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A list of well known and famous people who have and had speech disorders


 Stuttering, also known as stammering in the United Kingdom, is a speech disorder in which the flow of speech is disrupted by involuntary repetitions and prolongations of sounds, syllables, words or phrases, and involuntary silent pauses or blocks in which the stutterer is unable to produce sounds.

Stuttering is generally not a problem with the physical production of speech sounds or putting thoughts into words. Despite popular perceptions to the contrary, stuttering does not affect and has no bearing on intelligence.

The disorder is also variable, which means that in certain situations, such as talking on the telephone, the stuttering might be more severe or less, depending on the anxiety level connected with that activity.

The severity of a stutter is often not constant even for severe stutterers. Stutterers commonly report dramatically increased fluency when talking in unison with another speaker, copying another’s speech, whispering, singing, and acting or when talking to pets, young children, or themselves.

In rare cases, stuttering may be acquired in adulthood as the result of a neurological event such as a head injury, tumour, stroke or drug abuse/misuse.

List of famous and well known people with speech differences:


Bruce Willis – Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is a German-born American actor and singer. He came to fame in the late 1980s and has since retained a career as both a Hollywood leading man and a supporting actor. Being the leading actor in some of the greatest action movies Bruce Willis has had stuttering problems throughout his youth and was always scared it would affect his acting career. Fortunately he successfully grew out of it not too much from a therapist but from being an actor, it actually removed his speech disorder.


Tiger Woods – Tiger Woods (born Eldrick Tiger Woods, December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Tiger Woods had stuttering problems at childhood but he got past it through hard work and practice. He admitted doing everything possible to conquer his speech disorder including talking to his dog until he would fall asleep. He did have a lot of help from his family, especially his mother. He then became one of the most successful golfers the world has ever known.


Julia Roberts – Academy Award-winning actress. Julia Fiona Roberts (born October 28, 1967) is an Academy Award winning American film actress and former fashion model. Roberts has become the highest paid actress in the world, topping the annual power list of top earning female stars for four consecutive years (2002-2005). Julia Roberts admitted the fact that she stuttered when she was younger without ever going into much detail, but she now speaks fluidly and is a respected actress.


Robert Merrill – Merrill was born Morris (Moishe) Miller in Brooklyn, New York, to shoe salesman Abraham Miller, originally Milstein, and his wife Lillian, nee Balaban. Relatively late in his singing career, Merrill also became known for singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Yankee Stadium. The opera show “La Traviata” inspired Robert to become an opera singer, this meant fighting his stuttering problems. He found that while he was singing his speech disorder would go away.


Mel Tillis – (born Lonnie Melvin Tillis August 8, 1932) is an American country music singer and songwriter. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and received the lifetime achievement award in 2007. He has also been inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. Tillis and his band, the Statesiders, released such hits as “I Ain’t Never,” “Good Woman Blues,” and “I Believe in You.” His stutter developed during his childhood, a result of a bout of malaria.


Anthony Quinn – (April 21, 1915 – June 3, 2001) Anthony Quinn launched his career by making several movies in 1936, the older he got the more successful his movies turned to be. He has taken many macho roles and has played in movies of all sorts. In most cases he was an actor with authority, a soldier, or mafia member. Anthony Quinn was not only a good actor but he was especially into art too, he often worked on paintings and sculptures finding his inspiration from the most simple things.


Jermain Taylor – (born August 11, 1978) Since early in his professional career, Taylor had been touted by many as being the heir apparent to middleweight king Bernard Hopkins. Taylor dominated all of his opponents at the beginning of his career, scoring wins over respectable fighters such as Raul Marquez and William Joppy. Jermain Taylor struggles with stuttering, mainly when he gets nervous, such as when doing numerous interviews as a boxing champion.


Bill Walton – (born November 5, 1952) Walton led the NBA in both rebounds per game and blocked shots per game in 1976-77, and was selected to the NBA All-Star Game but did not participate due to an injury. His ankle problems became so severe years later that he had both his ankles surgically fused. His saga of injury and failed rehabs was connected to the use of pain killers by the doctor who was assigned to his case. Walton has had a life long problem with his speech and communication skills.


