Theory of multiple intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences is a theory of intelligence that differentiates it into specific (primarily sensory) “modalities”, rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. This model was proposed by Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner articulated seven criteria for a behavior to be considered an intelligence.[1] These were that the intelligences showed: potential for brain isolation by brain damage, place in evolutionary history, presence of core operations, susceptibility to encoding (symbolic expression), a distinct developmental progression, the existence of savants, prodigies and other exceptional people, and support from experimental psychology and psychometric findings.

Gardner chose eight abilities that he held to meet these criteria:[2] musical–rhythmic, visual–spatial, verbal–linguistic, logical–mathematical, bodily–kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic. He later suggested that existential and moral intelligence may also be worthy of inclusion.[3] Although the distinction between intelligences has been set out in great detail, Gardner opposes the idea of labeling learners to a specific intelligence. Each individual possesses a unique blend of all the intelligences. Gardner firmly maintains that his theory of multiple intelligences should “empower learners”, not restrict them to one modality of learning.[4]

Gardner argues intelligence is categorized into three primary or overarching categories, those of which are formulated by the abilities. According to Gardner, intelligence is: 1) The ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture, 2) a set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life, and 3) the potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge.[5]

According to a 2006 study many of Gardner’s “intelligences” correlate with the g factor, supporting the idea of a single dominant type of intelligence. According to the study, each of the domains proposed by Gardner involved a blend of g, cognitive abilities other than g, and, in some cases, non-cognitive abilities or personality characteristics.[6] Empirical support for non-g intelligences is lacking or very poor. Despite this the ideas of multiple non-g intelligences are very attractive to many due to the suggestion that everyone can be smart in some way.[7] Cognitive neuroscience research does not support the theory of multiple intelligences.

Intelligence modalities

Musical–rhythmic and harmonic

Main article: Musicality

This area has to do with sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music. People with a high musical intelligence normally have good pitch and may even have absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre.[8][9]

Visual–spatial

This area deals with spatial judgment and the ability to visualize with the mind’s eye. Spatial ability is one of the three factors beneath g in the hierarchical model of intelligence.[9]

Verbal–linguistic

People with high verbal-linguistic intelligence display a facility with words and languages. They are typically good at reading, writing, telling stories and memorizing words along with dates.[9] Verbal ability is one of the most g-loaded abilities.[10] This type of intelligence is measured with the Verbal IQ in WAIS-III.

Logical–mathematical

Further information: Reason

This area has to do with logic, abstractions, reasoning, numbers and critical thinking.[9] This also has to do with having the capacity to understand the underlying principles of some kind of causal system.[8] Logical reasoning is closely linked to fluid intelligence and to general intelligence (g factor).[11]

Bodily–kinesthetic

Further information: Gross motor skill and Fine motor skill

The core elements of the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are control of one’s bodily motions and the capacity to handle objects skillfully.[9] Gardner elaborates to say that this also includes a sense of timing, a clear sense of the goal of a physical action, along with the ability to train responses.

People who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence should be generally good at physical activities such as sports, dance, acting, and making things.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence include: athletes, dancers, musicians, actors, builders, police officers, and soldiers. Although these careers can be duplicated through virtual simulation, they will not produce the actual physical learning that is needed in this intelligence.[12]

Interpersonal

Main article: Social skills

This area has to do with interaction with others.[9] In theory, individuals who have high interpersonal intelligence are characterized by their sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations, and their ability to cooperate in order to work as part of a group. According to Gardner in How Are Kids Smart: Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, “Inter- and Intra- personal intelligence is often misunderstood with being extroverted or liking other people…”[13] Those with high interpersonal intelligence communicate effectively and empathize easily with others, and may be either leaders or followers. They often enjoy discussion and debate.

Gardner believes that careers that suit those with high interpersonal intelligence include sales persons, politicians, managers, teachers, counselors and social workers.[14]

Intrapersonal

Further information: Introspection

This area has to do with introspective and self-reflective capacities. This refers to having a deep understanding of the self; what one’s strengths/ weaknesses are, what makes one unique, being able to predict one’s own reactions/emotions.

Naturalistic

This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings.[9] Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types. This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.[8] This sort of ecological receptiveness is deeply rooted in a “sensitive, ethical, and holistic understanding” of the world and its complexities–including the role of humanity within the greater ecosphere.[15]

Existential

Further information: Spirituality

Some proponents of multiple intelligence theory proposed spiritual or religious intelligence as a possible additional type. Gardner did not want to commit to a spiritual intelligence, but suggested that an “existential” intelligence may be a useful construct.[16] The hypothesis of an existential intelligence has been further explored by educational researchers.[17]

Critical reception

Gardner argues that there is a wide range of cognitive abilities, but that there are only very weak correlations among them. For example, the theory postulates that a child who learns to multiply easily is not necessarily more intelligent than a child who has more difficulty on this task. The child who takes more time to master multiplication may best learn to multiply through a different approach, may excel in a field outside mathematics, or may be looking at and understanding the multiplication process at a fundamentally deeper level.

Intelligence tests and psychometrics have generally found high correlations between different aspects of intelligence, rather than the low correlations which Gardner’s theory predicts, supporting the prevailing theory of general intelligence rather than multiple intelligences (MI).[18] The theory has been widely criticized by mainstream psychology for its lack of empirical evidence, and its dependence on subjective judgement.[19]

Definition of intelligence

One major criticism of the theory is that it is ad hoc: that Gardner is not expanding the definition of the word “intelligence”, but rather denies the existence of intelligence as traditionally understood, and instead uses the word “intelligence” where other people have traditionally used words like “ability” and “aptitude“. This practice has been criticized by Robert J. Sternberg,[20][21] Eysenck,[22] and Scarr.[23] White (2006) points out that Gardner’s selection and application of criteria for his “intelligences” is subjective and arbitrary, and that a different researcher would likely have come up with different criteria.[24]

Defenders of MI theory argue that the traditional definition of intelligence is too narrow, and thus a broader definition more accurately reflects the differing ways in which humans think and learn.[25]

Some criticisms arise from the fact that Gardner has not provided a test of his multiple intelligences. He originally defined it as the ability to solve problems that have value in at least one culture, or as something that a student is interested in. He then added a disclaimer that he has no fixed definition, and his classification is more of an artistic judgment than fact:

Ultimately, it would certainly be desirable to have an algorithm for the selection of an intelligence, such that any trained researcher could determine whether a candidate’s intelligence met the appropriate criteria. At present, however, it must be admitted that the selection (or rejection) of a candidate’s intelligence is reminiscent more of an artistic judgment than of a scientific assessment.[26]

Gardner argues that by calling linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities intelligences, but not artistic, musical, athletic, etc. abilities, the former are needlessly aggrandized. Certain critics balk at this widening of the definition, saying that it ignores “the connotation of intelligence … [which] has always connoted the kind of thinking skills that makes one successful in school.”[27]

Gardner writes “I balk at the unwarranted assumption that certain human abilities can be arbitrarily singled out as intelligence while others cannot.”[28] Critics hold that given this statement, any interest or ability can be redefined as “intelligence”. Thus, studying intelligence becomes difficult, because it diffuses into the broader concept of ability or talent. Gardner’s addition of the naturalistic intelligence and conceptions of the existential and moral intelligences are seen as fruits of this diffusion. Defenders of the MI theory would argue that this is simply a recognition of the broad scope of inherent mental abilities, and that such an exhaustive scope by nature defies a one-dimensional classification such as an IQ value.

The theory and definitions have been critiqued by Perry D. Klein as being so unclear as to be tautologous and thus unfalsifiable. Having a high musical ability means being good at music while at the same time being good at music is explained by having a high musical ability.[29]

Neo-Piagetian criticism

Andreas Demetriou suggests that theories which overemphasize the autonomy of the domains are as simplistic as the theories that overemphasize the role of general intelligence and ignore the domains. He agrees with Gardner that there are indeed domains of intelligence that are relevantly autonomous of each other.[30] Some of the domains, such as verbal, spatial, mathematical, and social intelligence are identified by most lines of research in psychology. In Demetriou’s theory, one of the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, Gardner is criticized for underestimating the effects exerted on the various domains of intelligences by processes that define general processing efficiency, such as speed of processing, executive functions, working memory, and meta-cognitive processes underlying self-awareness and self-regulation. All of these processes are integral components of general intelligence that regulate the functioning and development of different domains of intelligence.[31]

The domains are to a large extent expressions of the condition of the general processes, and may vary because of their constitutional differences but also differences in individual preferences and inclinations. Their functioning both channels and influences the operation of the general processes.[32][33] Thus, one cannot satisfactorily specify the intelligence of an individual or design effective intervention programs unless both the general processes and the domains of interest are evaluated.[34][35]

IQ tests

Gardner argues that IQ tests only measure linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities. He argues the importance of assessing in an “intelligence-fair” manner. While traditional paper-and-pen examinations favour linguistic and logical skills, there is a need for intelligence-fair measures that value the distinct modalities of thinking and learning that uniquely define each intelligence.[9]

Psychologist Alan S. Kaufman points out that IQ tests have measured spatial abilities for 70 years.[36] Modern IQ tests are greatly influenced by the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory which incorporates a general intelligence but also many more narrow abilities. While IQ tests do give an overall IQ score, they now also give scores for many more narrow abilities.[36]

Lack of empirical evidence

According to a 2006 study many of Gardner’s “intelligences” correlate with the g factor, supporting the idea of a single dominant type of intelligence. According to the study, each of the domains proposed by Gardner involved a blend of g, of cognitive abilities other than g, and, in some cases, of non-cognitive abilities or of personality characteristics.[6]

Linda Gottfredson (2006) has argued that thousands of studies support the importance of intelligence quotient (IQ) in predicting school and job performance, and numerous other life outcomes. In contrast, empirical support for non-g intelligences is lacking or very poor. She argued that despite this the ideas of multiple non-g intelligences are very attractive to many due to the suggestion that everyone can be smart in some way.[7]

A critical review of MI theory argues that there is little empirical evidence to support it:

To date there have been no published studies that offer evidence of the validity of the multiple intelligences. In 1994 Sternberg reported finding no empirical studies. In 2000 Allix reported finding no empirical validating studies, and at that time Gardner and Connell conceded that there was “little hard evidence for MI theory” (2000, p. 292). In 2004 Sternberg and Grigerenko stated that there were no validating studies for multiple intelligences, and in 2004 Gardner asserted that he would be “delighted were such evidence to accrue”,[37] and admitted that “MI theory has few enthusiasts among psychometricians or others of a traditional psychological background” because they require “psychometric or experimental evidence that allows one to prove the existence of the several intelligences.”[37][38]

The same review presents evidence to demonstrate that cognitive neuroscience research does not support the theory of multiple intelligences:

… the human brain is unlikely to function via Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Taken together the evidence for the intercorrelations of subskills of IQ measures, the evidence for a shared set of genes associated with mathematics, reading, and g, and the evidence for shared and overlapping “what is it?” and “where is it?” neural processing pathways, and shared neural pathways for language, music, motor skills, and emotions suggest that it is unlikely that each of Gardner’s intelligences could operate “via a different set of neural mechanisms” (1999, p. 99). Equally important, the evidence for the “what is it?” and “where is it?” processing pathways, for Kahneman’s two decision-making systems, and for adapted cognition modules suggests that these cognitive brain specializations have evolved to address very specific problems in our environment. Because Gardner claimed that the intelligences are innate potentialities related to a general content area, MI theory lacks a rationale for the phylogenetic emergence of the intelligences.[38]

The theory of multiple intelligences has often been conflated with learning styles. Gardner has denied that multiple intelligences are learning styles and agrees that the idea of learning styles is incoherent and lacking in empirical evidence.[39] The theory of multiple intelligences is often cited as an example of pseudoscience because it lacks empirical evidence or falsifiability.[40][41]

Use in education

Gardner defines an intelligence as “biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture.”[42] According to Gardner, there are more ways to do this than just through logical and linguistic intelligence. Gardner believes that the purpose of schooling “should be to develop intelligences and to help people reach vocational and avocational goals that are appropriate to their particular spectrum of intelligences. People who are helped to do so, [he] believe[s], feel more engaged and competent and therefore more inclined to serve society in a constructive way.”[a]

Gardner contends that IQ tests focus mostly on logical and linguistic intelligence. Upon doing well on these tests, the chances of attending a prestigious college or university increase, which in turn creates contributing members of society.[43] While many students function well in this environment, there are those who do not. Gardner’s theory argues that students will be better served by a broader vision of education, wherein teachers use different methodologies, exercises and activities to reach all students, not just those who excel at linguistic and logical intelligence. It challenges educators to find “ways that will work for this student learning this topic”.[44]

James Traub‘s article in The New Republic notes that Gardner’s system has not been accepted by most academics in intelligence or teaching.[45] Gardner states that “while Multiple Intelligences theory is consistent with much empirical evidence, it has not been subjected to strong experimental tests … Within the area of education, the applications of the theory are currently being examined in many projects. Our hunches will have to be revised many times in light of actual classroom experience.”[46]

George Miller, a prominent cognitive psychologist, wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Gardner’s argument consisted of “hunch and opinion”. Jerome Bruner called Gardner’s “intelligences” “at best useful fictions,” and Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein in The Bell Curve (1994) called Gardner’s theory “uniquely devoid of psychometric or other quantitative evidence.”[47]

Thomas Armstrong argues that Waldorf education engages all of Gardner’s original seven intelligences.[b] In spite of its lack of general acceptance in the psychological community, Gardner’s theory has been adopted by many schools, where it is often used to underpin discussion about learning styles,[48] and hundreds of books have been written about its applications in education.[49] Gardner himself has said he is “uneasy” with the way his theory has been used in education.[50]

5 Mad Geniuses

5 Mad GeniusesIs insanity the secret companion to ­genius? Though we can’t very well perform psychological examinations on those who are long dead, that hasn’t stopped historians from speculating about the mental conditions of deceased geniuses by interpreting their personal letters, their works and others’ accounts. It turns out some of the world’s greatest geniuses were quite mad. In fact, some scientis­ts claim that a far greater percentage of creative types (poets, painters, musicians and the like) have been afflicted with bipolar disorder than the general ­population. Some of the world’s most renowned creative minds, including writers Mary Shelley, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway; composers Irving Berlin and Sergey Rachmaninoff; and painters Paul Gauguin and Jackson Pollock are all believed to have suffered from the illness.

