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Hearing loss affects 360 million people worldwide, including the rich and famous! Read on for a list of five more celebrities who live with hearing loss.

Rob Lowe

Actor Rob Lowe has been completely deaf in his right ear ever since an undiagnosed case of the mumps when he was an infant.  He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2006:

“They seem to think it was the mumps undiagnosed, you know, when I was 8 or 9 months old. I don’t know any differently. It’s funny, as I get older, it’s harder and harder to be in really loud restaurants, they drive me ballistic. That’s really tough for me. Other than that, it’s something I don’t really think about. Other than I wish I could have heard stereo. That would have been fun.”

Jodie Foster

Although very private about her personal life, Foster once confessed to a reporter that she’s not very good at taking care of her own health needs, especially “this hearing loss thing.” She has also been spotted wearing hearing aids on a number of occasions.

Stephen Colbert

When he was a child, Stephen Colbert underwent an operation to repair a severely perforated eardrum. The operation failed and left the famous satirist and TV host deaf in his right ear.

Robert Redford

Acting great Robert Redford is 77 and suffers from hearing loss, although it has nothing to do with his age. He lost 60% of the hearing in his left ear after shooting scenes for the 2013 film All is Lost, in which his character deals with harsh weather while sailing solo across the Indian OceanWhile filming the climatic storm scene, crewmembers used fire hoses to simulate the crashing waves. The actor was repeatedly hit in the head with strong streams of water, causing him to develop an ear infection that resulted in a significant loss of hearing. Redford told newspaper The Salt Like Tribune:

“I went to a hearing guy in Utah, and he said, ‘You’ve lost a substantial part of your hearing.’ I asked, ‘Am I going to get it back?’ He said, ‘No.’”

Holly Hunter

Another actor who suffered from mumps as a child, Holly Hunter has not let being deaf in her left ear hold her back. In fact, she attributes some of her success as an actor to her hearing impairment. She told The Daily Telegraph UK in 2000:

“I have a natural intensity that is just a part of who I am. And I think my intensity comes from somewhere else. I think that my intensity comes from being profoundly deaf. I have no hearing at all in my left ear. I was nine, the mumps. I think that has made me an acute listener and acutely tuned into what people are saying.”

Bill Clinton

This former US President started wearing hearing aids in both ears in 1997, in the midst of his second term in office. His age and the band-playing days of his youth were both contributing factors to his high-frequency hearing loss. Before he started wearing state-of-the-art hearing aids, Clinton complained of not being able to hear properly in crowded rooms.

Whoopi Goldberg

In 2011, Whoopi Goldberg made her private struggle with hearing loss public, telling the National Enquirer, “I attribute my own hearing loss – which, by the way, is suffered by thousands of people in varying degrees – to years and years of listening to music so loudly and so close to the delicate ear drum.” Goldberg wears hearing aids to help her hear low tones.

Halle Berry

Halle Berry was a victim of domestic violence in the early 1990s, and as a result has lost 80% of hearing in her left ear. She has spoken publicly about both hearing loss and domestic violence in the past.

Ben Cohen

Former English rugby union winger Ben Cohen was diagnosed with 33% hearing loss in both ears in 2004, as well as tinnitus. His hearing has since worsened to around 50%. He initially did not wear hearing aids, preferring to lip-read. He finally started wearing aids at the urging of Elton John, and has not looked back. “I use them a lot,” he told Hearing HQ magazine. “They have changed my life.”

William Shatner

Famed actor William Shatner has suffered from tinnitus since the 1960s, after he stood too close to a special effects explosion while filming an episode of Star Trek. Shatner told the American Tinnitus Association, “There were days when I didn’t know if I would survive the agony [because] I was so tormented by the screeching in my head.” He eventually sought professional help and his condition has improved.

Peter Townshend

The legendary guitarist and songwriter of The Who, Peter Townshend spent years and years surrounded by loud music. As a result, he suffers from noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. It’s not surprising his hearing was affected – the Who once played the ‘Loudest Concert Ever’ on 31 May 1976, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. He now wears hearing aids.

Phil Collins

In 2011, acclaimed musician Phil Collins called the music business quits, due to his failing health and diminishing hearing. After almost 40 years of live concerts and studio sessions, he suffered from sudden hearing loss, which he described in the German weekly paper Die Zeit: “I was recording in the States and had spent the day singing in the studio. Then I collected my daughter from school. We got home, had something to eat, played a video game. Then suddenly my ear went ssssssssshh. Within a second my left ear simply closed down. As if I had been underwater. I tried to clear it by pinching my nose. But it made no difference. So I thought it would sort itself out. But it didn’t.”

Eric Clapton

Another music legend, Eric Clapton was once renowned for his loud live sets and would simply declare to those who complained, ‘That’s the way I play.’ Unfortunately, his penchant for turning up the volume is the reason he suffers from tinnitus today. He has learnt to protect his hearing using earplugs, and thankfully his condition is not worsening.

Brian Wilson

While most musicians owe their hearing loss to years of exposure to excessive noise, the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson has had little to no hearing in his right ear since early childhood. Despite this early setback, he still went on to be a hugely successful and iconic musician.

Leslie Nielsen

Known for appearing in cult comedies such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun, late actor Leslie Nielsen suffered from sensorineural hearing loss. He was legally deaf and wore hearing aids for most of his life. He never allowed his hearing loss to slow him down, however – he will still go down in history as one of the funniest comedians of all time!

Further Topics

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Gradual hearing loss: How can you help your loved one?
Hearing Loss Facts & Figures, Australia + Beyond
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