where are all the cripples?

i’ve noticed for some time that, aside from ironsides, (and raymond burr wasn’t really handicapped) and artie on “glee” (who is not really hadicapped either), and the character “mother” from the avengers (not really handicapped) we never (never!) see handicapped people in popular culture. are there no musicians in wheelchairs? are there no actors in wheelchairs?  . there have been appearances in cameo or bit parts by other actors portraying characters with physical handicaps who may or may not have really been handicapped. but we never see an actor in a wheelchair. why is that? i certainly don’t want to cry discrimination, but i cannot beleive that there are no actors – good or bad – who live lives on wheels. is it an image thing? still, i refuse to go there. but i do wonder where all the wheelchair-bound actors are?

how about music? have you ever seen a musician in a wheelchair? i don’t remember it if i have. and i am at a loss to understand why that is. are we humans so horrified by people in wheelchairs that we cannot consider pop culture figures being in any way imperfect? i mean, there’s no reason that i know of why people in wheelchairs can’t be musicians. i know we value appearance very  highly, but there must be fat, ugly people, or people who are unable to walk,  who can sing and/or act just as well if not better than pretty, skinny, fully “able” people. is there a reason i never see them? am i just not looking in the right place? is there a “handicap channel” on cable tv that i’m not getting? (which would perhaps be even more horrifying.)

maybe it’s just me. have you ever seen a performer on tv, or know of a musician, who is wheelchair-bound?

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Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

5 thoughts on “where are all the cripples?”

  1. Yes, I have, but I’m on the lookout for them.

    Mitch Longley (Las Vegas, Judging Amy, Joan of Arcadia, Port Charles)
    Daryl “Chill” Mitchell (Brothers, Ed)
    Teal Sherer (Warm Springs)
    Alan Toy (Trauma Center, etc)
    and reaching back, Lionel Barrymore played many roles using crutches or a wheelchair as his arthritis progressed

    Other disabilities:
    Marlee Matlin (The L Word, West Wing, Reasonable Doubts, etc)
    Shoshannah Stern (Jericho)
    Jim Byrnes (Wiseguy, Highlander)
    Robert David Hall (CSI, The Practice)

    Vic Chesnutt
    Justin Hines
    Teddy Pendergrass
    Itzhak Perlman
    Thomas Quasthoff (little person, not wheelchair user)

    Feel free to cry discrimination – there’s a widespread belief among casting directors that “there aren’t any good disabled actors” so they are forced (poor things) to cast big name non-disabled actors in disabled roles. And there’s a sad lack of awareness that many roles are disability-neutral and could be played by a disabled actor as well as by anyone else.

  2. when i started reading your post, my mind went immediately to tyrone giordano, who played ashton kutcher’s brother in “a lot like love” and played one of the siblings in “the family stone.” tyrone isn’t in a wheelchair, so i suppose it’s not the same, but he is deaf and has played some really great characters in these movies (he’s been in some other stuff i’ve never seen before, too); characters who brought more to the story than “the deaf guy,” and who i suspect were not written originally as deaf characters but were re-written to accommodate him.

    but, anyway, you’ve given me something to look into, because i’m interested to see if there’s anybody we haven’t thought of. i do know that christopher reeve was in a remake of “rear window” after his accident, which i recall being thought to be in extremely poor taste–i’ve only seen the original so i can’t really comment–and having looked at his IMDB page, it seems he appeared in a few roles while in a wheelchair, but i’m not sure if he counts; his acting chops were kind of already determined before he was wheelchair bound.

  3. It’s not a wheelchair, but Jacqueline du Pré (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacqueline_du_Pré) was a famous cellist who had MS. Listserve just published a “10 famous musicians with disabilities” list (http://listverse.com/2010/02/14/10-famous-musicians-with-disabilities/). I was hoping to see someone with a wheelchair there (well, I wasn’t hoping that someone was weelchair-bound, but that someone who was was a performer, if you get my drift), but sadly nobody made that list.

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