Famous People with a Cleft

Famous People with a Cleft
fl7 cleft palate

This is a list of well known people with a cleft.

Cleft is a congenital deformity caused by a failure in facial development during pregnancy.

Cleft lip and cleft palate, which can also occur together as cleft lip and palate are variations of a type of clefting congenital deformity caused by abnormal facial development during gestation. This type of deformity is sometimes referred to as a cleft.

A Cleft is a sub-division in the body’s natural structure, regularly formed before birth. A cleft lip or palate can be successfully treated with surgery soon after birth. The term hare lip is sometimes used colloquially to describe the condition.

Cleft lip is formed in the top of the lip as either a small gap or an indentation in the lip (partial or incomplete cleft) or continues into the nose (complete cleft).

Cleft palate is a condition in which the two plates of the skull that form the hard palate (roof of the mouth) are not completely joined. The soft palate is in these cases cleft as well. In most cases, cleft lip is also present. Cleft palate occurs in about one in 700 live births worldwide.

Cleft lips or palates occur in somewhere between one in 600-800 births. Cleft lip and palate is very treatable, however the kind of treatment depends on the type and severity of the cleft. A cleft palate or cleft lip is nothing to be ashamed of or to fear. Thanks to modern technology cleft palate surgery is safer than ever before and can help a child make a full recovery.

List of Famous People with a Cleft:


Tutankhamun – (1341 BC – 1323 BC) was an Egyptian Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 BC – 1324 BC in the conventional chronology), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. Tutankhamun was only eight or nine years old when he became pharaoh, and reigned for approximately ten years, making him eighteen or nineteen years old at death. He was originally thought to be a son of Amenhotep III and his Great Royal Wife Queen Tiye. Later, further research claimed that he may have been a son of Amenhotep III, although not by Queen Tiye, since Tiye would have been more than fifty years old at the time of Tutankhamun’s birth. The 1922 discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun’s intact tomb, KV62, received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt, for which Tutankhamun’s burial mask remains the popular face. According to diagnostic imaging Tutankhamun the Egyptian Pharaoh may have had a slightly cleft palate.

Cheech Marin

Cheech Marin – Richard Anthony “Cheech” Marin (born July 13, 1946) is an American comedian and actor who gained recognition as part of the comedy act Cheech and Chong during the 1970s and early 1980s, and as Don Johnson’s quick-and-scheme partner, Insp. Joe Dominguez on Nash Bridges. His stage persona is that of a stereotypical Mexican American, or an uneducated urban Chicano. Marin was born with a cleft lip, which has long since been repaired. He speaks fluent Spanish and uses it in some of the movies he stars in. Marin’s trademark is his character’s Mexican-accented voice.



Doc Holliday – Dentist, gambler and gunfighter of the American Old West frontier. “Doc” Holliday was born in Griffin, Georgia, to Henry Burroughs Holliday and Alice Jane Holliday (nee McKey). His father served in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. At birth he had a cleft palate and partly cleft lip. At two months of age, this defect was repaired surgically by Holliday’s uncle, J.S. Holliday, M.D., and a family cousin, the famous physician Crawford Long. The repair left no speech impediment though speech therapy was needed, which was conducted by his mother. However, the repair is visible in Holliday’s upper lip line in the one authentic adult portrait-photograph which survives, taken on the occasion of his graduation from dental school.



Rita MacNeil – born May 28, 1944) is a Canadian country and folk singer from the community of Big Pond on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. Her biggest hit, “Flying On Your Own”, was a crossover Top 40 hit in 1987 and was covered by Anne Murray the following year, although she has had hits on the country charts throughout her career. In the United Kingdom, MacNeil’s song “Working Man” was a #11 smash in 1990. Rita grew up in Big Pond, Cape Breton with three brothers and four sisters. Often chaotic, her youth included the physical and psychological trauma of surgery for a cleft palate.


