10 More Celebrities Who You Might Not Know Have Single-Sided Hearing

by JoHarrington

They are household names, and they are also deaf in one ear. Can you name these famous SSD people without being told?

I now have an ever-growing list of celebrities who are deaf in one ear. There are forty-three names on it, at the last count.

Around five people in every 1,000 are completely deaf on one side. Single-sided deafness brings its own issues (and benefits!). The aural world is very flat. A 2D soundscape containing neither direction nor depth of sound.

There's generally a fair bit of awareness about full deafness and partial deafness in either ear, but very little concerning the unique way in which the one-sided deaf hear. These ten celebrities (and me) know all about it!

Big Moment for an Author with Unilateral Deafness

I mean me. Not quite a famous deaf person, but quite a big name in these parts!

Forgive the personal note, but this is quite a milestone moment for me.  It is the 1000th article, which I have researched, written and published, since I began my online writing career two years ago.

Before anyone looks in confusion at the mere 583 offerings on Wizzley, may I hurriedly clarify that this is overall.  It takes into tally all of those posts on Beautiful Britain, Bubblews, and Suite101, as well as the book that I wrote.

1000 by-lines on the internet bearing my name, and I'm deaf in one ear. It nearly counts! Now on to the proper half deaf celebrities.

Famous People with Single-Sided Deafness

Can you identify all of these unilaterally hearing celebrities? Scroll down to see if you were right, and to discover how they went deaf in one ear.
Image: Celebrities who are deaf in one ear
Image: Celebrities who are deaf in one ear
Collage by Jo Harrington

These are just ten of the dozens of known celebrities with single-sided hearing. (Another 16 are in the link below.)  Did you guess all of their names just by their famous faces?  If not, carry on down!

We'll highlight each, beginning with Gerard Butler looking suave in the center, and continuing clockwise around the montage.

They are amongst some of the biggest names in entertainment, politics or the news, and these celebrities are deaf in one ear. Find out who they are and how it happened.

Gerard Butler - SSD After Childhood Surgery

Scottish actor Gerard Butler first burst onto our movie screens in 1997, with a small role in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. He's since appeared in over 300 movies and television shows.

He's went deaf in his right ear, when he was ten years old, following an apparently botched operation to resolve a bout of tinnitus.

The cause of the ringing was Mastoiditis - an infection of the inner ear's mastoid bone.

The surgeon not only managed to damage nerves, thus destroying Gerard's hearing on that side, but also mangled the outer part of the actor's ear.

It had noticeably stuck out before. The medic obviously thought a helpful tuck might be in order. Unfortunately it left the ear looking rather out of shape and caused the actor's trademark crooked smile.

Oh! And the surgery didn't do a thing to help the tinnitus, which Gerard Butler suffers to this day.

Films Starring Gerard Butler

The Phantom of the Opera

Musical drama The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerard Butler) who haunts th...

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Olympus Has Fallen

Disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack...

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How to Train Your Dragon

This DreamWorks Animation rolls fire-breathing action, epic adventure and laughs into a captivating and original...

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Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

Lara Croft returns this time to find the ancient Pandora's Box a mysterious relic with unknown powers before a diabolical genius uses i...

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You can glimpse the scarring on Gerard Butler's right ear in this clip from Tomb Raider 2. Look around the 1.25 mark for a close up.

Henry Fonda - Half Deaf by Western Explosions

How many times have you watched scenes in old Westerns, where everyone ducks while something explodes close by?  Every twenty minutes in all of them, I should imagine.

So spare a thought for those actors standing in shot. While the blast might be tempered on our screens, they experienced the full force of it, and many were deafened in one ear as a result.

Henry Fonda was an A-list celebrity with single-sided hearing, caused by nerve loss due to his proximity to the blasts.

The Oscar winning actor was once voted 6th Greatest Male Star of All Time. Younger readers might know him better as the father of Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda, or the grandfather of Bridget Fonda and Troy Garity.

He once said that he got 'bored of asking people to repeat everything - or being left out.'

Henry Fonda's Classic Western Movie

Johnnie Ray - Bullies Left Him Deaf in One Ear

I'm willing to bet that half of the people reading this only know of Johnnie Ray through the Dexys Midnight Runners' lyric, 'Poor old Johnnie Ray...'

This US singer was called the 'true father of rock'n'roll by fellow crooner Tony Bennett. Look him up, you'll be amazed how many of his songs you actually do know.

The story of how Johnnie Ray went deaf in his left ear will make you cringe.

When he was thirteen years old, Johnnie attended a Boy Scout Jamboree in Dallas, Oregon. Hundreds of scout troops attended from across the Pacific Northwest, and Johnnie was picked to entertain them with his musical skills.

