Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Foods that Shut Down Stress

Foods that Shut Down Stress
You are what you eat. Foods can help you deal with STRESS and even shut it down! Many times what we eat during times of stress are actually the foods that can make it worse. The worst stress producers are foods such as coffee, cocktails, regular teas, caffeinated sodas, salty foods, candy bars, sugary desserts, and high fat foods. So what should you eat?
CAFFEINE-FREE BEVERAGES: Try green and herbal teas. They provide necessary trace minerals, such as zinc and selenium. Try some Chamomile tea or papaya juice which provide tryptophan, an amino acid with a tranquilizing effect.
RAW VEGETABLES: Along with being a great source of fiber, they also contain nerve-soothing potassium, and they are naturally low in sodium. Plus, you get vitamins A and D, and folic acid. Try some dark greens added to your salad: parsley, watercress, and dandelion.
WHOLE GRAINS and NUTS: Great sources of vitamin E, potassium, pantothenic acid (an anti-stress B vitamin). These are nutrients often missing from most fast foods. Magnesium (nature's tranquelizer) is abundant in nuts. Try a bran muffin, oatmeal, wheat germ cereal, and nuts and seeds (even better salt free).
YOGURT: Rich in vitamins A, D, B-complex and a great lowfat source of protein, It is high in calcium which eases the stress of insomnia and migraine headaches. Yogurt is digested 50% faster than regular milk or cheese, so it is very easy on the whole digestive system. Try a breakfast "sundae" made from alternating layers of plain yogurt and and fresh (or frozen) berries.
SEA VEGETABLES and SPROUTS: Dried seaweeds are an acquired taste, but a little can be good sprinkled a fish chowder or salad. Kelp, dulse, and spirulina are high in sodium, but also high in protein, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. And a cup of fresh sprouts has more vitamin C than strawberries. Try a salad with sprouts, greens, and some dulse flakes.
SOYBEANS: Soy foods are a great source of calcium, magnesium, B-complex vitamins, protein, and tryptophan. Soy is lower in calories, sodium and saturated fats than meats. Try a tuna salad with cubes of tofu mixed in, or roasted soynuts for a snack, or a tofu shake. Next time you're stressing out, reach for a food that can help your body shut down stress, instead of something that might add to it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunrise at Campobello


[The movie is adapted from a 3 act play by writer-producer Dore Schary which was first presented by The Theatre Guild in NYC on January 30, 1958 at the Cort Theatre.]
Mr. Schary discloses that once he decided to write the play, he knew that it would end with the powerful image of FDR at the podium at the Democratic National Convention in NYC.  "On June 26, 1924, FDR stood at the podium in Madison Square Garden and nominated Alfred E. Smith as the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party."
(Sunrise at Campobello: a play in three acts, Dore Schary, 1958, inside notes)
This movie covers 34 months in the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the day he gets sick at Campobello to the day FDR "stands" to deliver the nominating speech for New York Governor, Alfred Smith.  Ralph Bellamy captures the essence of FDR just as he did in broadway hit.  Hume Cronyn plays Louis Howe, FDR's friend and political advisor. The movie garnered 4 Academy Award® nominations: Best Actress for Greer Garson as Eleanor, Best Interior Decoration, Best Sound, and Best Costume Design.  You can see the beginnings of what author Hugh Gregory Gallagher calls "FDR's Splendid Deception" in his book of the same name.  (More on FDR's plans to do the nomination in Gallagher's book, FDR's Splendid Deception, p. 59-62)
FDR got infantile paralysis (called poliomyelitis, or polio) while vacationing at his family's summer home at Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada, in August 1921.  Although totally paralyzed by polio, FDR gains back the use of his arms and develops great upper body strength.  To the outside world, he appeared robust and healthy when in reality he was unable to walk unassisted.  He needed to use braces on both legs as well as crutches.  He mastered the art of appearing able-bodied (when he was not) by using a cane and the arm of a companion (often his son).  This deception was born of necessity especially for anyone with political aspirations, like FDR.  Though unsure that he could deliver the nominating speech on his feet, FDR assures NY Governor Smith: "You certainly can't make an effective speech sitting down." The movie exteriors were filmed at Campobello in NB, Canada, as well as in Manhatten and Hyde Park in NY. The interiors were duplicated from the real Roosevelt homes. There are ramps that FDR needed in order to accommodate his wheelchair (he used a kitchen chair with no sides that was fitted with wheels).  Also, shown is FDR's challenge to master his heavy metal braces which were admittedly hard to fit and often uncomfortable.  And, you see the pride FDR felt after learning how to pull himself upstairs by upper body strength and sheer determination.  Even though his mother was not at all as impressed with his "accomplishment." The movie gives a glimpse into FDR's life as he deals with the truth of his disability.  He faced many challenges, defeat, and ultimately despair as he tried in vain to strengthen his flail legs as he had his arms.  FDR was lucky to have the support he needed to get on with his life.  The press also respected his privacy to a greater degree than is possible today. Few still pictures were taken that show the extent of FDR's disability.  Most pictures show him either already seated or "propped" at the podium in such a way that he "appears" to be standing normally.  That takes tremendous effort and skill (something those with Polio often learn to do very well). As we know, FDR was elected a record four terms as US President.  And, he was a well respected world leader in spite of his tremendous disability.  In March 1957,  Dore Schary wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt to ask for permission to write the play:
"What I propose to tell is the story of a man and the people around him who, after an ordeal, emerged strong and triumphant.  I hope to write a tribute that will do justice to a phase of his life. I pledge my devotion and whatever skill I may have to do the task."    And then he adds, "I hope, with all my heart, that the task is well done." (This excellent docudrama, adapted from an award winning broadway play, is well worth watching.  It is sometimes shown on the movie channels, and was released on video in 1992.) Related Books: FDR's Splendid Deception, Hugh Gregory Gallagher, 1999.
  "The moving story of Roosevelt's massive disability--and the intensive efforts to conceal it from the public."
Sunrise at Campobello, a play in three acts, Dore Schary, 1958:
"This is a story of spirit and stamina and great personal courage.  It is the story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's fight to break free from the illness that crippled him...a fight, that was destined to determine the course of his life--and the lives of millions of Americans."

Pictures of FDR "standing":
FDR standing at a podium in GA.
FDR "braced" at podium (holds the lectern with his left hand and makes gestures with his right hand).
FDR standing with both braces, holding onto another person, and using a cane.
JKH, 2001 

Polio Epidemic in Lancaster, PA, 1953


These "hot packs" are woolen pieces of cloth that were super heated, and put on the affected limbs (both of my legs were paralysed). They were left on until they lost most all their heat, but were removed before they cooled too much. This was part of the treatment that Sister Kenny, a young nurse from Australia devised to help those with Polio. She was a wise woman, a nurse who was very under-appreciated at the time.
 This picture was one of many taken at the local hospital where I spent several weeks in isolation, and getting "hot pack" treatments, and physical therapy, before transferring to the State Hospital for rehabilitation. September, 1953

While I was in the Elizabethtown Crippled Children's Hospital (which is now part of the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA), I turned 6 years old. That's why I am dressed up and have all the gifts. My parents were only allowed to visit for a few hours every other Sunday. I sure missed them, as I spent almost a year in that hospital.

