What Did These Famous Figures in History
Have in Common?
They All Had Epilepsy
If you think epilepsy is a sign of low intelligence or social inferiority, think again. All these famous figures in history had seizures, yet were leaders in their fields. Isn’t it about time we change the way we think about epilepsy?
In Alphabetical Order:
ABBOTT Bud, 1900-1974
American Comedian of Abbott & Costello comedy team. Starred in over 35 films with partner Lou Costello from 1940-1965.
ABERCROMBIE Neil, 1938-present
United States Representative from Hawaii (1986-1987). Served on the Honolulu City Council (1988-1990). Sought the Democratic Nomination for US Senate in 1970. First elected to the US House of Representatives on November 6, 1990. Last elected on November 8, 1994.
ALEXANDER the Great,356-323BC
King of the Macedonians and one of the greatest generals in history.
ALFRED the Great,849-901
King of the West Saxons in Southwestern England. He saved his kingdom-Wessex- from the Danish Vikings and laid the basis for unification of England. He was such an outstanding leader in war and peace that he is the only English king known as “the Great”.
Greek philosopher/scientist. Aristotle was a student of Plato. In 343 BC he began tutoring the young Alexander the Great. He wrote on many subjects from biology to astronomy to rhetoric and literary criticism.
BELL Buddy [David Gus Bell], 1951-present. Professional baseball player and manager of the Detroit Tigers team. Five time All Star 1973, 1980-82 and 1984.
BONAPARTE Napoleon [Napoleon I], 1769-1821
French Emperor and greatest military genius of his time, considered perhaps the greatest general in history.
BYRON Lord, (George Gordon Byron) 1788-1824
He was the most colorful of the English poets. He inherited the title Lord Byron at the age of 10 upon the death of his great uncle.
BURTON Richard, 1925-1984
Welsh actor who won Tony Award in 1961 for Camelot. Nominated for seven Oscars. Known for his Shakespearean -stage performances and his collaborations with actress Elizabeth Taylor to whom he married twice.
CAESAR Julius, 100-44 BC
Roman General and Statesman. Julius Caesar’s seizures are well documented. He told others that during his seizures he received messages from the gods.
CARROLL Lewis [Charles Lutwidge Dodgson], 1832-1898
Mathematician and author of Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
CLIFFORD Max, 1943-present
One of Britain’s most successful public relations consultants, handling the Beatles, Mohammed Ali, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brandon, the Bee Gees, and other rock groups and famous people.
CLIGNET Marion, 1962-present,
Cyclist, 1996 and 2002 Olympic silver medal winner. The road to an Olympic medal began when she lost her US Driver’s License after having a seizure.
COELHO Tony, 1942-present
Member of Congress in 1990. He was one of the driving forces behind the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. President Clinton appointed him as Vice-Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities.
DANTE [Dante Alighieri], 1265-1321
Italian author was one of the greatest poets of the middle ages. His epic poem The Divine Comedy ranks among the finest works in world literature.
DA VINCI Leonardo, 1452-1519
Artist, scientist and inventor. One of the greatest painters and most versatile geniuses in history. He was one of the key figures of the Renaissance era. Many of his inventions and scientific ideas were centuries ahead of his time.
DOSTOYEVSKI Fyodor, 1821-1881
Russian author. Had three convulsive seizures as a child and complex partial seizures in adolescence. His seizures began with a feeling of ecstasy, followed by anguish, then convulsions. His characters had epilepsy in some of his writing. Authored: Crime and Punishment (1886), The Idiot (1887), Brothers Karamazov (1912)
FLAUBERT Gustave, 1821-1880
French author who had temporal lobe seizures which began at age 22, probably due to childhood trauma. Authored, Madame Bovary in1857.
GLOVER Danny, 1947-present
American actor, starred in Places in the Heart (1984), The Color Purple (1985), the trilogy of Lethal Weapon (1987-1992).
HANDEL George Frederick, 1685-1759
English composer, master of baroque music who composed 46 operas. His best known work: The Messiah (1741).
HEMINGWAY Margot [Magdux], 1955-1996
Actor and model, granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway, starred in Lipstick 1976
JOHN Elton [Reginald Kenneth Dwight], 1947-present
English pop music composer and performer, has recorded over 25 albums, hits including Rocket Man (1972), Philadelphia Freedom (1975), Wrap Her Up (1985), Grammy Award (1981), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
KIERKEGAARD Soren, 1813-1855
Danish Philosopher and theologian. Regarded as the founder of existentialism.
LANIER Hal, 1942-present
Baseball player and manager, Houston, 1986-1988, Infielder 1964-1973.
LEAR Edward, 1812-1888
English artist and author of Nonsense Verse. He reportedly had complex partial seizures every day or two, throughout adulthood. Limerick writer and known for the Owl and the Pussycat (1891).
