Famous People who Had and Have Polio
Donald Sutherland – Donald McNichol Sutherland (born July 17, 1935) is a prolific Canadian actor with a film career spanning over 40 years. A sickly child, he battled rheumatic fever, hepatitis and caught polio as a child. Sutherland developed a love of reading while bedridden. He went on to become an accomplished actor, and has appeared in over 130 films.. He was Canada’s youngest radio announcer at age 14. His first great successes came with The Dirty Dozen in 1967 with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson, in 1970 as the lead Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce in Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H (The film) and as tank commander Sgt. Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes with Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas.
F.D. Roosevelt – Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882 , April 12, 1945), He was the 32nd President of the United States. Elected to four terms in office, he served from 1933 to 1945, and is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms of office. In August 1921, while the Roosevelts were vacationing at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Roosevelt contracted an illness, at the time believed to be polio, which resulted in Roosevelt’s total and permanent paralysis from the waist down. FDR sought out innumerable cures including electric currents, ultraviolet light, massage, mineral baths whatever might improve his atrophied legs. He also consulted a number of other physicians and therapists in a vain effort to revitalize his muscles.
Kerry Packer – (17 December 1937 , 26 December 2005) Kerry Packer was the wealthiest Australian of his time being the head of a multi-billion dollar industry which included publishing, media and gaming. He owned what is known as the Nine Network and was one of the most influential men in Australia having a net worth of $6.5 billion in AUD at the time of his death in 2005. Kerry Packer was never really good at school and eventually became a victim of polio. Despite the experience Kerry continued to excel in athletics throughout his life and successfully attained great fortune.
John Laws – (born 8 August 1935) John Laws is a radio presenter in Australia and has been on Australian talk radio longer than any other broadcaster due to his un-surpassed popularity. He has been the most influential and respected programs in the Australian media for many years and has been a voice-over artist for commercials. After 55 years on air Laws retired in 2007 leaving the 2UE building in sydney with his popular quote ‘You be kind to each other’. John laws has suffered from polio and once needed the Iron Lung to stay alive
Ian Dury – (May 12, 1942 March 27, 2000) Ian Dury was an English songwritter, band leader and singer well known for being the founder and lead singer of the band Ian Dury and the Blockheads. Ian Dury has made many songs that were banned or refused by broadcasters such as BBC. Although refused by many radio stations Ian Dury gained popularity as the punk music era was being born. Ian caught polio on a trip to a Southend swimming pool which had caused him to limp, partly paralyzing his legs.
Mia Farrow – (born February 9, 1945) Mia Farrow is a renowned American actress and has appeared in over 40 films winning several awards in the process. Mia is notable for her constant humanitarian work such as UNIICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She survived polio as a child and has ever since been present at speeches while dedicating her time to organizations that help fight it. She has also helped to launch a polio immunization day which targeted all children under the age of 5 years old.
Paul Martin – Paul Edgar Philippe Martin PC, MP (also known as Paul Martin, Jr.) (born August 28, 1938) was the twenty-first Prime Minister of Canada, as well as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Prime Minister Chr�tien and Martin frequently clashed while in office. 0. Paul Martin Sr., Canada’s Minister of Health and Welfare, had strong personal reasons for wanting the vaccination program to continue. He himself had contracted polio in 1907, and his son, Paul Martin Jr., the current Prime Minister, had overcome the disease in 1946. Thus, Martin decided to continue the mass vaccinations, and Canada’s confidence in the Salk vaccine renewed confidence around the world.
Alan Alda – Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo (born January 28, 1936) is a five-time Emmy Award-winning, six-time Golden Globe-winning, Academy Award-nominated American actor. He is perhaps most famous for his role as Hawkeye Pierce in the television series M.A.S.H. Alda contracted polio, aged 7, during an epidemic. His parents administered a painful treatment, developed by Sister Elizabeth Kenny, where hot woolen blankets were applied to the limbs and the muscles were stretched by massage. This treatment, though brutal, allowed Alda to recover much movement.
Alan Toy – (24 May 1950) Alan is a lifelong activist/organizer in the disability community, working to increase individual and community-based empowerment. He is a Project Director at the UCLA Policy Forum’s Neighborhood Knowledge Research Center, in the School of Public Policy and Social Research, where he is the manager of several online projects that assist people with disabilities with their day-to-day independent living needs. Alan Toy got polio in 1953 at the age of 3. “By the time I was 5,” he says, “I was involved in fund-raising activities from being skipper-for-a-day on U.S. destroyers to drag racing to bake sales to interviews. I was the poster boy for polio in my area of the world.” In true polio survivor fashion, he had disdained a wheelchair until that time. “I told people here that they should hire people with disabilities because they know how to use the equipment, for one thing. Having said that, I thought I’d better learn myself.
