FAMOUS PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Legends surround famous people who have overcome great odds to live productive and satisfying lives. In fact many of us have personal knowledge of family, friends and acquaintances who have found ways to move beyond life’s difficulties.
We hope these stories will inspire you. Special thanks to Dyslexia My Life the organization which has cataloged a list of famous people with Learning Disabilities; the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community for its compilation of famous people with Disabilities; as well as the Levinson Medical Center for Learning Disabilities.
Jim Abbott has thrown a no-hitter, won Olympic gold in 1988, and been on Letterman. He is one of a handful of professional players who never once put on a minor-league uniform, jumping instead straight from college baseball to the big league. But those aren't the only reasons we know Jim Abbott. He is the only player in major league baseball who was born with one hand.
Abbott was able to reach the major league without having a right hand, and he quickly became one of the better pitchers in the game.
Magic Johnson, at 6’9”, was the tallest point guard in the National Basketball Association. Johnson retired from professional basketball in 1991 because a blood test showed that he was infected with HIV. He has established the Magic Johnson Foundation to raise money to fund HIV and AIDS organizations.
Chris Burke was the first person with Down Syndrome to star in a weekly television series, Life Goes On. Chris remains active by travelling around the country delivery inspirational speeches and he sings with a popular band featuring Joe and John DiMasi.
Tom Cruise is a well known screen actor featured in hits such as Top Gun, Days of Thunder, Rain Man, A Few Good Men and many more. Tom Cruise is Dyslexic.
Whoopi Goldberg is also Dyslexic. She has performed in major motion picture hits like Ghost, Sister Act I and II, Made in America, Jumping Jack Flash, The Color Purple, and Star Trek: Generations. Whoopi, born Carolyn Johnson, said she did not learn of her Dyslexia until well until adulthood.
Cher, well-known actress and entertainer, has a math learning disability that makes it difficult for her to remember phone numbers and balance a checkbook.
Patty Duke has won three Emmy Awards and an Academy Award for her role as Helen Keller in the motion-picture version of The Miracle Worker. In 1982, Patty was diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder and travels the country as an advocate about manic depression and other mental illnesses.
Itzhak Perlman is one of the most acclaimed violinists of his generation. In 1986 he received the Medal Of Liberty from President Ronald Reagan. Perlman contracted polio at age 4, permanently paralyzing his legs. He performs his music while seated and walks with crutches.
Franklin Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States in 1932 and went on to serve in office until his death in 1945 guiding the Country through the trauma of World War II. President Roosevelt contracted a near-fatal case of polio at the age of 39. He used a wheelchair and steel leg braces, and never regained the use of his legs.
Winston Churchill was a contemporary of President Roosevelt’s and a heroic figure in British history who helped guide the nation through the catastrophe that was World War II. He was known as a great orator and yet was known to work hard to overcome his stuttering.
Albert Einstein did not speak until age 3 and even as an adult, found it difficult to find the right words to express himself. He found school work difficult, especially Math. Many people believe that Albert Einstein was Dyslexic.
Thomas Edison is most famous for inventing the electric light, but is also credited with the invention of the record player and the cinematic camera. Edison had a hearing impairment, he was Diabetic and he had a significant learning disability, not learning to read until age 12.