Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on April 26, 2022
Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis

1/13

He’s known as the distinct voice behind such ‘80s hits as the “The Power of Love” and “Hip to be Square.” It was during that decade Lewis went almost deaf in his right ear. Then in 2018, his left ear also gave out suddenly. His doctors later diagnosed it as Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that can cause vertigo, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and hearing loss that comes and goes. Lewis may never sing again, as he has troubling finding pitch or hearing the notes. But on good days, he can understand speech “fine” with hearing aids.

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg

2/13

This Academy Award-winning actor wears two hearing aids. Goldberg blames it on years of listening to loud music. She has trouble making out low-pitch sounds, which is   less common than hearing loss in high frequencies. Many people who can’t hear low-frequency sounds, such as deep male voices and vowels like “a” and “e,” may feel as though they’re underwater. Still, most can follow normal conversations without much trouble.

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe

3/13

This star of TV’s The West Wing and Parks and Recreation has been deaf in one ear since he was an infant. Lowe says the most likely cause was undiagnosed mumps, a viral infection that in rare cases can lead to hearing problems. Lowe says he rarely thinks about the loss. His one regret is that he can’t hear in stereo, which sounds richer and fuller and which helps locate the sound direction.

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

4/13

The first boomer president has had high-frequency hearing loss for most of his life. It makes it harder to make out the voices of children and women. Conversations also can be tough to understand because high-frequency sounds include consonants like “s,” “f,” and “h” that give words meaning. At age 51, Clinton was fitted with two hearing aids after his 1997 physical.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry

5/13

During the early 1990s, Berry’s then-boyfriend hit her so hard that he punctured her left eardrum. She lost 80% of the hearing on that side. Berry, the only African American to win the Oscar for best lead actress, grew up watching her mother get beaten. Today, Berry actively supports domestic abuse prevention and intervention groups.

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert

6/13

This satirist and host of The Late Show is deaf in his right ear. Colbert said surgeons tried to remove a tumor when he was a kid and “scooped it out with a melon baller.” Colbert once hoped for a career in marine biology. But the damage to his ear meant he couldn’t scuba dive because he wouldn’t be able to equalize the pressure in his ears under water.

Lance Allred

Lance Allred

7/13

The former Cleveland Cavaliers center in 2008 became the first legally deaf player in the NBA. Allred had less than 20% of normal hearing. He had worn hearing aids since elementary school, but he didn’t wear them while playing basketball. Instead, he relied on lip reading and hand gestures to communicate with his teammates. 

Jean-Christophe Novelli

Jean-Christophe Novelli

8/13

French-born British celebrity chef Novelli was diagnosed with severe hearing loss at age 52. He said decades spent in noisy kitchens worsened the problem. Novelli, who competed on the reality show Hell’s Kitchen, had to strain so hard to follow conversations that he got headaches and a stiff neck. He resisted getting help until his fiancée insisted. Novelli was fitted with a hearing aid and now urges people over 50 to get their hearing tested. 

Will.i.am

Will.i.am

9/13

The Grammy Award-winning artist lived for years with tinnitus, which causes a constant beep or ringing in the ear. He said the cause is years of noisy music. After testing his ears, Will.i.am’s doctor told the now-45-year-old that his hearing is more like that of someone a lot older.

Millie Bobby Brown

Millie Bobby Brown

10/13

This English teen actor shot to fame as Eleven in the Netflix hit Stranger Things. Brown was born with partial deafness in one ear. But she eventually lost hearing in that ear entirely. When she shoots a scene, Brown sometimes misses the director’s “action” cue unless it’s loud. She recently began singing as well as acting.

Derrick Coleman Jr.

Derrick Coleman Jr.

11/13

The NFL player has little memory of ever hearing. He became legally deaf at age 3 because of a hereditary condition. Coleman has worn hearing aids since grade school. On the field, he has used pantyhose under his helmet to keep the devices from popping off. Coleman won a Super Bowl as a fullback for the Seattle Seahawks. His autobiography is titled, “No Excuses.”

Millicent Simmonds

Millicent Simmonds

12/13

The teen actor lost her hearing as an infant after a medication overdose. Her cochlear implant gives her some sound. But Simmons largely communicates through American Sign Language. She played a deaf character in the nearly all-silent film A Quiet Place. She hopes that her visibility shows that deafness isn’t an obstacle.

Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon

13/13

The Olympic figure skater had many health issues as a child. He was born with an ear infection and without 80% of his hearing. Rippon had surgery before his first birthday, which restored his ability to hear almost perfectly. Rippon won a bronze medal at the 2018 winter Olympics, where his sparkly costumes and personality made him a fan favorite.

Show Sources

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

1) Tankboy / Flickr

2) Mondadori Portfolio / Getty Images

3) Noel Vasquez / Getty Images

4) Hayden Schiff / Wikimedia Commons

5) Gage Skidmore / Wikipedia

6) Montclair Film / Wikimedia Commons

7) CollinBair / Wikipedia

8) Antony Jones / Getty Images

9) Eva Rinaldi / Flickr

10) Gage Skidmore / Flickr

11) Gage Skidmore / Flickr

12) Mike Morris / Wikimedia Commons

13) Jemal Countess / Getty Images

14) Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

 

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