This is a picture of my mother visiting me. All visitors were required to wear masks. I am glad things are much better for kids who are hospitalized today. Parents are now allowed to be with their children for loving support. My mother even volunteered at the hospital in order to see me more often. They also brought food from home even though they weren't allowed to do that either.

This is my Dad, his mask is dropped!  Not long to visit, so it was hard for us kids to see our family members leave. But, I knew they loved me and would be back. And, someday, I just know that I would go home again...

Finally, after returning home, we took our first family vacation back to Ocean City. I had learned to walk quite well with a long, right leg brace or just using crutches. I loved to swim and loved to swim at the beach. I was allowed to do anything I felt I could do, and I grew up to be a typical teenager.  Below is a picture of me wearing my cool class jacket: Warwick High School, class of 1965.
Looks like I have a broken leg instead of a Polio operation one September.  A nice deception, but not the truth. My true friends didn't care, and I was blessed with many dear, true friends in my life.

© 2002 Jann Hartman, Polio Connectons (updated 10/2014)

Jann's Polio Story, 1953

I had a normal and very wonderful childhood in a small town in PA. Life was good, until the summer of 1953. I was about to start first grade in September, after a Labor Day Vacation in Ocean City, MD. I loved the beach! What we didn't know was that I had been exposed to the poliovirus, and it was replicating in me. When I got sick, I had typical "flu-like" symptoms of nausea, headache, muscle pains. That passed for the moment, and I had a great end-of-the-summer vacation. I did start school on the first day, but I did not feel well. It was a l-o-n-g day, and by the time I walked home, I was dragging my right leg. I was put to bed, and never returned to school that year. The next day, I could no longer use either leg and had to be carried to the bathroom.

By the end of the week, I was in Lancaster General Hospital (LGH) in total "isolation." No parents or any other visitors were allowed in my room. My parents did get permission to see and talk to me from the hallway wearing protective masks. I do not remember having the spinal tap that confirmed the awful diagnosis of "infantile paralysis." Also called "poliomyelitis" or just plain "polio". But, it is in my hospital records and might well have been one of things repressed by a scared little girl alone in the hospital. That diagnosis was to change the rest of my life.

There's an old saying that when you are dealt lemons, you make lemonade. That's a little too much for a 5 year old to handle all alone; but luckily, I had a wonderful family who helped me with the "lemonade." I got polio just a year or so before the Salk vaccine was considered safe enough to be distributed to all children in the schools. This "summer plague" was terrorizing families. Everyone knew someone who had had polio. But, I was the only one in my hometown to come down with this polio strain in September of 1953. My family was "quarantined," and my brother was not allowed to go to school. There was great fear of polio spreading to others. The clothes that I wore to the hospital were supposed to be burned. But, my mother was a good seamstress and had made them, so they did allow my mom to have my clothes dry cleaned, instead. It was a very hard time for my family. I knew nothing of what they were going through as was having to deal with a lot of things in the hospital on my own. This was before the days of having your family with you when you were a child in the hospital. I had to believe that what they were doing for me, to me, was for the best. There was no one to speak for me, and I felt a sort of abandonment because of the hospital rules at the time. My parents were wonderful and tried every way they could to be with me, and do things for me. I knew my parents and others were sad about what happened to me. I got lots of cards and gifts, and visits when allowed.

In the LGH, I had wonderful nurses who tried to be there and help when my family was not allowed. But, my days were filled with lots of unfamiliar medical interventions. I had my blood drawn more often than I care to remember, and daily shots for some reason. It provided me with a fear of needles that remains today. Back in those days needles were not disposable and so they were sterilized and reused...and dull! My long blond naturally curly hair ended up in knots from lying in bed, and it was cut short by the "barber". I was paralyzed from the neck down with my arms being spared (or so I thought at the time). I couldn't even lift my head up. I also thought I was spared pulmonary paralysis (bulbar polio) since I did not have to be put into the gigantic and scary "Iron Lung", but one sat out in the hall. My legs were wrapped in "hot, wool cloths" that were part of the Sister Kenny treatment. I was given a salt pill with a little molasses (to help it go down) each evening. The "hot packs", as they were called, were applied several times a day. After about six weeks, I was transferred to the State Hospital for Crippled Children, in Elizabethtown, PA. It was sad leaving LGH and the care of the nurses who had become a second family to me. I had been getting more visitors, and my room was becoming cheery. I even had been allowed to listen a radio somebody gave to me (there were no TVs in the hospital back then). I was becoming settled, and I guess I thought I would soon go home. Little did I know that it would be almost a year until I would be home. And, at Elizabethtown my life was to change yet again, and I would have another big adjustment to make.

I was put into a ward of children who had many kinds of crippling diseases. I have no ideas how many girls were in this "big room" with one little TV mounted near the ceiling at one end of the room. I remember being told that the girl in the bed next to me had Cerebral Palsy. I did not know of any other polios than myself, but I am sure there were others there at the time. For some reason, we were not allowed to have pillows, so I put my little teddy bear under my head at night. He became my constant companion in that hospital. We stored all our "stuff" in a drawer under the bed. I do not remember turning 6 the end of November, but there are pictures me and all the presents I received. I do not remember Thanksgiving. I barely remember Christmas. Although I do remember "Santa Claus" came to visit us in the ward one night. I got a ceramic angel, and it became a treasured possession. I was send cards and got many gifts. I do remember many small presents wrapped by my church Sunday School class. I could open one gift a day, and that was special. Because of the stringent rules in place at that time, I only got to see my parents every other Sunday for a few hours. Most of the time outsiders (even my own parents) had to wear masks: it was awful! It contributed to my feelings of separation and abandonment. I was not told what I needed to do to go home. I would have done anything. I hated the hospital routine, but I put up with it ("bravely," they said). I was a good little "trooper." I just wanted to go home, but they had other plans.

I was given physical therapy in the warm pool in the basement. I loved the warm water, but my memory is that this only happened about once a week or so. I was fitted for a right long leg brace which included a belt around my abdomen because of the weakness in my right hip and abdominal muscles. The brace included brown high-top orthopedic shoes to provide support to my ankles. My left leg had recovered nicely. I learned to walk with my new brace and a pair of wooden crutches. Once I mastered climbing up steps with a heavy piece of steel strapped to my right leg, I was sent home to continue the rest of my life. And, boy was I ready!

I was welcomed home (unlike some towns which forced "polios" to move out--they were like the AIDS patients today--feared). I was blessed to have family and friends for support. The neighborhood kids were invited to a party in my backyard to welcome me home. I even got a paper crown, and was declared "Queen of the Neighborhood". It was wonderful to be home, at last! People may have been afraid for their own children, but I never felt any of that. My childhood continued, and I even turned into a "tomboy". I bent my solid steel metal brace by jumping out of a tree! My parents were told to let me do whatever I wanted and not to "baby" me. They had a hard time letting me get myself up after a fall, but I was encouraged to learn how to take care of myself. And, I am grateful to whoever gave my parents that advise. I had many more trips to the hospital for operations, and trips to the brace man for new braces as I outgrew the old one, or for repair. But, in between, I was living a wonderful, nearly "normal" life again.

