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Physically Impaired

ED/NBC/2000-2004 (Crippled)
**(Daryl “Chill” Mitchell) Eli Cartwright Goggins III, an African-American in a wheelchair who becomes the newly hired supervising manager of the Stuckeybowl Bowling Alley. To get the job, Eli lied that he had all sorts of bowling alley experience. Ed Stevens, the owner of the bowling alley investigated Eli's background and despite all the lies about being qualified, Ed hired Eli because he liked Eli's confidence and positive get-things-done attitude. The Eli character joined the series in the fall of 2002. Note: In an internet interview Ed's Big Chill by Daniel R. Coleridge (TV Guide Insider August 7, 2002) paraplegic actor Mitchell who hurt himself in 2001 explains:

"I was in a motorcycle accident in November, which left me paralyzed from the mid-chest down," the actor recalls. "This show is a great blessing. It means more to me than just a job — it's my first job back after my accident. It was all about, 'Will I be able to produce... spiritually, physically, emotionally?'

"It was just about coming back to work and being able to perform," he adds. "It was a serious head trip until we got the first scene in the can! They were like, 'We want energy and attitude.' Well, I brought the 'tude."

Mitchell had previously held steady jobs on situation comedies VERONICA'S C:LOSET and THE JOHN LARROQUETTE SHOW

EDGEWISE/MSNBC/1996 (Crippled)
*(John Hockenberry) John Hockenberry, wheelchair-bound host of this hour-long program that fused "a talk show with a film festival." EDGEWISE incorporated images from conventional newsreels to outlandish public-access footage.

ELVIRA'S MOVIE MACABRE/KHY-TV/1981/SYN/1983 (Burn Injury)
*(Cassandra Peterson) Redheaded beauty who donned a long black slinky dress and wig to become Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, hostess of KHJ-TVs horror movie show originating from Los Angeles. When she was two years of age, Cassandra accidentally scalded her body with a kettle of boiling water. Living in Colorado Springs with her father, an insurance agent and her mother, a costume shop owner, Cassandra had to cope with her disfigurement and the jeers of childhood companions who called her a "monster." Now that she's a horror show hostess she gets to flaunt her scars (only her facial and cleavage areas didn't suffer severe burns). See also - "Elvira" at HORROR SHOW HOSTS

ER/NBC/1994+ (Injured Leg)
**(Laura Innes/costar) Dr. Kerry Weaver, a physically challenged emergency room attending physician working at Chicago's County General Hospital who used a cane and dragged her left foot. Her condition was later revealed to be Congenital Hip Dysplasia. Being adopted, Kerry always wondered if she was given away as a newborn because she was "not" perfect. However, when Kerry finally met her birth mother as an adult, she learned that her mother was just young and unable to give the child a proper home. Her birth mother didn't even know that the baby had a birth defect until Kerry told her.

TRIVIA NOTE: Innes drew inspiration for her role from her sister Kathy Innes, a budget director for the health department of Multnomah County, Oregon, who was left without the use of her left arm as a result of polio contracted at the age of five.

(Severed Arm)
**(Paul McCrane) Dr. Robert Romano, an obnoxious head ER surgeon working at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. On episode "Chaos Theory (a.k.a. Unknown Origin) - first aired September 26, 2002 - Dr. Romano backed into the spinning tail rotor blade of a rescue helicopter on the rooftop of County General while arguing with fellow doctor Luka Kovac. His severed arm was surgically reattached by Dr. Anspaugh and a lengthy regime of physical therapy ensued. Unfortunately, the severing of his nerves affected his dexterity in the operating room and Romano soon realized his days as a surgeon were numbered. In 2003, Romano died just as he exited the hospital to get some fresh air after a panic attack over seeing a helicopter on the roof of the hospital. Ironically, the helicopter experienced trouble, fell to the street and crushed Romano to death. Actor Paul McCrane who is nothing like his character described Dr. Romano as "Gleefully malicious" and asserted “You can’t just hate him; well, you CAN really hate him, but there’s something that’s sort of attractive in how much you want to strangle the guy.”

