Stutteringhelp.org has a long list of very familiar people started out with a stutter. An activity based on them could be very encouraging for young stutterers. Make a game of it by introducing a treasure hunt for videos of groups of former stutterers. The list is long. Here’s a sampling of performers and athletes most kids will recognize. Some of them will surprise you!
- James Earl Jones – Is there a more famous voice today than the rich, mellow tones of James Earl Jones? This accomplished childhood stutterer is the voice of one of the most famous bad guys in the movies, Darth Vader. Who would guess he ever had a speech problem?
- Bruce Willis – It’s true. This famous movie action hero had to overcome a stutter before he earned fame and started to see (or be) dead people.
- Mike Rowe – Kids might not recognize his name, but they know his voice. He’s the host of the Discovery Channel’s popular show Shark Week. But before he could make us nervous about putting a toe in the water, he had to learn to speak without a stutter.
- Samuel L. Jackson – He’s starred in every movie you can think of, won lots of awards, has a dulcet baritone voice that would melt butter…and he started with a stutter.
Writers and Directors
- Lewis Carroll – The imaginative writer behind Alice in Wonderland was a stutterer. Imagine that!
- Jack Ebert – Unfamiliar name? Perhaps you will recognize his work. He’s a movie producer, and among his credits is the animated feature film, Chicken Run.
- Jim Davis – He’s the cartoonist behind the most famous lazy cat in the world, Garfield.
- Shaquille O’Neal – Ever heard of THAT guy? Yes. Before he finally perfected his foul shot, before he starred in TV commercials, and before he made a seriously cheesy movie, he overcame a stutter.
- Bill Walton – this NBA Hall of Famer is now a well-known sports commentator on NBC…and a former stutterer.
- Darren Sproles – An NFL star running back and return specialist, and another famous former stutterer.
- Tiger Woods – One of the most famous golfers of all time, Tiger Woods defeated a childhood stutter and developed a clear and soft-spoken voice for all his television appearances.
What do you think? Will knowing about all the famous people who once stuttered be motivating for your kids who stutter? How can you use this information?