— who dropped out of showbiz six years ago when spells began leaving him so nauseous and dizzy he could barely walk — now has a valve in his head to release fluid squishing his brain
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The National ENQUIRER
learned from sources that the 83-year-old comic, who starred as bumbling Ensign Parker on the 1960s sitcom "McHale’s Navy" and later kept Carol Burnett
’s audiences in stitches, suffers from hydrocephalus — commonly known as water on the brain.
In 2009, a doctor secretly “implanted a shunt that drains it,” says Tim’s former publicist Roger Neal. “Two years ago, they put a new valve on the shunt to keep it working properly.”
Commonly triggered by a stroke, brain tumor, meningitis or serious head injury, the condition sends spinal fluid flooding into the skull, stressing the brain. The intense pressure causes severe headaches, vomiting, blurred vision, memory problems and difficulty walking.
Since the operation, Tim, who fathered six kids with first wife Mary Anne Dalton during their marriage from 1961 to 1978, “is doing just fine,” says Roger. “He has a great life, remains very active, but is essentially retired from performing.”
While the five-foot-six laugh riot, who’s been married to second wife Charlene
since 1984, dropped out of public sight, he remains close with his old boss Burnett. “They have dinner at his home at least once a month,” says the publicist. He also had regular Tuesday dinners with Bob Newhart
Tim’s kids, including Tim Jr. (right), have declined to comment, but an insider says since his operation, Tim’s had “no residual effects from the surgery. “He’s walking, he’s talking.” Before docs installed the dime-sized shunt valve — visible in the back of his neck — Tim was suffering “dizzy spells and nausea.”
“When he feels light-headed, they use a magnet to turn the valve,” says the source. “It works almost immediately. There’s no effect on his mobility or speech.” He’s also resumed his normal lifestyle — except for giving up skiing.
“He’s been on cruises with his wife, throws barbecues when his kids visit, watches horse racing and goes out to the track when he’s in the mood,” notes the insider. “He’s still very strong. He’s always been athletic. He was a boxer and gymnast growing up.”
Tim has mostly retired from being in front of the cameras. While he’s made short videos of his goofy Dorf character (left) and appeared in shows like "Hot in Cleveland" and "Major Crimes," most of his gigs have been voice work for cartoons like "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Recently, he’s been in talks about doing a special with Carol. “It’s not a complete ‘no’ yet,” says the insider. “I think he’s just tired of being in front of the camera. He’s happy not being around the business.”
When he goes out, he jokes with fans who thought he’d died. “Thank you for all the well wishes,” the come, shown here in a visit to "Today" with Kathie Lee Gifford
and Hoda Kotb
. “In lieu of flowers, please deposit money in my bank account.”