Famous People With Hearing Loss
It’s hard to imagine celebrities struggling with something like hearing loss. We see them on TV, in movies and magazines and they always look fabulous with their hair and makeup professionally done and clothes tailored just for them. They seem perfect. Supernatural. But celebrities are people just like us, and their struggles with hearing impairment are very real. Here are a few celebrities who have been open about living with hearing loss.
Actor Rob Lowe is completely deaf in one ear as the result of an undiagnosed case of the mumps before he was a year old. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Lowe said, “I live in a mono world. I wish I could [hear in] stereo.” He also said, “Really loud restaurants drive me ballistic.” But he hasn’t let his hearing loss slow him down, and the 50-year-old actor continues to have a thriving Hollywood career.
During an annual physical in 1997, former President Bill Clinton was diagnosed with high frequency hearing loss. This impairment was likely caused by years of listening to loud music, the noise from hunting rifles and the loud crowds at the political rallies he attended for many years. President Clinton was fitted for completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids while he was still in office, and continues to enjoy better hearing with his hearing aids to this day.
Playing Captain Kirk on the television series Star Trek was the role of a lifetime for actor William Shatner, but an explosion on the set of Star Trek left him with permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Shatner now works closely with the American Tinnitus Association, and he advocates for research for a cure.
Guitarist and songwriter for the famous rock band The Who, Pete Townshend spent years being exposed to loud music at rock concerts and in the recording studio, with little or no hearing protection. This repeated exposure left Townshend with hearing loss and tinnitus in both ears, and spurred him to found the non-profit hearing advocacy group H.E.A.R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers). Townshend still plays music, but uses custom hearing monitors he got from his audiologist whenever he’s onstage. He uses new computer technology to help him in the studio because of his inability to hear high frequencies.
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry has 80% hearing loss in her left ear as a result of being hit on the head by a former boyfriend. She now works tirelessly to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence, and she continues to work successfully as an actress in Hollywood, making adjustments for her hearing loss using monitors and other tools for the hearing impaired.
After the football player's parents noticed his speech development was delayed as a child, Derrick Coleman was diagnosed with hearing loss at age 3. Though he experienced bullying from his peers, Coleman didn’t let that slow him down. With the help of the hearing aids he wears in both ears, Coleman went on to be the first deaf offensive player in the NFL.
A case of the mumps in childhood left actress Holly Hunter with no hearing in her left ear. But the Oscar-winning actress has actually used her hearing loss to her advantage. In an interview with CNN, Hunter said, “I’ve had to listen so intently to what people are saying,” and she transfers that attention to detail into the characters she plays.
In 2012, actor Robert Redford insisted on doing his own stunts while filming the movie All Is Lost. This included being submerged in a water tank and having water from a hose shot at his head repeatedly as the scene was being filmed. The result of these stunts was an ear infection that ultimately left him with 60% hearing loss in his left ear. The actor notes that even minimal hearing protection could have saved his hearing.