Famous Baby Boomers with Significant Hearing Loss and/or Tinnitus
Bill Clinton, saxophone player, golfer and former U.S. President. He decided to face the music in 1997 when his past activities in marching bands, as a band player and as a rock concertgoer caught up with him. Noise from campaign rallies and presidential helicopters may also have contributed to his condition. He was fitted with a pair of virtually invisible hi-tech digital hearing aids. When he was governor of Arkansas, he listed his hearing loss as a problem in his annual physicals. But it was not until his second term in the White House that he finally took his doctors’ advice to move forward and seek treatment for his difficulty hearing high-frequency sounds.
Barbara Streisand, singing icon, movie star and political activist. Streisand has suffered from tinnitus since the age of seven. According to the British newspaper, the Independent, the diva has ascribed her volatile temperament to her hearing affliction. The tinnitus disrupts her sleep and occasionally affects her balance. But Streisand has refused to take her doctors’ advice to wear a hearing aid to mask the sound, instead seeking to drown out her tinnitus with music or other background noises.
William Shatner, actor, most famous for his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek. He went where no actor has gone before when he went public with a tinnitus problem so severe that it drove him to contemplate suicide. Thankfully, Shatner found a better solution in tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) involving a hearing aid device that feeds so-called white noise into his ear to help him learn to ignore or habituate to the sounds of his tinnitus.
Shatner shares his affliction with Spock, his Star Trek co-star, Leonard Nimoy. Shatner’s problem is in his left ear. Nimoy’s is in his right. The two were standing near an explosive device on the Star Trek set when the explosive unexpectedly went off.
Late night TV talk show host, David Letterman, ABC news anchor Peter Jennings, actors Steve Martin, Richard Thomas, Burt Reynolds and Sylvester Stallone, pop and rock stars Engelbert Humberdinck, Jeff Beck, Sting, Cher, Eric Clapton and Bono (whose stage name was concocted from the name of a hearing aid store in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland) are among the thousands of entertainment stars suffering from tinnitus and often severe hearing impairment.
Phil Collins recently declared an end to his concert touring because of the hearing loss he has suffered. The 51 year-old former Genesis drummer and vocalist announced that he will perform live only occasionally to avoid further hearing loss on his hearing damaged left ear.
Many, including Bono’s U2 band, Peter Frampton and Bob Dylan sing about their hearing problems. In his song, Turn the Page, Bob Seger describes their shared sense of untreated tinnitus desperation; “Later in the evening as you lie awake in bed, with the echo from the amplifiers ringing in your head.”
Courtesy of Deborah Touchette, Au.D., CCC-A, FAAA
Doctor of Audiology
Paradise Hearing & Balance Center