Wendy Harmer – Australian comedian The comedian, author and former radio star says she has always felt older than her real age, perhaps because of the responsibility thrust upon her as the eldest of four children, after her parents split up when she was 10. Or perhaps it was the toughness and maturity needed to cope with a double cleft lip and palate, enduring stares and bullying in the country Victorian town she grew up in. The birth defect was not fixed until she was 15 and required her mouth to be sewn together for three months.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning – Peyton Williams Manning (born March 24, 1976) is an American football quarterback who currently plays for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League (NFL). He is widely regarded as one of the best active quarterbacks in the NFL. He previously played college football for Tennessee. Manning was drafted by the Colts as the first overall pick in 1998. He is the son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and the older brother of current New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

250px Tad Lincoln in uniform

Tad Lincoln – Thomas “Tad” Lincoln (April 4, 1853 – July 15, 1871) was the fourth and youngest son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. Tad was born with a cleft palate. (A cleft palate is a large hole in the roof of the mouth) Surgical intervention to correct the situation was unheard of in the 1850’s when he was born. This cleft presented many problems. Among others, it was the cause of a speech impediment in the form of a lisp in Tad’s voice. This same cleft caused diet problems and it made it impossible for his teeth to grow straight which, in turn, made it difficult to chew. As a result, Tad’s diet consisted of items he did not have to bite into or chew very much.

200px Thomas Malthus

Thomas Malthus –  Thomas Robert Malthus (13 February 1766 – 23 December 1834) Malthus developed a theory of demand-supply mismatches which he called gluts. Considered ridiculous at the time, his theory foreshadowed later theories about the Great Depression, and the works of admirer and economist John Maynard Keynes. Malthus refused to have his portrait painted until 1833 because of embarrassment over a cleft lip. After surgical correction, Malthus then became considered “handsome.” Malthus also had a cleft palate (inside his mouth) that affected his speech. These cleft-related birth defects occurred relatively commonly in his family.

220px Carmit Bachar LF

Carmit Bachar – (born September 4, 1974) is an American dancer, singer and actress. She was a member of the successful pop/R&B group, the Pussycat Dolls and was one of the three main vocalists of the Pussycat Dolls, next to Melody Thornton and Nicole Scherzinger. Bachar departed the group in March of 2008. Bachar has also appeared in several films, including 13 Going on 30, Along Came Polly, and 2003’s Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle featuring the Pussycat Dolls. It has been reported that she wishes to form a non-profit organization called “Smile With Me”: “I want to have my own charity for children and adults who are born with a cleft palate. I was born with one and I want to educate and inspire people by saying that inner beauty is more important than looks.” Bachar is an ambassador of “Operation Smile”, a worldwide children’s medical charity that helps improve the health and lives of children and young adults born with facial deformities.

Jesse Jackson – Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. (born October 8, 1941) is an American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as “shadow senator” for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son.

Richard Hawley – (born Richard Willis Hawley, 17 January 1967, Sheffield, England) is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. After his first band, Treebound Story (formed while he was still at school), broke up, Hawley found success as a member of Britpop band The Longpigs in the 1990s. He later played with Pulp, led by his friend Jarvis Cocker. Bullied at primary school for the hair lip and cleft palate that distinguished him from his peers, he says he never saw himself as frontman material. “At the same time,” he adds, “the music was always there. Always.”

Michael Helm – Canadian novelist. Helm was born in Eston, Saskatchewan, and studied literature at the University of Toronto after receiving a degree in English at the University of Saskatchewan. His debut novel, The Projectionist (1997), was nominated for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Book Award. His second novel, In the Place of Last Things (2004) was a finalist for the regional Commonwealth Prize for Best Book and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Helm has also been an editor of the Canadian literary journals Descant and Brick.

Jurgen Habermas – (born June 18, 1929) is a German philosopher and sociologist in the tradition of critical theory and American pragmatism. He is best known for his work on the concept of the public sphere, which he has based in his theory of communicative action. His work has focused on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics, particularly German politics. A cleft palate gives a slightly asymmetric feel to Habermas’ square, strong face and has left him with a minor speech impediment. Might this be behind his reluctance to appear before the cameras? “The pragmatic reason why I refuse these requests is that I have to protect the time and rest (I need) for my professional work,” he notes. Then Habermas adds, “Maybe there are also reasons of a more personal nature.”

Stacy Keach – (born Walter Stacy Keach, Jr. on June 2, 1941 in Savannah, Georgia) is an American actor and narrator. He is most famous for his dramatic roles; however, he has done narration work in educational programming on PBS and the Discovery Channel, as well as some comedy and musical roles. His brother, James Keach is known most notably for being the director of the 1993 TV series and 1999 movie Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He has been married three times: to Marilyn Aiken in 1975, to Jill Donahue in 1981, and to Malgosia Tomassi around 1986. He has two children from his third marriage. He was also romantically linked to singer Judy Collins in the early 1970s. Keach was born with a cleft lip and a partial cleft of the hard palate and underwent numerous operations as a child. He is the honorary chairman of the Cleft Palate Foundation, and advocates for insurance coverage for such surgeries.

