Michael York battling rare blood disease

Ben Arnold

Michael York is battling a rare blood disease, he has revealed.

The 71-year-old actor shocked fans earlier this year when he appeared with a swollen face and thinning hair while attending a reunion of the cast of 'Cabaret' in New York with Liza Minnelli.

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The star of countless films and TV series, but perhaps known best in recent years for playing Basil Exposition in the 'Austin Powers' films, has now said that what was originally diagnosed as bone cancer is a blood disease called amyloidosis.

Speaking to The Lady magazine, he said: “It all began two years ago, when I was doing a miniseries with Tom Conti. I noticed I was getting dark circles under my eyes.

“At first, I was able to cover them up with make-up, but it got worse and was really becoming evident, so I had to wear dark glasses.

“I lost my voice, completely, which, for an actor, is a bit alarming. Now, it's sort of back. During [chemotherapy], sadly, all my hair disappeared.

“My face is a little swollen. That's probably from the meds, but also from the illness itself. There are deposits all over.”

But despite the illness, which has seen York undergo a stem-cell transplant, he remains positive about his future.

“I know this can be deadly, but I never gave up. I am thrilled at this reprieve and want to do as much as I can to make it better.”

As well as the 'Austin Powers' films, and his role in 'Cabaret', he's known for starring roles in films like 'Logan's Run', 'The Four Musketeers' and several Shakespeare adaptations with director Franco Zeffirelli.

He also appeared as himself in the third season of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm', and took a cameo role in 'How I Met Your Mother' in 2010.