Famous people you probably didn’t know stutter

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

Each year, Oct. 22 marks International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD). Stuttering is a speech disorder that affects an estimated 1 percent of the world’s population—that’s more that 80 million people worldwide—and more than three million Americans.

For more than 75 years, the Stuttering Foundation, the oldest and largest nonprofit charitable organization in the world working toward the prevention and improved treatment of stuttering, reaches more than a million people in over 137 countries annually with help and trusted resources.

In observance of ISAD this year, the Stuttering Foundation is using its list of Famous People Who Stutter to draw attention to stuttering, inspire children and families, and to raise awareness about its causes and treatment. (Editor’s Note: The included graphic has Joseph Biden listed as vice president. Of course, he’s currently the president of the United States.)

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One of the most popular pages on the Stuttering Foundation website (StutteringHelp.org), the famous people page lists actors, singers, entertainers, sports stars, writers, authors, producers, composers, artists, journalists, government and business leaders, ancient philosophers and even a biblical prophet.

Among the more than 160 entries on the list, are these five interesting people you probably did not know stutter:

  1. James Earl Jones – Probably the biggest surprise on our list, actor James Earl Jones—a Broadway, television, and movie star who has earned three Tony awards, two Emmys, a Grammy, and a National Medal of the Arts—is well-known as the voice as Darth Vader in Star Wars, among countless other roles and asthe booming voice of “This is CNN.”
  2. Mel Tillis – Likely one of the most beloved people on our list, Mel Tillis used his stutter and comedic timing when appearing in multiple movies throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. His first love, however, was as a singer and songwriter, appearing often at the Grand Ole Opry. As with most people who stutter, Tillis’ singing voice did not show any signs of disfluency. Unbeknownst to many, Tillis did much to help those who stutter who reached out to him for help.
  3. Tiger Woods—Known around the world as one of the most famous athletes in modern history, Tiger Woods is tied for first in PGA wins, second in men’s major golf championships, holds numerous golf records and is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time.
  4. Emily Blunt—Regarded for her advocacy on behalf of people who stutter and as one of only a handful of women on the list, Emily Blunt has earned a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and other accolades for her work on both stage and screen. (Editor’s Note: Stuttering affects three to four times as many males as females.)
  5. Moses—One of the oldest entries on our list, scholars believe Moses—the leader and liberator of the Hebrews—stuttered and point to verses in Exodus.

Malcolm Fraser, a successful businessman who struggled with stuttering, established the nonprofit Stuttering Foundation in 1947 and endowed it throughout his lifetime. The foundation provides free online resources at StutteringHelp.org for people who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering. Visit www.StutteringHelp.org.