Rich & famous

Strabismus and the rich and famous

Becoming rich and/or famous can happen to anyone, including those with a squint. Some celebrities take much care to be photographed such that it doesn't show (for example Barbra Streisand), others make it their trademark (for example Ben Turpin). Actors may do a 'cross-eyed' act, and cartoon characters may exhibit a very large and obvious esotropia, because being cross-eyed is often considered to be funny. However, there has not been any research indicating that esotropia is linked to greater than average sense of humor or funnyness. ..yet.

  • Abraham Lincoln
    Abraham Lincoln

    "BACKGROUND: The vertical strabismus manifested by Abraham Lincoln has been noted. This article reviews the historical findings and provides a specific diagnosis. MATERIALS: Previous reports of symptoms and history relating to Lincoln's left hypertropia were reviewed. A series of photographs were reviewed. Lincoln's own description of his symptoms is provided. RESULTS: Previous history indicates an intermittent left hypertropia. A family history of vertical strabismus was noted with regard to Mr Lincoln's cousin. There also is a history of trauma to the left frontal area and life-mask evidence of fracture over the left eye. The findings include a history of head tilt and diplopia, presumably most readily in downgaze.
    CONCLUSION: Given the history and findings, the diagnosis of left superior oblique paresis of either congenital or traumatic origin seems appropriate."
    Author: Goldstein JH, Department of Ophthalmology, State University of New York, Brooklyn, USA.
    Source: J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus, 1997 Mar, 34:2, 118-20

  • Singer/Actor Barbra Streisand
    Barbra Streisand

    "In school and in the start of her career, Streisand was rejected repeatedly by directors because she simply wasn't pretty enough, which only strengthened her insecurities about her appearance. Her rejections were reminiscent of names like 'Cross-eyes' and 'Big beak'"
    (From: Book review: "A personal perspective on Barbra Streisand's life")

  • Actor Ben Turpin
    Ben Turpin


    "Ben Turpin said of himself that he was so cross-eyed that when he cried, the tears rolled down his back."
    (From an article titled Uses of humor)

  • Marty Feldman
    Marty Feldman Hyperthyroidism means producing too much thyroid hormone; patients generally have excess energy, and are thin. This is also called "Grave's Disease". It can affect the tissues around the eye and in the orbit; a condition named "thyroid related orbitopathy". Double vision is common, as the eyes no longer point in the same direction.

    "A picture of the comedian and actor, Marty Feldman, clearly showed the white of the eye above and below the iris, the protrusion of the eye and that the eyes do not focus directly ahead."

  • Actor Scott Thompson

    'His eyes are penetrating, slightly crossed "but in a good way," he notes, "like Karen Black. They don't impair my vision, and they give me a mystique."'
    (From an interview with Scott Thompson)

  • Character "Edo" in book "Opwaaiende zomerjurken" ("Summer dresses lifted up by the wind") by Oek de Jong

    "Edo has a lazy eye. To activate it, the other eye is patched. He also gets a pair of glasses. During the days after the treatment Edo doesn't leave house and garden; he refuses to show himself after his metamorphosis"
    (From an abstract of the book Opwaaiende zomerjurken" [in Dutch]
    The author himself, in the picture on that page, appears to be a bit esotropic; Edo's lazy eye might be an autobiographic detail.

  • Act by Mike Myers

    "Acting is very easy to do if you just number your expressions. I turn up to the director and I say, "I'd like to start out with a one, then a two, shift to a four and then end on a three." And then there is cross eyes. I think that being cross eyed is very funny."

  • Cartoon character Quiggly (The Simpsons)

    "Quiggly, cross-eyed student." mentioned on a page that used to be here:, The Simpsons Archive; Cast List.

"You look funny!"


Many physical characteristics are made fun of, from baldness to a limp to knock-kneed legs to stuttering and the shape of one's nose or ears, so it's not at all unusual to find strabismus as one of the many things people laugh at. It's not sacrilige. For a child attending school it can be very hard to be teased by its classmates though, and as goes for all bullying and other abusive behavior in schools, this should not be taken lightly and laughed away. Being teased is very damaging to a child; self-esteem suffers greatly. No matter what it is the kid is teased about. Adults can be bullied too, by, for instance, their co-workers. Needless to say that has nothing to do with "being funny" either. Depending on how you see it, the use of comical stereotypes like a funny cross-eyed individual in a movie can be entertaining or damaging, but the most important thing about a movie is still its quality, never mind what physical characteristics the actors either have or pretend to have.