EVERYONE CAN EXERCISE/SYN/1991 (Crippled)
*(Maria Serrao) Maria Serrao, a 5' 4" 107 pound wheelchair-bound fitness instructor who hosted the first nationally syndicated cable fitness program targeted specifically at the disabled. Motivated to lose 50 pounds of weight, Serrao designed a series of exercises that included aerobics, stretching, weight training and low-fat diet. Her efforts soon blossomed into her successful cable program which premiered in November 1991. Serrao received her disability in childhood when at the age of five, a drunk driver hit the car her mother was driving, causing permanent damage to her spinal cord which paralyzed both her legs. Serrao's acting credits include a small part in 1980 film Inside Moves with John Savage; a TV role playing a physically challenged rape victim on 21 JUMP STREET; followed by parts on GENERAL HOSPITAL, KNOTS LANDING, CAGNEY & LACEY and DIFF'RENT STROKES. She continues to follow her simple philosophy on life "What's right with me is so much more important that what's wrong with me. My goals and my love of life are stronger than my disability" (People Weekly 4/17/95 p.75-76)

FACTS OF LIFE/NBC/1979-88 (Cerebral Palsy)
**(Geri Jewell) Geri, the handicapped relative of snobbish, Blair Warner. The role of Geri, an aspiring nightclub comic with Cerebral Palsy, was introduced in 1981. In real life, Jewell acknowledged her own handicap and poked-fun of it in her comedy routine with such humorous quips as "Ever notice there are no handicapped people on TV? Name That Handicap?...Bowling For Crutches?...I've had some really high bowling scores, only never in my lane." or "I'm not drunk, I've got Cerebral Palsy. That's CP-not to be confused with MD, MS, VD or ET." Born prematurely, Geri was diagnosed with CP at 18 months. Her additional loss of hearing forced her to become proficient at lip reading. She also limps when she walks. After many hours of therapy, her palsy has improved from severe to mild.

TRIVIA NOTE: Cerebral Palsy is a paralysis resulting from developmental defects in the brain or a trauma to the brain occurring at birth. The chief characteristics are uncontrollable muscle spasms.

FANTASY ISLAND/ABC/1978-84 (Little Person & Injured Leg)
*(Herve Villechaize/costar) Tattoo, a 3-foot 11-inch mischievous manservant dressed in a white suit who worked on the mysterious Fantasy Island where dreams came true. When the airplane bearing guests to the island was seen on the horizon, Tattoo rushed to ring the bell in the mansion tower. There he bellowed his catchphrase, "De plane!, De plane!" Villechaize left the series in 1983 over a salary dispute. In 1988, Villechaize wrote "I am a man trapped in a boy's body. I accept it. But I do not have to like it." On September 4, 1994 Herve Villechaize mortally shot himself in the chest on the patio of his Los Angeles home. A suicide note revealed that, although he "loved everybody," he could no longer bear his ailments. He had suffered medical problems from his undersized lungs and nearly died of pneumonia the year before. The Paris-born actor wanted to allow a doctor specializing in dwarfism to study his remains and then he wanted to be cremated and his ashes distributed at sea. Ricardo Montalban who costarred on the series also had a physical disability. Back in 1951, Montalban was thrown from his horse while portraying an Indian in Across the Wide Missouri, a western starring Clark Gable. He landed on his back and suffered a spinal hemorrhage. The Mexican born-actor still had a telltale limp from that accident.

FEELING FREE/PBS/1978 (Various Handicaps)
*30-Minute educational series designed to ease "mainstreaming" of handicapped children into normal school systems and life. It featured regulars performing in studios and on location.

FIRST MONDAY/NBC/2002 (Crippled)
*(Charles Durning/costar) Justice Henry Hoskins, an elderly, overweight, Supreme Court Justice based in Washington, DC who roams the halls of the nation's Supreme Court in his motorized wheelchair.

