7 Physical Mutations That Helped Famous Careers
We bet every one of you reading this has one weird thing about your body you'd change if you could -- maybe you have an eye that's slightly lower than the other, or a nasty little scar on your lower back where your tail used to be. We all want to be perfect.
But not so fast. As a whole bunch of famous people can tell you, a horrible deformity and/or physical mutilation can be the difference between failure and stardom. For instance ...
Sylvester Stallone: An Iconic Face by Way of Botched Childbirth
Let's not mince words here. In terms of full-on acting chops, Stallone isn't much more impressive than any other action star. You know, except for the part where he wrote, starred in and received Academy Award nominations for one of the greatest films of all time. In fact, thanks to Rocky, Stallone was only the third person at the time to be nominated for both acting and writing in the same year. The other two? Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles (for Citizen Kane, no less).
So, yes, maybe he's got that over the Steven Seagals of the world, regardless of the Judge Dredd-level turds that followed.
The gun later won an Oscar.
Now ask yourself -- would anybody have given a shit about Rocky if the studio had gotten their way and cast a star like Burt Reynolds or Ryan O'Neal in the lead role? The whole point was that this guy was a schlub, a down-and-out boxer. Something about Stallone in that role just made people believe in it.
Specifically, his face. The face that looked like it had spent decades taking blows to the jaw. You can say the same thing about First Blood -- this time a down-and-out soldier instead of a down-and-out boxer. The signature Stallone roles just wouldn't feel right without that signature fucked-up face giving his mouth a permanent snarl. But how the hell did it get that way?
Just try to imagine him screaming anything but "Adrian!" It can't be done.
As romantic as it would be to blame Stallone's droopy face on a lifetime of hard living and tough breaks, Stallone's lazy facial features are actually due to Bell's palsy, a facial nerve paralysis condition that was caused by birth complications. Namely, he was yanked into the world with forceps that also came into less than pleasant contact with his face and severed a nerve, effectively paralyzing the lower left half of his face (including a bit of his tongue). And just like that, literally, a star was born. Schwarzenegger only wishes he were that lucky.
Which is why he'll be returning for a third term as governor and swapping punches with Mr. T.
Paul Stanley of Kiss Became a Rocker Because of a Deformed Ear
Paul Stanley is the lead singer of Kiss, which may not be a big deal to you young kids who don't remember when Kiss was the biggest band in the world (they sold 100 million freaking albums worldwide). But there's one other thing you need to know:
Paul Stanley has a jacked up ear, you guys.
So jacked up. Jacked up like it's not really even an ear. Can you see it in that picture up there? Of course you can't, and that's going to be the whole point right after we tell you that if you could see Paul Stanley's right ear it would look kind of like this ...
Under all that decoration, he's really an 8-month-old child.
It's a rare congenital deformity called microtia, where the fleshy part of the outer ear is extremely underdeveloped or absent entirely, leaving poor Paul Stanley with no ear canal and, naturally, no hearing in his right ear.
As you can imagine, having a fleshy Cheeto where his ear should be made Paul Stanley the target of schoolyard teasing and bullying. His solution was to grow his hair long to cover it up. Problem solved! However, he was now facing another dilemma: With that hair, he couldn't really hang with the jock crowd, because jocks are assholes, especially jocks with long hair. Despite growing up right around the time when hippies controlled the land, he never really fell in with that crowd either.
"No, go away. My unruly hair and face paints have built an impenetrable barrier between us."
Luckily, his long-maned look provided a third option: Paul Stanley could hang out with the rockers. The rest, as they say, is history. Of course, we're not saying that Paul Stanley would never have pursued a musical career without his microtia. We don't need to, because here's a video of the man saying it himself.
Stanley had the cosmetic aspects of the ear somewhat fixed when he was in his thirties and nowadays sports a bone-conduction hearing aid, which is the perfect name for a hearing aid worn by the front man of Kiss.
He could have literally sculpted his ear into a demon lord's, but went for the "saggy old man" look.
Incidentally, in a very non-Kiss-like move (because it's for charity and not profit), Stanley actively participates in awareness programs where he freely talks about his handicap, and acts as the spokesman for the Canadian AboutFace foundation. Probably because there are more bears in Canada, so they need to hear a lot better than people in the United States.
That might not be why, though.
Multiple Singers Have Ridden Throat Trauma to Success
Bonnie Tyler is a Welsh-born singer with the unfortunate real name of Gaynor Hopkins. Tone Loc is a Los Angeles based rapper whose real name matters even less. She had a massive hit in the 1980s with "Total Eclipse of the Heart," he was in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Oh, and he released that "Wild Thing" song, too. Maybe you know it from developing a healthy hatred for it after hearing it for the 874th time in 1989 alone.
Under federal law you can kick him once in the junk without consequences.
But the similarities between Bonnie Tyler and Tone Loc don't end with their shared status as couple-of-hit wonders. Much like a Stallone film isn't a Stallone film without a paralyzed lower lip, a song by either of these two just wouldn't pack the same punch without those voices: raspy, sandpaper-like, as if they've been gargling badgers. It must be nice to born with such a gift. Too bad neither of these two were.