Rubin Carter – Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (born May 6, 1937) Rubin Carter was a professional boxer who was involved in controversial murder case. For many years he fought for freedom and continued to claim his innocence. Many people still believe that Carter was innocent while other have the certitude that he was guilty all along. During his time in prison, Carter wrote his autobiography The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472, which was published in 1974. He maintained his innocence, and won increasing public support for a retrial or pardon. Rubin Carter has had stuttering problems since youth but it has been the least of his problems until his old age.


John Melendez – (born October 4, 1965) John Melendez is an American radio and television personality, which is by itself unique cosidering the fact that Melendez has had a life long stuttering problem. He became involved with the Howard Stern show and used his stuttering problems as an advantage, celebrities did not want to look bad by refusing to be interviewed by a stutterer. His stuttering and bad pronunciations of words became popular to the public and many found it funny to listen to. A good example of what this sometimes did is in the case where he would pronounce Nicholas Cage as “Niggaless Cage” or his wife Suzanna being pronounced “Suzanner”.


Jimmy Stewart – James Maitland Stewart (20 May 1908 – 2 July 1997), popularly known as Jimmy Stewart especially in the United States, was an iconic, Academy Award-winning American film and stage actor. Throughout his seven decades in Hollywood, Stewart featured in classics such as The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, It’s a Wonderful Life, Rear Window, Rope, and Vertigo. His stuttered speech, long legs and clumsy hands seemed to give his characters a familiar quality with which most Americans could easily identify. Jimmy Stewart, whose shy stutter and range of classic film roles made him the most loved and admired of all American actors. He died aged 89 having suffered from a variety of illnesses in the past decade, and had rarely ventured into public since the 1994 death of his wife, Gloria.


Eric Roberts – Eric Anthony Roberts (born on April 18, 1956, in Biloxi, Mississippi) is an Academy Award-nominated American film and stage actor. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1985 for his role as the escaped convict Buck in the film Runaway Train. In 1987, he won the Theatre World Award for his Broadway debut performance in Burn This. His sisters Julia Roberts and Lisa Roberts Gillan are also actors. Eric recently revealed he still suffers occasional stuttering relapses, most notably on a late night talk show. He said, “I got on a stuttering jag and the audience got uncomfortable and started laughing. I stayed relaxed, but I didn’t have the presence of mind, until afterwards, to acknowledge the stutter and put the audience at ease.”


Tom Sizemore – Thomas Edward Sizemore, Jr. (born September 29, 1964) is a Golden Globe-nominated American film and television actor. He is known for his supporting performances in several Hollywood films. One of Sizemore’s early film roles was in Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July in 1989. He has also appeared in films such as Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, True Romance, and Natural Born Killers. Sizemore continued to play leading and character parts in many films, notably Saving Private Ryan, HBO’s Witness Protection, Red Planet, Pearl Harbor, Devil in a Blue Dress, and Black Hawk Down.


Bill Withers – (born July 4, 1938 in Slab Fork, West Virginia) is an American singer-songwriter who performed and recorded from the late 1960s until the mid 1980s. Some of his best-known songs are “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me,” “Lovely Day,” “Lean on Me”, “Grandma’s Hands” and “Just the Two of Us”. Withers signed with Columbia Records in 1975. His first release with the label was Making Music, Making Friends, which had the single She’s Lonely and was featured in the movie Looking for Mr. Goodbar. Withers dropped out of school after the ninth grade and spent nine years in the Navy, where he underwent speech therapy to overcome a stuttering problem.


Shane Yellowbird – A Canadian country music singer/songwriter from Hobbema, Alberta. In 2007, Yellowbird was named the Aboriginal Entertainer of the Year at the Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards, Chevy Trucks Rising Star of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards, and had one of the 10 most played country music songs of the year in Canada. Born with a severe stuttering problem, he began seeing a speech therapist who suggested that he sing his sentences to help him speak clearly. The technique proved successful and also instilled a budding love of music in Yellowbird.


Rowan Atkinson – (born 6 January 1955) Rowan is an English comedian, writer and actor famous for his British roles in the television series Mr.Bean and Blackadder. He has been listed as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. Rowan’s first Mr.Bean television appearence was in1990 on New Years Day in a half hour special for Thames Television. His strong talent in facial expressions has made him capable of doing visually based comedies with little or no dialogue, he has sometimes been called “the man with the rubber face”. Atkinson had a stutter as a child and had problems with the letter B. He oversomes it through over-articulation which he turned into a comic device.