This didn't go down too well with one element of the crowd. Perhaps jealous of his talent, or targeting him merely because he'd stood out, the bullies soon began picking on him.

During the camp, Johnnie was surrounded by a group of boys, who bundled him into a blanket. As he struggled to get free, the gang each grabbed a section of the hem and pulled it taut.

A concerted flick sent the young teenager flying 'ten or twelve feet' into the air. But the bullies weren't prepared for the weight of his landing, and let go.

Johnnie Ray hit the ground so hard, that a straw-like blade of grass was forced deep into his left ear. The 'prank' caused permanent one-sided hearing loss.

Johnnie Ray's Greatest Hits and Biography

Beyond the Marquee: Johnnie Ray

An obscure John Alvin Ray, a small town hopeful from Dallas, Oregon became an international singing star in 1952 after changing his name and becoming the bridge between the mell...

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Johnnie Ray and Miss Kilgallen

He was the world's biggest singing star. She was the most renowned female journalist of her time. They had fame, power, money, connections. The last thing they needed was love.

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Johnnie Ray Sings Cry and Soliloquy of a Fool

Back in the 1950s, single-sided deafness didn't stop Johnnie becoming one of the world's most famous singers. This is what got your granny's heart racing!

Rush Limbaugh's Patriot Histories for Kids

Rush Limbaugh - Sudden Hearing Loss Caused SSD

On May 29th 2001, radio personality Rush Limbaugh suddenly felt his hearing dip in his left ear.

For the following ten days, his ability to discern sounds on that side lessened every day. By June 7th, Rush Limbaugh was completely deaf in his left ear.

The loud-mouthed conservative is heard by over 15 million Americans every week. His radio show is syndicated through over 600 stations. Keenly sought after, by all aspects of the media, for his anti-liberal political diatribes, he could afford the best medical care available.

But test after test couldn't determine what precisely had caused his left-sided deafness. Rush Limbaugh became one of the most famous people to contract Sudden Hearing Loss.

Rush described his single-sided hearing to a caller on his radio show in 2011:

'I crave silence, blessed silence because anything other than speech is just noise.  It is irritating noise... Most people love having the TV on in the background or some sort of sound or other. It irritates me.  It irritates the heck out of me because it's just noise and I can't identify it...

And going in public to a restaurant is, depending on the place, it is impossible. It literally can be impossible to have a conversation except with anybody on the left, and at some places I have to get within an inch of what they're saying to be able to comprehend.  I hear everything, but making sense of it…'

Lucinda Lambton - Deaf in her Right Ear

Lady Lucinda Lambton, aka Lady Worsthorne, is an author, photographer, British television and radio personality, and member of the English aristocracy.

Her father Antony, Lord Lambton, was briefly the 6th Earl of Durham, before he disclaimed the title in order to enter politics as a Conservative MP. He was once Britain's Defense Minister.

Lucinda gained her second title by marrying former Telegraph editor, Sir Peregrine Worsthorne.

However, she's better known to the British public for her well-researched histories on quirky subjects - like toilets, dolls' houses and architecture for animals. The results of these turn up as television documentaries, radio shows, books or newspaper columns.

Lucinda Lambton is completely deaf in one ear, but I've been unable to determine what caused it!

Lucinda Lambton Books

The Queen's Dolls' House: A Dollhouse Made for Queen Mary

From simple one-room cottages to multilevel castles, dollhouses have long been treasured by children and adults alike...

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Lucinda Lambton's Magnificent Menagerie: Or, Queer Pets and Their Goings-On

This is a collection of weird and funny writings about pets. Lady Lucinda first appeared on TV in the 1980s with 'A Cabinet of Curiosities'...

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Palaces for Pigs and Other Beastly Dwellings

The MP caught putting a duck house on expenses must have been glad he was not responsible for some of the more ambitious schemes in this entertaining survey of the impressive an...

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Biography of Kiss Frontman Paul Stanley

Paul Stanley - Born with Single-Sided Deafness

When you know that Kiss are one of the loudest bands in the world (hitting 136 dB at a 2009 concert in Ottawa, Canada), it's a fair assumption that's what caused hearing loss in its lead singer.

But Kiss's Paul Stanley never lost his hearing. He never had it to start with.

The 'Starchild' was born with Grade 3 Microtia. This congenital condition - affecting 1 in 8,000 people - renders the ear unable to properly form.

Outwardly, there's a small bobble of skin above a malformed earlobe, which constitutes all that could have become an ear. Inside, there is no auditory canal at all.

