13 Famous Deaf Celebrities with Hearing Problems

The struggle with hearing loss and deafness is nothing new to the world of celebrity. Hollywood actors, musicians, athletes, and celebrities of every background include people affected by hearing loss and experience hearing problems too. Some have received treatment from a hearing clinic, while others learn to adapt their lifestyles to accommodate their conditions.

These famous deaf celebrities have overcome hearing loss and communication setbacks to achieve acclaim in their category. Here is a list of thirteen inspiring famous deaf celebrities:

1. Bill Clinton

One of the most famous deaf celebrities alive, President Bill Clinton was fitted for hearing aids while he was still serving in 1997. Since then, he’s continued to experience worsening hearing loss, which is believed to be attributed to a combination of listening to loud music and age.


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2. Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert is deaf in his right ear and has been since he was a young boy. His deafness is the result of surgery on his inner-ear which was performed while he was elementary school age. The aforementioned surgery also altered the look of his ear which he regularly makes light of.


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3. Nyle DiMarco

The winner of Season 22 of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Nyle Dimarco is a model, actor, and a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model. Having founded the Nyle Dimarco Foundation, he continues to advocate for access to ASL and English for deaf children or children hard of hearing in the United States.


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4. William Shatner

Following an special effects explosion on the set of Star Trek in the late 1960s, William Shatner has suffered from tinnitus ever since. The popular actor continues to work with and through the American Tinnitus Association to advocate for research looking into a cure. William Shatner is one of the most famous deaf celebrities and advocates for hearing problems.


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5. Millicent Simmonds

Delivering tour-de-force acting performances in Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck (2017) and John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (2018), Millicent Simmonds lost her hearing at twelve months old after a medication overdose. Today, she’s one of the most popular up-and-coming young actors in Hollywood and is currently in talks to appear in the sequel to A Quiet Place.


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6. Derrick Coleman

Born with a genetic abnormality which caused hearing loss at only 3 years of age, Derrick Coleman is the only deaf player in the NFL. Never one to let him stop from achieving his goal of being a premiere athlete, Coleman currently plays with the Atlanta Falcons and has earned the title of being a Super Bowl champion earned in 2014 with the Seattle Seahawks.


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7. Pete Townshend

Due to loud music exposure for years in addition to an incident on NBC’s Smothers Brothers in 1967 involving an exploding drum set, The Who’s Pete Townshend suffers from partial deafness and tinnitus. Despite the significant damage done to his hearing, Townshend continues to write and perform, although for years this was something the popular musician struggled with.


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8. Whoopi Goldberg

Self-attributed to years of listening to loud music, Whoopi Goldberg has lost a significant amount of her hearing and now wears hearing aids. She continues to make weekly appearances on ABC’s The View, in addition to boasting a storied acting career with an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Jerry Zucker’s 1990 film Ghost.


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9. Grimes

One of the world’s most popular electro-pop singers, Grimes was forced to cancel a tour in 2012 due to increasingly worse tinnitus and hearing loss. These days, Grimes continues to tour and make critically-acclaimed records with her hearing loss seemingly under control.

10. Marlee Matlin

Deaf since eighteen months of age, she is perhaps one of the world’s greatest and most famous deaf actors. In 1986, Marlee Matlin won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Randa Haines’ Children of a Lesser God playing opposite William Hurt. In addition to being a published author, Matlin has appeared in countless acting roles since her Oscar and has been nominated more than 14 times for her work.


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11. Jane Lynch

Likely due to a high fever experienced in infancy, Jane Lunch is deaf in her right ear. In fact, up until the age of 7, she assumed everybody couldn’t hear out of her left ear. Needless to say, Lynch has gone on to acclaimed roles on films like Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year Old Virgin and TV shows like FOX’s Glee.


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12. Holly Hunter

Affected by a case of mumps when she was a child, Holly Hunter now lives with deafness in her left ear. Sadly, her deafness has given Hunter difficulty in learning musical instruments at an early age. This is ironically something Holly Hunter conquered in preparation for her 1993 film Jane Campion’s The Piano which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress that same year. Hunter’s reputation precedes her, as she maintains a storied acting career with more than 91 award nominations to her name.


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13. Halle Berry

Halle Berry has lost 80 percent of hearing in her right ear, which is attributed to a type 1 diabetes diagnosis and an incident of domestic violence when she was struck in the head in 2004 by her then-boyfriend. Having won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002 for Marc Forster’s Monster’s Ball.


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