Sam Neill – (born 14 September 1947) Sam Neill is a New Zealand television and film actor most renown for his role as Alan Grant in the hit movie Jurassic Park. After working at the New Zealand National film unit as an actor and director he was given a role in the Australian classic film Sleeping Dogs. Neil was eventually suppose to play a role in the movie Lord of the Rings by peter jackson but had to turn the offer down due to his immediate business with the Jurassic Park III movie. As a child, Sam had a stutter which he worked very hard to control. In a rare instance, you may still make this stutter out in some of his movies.


Samuel L. Jackson – (born December 21, 1948) Samuel L. Jackson is an American academy award winning actor and is well known for many of his movies. He is mostly involved in serious roles where his character is both strong and intelligent. Most of his career’s success began with Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction movie, from there most of his movies were instantly a hit and only a few of his performances were not well known or liked by the public. Whenever this would happend he would always regain the spotlight with more successful projects. As a boy, he was afflicted with a debilitating stutter, and Jackson initially took up acting only at the urging of his speech therapist.

Winston Churchill – Churchill described himself as having a “speech impediment”, which he consistently worked to overcome. After many years, he finally stated, “My impediment is no hindrance.” Although the Stuttering Foundation of America has claimed that Churchill stammered, the Churchill Centre has concluded that he lisped. Churchill’s impediment may also have been cluttering, which would fit more with his lack of attention to unimportant details and his very secure ego. According to several sources Winston Churchill was not dyslexic and had no learning disability whatsoever.

Aristotle – (384 BC – 322 BC) Aristotle was a Greek philosopher writing on many different subjects including zoology, biology, ethics, government, politics, physics, metaphysics, music, poetry and theater. He was also a great teacher for Alexander the Great. Aristotle was one of the first to point out that epilepsy and genius were often closely connected. Aristotle had an inaccurate conception of the cause of stuttering. He thought it was caused by a malfunctioning tongue.

Charles Darwin – 1809-1882 Naturalist, author; OCD and stutter. Darwin’s many lifelong and serious illnesses have been the subject of much speculation and study for over a century. Darwin stated that his health problems began as early as 1825 when he was only sixteen years old, and became incapacitating around age 28. The exact nature of Darwin’s illness or illnesses remain mysterious at this time.

Sir Isaac Newton – (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) A very important scientist who is responsibe for founding the three laws of motion along with studies concerning Universal Gravitation. He studied many scientific disciplines but mainly stayed inside the field of mechanics. It is said that Newton had mainly discovered gravity by examining a falling apple, that would have been one of the major reasons for him to start his researches in the subject. Was thought by many a product of psychosis but he may just have been in his right mind. Isaac Newton once asked that the windows of Parliament be closed so the public wouldn’t hear his stuttering.

Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President of the U.S. (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) Roosevelt was a soldier , historian, explorer, naturalist, author, and Governor of New York later becoming the President of the United States at the age of 42 years old. He was well known for having a vast range of objectives and achievements, all with an energetic determination and a hard ”cowboy” persona. He was subject to epileptic seizures, his eyesight was bad, and he also suffered from asthma, but was still a man of courage and strength appreciated by many.

Moses – According to the Bible, Moses had a speech impediment. When God told Moses to free the Israelites (Jews) from slavery in Egypt, Moses replied, “But my Lord, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence, either before or since you have spoken to your servant. I am a slow speaker and not able to speak well” (Exodus 4:10). In Koran, 20:26-29 Moses said “Lord, open my breast, and do Thou ease for me my task, Unloose the knot upon my tongue, that they may understand my words.” The analogy of a knot upon his tongue refers to his stuttering.