David Sanborn – saxophonist (born July 30, 1945) is an American alto saxophonist, most commonly associated with radio-friendly smooth jazz and pop-jazz fusion. He has been a highly regarded the late 1960s, playing with an array of well-known artists, such as Eric Clapton, Roger Daltrey, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Jaco Pastorius, the Brecker Brothers, David Bowie, Little Feat, Bob James, James Taylor, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Joe Beck, Donny Hathaway, Elton John, Gil Evans, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Billy Joel, Roger Waters, Steely Dan, Ween, The Eagles, the German group Nena, and Japanese pop star Utada Hikaru. Sanborn was born in Tampa, Florida and grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri. He suffered from polio in his youth, and began playing the saxophone on a physician’s advice to strengthen his weakened chest muscles and improve his breathing.
Joni Mitchell – (born Roberta Joan Anderson – November 7, 1943) is a Canadian musician, songwriter, and painter. At the age of nine, Mitchell contracted polio during a Canadian epidemic, but recovered after a stay in the hospital. It was during this time that she first became interested in singing. As a teenager, she taught herself ukulele and, later, guitar and began performing at parties, which eventually led to busking and gigs playing in coffeehouses and other venues in Saskatoon. Mitchell achieved fame in the late 1960s and was considered a key part of the Southern California folk rock scene.
Ann Adams – (1937-1992) artist (by mouth) Adams had not breathed on her own for over forty years, and though she could not use her hands, her mind was far from being handicapped. Paralyzed from the neck down, she was able to move only a few facial and neck muscles. At the age of nineteen, Ann married an Annapolis Naval Officer. At twenty-one, she gave birth to her son, Kenny, and two years later, in 1950, she was struck with polio. After polio struck, Ann spent a year-and-a-half in Jacksonville, and the following year-and-a-half in a rehab center in North Carolina. The next five years of her life were spent in the strict cloister of an iron lung. The National Foundation For Infantile Paralysis provided equipment and nursing services which kept her alive.
Tony Gould – An award-winning English journalist, Gould contracted polio when he was twenty in 1959. Tony Gould was for many years a BBC radio producer and literary editor of New Society magazine. He is a writer and reviewer, two of his books are, A Summer Plague: Polio and Its Survivors and Don�t Fence Me In. Gould acknowledges that most of the world’s population has not yet received anti-polio vaccine and that much remains to be learned about post-polio syndrome. In the 1970’s and into the 1980’s there was an increasing medical ignorance about polio; “people troubled by its after-effects were dismissed by doctors either as hypochondriacs or, worse, neurotics in need of psychiatric treatment.”
Sir Walter Scott – (15 August 1771 , 21 September 1832) was a prolific Scottish historical novelist and poet popular throughout Europe during his time. In some ways Scott was the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime, with many contemporary readers all over Europe, Australia, and North America. His novels and poetry are still read, and many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of The Lake , Waverley and The Heart of Midlothian.
Georgia Coleman – (January 23, 1912 , September 14, 1940) was an American diver who competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics and in the 1932 Summer Olympics. In 1928 she won the silver medal in the 10 metre platform event as well as the bronze medal in the 3 metre springboard competition. Four years later she won the gold medal in the 3 metre springboard event as well as the silver medal in the 10 metre platform competition. She was born in St. Maries, Idaho. Georgia Suffered of polio throughout her life.
Sir John Cotesworth Slessor – (3 June 1897 , 12 July 1979) was a senior commander in the Royal Air Force. A pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I, he held operational commands during World War II and served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1950 to 1952. After leaving the RAF in 1919, Slessor was offered a short-service commission the following year as a Flight Lieutenant. Slessor published two books after his retirement from the RAF in 1953, his autobiography The Central Blue (1956) and The Great Deterrent (1957).
Ray Peterson – (April 23, 1935 , January 25, 2005) Peterson was an American pop music singer. As a boy he had to overcome polio. Blessed with a 4.5-octave singing voice, he embedded his voice to become the Golden Voice of Rock and Roll. He recorded several songs that were minor hits until “The Wonder of You” made it into the Billboard Top Thirty list (June 15, 1959). The song would later be recorded by Elvis Presley with whom he became close friends. Ray Peterson died of cancer in 2005 in Smyrna, Tennessee and was interred in the Roselawn Memorial Gardens cemetery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Arthur Guyton – (September 8, 1919 – April 3, 2003) was an American physiologist. Guyton is most famous for his experiments in the 1950s which studied the physiology of cardiac output and its relationship with the peripheral circulation. It was this work which overturned the conventional wisdom that it was the heart itself that controlled cardiac output. Guyton instead demonstrated that it was the need of the body tissues for oxygen which was the real regulator of cardiac output. Arthur Guyton�s research contributions, which include more than 600 papers and 40 books, are legendary and place him among the greatest figures in the history of cardiovascular physiology. His research covered virtually all areas of cardiovascular regulation and led to many seminal concepts that are now an integral part of our understanding of cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension, heart failure, and edema.
