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Famous People With Tourettes

Eric Cartman

Eric Cartman from Le Petit Tourette

James Durbin of American Idol fame didn’t talk that much about his Tourette’s Syndrome, but it was obvious to me that he had tics, particularly when he would finish singing and was waiting for feedback from the judges.

I recently gave a lecture at the University of Utah in the linguistics department. I asked the question: Who can name some famous people Tourettes? Not one answer, and I couldn’t even find it in me to tell them about James Durbin.

Back when my mother was trying to find out if I had Tourette’s, she hunted for role models for me, just in case. The results weren’t that encouraging. She read a book that mentioned that Mozart might have had tics, and that some of the poor suckers from the Salem Witch Trials might not have been possessed by the Devil after all, but may have just been twitching like yours truly.

In the past year I have gotten more interested in finding out if how many famous people are out there with Tourette’s.

This list will be a work in progress. If you have an addition, please tell me and I’ll add it. Some of the names below (like Mozart) will be based on speculation. I’m also going to toss in some fictional characters who have TS or pretend they have it.

One other note: sometimes any sort of Obsessive Compulsive Behavior (OCD) gets lumped in with or diagnosed as Tourette’s. For instance, soccer player David Beckham is listed on a couple of sites as having TS, but most of what I read simply sounds like he has OCD.

Not everyone, even among specialists, agrees exactly what TS is or when it starts.

Famous people with Tourette’s Syndrome

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Those poor Salem Witches, maybe
  • Eric Cartman (one episode of South Park)
  • The main character of Jonathan Lethem’s novel Motherless Brooklyn
  • Samuel Johnson (famous lexicographer and a man after my own heart–I’d be thrilled to find out he actually had it)
  • NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (original name was Chris Jackson)
  • Howard Hughes
  • Dan Ackroyd
  • Howie Mandel
  • One of Deuce Bigalow’s dates
  • James Durbin
  • Baseball player Jim Eisenreich
  • Musician Micheal Wolff
  • Tim Howard, soccer player for Manchester United
  • Josh Hanagarne, Z List celebrity (that’s me!)

Josh

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eric | Eden Journal June 15, 2011, 12:58 pm

    Deuce Bigalow’s date, that’s the only one that I would have been able to think of. I’m suprised at Dan Ackroyd and Howie Mandel, I’ve never heard of them having it. Do some of these folks have a mild case or something where it’s not as obvious?

  • Deborah November 15, 2011, 9:36 pm

    Tim Howard, is also the US World Cup goalie

    • Josh Hanagarne November 15, 2011, 10:18 pm

      Thank you.

      • Deborah November 16, 2011, 5:41 am

        And thank you as well. Like others reading your blog, I am a parent of a child with TS. My son won’t read it because he’ll need to ” try” your tics and that scares him. But I can read & then pass on your ideas and stories. Deborah

  • jayne January 19, 2012, 2:18 pm

    I have tourettes and so does my son. I get worried of trying other peoples tics Deborah. Not many famous people with tourettes then?? Well im famous in my own town that’ll do! Jayne xx

    • Josh Hanagarne January 19, 2012, 3:10 pm

      All right, Jayne. Consider yourself added to the list. Your soon too!

  • Deborab January 19, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Yeah Jayne!
    In the past few months, my son has really been challenged by his tics (he’s considered a moderate case to begin with) so when this new cycle kept getting more intense it really surprised us all. (It shouldn’t have though). In any case, like you Josh, my son turns towards humor and the video camera for just about anything. He and his friends make videos all the time, but he’s never made one on his Tourettes until now. I’m so proud of him for getting himself out there like this, even if he is poking a bit of fun at others. He was responding to an event in one of his classes that was extremely upsetting. If you care to watch:
    http://t.co/CabT9DCJ

    Take care
    ;-D

  • jayne January 19, 2012, 6:42 pm

    Thanks Josh!!
    Debbie that’s fab your son did that, how brave! At his age my tourettes was so bad I dont even want to go into it on a light hearted blog. My son is 12 so waiting for his tourettes to go out of control any day. Im 30 so mine has settled to maybe 7-10 tics I occassionally get a new one but doesn’t seem to stay too long. Its such hard work for me. You have to use humour or you’d cry! Tourettes is a painful thing and I am proud of your son for putting something up so public. Good for him!
    You’re both american!! Im english 🙂

  • jayne January 19, 2012, 6:46 pm

    Ps Eric. Mine isn’t always noticible, you’d have to be with me 24 hours sometimes to notice, I’ve become very good at hiding it and also its settled as im older so yes its not always obvious but it is always painful. I have a thumb and arm tic at the moment you’d have to watch very careful to see it and if you saw me for a short period you’d assume I was just stretching.

  • Deborah January 19, 2012, 7:13 pm

    Jayne! Your comments are so encouraging.
    As i mentioned, he really dies have a mild case possibly a lot like your TS is now. His new vocal tics though are doing him in. I think theres one on the video. Somehow he is able to keep them in check while on camera! Who knew it? We’re just starting to think about bio feedback. Do you know anything about it?
    Deborah

  • Susan May 14, 2012, 7:11 am

    Just a note Tim Howard does not play for Man U any more. He now plays for Everton. Plus he was the goalie for the USA World Cup team.

  • Jayne May 14, 2012, 8:38 am

    I was just looking for some help/support groups on the internet and had an email for this, which I totally forgot about. So anyway, while I am switched on does anyone know any or anyone want to be my Tourettes moaning buddy?? xx

    • Josh Hanagarne May 14, 2012, 9:34 am

      Jayne, I’ll be your Tourettes moaning buddy. And I’m going to start putting that on my resumes. Send me an email and we’ll set up a time to talk, if you like.

  • Jayne May 14, 2012, 10:23 am

    How can i send you an email where everyone else can’t see it?

    • Josh Hanagarne May 14, 2012, 10:28 am

      Use the contact form up at the top of the page.

  • Emily June 5, 2012, 5:39 pm

    Michael Wolffs Son, Nat Wolff, Who is also a Musician and Actor also has Tourettes.

  • AMJ August 23, 2012, 1:08 pm

    The most famous person in our house that has Tourettes (besides my significant other) is Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg. He is a professional freestyle motocross rider and off road truck racer.

  • Jessica October 2, 2012, 11:29 am

    You may not have realized some of these people have/had tourette’s because the severeness of it dies down as you get older. So some of the older celebrities probably don’t have it anymore.

    • Josh Hanagarne October 2, 2012, 12:58 pm

      Thanks Jessica. I just want to know who has it, or has had it.

  • Jayne October 2, 2012, 1:16 pm

    I am pregnant (!!) and my tics have pretty much all dies off-how crazy!!

  • Jayne October 2, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Thanks! Wonder if they’ll stay gone, I still maybe tic a couple of times a day but virtually nothing!!

  • Charlotte Brown October 14, 2012, 6:04 pm

    I have had it since I was about seven. I am now almost 63…and still have it! I am a librarian at a college, and started college @ the young age of 43. I made it my mission to educate everyone I was in class with about Tourette’s, since they didn’t know what it was when I was younger. My nephew, my brother’s son, also has it. None of my children or grandchildren do. I mostly have facial tics and some hand/eye problems. Good luck to you all! I am donating my brain when I die so perhaps they can find a way to cure this thing!

    • Josh Hanagarne October 14, 2012, 7:54 pm

      Very nice to meet another ticking librarian!

  • Tara October 26, 2012, 12:41 pm

    I think Dennis Rodmam, Mark Beckam and Neve Cambell’s brother have Tourettes