Nicholas Brendon – (born April 12, 1971, as Nicholas Brendon Schultz in Los Angeles, California), is an actor best known for his character Xander Harris in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). At the age of 20 he decided to try his hand at acting to help him overcome his stuttering problem but gave it up after two years because, “I couldn’t stand the politics in Hollywood.” Brendon’s role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Xander Harris, was initially that of the occasional comic relief and plucky sidekick to the lead female characters, but after the earlier seasons less comedic lines were given to the part. When the series ended in 2003, Brendon joined the cast of a new Fox sitcom, Kitchen Confidential. Brendon has played a major part in the Stuttering Foundation of America. He was the first person to serve the role of honorary chairperson of the Stuttering Foundation of America’s Stuttering Awareness Week for three consecutive years, from 2000-2003.

Alan Turing – (23 June 1912-7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, logician, and cryptographer. Turing is often considered to be the father of modern computer science. Turing provided an influential formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine. With the Turing test, he made a significant and characteristically provocative contribution to the debate regarding artificial intelligence: whether it will ever be possible to say that a machine is conscious and can think.

Adrian Peterson – (born March 21, 1985) Adrian is a professional American football running back for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). Coming into the league, he was known as a tall, upright runner possessing an ultra-rare combination of speed, strength, agility, size, and vision, along with a highly aggressive attitude towards contact.  When he was thirteen years old his father was sentenced to ten years in prison for money laundering in connection with illegal drugs. Nelson Peterson served nearly eight years of his prison sentence and was released in October 2006. His brother was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle as a kid. His stepbrother, Chris Paris, was shot and killed in Houston, Texas, one day before Adrian’s participation in the 2007 NFL Scouting Combine.

Washington Irving – (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American author of the early 19th century. Best known for his short stories “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”. His historical works include biographies of George Washington, Oliver Goldsmith and Muhammad, and several histories of 15th century Spain dealing with subjects such as Columbus, the Moors, and the Alhambra. Irving also served as the U.S. minister to Spain from 1842 to 1846.

Thomas Jefferson – (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states’ rights and a strictly limited federal government. A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia. When President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

Demosthenes – (384-322 BC) was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of ancient Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by studying the speeches of previous great orators. The first time Demosthenes made a speech in the public assembly was a disaster. Discouraged, he was fortunate to run into an actor who helped show him what he needed to do to make his speeches compelling. To perfect the technique, he set up a routine, which he followed for months until he had mastered oratory.

Chris Trapper – Chris Trapper is a musician based in Boston, Massachusetts who is most known as the lead singer of the band, The Push Stars. With The Push Stars, Trapper wrote material for four studio albums and three self-produced discs. Several of his songs have been picked up for major motion picture soundtracks including There’s Something About Mary and Say It Isn’t So and for television shows such as Pepper Dennis, ER, and Malcolm in the Middle.

Henry Rogers – (January 29, 1840 – May 19, 1909) was a United States capitalist, businessman, industrialist, financier, and philanthropist. In 1861, 21-year-old Henry pooled his savings of approximately US$600 with a friend, Charles P. Ellis. They set out to western Pennsylvania and its newly discovered oil fields. Borrowing another US$600, the young partners began a small refinery at McClintocksville near Oil City. They named their new enterprise Wamsutta Oil Refinery. Rogers and Ellis and their tiny refinery made US$30,000 their first year. This amount was more than three entire whaling ship trips from back home could hope to earn during an average voyage of more than a year’s duration.

Cotton Mather – (February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728) Cotton Mather was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer. Cotton Mather was the son of influential minister Increase Mather. He is often remembered for his connection to the Salem witch trials. Author of more than 450 books and pamphlets, Cotton Mather’s ubiquitous literary works made him one of the most influential religious leaders in America. Mather set the nation’s “moral tone,” and sounded the call for second and third generation Puritans, whose parents had left England for the New England colonies of North America to return to the theological roots of Puritanism.

Clara Barton – (December 25, 1821 – April 12, 1912) was a pioneer American teacher, nurse, and humanitarian. She has been described as having a “strong and independent spirit” and is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross. In April 1862, after the First Battle of Bull Run, Barton established an agency to obtain and distribute supplies to wounded soldiers. She was given a pass by General William Hammond to ride in army ambulances to provide comfort to the soldiers and nurse them back to health and lobbied the U.S. Army bureaucracy, at first without success, to bring her own medical supplies to the battlefields. Finally, in July 1862, she obtained permission to travel behind the lines, eventually reaching some of the grimmest battlefields of the war and serving during the sieges of Petersburg.



March 28, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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