They had to get their excessively manly voices the hard way ... through horrific medical care. In Tone Loc's case, the problem, like so many problems for so many people before him, can be traced back to shitty parenting. After he came down with a bout of strep throat at age 13, Tone Loc's mother mixed him up a concoction of hot tea and brandy, because booze shuts up fussy kids. That's parenting 101.
Tip for an overdue pregnancy: Playing "Wild Thing" will ensure the baby will not want to stick around any longer.
One problem, though: The tea was absurdly hot and, likely after realizing he had a shot in his hand, Tone Loc slammed it down his gullet without a second thought. The ensuing carnage scarred his vocal chords and left him with a voice that sounded like heaven when paired with a Van Halen sample he probably should have been sued for using without permission.
For Bonnie Tyler, the circumstances were even more troubling. She had already released her debut single before things turned for what probably seemed like the worse at the time. Check it ...
No sign of rasp, right? Now, let's check out her breakthrough single from the very next year:
Clearly, something had changed. Something had changed and, if our ears aren't mistaken, it likely involved swallowing shards of glass. It turns out Bonnie had a major problem standing between her and a full time singing career: She had been diagnosed with vocal fold nodules, tiny lumps of meat that can mess up vocal cords something awful. After her first single, she decided to get the problem fixed for good and went under the knife. The surgery went without a hitch, and the doctor sent Bonnie home with one instruction: She was not to speak for six weeks for the vocal cords to heal properly.
To this, Bonnie Tyler apparently said, "What are you, some kind of doctor or something?" For reasons that were probably unknown even to herself, Bonnie decided to ignore the doctor's orders completely and spent the healing period being less than careful about her voice, up to and including full throttle screaming. As a result, her voice got the instant whiskey treatment, making her the female Rod Stewart.
Or maybe just the Rod Stewart Rod Stewart.
Thomas Edison Became a Genius (and a Dick) Due to Deafness
While he never used his disability to scale to heights anywhere near as epic as the Destroyer album like Paul Stanley did, Thomas Edison still deserves a healthy amount of respect for overcoming significant hearing loss to do whatever less important bullshit he did with his life, which involved something along the lines of holding 1,093 successful patents. It's no "Detroit Rock City," but people remember him anyway.
We have pointed out several times that Edison was kind of a dick, but that's not exactly an uncommon trait among the great creative thinkers. Going "outside the box" means constant disagreement with contemporaries, a rejection of traditional methods and a steadfast belief that you're right, no matter what they say. It requires living in a mental bubble. And to that end, near-deafness was a blessing for Edison.
"I DIDN'T CATCH THAT, TESLA. WHAT SORT OF CURRENT?"
Edison lost virtually all hearing as a child for reasons that aren't known for certain, though there are several theories floating around, none of which involve explosions, so we won't recount them here. Whatever the reason, Edison's subsequent difficulty to hear others around him made him live his formative years as a relative recluse in a silent, brooding world of his own after his mother withdrew him from school.
"I've been 'peeling your lideas'? You're speaking gibberish, man."
Unable to make friends or do normal little kid stuff, young Edison started reading his little ass off. He obsessed over the sciences, particularly physics and figuring out how electricity works. And here's the thing -- because he wasn't being taught by anyone in any formal setting, he was able to think outside the box, chasing down the newest and most radical theories instead of whatever bullshit they were teaching in high school.
Or, to put it in Edison's own "dickish" way, "Deaf people should take to reading. It beats the babble of ordinary conversation."
"Everyone is a prick but me."
Tony Iommi Mutilated His Fingers, Invented Heavy Metal
You might not immediately realize it, but the John Oates prototype you see in the above photo invented the sound we've all come to know as heavy metal. His name is Tony Iommi and he's the guitarist and only consistent member of rock visionaries Black Sabbath.
His groundbreaking guitar techniques and tritone riffs are widely credited for launching an entire genre, while his mustache/perm combo is credited for creating the classic '70s porn star look . But it wasn't the hair or killer mustache that compelled Tony Iommi to rock as hard as he does. It was his grotesquely mutilated fingers.
There are only two careers you can have with that facial hair, and the world already had a Ron Jeremy.
While working in a Birmingham factory as a teen, silly Tony managed to get his hand caught in the machinery, an accident that severed the tips of the middle and ring fingers of his right hand. No worries. Instead of hanging up his dreams of rock glory, Tony Iommi just invented a completely new way of playing guitar to better accommodate his destroyed digits. He incorporated tweaks like using lighter banjo strings and tuning his guitar down three semi-tones, which is technical-speak for making your guitar sound like the breath of the devil.
He's only looking upward because Satan is requesting "Stairway to Heaven." The guy's a dick.
Because the setup he landed on proved to be a comfortable one, he stuck with it. As luck would have it, the alterations had a vast effect on his guitar sound, creating a deep, booming sound that was hitherto unheard of. Iommi liked the sound and adopted it as his own. This forced Geezer Butler, the Sabbath bassist, to downtune his bass to match the strange new noise Iommi was blasting at him.