FRIENDS/NBC/1994-2004 (Missing Toe)
*(Matthew Perry/costar) Chandler Bing, a data processing executive is missing the little toe from his right foot. He lost it during a Thanksgiving dinner when Monica Geller (Courtney Cox) accidentally dropped a large chopping knife onto the floor. The knife cut through Chandler's canvas shoe and severed his toe. He immediately went to the hospital to have it reconnected. Unfortunately, in the rush to get to the hospital, Monica mistakenly put a piece of a carrot in the bag of ice meant to preserve the toe. Consequently, Chandler's buddy, Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) dubbed him, Sir Limps-a-lot. Chandler was also born with a third nipple. He called it a "Nubbin'" and finally had it removed in his twenties. See also ANATOMY: Nipples (Chandler Bing)

THE FUGITIVE/ABC/1963-67 (Injured Arm)
**(Bill Raisch) Fred Johnson, a one-armed itinerant worker who killed Helen Regan Kimble, the wife of pediatrician Richard Kimble living in Stafford, Indiana. When Dr. Kimble was falsely convicted of his wife's murder, he escaped the police on the way to the death house and began a four-year search for his wife's killer. On August 29, 1967, the one-armed man was cornered atop a tower of an amusement park and plunged to his death when he was shot by Lt. Gerard, a police officer who previously hadn't believed Kimble's story of a nameless one armed-man fleeing the scene of the original murder. In reality, Bill Raisch, a Marine Corps veteran, actually lost his right arm from a casualty sustained during World War II while fighting a shipboard fire. The burns were so severe, the arm was amputated. Raisch, a regular movie stand-in for actor Burt Lancaster, died in 1984 at the age of 79.

GET SMART/NBC/CBS/1965-70 (Little Person & Disabled Arm)
**(Michael Dunn) Mr. Big, an evil dwarf working for the criminal organization KAOS. On the series pilot Mr. Big, steals a Doomsday Machine, kidnaps its inventor, and threatens to destroy major cities of the world unless he's paid $100 million. Another KAOS agent named The Claw (played by Leonard Strong) was the head of the Chinese branch of KAOS. He has a false left arm with a magnet for a left hand. He operates from the Shanghai a-Go-Go and a Chinese laundry in San Francisco. His name is pronounced "Craw, not Craw."

GUNSMOKE/CBS/1955-75 (Crippled Right Leg)
**(Dennis Weaver) Chester Goode, a crippled frontier deputy living in Dodge City who walked with a pronounced limp (his right leg was as stiff as a post). When searching for the town marshal, Matt Dillon, Chester shouted his catchphrase "Mister Dillon, Mister Dillon." The idea of making Chester handicapped came from Dennis Weaver. He proposed the idea to the show's producers and they told him OK go ahead and do it. But upon reflecting on the role Weaver confessed "If I had known at the time I would be walking stiff-legged for nine years, I would have thought twice about it. Did you ever try to make a fire with a stiff leg or put a boot on. It's tough to do." Weaver had to take Yoga lessons to keep himself in condition for the job. According to a video remembrance of Dennis Weaver:

“Traditionally, the sidekick is too old, too young, too fat to get involved with the fights.” Therefore, the producers of the show wanted Weaver’s character to be non-violent and that he would not carry a gun. Weaver thought about the character line and decided that maybe if his knee was frozen, a stiff leg would help define his character as a sidekick. After proposing the idea to the producers and getting their approval, Weaver began to practice walking stiff legged for the part. Years later, reflecting on the idea of a handicapped character, Weaver lamented “If I had known I was going to have to walk stiff-legged for nine years, I might have never suggested the idea. Did you ever try to build a fire with a stiff leg? Why I had to take Yoga lessons to be able to do the things I did. It‘s tough to do.”

HARRY-O/ABC/1974-76 (Injured Back)
*(David Janssen) Harry Orwell, a San Diego police officer forced to retire when he got shot in the back. The bullet lodged too close to his spine and thus ruled out surgery. Any sudden exertion and the bullet could shift position and cause paralysis or death. However, Harry occasionally disregarded the danger of his condition and took on private investigation assignments to help those in need (and to supplement his disability pension). Because his car didn't work, Harry always traveled by city bus. He later moved to Santa Monica.

HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES/SYN/1992-98 (Injured Leg)
*(Jim Byrnes) Joe Dawson, the section head of a secret society known as "The Watchers who monitored the movements of a race of immortals living on Earth. Joe had an injured leg and walked with the assistance of a cane. See also - "Wiseguy"

HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN/NBC/1984-89 (Paralyzed)
*(James Froesh) Scotty, a lawyer paralyzed from the neck down who moved about in a motorized wheelchair equipped with chin controls. The Scotty character occasionally appeared on this fantasy series about an angel from heaven who helped those in need. James Froesh's paralysis began when he broke his neck at the age of 14 when he fell off the roof of his friend's house after accidentally hitting a high voltage wire. Years later, Froesh's wife, Teresa, sent a script about their love affair to Michael Landon, the program's producer and their characters were written into a few of the show's episodes.

