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Clad in shimmering Versace, Catherine Zeta-Jones looked a picture of Hollywood glamour when she swept to the stage of the Radio City Music Hall in New York last June to accept a Tony, American theatre's equivalent of an Oscar, for her role in the Broadway hit A Little Night Music. After a long and rambling speech, in which she gushed endlessly about the cast and crew, she turned to husband Michael Douglas in the stalls. "I had no control over what was coming out of my mouth ...

"I was so caught up in the moment I don't think I knew what I was saying," it went.

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I can't believe I said something as crass as that."Fast forward 10 turbulent months, and the events of that night take on a different hue. Zeta-Jones, for her part, revealed this week that she is suffering from bipolar II disorder, a mental illness in which sufferers can experience severe mood swings.

To armchair psychiatrists, who are rarely in short supply when a member of the A-list hits choppy water, her performance on last year's Tony Award podium is evidence that her problems may have been brewing for some time.

Yet beyond prurient speculation, the 41-year-old star's decision to go public with her troubles has met with goodwill.

The frankness with which her spokesman discussed the condition gladdens organisations that deal with mental health issues.

They have released statements celebrating her "bravery", hoping the rare spectacle of a public figure confronting psychological demons will lift some of the enduring taboo surrounding mental illness.

Last modified 18-Feb-2016 20:07