William Alexander Gadsby – (born August 9, 1926 in Calgary, Alberta) was a Canadian professional ice hockey defense man who played for the Chicago Black Hawks, New York Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings in the National Hockey League. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1970. In 1998, he was ranked number 99 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. Gadsby is currently an “Honored Member” of the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association and is active in its efforts to raise money for children’s charities in Metro Detroit.
Dennis Washington – (born 1934) Dennis is a Montana-based industrialist and philanthropist who owns, or owns controlling interest in, a large consortium of privately held companies collectively known as the Washington Companies. With an estimated current net worth of around $3.4 billion, he is ranked by Forbes as the 102nd-richest person in America. In the 1970s he moved into mining and dam construction. In 1986 he acquired a copper and molybdenum mine at Butte, Montana. He successfully reopened the mine and it became a very profitable operation. This success helped him diversify into railroads, marine services, coastal shipping, aviation and real estate. In 1996 Washington Construction acquired global construction and engineering company Morrison-Knudsen Corporation of Boise, Idaho, creating Washington Group International.
Frida Kahlo – (July 6, 1907 , July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter, who has achieved great international popularity. She painted using vibrant colors in a style that was influenced by indigenous cultures of Mexico as well as by European influences that include Realism, Symbolism, and Surrealism. Many of her works are self-portraits that express her own pain symbolically and her sexuality. They shared political views, and he encouraged her artistic endeavors. Frida developed polio when she was six. Polio made her right leg weaker and smaller than the left.
Lis Hartel – (born March 14, 1921) Lis Hartel was a Danish equestrian athlete. Hartel became the first woman in equestrianism to win an Olympic medal when she won silver medals at the 1952 and 1956 Summer Olympics in dressage. She accomplished this feat despite being paralysed below the knees as a result of polio and required assistance on and off her horse. After three years of rehabilitation, she was able to compete in the Scandinavian riding championships and finished second in women’s dressage.
Wah Ming Chang – (August 2, 1917,December 22, 2003) was a Chinese American designer, sculptor, and artist. He is known primarily for his sculpture and the props he designed for Star Trek (the original series), including the tricorder, and communicator. Chang’s communicator design has been credited as an inspiration for modern flip-type cell phones. His Balok effigy repeated after each episode as part of Star Trek’s closing credits with its small chin, almond-shaped eyes and large cranium, did much to establish and popularize the archetype of humanoid extraterrestrial life.
Paul Winchell – (December 21, 1922 , June 24, 2005) Paul Winchell was an American ventriloquist and voice actor from New York City whose career flourished in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also an amateur inventor who was the first person to build and patent a mechanical, artificial heart, implantable in the chest cavity. He was very interested in medicine and studied pre-med at Columbia University. He graduated from The Acupuncture Research College of Los Angeles in 1974, and became an acupuncturist. He also worked as a medical hypnotist at the Gibbs Institute in Hollywood.
Claudius – (August 1, 10 BC ,October 13, AD) Claudius was the fourth Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, ruling from January 24, AD 41 to his death in AD 54. Born in Lugdunum in Gaul (modern-day Lyon, France), to Drusus and Antonia Minor, he was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italia. Claudius was considered a rather unlikely man to become emperor. He was reportedly afflicted with some type of disability, and his family had virtually excluded him from public office until his consulship with his nephew Caligula in AD 37. This infirmity may have saved him from the fate of many other Roman nobles during the purges of Tiberius’ and Caligula’s reigns. His very survival led to his being declared emperor after Caligula’s assassination, at which point he was the last adult male of his family.
Joni Mitchell – (born November 7, 1943) Joni Mitchell is a Canadian musician, songwriter, and painter. Mitchell’s singing began in small nightclubs and busking on the streets of Toronto and in her native Western Canada. She subsequently became associated with the burgeoning folk music scene of the mid-1960s in New York City. Mitchell achieved fame in the late 1960s and was considered a key part of the Southern California folk rock scene. Throughout the 1970s, she explored and combined the pop and jazz genres. Mitchell is also an accomplished visual artist. She has, through photography or painting, created the artwork for each of her albums and, in 2000, in an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail, described herself as a “painter derailed by circumstance”. A blunt critic of the music industry, Mitchell had stopped recording over the last several years, focusing mainly on her visual art, but in 2007 released Shine, her first album of new songs in nine years.