John Nash

The award-winning film “A Beautiful Mind” popularized the story of John Nash. Nash is a world-renowned mathematician who struggled with paranoid schizophrenia after coming up with significant contributions to the concept of game theory. The idea of the “Nash Equilibrium,” which discusses whether players in a game can benefit if one of them changes a strategy, can be applied to various fields, including economics. The U.S. Military even adopted tactics based off his ideas to use for the Cold War.

Although the film (based on Sylvia Nasar’s biography of the same name) takes liberties with the true story of Nash’s life, he did experience hallucinations and delusions. His hallucinations included hearing voices, but not seeing people or things that weren’t there. He began to have delusions of grandeur and believed that m­ajor world fig­ures were out to get him. After spending about 30 years struggling with the disorder and spending time in and out of hospitals, he was able to make a significant recovery in the late 1980s. In 1994, John Nash received the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his early work with game theory.

John Nash suggests that irrational thought actually has its benefits. Discussing his recovery from schizophrenia, Nash remarks that it is not “entirely a matter of joy” for him. He explains: “One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person’s concept of his relation to the cosmos.”

John Nash

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh’s paintings, such as “Starry Night” are quickly recognizable by their unique brushwork and expression. However, it was not until after his death that van Gogh gained popularity. Now he is considered among the greatest painters in history.

Van Gogh’s life was a tortured one. Almost everyone knows the painter cut off part of his own ear. He also supposedly drank turpentine and tried to eat paint. Tragically, he committed suicide in 1890. Authors D. Jablow Hershman and Dr. Julian Lieb propose in their book “Manic Depression and Creativity” that van Gogh had bipolar disorder. In her book “Touched with Fire,” Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison reaches the same conclusion. She also discusses van Gogh’s art in relation to his mental illness. For instance, she notes that the typical seasonal patterns of moods and psychosis align with van Gogh’s productivity, which also varied by the season.

Vincent van Gogh

Edgar Allan Poe

Best known for his poem “The Raven,” writer Edgar ­Alla­n Poe wrote compelling horror and detective stories as well. He put great emphasis on form and structure in his taut short stories. His short story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” published in 1841, is often called the first modern detective story.

Despite his skill as a writer, it is well known that Poe had a ­drinking problem, and letters reveal that he struggled with suicidal thoughts. The causes and circumstances around his death at 40 years old are unknown, but perhaps have to do with heart failure or ­his drinking. Based on her interpretation of Poe’s letters, Kay Redfield Jamison speculates that Poe was a manic-depressive, a condition known today as bipolar disorder. In her book, she argues that creativity like Poe’s can spring from states of mania. From the mind-sickness emerges a “cosmic” perspective that lets creative juices flow, she writes.

Edgar Allan Poe may have seen a connection between creativity and mental illness, himself. He wrote: “Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence — whether much that is glorious — whether all that is profound — does not spring from disease of thought — from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Ludwig van Beethoven

Beethoven’s contributions to music were monumental. His passionate intensity and brilliant design brought instrumental music to a new level. However, the famous composer had a hard life. Raised by an abusive, alcoholic father, Beethoven was responsible for the well-being of his struggling family by the age of 18. One of the most tragic aspects of his life was his gradual descent into deafness, which occurred between the ages of 30 and 49 and may have come as a result of his father’s beatings. Remarkably, he was able to compose some of his most esteemed work after losing his hearing.

His internal struggle is documented in letters to his brothers, where he discussed his flirtation with suicide. Authors Hershman and Lieb propose in their book that Beethoven probably struggled with bipolar disorder. In addition, Francois Martin Mai brings up the possibility that he specifically suffered from bipolar depression in the book “Diagnosing Genius.” Mai argues that, despite his tendencies toward depression, Beethoven had periods of intensity and vigor consistent with bipolar disorder. Examinations and tests of Beethoven’s hair recently revealed a dangerously high lead content. This could have triggered not only his mental illness but also the digestive maladies of which he often complained.Ludwig van Beethoven

Sir Isaac Newton

With numerous and far-reaching contributions to ph­ysics and mechanics, Sir Isaac Newton is universally known as a brilliant thinker. Indeed, polls of both scientists and the public show an agreement that Newton even surpasses Einstein in influence. Some of his notable contributions include inventing calculus, explaining “universal gravitation,” developing laws of motion and building the first reflective telescope.

Despite his many achievements, Newton suffered from psychotic tendencies and mood swings (including wildly enthusiastic periods), and he was often difficult to get along with. Hershman and Lieb also theorize in their book that Newton probably suffered from bipolar disorder. In addition, his delusional letters lend credence to the theory that he was schizophrenic. Newton’s father died before he was born, and he was separated from his mother between the ages of two and 11. His mental disorder might have been a result of this prolonged traumatic childhood experience.Sir Isaac Newton

Albert Einstein ~ genius

Physicist, Scientist (1879–1955)

Born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany in 1879, Albert Einstein developed the special and general theories of relativity. In 1921, he won the Nobel Prize for physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Einstein is generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century. He died on April 18, 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey.

Early Life

Born on March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany, Albert Einstein grew up in a secular, middle-class Jewish family. His father, Hermann Einstein, was a salesman and engineer who, with his brother, founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment in Munich, Germany. His mother, the former Pauline Koch, ran the family household. Einstein had one sister, Maja, born two years after him.

Einstein attended elementary school at the Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich. He enjoyed classical music and played the violin. However, he felt alienated and struggled with the rigid Prussian education he received there. He also experienced a speech difficulty, a slow cadence in his speaking where he’d pause to consider what to say next. In later years, Einstein would write about two events that had a marked effect on his childhood. One was an encounter with a compass at age five, where he marveled at the invisible forces that turned the needle. The other was at age 12, when he discovered a book of geometry which he read over and over.

In 1889, the Einstein family invited a poor Polish medical student, Max Talmud to come to their house for Thursday evening meals. Talmud became an informal tutor to young Albert, introducing him to higher mathematics and philosophy. One of the books Talmud shared with Albert was a children’s science book in which the author imagined riding alongside electricity that was traveling inside a telegraph wire. Einstein began to wonder what a light beam would look like if you could run alongside it at the same speed. If light were a wave, then the light beam should appear stationary, like a frozen wave. Yet, in reality, the light beam is moving. This paradox led him to write his first “scientific paper” at age 16, “The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields.” This question of the relative speed to the stationary observer and the observer moving with the light was a question that would dominate his thinking for the next 10 years.

In 1894, Hermann Einstein’s company failed to get an important contract to electrify the city of Munich and he was forced to move his family to Milan, Italy. Albert was left at a relative’s boarding house in Munich to finish his education at the Luitpold Gymnasium. Faced with military duty when he turned of age, Albert allegedly withdrew from school, using a doctor’s note to excuse himself and claim nervous exhaustion, making his way to Milan to join his parents. His parents sympathized with his feelings, but were concerned about the enormous problems that he would face as a school dropout and draft dodger with no employable skills.

Fortunately, Einstein was able to apply directly to the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (Swiss Federal Polytechnic School) in Zürich, Switzerland. Lacking the equivalent of a high school diploma, he failed much of the entrance exam but got exceptional marks in mathematics and physics. Because of this, he was admitted to the school provided he complete his formal schooling first. He went to a special high school run by Jost Winteler in Aarau, Switzerland, and graduated in 1896 at age 17. He became lifelong friends with the Winteler family, with whom he had been boarding, and fell in love with Wintelers’ daughter, Marie. At this time, Einstein renounced his German citizenship to avoid military service and enrolled at the Zurich school.

Marriage and Family

Einstein would recall that his years in Zurich were some of the happiest of his life. He met many students who would become loyal friends, such as Marcel Grossmann, a mathematician, and Michele Besso, with whom he enjoyed lengthy conversations about space and time. He also met his future wife, Mileva Maric, a fellow physics student from Serbia.

After graduating from the Polytechnic Institute, Albert Einstein faced a series of life crises over the next few years. Because he liked to study on his own, he cut classes and earned the animosity of some of his professors. One in particular, Heinrich Weber, wrote a letter of recommendation at Einstein’s request that led to him being turned down for every academic position that he applied to after graduation. Meanwhile, Einstein’s relationship with Maric deepened, but his parents vehemently opposed the relationship citing her Serbian background and Eastern Orthodox Christian religion. Einstein defied his parents and continued to see Maric. In January, 1902, the couple had a daughter, Lieserl, who either died of sickness or was given up for adoption—the facts are unkown.

At this point, Albert Einstein probably reached the lowest point in his life. He could not marry Maric and support a family without a job, and his father’s business had gone bankrupt. Desperate and unemployed, Einstein took lowly jobs tutoring children, but he was unable to hold on to any of them. A turning point came later in 1902, when the father of his lifelong friend, Marcel Grossman, recommended him for a position as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern, Switzerland. About this time, Einstein’s father became seriously ill and just before he died, gave his blessing for him to marry. With a small but steady income, Einstein married Maric on Jan. 6, 1903. In May, 1904 they had their first son, Hans Albert. Their second son, Eduard, were born in 1910.

Miracle Year

At the patent office, Albert Einstein evaluated patent applications for electromagnetic devices. He quickly mastered the job, leaving him time to ponder on the transmission of electrical signals and electrical-mechanical synchronization, an interest he had been cultivating for several years. While at the polytechnic school he had studied Scottish physicist James Maxwell’s electromagnetic theories which describe the nature of light, and discovered a fact unknown to Maxwell himself, that the speed of light remained constant. However, this violated Isaac Newton’s laws of motion because there is no absolute velocity in Newton’s theory. This insight led Einstein to formulate the principle of relativity.

In 1905—often called Einstein’s “miracle year”—he submitted a paper for his doctorate and had four papers published in the Annalen der Physik, one of the best known physics journals. The four papers—the photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, special relativity, and the equivalence of matter and energy—would alter the course of modern physics and bring him to the attention of the academic world. In his paper on matter and energy, Einstein deduced the well-known equation E=mc2, suggesting that tiny particles of matter could be converted into huge amounts of energy, foreshadowing the development of nuclear power. There have been claims that Einstein and his wife, Maric, collaborated on his celebrated 1905 papers, but historians of physics who have studied the issue find no evidence that she made any substantive contributions. In fact, in the papers, Einstein only credits his conversations with Michele Besso in developing relativity.

At first, Einstein’s 1905 papers were ignored by the physics community. This began to change when he received the attention of Max Planck, perhaps the most influential physicist of his generation and founder of quantum theory. With Planck’s complimentary comments and his experiments that confirmed his theories, Einstein was invited to lecture at international meetings and he rose rapidly in the academic world. He was offered a series of positions at increasingly prestigious institutions, including the University of Zürich, the University of Prague, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and finally the University of Berlin, where he served as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics from 1913 to 1933.

As his fame spread, Einstein’s marriage fell apart. His constant travel and intense study of his work, the arguments about their children and the family’s meager finances led Einstein to the conclusion that his marriage was over. Einstein began an affair with a cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, whom he later married. He finally divorced Mileva in 1919 and as a settlement agreed to give her the money he might receive if he ever won a Nobel Prize.

Theory of Relativity

In November, 1915, Einstein completed the general theory of relativity, which he considered his masterpiece. He was convinced that general relativity was correct because of its mathematical beauty and because it accurately predicted the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit around the sun, which fell short in Newton’s theory. General relativity theory also predicted a measurable deflection of light around the sun when a planet or another sun oribited near the sun. That prediction was confirmed in observations by British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington during the solar eclipse of 1919. In 1921, Albert Einstein received word that he had received the Nobel Prize for Physics. Because relativity was still considered controversial, Einstein received the award for his explanation of the photoelectric effect.

In the 1920s, Einstein launched the new science of cosmology. His equations predicted that the universe is dynamic, ever expanding or contracting. This contradicted the prevailing view that the universe was static, a view that Einstein held earlier and was a guiding factor in his development of the general theory of relativity. But his later calculations in the general theory indicated that the universe could be expanding or contracting. In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble found that the universe was indeed expanding, thereby confirming Einstein’s work. In 1930, during a visit to the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, Einstein met with Hubble and declared the cosmological constant, his original theory of the static size and shape of the universe, to be his “greatest blunder.”

While Einstein was touring much of the world speaking on his theories in the 1920s, the Nazis were rising to power under the leadership of Adolph Hitler. Einstein’s theories on relativity became a convenient target for Nazi propaganda. In 1931, the Nazi’s enlisted other physicists to denounce Einstein and his theories as “Jewish physics.” At this time, Einstein learned that the new German government, now in full control by the Nazi party, had passed a law barring Jews from holding any official position, including teaching at universities. Einstein also learned that his name was on a list of assassination targets, and a Nazi organization published a magazine with Einstein’s picture and the caption “Not Yet Hanged” on the cover.

Move to the United States

In December, 1932, Einstein decided to leave Germany forever. He took a position a the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, which soon became a Mecca for physicists from around the world. It was here that he would spend the rest of his career trying to develop a unified field theory—an all-embracing theory that would unify the forces of the universe, and thereby the laws of physics, into one framework—and refute the accepted interpretation of quantum physics. Other European scientists also fled various countries threatened by Nazi takeover and came to the United States. Some of these scientists knew of Nazi plans to develop an atomic weapon. For a time, their warnings to Washington, D.C. went unheeded.

In the summer of 1939, Einstein, along with another scientist, Leo Szilard, was persuaded to write a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt to alert him of the possibility of a Nazi bomb. President Roosevelt could not risk the possibility that Germany might develop an atomic bomb first. The letter is believed to be the key factor that motivated the United States to investigate the development of nuclear weapons. Roosevelt invited Einstein to meet with him and soon after the United States initiated the Manhattan Project.

