Peter Thornton (Dana Elcar/costar), the Director of Field Operations for the Phoenix Foundation who supervised Angus MacGyver, a genius troubleshooter for the firm.
A few years into the program, actor Dana Elcar discovered he was going blind. However, with a little help from his friends and crew of the show, he continued to work on the series.
“The fact that you are losing your eyesight does not mean you have forgotten how to act.” – Dana Elcar
After Dana Elcar went blind from Glaucoma in 1991 he had to use special computer equipment to read printed text.
On the episode “Hind-sight” (05/06/1991) Peter Thornton is in the hospital waiting for the doctors to perform surgery on his eye condition. His sight and field of vision has been fading. His friend and colleague MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson) visits and reminisces about their many adventures before it is time for surgery.
Born Ibson Dana Elcar on October 10, 1927 in Ferndale, Michigan, actor Dana Elcar died on June 6, 2005 in Ventura, California.
FUNNY FACE/CBS/1971 (Eye Injury)
Actress Sandy Duncan while filming her Emmy award nominated role as Sandy Stockton, a UCLA student and struggling actress, (a.k.a. “Funny Face”) suffered severe headaches during the shooting of the 13th show. Physicians discovered a fibroid tumor the size of a walnut behind her left eye pressing against her optic nerve.
During a lengthy operation at UCLA Medical Center on November 1, 1971, doctors removed a portion of her skull and cut away the growth. She sailed through the procedure but lost the vision in her left eye.
Ms. Duncan later starred in THE SANDY DUNCAN SHOW/CBS/1972 continuing her role as the cute, perky Sandy Stockton with the pixie blond haircut.
In later years, she appeared as Missy Anne on the miniseries ROOTS/ABC/1977-78; and in a number of musical revivals of such shows as The Music Man, The Sound of Music, The Boy Friend, and Peter Pan. She also appeared as a TV commercial spokesperson for Nabisco’s Wheat Thin crackers.
In 1987, she took over the reins of the sitcom THE HOGAN FAMILY/NBC/CBS/1986-91 as divorced school counselor, Sandy Hogan.
As of the 2014/2015 season of the legal drama LAW AND ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, Sandy Duncan appeared on the series as Judge Virginia Farrell.
Note: Duncan’s tumor operation gave rise to the rumor that her eye had been removed and consequently, she wore a fake eye as a replacement.
Duncan and her alleged glass eye are mentioned in the song “You’ve Got a Lot to See” on the episode “Brian Wallows and Peter’s Swallows” on the cartoon series FAMILY GUY.
On the episode “Jungle Love” both Peter Griffin and Glenn Quagmire were seen playing the part of Duncan’s glass eye.
KNOTS LANDING/CBS/1979-93 (Injured Leg)
Peggy (Victoria Ann Lewis), faithful secretary who works for Federal Prosecutor M. “Mack” Patrick MacKenzie (Kevin Dobson) based in Southern California.
Peggy helps Mack out with cases and even gives him advice on how to deal with his family or people in general. The Peggy character appeared on 88 episodes (1984-93) of this prime time soap, including the 1997 reunion movie.
Note: In real life, actress Victoria Ann Lewis has worn a leg brace since her childhood bout with polio.
YOUNG & THE RESTLESS/CBS/1973+ (Injured Leg)
Carol Robbins (Christopher “Chris” Ann Templeton), a handicapped female with a cane who lived in the fictional town of Genoa City.
Templeton (one of the first physically handicapped soap opera stars) was partially crippled due to a case of childhood polio. From 1983-1993 – walking with a post-polio limp – Chris portrayed a positive role model for the physically disabled. Templeton walks about with the aid of a cane and leg brace.
In 2001, Christopher Templeton starred in the Gold Pictures production “Ready, Willing and Able” as Samantha “Sam” Martin, a CIA special agent who is determined to continue her career after she is injured in the line of duty. Triumphing over her physical limitations, Sam proves that she is READY WILLING AND ABLE to eliminate a chemical weapons threat posed by global terrorists.
Templeton’s other movie roles included the role of Diane St. Clair in the TV movie Hostage for a Day (1994) and the role of Marian Burke in the TV Movie Columbo: Butterfly in Shades of Grey (1994).
Christopher also made TV appearances on such TV shows as FRASIER, HILL STREET BLUES and JAKE & THE FATMAN.
Born February 26, 1952 in Lake Forest, Illinois Christopher Anne Templeton died in San Antonio, Texas on February 15, 2011.
THREE STOOGES (Crippled Foot & Disabled Arm/Hands)
Curley (Jerome “Babe” Howard), the zany, bald-headed character who made up a third of the Three Stooges comedy act.
Early in life, Curley was accidentally shot in the ankle. His injury never quite healed and so Curley walked with an exaggerated gate which he utilized for comedy effect in his many film shorts.
Larry Fine, the frizzy-haired member of the Three Stooges was also injured in childhood.
Once, Larry inadvertently was going to drink from a bottle that contained acid. Luckily, his father knocked the bottle from Larry’s hand but some of the acid scalded Larry’s hands. As therapy to loosen up his injured arm, Larry took violin lessons . He later incorporated the violin into his vaudeville act.