While I was in the State Hospital, some photographs were taken of me in the Physical Therapy Room. I barely remember why they were taken. But, it seems the photos were submitted to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (which became the March of Dimes) started by president Franklin D. Roosevelt. I became the Lancaster County Poster Child for 1955, and the posters were put up in businesses all over the county. My grandfather had one in his office for many years. It was even brown from his cigar smoke, but I still have it today (one of the only ones remaining, I'm sure). My mother was active with the "March of Dimes" and helped to raise a lot of money to help other polio survivors. I was lucky that my dad had good insurance from where he worked, but the National Foundation paid for some things not covered by the insurance, like continuing Physical Therapy. I was happy to be a part of such a wonderful organization. The Lancaster County office was run by Christian Rudy. He was a wonderful, compassionate man who ran a very good organization that helped countless polio patients get the medical help, therapy, and braces and other things that they needed. They even had a yearly Christmas Party for us. It was somehow fitting that they would give us back the "Christmas" that some of us didn't have in the hospital wards.

I participated in sports in school (very badly!). I even took baton twirling lessons (even though I couldn't march!). I was in the school play one year, and student director the other. I learned to drive my sophomore year, and loved this new found freedom. I did not have my own car, but was allowed to use the family's second car, an old greenish blue Ford Falcon. It was great! The very first McDonald's opened up in Lancaster only seven miles away, and my friends and I became constant visitors. It was a great place to meet guys. Like all teenagers in the 60s, I loved "rock and roll", American Bandstand, Elvis, the Beatles and the community dances! I loved to dance: "rock and roll", jitterbug, and even polkas and square dances. It was a good life. Being a teen was wonderful, and I found I could do most everything I wanted to do. Having had polio was no problem for me. I went to a small state college in upstate PA (now Mansfield University), and graduated in 1969 with a BS in Home Economics Education. I even had a teaching job lined up at Pottstown Junior High School before I graduated, and my future was looking good. Polio was something I had recovered from and it could no longer hurt me, or so I thought.

But by 1983, changes were happening to me. By this time, I have been married 13 wonderful years, and have 3 great little boys, and we are living in lower Delaware. It was during a trip to Epcot Center in Florida that I learned that I was no longer able to do all the things I used to do. After a morning walking around seeing the exhibits, I found I couldn't walk any further as my hip hurt so badly. We made it out of the park somehow (never thinking to ask for a wheelchair), and I thought I'd never be able to return to a park again. I stayed away from all flea markets and malls in fact anywhere that involved more than a little walking. In retrospect, what I was experiencing is called Post Polio Syndrome (PPS), but it was a few more years before I even know PPS existed...and even more before I was diagnosed with PPS...and then even more until I learned to accept it!

My diagnosis: As a polio survivor from 1953, I finally went to the local post-polio clinic here in Baltimore, MD [now closed, unfortunately]. My PPS was diagnosed at that first clinic visit in 1989, but I still did not know to cut back on my activities. In fact, with the boys all in school, I took a part time job with the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) where I worked as a Nutritionist and Lactation Consultant (LC) until 1996. The pressure was too much for me with quotas for client participation, lack of staff, and super full schedules. I enjoyed the counseling part and felt I contributed a great deal to the program. And with over 20 years experience with Breastfeeding and my Board Certification as an LC, we had a great program for moms and their families. I was sad to leave, and I became depressed for the very first time in my life. My family, friends, and the computer helped pull me out of my depression without medications. It has taken a year, but I feel I am getting a handle on how to get on with my life and enjoy my "retirement"! I am even using a wheelchair more especially for distances, and know I will someday I will most likely be using one all the time. But, I just see it as just one more change in my life: another adjustment to be made.

At this point in my life, I am convinced that I need to plan for the future to make the most of my remaining mobility. I am using mobility aids, like a wheelchair or electric scooter, because of my inability to walk. My husband, John, and I are not putting off anything until later that we can manage to do today. We have taken some wonderful vacations, weekend trips, and cruises. We have been to 11 countries in Europe visiting with some of our friends and family. We are planning to travel in our travel trailer, so I can rest when needed, and see more of the USA and Canada. After my husband retires, we hope to stay active in any way we can that will not tax the resources that my body has left. I do not have any regrets in my life. I have been surrounded with wonderful friends, too many to list, and I love them all. I am blessed to have wonderful parents and a big brother. And, most of all my partner for life: my husband, who has always been there for me; and our three boys. I feel very blessed, indeed...

I lost my dear husband in 2006, and need to do an update!

I enjoyed meeting some other people who were at the PA State Hospital for Crippled Children in Elizabethtown at the third reunion picnic at Long's Park in Lancaster one summer. They used to have a picnic about every two years, but the last one was in 2002. If you have been a patient there, please go to their website.

 © 2004 Jann Hartman, Polio Connections Blog (updated 10/2014)


This movie is based on the book, And They Shall Walk: The Life Story of Sister Elizabeth Kenny,
written in collaboration with Martha Ostenso, 1943.
This 1946 film stars Rosalind Russell as Sister Elizabeth Kenny, a nurse from Australia. Miss Russell insisted that the movie be made; and won a Golden Globe in 1947. That same year she also received an Academy Award® Nomination for the movie. As a nurse in the outback in Australia, Sr. Kenny found that there was no treatment for "infantile paralysis."  And, she was told to treat the symptoms presented.  That's exactly what she did, and the child recovered.  What worked for her was pieces of wool (torn from blankets) that were soaked in hot water and rung out so they wouldn't burn the skin.  Properly done, they provided relief for the affected muscles.  Next, she attempted to retrain the muscles.  This was the beginnings of the famous Kenny Method to treat polio.  However, Sr. Kenny's unorthodoxed methods were not embraced by the medical doctors (either in Australia or England). In 1940, she brought her polio treatments to the USA where her methods were given at least given a chance.  The Sister Kenny Institute, established in 1942, is now part of Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, MN.  "Sister Kenny's pioneering principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy."
(quote from the Sister Kenny Institute website) Dr. Henry Holland, a polio survivor from Virginia, writes:   "I thought at least two of the children with polio were real victims, a little boy with crutches and braces and a little girl with braces. The surgical amphitheatre pictured during the confrontation between the orthopedic doctors (Dr. Brach) and Sister Kenny brought back memories of my own medical training. However, I would like to say that this movie was a Hollywood production and was not a documentary." Karolyn Grimes, who was Carolyn (a little girl with polio in the movie) sent me this picture of herself with Sister Kenny and Rosalind Russell.Many Polio survivors will recognize themselves and the treatments portrayed in the movie.  It also shows what this Polio Pioneer gave up to dedicate her life to improving the lives of victims of the Polio Epidemics.

Books about Sister Elizabeth Kenny (1880-1952):
Sister Kenny: The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors by Victor Cohn
And They Shall Walk: The Life Story of Sister Elizabeth Kenny written in collaboration with Martha Ostenso
The Kenny Concept of Infantile Paralysis and Its Treatment by John Pohl, MD, in collaboration with Elizabeth Kenny.
Rosalind Russell's autobiography: Life is a Banquet

Other Links:
Dr. Henry writes about Sister Kenny
Sister Elizabeth Kenny: "A Brief History"
Sister Kenny:  Miracle Worker (including several pictures)

According to the movie is not available. They think that the studio that had rights to this film may have chosen to discontinue it, or their rights may have expired.  But, you may be able to get an old copy from one of the auction sites.   It also appears on TV from time to time.