Not long after he began his career at the Institute in New Jersey, Albert Einstein expressed an appreciation for the “meritocracy” of the United States and the right people had to think what they pleased—something he didn’t enjoy as a young man in Europe. In 1935, Albert Einstein was granted permanent residency in the United States and became an American citizen in 1940. As the Manhattan Project moved from drawing board to testing and development at Los Alamos, New Mexico, many of his colleagues were asked to develop the first atomic bomb, but Einstein was not one of them. According to several researchers who examined FBI files over the years, the reason was the U.S. government didn’t trust Einstein’s lifelong association with peace and socialist organizations. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover went so far as to recommend that Einstein be kept out of America by the Alien Exclusion Act, but he was overruled by the U.S. State Department. Instead, during the war, Einstein helped the U.S. Navy evaluate designs for future weapons systems and contributed to the war effort by auctioning off priceless personal manuscripts. One example was a handwritten copy of his 1905 paper on special relativity which sold for $6.5 million, and is now located in the Library of Congress.

On August 6, 1945, while on vacation, Einstein heard the news that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. He soon became involved in an international effort to try to bring the atomic bomb under control, and in 1946, he formed the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists with physicist Leo Szilard. In 1947, in an article that he wrote for The Atlantic Monthly, Einstein argued that the United States should not try to monopolize the atomic bomb, but instead should supply the United Nations with nuclear weapons for the sole purpose of maintaining a deterrent. At this time, Einstein also became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He corresponded with civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois and actively campaigned for the rights of African Americans.

After the war, Einstein continued to work on many key aspects of the theory of general relativity, such as wormholes, the possibility of time travel, the existence of black holes, and the creation of the universe. However, he became increasingly isolated from the rest of the physics community. With the huge developments in unraveling the secrets of atoms and molecules, spurred on by the development to the atomic bomb, the majority of scientists were working on the quantum theory, not relativity. Another reason for Einstein’s detachment from his colleagues was his obsession with discovering his unified field theory. In the 1930s, Einstein engaged in a series of historic private debates with Niels Bohr, the originator of the Bohr atomic model. In a series of “thought experiments,” Einstein tried to find logical inconsistencies in the quantum theory, but was unsuccessful. However, in his later years, he stopped opposing quantum theory and tried to incorporate it, along with light and gravity, into the larger unified field theory he was developing.

In the last decade of his life, Einstein withdrew from public life, rarely traveling far and confining himself to long walks around Princeton with close associates, whom he engaged in deep conversations about politics, religion, physics and his unified field theory.

Final Years

On April 17, 1955, while working on a speech he was preparing to commemorate Israel’s 17th anniversary, Einstein suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm and experienced internal bleeding. He was taken to the University Medical Center at Princeton for treatment, but refused surgery, believing that he had lived his life and was content to accept his fate. “I want to go when I want,” he stated at the time. “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” Einstein died at the university medical center early the next morning—April 18, 1955—at the age of 76.

During the autopsy, Thomas Stoltz Harvey removed Einstein’s brain, seemingly without the permission of his family, for preservation and future study by doctors of neuroscience. His remains were cremated and his ashes were scattered in an undisclosed location. After decades of study, Einstein’s brain is now located at the Princeton University Medical Center.

Nikola Tesla

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nikola Tesla

Tesla, aged 34, 1890, photo by Napoleon Sarony
Born (1856-07-10)10 July 1856
Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia)
Died 7 January 1943(1943-01-07) (aged 86)
New York City, New York, USA
Citizenship Austrian Empire (10 July 1856 – 1867)
United States (30 July 1891 – 7 January 1943)
Education Graz University of Technology (dropped out)
Engineering career
Engineering discipline Electrical engineering
Mechanical engineering
Significant projects Alternating current,
high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments
Significant design Induction motor
Rotating magnetic field
Tesla coil
Radio remote control vehicle (torpedo)[1]:355
Significant awards
Signature TeslaSignature.svg

Nikola Tesla (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Тесла; 10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian American[2][3][4][5] inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.[6]

Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before immigrating to the United States in 1884 to work for Thomas Edison in New York City. He soon struck out on his own with financial backers, setting up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices. His patented AC induction motor and transformer were licensed by George Westinghouse, who also hired Tesla for a short time as a consultant. His work in the formative years of electric power development was also involved in the corporate struggle between making alternating current or direct current the power transmission standard, referred to as the war of currents. Tesla went on to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity distribution in his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs and made early (1893) pronouncements on the possibility of wireless communication with his devices. He tried to put these ideas to practical use in his ill-fated attempt at intercontinental wireless transmission; his unfinished Wardenclyffe Tower project.[7] In his lab he also conducted a range of experiments with mechanical oscillator/generators, electrical discharge tubes, and early X-ray imaging. He even built a wireless controlled boat which may have been the first such device ever exhibited.

Tesla was renowned for his achievements and showmanship, eventually earning him a reputation in popular culture as an archetypal “mad scientist.”[8] His patents earned him a considerable amount of money, much of which was used to finance his own projects with varying degrees of success.[9]:121,154 He lived most of his life in a series of New York hotels, through his retirement. He died on 7 January 1943.[10] His work fell into relative obscurity after his death, but in 1960 the General Conference on Weights and Measures named the SI unit of magnetic flux density the tesla in his honor.[11] Tesla has experienced a resurgence in interest in popular culture since the 1990s.[12]

Early years (1856–1885)

 

Tesla wearing a folk costume, c. 1880.

Rebuilt, Tesla’s house (parish hall) in Smiljan, Croatia, where he was born, and the rebuilt church, where his father served. During the Yugoslav Wars, several of the buildings were severely damaged by fire. They were restored and reopened in 2006.[13]

Tesla’s baptismal record, 28 June 1856.

Nikola Tesla’s father Milutin, Orthodox priest in the village of Smiljan.

Nikola Tesla was born on 10 July (O.S. 28 June) 1856 to Serbian parents in the village of Smiljan, Austrian Empire (modern-day Croatia).[14][15] His father, Milutin Tesla, was an Orthodox priest.[5] Tesla’s mother, Đuka Tesla (née Mandić), whose father was also an Orthodox priest,[14]:10 had a talent for making home craft tools, mechanical appliances, and the ability to memorize Serbian epic poems. Đuka had never received a formal education. Nikola credited his eidetic memory and creative abilities to his mother’s genetics and influence.[9][16] Tesla’s progenitors were from western Serbia, near Montenegro.[14]:12

Tesla was the fourth of five children. He had an older brother named Dane and three sisters, Milka, Angelina and Marica. Dane was killed in a horse-riding accident when Nikola was five.[17] In 1861, Tesla attended the “Lower” or “Primary” School in Smiljan where he studied German, arithmetic, and religion.[18] In 1862, the Tesla family moved to Gospić, Austrian Empire, where Tesla’s father worked as a pastor. Nikola completed “Lower” or “Primary” School, followed by the “Lower Real Gymnasium” or “Normal School.”[19]

In 1870, Tesla moved to Karlovac to attend school at Higher Real Gymnasium, where he was profoundly influenced by a math teacher Martin Sekulić.[14]:32[20] Tesla was able to perform integral calculus in his head, which prompted his teachers to believe that he was cheating.[21] He finished a four-year term in three years, graduating in 1873.[14]:33

In 1873, Tesla returned to his birthtown, Smiljan. Shortly after he arrived, Tesla contracted cholera; he was bedridden for nine months and was near death multiple times. Tesla’s father, in a moment of despair, promised to send him to the best engineering school if he recovered from the illness[20][22] (his father had originally wanted him to enter the priesthood).[23]

In 1874, Tesla evaded being drafted into the Austro-Hungarian Army in Smiljan[24] by running away to Tomingaj, near Gračac. There, he explored the mountains in hunter’s garb. Tesla said that this contact with nature made him stronger, both physically and mentally.[20] He read many books while in Tomingaj, and later said that Mark Twain‘s works had helped him to miraculously recover from his earlier illness.[22]

In 1875, Tesla enrolled at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria, on a Military Frontier scholarship. During his first year, Tesla never missed a lecture, earned the highest grades possible, passed nine exams[20][22] (nearly twice as many required[14]), started a Serbian culture club,[20] and even received a letter of commendation from the dean of the technical faculty to his father, which stated, “Your son is a star of first rank.”[14] Tesla claimed that he worked from 3 a.m. to 11 p.m., no Sundays or holidays excepted.[22] He was “mortified when [his] father made light of [those] hard won honors.” After his father’s death in 1879,[24] Tesla found a package of letters from his professors to his father, warning that unless he were removed from the school, Tesla would be killed through overwork.[22] During his second year, Tesla came into conflict with Professor Poeschl over the Gramme dynamo, when Tesla suggested that commutators weren’t necessary. At the end of his second year, Tesla lost his scholarship and became addicted to gambling.[20][22] During his third year, Tesla gambled away his allowance and his tuition money, later gambling back his initial losses and returning the balance to his family. Tesla said that he “conquered [his] passion then and there,” but later he was known to play billiards in the US. When exam time came, Tesla was unprepared and asked for an extension to study, but was denied. He never graduated from the university and did not receive grades for the last semester.[24]

In December 1878, Tesla left Graz and severed all relations with his family to hide the fact that he dropped out of school.[24] His friends thought that he had drowned in the Mur River.[25] Tesla went to Maribor (now in Slovenia), where he worked as a draftsman for 60 florins a month. He spent his spare time playing cards with local men on the streets.[24] In March 1879, Milutin Tesla went to Maribor to beg his son to return home, but Nikola refused.[26] Nikola suffered a nervous breakdown at around the same time.[25]

Tesla aged 23, c. 1879

On 24 March 1879, Tesla was returned to Gospić under police guard for not having a residence permit. On 17 April 1879, Milutin Tesla died at the age of 60 after contracting an unspecified illness[27] (although some sources say that he died of a stroke[28] ). During that year, Tesla taught a large class of students in his old school, Higher Real Gymnasium, in Gospić.[27]

In January 1880, two of Tesla’s uncles put together enough money to help him leave Gospić for Prague where he was to study. Unfortunately, he arrived too late to enroll at Charles-Ferdinand University; he never studied Greek, a required subject; and he was illiterate in Czech, another required subject. Tesla did, however, attend lectures at the university, although, as an auditor, he did not receive grades for the courses.[29][30][31]

In 1881, Tesla moved to Budapest to work under Ferenc Puskas at a telegraph company, the Budapest Telephone Exchange. Upon arrival, Tesla realized that the company, then under construction, was not functional, so he worked as a draftsman in the Central Telegraph Office instead. Within a few months, the Budapest Telephone Exchange became functional and Tesla was allocated the chief electrician position.[32] During his employment, Tesla made many improvements to the Central Station equipment and claimed to have perfected a telephone repeater or amplifier, which was never patented nor publicly described.[22]

Working for Edison

In 1882, Tesla began working for the Continental Edison Company in France, designing and making improvements to electrical equipment.[33] In June 1884, he relocated to New York City[14]:57–60[34] where he was hired by Thomas Edison to work for his Edison Machine Works. Tesla’s work for Edison began with simple electrical engineering and quickly progressed to solving more difficult problems.[35]

Tesla was offered the task of completely redesigning the Edison Company’s direct current generators. In 1885, he said that he could redesign Edison’s inefficient motor and generators, making an improvement in both service and economy. According to Tesla, Edison remarked, “There’s fifty thousand dollars in it for you—if you can do it”[9]:54–57—this has been noted as an odd statement from an Edison whose company was stingy with pay and who did not have that sort of cash on hand.[1]:110 After months of work, Tesla fulfilled the task and inquired about payment. Edison, saying that he was only joking, replied, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.”[14]:64[36] Instead, Edison offered a US$10 a week raise over Tesla’s US$18 per week salary; Tesla refused the offer and immediately resigned.[9]

Middle years (1886–1899)

After leaving Edison’s company Tesla partnered with two businessmen in 1886, Robert Lane and Benjamin Vale, who agreed to finance an electric lighting company in Tesla’s name, Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing.[37] The company installed electrical arc light based illumination systems designed by Tesla and also had designs for dynamo electric machine commutators, the first patents issued to Tesla in the US.[1]

The investors showed little interest in Tesla’s ideas for new types of motors and electrical transmission equipment and also seemed to think it was better to develop an electrical utility than invent new systems.[38] They eventually forced Tesla out leaving him penniless. He even lost control of the patents he had generated since he had assigned them to the company in lieu of stock.[38] He had to work at various electrical repair jobs and even as a ditch digger for $2 per day. Tesla considered the winter of 1886/1887 as a time of “terrible headaches and bitter tears.” During this time, he questioned the value of his education.[1][39]

AC and the induction motor

Drawing from U.S. Patent 381,968, illustrating principle of Tesla’s alternating current induction motor

In late 1886 Tesla met Alfred S. Brown, a Western Union superintendent, and New York attorney Charles F. Peck. The two men were experienced in setting up companies and promoting inventions and patents for financial gain.[40] Based on Tesla’s patents and other ideas they agreed to back him financially and handle his patents. Together in April 1887 they formed the Tesla Electric Company with an agreement that profits from generated patents would go 1/3 to Tesla, 1/3 to Peck and Brown, and 1/3 to fund development.[40] They set up a laboratory for Tesla at 89 Liberty Street in Manhattan where he worked on improving and developing new types of electric motors, generators and other devices.

One of the things Tesla developed at that laboratory in 1887 was an induction motor that ran on alternating current, a power system format that was starting to be built in Europe and the US because its advantages in long distance high voltage transmission. The motor used polyphase current which generated a rotating magnetic field to turn the motor (a principle Tesla claimed to have conceived of in 1882).[41][42][43] This innovative electric motor, patented in May 1888, was a simple self-starting design that did not need a commutator, thus avoiding sparking and the high maintenance of constantly servicing and replacing mechanical brushes.[1]:161[44]

In 1888, the editor of Electrical World magazine, Thomas Commerford Martin (a friend and publicist), arranged for Tesla to demonstrate his alternating current system, including his induction motor, at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (now IEEE).[45] Engineers working for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company reported to George Westinghouse that Tesla had a viable AC motor and related power system—something that Westinghouse had been trying to secure the patents to. Westinghouse looked into getting a patent on a similar commutatorless rotating magnetic field based induction motor presented in a paper in March 1888 by the Italian physicist Galileo Ferraris but decided Tesla’s patent would probably control the market.[1]:160–162[46]

Nikola Tesla’s AC dynamo-electric machine (AC Electric generator) in an 1888 U.S. Patent 390,721.