Siptah – Akhenre Setepenre Siptah or Merneptah Siptah was the penultimate ruler of the 19th Dynasty and the son of an obscure Queen named Sutailja, of Asiatic origin. His father’s identity is currently unknown. Both Seti II and Amenmesse have been suggested. He was not the crown prince, but succeeded to the throne as a child after the death of Seti II. His accession date occurred on II Peret day 2 around the month of December. Siptah ruled Egypt for almost 6 years as a young man. His stepmother and Seti II’s Chief Queen, Twosret, became the Queen Regent at the Royal Court because of his relative youth. Siptah was only a child of ten or eleven years when he assumed power since a medical examination of his mummy reveals the king to have been a teenager of about 16 years old at death.
Bhagwat Subramanya Chandrasekhar – Cricket Champion from India
Bill Cullen – (1920-1990) game show host
Buddy Daley – Baseball All-Star (1959 and 1960)
Cathy Rigby’s –
CeDell Davis – Jazz Guitarist
Charles E. Bennett – (1911-2003) longtime US Congressman, Florida
Dick Cabela – outdoorsman and founder of “Cabela’s”
Dorothea Lange – (1895-1965): photographer
Dr. Albert Sabin – (1906-1993
Dr. Jonas Salk – (1914-1995),
Ed Roberts – (1939-1995) Father of the Independent Living Movement
Edna Marie Moore – (1930-1989) Texas artist
Egbert Hamilton Walker – (1899-1991) Smithsonian Institute Botanist
Eleanor Abbott – designed the game CandyLand
Elizabeth Twistington Higgins – (1923-1990): MBE, English ballet dancer and artist
Elmer L. Andersen – (1910-2005): former Minnesota Governor, businessman
Ethelda Blaibtrey – (1902-1978): olympic gold medalist for swimming
Francis Ford Coppola – director
Harold Brooks-Baker – (1933-2005): publisher
Henrietta Wyeth Hurd – (1907-1997): artist
Henry Holden – actor, comedian, athlete, activist
Hildegard Knef – (1925-2002): German actress, singer, writer
Horace Parlan – pianist
Hugh Gregory Gallagher – author and historian
Ida Louise Anderson – (1900-1941): broadcast radio pioneer
Ida Lupino – (1917-1995): London-born actress, director, screenwriter
Itzhak Perlman – internationally acclaimed violinist
J. Robert Oppenheimer – (1904-1967): physicist and teacher
James DePriest – musician, composer, arranger and conductor
James Drury – actor, “The Virginian”
Jean Chr�tien – former Prime Minister of Canada
Jerome Solon Felder – (1925-1991): songwriter, Doc Pomus
John East – (1931-1986): US Senator
John Hager – Lieutenant Governor, Virginia
John Prestwich – MBE, longest respirator user (Guinness Book of World Records)
Joseph (Joey) Velez – (1925-2002): Golden Gloves Boxer
Julius (Julie) Bort – (1922-1996) boxer
Julius Robert Oppenheimer –
Justin Dart – activist
Katie Eastman –
Lauro Halstead – doctor.
Lionel Barrymore – (1878-1954): actor
Lois Catherine Marshall – (1924-1997): Canadian singer in the 50s and 60s
Lord Snowden – photographer, UK (Princess Margaret’s former husband)
Margaret “Peg” Phillips – (1918-2002): actress (Ruth-Anne on “Northern Exposure”)
Margarete Steiff – (1847-1909): German seamstress who founded Steiff Teddy Bears
Marjorie Lawrence – world famous dramatic opera singer:
Martin Milner – actor
Mary Francis – (1924-2000)
Mel Ferrar – actor
Nyla Thompson – mouth artist
Oscar G. Heirlihy – Radio and TV Pioneer, Newfoundland
Owen Roizman – cinematographer, 5 Oscar nominations and Lifetime Achievement Award
Peter Preston – British writer and Guardian editor, 1975 through 1995
Ray Ewry – (1873-1937) Track & Field Olympic Champion
Ruma – ancient Syrian
Sir Julian Critchley – (1930-2000): journalist, author and member of the House of Commons
Tanaquil Le Clercq – (1929-2000): ballet dancer
Tenley Albright – doctor and olympic gold medalist for figure skating
Victor Woodrow Wertz – (1925-1983): Baseball All-Star
Walter “Buddy” Davis – Broad Jump Olympic Champion, Basketball
Walter Jackson – (1938-1983) lead singer of the “Velvetones”