THE HONEYMOONERS/CBS/1955-56 (Injured Thigh)
*(Art Carney/costar) In July of 1944 Art Carney was sent to France as a US Army Infantryman and was wounded in the thigh by a piece of shrapnel while setting up a machine gun. He was sent to a hospital for nine months to recuperate, but the wound permanently shortened his right leg by three-quarters of an inch. Art Carney is most remembered as Ed Norton, the zany sewer worker and friend of bus driver, Ralph Kramden on the classic situation comedy THE HONEYMOONERS/CBS/1955-56. Years later he appeared as James "The Weasel" Cavanaugh, on the domestic comedy THE CAVANAUGHS/CBS/1986-89.

HOUSTON KNIGHTS/CBS/1987-88 (Multiple Sclerosis)
**(Madlyn Rhue) Annie Hartung, a wheelchair-bound police officer injured in the line of duty. Madlyn Rhue was actually a victim of multiple sclerosis, a crippling disease affecting the nervous system. Her MS condition became apparent after a car accident some 10 years earlier.

I'VE GOT A SECRET/CBS/1952-67/SYN/1972 & 76 (Limped)
**(Bill Cullen) Bill Cullen, popular TV game show host who sported a limp due to a childhood bout with polio. He first appeared as a panelist on the popular game show I'VE GOT A SECRET and later emceed such shows as CHAIN REACTION, EYE GUESS, PLACE THE FACE, THE PRICE IS RIGHT and NAME THAT TUNE.

IN LIVING COLOR/FOX/1990-94 (Cerebral Palsy & Injured Hip)
*(Damon Wayans/costar) Clark Bent, a black mailroom man who worked for the Daily Glove newspaper. Clark's alter ego was Handi-Man, a physically challenged superhero with gnarled hands who fought the likes of Doctor Naughty (Jim Carrey), who hated the handicapped because he once received a ticket for parking in a handicapped spot. Handi-man wore a white cap and a handicap-blue costume with a wheelchair logo on his chest. He was occasionally assisted by a dwarfish blonde person called the Tiny Avenger. After vanquishing the bad guys Handi-man said "Never underestimate the powers of the handicapped." The show also featured a strangely handicapped police officer called THE HEAD DETECTIVE, (Damon Wayans) so named because all he was...was a head sitting on a pair of shoes with a small pair of arms sprouting from his neck. He worked undercover with a police officer named Adam (Keenan Ivory Wayans) who carried "Head" around in a bowling bag. According to the series script the Head Detective was "Built sort of like a Mr. Potato Head: his hands are attached to flexible rods which come out of his ears, and his head rests on two large floppy shoes. A gun is permanently stuck to the palm of one hand, and a police badge is permanently stuck to the palm of the other. The hands sway up and down on a flexible rod." Another handicapped character was Mr. Macavey (played by David Alan Grier), a high school teacher with the responsibilities of monitoring hallways. He carried around a miniature bull horn and hobbled about on his shatter hip. He injured himself playing an innocent game of Twister. As his character said "Left hand. Blue dot. That's all she wrote."

IRONSIDE/NBC/1967-75 (Crippled)
*(Raymond Burr) Robert T. Ironside, former Chief of Detectives for the San Francisco Police Department who was confined to a wheelchair when paralyzed (from the waist down) by a sniper's bullet. He was shot with a .30 Springfield rifle (the bullet grazed his spine) wielded by Honor Thompson (Geraldine Brooks), who owned a Sausalito metal art shop called the Forge. Confined to St. Mary's Hospital in Sonoma, Ironside recovered and returned to work as a special consultant to the police commissioner. He traveled the streets of San Francisco in a specially fitted police van equipped with an electric ramp for easy access/exit. He was assisted by Mark Sanger (Don Mitchell), a young black man who drove the van and pushed Ironside's wheelchair.

