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10+ Celebrities with Hearing Loss

Whoopi Goldberg Hearing Loss
Across the country, around 48 million Americans struggle with some degree of hearing loss. But hearing loss doesn’t discriminate, as some of the most well-known names in the country have spoken openly about their own experience with varying levels of loss. 

Here are a few celebrities with hearing loss:

Stephen Colbert

The host of The Late Show, Colbert is deaf in his right ear. At age eight, he underwent surgery to repair a perforated eardrum. Despite the diagnosis not allowing him to chase his dream of becoming a marine biologist, he’s done pretty well for himself. 

Whoopi Goldberg

Another Academy-Award winning actress, Goldberg wears two hearing aids. She says her hearing loss is likely a result of listening to music too loudly over the years, and that she most struggles with low-frequency sounds. 

Millie Bobby Brown

Best known for her role as Eleven in Stranger Things, 16-year-old Brown is fully deaf in one ear. According to an article published in Variety, Brown was born with partial hearing loss which deteriorated over time. Despite her hearing loss, Brown is a passionate, successful actress and singer. 

Lance Allred

Allred is known as the first legally deaf player in NBA history. He was born with a 75-80 percent hearing loss as a result of Rhesus disease, which is passed from a pregnant mother to her baby. Allred did not learn sign language or receive cochlear implants. Rather, he relies on lip-reading and writing. 

Marlee Matlin

Perhaps best known for her roles in Children of a Lesser God and Switched at Birth (a fictional show highlighting the deaf community.) Matlin is the only deaf actor/actress to have won an Academy Award. Though born hearing, Matlin lost nearly all of it at 18 months of age. 

Bill Clinton

Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, has struggled with high-frequency hearing loss for most of his life and has worn two hearing aids since 1997. Clinton’s loss developed over time as a result of time spent at political rallies, around saxophone music, and hunting rifles. 

Halle Berry

The award-winning actress was not born with hearing loss but has spoken candidly about an abusive ex-boyfriend who hit her so hard that she lost 80 percent of her hearing in one ear. It is because of this that Berry has invested herself in eradicating domestic violence. 

Heather Whitestone

With brains, beauty, and determination, the first deaf Miss America, Whitestone, used “anything is possible” as her platform.

Derrick Coleman 

The fullback for the Super bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks has been deaf since he was three years old. Coleman the first deaf offensive player in the NFL.

Rob Lowe

Fully deaf in one ear since birth, “The West Wing” and “Parks and Recreation” star Lowe told the Pittsburg Post Gazette his hearing loss isn’t something he often thinks about, though he does struggle in places such as loud restaurants. He notes that the cause of his loss is speculated to be undiagnosed mumps. 

Jim Ryun 

A 50 percent hearing loss has never stopped Ryun, an Olympic medalist in track and field and a U.S. Congressman. He was Sports Illustrated “Sportsman of the Year” and also championed the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act in Congress.

Larry Brown 

Brown was the first NFL player with hearing loss. The Washington Redskins running back’s career improved significantly after his hearing loss was diagnosed and he was fitted with a hearing aid in his helmet. He was named one of the 70 Greatest Redskins of all time.

Musicians with hearing loss

Many celebrities with hearing loss are musicians because constant exposure to loud noise will cause hearing problems, both hearing loss, and tinnitus. And these rockers can attest to that!

Brian Wilson, the co-founder of the famous Beach Boys, has significant hearing loss in his right ear. The exact cause is not known, though Wilson himself speculates it was the result of being hit in the head with a lead pipe. No matter the cause, being deaf in one ear did not affect Wilson’s career. In fact, Wilson says that Bob Dylan once remarked, “That ear — I mean, Jesus, he’s got to will that to the Smithsonian.” 

Other musicians with hearing loss include:

As hearing loss impacts more people with time, this list continues to grow with more celebrities with hearing loss.

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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.
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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.