BIOGRAPHY OF ELIZABETH KENNY (from the Minnesota Historical Society)
Elizabeth Kenny, the daughter of Michael and Mary Kenny, was born September 20, 1886* in New South Wales, Australia. At 16 she graduated from St. Ursula's College, Queensland, Australia. She received her nursing training at a private hospital and served as a nurse in the Australian bush country from 1911 to 1914. It was during this period that she encountered her first case of infant paralysis (1909) and developed her treatment for the disease. During World War I Kenny served as an Australian Army nurse and was promoted to the rank of "sister," the Nurse Corps equivalent to a first lieutenant. After the war Kenny returned to civilian nursing. Her treatment and concept of infant paralysis gained the recognition of the medical profession and the support of the Australian government. Her clinic at Townsville was given government status and Kenny clinics were established throughout the country. Kenny came to the U.S. in the spring of 1940 but was disappointed by the cool reception her treatment technique received on the West and East coasts. In June 1940 she demonstrated her treatment at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Minneapolis General Hospital. The medical personnel at these institutions accepted Kenny's treatment method as an entirely new concept of infantile paralysis and the first American treatment center was opened at Minneapolis General Hospital. In December 1942 the City of Minneapolis established the Elizabeth Kenny Institute and the following year the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Foundation was formed to financially support the Institute's work and to forward the teaching of the Kenny method throughout the U.S. and abroad. Elizabeth Kenny died November 30, 1952 at her home in Toowoomba, Australia.
[This biographical information is from the Kenny collection at the Minnesota Historical Society]
*Sr. Kenny was actually born in 1880, not 1886 as often reported.  These 6 years were believed "lost" when Sr. Kenny adopted Mary.  Sr. Kenny was probably the first single woman to adopt a child in Queensland.
More details on this webpage: Article:  "Sister Elizabeth Kenny's gravestone set right"

JKH: 2002


Iron Lung Survivors

I was never in an iron lung, but do remember seeing a couple of them lined up out in the hall at the hospital in Lancaster County, PA. This summer, we took a picture of an old Emerson iron lung (on left) while vacationing in Canada. It was at the Potato Museum on Prince Edward Island, in the little village of O'Leary.
The Drinker respirator was designed by Philip Drinker in 1928. It was manufactured by Warren E. Collins Company (Boston, MA). The Collins-Drinker tank respirator (commonly called an iron lung) was a life-saver for many Bulbar Polio patients. John Emerson, a Harvard engineer, simplified the machine making it easier to manufacturer and thus, less expensive.
These iron lungs were widely available in the 1940s and 1950s saving many lives.
It seems that about 200 iron lungs exist today, and they can be recirculated among people who need them. But, production of the iron lungs ended in the early 90s. I was really surprised to learn that there a few people still living in an iron lung, needing a respirator, or other breathing devises, often full-time.
Marilyn Rogers is a polio survivor from 1949 who spends over 90% of her time in an Emerson iron lung. Yet, she still manages to live a full life. In the book, A Paralyzing Fear, Marilyn talks about "Sunday afternoon" visits that many Polio survivors who were hospitalized remember all too well. It was the only couple of hours each week when the "powers to be" would "allow" visits in those days. I am amazed that Marilyn was able at her very young age to advocate for herself as well as others to get increased visits from family. And, it seems her father devised a wheelchair for her to use from a lawn chair put on wheels. This way she was able to recline in the way some [very expensive] wheelchairs are designed today.
["A Paralyzing Fear: The triumph Over Polio in America" by Nina Gilden Seavey, p. 25-34]
Dianne Odell from Tennessee, has lived in iron lung over 50 years (since age 3 when she got Polio). But, this didn't stop her from graduating from high school, attending college and writing a book. She is presently working on her aurobiography.
John Prestwich from England has a wonderful website with his wife, Maggie. John is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records.
Mrs. Laurel Nisbet (1912-1985) from California was in an iron lung for over 37 years. And, Mark O'Brien (1949-1999) spent most all of his life in an iron lung.
The book, The Man in the Iron Lung is about Frederick Snite, Jr. (1910-1954) who spent 18 years in an iron lung. This wonderful book was written by his chief attendant, Leonard C. Hawkins, who became his best friend.
"There was no room for self-pity or bitterness in his life which, apart from almost complete confinement in the respirator, was surprisingly normal. He married Teresa Larkin in 1939, and they had three daughters. . . He became a symbol of the triumph of the spirit over the body. The image of 'The Boiler Kid' was frequently seen in newspapers, magazines, and newsreels nationwide. He published a newsletter entitled, appropriately, Back Talk, and his optimism encouraged countless other polio victims. . . . At his funeral in 1954, at the age of 44, he was mourned by many more than the 1500 who came to say farewell to this remarkable, dauntless young man." [Excerpts from information circular "The Fred B. Snite Family," Snite Museum of Art.] Here is an interesting article and a nice picture of Fred, Teresa, and their three girls.
The History of the British Iron Lung 1832 - 1995 by Richard Hill
In the early 1940s, Dr. W. L. Aycock of Harvard University studied the relationship between polio and pregnancy. There seemed to be less of an incidence of polio in women who were pregnant. Studying 75 cases of polio in pregnant women, he found the following. Only 17% of them had polio in the first trimester, 34% during the second trimester, and 49% during the third trimester. It was assumed that it was the hormones of pregnancy that gave a degree of protection. But, not all women were so lucky as the polio virus is indeed very unpredictable. [Polio and Its Problems, Berg, 1948, p. 108]
Viola Pahl has written several wonderful books that are available from her website. She writes: "Granny owes a debt to Alexander Bell. After contracting polio, she spent two weeks in an iron lung. Through the tragedy of losing his young son to weak lungs, Bell invented a device which eventually led to the development of the iron lung." [Granny Loves to Speak Up and Hates to Shut Up, p. 171] "When Viola was seven months pregnant, a tragic event occurred: she contracted polio. Because of this she needed to spend a short time in the iron lung. Thankfully, her baby son was born at full term in perfect health." [p. 196] In the 1950s, Viola wrote the little book, Through the Iron Lung, which is now out of print. But, most of it was incorporated into her autobiographical book, Gold in Life's Hourglass.
In the Shadow of Polio: A Personal and Social History is a very moving book by Kathryn Black, whose mother had Polio and was in an iron lung. Mimi Rudulph, who got Polio while pregnant and was in an iron lung when she gave birth has written about her experience in a book called Inside the Iron Lung. They weren't sure if she could survive the birth. She did, but was devastated when her baby didn't. She hadn't even considered such a cruel twist of fate.
A newspaper headline announced that "A baby boy was delivered by Caesarean section Thursday afternoon to an iron lung polio patient in St. Joseph Hospital." Virginia Glenn called Omaha's Iron Lung Mother, gave birth to a son while in her iron lung. Previously, there was an iron lung birth in Minneapolis in 1949. And in 1981, there was a special on TV in the Twin Cities featuring a women, who had Polio, who was put into an iron lung as a life-saving measure after the birth of her daughter. [World-Herald, Oct. 17, 1952]
And other interesting autobiography is The Iron Cradle by Larry Alexander, as told to Adam Barnett (1954). Larry was 27 years old when he got Polio and unable to breathe he was put into an iron lung. Some of his time out of the lung was spent in a Rocking Bed. In his book it is describes this special devise: "The principle of the bed was simple. When my head was up, my feet were down, my internal organs were pulled by gravity, pulling my diaphragm with them and sucking air into my lings. When my position was reversed, my head down and my feet up, the organs fell against the diaphragm and forced the air out of my lungs." It took some getting used to especially falling backwards. But, Larry found that it wasn't as easy as using his respirator. [p. 120]
Maxwell K. Reynolds, a prominent Marquette citizen, and hospital engineer Lowell Reynolds, designed the first wooden lung. This saved the lives of numerous children throughout the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and elsewhere. "Plans for building the wooden lung were written up in medical journals and used throughout the country. No one patented the design, and no profit was made by anyone involved in the project. The development was truly a community effort, and one that benefited the entire country." Read the whole article here: Marquette General Hospital I also saw this information online recently: Australian Edward Both developed an iron lung made of plywood. The "Both portable respirator" cost a fraction of what an iron lung cost and it was lightweight. These "plywood lungs" were used in hospitals in Australia and throughout the British Empire. ["Memories of polio survivors and those who were disabled with it" The Sydney Morning Herald, December 7, 2004]
Bill Haast has spent his life studying venom from some of the world's most poisonous snakes. In 1956, he was bitten by a Siamese cobra on national television during a live broadcast of "Marlin Perkins's Zoo Parade." He stopped breathing and was put into an iron lung. [Bite Me by Anne Goodwin Sides] Haast also made a mark in polio research when he discovered that cobra venom affected the same nerve endings as the polio virus. And as a result, he discovered a possible treatment for polio.
Dick Francis, whose wife had polio and was in iron lung for a bit, has a character in an iron lung in his 1969 novel, Forfeit.
"Her respirator was the modern cuirass type: a Spiroshell, not the old totally enclosing iron lung. The Spiroshell itself slightly resembled the breastplate of a suit of armor. It fitted over the entire front of her chest, was edged with a thick roll of latex, and was fastened by straps around her body. Breathing was a matter of suction. The pump, which was connected to the Spiroshell by a thick flexible hose, alternately made a partial vacuum inside the shell and then drove air back in again. The vacuum period pulled Elizabeth's chest wall outward, allowing air to flow downward into her lungs. The air-in period collapsed her chest and pushed the used breath out again." [p. 28-29]
I've read that Dick says "Forfeit" was his favorite novel. He identified most with its main character, James Tyrone. Luckily his wife, Mary, wasn't permanently in a lung. She recovered from Polio and became a successful business woman and even a pilot. It seems they were a great couple, and she is sorely missed by her family since her passing.
Herb sent me this information: "What about the people that still use the newer versions of an iron lung? Did you know that a porta-lung is made that does the same function as the old iron lung? Many people need to use these devices on a daily / nightly basis."
Martha Lillard, of Shawnee, OK: "I...just wanted to tell you that I have slept in an Emerson Iron Lung, for 51 years since having Polio in 1953 at age 5."
Martha Mason, from NC, has used an Iron Lung since she had Polio in 1948. She has written a book about her life, Breath: Life in the Rythmn of an Iron Lung.
© 2004 JKH