In July 1888, Brown and Peck negotiated a licensing deal with George Westinghouse for Tesla’s polyphase induction motor and transformer designs for $60,000 in cash and stock and a royalty of $2.50 per AC horsepower produced by each motor. Westinghouse also hired Tesla for one year for the large fee of $2,000 ($52,500 in today’s dollars[47]) per month to be a consultant at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company’s Pittsburgh labs.[48]

During that year, Tesla worked in Pittsburgh, helping to create an alternating current system to power the city’s streetcars. He found the time there frustrating because of conflicts between him and the other Westinghouse engineers over how best to implement AC power. Between them, they settled on a 60-cycle AC current system Tesla proposed (to match the working frequency of Tesla’s motor), although they soon found that, since Tesla’s induction motor could only run at a constant speed, it would not work for street cars. They ended up using a DC traction motor instead.[49][50]

War of Currents

Tesla’s alternating current work put him firmly on the “AC” side of the so-called “War of Currents,”[51] an electrical standards battle waged between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.[52][53] Tesla’s patents, along with the others that Westinghouse’s company had acquired or developed, allowed Westinghouse to build a rival AC system that could compete with Thomas Edison’s DC system.[54]

In 1893, George Westinghouse won the bid to electrify the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago with alternating current, beating out a bid by Edison to electrify the fair with direct current. This World’s Fair devoted a building to electrical exhibits. It was a key event in the history of AC power, as Westinghouse demonstrated the safety, reliability, and efficiency of alternating current to the American public.[55][56] At the Columbian Exposition, Tesla demonstrated a series of electrical effects previously performed throughout America and Europe,[9]:76 included using high-voltage, high-frequency alternating current to light a wireless gas-discharge lamp.[9]:79 An observer noted:

Within the room was suspended two hard-rubber plates covered with tin foil. These were about fifteen feet apart, and served as terminals of the wires leading from the transformers. When the current was turned on, the lamps or tubes, which had no wires connected to them, but lay on a table between the suspended plates, or which might be held in the hand in almost any part of the room, were made luminous. These were the same experiments and the same apparatus shown by Tesla in London about two years previous, “where they produced so much wonder and astonishment”.[57]

Tesla also explained the principles of a rotating magnetic field and induction motor by demonstrating how to make a copper egg stand on end using a device he constructed known as the Egg of Columbus.[58]

By 1892 Edison’s company was consolidated into the conglomerate General Electric by financier J. P. Morgan and the new company (by then switching over to an all AC system) was involved in take over attempts and patent battles with Westinghouse Electric. Although a patent sharing agreement was signed between the two companies in 1896[59] Westinghouse was still cashed strapped from the financial warfare. To secure further loans Westinghouse was forced to revisit Tesla’s AC patent, which bankers considered a financial strain on the company[60][61] (at that point Westinghouse had paid out an estimated $200,000 in licenses and royalties to Tesla, Brown, and Peck[62]). In 1897, Westinghouse explained his financial difficulties to Tesla in stark terms, saying that if things continue the way they were he would no longer be in control of Westinghouse Electric and Tesla would have to “deal with the bankers” to try to collect future royalties. Westinghouse convinced Tesla to release his company from the licensing agreement over Tesla’s AC patents in exchange for Westinghouse Electric purchasing the patents for a lump sum payment of $216,000;[9]:73–74 this provided Westinghouse a break from what, due to alternating current’s rapid gain in popularity, had turned out to be an overly generous $2.50 per AC horsepower royalty.[48]

American citizenship

On 30 July 1891, at the age of 35, Tesla became a naturalized citizen of the United States,[63] and established his South Fifth Avenue laboratory, and later another at 46 E. Houston Street, in New York. He lit electric lamps wirelessly at both locations, demonstrating the potential of wireless power transmission.[64] In the same year, he patented the Tesla coil.[65]

Tesla served as vice president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the forerunner (along with the Institute of Radio Engineers) of the modern-day IEEE, from 1892 to 1894.[66]

X-ray experimentation

X-ray of a hand taken by Tesla.

Starting in 1894, Tesla began investigating what he referred to as radiant energy of “invisible” kinds after he had noticed damaged film in his laboratory in previous experiments[67][68] (later identified as “Roentgen rays” or “X-Rays“). His early experiments were with Crookes tubes, a cold cathode electrical discharge tube. Soon after, much of Tesla’s early research—hundreds of invention models, plans, notes, laboratory data, tools, photographs, valued at $50,000—was lost in the 5th Avenue laboratory fire of March 1895. Tesla is quoted by The New York Times as saying, “I am in too much grief to talk. What can I say?”[69] Tesla may have inadvertently captured an X-ray image (predating Wilhelm Röntgen‘s December 1895 announcement of the discovery of x-rays by a few weeks) when he tried to photograph Mark Twain illuminated by a Geissler tube, an earlier type of gas discharge tube. The only thing captured in the image was the metal locking screw on the camera lens.[9]:134

In March 1896, after hearing of Wilhelm Röntgen‘s discovery of X-ray and X-ray imaging (radiography),[70] Tesla proceeded to do his own experiments in X-ray imaging, developing a high energy single terminal vacuum tube of his own design that had no target electrode and that worked from the output of the Tesla Coil (the modern term for the phenomenon produced by this device is bremsstrahlung or braking radiation). In his research, Tesla devised several experimental setups to produce X-rays. Tesla held that, with his circuits, the “instrument will … enable one to generate Roentgen rays of much greater power than obtainable with ordinary apparatus.”[71]

Tesla noted the hazards of working with his circuit and single-node X-ray-producing devices. In his many notes on the early investigation of this phenomenon, he attributed the skin damage to various causes. He believed early on that damage to the skin was not caused by the Roentgen rays, but by the ozone generated in contact with the skin, and to a lesser extent, by nitrous acid. Tesla incorrectly believed that X-rays were longitudinal waves, such as those produced in waves in plasma. These plasma waves can occur in force-free magnetic fields.[72][73]

On 11 July 1934, the New York Herald Tribune published an article on Tesla, in which he recalled an event that would occasionally take place while experimenting with his single-electrode vacuum tubes; a minute particle would break off the cathode, pass out of the tube, and physically strike him. “Tesla said he could feel a sharp stinging pain where it entered his body, and again at the place where it passed out.” In comparing these particles with the bits of metal projected by his “electric gun,” Tesla said, “The particles in the beam of force … will travel much faster than such particles … and they will travel in concentrations.”[74]

Radio

Wireless transmission of power and energy demonstration during his 1891 lecture on high frequency and potential.

Tesla’s theories on the possibility of the transmission by radio waves go back as far as lectures and demonstrations in 1893 in St. Louis, Missouri, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the National Electric Light Association.[75] Tesla’s demonstrations and principles were written about widely through various media outlets.[76] Many devices such as the Tesla Coil were used in the further development of radio.[77]

In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat (U.S. Patent 613,809 —Method of an Apparatus for Controlling Mechanism of Moving Vehicle or Vehicles).

Tesla’s radio wave experiments in 1896 were conducted in Gerlach Hotel (later renamed The Radio Wave building), where he resided.[78]

In 1898, Tesla demonstrated a radio-controlled boat—which he dubbed “teleautomaton”—to the public during an electrical exhibition at Madison Square Garden.[1] The crowd that witnessed the demonstration made outrageous claims about the workings of the boat, such as magic, telepathy, and being piloted by a trained monkey hidden inside.[79] Tesla tried to sell his idea to the U.S. military as a type of radio-controlled torpedo, but they showed little interest.[80] Remote radio control remained a novelty until World War I and afterward, when a number of countries used it in military programs.[81] Tesla took the opportunity to further demonstrate “Teleautomatics” in an address to a meeting of the Commercial Club in Chicago, whilst he was travelling to Colorado Springs, on 13 May 1899.[18]

In 1900, Tesla was granted patents for a “system of transmitting electrical energy” and “an electrical transmitter.” When Guglielmo Marconi made his famous first-ever transatlantic radio transmission in 1901, Tesla quipped that it was done with 17 Tesla patents. This was the beginning of years of patent battles over radio with Tesla’s patents being upheld in 1903, followed by a reverse decision in favor of Marconi in 1904. In 1943, a Supreme Court of the United States decision restored the prior patents of Tesla, Oliver Lodge, and John Stone.[82] The court declared that their decision had no bearing on Marconi’s claim as the first to achieve radio transmission, just that since Marconi’s claim to certain patents were questionable, he could not claim infringement on those same patents[83] (there are claims the high court was trying to nullify a World War I claim against the U.S. government by the Marconi Company via simply restoring Tesla’s prior patent).[82]

Colorado Springs

A multiple exposure picture (one of 68 Colorado Springs images created by of Century Magazine photographer Dickenson Alley) of Tesla sitting in his laboratory with his “Magnifying transmitter” generating millions of volts. The 7-metre (23 ft) long arcs were not part of the normal operation and were produced for effect by rapidly cycling the power switch[84]

Another Alley photograph at Colorado Springs documenting 3 lights receiving power by means of electrodynamic induction from an oscillator 60 feet (18 m) from the bulbs (placed on the ground outside the building to demonstrate they had no connection to the power source)[85]

On 17 May 1899, Tesla moved to Colorado Springs, where he would have room for his high-voltage, high-frequency experiments;[18] his lab was located near Foote Ave. and Kiowa St.[86] He chose this location because the polyphase alternating current power distribution system had been introduced there and he had associates who were willing to give him all the power he needed without charging for it.[87] Upon his arrival, he told reporters that he was conducting wireless telegraphy experiments, transmitting signals from Pikes Peak to Paris.[citation needed] The 1978 book Colorado Springs Notes, 1899–1900 contains descriptions of Tesla’s experiments.

On 15 June 1899, Tesla performed his first experiments at his Colorado Springs lab; he recorded his initial spark length at five inches long, but very thick and noisy.[18]

Tesla investigated atmospheric electricity, observing lightning signals via his receivers. Tesla stated that he observed stationary waves during this time.[88] The great distances and the nature of what Tesla was detecting from lightning storms confirmed his belief that the earth had a resonant frequency.[89][90]

He produced artificial lightning (with discharges consisting of millions of volts and up to 135 feet long).[91] Thunder from the released energy was heard 15 miles away in Cripple Creek, Colorado. People walking along the street observed sparks jumping between their feet and the ground. Sparks sprang from water line taps when touched. Light bulbs within 100 feet of the lab glowed even when turned off. Horses in a livery stable bolted from their stalls after receiving shocks through their metal shoes. Butterflies were electrified, swirling in circles with blue halos of St. Elmo’s fire around their wings.[92]

While experimenting, Tesla inadvertently faulted a power station generator, causing a power outage. In August 1917, Tesla explained what had happened in The Electrical Experimenter: “As an example of what has been done with several hundred kilowatts of high frequency energy liberated, it was found that the dynamos in a power house six miles away were repeatedly burned out, due to the powerful high frequency currents set up in them, and which caused heavy sparks to jump through the windings and destroy the insulation!”[93]

An Alley Colorado Springs photo of a grounded tuned coil in resonance with a transmitter illuminates a light near the bottom of the picture.[94] Tesla did not disclose how far away the transmitter was.[94][95]

During his time at his lab, Tesla observed unusual signals from his receiver which he concluded may be communications from another planet. He mentioned them in a letter to reporter Julian Hawthorne at the Philadelphia North American on 8 December 1899[96] and in a December 1900 letter about possible discoveries in the new century to the Red Cross Society where he referred to messages “from another world” that read “1… 2… 3…”.[97][98] Reporters treated it as a sensational story and jumped to the conclusion Tesla was hearing signals from Mars.[99] He expanded on the signals he heard in a 9 February 1901 Collier’s Weekly article “Talking With Planets” where he said it had not been immediately apparent to him that he was hearing “intelligently controlled signals” and that the signals could come from Mars, Venus, or other planets.[100] It has been hypothesized that he may have intercepted Marconi’s European experiments in July 1899—Marconi may have transmitted the letter S (dot/dot/dot) in a naval demonstration, the same three impulses that Tesla hinted at hearing in Colorado[101]—or signals from another experimenter in wireless transmission.[102]

In 1899, John Jacob Astor IV invested $100,000 for Tesla to further develop and produce a new lighting system. Instead, Tesla used the money to fund his Colorado Springs experiments.[103]

On 7 January 1900, Tesla left Colorado Springs.[citation needed] His lab was torn down in 1904, and its contents were sold two years later to satisfy a debt.[104][105]

The Colorado experiments had prepared Tesla for the establishment of the trans-Atlantic wireless telecommunications facility known as Wardenclyffe near Shoreham, Long Island.[106]

Wardenclyffe years (1900–1917)

Main article: Wardenclyffe Tower
Tesla Ready for Business – 7 August 1901 New-York tribune article

The Tesla coil wireless transmitter
U.S. Patent 1,119,732

Tesla’s Wardenclyffe plant on Long Island in 1904. From this facility, Tesla hoped to demonstrate wireless transmission of electrical energy across the Atlantic.

