Thursday, September 17, 2015

Colour Blindness: Famous Faces

This is the third post in a series on parenting colour blind children.  If you've missed the others, you can find them here (on Figuring it Out) and here (on The Science, Simplified).  This series was inspired by my searching for information on parenting colour blind children (since we discovered our 3 year old inherited this condition) and coming up mostly empty. . . well, except for a lot of articles about not seeing race. . . instead of, you know, not seeing colour which is what I was looking for.  Argh! So, not to be deterred, I decided that if it's not out there, it should be and maybe this is a sign for me to use this venue to share what I have discovered through research and experience.  Please share with anyone you think might benefit - especially parents and educators - and to share your own experiences and ideas in the comments.

The last two posts have been a little heavy.  Not intensely so.  But a little heavy nonetheless.  So today's is going to be a little sunshine-y, with smiles and happy feels.  Because a colour deficiency isn't the end of the world and it's not something that needs to stop you in your tracks or keep you from doing the things you love!  So, without further ado, here are some famous faces of people who have done great things despite their issues with colour.  While there is a lot of speculation out there, I've decided to stick with those people who are candid about their colour deficiencies or about whom I have been able to find evidence to support the assertion (with links wherever possible).

Image result for bill clinton imagesBill Clinton, 42nd president of the United States

According to The Encyclopedia of Genetic Disorders and Defects, during the 1996 presidential debates, an alternate system (besides the usual individual coloured lights) had to be devised to indicate to Clinton when he was on camera.  Interestingly, he wasn't the only one who needed it - Bob Dole is also colour deficient!

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Bing Crosby, singer and actor

If you haven't seen White Christmas or heard Bing sing the classic tune, go watch it!  Known for dressing flamboyantly, Bing was often teased by fellow star Bob Hope for his poor colour vision.  His wife once said, "He will think something is a beautiful blue and it will turn out to be a bilious green" (source).

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Vincent Van Gogh, artist

While you might think that "artist" would be an unlikely career for a colour-deficient person, there is significant evidence that Vincent Van Gogh might have been colour blind (also, a little crazy, but that's unrelated. . . and maybe in keeping with the stereotypical "artist's temperament").  Here is an article from the Smithsonian on the topic, if you're interested.

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Christopher Nolan, film director

This truly visionary director (seriously, didn't Inception just take your breath away? and his Batman trilogy is the only one that matters, imho) is known for using a certain blue-brown colour palette in most of his films.  No wonder - he's red-green colour blind! (source)

The New Guard: Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne, actor

He's super cute, super talented. . . and super colour blind as well.  He's also not shy about it. . .  if you google "Eddie Redmayne colorblind", you can find several interviews in which he speaks quite candidly about his colour vision (or lack thereof).  In addition to winning an Oscar (and probably being at least nominated again this year), Redmayne studied art history at Cambridge, writing his dissertation on Yves Klein who was known for working with the colour blue. . . go figure! (source - but there are many)

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Mr. Rogers, children's television show host

He probably thought that cardigan was green. . . j/k.  But seriously, Mr. Rogers was red-green colour blind (source, also here. . . all over the place, really).  There's a particularly cute anecdote about him asking whether the soup served to him was tomato or pea soup - if it was tomato, he'd add sugar before eating (which is. . . umm. . . strange, right? just me?) (source).

howie mandel

Howie Mandel, comedian, actor, TV personality

Howie Mandel's OCD (he won't shake hands, hence the fist bumping) is well-known but did you know that he is also colour blind? In an interview with Good Housekeeping, he tells a cute story about his wife asking him for input on colour choice only to be told it clashes. She wants him to feel involved in the decision-making. . . even if he isn't, really.

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Jack Nicklaus, golfer

Good thing seeing white on green isn't an issue for most colour blind folk (and that standard golf balls aren't red, I suppose).  Jack Nicklaus does tell a funny story in this Sports Illustrated article about not being able to read the scores on a scoreboard (since they were red and green).

Image result for john daltonJohn Dalton, chemist, physician and meteorologist

Maybe he doesn't look familiar but John Dalton is the father of research into colour blindness, basically.  Colour blind himself, Dalton wrote a paper theorizing that the way he viewed colour was due to a discolouration in the "liquid medium of the eye".  He donated his body to science in order to confirm this theory. . . it didn't. . . but later examination of his preserved eye did help to explain the condition.  Regardless of his theories, Dalton was one of the first academics to write on the topic and it is sometimes referred to as Daltonism in his honour.

The C.E.O. of Facebook wants to create, and dominate, a new kind of Internet.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

Ever wonder why Facebook is blue and white? It's because Mark Zuckerberg is colour blind.  "Blue is the richest color for me. . . I can see all of blue," he told The New Yorker.  Interestingly, he didn't even realize he was colour blind until a few years prior to that interview (2010) when he took an online test.  Obviously he had some excellent strategies!
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Meat Loaf, singer and actor

Meat Loaf has been quite candid over the years about his attempt to dodge the draft by gaining almost 70 lbs in a month.  He figured either that or his colour blindness would prevent him from being drafted.  It didn't.  He ignored his draft notice.  (source)

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Paul Newman, actor

Although his colour blindness prevented Paul Newman from being a pilot with the U.S. Navy, he did serve as a radio operator in the Pacific during World War II.  He went on to become a famous actor and to found a food company, Newman's Own.  Not too shabby! (source)

So. . . see any surprises? There are certainly a range of people and careers represented on this list!

As I mentioned earlier, I've excluded some people from this list simply because I couldn't find reliable sources - even people who are generally assumed to be colour blind.  If you know of anyone else I should add and can point to a good source, I would love to add them - just let me know in the comments :)

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