This page is dedicated to all Polio survivors famous or not,
many who are now facing the second half of their lives
with a condition known as Post Polio Syndrome...unfair as that is...
and are joined by others who also had Polio, but who are just a little more recognizable...

Polio survivor, Bessie “Gertrude” Brooks, has lived most of her life in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She was 100 years old on March 30, 2005. [Congratulations from us all!] She is presently the oldest living Polio survivor (female), having had the disease when she was three years old. Bessie went on to marry and raised 7 children with her husband until his death. She is one terrific lady, and has family and friends that love her and take care of her. May she have many more happy years.
I am also honoring, William H. Remaley, who was born in a small town called Parryville, Pennsylvania in 1904. He was stricken with Polio in 1905 just when he was taking his first steps. He is possibly the oldest living polio survivor (male). His daughter writes proudly about her father in an article on the Lincolnshire Post Polio Network Website. Click here to read more about this now famous polio survivor.

This is a list of some people you might have heard of, but likely never knew they had Polio.

Eleanor Abbott: designed the game CandyLand
Ann Adams (1937-1992): artist (by mouth)
Tenley Albright: doctor and olympic gold medalist for figure skating
Alan Alda: actor, writer, director
Elmer L. Andersen (1910-2005): former Minnesota Governor, businessman
Ida Louise Anderson (1900-1941): broadcast radio pioneer
Lionel Barrymore (1878-1954): actor
Kim Beazley: Australian Labor leader
Charles E. Bennett (1911-2003): longtime US Congressman, Florida
Ethelda Blaibtrey (1902-1978): olympic gold medalist for swimming
Julius (Julie) Bort (1922-1996): boxer
Ben Bradlee: former editor for the Washington Post
Harold Brooks-Baker (1933-2005): publisher
Dick Cabela: outdoorsman and founder of "Cabela's"
Bhagwat Subramanya Chandrasekhar: Cricket Champion from India
Wah Ming Chang: sculptor, artist, master of special effects
Jean Chr├ętien: former Prime Minister of Canada
Arthur C. Clarke: author
Georgia Coleman (1912-1940): olympic diver
Francis Ford Coppola: director
Sir Julian Critchley (1930-2000): journalist, author and member of the House of Commons
Bill Cullen (1920-1990): game show host
Claudius (10 B.C. to 54 A.D.): Emperor of Rome
Buddy Daley: Baseball All-Star (1959 and 1960)
Marion Davies (1897-1961): actress
CeDell Davis: Jazz Guitarist
Walter "Buddy" Davis: Broad Jump Olympic Champion, Basketball
Justin Dart: activist
James DePriest: musician, composer, arranger and conductor
James Drury: actor, "The Virginian"
Ian Dury (1942-2000): British Rock Star
William Orville Douglas (1898-1980): Associate Justice, US Supreme Court
John East (1931-1986): US Senator
Ray Ewry (1873-1937): Track & Field Olympic Champion
Mia Farrow: actress
Jerome Solon Felder (1925-1991): songwriter, Doc Pomus
Mel Ferrar: actor
William Alexander Gadsby: NHL, Hall of Fame (1970)
Hugh Gregory Gallagher: author
Tony Gould: author (UK)
Arthur Guyton (1919-2003): doctor
John Hager: Lieutenant Governor, Virginia
Lauro Halstead: doctor (physiatrist)
Steve Harley: British musician
Lis Hartel: Danish equestrian
Oscar G. Heirlihy: Radio and TV Pioneer, Newfoundland
Judith E. Heumann: pioneer in Independent Living Movement
Elizabeth Twistington Higgins (1923-1990): MBE, English ballet dancer and artist
Henry Holden: actor, comedian, athlete, activist
Henrietta Wyeth Hurd (1907-1997): artist
Walter Jackson (1938-1983): lead singer of the "Velvetones"
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954): Mexican painter
Annette Kellerman (1886-1975): Australian marathon swimmer and actress
Hildegard Knef (1925-2002): German actress, singer, writer
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965): photographer
Marjorie Lawrence (1908-1979): world famous opera singer
John Laws: Australian radio personality
Tanaquil Le Clercq (1929-2000): ballet dancer
Ida Lupino (1917-1995): London-born actress, director, screenwriter
Shelley Mann: Olympic Gold Medal Swimmer
Frank Mars (1883-1933): founded M&M Mars chocolate company
Lois Catherine Marshall (1924-1997): Canadian singer in the 50s and 60s
Paul Martin: Prime Minister of Canada
Martin Milner: actor
Joni Mitchell: singer
Edna Marie Moore (1930-1989): Texas artist
Jack Nicklaus: golfer
J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967): physicist and teacher
Kerry Packer: Australian billionaire
Horace Parlan: pianist
Ray Peterson: singer
Itzhak Perlman: internationally acclaimed violinist
Margaret "Peg" Phillips (1918-2002): actress (Ruth-Anne on "Northern Exposure")
Peter Preston: British writer and Guardian editor, 1975 through 1995
John Prestwich: MBE, longest respirator user (Guinness Book of World Records)
Robert Redford: actor, director
Ed Roberts (1939-1995): Father of the Independent Living Movement
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945): US president
Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994): athlete, olympic gold medalist
Ruma: ancient Syrian
Owen Roizman: cinematographer, 5 Oscar nominations and Lifetime Achievement Award
David Sanborn: saxophonist
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832): father of historical fiction
Siptah: Egyptian Pharaoh (lived 20 years around 1200 BC)
Sir John Cotesworth Slessor (1897-1979): British Marshall in the RAF in World War II
Dinah Shore (1916-1994): singer
Lord Snowden: photographer, UK (Princess Margaret's former husband)
Margarete Steiff (1847-1909): German seamstress who founded Steiff Teddy Bears
Brooks Stevens (1911-1995): "creative genius" at Harley Davidson
Donald Sutherland: actor, from Canada
Renata Ersilia Clotilde Tebaldi: Italian Opera Singer
Christopher Templeton: actress
Alan Toy: actor/activist/writer
Nyla Thompson: mouth artist
Joseph (Joey) Velez (1925-2002): Golden Gloves Boxer
Egbert Hamilton Walker (1899-1991): Smithsonian Institute Botanist
Dennis Washington: businessman and entrepreneur
Paul Winchell: ventriloquist and inventor
Victor Woodrow Wertz (1925-1983): Baseball All-Star
Neil Young: 1970s and 1980s Canadian rock singer relatives of the famous...
Jim Thorpe's son, died from Polio
Mark McGwire's father had polio at age 7
Laura Innes (ER's Dr. Weaver) has a sister who had Polio
Helen Gurley Brown, supported her sister who had Polio
Mary MacArthur, daughter of Helen Hayes, had Polio
Peter Falk's closest boyhood friend, Mike Holohan, was a Polio survivor.
John W. Nordstrom's wife had Polio.
Marlene Dietrich's daughter, Maria Riva, had Polio.
Cathy Rigby's mother had Polio.
Mary Francis (1924-2000) wife of author Dick Francis had Polio.
Bob Dylan's father had Polio in 1946.
Gini Laurie (1913-1989) "Grandmother" of the Independent Living Movement: several siblings had Polio.
Katie Eastman, sister of George Eastman, photography pioneer died from Polio in the 1870s.

