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Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Are No Match for These Celebrities

1. Whoopi Goldberg

American actress, comedienne, singer, and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award, and she was the second black woman in the history of the Academy Awards to win an Oscar. She also has noise-induced hearing loss. In a 2011 interview with the National Enquirer, she attributed her hearing difficulties to “years and years of listening to music so loudly and so close to the delicate ear drum.” She now wears hearing aids in both ears and speaks openly about her condition on The View, a talk show in which she stars.

Fun fact: Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson. Her stage name was inspired by every jokester’s go-to prank toy, a whoopee cushion, and she adopted the last name Goldberg because her mother thought she would do better in Hollywood with a Jewish last name.

 

2. Kiefer Sutherland

Years of action scenes with gunshots and explosion effects have left American actor Kiefer Sutherland with profound hearing loss in one ear and partial hearing loss in the other. With a resume including movies like A Time to Kill and the TV series 24, it’s easy to imagine just how often Sutherland found himself exposed to these loud and damaging noises. He says that he’s unable to wear ear plugs or other protection because dialogue often follows loud sounds, and he has to be able to hear the cues for his lines.

Fun Fact: Sutherland left acting in the 1990s to pursue his other love: the rodeo. Inspired by the films Young Gun and The Cowboy Way, he even won a few national roping competitions in Phoenix and Albuquerque.

 

3. William Shatner

Especially famous for his portrayal of Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, Canadian actor William Shatner has experienced tinnitus for decades. Shatner and late actor Leonard Nimoy both acquired the condition after a pyrotechnics accident during the shooting of the Star Trek episode “The Apple.” Afterward, Shatner began a form of tinnitus retraining therapy in which he wore a small electronic device that generated white noise in order to train his brain to shift attention away from the ringing sound. He’s an avid supporter of the American Tinnitus Association and their search for a cure.

Fun Fact: Shatner sold a kidney stone for $25,000 and used the money, along with another $20,000 raised from the cast and crew of Boston Legal, to fund the building of a house by Habitat for Humanity.

 

4. Halle Berry

The first black woman to win the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar, Halle Berry is known throughout the world. She is famous for many large acting roles in films such as the X-Men series, Die Another Day, and Cloud Atlas. What’s more, Berry lost 80% of hearing ability in her left ear after being hit in the head during a domestic violence incident. Today, she’s one of Hollywood’s biggest advocates for domestic violence awareness.

Fun Fact: Berry was a pageant queen before entering the movie world. She was first runner-up in the Miss USA Pageant and finished 6th in the 1986 Miss World Pageant.

 

5. Holly Hunter

American actress Holly Hunter can’t hear in her left ear because of a childhood case of the mumps. She’s reported that some scenes have been slightly altered from scripts so that she can better use her right ear, but these obstacles haven’t kept her from being highly successful. She won four major awards for her portrayal of Ada McGrath in The Piano, including an Academy Award for Best Actress. She’s also known for her work in the films Thirteen and Saving Grace as well as her voice portrayal of Elastigirl in Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles.

Fun fact: Hunter got her first roles in theatre in Crimes of the Heart on Broadway and Off-Broadway’s The Miss Firecracker Contest after being trapped in an elevator for ten minutes with playwright Beth Henley. Talk about working on your elevator pitch!

 

6. will.i.am

Best known as a member of the major music group The Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am recently told the world that he’s a longtime sufferer of tinnitus. He doesn’t know how long he’s had the condition, but notes that it has gradually gotten worse and is extremely painful for him. He finds solace in his work, as speech and music distract him from his symptoms. Because of this, he works relentlessly, which is demonstrated by the seven Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, Billboard Music Award, Teen Choice Award, two MTV Video Music Awards, and three World Music Awards he and the Black Eyed Peas have won.

Fun fact: will.i.am did a voice portrayal as Moto Moto in Madagascar 2: Escape to Africa and Pedro in both Rio and Rio 2!

 

7. Phil Collins

Singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and seven-time Grammy winner Phil Collins is one of the most successful musicians alive. He created award-winning music as a soloist and with the band Genesis, and he was named number 22 of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time.” However, Collins experienced what’s commonly known as sudden hearing loss. He was winding down after a relatively uneventful day of recording in the studio and playing with his daughter when suddenly, he couldn’t hear in his left ear. Collins’ sudden hearing loss was likely due to stress and overwork. He has since retired, but recently announced that he’d like to begin songwriting once again.

Fun fact: Collins has a huge interest in the Alamo and has collected hundreds of artifacts from the battle. He even wrote a book about his journey to find all of them! He eventually donated his whole collection to the museum that currently marks and celebrates the battleground.

 

Last updated: March 23, 2015

 

Related Information:

Even more famous people with hearing loss

Learn more about the causes of tinnitus

Did you know these things about noise-induced hearing loss?

 

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