JAG/NBC/CBS/1995-2005 (Lost Right Leg)
**(Patrick Labyorteaux) Lt. j.g. Bud Roberts, naval aide and legal clerk who later went to night courses in law school and passed the bar. He originally worked as a public affairs officer on the USS Seahawk and later worked for the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps of the U.S. Navy. In the spring of 2002, Bud lost his right leg (below the knee) when he stepped on a land mind in Afghanistan while attempting to save a young boy standing in a mine field. He suffered a lot of phantom pain and worried that he would never feel normal again. After his recovery, Bud returned to his duties with the JAG. He received a Purple Heart and was fitted for a prosthesis. Bud was married to Ensign Harriet Sims in May 1998, a former public affairs officer who replaced Bud on the USS Seahawk and later transferred to JAG headquarters in 1997. They had a baby boy.

JOAN OF ARCADIA/CBS/2003-2005 (Crippled)
**(Jason Ritter) Kevin Girardi, the son of a police chief, Will Girardi (Joe Mantegna) and the brother of Joan Girardi (Amber Tamblyn), a 16-year-old girl who has conference with God on a regular basis. Kevin, a former high-school sports star, had an car accident and lost the use of his legs. Now wheelchair-bound, he copes with his new condition. Kevin's mother, Helen Girardi (Mary Steenburgen) reluctantly accepts her oldest son's paraplegic condition and like a good mother, continually tries to inspire Kevin to move on with his life. During one episode of grief, Kevin, wallowing in pity, burned the family photo album that contained pictures of him before he had the accident. Jason's sister Joan who talks to God (he talks back in various disguises) would like God to cure his brother, but God has other plans for Jason and the people of the city of Arcadia. NOTE: Jason Ritter, is the son of deceased actor John Ritter. Ironically, while John Ritter made his mark through comedic stumbling and pratfalls, his son, Jason's TV role is unceremoniously stuck in a wheelchair.
 

Kevin: And if you need me to roll over anyone, let me know.
Luke: (to Kevin) It's your turn to set the table.
Kevin: My arms are tired!
Kevin: (talking to Will) You're going to be proud of me again.

KGTV CHANNEL 10 NEWS (Crippled Hands)
*(Bree Walker), Anchor woman on KGTV Channel 10 News in San Diego, California whose disabled hands were clearly visible during the broadcast. Her condition is called complete complicated syndactylism (bones and skin of hands and feet are fused together appearing like primitive claws). Despite hard times, like the time she found out her high school boyfriend was calling her "Lobster Claws" behind her back, she struggled through it all and graduated from the University of Minnesota. To fool interviewers in a pursuit of a job in the media industry she wore a prosthetic glove. Bree's intelligence and good looks helped overcome TVs obsession with "perfect" looks. In 1983-84, she had surgery to try to relieve the chronic pain in her feet. Born in Austin, Minnesota, Ms. Walker, a beautiful blonde with a dazzling smile, jokingly called herself "The Firecracker Safety Poster Girl." Bree was the youngest of four children of a service station manager and his wife. She now lives with her husband in San Diego. In 1991 she anchored the news at KCBS in Los Angeles (later KNSD-TV in San Diego as of 1998). Her decision to have children (who could inherit her condition) caused controversy in the media at the time.

KING OF THE HILL/FOX/1997+ (Damage Shins)
Cotton Hill (voice of Toby Huss) Hank Hill's father, a veteran of World War II, now living in Arlen, Texas. During the war, Cotton was hit by a spray of Japanese machine gun fire while fighting in the Pacific Islands. The damage ripped off his shins and consequently, the Army doctors reattached his feet to the remaining portion of legs. This gave Cotton a shorter stature and an awkward gait. Cotton's personality is loud, obnoxious and disrespectful to women. It's not known whether his bad temper and politically incorrect attitude are a result of the trauma from his war wounds or whether he's always just been such a jerk. He retired from the military as Colonel, often boasts of his killing 50 ("fiddy") men, and expects everyone to "hop to" when he's in his presence. He currently is married to his second wife, a younger, ditzy, blond nurse whom Cotton smacks on the rump when she passes him by. Although Hank Hill is his first son, Cotton fathered a second son whom he calls "Good Hank" after he divorced Hank's mother.
 


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