‘NYPD Blue’ and ‘Deadwood’ Creator David Milch Reveals He Was Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s Disease

Producer David Milch attends Vulture Festival presented by New York Magazine at Milk Studios on May 10, 2014 in New York City.  Craig Barritt/Getty Images for New York Magazine

A scary discovery. David Milch, the creator of NYPD Blue and Deadwood, knew something was wrong before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

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Milch, 74, explained that he and his loved ones first started noticing changes in his behavior in 2014. “[I had] imperfect recall and tardy recall and short temper,” he told Vulture in an interview published on Wednesday, April 24. “I became more and more of an acquired taste.” The producer said he also noticed “a generalized incertitude and a growing incapacity” when it came to writing scripts.

Last year, the Emmy winner got a brain scan and learned he has Alzheimer’s, a common disease that “destroys memory and other important mental functions.” He noted, “As best I understand it, which is minimally, I have a deterioration in the organization of my brain. And it’s progressive. And in some ways, discouraging … in more than some ways; in every way I can think of.”

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According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million people in the United States are living with the disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and there is currently no cure.

After receiving the news, Milch came to the realization that his late father probably suffered from the disease as well. The television icon reflected, “That was a while ago, and the diagnosis was not as sophisticated or specific, but in retrospect, he exhibited all the symptoms of the illness.”

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Milch was in the middle of filming Deadwood: The Movie, a revival of his HBO series that ended in 2006, when he was diagnosed with the brain ailment. The TV show-turned-TV film’s cast and crew all know about the creator’s diagnosis, but refused to comment on it. Instead, the upcoming small-screen flick will feature references to the disease.

Deadwood: The Movie will premiere on HBO on May 31.

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