Links and Additional Information

Ed Roberts: "As is true of far too many leaders with disabilities in the independent living/disability rights movement, Ed died at a far too young an age in March 1995. He was 55 years old."

Gini Laurie:
No list of people who have had an impact on polio would be complete without mentioning Gini Laurie. She is often described as “the glue that held the polios together.” Gini lost two sisters and a brother to polio, and another sister contracted polio but survived. Her early involvement started as a volunteer at the Toomey Respiratory Pavilion in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1958 she began publishing the Toomey J. Gazette, which evolved into the Rehabilitation Gazette. Through this publication, and her correspondence with polio survivors, people with other disabilities, medical professionals, and independent living advocates, she began a network that was instrumental in identifying the problems we now face. The Gazette International Networking Institute (G.I.N.I.), the parent of the International Polio Network, was named that as a way to honor Gini. Gini Laurie was a vigorous advocate for people with disabilities. She encouraged us to be pro-active, seeking solutions to whatever problems we encountered.
(Richard Daggett, President, Polio Survivors Association)

"Judith E. Heumann, one of America's best-known polio survivors, is a pioneer in the Independent Living movement. Between 1975 and 1993, when she joined the Clinton Administration in Washington DC, Ms Heumann spearheaded the concept that people with significant disabilities have the right to self-determination in the way they lead their lives. She helped found the first Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, California, and led the effort to obtain state and Federal funding for what soon became a nationwide movement. She was also co-founder of the World Institute on Disability, a non-profit public policy organization, where she served for 10 years as vice president and director of their research and training center. During eight years of Federal service as the nation's top administrator of special education and rehabilitation programs, Ms Heumann supervised a staff of over 370 employees and a budget of $9 billion. She has written extensively and received many awards for her advocacy of the rights of people with disabilities and for her particular perspective on life as a polio survivor."
(NJ Polio Network Newsletter, Winter 2002)

Artist Ann Adams: "Ann passed away on May 12th, 1992. But her art work will live on in the hearts of the millions of fans who helped support her through the years. She was an angel loaned from above. Her mission was to teach all who encountered her beauty that no matter what happens - we must strive to be humble, observant, caring and creative."
"Lift Up Your Heart: Ann Adams and the Art of Living" by Dan Paulos

In 1773: Sir Walter Scott is believed to be the very first case of Polio in the British Isles. He writes: "I showed every sign of health and strength until I was about 18 months old. One night, I have been often told, I showed great reluctance to be caught and put to bed, and after being chased about the room... In the morning I was discovered to be affected with the fever... It held me for three days. On the fourth, when they went to bathe me as usual, they discovered that I had lost the power of my right leg."
"Although the limb affected was much shrunk and contracted, my general health, which was of more importance...
[I] was now a healthy, high-spirited, and, my lameness apart, a sturdy child
(Lockhardt's Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott, 1837)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd US President
FDR Memorial in Washington, DC
"In 1921, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's life changed forever. At the age of 39 he contracted poliomyelitis (polio) - an acute neural virus that left him paralyzed from the waist down."
Picture of FDR in his wheelchair.
More quotes from remarks made by Senate Majority Leader, Bob Dole, on the floor of the U.S. Senate in honor of the 50th anniversary of FDR's death (April 12, 1995): "...on the evening of August 10th, while on vacation, he felt ill and went to bed early. Within three days he was paralyzed from the chest down. Although the muscles of his upper body soon recovered, he remained paralyzed below the waist." Dole goes on to say, "FDR believed in an independent life for people with disabilities--at a time when society thought they belonged at home or in institutions." You can read the whole article on the Polio Survivor's Page.

Hugh Gregory Gallagher author and historian:
"...contracted polio at the age of 19, and like FDR, was rehabilitated at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. He has used a wheelchair ever since." Book review of Gallagher's, " FDR's Splendid Deception"
USS Potomac, Presidental Yacht, had a dummy stack installed to provide accessibility for FDR

Bill Cullen, game show host:
"He was partially crippled by childhood polio."

Alan Alda, actor:
"Suffered from bad case of Polio as a young child." Alan continues to stay very busy and is now hosting a TV special series, " Scientific American Frontiers" on your local PBS station.

Mia Farrow, actress and mother to 13 children, some with disabilities including polio and CP. In Mia's memoir, "What Falls Away" she talks about her life before she got Polio at age 9, as well as after her Polio experience.