Tim Lott – British author, born on 23 January 1956 in Southall, west London. He graduated from the London School of Economics in 1986, after running his own magazine publishing business. His first book, the semi-autobiographical The Scent of Dried Roses, was published in 1996 and won the J.R.Ackerley Prize for Autobiography. His next work, White City Blue, was published in 1999 and won that year’s Whitbread Award for Best First Novel. He was also shortlisted in the ‘Best Novel’ category of the 2002 Whitbread Awards for his work, Rumours of a Hurricaine. He has since published “The Love Secrets of Don Juan”, “The Seymour Tapes” and “Fearless”.

Ljubo Milicevic – (born 13 February 1981 in Melbourne) is an Australian football (soccer) player. Millicevic attended secondary school at St Bede’s College (Mentone). He began his professional career with Melbourne Knights in Australia playing one game before moving to Perth Glory in 1999, where he played a major role in getting the Western Australian side to its first ever NSL Grand Final in 2000. He then moved to Europe and went on to play for FC Zurich, FC Basel, FC Thun and BSC Young Boys in Switzerland.

Nikki Payne – Canadian comedian and actress, from Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is well known for her lisp and sports a cleft lip, holds nothing back when it comes to giving major lip to audiences. Not only is her stand-up exceptionally entertaining, but she delivers it with more flair and pizzazz than almost anyone else in comedy today. She has won three Canadian Comedy Awards for Best Stand-up Newcomer and Best Female Stand-up (2003 & 2005). She is the first stand-up in either the male or female category to win the best stand-up award twice. She is also the first stand-up of either gender to win both a best newcomer and best stand-up award. Nikki Payne has appeared in Last Comic Standing, A main character on “Video On Trial, Buzz, and the NFB documentary The Next Big Thing. She has also appeared in the Canadian sketch comedy show Comedy Inc. (TV series). She is a member of The Sketchersons, a sketch comedy troupe in Toronto, Ontario.

Geoff Plant – QC (born 1956) is a British Columbia lawyer and politician known for his interest in citizen’s legal and electoral rights and aboriginal rights. Raised in Vancouver, Plant received a B.A. from Harvard University in 1978 and law degrees from the University of Southampton in England in 1980, Dalhousie University in Halifax in 1981, and from the University of Cambridge in 1989. For a year, Plant was a clerk in the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa prior to being called to the bar in 1982. Plant was counsel in a number of leading aboriginal rights and title cases, including the 1997 landmark case of Delgamuukw v. British Columbia where the Supreme Court of Canada made its most definitive statement on the nature of Aboriginal title in Canada. Plant was born with a cleft palate and has visible results of corrective surgery. The congenital disorder’s effect on his speech was not a barrier to his succeeding in law and politics, two careers that require skillful verbal communication.

Lee Raymond – (born August 13, 1938) was the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of ExxonMobil from 1999 to 2005. He had previously been the CEO of Exxon since 1993. He joined the company in 1963 and has been president since 1987 and a director since 1984. His cleft lip didn’t hold him back from life. On August 4, 2005, Raymond announced that he would retire at the end of 2005 as ExxonMobil’s Chairman and CEO. ExxonMobil president Rex W. Tillerson succeeded Raymond on 1 January 2006. On April 14, 2006, it was reported that Raymond’s retirement package was worth about $400 million, the largest in history for a U.S. public company.

Louis Wain – Louis Wain (5 August 1860 – July 4, 1939) was an English artist best known for his drawings, which consistently featured anthropomorphised large-eyed cats and kittens. In his later years he suffered from schizophrenia, which, according to some psychologists, can be seen in his works. Wain was born with a cleft lip and the doctor gave his parents the orders that he should not be sent to school or taught until he was ten years old. As a youth, he was often truant from school, and spent much of his childhood wandering around London. Following this period, Louis studied at the West London School of Art and eventually became a teacher there for a short period. At the age of 20, Wain was left to support his mother and sisters after his father’s death.

Joaquin Rafael Phoenix – (born October 28, 1974), is a film actor, musician, and occasional rapper. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he lived for the first 4 years of his childhood. His family then moved to the continental United States, where he was raised. UPDATED – Joaquin Phoenix was born with what is called a micro cleft, not a birthmark. A micro cleft is the most minor form of a cleft lip. It never had to be repaired thus he believes he doesn’t qualify as having a cleft.

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