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Actors Made Famous by Their Unusual Medical Conditions

Throughout Hollywood history, there are many actors that stand out thanks to the unique medical conditions that they are born with. Many stars are able to use their unique appearances as an advantage by securing roles in fantasy features and series. Join Facts Verse as we explore actors made famous by their unusual medical conditions.

Robert Z’Dar

Robert Z’Dar was an actor that suffered from a unusual medical conditions that goes by the name of cherubism. This unique condition resulted in the actor having an exceptionally defined jawline. Robert Z’Dar’s jawline is prominent in that he makes Bruce Campbell’s look small compared to the 1988 film Maniac Cop. Given that Bruce Campbell is a man that comes to define by his chin, this stands as an incredible feat!

Robert begins acting during the 1980s, making his unique appearance stand out in the eyes of producers. Robert’s strong features become perfect for playing the role of the intimidating villain. Including his turn as the titular antagonist in the aforementioned Maniac Cop and its two sequels. Throughout Robert’s life, he appeared in over 100 features. Besides his role in Maniac Cop, some of the actor’s other notable roles. His turn as a henchman named Face in the Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell film Tango & Cash.

Although Robert never becomes a superstar, he achieves cult stardom in his life thanks to his roles in B pictures. The most high-profile gig of the actor’s career is in the 1991 feature Mobsters, alongside Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey. Sadly, the film was a box-office flop and didn’t yield any more blockbuster roles for Robert in the future. He works consistently in the years leading up to his 2015 death films starring Robert are released posthumously.

Ted Cassidy

Ted Cassidy is a tall actor whose most notable role is the butler character Lurch on The Addams Family. His skinny frame and height of 6’ 9” make him the perfect for characters that are meant to look lanky. As it turns out, Ted’s extreme height causes by having unusual medical condition known as acromegaly. It causes the actor to have an exceptionally perfect face and deep voice.

At a young age, Ted’s extreme height made him a perfect choice for sports such as basketball. He played the sport throughout high school and college while pursuing a degree in speech and drama. Ted desires to be an actor which proves an advantage for him to start seeking out roles in Hollywood.

Lurch on The Addams Family is mute, but Ted brings charisma to the character that the writer gives him lines. The character became a hit, and more appearances in the media followed for the actor. Besides The Addams Family, Ted also leaned his talents into such series as Star, Trek, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Lost in Space, and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Ted Cassidy Television Roles

Besides his live-action roles, Ted Cassidy becomes a notable voiceover artist throughout his career thanks to his uniquely deep voice. Around the same time that Ted took his iconic role on The Addams Family. He begins voicing characters in various series for Hanna-Barbera Productions. Ted Cassidy performs the sound effects for the character of Godzilla in the 1970s animated series of the same name. Also the voices for Ben Grimm on The New Fantastic Four and Brainiac on Super Friends.

Besides all of Ted Cassidy’s work on television, he can be on film sporadically throughout his career. His most notable film appearance was arguably in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Sadly, the condition that brought Ted fame ended up killing him. His acromegaly causes a fatal tumor to form in his heart which an unusual medical condition, and he died after having surgery to remove it. Ted Cassidy died in 1979. At the time of his death, the actor was only 46 years old.

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Felix Silla

Felix Silla is another actor from The Addams Family that rose to prominence thanks to a unique medical condition. For Felix, this condition was dwarfism. The actor’s small size made him the perfect choice to play the character of Cousin Itt on the show, though the elaborate costume made it impossible for audiences to recognize the actor. Cousin Itt’s voice is dub over by another performer, but no other actor can bring the character to physical life quite the way that Felix did. He performed in the role of the character for 17 episodes over the course of the show’s run.

The role of Cousin Itt certainly wasn’t the only role that Felix Silla performed during his time in Hollywood. The actor was also the performer responsible for bringing the robot character of Twiki to life on the 1979 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Although Felix is the one in the suit, the character’s voice dub over by Mel Blanc.

Felix performs as an Ewok in Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi, which releases in 1983. Several years later, Mel Brooks swept him up to play a similar role in the parody film Spaceballs. Felix also used his talent to his advantage performing stunt work for child actors, having done so for Steven Spielberg on numerous occasions. Before becoming an actor, Felix worked at various circuses. Sadly, Felix passed away in 2021 at the age of 84.

Andre The Giant

Besides Ted Cassidy, Andre the Giant is another notable performer that rose to prominence as a result of acromegaly, and eventually succumbed to it. Andre’s acromegaly was arguably worse than Ted’s, and it made Andre even larger. Andre’s iconic immense size was a result of his condition. Although his immense size is what allowed the star to become famous, he ended up dying much too young as a result of his condition. Near the beginning of his career, the doctors even offered Andre the chance to have the tumor that ended up killing him removed. The doctors claimed that doing so would eventually save his life, but it would also put an end to his athletic career.

When faced with the decision between extending his life and abandoning his wrestling career, Andre the Giant chose to keep the tumor. Andre’s acromegaly may have given him his career, but it also made it difficult for him to perform as a wrestler. Throughout Andre’s wrestling career, other wrestlers say to take it easy on the hulking figure because otherwise, they might hurt him. In one instance, Andre claimed to have broken his ankle during a match when he had actually broken it getting out of bed.

Besides the fame that Andre the Giant garnered as a professional wrestler, he also achieved fame as an actor thanks to his appearance in the cult classic 1980s fantasy The Princess Bride. Sadly, Andre’s life was cut short as a result of his condition, passing away at the age of 46. Coincidentally, this is the same age Ted Cassidy passed.

Billy Barty

Billy Barty is another actor that suffered from dwarfism. He is born in 1924 and begins his career in the entertainment industry at a time when dwarf actors were not treated with the same amount of respect that they are nowadays. Billy is one of the people that can be credited with helping get better treatment for dwarf actors, as the actor was actually an advocate for dwarf rights during his Hollywood career.

Barty had begun his career as a child star before eventually venturing into acting as an adult. As a child, Billy had appeared alongside Mickey Rooney. As an adult, the actor found most of his work in fantasy films and series, including notable roles in the films Willow and UHF. During the 1970s, Billy Barty worked with Sid and Marty Krofft. Billy’s most notable collaboration with the duo was portraying the character Sigmund on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, but he also appeared in The Bugaloos and Dr. Shrinker. He ended up passing away in the year 2000, at the age of 76.

Paul Benedict

Finally, we’ll close this video out by looking at one last actor that suffered from acromegaly. Of the three actors in this video who suffered from acromegaly, actor Paul Benedict arguably suffered from it the least. As compared to the hulking Ted Cassidy and Andre the Giant, Paul was a comparatively meager 6’ 4”. The actor wasn’t diagnosed with the condition until adulthood. It wasn’t until an audience member at a stage performance contacted Paul that he finally realized what caused his unique facial structure.

Paul Benedict’s most iconic role throughout his lifetime was that of Harry Bentley on The Jeffersons. Harry was one of the neighbors of the titular family, and the role didn’t draw much attention to Paul’s unique appearance. Unlike the aforementioned stars, Paul was largely able to play normal roles throughout his career. Besides Paul’s acromegaly having a reduced effect on his life compared to the previously mentioned two figures, it also had a reduced effect on his heath. As compared to Ted Cassidy and Andre the Giant, Paul lived until he was the comparatively old age of 70. He passed away in 2008.

All of the above actors’ Hollywood careers were aided by their unusual medical conditions. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Andre the Giant suffered from a rare condition known as acromegaly and that many other Hollywood stars have suffered from the same condition? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

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