In 1900, with $150,000 ($4,252,200 in today’s dollars[47]; 51% from J. Pierpont Morgan), Tesla began planning the Wardenclyffe Tower facility.[107]

Tesla later approached Morgan to ask for more funds to build a more powerful transmitter. When asked where all the money had gone, Tesla responded by saying that he was affected by the Panic of 1901, which he (Morgan) had caused. Morgan was shocked by the reminder of his part in the stock market crash and by Tesla’s breach of contract by asking for more funds. Tesla wrote another plea to Morgan, but it was also fruitless. Morgan still owed Tesla money on the original agreement, and Tesla had been facing foreclosure even before construction of the tower began.[102]

In December 1901, Marconi successfully transmitted the letter S from England to Newfoundland, terminating Tesla’s relationship with Morgan.[improper synthesis?] Over the next five years, Tesla wrote over 50 letters to Morgan, pleading for and demanding additional funding to complete the construction of Wardenclyffe. Tesla continued the project for another nine months. The tower was erected to its full 187 feet (57 m).[102] In July 1903, Tesla wrote to Morgan that in addition to wireless communication, Wardenclyffe would be capable of wireless transmission of electric power.[107] On 14 October 1904, Morgan finally replied through his secretary, stating, “It will be impossible for [me] to do anything in the matter,” after Tesla had written to Morgan when the financier was meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury in an attempt to appeal to his Christian spirit.[102]

In June 1902, Tesla’s lab operations were moved to Wardenclyffe from Houston Street.[107]

On his 50th birthday in 1906, Tesla demonstrated his 200 horsepower (150 kilowatts) 16,000 rpm bladeless turbine. During 1910–1911 at the Waterside Power Station in New York, several of his bladeless turbine engines were tested at 100–5,000 hp.[108]

Tesla invented a steam-powered mechanical oscillator—Tesla’s oscillator. While experimenting with mechanical oscillators at his Houston Street lab, Tesla allegedly generated a resonance of several buildings. As the speed grew, it is said that the machine oscillated at the resonance frequency of his own building and, belatedly realizing the danger, he was forced to use a sledge hammer to terminate the experiment, just as the police arrived.[14]:162–164 In February 1912, an article—”Nikola Tesla, Dreamer” by Allan L. Benson—was published in World Today, in which an artist’s illustration appears showing the entire earth cracking in half with the caption, “Tesla claims that in a few weeks he could set the earth’s crust into such a state of vibration that it would rise and fall hundreds of feet and practically destroy civilization. A continuation of this process would, he says, eventually split the earth in two.”[74]

Tesla theorized that the application of electricity to the brain enhanced intelligence. In 1912, he crafted “a plan to make dull students bright by saturating them unconsciously with electricity,” wiring the walls of a schoolroom and, “saturating [the schoolroom] with infinitesimal electric waves vibrating at high frequency. The whole room will thus, Mr. Tesla claims, be converted into a health-giving and stimulating electromagnetic field or ‘bath.'”[109] The plan was, at least provisionally approved by then superintendent of New York City schools, William H. Maxwell.[109]

Before World War I, Tesla sought overseas investors. After the war started, Tesla lost the funding he was receiving from his patents in European countries. Eventually, he sold Wardenclyffe for $20,000 ($470,900 in today’s dollars[47]).[107] In 1917, around the time that the Wardenclyffe Tower was demolished by Boldt to make the land a more viable real estate asset, Tesla received AIEE’s highest honor, the Edison Medal.[citation needed]

In the August 1917 edition of the magazine Electrical Experimenter Tesla postulated that electricity could be used to locate submarines via using the reflection of an “electric ray” of “tremendous frequency,” with the signal being viewed on a fluorescent screen (a system that has been noted to have a superficial resemblance to modern radar).[110] Tesla was incorrect in his assumption that high frequency radio waves would penetrate water[111] but Émile Girardeau, who helped develop France’s first radar system in the 1930s, noted in 1953 that Tesla’s general speculation that a very strong high frequency signal would be needed was correct stating “(Tesla) was prophesying or dreaming, since he had at his disposal no means of carrying them out, but one must add that if he was dreaming, at least he was dreaming correctly.[9]:266[112]

Nobel Prize rumors

On 6 November 1915, a Reuters news agency report from London had the 1915 Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla; however, on 15 November, a Reuters story from Stockholm stated the prize that year was being awarded to Sir William Henry Bragg and William Lawrence Bragg “for their services in the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays.”[9]:245[113][114] There were unsubstantiated rumors at the time that Tesla and/or Edison had refused the prize.[9]:245 The Nobel Foundation said, “Any rumor that a person has not been given a Nobel Prize because he has made known his intention to refuse the reward is ridiculous”; a recipient could only decline a Nobel Prize after he is announced a winner.[9]:245

There have been subsequent claims by Tesla biographers that Edison and Tesla were the original recipients and that neither was given the award because of their animosity toward each other; that each sought to minimize the other’s achievements and right to win the award; that both refused ever to accept the award if the other received it first; that both rejected any possibility of sharing it; and even that a wealthy Edison refused it to keep Tesla from getting the $20,000 prize money.[9]:245[16][115]

In the years after these rumors, neither Tesla nor Edison won the prize (although Edison did receive one of 38 possible bids in 1915 and Tesla did receive one of 38 possible bids in 1937).[116]

Later years (1918–1943)

In 1928, Tesla received his last patent, U.S. Patent 1,655,114, for a biplane capable of taking off vertically (VTOL aircraft) and then be “gradually tilted through manipulation of the elevator devices” in flight until it was flying like a conventional plane.[117] Tesla thought the plane would sell for less than $1,000.[9]:251 Although the aircraft was probably impractical, it may be the earliest known design for what became the tiltrotor/tilt-wing concept as well as the earliest proposal for the use of turbine engines in rotor aircraft.[118][improper synthesis?]

Starting in 1934, the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company began paying Tesla $125 per month as well as paying his rent at the Hotel New Yorker, expenses the Company would pay for the rest of Tesla’s life. Accounts on how this came about vary. Several sources say Westinghouse was worried about potential bad publicity surrounding the impoverished conditions their former star inventor was living under.[1]:365[119][120] It has been described as being couched in the form of a “consulting fee” to get around Tesla’s aversion to accept charity, or by one biographer (Marc Seifer), as a type of unspecified settlement.[120]

In 1935, in an annual birthday celebration interview, Tesla announced a method of transmitting mechanical energy with minimal loss over any terrestrial distance, a related new means of communication, and a method of accurately determining the location of underground mineral deposits.[74]

In the fall of 1937, after midnight one night, Tesla left the Hotel New Yorker to make his regular commute to the cathedral and the library to feed the pigeons. While crossing a street a couple of blocks from the hotel, Tesla was unable to dodge a moving taxicab and was thrown heavily to the ground. Tesla’s back was severely wrenched and three of his ribs were broken in the accident (the full extent of his injuries will never be known; Tesla refused to consult a doctor—an almost lifelong custom). Tesla didn’t raise any question as to who was at fault and refused medical aid, only asking be taken to his hotel via cab. Tesla was bedridden for some months and was unable to continue feeding pigeons from his window; soon, they failed to come. In the spring of 1938, Tesla was able to get up. He at once resumed the pigeon-feeding walks on a much more limited scale, but frequently had a messenger act for him.[14]

Directed-energy weapon

Main article: Teleforce

Later in life, Tesla made claims concerning a “teleforce” weapon after studying the Van de Graaff generator.[121][122] The press called it a “peace ray” or death ray.[123][124] Tesla described the weapon as being able to be used against ground-based infantry or for antiaircraft purposes.

Tesla gives the following description concerning the particle gun‘s operation:

[The nozzle would] send concentrated beams of particles through the free air, of such tremendous energy that they will bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy airplanes at a distance of 200 miles from a defending nation’s border and will cause armies to drop dead in their tracks.[125][126]

In total, the components and methods included:

  • An apparatus for producing manifestations of energy in free air instead of in a high vacuum as in the past.
  • A mechanism for generating tremendous electrical force.
  • A means of intensifying and amplifying the force developed by the second mechanism.
  • A new method for producing a tremendous electrical repelling force. This would be the projector, or gun, of the invention.[127][128][129]

Tesla claimed to have worked on plans for a directed-energy weapon from the early 1900s until his death.[130][131]

In 1937, at a luncheon in his honor concerning the death ray, Tesla stated, “But it is not an experiment … I have built, demonstrated and used it. Only a little time will pass before I can give it to the world.” His records indicate that the device is based on a narrow stream of small tungsten pellets that are accelerated via high voltage (by means akin to his magnifying transformer).[122]

During the same year, Tesla wrote a treatise, The Art of Projecting Concentrated Non-dispersive Energy through the Natural Media,[132] concerning charged particle beam weapons.[133] Tesla published the document in an attempt to expound on the technical description of a “superweapon that would put an end to all war.” This treatise is currently in the Nikola Tesla Museum archive in Belgrade. It describes an open-ended vacuum tube with a gas jet seal that allows particles to exit, a method of charging particles to millions of volts, and a method of creating and directing non-dispersive particle streams (through electrostatic repulsion).[133] Tesla tried to interest the US War Department,[134] the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and Yugoslavia in the device.[135]

During the period in which the negotiations were being carried on, Tesla said that efforts had been made to steal the invention. His room had been entered and his papers had been scrutinized, but the thieves, or spies, left empty-handed. He said that there was no danger that his invention could be stolen, for he had at no time committed any part of it to paper. The blueprint for the teleforce weapon was all in his mind.[136]

Death

Gilded urn with Tesla’s ashes, in his favorite geometrical object, a sphere, Nikola Tesla Museum, Belgrade.

On 7 January 1943, Tesla, 86, died alone in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel. His body was later found by maid Alice Monaghan after she had entered Tesla’s room, ignoring the “do not disturb” sign that Tesla had placed on his door two days earlier. Assistant medical examiner H.W. Wembly examined the body and ruled that the cause of death had been coronary thrombosis.[19] Tesla’s remains were taken to the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home at Madison Ave. and 81st St. A long-time friend and supporter of Tesla, Hugo Gernsback, commissioned a sculptor to create a death mask, now displayed in the Nikola Tesla Museum.[19]

Two days later, the FBI ordered the Alien Property Custodian to seize Tesla’s belongings,[19] even though Tesla was an American citizen.[63] Tesla’s entire estate from the Hotel New Yorker and other New York City hotels was transported to the Manhattan Storage and Warehouse Company under Office of Alien Property (OAP) seal.[19] John G. Trump, a professor at M.I.T. and well-known electrical engineer serving as a technical aide to the National Defense Research Committee, was called in to analyze the Tesla items in OAP custody.[19] After a three-day investigation, Trump’s report concluded that there was nothing that would constitute a hazard in unfriendly hands, stating:

[Tesla’s] thoughts and efforts during at least the past 15 years were primarily of a speculative, philosophical, and somewhat promotional character often concerned with the production and wireless transmission of power; but did not include new, sound, workable principles or methods for realizing such results.[137]

In a box purported to contain a part of Tesla’s “death ray,” Trump found a 45-year-old multidecade resistance box.[138]

On 10 January 1943, New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia read a eulogy written by Slovene-American author Louis Adamic live over the WNYC radio while violin pieces “Ave Maria” and “Tamo daleko” were played in the background.[19] On 12 January 2,000 people attended a state funeral for Tesla at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. After the funeral, Tesla’s body was taken to the Ferncliff Cemetery in Ardsley, New York, where it was later cremated. The following day, a second service was conducted by prominent priests in the Trinity Chapel (today’s Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava) in New York City.[19]

Estate

In 1952, following pressure from Tesla’s nephew, Sava Kosanović, Tesla’s entire estate was shipped to Belgrade in 80 trunks marked N.T.[18] In 1957, Kosanović secretary Charlotte Muzar transported Tesla’s ashes from the United States to Belgrade.[18] The ashes are displayed in a gold-plated sphere on a marble pedestal in the Nikola Tesla Museum.[139]

Despite having sold his AC electricity patents, Tesla died impoverished and in debt.[140][141][142][143]

Patents

Newspaper representation of Tesla’s theoretical invention, the thought camera, which would photograph thoughts. Circa 1933.

Tesla obtained around 300 patents worldwide for his inventions.[144] Some of Tesla’s patents are not accounted for, and various sources have discovered some that have lain hidden in patent archives. There are a minimum of 278 patents[144] issued to Tesla in 26 countries that have been accounted for. Many of Tesla’s patents were in the United States, Britain, and Canada, but many other patents were approved in countries around the globe.[9]:62 Many inventions developed by Tesla were not put into patent protection.

Personal life

Tesla worked every day from 9:00 a.m until 6:00 p.m. or later, with dinner from exactly 8:10 p.m., at Delmonico’s restaurant and later the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Tesla would telephone his dinner order to the headwaiter, who also could be the only one to serve him. “The meal was required to be ready at eight o’clock … He dined alone, except on the rare occasions when he would give a dinner to a group to meet his social obligations. Tesla would then resume his work, often until 3:00 a.m.”[14]:283, 286

For exercise, Tesla walked between 8 to 10 miles per day. He squished his toes one hundred times for each foot every night, saying that it stimulated his brain cells.[145]

In an interview with newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane, Tesla said that he did not believe in telepathy, stating, “Suppose I made up my mind to murder you,” he said, “In a second you would know it. Now, isn’t that wonderful? By what process does the mind get at all this?” In the same interview, Tesla said that he believed that all fundamental laws could be reduced to one.[146]

Near the end of his life, Tesla walked to the park every day to feed the pigeons and even brought injured ones into his hotel room to nurse back to health.[147][148] He said that he had been visited by a specific injured white pigeon daily. Tesla spent over $2,000, including building a device that comfortably supported her so her bones could heal, to fix her broken wing and leg.[24] Tesla stated,

I have been feeding pigeons, thousands of them for years. But there was one, a beautiful bird, pure white with light grey tips on its wings; that one was different. It was a female. I had only to wish and call her and she would come flying to me. I loved that pigeon as a man loves a woman, and she loved me. As long as I had her, there was a purpose to my life.[149][150]

Tesla became a vegetarian in his later years, living on only milk, bread, honey, and vegetable juices.[122][151]

Appearance

Tesla’s portrait – Blue Portrait – from 1916, painted by then-Hungarian princess, Vilma Lwoff-Parlaghy.

Tesla, aged 40. c. 1896

Tesla was 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) tall and weighed 142 pounds (64 kg), with almost no weight variance from 1888 to about 1926.[14]:292 He was an elegant, stylish figure in New York City, meticulous in his grooming, clothing, and regimented in his daily activities.

This was not because of personal vanity. Neatness and fastidiousness in clothes were entirely in harmony with every other phase of his personality. He did not maintain a large wardrobe and he wore no jewelry of any kind … He observed, however, that in the matter of clothes the world takes a man at his own valuation, as expressed in his appearance, and frequently eases his way to his objective through small courtesies not extended to less prepossessing individuals.[14]:289

Although many of Tesla’s progenitors were dark-eyed, his eyes were gray-blue. He claimed that his eyes were originally darker, but as a result of the exorbitant use of his brain, their hue changed. However, his mother and some of his cousins possessed gray eyes, so it can be inferred that the gray of his eyes was inherited.[14]:327

Arthur Brisbane, a newspaper editor for the New York World, described Tesla’s appearance:

Nikola Tesla is almost the tallest, almost the thinnest and certainly the most serious man who goes to Delmonico’s regularly … He has eyes set very far back in his head. They are rather light. I asked him how he could have such light eyes and be a Slav. He told me that his eyes were once much darker, but that using his mind a great deal had made them many shades lighter. I have often heard it said that using the brain makes the eyes lighter in color. Tesla’s confirmation of the theory through his personal experience is important.