STAR TREK/NBC/1966-69 (Missing Finger)
James Doohan played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, chief engineer on the Federation starship USS Enterprise.
At age 19, James Doohan joined the Canadian army just as World War II was breaking out. While wading ashore on D-Day, artillery officer Lt. Doohan lost the middle finger of his right hand to machine-gun fire.
At the invasion of Normandy, he also killed two snipers and successfully led his men through a mine field. He was shot 4 times in the leg, and once in the chest, but was saved by a cigarette case he had in his pocket.
Five weeks later he volunteered as pilot for reconnaissance duty where he earned the moniker “The Craziest Pilot in the Canadian Air Force.”
James Doohan died July 20, 2005 (age 85) in Redmond, Washington.
MURPHY BROWN/CBS/1988-98 (Wheelchair)
Jeanine (Charlotte Price), disabled newsroom worker seen wheeling about “F.Y.I.” a news magazine based in Washington, DC.
Jeanine works with Murphy Brown, (Candice Bergen), a stubborn, extremely hot-tempered, middle-aged news reporter with a sarcastic streak and a drinking problem.
Jeanine appeared on episodes “Ticket to Writhe” (1993), “Murphy and the Amazing Leaping Man” (1993) and “Dick and Dottie” (1995).
Charlotte Price, like actress Madlyn Rhue, is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis.
In an interview with Variety magazine (11/29/1992), Price (who started acting after she was disabled) confessed, “…when I go out to audition and the building doesn’t have an elevator, and the casting offices are on the second floor, I’ve found that usually people are very nice about it…They come down and I read for them in the parking lot.”
MURDER, SHE WROTE/CBS/1984-96 (Wheelchair)
Jean O’Neil, (Madlyn Rhue), disabled librarian who lived in the town of Cabot Cove. She greeted resident mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), by saying, “What will it be Jessica, more books on poisons?”
Jean the Librarian appeared on the episodes “Murder in Tempo: (1996); “Home Care” (1995); “Wheel of Death” (1994)’ and “The Legacy of Borbey House” (1993).
Note: In 1993, Madlyn Rhue needed a job to keep her medical benefits so she could obtain the drug Betaceron, an insulin like drug that stops the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. Angela Lansbury, subsequently hired her to play the role of a librarian on the program.
On the topic of disability, Madlyn Rhue said, “Whenever you have a continuing disease, it’s very hard to get insured on a series…I understand that. But I do get crazy when I can’t even try out for episodic work. My talent hasn’t diminished….All I can say is, I have my own driver, I have my own assistant. And I’m always on time.”
Born October 3, 1935 in Washington, District of Columbia, actress Madlyn Rhue died on December 16, 2003 (age 68) at the Motion Picture and Television Country Home retirement center in Woodland Hills, California. She passed away from complication of pneumonia and multiple sclerosis.
See also: Houston Knights
MISS SUSAN/NBC/1951 (Wheelchair)
Susan Martin (Susan Peters), a female attorney in a wheelchair who returned to her hometown of Martinsville, Ohio to practice law. Her love interest was Bill Carter (Mark Roberts). Laura (Helen Ray) was the family housekeeper.
Born Suzanne Carnahan in Spokane, Washington on July 3, 1921, actress Susan Peters graduated from the Max Reinhardt’s School of Dramatic Art and became a popular MGM actress until her career was sidelined a little more than a year after her wedding day when she was injured as a result of a New Years duck hunting accident in 1945 in the San Diego area with her husband, Richard Quine. Reportedly, she went to retrieve a rifle when it accidentally discharged. The bullet lodged in her spine and Peters was paralyzed from the waist down.
In 1942, Peters had earned an Academy Award nomination for playing Greer Garson’s daughter, Kitty in the World War I drama Random Harvest and was voted a “Star of Tomorrow” the following year.
After her divorce from her husband, Columbia pictures cast Peters in the role of a manipulative crippled wife using her handicap to hold on to a husband in The Sign of the Ram (1948).
Her last performance was MISS SUSAN (aka MARTINSVILLE, USA), a daily fifteen-minute soap opera broadcast from March-December of 1951 in Philadelphia. Suffering from acute depression and plagued by kidney problems and pneumonia, Peters died on October 23, 1952 (age 31) in Visalia, California.
MY GIMPY LIFE/Internet/2012 + 2014 (Wheelchair)
Teal (Teal Sherer), an aspiring disabled actress who tries to navigate Tinsel Town (Hollywood) in a wheelchair.
Teal won Best Female Comedy Performance at the International Academy of Web Television Awards in Las Vegas for her role in MY GIMPLY LIFE!
Teal grew up near Knoxville, Tennessee. She sustained injuries in an automobile accident at the age of 14, on the way to a Labor Day fireworks show. The accident broke her spine, leaving her a paraplegic. Teal recovered at Shepherd Therapy Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
NOTE: Sherer‘s first name “Teal” was given by her father (not because her eyes are so blue) but because of the Teal duck, her dad’s favorite breed of duck to hunt. Teal quipped, “My father named me after an animal he enjoyed killing.”
During the third season of the web-based show, THE GUILD (2007-2014) a group of video gamers (The Guild, aka “The Knights of the Good”) go up against a tough-as-nails paraplegic woman named Venom, who is played by Teal Sherer.