'Transparent' Actor Jeffrey Tambor Raises Awareness About Mental Health and Alcoholism

By John Lavitt 11/11/14

The actor attended a Houston benefit, where he revealed his own struggles with alcohol and mental illness.

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Hot on the heels of his successful internet show Transparent, actor Jeffrey Tambor told his personal story of recovery from alcoholism, as well as relaying his family history of mental health issues to benefit The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston.

At The Waggoners Foundation Speaker Series’ 2014 Fall Luncheon, Tambor opened up about his own struggles in order to highlight co-occurring disorders and the intricate links between alcoholism and mental health challenges. Recovering from alcoholism, Tambor inspired his audience to donate in order to make other such success stories a reality.

A true Hollywood veteran, Tambor has been a regular on stage and screen since the 1970s.  With famed supporting roles on The Larry Sanders Show and Arrested Development, the television accomplishments of the actor are truly impressive. What remains truly inspiring is that Jeffrey Tambor considers his greatest honor to be his ability to walk a path of long-term recovery from alcoholism.

Tambor’s latest achievement is starring in the critically acclaimed Transparent, Amazon.com’s most successful original series to date. In Transparent, the actor plays Mort, a man who late in life, is finally ready to embrace the reality of being a transgender woman named Maura.

When asked about the challenge of playing such a role, Tambor said: “The basic question of the whole pith of what we're doing is: Will you still love me if I changed? Will you still be there for me? And I think those are the questions that we all have and ask all the time. Around that dinner table, everybody has a secret. We can all relate to this family. Secrets are very powerful and very dangerous.”

The danger of secrets is a threat that Tambor understands intimately. Growing up, Tambor watched the disease of alcoholism claim the life of his older brother. For the actor, managing his recovery is like managing his life as a creative entity; a never-ending journey that succeeds through the love, support, and inspiration from everyone else on the road.

"We are fortunate when someone like Jeffrey Tambor opens up about the realities—and tragedies—that go along with co-occurring mental health issues and alcoholism," said Mel Taylor, President and CEO of The Council on Alcohol and Drugs Houston. "The more we talk about it, the more we can reduce the stigma, which will empower more people to seek the help they need for themselves and their loved ones."

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.