He is very thin, is more than six feet tall and weighs less than a hundred and forty pounds. He has very big hands. Many able men do—Lincoln is one instance. His thumbs are remarkably big, even for such big hands. They are extraordinarily big. This is a good sign. The thumb is the intellectual part of the hand. The apes have very small thumbs. Study them and you will notice this.

Nikola Tesla has a head that spreads out at the top like a fan. His head is shaped like a wedge. His chin is as pointed as an ice-pick. His mouth is too small. His chin, though not weak, is not strong enough. His face cannot be studied and judged like the faces of other men, for he is not a worker in practical fields. He lives his life up in the top of his head, where ideas are born, and up there he has plenty of room. His hair is jet black and curly. He stoops—most men do when they have no peacock blood in them. He lives inside of himself. He takes a profound interest in his own work. He has that supply of self-love and self-confidence which usually goes with success. And he differs from most of the men who are written and talked about in the fact that he has something to tell.[146]

Eidetic memory

Tesla read many works, memorizing complete books, and supposedly possessed a photographic memory.[9]:33 He was a polyglot, speaking eight languages: Serbo-Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin.[14]:282 Tesla related in his autobiography that he experienced detailed moments of inspiration. During his early life, Tesla was stricken with illness time and time again. He suffered a peculiar affliction in which blinding flashes of light would appear before his eyes, often accompanied by visions. Often, the visions were linked to a word or idea he might have come across; at other times they would provide the solution to a particular problem he had encountered. Just by hearing the name of an item, he would be able to envision it in realistic detail. Tesla would visualize an invention in his mind with extreme precision, including all dimensions, before moving to the construction stage, a technique sometimes known as picture thinking. He typically did not make drawings by hand but worked from memory. Beginning in his childhood, Tesla had frequent flashbacks to events that had happened previously in his life.[9]:33

Sleep habits

Tesla claimed to never sleep more than two hours.[14]:46 However, Tesla did admit to “dozing” from time to time “to recharge his batteries.”[145]

During his second year of study at Graz, Tesla developed a passion for (and became very proficient at) billiards, chess and card-playing, sometimes spending more than 48 hours in a stretch at a gaming table.[14]:43, 301 On one occasion at his laboratory, Tesla worked for a period of 84 hours without sleep or rest.[14]:208

Kenneth Swezey, a journalist whom Tesla had befriended, confirmed that Tesla rarely slept. Swezey recalled one morning when Tesla called him at 3 a.m.: “I was sleeping in my room like one dead … Suddenly, the telephone ring awakened me … [Tesla] spoke animatedly, with pauses, [as he] … work[ed] out a problem, comparing one theory to another, commenting; and when he felt he had arrived at the solution, he suddenly closed the telephone.”[145]

Relationships

Tesla with an unknown woman

Tesla never married, saying that his chastity was very helpful to his scientific abilities.[9]:33 However, toward the end of his life, he told a reporter, “Sometimes I feel that by not marrying, I made too great a sacrifice to my work …”[24] There have been numerous accounts of women vying for Tesla’s affection, even some madly in love with him.[citation needed] Tesla, though polite and soft-spoken, did not have any known relationships.

Tesla was asocial, and prone to seclude himself with his work.[152][153][1][154] However, when he did engage in a social life, many people spoke very positively and admiringly of Tesla. Robert Underwood Johnson described him as attaining a “distinguished sweetness, sincerity, modesty, refinement, generosity, and force.”[24] His loyal secretary, Dorothy Skerrit, wrote: “his genial smile and nobility of bearing always denoted the gentlemanly characteristics that were so ingrained in his soul.”[14] Tesla’s friend, Julian Hawthorne, wrote, “seldom did one meet a scientist or engineer who was also a poet, a philosopher, an appreciator of fine music, a linguist, and a connoisseur of food and drink.”[citation needed]

Mark Twain in Tesla’s lab, early 1894

Tesla was a good friend of Robert Underwood Johnson,[155] Francis Marion Crawford, Stanford White,[156] Fritz Lowenstein, George Scherff, Kenneth Swezey.[157][158][159] In middle age, Tesla became a close friend of Mark Twain. They spent a lot of time together in his lab and elsewhere.[155] Twain notably described his induction motor invention as “the most valuable patent since the telephone.”[160] In the late 1920s, Tesla befriended George Sylvester Viereck, a poet, writer, mystic, and later, a Nazi propagandist, occasionally attending dinner parties held by Viereck and his wife.[161][162]

Tesla could be harsh at times, openly expressing disgust for overweight people, such as when he fired a secretary because of her weight.[9]:110 He was quick to criticize clothing. On several occasions, Tesla directed a subordinate to go home and change her dress.[9]:33

When Thomas Edison died in 1931, Tesla contributed the only negative opinion to the New York Times, buried in an extensive coverage of Edison’s life:

He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene … His method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 percent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense.[163]

Views on experimental and theoretical physics

 Tesla working in his laboratory.

Tesla exhibited a pre-atomic understanding of physics in his writings;[164] he disagreed with the theory of atoms being composed of smaller subatomic particles, stating there was no such thing as an electron creating an electric charge (he believed that if electrons existed at all they were some fourth state of matter or sub-atom that could only exist in an experimental vacuum and that they had nothing to do with electricity).[14]:249[165] Tesla believed that atoms are immutable—they could not change state or be split in any way. He was a believer in the 19th century concept of an all pervasive “ether” that transmitted electrical energy.[166]

Tesla was generally antagonistic towards theories about the conversion of matter into energy.[14]:247 He was also critical of Einstein’s theory of relativity, saying:

I hold that space cannot be curved, for the simple reason that it can have no properties. It might as well be said that God has properties. He has not, but only attributes and these are of our own making. Of properties we can only speak when dealing with matter filling the space. To say that in the presence of large bodies space becomes curved is equivalent to stating that something can act upon nothing. I, for one, refuse to subscribe to such a view.[167]

Tesla claimed to have developed his own physical principle regarding matter and energy that he started working on in 1892[14] and in 1937, at age 81, claimed in a letter to have completed a “dynamic theory of gravity” that “[would] put an end to idle speculations and false conceptions, as that of curved space.”[168] He stated that the theory was “worked out in all details” and that he hoped to soon give it to the world.[169] Further elucidation of his theory was never found in his writings.[9]:309

Views on society

Tesla, like many of his era, became a proponent of an imposed selective breeding version of eugenics. His opinion stemmed from the belief that humans’ “pity” had interfered with the natural “ruthless workings of nature,” rather than from conceptions of a “master race” or inherent superiority of one person over another. His advocacy of it was, however, to push it further. In a 1937 interview, he stated:

… man’s new sense of pity began to interfere with the ruthless workings of nature. The only method compatible with our notions of civilization and the race is to prevent the breeding of the unfit by sterilization and the deliberate guidance of the mating instinct … The trend of opinion among eugenists is that we must make marriage more difficult. Certainly no one who is not a desirable parent should be permitted to produce progeny. A century from now it will no more occur to a normal person to mate with a person eugenically unfit than to marry a habitual criminal.[170]

In 1926, Tesla commented on the ills of the social subservience of women and the struggle of women toward gender equality, indicated that humanity’s future would be run by “Queen Bees.” He believed that women would become the dominant sex in the future.[171]

Tesla is widely considered by his biographers as a humanist regarding his worldview.[1]:154[172][173][174][175]

Tesla made predictions about the relevant issues of a post-World War I environment in a printed article, “Science and Discovery are the great Forces which will lead to the Consummation of the War” (20 December 1914).[176] Tesla believed that the League of Nations was not a remedy for the times and issues.[citation needed]

Views on religion

Tesla was raised as an Orthodox Christian. Later in his life, he did not consider himself to be a “believer in the orthodox sense,” and opposed religious fanaticism.[177] He had a profound respect for both Buddhism and Christianity.[22][177]

In his article, “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy,” published in 1900, Tesla stated:

For ages this idea [that each of us is only part of a whole] has been proclaimed in the consummately wise teachings of religion, probably not alone as a means of insuring peace and harmony among men, but as a deeply founded truth. The Buddhist expresses it in one way, the Christian in another, but both say the same: We are all one.[178]

However, his religious views remain uncertain due to other statements that he made.[179][180][181] For example, in his article, “A Machine to End War”, published in 1937, Tesla stated:

There is no conflict between the ideal of religion and the ideal of science, but science is opposed to theological dogmas because science is founded on fact. To me, the universe is simply a great machine which never came into being and never will end. The human being is no exception to the natural order. Man, like the universe, is a machine. Nothing enters our minds or determines our actions which is not directly or indirectly a response to stimuli beating upon our sense organs from without. Owing to the similarity of our construction and the sameness of our environment, we respond in like manner to similar stimuli, and from the concordance of our reactions, understanding is born. In the course of ages, mechanisms of infinite complexity are developed, but what we call “soul” or “spirit,” is nothing more than the sum of the functionings of the body. When this functioning ceases, the “soul” or the “spirit” ceases likewise.[177]

Literary works

Tesla wrote a number of books and articles for magazines and journals.[182] Among his books are My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla, compiled and edited by Ben Johnston; The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla, compiled and edited by David Hatcher Childress; and The Tesla Papers.

Many of Tesla’s writings are freely available on the web,[183][184][185] including the article “The Problem of Increasing Human Energy,” published in The Century Magazine in 1900,[186][187] and the article “Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency,” published in his book Inventions, Researches and Writings of Nikola Tesla.[188][189]

Legacy and honors

Tesla on cover of Time Magazine for 20 July 1931.

 ikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade, Serbia.

Nikola Tesla on 100 Serbian dinar banknote.

Tesla’s legacy has endured in books, films, radio, TV, music, live theater, comics and video games. The lack of recognition received during his own lifetime has cast him as a tragic and inspirational character, well suited to dramatic fiction. The impact of the technologies invented by Tesla is a recurring theme in several types of science fiction.

Plaques and memorials

Nikola Tesla Corner in New York City. The placement of the sign was due to the efforts of the Croatian Club of New York in cooperation with New York City officials, and Dr Ljubo Vujovic of the Tesla Memorial Society of New York.[199]
  • The Nikola Tesla Memorial Centre in Smiljan, Croatia, opened in 2006. It features a statue of Tesla designed by sculptor Mile Blažević.[13][200][201]
  • On 7 July 2006, on the corner of Masarykova and Preradovićeva streets in the Lower Town area in Zagreb, Croatia, a monument of Tesla was unveiled. This monument was designed by Ivan Meštrović in 1952 and was transferred from the Zagreb-based Ruđer Bošković Institute where it had spent previous decades.[202][203]
  • A monument to Tesla was established at Niagara Falls, New York. This monument portraying Tesla reading a set of notes was sculpted by Frano Kršinić. It was presented to the United States by Yugoslavia in 1976 and is an identical copy of the monument standing in front of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Electrical Engineering.
  • A monument of Tesla standing on a portion of an alternator, was established at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The monument was officially unveiled on 9 July 2006 on the 150th anniversary of Tesla’s birth. The monument was sponsored by St. George Serbian Church, Niagara Falls, and designed by Les Drysdale of Hamilton, Ontario.[204][205] Drysdale’s design was the winning design from an international competition.[206]
  • In 2012, Jane Alcorn, president of the nonprofit group The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, and Matthew Inman, creator of web cartoon The Oatmeal, raised a total of $2,220,511 – $1,370,511 from a campaign and $850,000 from a New York State grant—to buy the property where Wardenclyffe Tower once stood and eventually turn it into a museum.[207][208] The group began negotiations to purchase the Long Island property from Agfa Corporation in October 2012.[209] The purchase was completed in May 2013.[210]
  • A commemorative plaque honoring Nikola Tesla was installed on the façade of the New Yorker Hotel by the IEEE.[211]
  • An intersection named after Tesla, Nikola Tesla Corner, is at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan, New York City.
  • A bust and plaque honoring Tesla is outside the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava (formerly known as Trinity Chapel) at 20 West 26th Street in New York City.[212]
  • A full-size, crowdfunded statue honoring Tesla with free Wi-Fi and a time capsule (to be opened on the 100th anniversary of Tesla’s death – 7 Jan 2043) was unveiled on December 7, 2013 in Palo Alto, California (260 Sheridan Avenue).[213]

Sources

Books

Others

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  • Corum, K. L., J. F. Corum, and A. H. Aidinejad, Atmospheric Fields, Tesla’s Receivers and Regenerative Detectors. 1994.
  • Meyl, Konstantin, H. Weidner, E. Zentgraf, T. Senkel, T. Junker, and P. Winkels, Experiments to proof the evidence of scalar waves Tests with a Tesla reproduction. Institut für Gravitationsforschung (IGF), Am Heerbach 5, D-63857 Waldaschaff.
  • Anderson, L. I., John Stone Stone on Nikola Tesla’s Priority in Radio and Continuous Wave Radiofrequency Apparatus. The AWA Review, Vol. 1, 1986, pp. 18–41.
  • Anderson, L. I., Priority in Invention of Radio, Tesla v. Marconi. Antique Wireless Association monograph, March 1980.
  • Marincic, A., and D. Budimir, Tesla’s contribution to radiowave propagation. Dept. of Electron. Eng., Belgrade Univ. (5th International Conference on Telecommunications in Modern Satellite, Cable and Broadcasting Service, 2001. TELSIKS 2001. pp. 327–331 vol.1)
  • Page, R.M., The Early History of Radar, Proceedings of the IRE, Volume 50, Number 5 May 1962, (special 50th Anniversary Issue).
  • C Mackechnie Jarvis Nikola Tesla and the induction motor. 1970 Phys. Educ. 5 280–287.
  • Giant Eye to See Round the World (DOC)

Richard Dreyfuss

Richard Dreyfuss
Born Richard Stephen Dreyfus[1]
(1947-10-29) October 29, 1947 (age 66)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1964–present
Spouse(s) Jeramie Rain
(1983–1995)
Janelle Lacey
(1999–2005)
Svetlana Erokhin
(2006–present)
Children 3

Richard Stephen Dreyfuss (born October 29, 1947) is an American actor best known for starring in a number of film, television, and theater roles since the late 1960s, including the films American Graffiti, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and The Goodbye Girl.

Dreyfuss won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1978 for The Goodbye Girl (1977), and was nominated in 1995 for Mr. Holland’s Opus. He has also won a Golden Globe Award, a BAFTA Award, and was nominated in 2002 for Screen Actors Guild Awards in the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries categories.