Dinah Shore, singer:
"Stricken with Polio at eighteen months, she recovered after receiving the Sister Kenny treatment."
Honorary Member, Ladies Professional Golf Association's "Hall of Fame"
The first female star with her own prime-time TV variety show.

Arthur Guyton, from Jackson, MS, was stricken with Polio while he was a young surgical resident in Boston, shortly after WW II. The Polio left him partially paralyzed, forcing him to abandon his dreams of becoming a heart surgeon. He went on to develop an international reputation for his work involving heart diseases, writing one of the world's best selling medical texts as well as dozens of other books. He and his wife, Ruth, raised 10 children and all of them became doctors!
(ABC News, 20/20, November 28, 1997)

Julius Robert Oppenheimer, was a "boy of delicate stature (he suffered from polio and repeated bouts of pneumonia") a child. (Biography Magazine/April 1997, p. 85-88). From Biography: "Robert Oppenheimer built the A- bomb, and struggled with his conscience forever after." He learned to speak eight languages and also took time to read many of the great writings of Western civilization.

Joni Mitchell, polio age 9, singer:
"...the 80s were a rough decade for me and on top of it I was diagnosed as having post-polio syndrome which they said was inevitable for I'm a polio survivor, that forty years after you had the disease, which is a disease of the nervous system, the wires that animate certain muscles are taken out by the disease, and the body in its ingenious way, the filaments of the adjacent muscles send out branches and try to animate that muscle. It's kind of like the EverReady bunny, the muscles all around the muscles that are gone begin to go also because they've been trying to drive this muscle for so long. That's the nature of what was happening so I had it mostly in my back, so you don't see it as much as you would in a withered leg or an arm. But the weight of the guitar became unbearable. Also, acoustic guitar requires that you extend your shoulder out in an abnormal way and coincidentally some of the damage to my back in combination with that position was very painful. So, there was a merchant in Los Angeles who knew of my difficulties and knew that this machine was coming along that would solve my tuning problems and he made on spec a Stratocaster for me out of yellow cedar that was very light and thin as a wafer, so an electric guitar is a more comfortable design for my handicap. Then, a genius lothier built me this two and a half pound guitar which is not only beautiful to look at but it kind of contours to my body. It fits my hip and even kind of cups up like a bra! It's just beautifully designed and then also I abandoned regular medicine and fell into the hands first of a Kahuna and then a Chinese mystic acupuncturist who put down his pins and just points at you. I know this sounds real quacky but they did some mysterious good to the problem and I feel fine."
From a conversation with Joni Mitchell by Jody Denberg, September 9, 1998.

Ray Peterson was born April 23, 1939 in Denton, TX. "He spent much of his childhood recovering from polio, and during an extended stay in a nearby treatment facility he began performing for his fellow patients. As Peterson's health returned he began singing professionally in local clubs..." Many will remember his rock and roll hits from the 1950s, "Corina, Corina" and "Tell Laura, I Love Her."

Jerome Solon Felder is better known as the legendary songwriter, Doc Pomus. "At age 6, he was sent to summer camp in Connecticut to escape a city-wide polio epidemic. In a cruel twist of fate, he contracted polio at camp." Recalled Doc, "I woke up one morning, and I couldn't move. My family rushed me to Long Island Hospital, and I was placed in plaster casts from the neck down." As teenagers, Pomus and his songwriting partner, Mort Shuman, wrote hits for Elvis Presley, Fabian, Dion & The Belmonts, as well as The Drifters and The Coasters.

Itzhak Perlman, violinist (first on TV as a child on the Ed Sullivan Show)
"The Israeli-born Perlman walks with crutches and plays and conducts while seated because of a childhood bout with polio. Itzhak adds, "I am tired of being a human interest story, a brave handicapped musician. I am a musician for whom life is not easy. But then, is life easy for anyone?"
Saskatchewan Awareness of Post Polio Society Inc. (SAPP) Newsletter, December 1996

Dorothea Lange, photographer: Dr. Henry Holland, polio survivor, writes about Dorothea, "At age seven, she fell ill to acute polio. The residual polio damage involved a withered right lower leg and a noticeable limp. Lange viewed her handicap as a determination factor in her life. She stated that her handicap shaped her very personality and was one from which she could never escape. In later years her limp might have been an asset in helping to disarm people on first encounters with her camera. She felt that her limp might have helped strangers be more accepting of her when she was photographing in the field."

Christopher Templeton, actress: Was a lead character for 11 years on the soap, "The Young and the Restless." She is also starring in the movie, "Ready, Willing, and Able" as an FBI agent disabled in the line of duty, and trying to regain her career in a wheelchair. It is directed by Jenni Gold, another very capable and feisty disabled woman. "Templeton, whose disability was caused by polio, can walk with a cane but uses a manual wheelchair for the post-accident scenes in the movie."

Alan Toy got Polio in 1953 at age 3. Toy is described as " actor, activist and organizer; a writer, teacher and community leader; serves on the board of almost every disability-concerned organization in Southern California; has been called a disabled urban professional, a careerist; a champion for the human rights model." Alan has had "...roles in M*A*S*H, Matlock, Born on the Fourth of July, In the Line of Fire and Beverly Hills 90210, among many other productions."
From an interview by Barry Corbet, New Mobility, March 1996

Elizabeth Twistington Higgins, got Polio in 1953. She was a mother of three, an acclaimed ballet dancer and teacher. At the height of her career, she found herself in the hospital totally paralysed from the neck down. But, she used her uncompromising determination to become a world famous artist painting with a brush held in her mouth. She became a member of Mouth and Foot Artists along with more polio survivors and others from many countries.
Recommended reading: "The Dance Goes On: The Life and Art of Elizabeth Twistington Higgins." This is a great autobiography with many pictures and wonderful paintings (many of ballerinas and angels).

Wilma Rudolph, athlete (olympic gold medalist):
"She was born prematurely on June 23, 1940 in St. Bethlehem, Tenn. She weighed 4 1/2 pounds. The bulk of her childhood was spent in bed. She suffered from double pneumonia, scarlet fever and later she contacted polio. After losing the use of her left leg, she was fitted with metal leg braces when she was 6..." Then in Rome in 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in one olympics.

Jack Nicklaus: In the foreword of his book, "Golf My Way" it states,
"Even a slight case of polio failed to prevent him from turning up...for a golf match."
Jack's sister also had polio. He was told she got it from him! [Editorial note: Why do they put such burdens on kids?]

Marjorie Lawrence, world famous dramatic opera singer:
In her early thirties, Margorie got sick in Mexico City and was diagnosed with Poliomyelitis. Margorie writes that her husband, Tom..."insisted on taking me back to the United the world-famous waters at Hot Springs, Arkansas where he knew the hot waters would at least alleviate my terrible pain." There is more of "the fascinating life story of the famous singer and her triumphant battle to resume her career after a crippling attack of polio," in her book, "Interrupted Melody," but it is unfortunately out of print. However, you can sometimes find her book on one of the auction sites, or at the library or book sales.
This movie stars Eleanor Parker as Marjorie and chronicles her life as a well known soprano of the 1930s and 40s. The operatic passages are sung by Eileen Farrell, a noted Wagnerian soprano. A very interesting film about Marjorie's battle with Polio.

