NOT EVERYONE WHO USES A CHAIR GETS 15 MINUTES
. . . but Christopher Reeve isn't the only wheeler widely recognized
Art Berg, above, author of Some Miracles Take
Time and Finding Peace in Troubled Waters,
is a popular motivational speaker for corporations such as 3M, Hewlett
Packard, GE Capital, Aetna, Procter & Gamble and Pontiac. He lives
in Highland, Utah.
Polio survivor Alan Toy,
above, is a successful actor on wheels. He's
been in 21 movies, including M*A*S*H
and Born on the Fourth of July. He starred as Professor Finley
in the 1994 season of Beverly Hills 90210, and has also
performed in Matlock, The Sentinel, Airwolf,
Diagnosis Murder and Profiler.
known as 'Perry Mason'
of TV viewers, also starred for seven
seasons as paralyzed chief of detectives 'Ironside' -- one of the
few title roles ever for a wheelchair user. He was just pretending then, but ironically poor health
and burgeoning weight later made his walking difficult --
Like Ironside, most film portrayals of wheelchair users have
been cast with walking actors:
Williams as cartoonist
John Callahan in Don't
Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot
Peter Sellers' parody of a crazed scientist in Dr.
Jon Voight as the disabled veteran in Coming Home
Jimmy Stewart as the convalescing onlooker in Alfred
Hitchcock's Rear Window
Lionel Barrymore as the heartless Mr. Potter in Frank
Capra's It's a Wonderful Life
Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown in My Left
Sheridan has several
interesting insights on this phenomenon on his web page, YouKnow.com.
Senator Max Cleland of Georgia,
a triple amputee Vietnam veteran, is a unique
rolling member of Congress, and former director of the Veterans
A 1967 diving accident left
Joni Eraekson a quadriplegic, starting an amazing pilgrimage
which would lead to 26 books and
founding Joni and
Friends, a disability ministry, a radio program and magazine column.
In 1998, she received the first honorary doctorate in the history of Columbia University.
Mitch Longley, actor, paraplegic and
native American causes, recently completed a three-year assignment
portraying a wheelchair-using doctor in the ABC-TV series, Port Charles.
Kovic, author of 'Born on the Fourth of July,' became the focus
of public awareness of disability
through Tom Cruise's hit movie based on Kovic's autobiography.
Joe Hartzler of Springfield,
Illinois, a wheelchair-user since 1989
because of multiple sclerosis, rode into the courtroom to
successfully prosecute the case of the Oklahoma City bombings.
scientist Stephen Hawking's
conquest of an uncooperative body with an
indomitable spirit and a talking computer have made him a legendary
figure worldwide, a
poster boy for the 'can-do' attitude.
House counsel Charles Ruff became an
instant celebrity through the Clinton impeachment
hearings, carried live on television worldwide. He was paralyzed by a
rare disease contracted while he was teaching law in Liberia.
Until recent years very few wheelchair users found
their way into the public spotlight:
appeared on stage and in films in a wheelchair in the
final years of her distinguished acting career.
George Wallace served
two terms as governor of Alabama while using a
wheelchair, the result of an assassination attempt in
Maryland during the 1972 presidential campaign.
major league baseball career ended, but a new opportunity
in public speaking and advocacy opened when an injury put
him on wheels.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's
use of a wheelchair remains a controversial issue.
In an elaborate system of staging, his chair was almost
never revealed to the public, although it was
widely known that he had fallen victim to polio in young
adulthood. The photo above is one of only two prints of a wheeled FDR.
NBC's John Hockenberry,
above, is a highly visible chair user. In his recent book he
discusses some of the wrong notions
others have about life in a wheelchair. He currently writes a web column for MSNBC,
drawing on his years as NPR, ABC, and NBC reporter and commentator.
....and what shall we say about Hustler publisher Larry
Not much, except that he, too,
is in a wheelchair.