4 People With an Extremely Poetic Achilles’ Heel
We all have our weaknesses — some of us can’t enjoy a trip to the circus for fear the clowns will eat us, others can’t walk down the pillow aisle at Target without stroking all the fluffy ones (no one you know). Maybe you can’t be in the same room with a cat without sneezing until it gets offended. You probably wouldn’t then go into the field of cat-wrangling, let alone become the best cat-wrangler the world has ever seen. But a few brave souls have not only faced their weaknesses, they’ve triumphed in spite of them, sometimes without even knowing they existed.
Clint Eastwood Is Allergic to Horses
Do a Clint Eastwood impression. Come on, you know you want to. Go ahead, look in the mirror and ask it if it feels lucky. We’ll wait.
Okay, now relax your face, because you almost certainly scrunched your eyes up in that trademark Eastwood squint, and if you don’t stop, you’ll get stuck that way. Take it from the man himself, who wasn’t squinting in those famous westerns because it looks badass (although it does). Reportedly, it was a combination of the bright desert sun, the constant haze of cigar smoke and an allergy to horses.
It got so bad that he mostly stopped filming the genre that made him famous in the 1980s, but by then, the squint was his thing. His allergy apparently extends to all kinds of animal dander, which made filming Every Which Way But Loose with an orangutan similarly problematic. So don’t expect to see him in any live-action Garfield properties, as awesome as that would be.
Brian Wilson Is Afraid of the Ocean
The Beach Boys got famous writing extremely good songs about surfing, but as we found out later in their career, they’re mostly just extremely good at writing songs. They only wrote songs about surfing because Dennis Wilson begged them to do it; he was the only one who was ever really a surfer. “We all tried it, even Brian, but we were terrible,” Carl Wilson once recalled.
“Even Brian” is significant there, because ever since childhood, Brian Wilson has been terrified of the ocean. “I almost never went to the beach as a kid, even though it was only a few miles away,” he explained in his 2016 autobiography, because “I was scared at the size of it.” The beach was generally a miserable place for its most famous boy, who continued, “I had light skin that burned easily, and I didn’t like squinting against the sun for hours.”
Eventually, he did come to appreciate the ocean from a healthy distance. “I liked to look at it,” he said. “It was sort of like a piece of music: Each of the waves was moving around by itself, but they were also moving together.” He did indeed try surfing once, but he “got conked on the head with the board” and was too scared to ever try it again. It turns out not everybody was, in fact, surfin’ USA.
Andre de Doth Couldn’t See in 3D
3D movies were to the 1950s what superhero movies were to the 2010s, though it was a mercifully much shorter-lived fad that required only slightly goofier accessories. In the race to produce the first major studio 3D movie, House of Wax emerged victorious, becoming the most profitable movie in relation to its budget at the time. It’s still considered one of the best 3D movies ever.
Back then, the 3D effect was accomplished by filming with two cameras, each standing in for the left and right eye. You’d think that sort of setup would require a director with a deep understanding of how binocular vision works, but Andre de Toth was the exact opposite, as he was blind in one eye. He’d lost half his vision in an accident in his youth, though he refused to ever elaborate, forcing us to conclude it was somehow masturbatory in nature.
Not even he could explain how he pulled it off — again, he couldn’t see it. “Andre de Toth was a very good director, but he really was the wrong director for 3D,” House of Wax star Vincent Price later said. “He’d go to the rushes and say, ‘Why is everybody so excited about this?’ It didn’t mean anything to him.” Despite this, de Toth went on to direct several more 3D movies, presumably just to dab on the haters.
Astronaut Harrison Schmitt Is Allergic to Moon Dust
Most of these people knew damn well what they were getting into, but there was no way for Schmitt to know about his affliction until he was already hundreds of thousands of miles away from Earth. As a geologist (read: fancy rock collector), the Apollo 17 mission should have been a dream come true for Schmitt — the chance to collect rocks no one had ever collected before. And it was. There was just one problem, he discovered, floating an entire outer space away from the nearest emergency room. He was allergic to moon dust.
You might think, if you’ve exposed enough of your face holes to the surface of the moon to inhale moon dust, you’ve got bigger problems, but the issue didn’t emerge until he and everyone else was back on the lunar module. They’d all tracked in the dust, because this was apparently not a “shoes off” module, and as soon as Schmitt took off his helmet, “the inside of my nose became swollen, you could hear it in my voice. But that gradually went away for me, and by the fourth time I inhaled lunar dust, I didn’t notice that.”
That’s right: He started swelling up, and then just kept on keeping on. The man loves his rocks.
But he wasn’t the only one who had a bad reaction, or even the worst. “A flight surgeon taking suits out of the Apollo 17 command module, after we had splashed down, he had such a reaction that he had to stop doing what he was doing,” Schmitt explained.
Notably, no one has been to the moon since Schmitt’s mission. NASA hasn’t said it’s because they don’t know what kind of EpiPens to pack for alien dust allergies, but they haven’t said it’s not that either.