The illustrious history of Hollywood film is not only for the perfectly-sighted and fully able-bodied. Actors, directors, producers and behind-the-scenes workers come from all backgrounds, each making their own unique impact upon the face of the silver screen. Many of these legends, from long ago up to the present day, and despite being visually impaired, live on in the public memory as beloved and celebrated stars.
Blind Actors in Film and Television
One of the most accomplished blind artists in film history, British actor Esmond Knight appeared on stage and in film for more than 50 years. He lost his sight in the Battle of the Denmarck Strait in 1941, regaining only some of the vision in his right eye. One of his most famous roles was as Professor Reinhart in British television show "A for Andromeda," but he also starred in such popular films as "Superman IV", 1941's "Hamlet", and "The Red Shoes."
Another famed English actor, Rex Harrison, became blind in one eye due to childhood measles. Being visually impaired did not stop his career, where he became well known as the title character in "Doctor Dolittle" and the leading man in "My Fair Lady." Harrison won two Tony Awards and a single Academy Award during his career.
Entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., who lost his left eye in an automobile accident, had an illustrious acting and singing career as part of the Hollywood Rat Pack and the star of his own TV variety show.
Tom Sullivan, who became permanently blind through a treatment mistake at birth, went on to enjoy a long career as an actor, director and producer. He appeared in episodes of "Touched By an Angel," "Designing Women," "M*A*S*H" and more.
Blind Directors in Film and Television
Director Andre de Toth, a Hungarian-American filmmaker, lost an eye while young, which did not stop him from becoming a well-known name in genre film. He was best known for his work on 3D film "House of Wax," although due to being visually impaired, he could not view the 3D effects himself.
Joseph Monks, director of "The Bunker," is blind by way of diabetes, and is the first blind director to complete and distribute a feature film.
Although the work was challenging, these Hollywood artists did not let being visually impaired get in the way of their careers. With advances in film technology, visual impairment does not mean missing out on the filmgoing experience as part of the audience, either. New audio description track technology can allow blind or partially blind audience members enjoy movie magic without missing out on the action. Quality is important in creating an enjoyable descriptive video, which can best be achieved through an experienced descriptive video production company.
Timothy Shrudler is a freelance author and film critic. He is a movie enthusiast and recognizes the importance of descriptive video (more info here) for the visually impaired.