Famous People With Speech Impediments

Famous people with speech impediment

Did you know these famous people suffered from speech impediments?

And the Oscar goes to…. Even before the award show begins, the Oscar telecast is full of celebrities dressed to the nines and giving interviews up and down the red carpet. Everyone seems so perfect, right? Wrong! Did you know that some of your favorite celebrities and high profile people have overcome speech impediments as children? Many business executives, actors, actresses, professional athletes and even politicians have struggled with speech problems from lisping to stuttering. King George VI was so embarrassed by his stutter that he hired speech-language pathologist and greatly improved his public speaking. This training and its results are the featured in the 2010 film, The King’s Speech.

In celebration of the Academy Awards, here is a Bonus Trivia Question for you:

Which Oscar-winning actress suffered from stuttering as a child? Hint: she currently stars in a movie where the lead actress has been nominated for an Oscar this year. (See answer below)

Famous People With Speech Impediments

James Earl Jones: Actor James Earl Jones is a Broadway, television, and movie star. He is well known for his voice as Darth Vader in Star Wars, and his familiar voice is the voice of CNN. Jones is featured in the Stuttering Foundation’s Famous People Who Stutter brochure. He received the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award for helping advancing literacy, the arts and humanities on a national and local scale.

Nicole Kidman:  This Oscar award-winning actress is known for her performances in Dead Calm, The Hours, To Die For, Batman Forever, and Rabbit Hole. She suffered from stuttering as a child and ultimately overcame her stammer with hard work and speech therapy.

Bruce Willis: Bruce Willis has starred in more than 60 movies, including the with Die Hard series. Other popular films include Pulp Fiction, Armageddon, and The Sixth Sense. Being the leading actor in some of the greatest action movies, Willis has had stuttering problems throughout his youth and was always scared it would affect his acting career. In an interview for GQ Magazine, Willis said he felt acting helped him overcome his stuttering. 

Famous Athletes Who Overcame a Speech Impediment

Michael Phelps: Michael Phelps, one of the greatest Olympians of all time with a record 22 medals (18 of them gold!), confessed to being teased about his speech impediment as a child. “When I talked fast, I’d drop my Ls and add Ss to words, and if I tried to tell people I didn’t have a lisp, I’d usually lisp the word lisp,” Phelps wrote in his book Michael Phelps: Beneath the Surface. That certainly didn’t stop him from pushing his personal limits to achieve greatness in his field.

Tiger Woods: Tiger Woods is a professional golfer whose achievements 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 impediment including talking to his dog until he would fall asleep. He has since become one of the most successful golfers the world has ever known.

Bill Walton: Bill Walton is an NBA All-Star and member of Basketball Hall of Fame. He is also a well-known NBC Sports commentator. 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. Walton has had a life long problem with his speech and communication skills.

Politicians Who Overcame a Speech Impediment

Vice President Joseph Biden:  He began his political career when he was first elected to the Senate in 1973 at the age of 30, making him the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history. In an interview with People Magazine, Biden opened up about his speech impediment and how his mother’s support helped him overcome his stuttering.

Winston Churchill: He served as the British prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 until 1955. A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army and an author. He described himself as having a speech impediment, which he consistently worked to overcome. There are many sources that claim that in addition to stuttering, Churchill suffered from a lisp and the condition known as cluttering.


Answer to Trivia Question:

Julia Roberts suffered from stuttering as a child. And, so did her brother Eric who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his 1985 role in Runaway Train.

For additional information, check out Famous People Who Stutter

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Reference on Speech Disorders

Parent's Guide to Speech & Communication Challenges


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