Also he removed a hand to one-up Iommi, but no one noticed because he's a bass player.
As a result, the whole Sabbath sound, while essentially blues rock at heart, became heavier and more ominous than anything else around. Add some dark lyrical themes and catchy tunes and lo and behold, heavy metal was born, due to an industrial accident. Just like Satan intended.
Winston Churchill's Stuttering Made Him a Great Speaker
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was the fancily named prime minister who led Great Britain through World War II with his inspired leadership, giant cigars and handsome, masculine jowls. He is widely considered to be one of the most eloquent and quotable speakers in history. For that last part, you should consider showing some damn respect.
It's a fact now mostly lost to history that, while navigating his way through complex and emotional moments like the famous "Iron Curtain Speech" (not to mention ensuring that Adolf Hitler didn't goose step England into anti-Semite rubble), Winston Churchill was quietly struggling with a severe stuttering problem. It borders on unbelievable that a man with one of the most impressive resumes of epic speeches and massively quotable offhand quips and remarks of all time did it all while teetering on the brink of incoherent stuttering. It's even weirder that it was because of said stuttering.
Winston "Sometimes I Wasn't Drunk" Churchill.
See, in order to overcome his speech impediment, Churchill made sure everything he said was planned and written in advance. Everything. Not just speeches, but all of those little quotes and jokes and quips and comebacks were all in his head well before he ever said them. Because he didn't want to have to think too hard about things and, in turn, stutter like a buffoon (no offense, stutterers of the world!), Churchill would study any issue about which he may have been called upon to speak and determine what objections people might bring up before even stating his case. If you planned to call Winston Churchill fat, he probably knew to bring up your mom's drinking problem in response to shut you up.
His trigger finger stuttered, too. Forty men died.
And guess what? A funny thing happens when you spend so much time studying up on the various intricacies and angles of doing your job and how the world works in general ... you end up doing your job extremely well. All of that intense studying of not only his viewpoints on the ridiculously pressing issues of the day but also the viewpoints of those who would dare to disagree made Churchill far and away one of the most knowledgeable and effective leaders of his or any other time. Just ask anyone in England who isn't a Nazi right now, they'll surely agree. People appreciated Winston Churchill's unwavering dedication to not sounding like a jackass in public.
"When in doubt, wave your fingers at people."
Teddy Roosevelt Overcame Every Ailment He Had to Become Unspeakably Awesome
Theodore Roosevelt was the leader of the Rough Riders, the 26th President of the United States and the kind of guy who sometimes likes to ride a giant moose over a river for shits and giggles.
"How do you go mermaid hunting?"
We have discussed him before, and if it isn't apparent yet, we kind of hold the man in pretty high regard. So, if we like him, you know he must have been pretty incredible. But you have no idea how incredible this man was until you take into account all of the various ailments and afflictions that he had to overcome in his life. From life-threatening asthma to constant bouts of illness to nearly nonexistent eyesight, Roosevelt was such a weak and sickly child that he wasn't realistically expected to survive into adulthood.
His father, however, had other ideas. Knowing that young Theodore was a goddamn Roosevelt and therefore roughly 10 times more manly from the get-go than mere mortals, he introduced the child to the traditional family way of dealing with shit, and its basic tenet was simple: If life gives you lemons ...
... punch it in the dick until it doesn't.
Young Teddy took his father's advice to "make his own body" to heart and decided that he had indeed had enough of sickness' shit. He went from a faint lily-of-the-valley to a vigorous athlete and outdoors advocate overnight, climbing mountains with lungs that the doctors had warned could collapse from climbing the stairs.
Roosevelt gave his new life ethic the name of The Strenuous Life, a concept he would later take every opportunity to preach to the American public, and it basically amounted to taking up every physical activity a person could imagine all at once. This was a man who spent much of his childhood confined to a bed, and he was determined to make up for lost time. This resulted in his evolving from a shell of a man into something that looks like it should have been in an X-Men comic ...
"Adamantium isn't nearly as hard as Rooseveltium."
... until he took his final form as the man you know: A war hero, the youngest president to ever hold the office and the hardest motherfucker to ever walk the Earth.
His constant cockfight against the weaknesses mere genetics dealt him lasted throughout his life, and is therefore directly responsible for exactly 100 percent of everything badass he ever did. Really, the only one of his ailments that never really affected him positively was his legendarily poor eyesight ...
"I fixed our badger problem."
Unless of course you count the time when it totally saved his life from an assassination attempt, because the bullet was slowed down by both the large-fonted and therefore insanely thick speech in his breast pocket ... and his spectacles case.
Naturally, T.R. kept the bullet as a souvenir. Inside his body.
Pauli Poisuo once stubbed a toe and now writes Internet comedy. Visit him at the Unpronounceable.
For more odd ways celebrities hit it big, check out 7 Celebrity Careers That Launched by Accident and 5 Celebrity Careers Launched by Ethnic Makeovers.