s a stinker,’ Mr Molina said.
‘Every Alzheimer’s case is unique unto itself – the only thing that unites them all is the outcome is always the same. Ultimately, you end up on the same path.’
Molina and Gascoine have been married for 27 years, after meeting while doing a play. At the time, Jill was the bigger star (at its height, The Gentle Touch was regularly watched by 18 million viewers) but Molina has since gone on to star in blockbusters such as Spiderman, Indiana Jones and Frida.
Molina told Radio Times: ‘Not everyone can approach Alzheimer’s with the bravery that Terry Pratchett showed.
‘I’m scared of a lot of things. Every time I can’t find my wallet, every time I forget where I left my car keys, I’m thinking, “Oh, Jesus.” I have to remind myself there’s a difference between not remembering where you put your car keys and, when you find them, not knowing what they’re for.
‘I’ve seen that happen at close range – I know the difference.’
He also expressed his frustration at the lack of progression in finding a cure for the disease, or even enough research to help doctors to identify the illness while it was still in its early stages.
‘That’s why so much of the research that went into curing it became pointless. Millions and millions of dollars and pounds going into this pit and we were getting nowhere.
‘Whereas now, with more knowledge and understanding, you can, at least, start to prepare yourself.’