This 1972 talk is given by Mercedes McCambridge, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous with four years sober at the time of her share. She was also a celebrated and Oscar-winning American actress, one whom Orson Welles called “the world’s greatest living radio actress,” and a leading member of the U.S. National Council on Alcoholism.
Mercedes begins by sharing an anonymous quote that affects her deeply: “The tragedy of life is that which dies in a man while he lives.” That’s why she is here today, she says.
Mercedes goes on to speak not only of her own alcoholism, but of the public health crisis that alcoholism presents. Treatment of alcoholism is of paramount importance not only to the alcoholic and their loved ones, but to the economy and society as a whole. The disease of alcoholism is, she says, treatable — just as heart disease and diabetes are.
Mercedes was one of the first celebrities to go public with her alcoholism, and she received even further notoriety when she testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on alcoholism and narcotics in 1969. She died in 2004.
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