Did You Know?…(12)

What do Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, James Earl James, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis all have in common, aside from the fact that they are all famous? Well, they all suffered from stuttering at some point. Yes, each of these very accomplished individuals suffered at some time or other from a speech impediment, stuttering.

    • Marilyn Monroe‘s sensual breathy way of “mouthing” and speaking may have been her way of coping with stuttering. In a rare interview, Marilyn said that she would just suddenly begin to stutter at different times which she believed was triggered by feelings of nervousness and anxiety. *A long time acting coach advised her to speak in this over- exaggerated fashion as part of a tool/technique to help improve her acting.
    • There are still many arguments as to whether or not Winston Churchill actually had a stutter or a lisp, in which the “s” sounds like “sh”. Either way, it certainly didn’t stop him from being a most affective and infamous orator.
    • James Earl Jones spoke with Sarah Hartley, Mail on Sunday Health Editor, and was quoted as saying, “My stuttering was so bad, I barely spoke to anyone for eight years.” Evidently, sinusitis plagued him early on as well as many of his family members. This contributed to frequent instances of congestion which is believed to have impacted his issues with speech. Can you imagine missing out on a such a treat as the voice of James Earl Jones? Thankfully, we’ve been blessed to enjoy his wonderfully rich and robust voice by way of characters like “Darth Vader” in ‘Star Wars’ and “Mufasa” in the ‘Lion King’, just to name a few.
    • In an interview with Krishnan Guru Murthy, Samuel L. Jackson was said to have pretended, as a young boy in Tennessee, to be other people by creating characters who didn’t stutter, in hopes that he wouldn’t stutter. There’s a particular word of profanity that he is known to use in many of his movies. Apparently, Mr. Jackson mutters this world daily under his breath, as a kind of affirmation. Evidently, it works. Who would have thought that profanity would be a saving grace in an actor’s career and life? I won’t spell out this word, but lets just say, the initials are: MF
    • Bruce Willis once disclosed in an issue of GQ Magazine, that he had a terrible stutter that was so bad, he considered it to be a disability. He also says that ‘acting’ helped to cure his stutter. And thankfully so. Wow! Who knew?!

Stuttering is thought to be a neurological impairment of the brain, and is said to occur in children, mostly boys between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age. There’s another interesting fact about this subject that I simply must share before closing this post. I had both a lisp and a stutter as a young child. My friends have a hard time believing me, as they tend to feel that I speak with perfect diction, but is true. I can vaguely recall how frustrating it used to be for me, as I struggled to get my words out. Hey, I think I feel another post developing! Hmmm…what do you think?

By Sylvia Porter-Hall

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