Paul Stanley said, 'People often ask if my hearing problem has had any impact on my career. It's sometimes hard for people to understand that you don't miss what you've never had.'

Kiss Singer Talks about Hearing Loss in Young People

Spurred on by the news that there's an 'epidemic' in young people going deaf, Paul Stanley recommends ear-plugs for attending live concerts.

Phil Collins - SSD Through Loud Music and Virus

Amidst a range of other health issues, one-sided hearing loss forced Phil Collins to retire from the music industry.

The erstwhile drummer, then lead singer of Genesis, Phil Collins also enjoyed a wildly successful solo career.

In 2001, he was in the middle of an LA business meeting, when his left ear suddenly lost the ability to hear. It was highly disorientating, affecting his balance, and causing him to 'stagger from the room terrified'.

Various doctors diagnosed a stress related infarction of the inner ear, viral infection, mini-stroke, or Sudden Hearing Loss.

After decades of being exposed to loud music, Phil Collins already lived with tinnitus. His SSD caused the singer to cancel his immediate tour, and eventually contributed to him quitting music completely.

The Music of Phil Collins


And nothing but hits - and they're BIG hits too! Includes You Can't Hurry Love; Against All Odds...

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No Jacket Required

No Jacket Required was 1985's Grammy winner for Album of the Year. Certified Multi-Platinum (12 times)...

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But Seriously

Phil shot to #1 with this 1989 smash. His hit, Hang In Long Enough, joins the Top 10's Another Day in Paradise...

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Phil Collins: Finally - The First Farewell Tour

An eight hour DVD featuring Phil Collins' performance from Paris that formed part of the Final Far...

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Stars Who Became Temporarily Deaf in One Ear

Not every single-sided deafness is permanent. Sometimes it is possible to reverse hearing loss, as long as the condition that caused it is curable.

Our final three celebrities all went deaf on one side. They each managed to claw their hearing back, but the scare prompted some life changes.

Loveless by My Bloody Valentine

MBV's Bilinda Butcher - Perforated Eardrum

My Bloody Valentine are loud. Very loud. A good measure of that comes in the fact that singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher blew her own ear-drum at a live show.

During their 2008 comeback tour, the British rockers ended each gig with You Made Me Realise. Their 1998 Loveless album hit lasted for between 15-20 minutes. At their London Roundhouse show, the tune registered 120dB.

Bilinda left the stage deaf in one ear. The sheer onslaught of sound had punctured her ear-drum. Over the course of a week, the damage gradually healed returning her hearing too.

My Bloody Valentine now distribute free ear-plugs to fans before each concert.

Jessica Jane Clement - Labyrinthitis Deafness

British glamor model and television personality Jessica Jane Clement became suddenly deaf in one ear.

The Real Hustle presenter was merely sitting on her sofa, relaxing after a summer's walk, when her right-sided hearing loss occurred.

Labyrinthitis was the culprit. It's a viral condition which inflames the inner ear, damaging both the cochlea and the vestibular system. Though the infection was treated, Jessica Jane remained deaf in her right ear.

However, this is one of the few forms of single-sided deafness which can actually be helped by a hearing aid.

The model was fitted with a Phonak Lyric hearing device in 2012. She now raises awareness of hearing loss on behalf of the company which made it.

Jessica Jane Clement 8x10 Photograph

Jessica Jane Clement Talks about her Hearing Loss

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on DVD

Jennifer Lawrence - Water Scenes Caused SSD

It was a case of reality mirroring art, when Jennifer Lawrence temporarily became deaf in her left ear.

Hunger Games protagonist Katniss Everdeen is probably the most famous fictional person with single-sided deafness. The actress who plays her became deaf in the same ear, in a very similar way!

Katniss is deafened when an explosion occurs close by.

Jennifer suffered several ear infections, while shooting the water scenes from Catching Fire. However, her left ear didn't become fully deaf, until the actress stood too close to a jet featured in the cornucopia arena.

A perforated ear-drum caused complete hearing loss for the next six days.

10 Famous People Who Are Unilaterally Deaf

Or, at least, have been!

Were you able to name everyone in my original collage?  For your convenience, here is the full listing of those deaf in one ear celebrities featured in this round up:

1, Gerard Butler (actor) 2, Henry Fonda (actor) 3, Johnnie Ray (singer) 4, Rush Limbaugh (radio show host, author and political commentator) 5, Lady Lucinda Lambton (author, photographer, broadcaster, journalist and historian) 6, Paul Stanley (singer) 7, Phil Collins (singer and drummer) 8, Bilinda Butcher (singer and guitarist) 9, Jessica Jane Clement (model and TV presenter) 10, Jennifer Lawrence (actress)

While some single-sided deaf celebrities may have proclaimed themselves 'depressed' (Bilinda), 'irritated' (Rush) or 'frightened' (Jessica Jane) by their hearing loss, it never really stopped any of them pursuing their careers in the limelight.

