#2. Marty Feldman: A Deformed Face Made for Comedy
Let's take a step back. Waaaay back. OK, imagine the complete opposite of Elizabeth Taylor.
20th Century Fox
OK, now stop. No, seriously, please stop. We don't want to play this game anymore.
That's Marty Feldman. You definitely remember him as Igor from Young Frankenstein, because let's face it, there's no way you'd forget that ugly mug. Feldman had one of those faces that inspire hilarity as soon as you see them, which is pretty helpful when you're a comedian, but not so much if you're a Supreme Court judge, for example.
And of course, the most distinguishing features in that face are the eyes, which look like they're trying to escape his skull in different directions. Believe it or not, those things aren't natural -- Feldman suffered from Graves' disease, a manifestation of hyperthyroidism characterized by distinctive bulging eyes. A less amusing side effect is that it leads to heart problems, which ended up killing both Feldman and fellow eye-popping comedian Rodney Dangerfield.
And here you assumed he looked like that due to cocaine. Tsk.
His peculiar look helped Feldman get a head start in comedy and got him his most famous role -- Gene Wilder saw him in a British TV show and wrote the part of Igor specifically for him. This is clear in the classic scene from Young Frankenstein where Wilder says, "Damn your eyes!" and Feldman turns to the screen and replies, "Too late." Yeah, that probably wouldn't have worked so well with Robert Redford or something.
And yet, Feldman almost ruined everything: When his hyperthyroidism manifested, he had an operation that would have turned his eyes "back to normal." Fortunately, the doctor botched it, and he ended up looking even worse.
"You bitch now, but if it was opposite day, the surgery would have been a smashing success!"
But Feldman didn't hold any grudges: When he was famous, he said that he could have his face fixed for good this time, but he didn't want to because, well, he'd kind of be screwed if he did.
#1. Two Different Diseases Caused JFK and Abraham Lincoln to Each Look Presidential
John "He Tapped That" Kennedy is one of the United States' most beloved presidents, and one of the most obvious qualities that made him so well-liked was his youthful vigor and movie star good looks: The guy always looked like he just walked in from tanning by the pool with a bunch of starlets. When compared to somebody like, say, Richard Nixon, the differences were striking.
"Can you repeat the question? I was too distracted making love to the audience with my eyes."
Meanwhile, read any one-sentence description of Abraham Lincoln and you will always get three things: beard, top hat, and "freakishly tall." He's still the nation's tallest president at 6 feet 4 inches, and the average person was way shorter back then (for instance, James Madison was only 5 feet 4 inches -- a full foot shorter). Lincoln's impressive and/or terrifying height made him stand out in any crowd, and he would even make visitors to the White House measure themselves against his massive frame. Lincoln wore that 8-inch-tall stovepipe hat to make himself tower over people even more -- he wanted to be larger than life.
Both men, Kennedy and Lincoln, owed their most striking features to diseases.
JFK suffered from Addison's disease, a malfunction of the adrenal glands that causes people to gain a misleadingly healthy-looking golden complexion. Here's a comparison between a person with Addison's and a healthy person of the same ethnic pigmentation -- both hands should have the same color.
The McGraw-Hill Companies/eMedicineHealth
This may be among the many diseases shared by the entire cast of Jersey Shore.
This curious side effect ended up working in Kennedy's favor. Rudimentary color televisions were gaining popularity for the first time in the early 1960s, and along comes a young-looking candidate with a permanent movie star tan (it also helped that Nixon had another condition that made his face look like a butt).
Kennedy always denied having Addison's disease, because the condition required constant treatment and could result in a coma, which isn't exactly a desirable feature for a president. Recently declassified medical files, however, confirmed that he did have the disease, and that it was more serious than everyone thought -- between 1955 and 1957, he was hospitalized nine times. Had Kennedy not been assassinated, the condition probably would have caused further complications down the line.
If the gonasyphaherpilitis didn't get him first.
Lincoln, on the other hand, may have owed his unnatural height, narrow face, long arms and legs, and small lower jaw to Marfan syndrome, a condition that weakens the connective tissue in your body. Some researchers disagree and claim that Lincoln's build was caused by a genetic mutation that is shared by 11 generations of Lincoln relatives -- either way, most researchers seem to agree that there was something wrong with his DNA.
But maybe we shouldn't say "wrong with" when we're talking about a politician in a world where we are more likely to see tall people as leaders, as a leftover psychological quirk from the days when leadership was defined by one's ability to wrestle a Bengal tiger. Oh, and remember when we said a narrow face is one of the symptoms of Marfan syndrome? Well, you might already know that Lincoln grew his iconic beard because a little girl wrote him a letter suggesting it. You might not know that she said he should do it because of his weird, thin face.
"Seriously, Abe, you're freaking people the fuck out."
For more mutants amongst us, check out 7 People From Around the World With Real Mutant Superpowers. Or check out while we'll soon all have our own comic book adventures in 5 Superpowers Science Will Give Us in Our Lifetime.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Signs the Backlash Against Justin Bieber Has Begun.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how you can become awesome like Ant-Man.
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