Claudius, Emperor of Rome (41-54 A.D.):
"Claudius escaped the wrath of his mad nephew, Caligula, because the effects of his infantile paralysis made him appear as no threat to the throne. However, after the Praetorian Guard assassinated Caligula and he was thrust upon the throne, he surprised everyone by being a capable administrator. His major mistake was recalling Caligula's sister Agrippina back from banishment and wedding her. She later poisoned him after he adopted her son Nero, to get her son on the throne."

Ruma is a Syrian boy who probably had the earliest known case of a disease now known as Polio. When Ruma was 5 years old he got very sick with pain in his head and his leg ached. When he was no better after several days, his father carried the boy to the temple where they believed the priest would cure him with powerful magic (charms, amulets, herbs, and magic drinks). The story of Ruma is seen on a 3,000 year old Egyptian tablet, and is perhaps the earliest pictorial record of Polio. Some thought maybe his leg was just poorly drawn, but the stone tablet (stele) tells the story of Ruma, now a grown man with a withered right leg. And, he is holding a long stick to use as a crutch. The tablet tells that he is a gatekeeper at the temple of Astarte in Egypt. He is shown with his wife, Ama and his young son, Ptah-m-heb. He brings with him fruit, wine, and a gazelle for the goddess he believes saved his life.
"Never to Die: the Egyptians in their own words," by Josephine Mayer and Tom Prideaux, p. 80
"Polio Pioneers, The Story of the Fight Against Polio" by Dorothy and Philip Sterling, 1955, p. 9-12
The Polio Stele (limestone with original paintwork) is part of museum collection at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Dantes Plads 7, Copenhagen, Denmark, and was acquired in Egypt in the 1980s.

Frida Kahlo was married to famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. She had polio when she was 6, and faced pain from many broken bones, operations and even amputation. She may have committed suicide, but surely led a strange, often x-rated life. Here's the story about one of her paintings:
The Suicide of Dorothy Hale

Tenley Albright, doctor and former figure skater (olympic gold medalist)
Tenley was 11 when she got Polio. "I don't remember fear about being sick. The fear I had was staying in the hospital overnight. I couldn't imagine anything worse. But no one told me how serious it was. In fact, they took the sign "polio" off my door..." Tenley followed in her father's footsteps and became a surgeon in Boston, MA. She is a member of the US Figure Skating Hall of Fame, President's Council on Physical Fitness, American College of Sport's Medicine, American Cancer Society, and the Executive Committee of the US Olympic Committee.

Francis Ford Coppola, filmmaker producer and screenwriter:
"When I was about 9, I had polio, and one of the conditions of polio was...people were very frightened for their children, so you tended, if you had it, to be isolated. So...there was about a year and a half when I stayed at home. I was paralyzed for a while."

Dennis Washington, businessman:
"I was about eight years old when I contracted polio. It was a very traumatic time in my life. I was just old enough to know that something was really wrong, but really too young to be able to digest it properly..."
Link to the American Academy of Achievement, and do a search for polio or individuals: Albright, Washington, Coppola, as well as Salk

"From the Internet - Did you know they'd had polio?" Post Polio Network (NSW-Australia) Inc. and Poet's Corner (with two Polio Poems).

Polio Professionals and others:
Dr. Jonas Salk (1914-1995), Polio researcher
"Salk, his wife and their sons were among the first to receive injections. In 1954, more than 1.8 million school children - nicknamed Polio Pioneers - participated in a nationwide test of the vaccine during history's largest medical experiment."
Dr. Albert Sabin (1906-1993) from Paterson, NJ, became one of the most famous scientists of the century. Dr. Sabin developed the oral polio vaccine: a live vaccine. First used in 1960 in Europe after extensive (5 years) testing. First used in the USA in 1962, preventing new cases of polio. "Through out the world, he is one of the most recognizable and revered names in medical science. In the 1960s, Dr. John R. Paul, Professor Emeritus of Preventative Medicine and Epidemiology at Yale University wrote about Albert Sabin in the history of poliomyelitis, 'No man has ever contributed so much effective information and so continuously over so many years to so many aspects of poliomyelitis as Sabin.'"
For other Polio Professionals, click here
Sister Elizabeth Kenny (1880-1952), Australian nurse
Books by or about Sister Elizabeth Kenny:
"Sister Kenny: The Woman Who Challenged the Doctors" by Victor Cohn
"And They Shall Walk: The Life Story of Sister Elizabeth Kenny" written in collaboration with Martha Ostenso
"The Kenny Concept of Infantile Paralysis and Its Treatment" by John Pohl, MD, in collaboration with Elizabeth Kenny.
A film from 1946 starring Rosalind Russell as Sister Elizabeth Kenny. Miss Russell insisted that the movie be made and won a Golden Globe in 1947. That same year she also received an Academy Award® Nomination for the movie. Worth seeing as is this next movie.
Ralph Bellamy and Greer Garson portray Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt in this acclaimed drama of the FDR's lifelong struggle with polio and his attempts to re-enter politics after his debilitating attack in the 1920s. Also starring: Hume Cronyn, Jean Hagen, and Tim Considine. Academy Award® Nominations: Best Actress for Greer Garson, Best Interior Decoration (Color), Best Sound, Best Costume Design (Color).
Olympia Dukakis, "Rose," Oscar winning actress:
"She was on a scholarship, so when she happened on theatre in her sophomore year and wrote and produced the class revue with another girl, she couldn't afford to go to drama school and become an actress. 'My mother was the one who sat me down and said that there was no money, and that I'd have to go and get a job. So I worked out that the the best-paid job for a woman at that time was as a physical therapist. And the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis was giving scholarships to people who would train and then go and work in the field.' For several years she worked with polio victims all over the States, eventually quitting and going to Boston University in the late 50s to study acting..."
In 1998, Olympia Dukakis narrated the video of "A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America."
Helen Hayes had a daughter, Mary Elizabeth MacArthur, born in 1930 who died from polio. "In 1949, Mary joined her mother on stage in Good Housekeeping at the Falmouth Playhouse in Westport, Connecticut. During tryouts, Mary was stricken with polio and died." Website on Helen Hayes.
The hospital where her daughter was treated was renamed Helen Hayes Hospital in her honor in the 1970s. She served on the Board of Trustees until she died in 1993.
Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw New York, was also known as: New York Rehabilitation and Research Hospital, New York State Reconstruction Home, and New York State Orthopedic Hospital for Children...

Website on Disability Films: Check out Polio and Post Polio Movies
This website has reviews of movies such as those mentioned above as well as:
THE AFFAIR (1973), starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Natalie plays a composer who had polio.
LANTERN HILL (1970), starring Sam Waterston as Jane Stuart's father, her mother had polio.
And a large data base of films involving many kinds of disabilities...

This page is also dedicated to those Polio survivors who are no longer with us. I count Ricardo (Rick) Estevens, LA, as a great friend, (even though we never met in person) because he introduced me to PPS friends and information on the internet. May he rest in peace. Many lived long enough to suffer from Post Polio Syndrome, but tried to live life to the fullest as much as possible. May they all rest in peace.
Polio Survivors on the Internet, nice alphabetical list of many polios on Lincolnshire Post Polio Network. PPRG has done a nicely alphabetized list of Famous Polio People. Check it out!

©2006 Jann Hartman: You have my permission to copy, link to, or use this page in any way you see fit in order to provide information about Polio and Post Polio Syndrome. I only ask that you email me and let me know where the page will be used. And, I would appreciate a link or reference to my web page.
Last updated: May 2006