Even Phil Collins cited his deafness as only one factor in his decision to retire. A bigger one was probably the spinal operation, which rendered him unable to drum, and his on-going crippling back-pain. Plus the fact that he really didn't have anything to prove anymore. He'd already won every award in the book.

In summary, for those who panic that unilateral hearing will hinder their dreams of stardom (we're looking at you, Jessica Jane), go for it. They all did!

In case you missed it, here are another sixteen well-known people with one-sided hearing. There are plenty of us about!
They are amongst some of the biggest names in entertainment, politics or the news, and these celebrities are deaf in one ear. Find out who they are and how it happened.

More Wizzley Articles about Single-Sided Deafness

Unilateral hearing affects a significant percentage of the population. How would you welcome a client or guest with this kind of deafness?
I've been deaf in one ear since I was nine years old. The most frustrating thing about that is other people. Grab an Angry Deaf badge to defend against the audists in your life.
Unilateral hearing can result in some excruciatingly awkward social situations. A heart-breaking search query has led to this article.
The Age of the Internet has meant many things to many people, but for those with a hearing impairment it's been fantastic! Now we get a conversation without the hassle!
Updated: 02/24/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 03/01/2014

I do hope he does. There's another one about celebrities with single-sided hearing too. Thanks for passing them on. And if he wants to chat with someone in the same boat, I'm your woman. :)

That is the trouble when it's hard work to have a conversation. Nobody bothers having one. That's why the internet age is such a boon for deaf people. You don't have to hear to type.

dustytoes on 03/01/2014

Jo, kids don't listen, but being around anyone who has difficulty hearing makes you think twice about being careful. An elderly friend of mine had done a lot of shooting in his youth, and as an old man he was nearly impossible to talk to - I always had to speak loudly and repeat myself. I always felt so bad for him. I knew that he missed so much because he couldn't hear.
My oldest son may enjoy your articles. I will have to e-mail him with links, including the one to this page.

JoHarrington on 03/01/2014

Mira can tell you much more about Phil Collins, as she's a big fan. But yes, it was a myriad collection of physical things going wrong. He can barely walk now. :(

Has anything that I've been writing about single-sided hearing helped with your son? Or has he always been forthcoming about what he is and isn't hearing? I know that I fake it half the time, because it just isn't worth the hassle.

I doubt that anyone would listen regarding the ear-plugs, until it's too late. We all think that we're indestructible and immortal. :D

My love to your friend. I am planning on doing one of these articles about partially deaf celebrities too.

dustytoes on 03/01/2014

My oldest son is deaf in one ear due to a past tumor. And a good friend of mine suddenly became partially deaf on one side. It's a big frightening. My other son is a drummer, and I constantly tell him to wear ear protection! Of course he doesn't listen. This was a very interesting page. I did not know it was why Phil Collins stopped his music career.

JoHarrington on 02/26/2014

I ummmed and arrred about including her, because her real life deafness was only temporary. But this does prove that not all unilateral deafness is permanent.

I've had that happen, with people talking and I have no idea. I only guess after realizing that everyone is looking at me. Or if my response elicits mirth throughout the room.

The noise of the engineering industry must have been responsible for a lot of deafness in its time. My love and respect to your Dad.

AlexandriaIngham on 02/26/2014

That's interesting about Jennifer Lawrence. As soon as I saw her picture, I wondered whether it was going to be the actress or the character she plays. There is some irony there that it happened while filming one of the Hunger Games films.

My dad is deaf in one ear. It was quite amusing when a friend of his was trying to talk to him but thought my dad was ignoring him. The friend asked my mum if he'd done something wrong to be ignored, so she said stand on the other side and say it. When he did, my dad responded. His happened after years of working in the engineering industry. It was at a time when hearing protection wasn't used.

JoHarrington on 02/24/2014

Wow! That is a serious workload that you have there. Good luck with it all. :)

Guest on 02/24/2014

And I'm happy to be left to my own devices for now. I have a deadline of June to chase, process and upload 800 documents (200 of which I have found so far), which have to be approved by the relevant authorisation bodies before they can be submitted. June will be here before I blink.

JoHarrington on 02/24/2014

Ahhh! It sounds like you've gone from one extreme to the other!

Guest on 02/24/2014

It used to be background noise to tune out the endless yapyapyap of my more challenging colleagues, if you remember. Seems like my present team are so busy they barely have time to say 'morning' before they're rushing off to see another patient.

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