Michael Newman, also known as Mike, played the role of a slightly older lifeguard in the hit series 'Baywatch' alongside David Hasselhoff. Although he wasn't in every episode, he became a fan favorite, especially among mature women, for his masculine appearance, mustache, and toned physique. However, he has been out of the spotlight for many years due to a serious reason: Parkinson's disease.
He recently spoke about his experience with the disease in People magazine.
"Everything changes. All the things you thought you'd do with your children and grandchildren—pictures we were going to take, all the plans I had—stopped," says Newman to Peoples Magazine, who has been living with the disease for 17 years.
In 2006, his wife noticed a strange 'tremor' in his movements. He became slower in the pool, where he often swam, and slower to run, despite having been an athlete all his life.
The retired actor and firefighter initially thought he was just getting old. But soon, the diagnosis came from the doctor: 'You have Parkinson's!' and nothing would ever be the same again. "It's a slow killer. Parkinson's disease doesn't wait for you. It keeps plowing in. The symptoms march so slowly forward that you almost don't notice they're changing," says Newman, who is now 66 years old.
He has chosen to open up about his diagnosis in the hope of helping others through his story.
"There's nothing in the world I can't do. Whether it's sailing a boat or diving or tackling a guy off a jetski," he says, referring to his role in 'Baywatch,' which has earned him a solid fan base worldwide, even though he didn't have the lead role.
His Baywatch character, Michael 'Newmie' Newman, was a loose caricature of himself. For years, he wasn't even in the opening credits. But as the only real lifeguard in the cast, Newman made himself invaluable on set, performing water stunts that no one else could do.
"I was too useful for them to get rid of me. I started as a stuntman, and after seven years of being out of the opening credits, I finally got to be in front," he says from his home in Los Angeles.
Soon, he will also be featured in an upcoming documentary about 'Baywatch' titled 'Baywatch: The American Dream,' which delves into the phenomenon that ran from 1989 to 2001.
You can watch a 9 year old video of 'Newmie' swimming in his private pool below