LINDSAY Vachel, 1879-1931
American poet. Believed poetry should be performed rather than simply read. Some of his poems, such as The Congo (1914) included stage directions. His poems feature strong rhythm and vivid images.
MADISON James, 1751-1836
4th US President (1809-1817); drafted the Bill of Rights, often referred to as the Father of the Constitution. Played a leading role in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 where he helped design the checks and balances system that equalizes the roles of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. He also created the federal system.
MAUPASSANT Guy de, 1850-1893,
French author. Was student of Flaubert. Recognized as a master of short stories and wrote Pierre et Jean (1888).
MOLIERE Jean [Jean Baptiste Poquelin], 1622-1673
French playwright, wrote The School for Wives (1662). The Imaginary Invalid (1673). Moliere was his stage name. Considered to be one of the greatest French writers of comedy.
NEWTON Sir Issac, 1646-1727
Developed calculus, the law of universal gravitation, the binomial theorem and discovered the composite nature of white light. Newton was a shy and sickly boy and remained shy as an adult.
NOBEL Alfred, 1833-1896
Swedish Chemist, Engineer and Inventor of Dynamite. A philanthropist, he established the Nobel Prize and left $9.2 million for annual prizes, first awarded 1901.
PAGANINI Nicolo, 1782-1840
Italian composer and violinist. Revolutionized violin technique, fingering methods. Became the of the greatest violinist of all time.
PASCAL Blaise, 1623-1662
French philosopher and mathematician and theologian. Formulated Pascal’s Law which states fluids transmit equal pressure in all directions.
PETER THE GREAT, 1672-1725
Russian Czar, Peter I , son of Aleksei Romanov Family, was one of the most famous rulers in history. He ruled first as a Czar of Russia and later became Russia’s first emperor. He transformed Russia into a great European power.
PITT William, 1759-1806
Second son of the First Earl of Chatham. In 1781 he became a member of the House of Commons. He was initially a reformist who opposed the war with the American colonies and urged peace. In 1783 he became Britain’s youngest Prime Minister.
POE Edgar Allen, 1809-1849
He is most famous as the first master of the short story form, especially tales of the mysterious and macabre. He is also considered the father of the modern detective story. He was known as a poet and critic. Some of his famous poems include The Sleeper (1831) Lenore (1831) The Raven (1845). Some of his story stories include The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) and The Mystery of Marie Roget (1842-1843).
Greek philosopher and mathematician discovered principles of musical pitch. Was famous for formulating the Pythagorean Theorem which states that the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
British queen of the Iceni, a Celtic tribe inhabiting the territory that is now Norfolk and Suffolk in England. After the death of her husband, the King Prasutagus, her kingdom was seized by the Romans.
Greek Philosopher and teacher. Viewed philosophy as the necessary pursuit of all intelligent men. He was a teacher of Plato. One of the most original, influential and controversial figures in ancient Greet philosophy and in the history of western thought.
SWINBURNE Algernon Charles, 1837-1909
His literary criticism was extensive, ranging from Shakespeare to Dickens, but he earned his reputation as a great poet. In 1860 published two verse dramas The Queen Mother and Rosamond.
TCHAIKOVSKY Peter Ilyich, 1840-1893
First Russian composer whose music became part of the standard concert program in Western Europe. Known for classical ballet scores Swan Lake (1877). Nutcracker Suite (l892), Sleeping Beauty (1889).
TENNYSON Lord Alfred, 1809-1892
Was a spokesman for the values of the Victorian age and its most famous poet. His first published volume was Poems, Chiefly Lyrical 1830. Few poets have produced masterpieces in so many different poetic styles.
TUBMAN Harriet, 1820-1913
Rescuer of slaves during the American Civil War through establishment of an ‘underground railroad’. Her epilepsy was due to a blow to the head at age 13 from an overseer. After the Civil War she founded the Harriet Tubman home for Indigent Aged Negroes.
WERT Doug, 1968-present
Professional Golfer. He started playing golf as a freshman in high school. Went on to get a degree in professional golf management. In 1989 he quickly moved up the ranks of the Professional Golfers Association of America. He is head professional at Penn State University.
WILLIAM III, 1650-1702
Also called William of Orange. In 1672 he was elected viceroy of the Netherlands and fought in the Dutch War (1672-1678). He was Europe’s leading Protestant statesman and was invited in 1688 to England where he led the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’. In 1689 William and Mary were proclaimed joint sovereigns of England.
YOUNG Neil, 1945-present
Canadian musician who played with bands Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills Nash and Young. Albums include Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Freedom (1989), Rugged Glory (1990).
List of historical figures with epilepsy excerpted from “Famous Persons with Disabilities – A Project and Publication Presented in Celebration of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act”, Courtesy of The Alliance for Citizens with Disabilities- Hillsborough Country, Florida, USA; and the Mayor’s Alliance for Persons with Disabilities; Tampa, Florida, USA