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NOT EVERYONE WHO USES A CHAIR GETS 15 MINUTES OF FAME
. . . but Christopher Reeve isn't the only wheeler widely recognized
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Alan Toy
, polio survivor, (above) is a successful actor on wheels.  He's appeared 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 The Profiler.

Ron 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 book.

Raymond Burr, known as 'Perry Mason'  to millions 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 only  pretending then, but ironically poor health and burgeoning weight later made his walking difficult -- for real.

Mitch Longley, actor, paraplegic and activist with native American causes, recently completed a three-year assignment portraying a  wheelchair-using doctor in the ABC-TV series, Port Charles.


 


Senator Max Cleland of Georgia (above), a triple amputee Vietnam veteran, is a unique rolling member of Congress, and former director of the Veterans Administration.


British scientist Stephen Hawking's conquest of an uncooperative body with an indomitable spirit and a talking computer have made him a legendary figure worldwide, and a poster boy for the 'can-do' attitude.

 


NBC's John Hockenberry (below) 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 column on the MSNBC site, drawing on his years as reporter and commentator for NPR, ABC, and NBC.

Federal attorney 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.


 

Only in recent years have many wheelchair users found their way into the public spotlight . . .

Ethel Barrymore 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.

Roy Campanella's 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 today a controversial issue. In an elaborate system of staging, his chair was almost never revealed to the public, lest it make him appear weak as a national leader, although it was widely known that he had fallen victim to polio in young adulthood.

White House counsel Charles Ruff became an instant celebrity through the Clinton impeachment hearings, carried live on television worldwide.


A diving accident in 1967 left Joni Eraekson a quadriplegic, and started an amazing  pilgrimage which would lead to her writing 26 books and founding Joni and Friends, a disability advocacy, ministry and education movement.  Joni's daily radio program and monthly magazine column reach millions. In 1998, she received the first honorary doctorate ever bestowed by Columbia University.


...and what shall we say about Hustler publisher Larry Flynt?
Not much, except that he, too,
is in a wheelchair.

 

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