Early life

Dreyfuss was born Richard Stephen Dreyfus[1] in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Norman, an attorney and restaurateur, and Geraldine, a peace activist,[2] and was raised in Bayside, Queens.[3] Dreyfuss is Jewish.[4][5] He has commented that he “grew up thinking that Alfred Dreyfus and [he] are of the same family.”[6] His father disliked New York City, and moved the family first to Europe, and later to Los Angeles, when Dreyfuss was nine.[7][8] Dreyfuss attended Beverly Hills High School.[8]

Career

Dreyfuss began acting during his youth, at Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills Arts Center and Westside Jewish Community Center under drama teacher Bill Miller.[8][9] He debuted in the TV production In Mama’s House, when he was fifteen. He attended San Fernando Valley State College, now California State University, Northridge, for a year, and was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, working in alternate service for two years, as a clerk in a Los Angeles hospital. During this time, he acted in a few small TV roles on shows, Peyton Place, Gidget, That Girl, Bewitched, and The Big Valley. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he also performed on stage on Broadway, Off-Broadway, repertory, and improvisational theater.

Dreyfuss appeared alongside Henry Fonda, Gloria Grahame, Ron Thompson,[10] Strother Martin, Jane Alexander, Lewis J. Stadlen, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin in the play The Time of Your Life, which was revived on March 17, 1972 at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles, and directed by Edwin Sherin.[11][12]

Dreyfuss’s first film role was a small, uncredited role in The Graduate. He had one line, “Shall I get the cops? I’ll get the cops”. He was also briefly seen as a stage hand in Valley of the Dolls (1967), in which he had a few lines. He appeared in the subsequent Dillinger, and landed a role in the 1973 hit American Graffiti, acting with other future stars such as Harrison Ford and Ron Howard.[8] Dreyfuss played his first lead role in the Canadian film The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974), receiving positive reviews, including praise from Pauline Kael.[8]

Dreyfuss went on to star in the box office blockbusters Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), both directed by Steven Spielberg. He won the 1978 Academy Award for Best Actor at the 50th Academy Awards ceremony for his portrayal of a struggling actor in The Goodbye Girl (1977), becoming the youngest actor to do so (at the age of 30 years, 125 days old), besting Marlon Brando, who had won his first Oscar in 1955 at the age of 30 years 360 days old.[8] This record stood for 25 years until it was broken in 2003 by Adrien Brody, who was three weeks shy of age 30 at the time of the 75th Academy Awards ceremony.

Around 1978, Dreyfuss began using cocaine frequently; his addiction came to a head four years later in 1982, when he was arrested for possession of the drug after he blacked out while driving, and his car struck a tree.[8][13] He entered rehabilitation and eventually made a Hollywood comeback with the films Down And Out In Beverly Hills in 1986[8] and Stakeout the following year. Dreyfuss also starred in the Rob Reiner movie, Stand by Me, a 1986 American coming-of-age drama/comedy film adapted from Stephen King‘s novella The Body. Dreyfuss plays the elder Gordie Lachance, who narrates the film. In 1988, he reunited with director Paul Mazursky to star in the political farce Moon Over Parador.

Dreyfuss (left) and Allan Carr at the Governor’s Ball party after the 1989 Academy Awards.

In 1989, Dreyfuss reunited with Spielberg on Always, a remake of A Guy Named Joe in which he co-starred with Holly Hunter. He had a starring role opposite Bill Murray in the 1991 comedy What About Bob?, as a psychiatrist who goes crazy while trying to cope with a particularly obsessive new patient. That same year, Dreyfuss produced and starred as Georges Picquart in Prisoner of Honor, an HBO movie about the historical Dreyfus Affair.

In 1994, he participated in the historic Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah at the Vatican in the presence of Pope John Paul II, Rav Elio Toaf, chief rabbi of Rome, and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic. He recited Kaddish as part of a performance of Leonard Bernstein‘s Third Symphony with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Gilbert Levine. The event was broadcast worldwide.

Dreyfuss was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance as Glenn Holland in Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995).[8] Since then, he has continued working in the movies, television and the stage. In 2001/2002, he played Max Bickford in the television drama The Education of Max Bickford. In April 2004, he appeared in the revival of Sly Fox on Broadway (opposite Eric Stoltz, René Auberjonois, Bronson Pinchot and Elizabeth Berkley).

Dreyfuss recorded the voiceover to the Apple, Inc., then Apple Computer, Inc., “Think Different” ad campaign in 1997.[14]

In November 2004, he was scheduled to appear in The Producers in London, but withdrew from the production a week before opening night. The media noted that Dreyfuss was still suffering from problems relating to an operation for a herniated disc in January, and that the part of Max Bialystock in the play is a physically demanding one. Both he and his assistant for the production stated that Dreyfuss was accumulating injuries that required him to wear physical therapy supports during rehearsals.[15] Dreyfuss was eventually fired from the production, though he would return in 2008.[16]

In 2006, he appeared as one of the survivors in the 2006 film Poseidon. Dreyfuss portrayed U.S Vice President Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone‘s 2008 George W. Bush bio-pic W.[17]

Dreyfuss at the Big Apple Convention, June 8, 2008.

In early 2009, he appeared in the play Complicit (directed by Kevin Spacey) in London’s Old Vic theatre. His participation in the play was subject to much controversy, owing to his use of an earpiece on stage, reportedly because of his inability to learn his lines in time.[18][19] He guest-voiced as himself in the “Three Kings” episode of Family Guy in 2009, and later appeared again in the episode “Peter-assment“. Dreyfuss has guest starred in the sixth season of Weeds as Warren Schiff, Nancy‘s high school teacher to whom she had lost her virginity.[20]

Also in 2009, he portrayed the Biblical figure Moses in the Thomas Nelson audiobook production Word of Promise: Complete Audio Bible.

Dreyfuss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.[21]

Dreyfuss was among 99 other stars at the 2012 Academy Awards – Night of 100 Stars. He did an interview for the Bill Zucker Show with actor/singer Bill Zucker.[22]

Other work

Politics

Dreyfuss has been outspoken on the issue of how the media influences the shaping of public opinion, policy, and legislation. In the 2000s, he expressed his sentiments in favor of right to privacy, freedom of speech, democracy, and individual accountability.[23]

Dreyfuss has organized and promoted campaigns to inform and instruct audiences in what he considers potential erosion of individual rights, a personal initiative he began in 2006, responding to what he believes were violations of individual rights under the presidential administration of George W. Bush.[24] On February 16, 2006, Dreyfuss spoke at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in hopes of prompting national discussion on impeachment charges against U.S. President George W. Bush.[25] On November 17, 2006, Dreyfuss appeared on HBO‘s Real Time with Bill Maher as a panel member to discuss teaching civics in schools.[26] Dreyfuss formerly served on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.[27] In 2007, Dreyfuss appeared in the youth voting documentary film 18 in ’08.[28] Dreyfuss publicly endorsed Jonathan Tasini‘s campaign for Charles Rangel‘s congressional seat in the 15th District of New York in 2010.

Academic

Dreyfuss is involved in a nationwide enterprise to encourage the teaching of American history in American primary schools. He is a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford.[29]

Books

In 1995, Dreyfuss co-authored with science-fiction writer Harry Turtledove the novel The Two Georges, an alternate history/mystery piece set in the year 1996 of an alternate timeline where the American Revolution was peacefully avoided. The Gainsborough painting of George Washington and King George III, which symbolizes English-speaking North Americans’ loyalty to the British Empire, is stolen by anti-Imperial terrorists, and officers of the Royal North American Mounted Police must find it before it is destroyed.

Personal life

Dreyfuss married writer-producer Jeramie Rain in the early 1980s. With her, he had three children: Emily (1983), Benjamin (1986) and Harry (1990). His elder son, Benjamin, was born with Peters Anomaly, a rare genetic eye disorder which, after many operations, left him blind in his left eye. Dreyfuss and Rain have continued to raise money for ophthalmology centers throughout the United States. After his 1995 divorce from Rain, Dreyfuss then married Janelle Lacey in 1999 but they divorced in 2005.[30]

Dreyfuss’ mother died on October 19, 2000, due to complications from a stroke.[31]

Dreyfuss suffers from bipolar disorder. In 2006, he appeared in Stephen Fry‘s documentary, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, in which Fry (who also has the disorder) interviewed him about his life and use of lithium since the 1970s.[32]

Dreyfuss and Russian-born Svetlana Erokhin married in 2006 and have lived in San Diego since then, although they frequently visit New York City and London, where Dreyfuss once lived. They lived in Carlsbad, California. In February 2008, they bought a $1.5 million house in the rural community of Olivenhain in eastern Encinitas, California, and plan to renovate the 1970s structure with state-of-the-art green technologies.[33]

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1966 Bewitched Rodney TV series 1 episode
1966 Gidget Durf the Drag TV series 1 episode
1967 Valley of the Dolls Assistant stage manager Uncredited
1967 The Graduate Boarding House Resident Uncredited
1967 The Big Valley Lud Akley TV series 1 episode
1968 The Young Runaways Terry
1969 Hello Down There Harold Webster
1970 The Mod Squad Curtis Bell TV series 1 episode
1973 A Touch of Grace Donald TV series, episode “The Accident”
1973 Gunsmoke Gearshon Gorofsky This Golden Land – Season 18, Episode 24
1973 American Graffiti Curt Henderson Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1973 Dillinger Baby Face Nelson
1974 The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz Duddy Nominated — New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
1974 The Second Coming of Suzanne Clavius
1975 Inserts The Boy Wonder
1975 Jaws Matt Hooper Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1976 Victory at Entebbe Colonel Yonatan ‘Yonni’ Netanyahu
1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind Roy Neary Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actor
1977 The Goodbye Girl Elliott Garfield Academy Award for Best Actor
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
1978 The Big Fix Moses Wine Also producer
1980 The Competition Paul Dietrich Nominated — Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
1981 Whose Life Is It Anyway? Ken Harrison
1984 The Buddy System Joe
1986 Down and Out in Beverly Hills David ‘Dave’ Whiteman
1986 Stand by Me Narrator/Gordie LaChance (adult)
1987 Tin Men Bill ‘BB’ Babowsky
1987 Stakeout Det. Chris Lecce
1987 Nuts Aaron Levinsky Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1988 Moon Over Parador Jack Noah/President Alphonse Simms
1989 Let It Ride Jay Trotter
1989 Always Pete Sandich
1990 Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead The Player Pasinetti Award for Best Actor
1990 Postcards from the Edge Doctor Frankenthal
1991 Once Around Sam Sharpe Also co-producer
1991 Prisoner of Honor Col. Picquart Television film; also producer
1991 What About Bob? Dr. Leo Marvin
1993 Lost in Yonkers Louie Kurnitz
1993 Another Stakeout Detective Chris Lecce
1994 Silent Fall Dr. Jake Rainer
1995 The Last Word Larry
1995 The American President Senator Bob Rumson
1995 Mr. Holland’s Opus Glenn Holland Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
1996 James and the Giant Peach Centipede (voice)
1996 Mad Dog Time Vic
1997 Night Falls on Manhattan Sam Vigoda
1997 Oliver Twist Fagin Television film; also producer
1998 Krippendorf’s Tribe Prof. James Krippendorf
1999 Lansky Meyer Lansky
2000 The Crew Bobby Bartellemeo/Narrator
2000 Fail Safe President of the United States
2001 The Old Man Who Read Love Stories Antonio Bolivar Nominated — Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actor
2001 Who Is Cletis Tout? Micah Donnelly
2001 The Education of Max Bickford Max Bickford TV series; also producer
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
2001 The Day Reagan Was Shot Alexander Haig Television film
Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
2003 Coast to Coast Barnaby Pierce
2004 Silver City Chuck Raven
2006 Poseidon Richard Nelson
2007 Tin Man Mystic Man TV miniseries
2007 Ocean of Fear Narrator
2008 Signs of the Time Narrator
2008 W. Dick Cheney
2008 America Betrayed Narrator
2009 My Life in Ruins Irv
2009 Leaves of Grass Pug Rothbaum
2009 The Lightkeepers Seth Also executive producer
2010 Piranha 3D Matthew Boyd Cameo
2010 Weeds Warren Schiff 4 episodes
Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television
2010 RED Alexander Dunning
2012 Coma Professor Hillside Television miniseries
2013 Paranoia Francis Cassidy
2013 Cas & Dylan
2014 Very Good Girls Danny

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1974 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy American Graffiti Nominated
1974 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz Nominated
1976 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Jaws Nominated
1977 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Actor The Goodbye Girl Won
1978 Academy Awards Best Actor The Goodbye Girl Won
1978 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy The Goodbye Girl Won
1978 Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor The Goodbye Girl Won
1978 Saturn Awards Best Actor Close Encounters of the Third Kind Nominated
1979 BAFTA Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role The Goodbye Girl Won
1981 Razzie Awards Worst Actor The Competition Nominated
1988 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Nuts Nominated
1996 Academy Awards Best Actor Mr. Holland’s Opus Nominated
1996 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Mr. Holland’s Opus Nominated
2002 Satellite Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film The Day Reagan Was Shot Won
2002 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie The Day Reagan Was Shot Nominated
2002 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series The Education of Max Bickford Nominated
2004 Film Critics Circle of Australia Best Actor The Old Man Who Read Love Stories Nominated
2011 Saturn Awards Best Guest Starring Role on Television Weeds Won

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking
CH CBE FRS FRSA
black and white photo of Hawking in a chair, in an office.

Hawking at NASA, 1980s
Born Stephen William Hawking
(1942-01-08) 8 January 1942 (age 72)
Oxford, England
Residence United Kingdom
Fields
Institutions
Alma mater
Thesis Properties of Expanding Universes (1965 [2])
Doctoral advisor Dennis Sciama[3]
Other academic advisors Robert Berman[citation needed]
Doctoral students
Known for
Notable awards
Spouse
  • Jane Wilde
    (m. 1965–1995, divorced)
  • Elaine Mason
    (m. 1995–2006, divorced)
Children
  • Robert (b. 1967)
  • Lucy (b. 1970)
  • Timothy (b. 1979)
Website
www.hawking.org.uk

Stephen William Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA (Listeni/ˈstvən ˈhɔːkɪŋ/; born 8 January 1942) is an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology within the University of Cambridge.[15][16] Among his significant scientific works have been a collaboration with Roger Penrose on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, often called Hawking radiation. Hawking was the first to set forth a cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is a vocal supporter of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

Hawking is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009.

Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; his A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

Hawking has a motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is almost entirely paralysed and communicates through a speech-generating device. He married twice and has three children.

Early life

Stephen Hawking was born on 8 January 1942[1] to Frank and Isobel Hawking.[27][28] Despite their families’ financial constraints, both parents attended the University of Oxford, where Frank studied medicine and Isobel, Philosophy, Politics and Economics.[28] The two met shortly after the beginning of the Second World War at a medical research institute where she was working as a secretary and he as a medical researcher.[28][29] They lived in Highgate, but as London was under attack in those years, his mother went to Oxford to give birth in greater safety.[30] Stephen has two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and an adopted brother, Edward.[31] He began his schooling at the Byron House School; he later blamed its “progressive methods” for his failure to learn to read while at the school.[32]

In 1950, when his father became head of the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research, Hawking and his family moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire.[32][33] The eight-year-old Hawking attended St Albans High School for Girls for a few months; at that time, younger boys could attend one of the houses.[34][35] In St Albans, the family were considered highly intelligent and somewhat eccentric;[32][36] meals were often spent with each person silently reading a book.[32] They lived a frugal existence in a large, cluttered, and poorly maintained house, and travelled in a converted London taxicab.[37][38] During one of Hawking’s father’s frequent absences working in Africa,[39] the rest of the family spent four months in Majorca visiting his mother’s friend Beryl and her husband, the poet Robert Graves.[34]

On their return to England, Hawking attended Radlett School for a year[35] and from September 1952, St Albans School.[40] The family placed a high value on education.[32] Hawking’s father wanted his son to attend the well-regarded Westminster School, but the 13-year-old Hawking was ill on the day of the scholarship examination. His family could not afford the school fees without the financial aid of a scholarship, so Hawking remained at St Albans.[41][42] A positive consequence was that Hawking remained with a close group of friends with whom he enjoyed board games, the manufacture of fireworks, model aeroplanes and boats,[43] and long discussions about Christianity and extrasensory perception.[44] From 1958, and with the help of the mathematics teacher Dikran Tahta, they built a computer from clock parts, an old telephone switchboard and other recycled components.[45][46] Although at school he was known as “Einstein,” Hawking was not initially successful academically.[47] With time, he began to show considerable aptitude for scientific subjects, and inspired by Tahta, decided to study mathematics at university.[48][49][50] Hawking’s father advised him to study medicine, concerned that there were few jobs for mathematics graduates.[51] He wanted Hawking to attend University College, Oxford, his own alma mater. As it was not possible to read mathematics there at the time, Hawking decided to study physics and chemistry. Despite his headmaster’s advice to wait until the next year, Hawking was awarded a scholarship after taking the examinations in March 1959.[52][53]

University

Hawking began his university education at the University of Oxford in October 1959 at the age of 17.[54] For the first 18 months, he was bored and lonely: he was younger than many other students, and found the academic work “ridiculously easy.”[55][56] His physics tutor Robert Berman later said, “It was only necessary for him to know that something could be done, and he could do it without looking to see how other people did it.”[57] A change occurred during his second and third year when, according to Berman, Hawking made more effort “to be one of the boys”. He developed into a popular, lively and witty college member, interested in classical music and science fiction.[54] Part of the transformation resulted from his decision to join the college Boat Club, where he coxed a rowing team.[58][59] The rowing trainer at the time noted that Hawking cultivated a daredevil image, steering his crew on risky courses that led to damaged boats.[60][58] Hawking has estimated that he studied about 1,000 hours during his three years at Oxford. These unimpressive study habits made sitting his Finals a challenge, and he decided to answer only theoretical physics questions rather than those requiring factual knowledge. A first-class honours degree was a condition of acceptance for his planned graduate study in cosmology at the University of Cambridge.[61][62] Anxious, he slept poorly the night before the examinations and the final result was on the borderline between first- and second-class honours, making a viva necessary.[62][63] Hawking was concerned that he was viewed as a lazy and difficult student, so when asked at the oral examination to describe his future plans, he said, “If you award me a First, I will go to Cambridge. If I receive a Second, I shall stay in Oxford, so I expect you will give me a First.”[62][64] He was held in higher regard than he believed: as Berman commented, the examiners “were intelligent enough to realise they were talking to someone far cleverer than most of themselves.”[62] After receiving a first-class BA (Hons.) degree, and following a trip to Iran with a friend, he began his graduate work at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in October 1962.[65][66]

Hawking’s first year as a doctoral student[2] was difficult. He was initially disappointed to find that he had been assigned Dennis William Sciama as a supervisor rather than Fred Hoyle,[67][68] and he found his training in mathematics inadequate for work in general relativity and cosmology.[69] He also struggled with his health. Hawking had experienced increasing clumsiness during his final year at Oxford, including a fall on some stairs and difficulties when rowing.[70][71] The problems worsened, and his speech became slightly slurred; his family noticed the changes when he returned home for Christmas and medical investigations were begun.[72][73] The diagnosis of motor neurone disease came when Hawking was 21. At the time, doctors gave him a life expectancy of two years.[74][75] After his diagnosis, Hawking fell into a depression; though his doctors advised that he continue with his studies, he felt there was little point.[76] At the same time, however, his relationship with Jane Wilde, friend of his sister, and whom he had met shortly before his diagnosis, continued to develop. The couple were engaged in October 1964.[77][78] Hawking later said that the engagement “gave him something to live for.”[79] Despite the disease’s progression—Hawking had difficulty walking without support, and his speech was almost unintelligible—he now returned to his work with enthusiasm.[80] Hawking started developing a reputation for brilliance and brashness when he publicly challenged the work of Fred Hoyle and his student Jayant Narlikar at a lecture in June 1964.[81][82]

When Hawking began his graduate studies, there was much debate in the physics community about the prevailing theories of the creation of the universe: the Big Bang and the Steady State theories.[83] Inspired by Roger Penrose‘s theorem of a spacetime singularity in the centre of black holes, Hawking applied the same thinking to the entire universe, and during 1965 wrote up his thesis on this topic.[84] There were other positive developments: Hawking received a research fellowship at Gonville and Caius College, and he and Jane were married on 14 July 1965.[85] He obtained his Ph.D. degree in March 1966,[86] and his essay entitled “Singularities and the Geometry of Space-Time” shared top honours with one by Penrose to win that year’s Adams Prize.[87][86]

Later life and career

1966–1975

During their first years of marriage, Jane lived in London during the week as she completed her degree and they travelled to the United States several times for conferences and physics-related visits. The couple had difficulty finding housing that was within Hawking’s walking distance to the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP). Jane began a Ph.D. program, and a son, Robert, was born in May 1967.[88][89] In his work, and in collaboration with Penrose, Hawking extended the singularity theorem concepts first explored in his doctoral thesis. This included not only the existence of singularities but also the theory that the universe might have started as a singularity. Their joint essay was the runner-up in the 1968 Gravity Research Foundation competition.[90][91] In 1970 they published a proof that if the universe obeys the general theory of relativity and fits any of the models of physical cosmology developed by Alexander Friedmann, then it must have begun as a singularity.[92][93][94]

During the late 1960s, Hawking’s physical abilities declined once more: he began to use crutches and ceased lecturing regularly.[95] As he slowly lost the ability to write, he developed compensatory visual methods, including seeing equations in terms of geometry.[96][97] The physicist Werner Israel later compared the achievements to Mozart composing an entire symphony in his head.[98][99] Hawking was, however, fiercely independent and unwilling to accept help or make concessions for his disabilities. He preferred to be regarded as “a scientist first, popular science writer second, and, in all the ways that matter, a normal human being with the same desires, drives, dreams, and ambitions as the next person.”[100] Jane Hawking later noted that “Some people would call it determination, some obstinacy. I’ve called it both at one time or another.”[101] He required much persuasion to accept the use of a wheelchair at the end of the 1960s,[102] but ultimately became notorious for the wildness of his wheelchair driving.[101] Hawking was a popular and witty colleague, but his illness as well as his reputation for brashness and intelligence distanced him from some.[103] In 1969, Hawking accepted a specially created ‘Fellowship for Distinction in Science’ to remain at Caius.[104]

A daughter, Lucy, was born in 1970.[105] Soon after, Hawking discovered what became known as the second law of black hole dynamics, that the event horizon of a black hole can never get smaller.[106] With James M. Bardeen and Brandon Carter, he proposed the four laws of black hole mechanics, drawing an analogy with thermodynamics.[107] To Hawking’s irritation, Jacob Bekenstein, a graduate student of John Wheeler, went further—and ultimately correctly—applying thermodynamic concepts literally.[108][109] In the early 1970s, Hawking’s work with Carter, Werner Israel and David C. Robinson strongly supported Wheeler’s no-hair theorem that no matter what the original material from which a black hole is created it can be completely described by the properties of mass, electrical charge and rotation.[110][111] His essay titled “Black Holes” won the Gravity Research Foundation Award in January 1971.[112] Hawking’s first book The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time written with George Ellis was published in 1973.[113]

Beginning in 1973, Hawking moved into the study of quantum gravity and quantum mechanics.[114][113] His work in this area was spurred by a visit to Moscow and discussions with Yakov Borisovich Zel’dovich and Alexei Starobinsky, whose work showed that according to the uncertainty principle rotating black holes emit particles.[115] To Hawking’s annoyance, his much-checked calculations produced findings that contradicted his second law, which claimed black holes could never get smaller,[116] and supported Bekenstein’s reasoning about their entropy.[117][115] His results, which Hawking presented from 1974, showed that black holes emit radiation, known today as Hawking radiation, which may continue until they exhaust their energy and evaporate.[118][119][120] Initially, Hawking radiation was controversial. However by the late 1970s and following the publication of further research, the discovery was widely accepted as a significant breakthrough in theoretical physics.[121][122][123] In March 1974, a few weeks after the announcement of Hawking radiation, Hawking was invested as a Fellow of the Royal Society, one of the youngest scientists to be so honoured.[124][125]

Hawking rarely discussed his illness and physical challenges, even—in a precedent set during their courtship—with Jane.[126] Hawking’s disabilities meant that the responsibilities of home and family rested firmly on his wife’s increasingly overwhelmed shoulders, leaving him more time to think about physics.[127] When in 1974 Hawking was appointed to the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Jane proposed that a graduate or post-doctoral student live with them and help with his care. Hawking accepted, and Bernard Carr travelled to California with them as the first of many students who fulfilled this role.[128][129] The family spent a generally happy and stimulating year in Pasadena.[130] Hawking worked with his friend on the faculty, Kip Thorne,[131] and engaged him in a scientific wager about whether the dark star Cygnus X-1 was a black hole. The wager was a surprising “insurance policy” against the proposition that black holes did not exist.[132] Hawking acknowledged that he had lost the bet in 1990, which was the first of several that he was to make with Thorne and others.[133] Hawking has maintained ties to Caltech, spending a month there almost every year since this first visit.[134]

1975–1990

Hawking returned to Cambridge in 1975 to a new home, a new job—as Reader. Don Page, with whom Hawking had begun a close friendship at Caltech, arrived to work as the live-in graduate student assistant. With Page’s help and that of a secretary, Jane’s responsibilities were reduced so she could return to her thesis and her new interest in singing.[135] The mid to late 1970s were a period of growing public interest in black holes and of the physicist who was studying them. Hawking was regularly interviewed for print and television.[136][137] He also received increasing academic recognition of his work.[138] In 1975 he was awarded both the Eddington Medal and the Pius XI Gold Medal, and in 1976 the Dannie Heineman Prize, the Maxwell Prize and the Hughes Medal.[139][140] Hawking was appointed a professor with a chair in gravitational physics in 1977.[141] The following year he received the Albert Einstein Medal and an honorary doctorate from the University of Oxford.[78][138]

Hawking’s speech deteriorated, and by the late 1970s he could only be understood by his family and closest friends. To communicate with others, someone who knew him well would translate his speech into intelligible speech.[142] Spurred by a dispute with the university over who would pay for the ramp needed for him to enter his workplace, Hawking and his wife campaigned for improved access and support for those with disabilities in Cambridge,[143][144] including adapted student housing at the university.[145] In general, however, Hawking had ambivalent feelings about his role as a disability rights champion: while wanting to help others, he sought to detach himself from his illness and its challenges.[146] His lack of engagement led to some criticism.[147] The Hawking family welcomed a third child, Timothy, in April 1979.[138] That autumn Hawking was appointed the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.[138][148]

Hawking’s inaugural lecture as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics was titled: “Is the end in sight for Theoretical Physics” and proposed N=8 Supergravity as the leading theory to solve many of the outstanding problems physicists were studying.[149] Hawking’s promotion coincided with a health crisis which led to Hawking accepting, albeit reluctantly, some nursing services at home.[150] At the same time he was also making a transition in his approach to physics, becoming more intuitive and speculative rather than insisting on mathematical proofs. “I would rather be right than rigorous” he told Kip Thorne.[151] In 1981 he proposed that information in a black hole is irretrievably lost when a black hole evaporates. This information paradox violates the fundamental tenet of quantum mechanics, and was to lead to years of debate, including “the Black Hole War” with Leonard Susskind and Gerard ‘t Hooft.[152][153]

In December 1977, Jane had met organist Jonathan Hellyer Jones when singing in a church choir. Hellyer Jones became close to the Hawking family, and by the mid-1980s, he and Jane had developed romantic feelings for each other.[141][154][155] According to Jane, her husband was accepting of the situation, stating “he would not object so long as I continued to love him.”[141][156][157] Jane and Hellyer Jones determined not to break up the family and their relationship remained platonic for a long period.[158]

Cosmological inflation—a theory proposing that following the Big Bang the universe initially expanded incredibly rapidly before settling down to a slower expansion—was proposed by Alan Guth and also developed by Andrei Linde.[159] Following a conference in Moscow in October 1981, Hawking and Gary Gibbons organized a three-week Nuffield Workshop in the summer of 1982 on the Very Early Universe at Cambridge University, which focused mainly on inflation theory.[160][161][162] Hawking also began a new line of quantum theory research into the origin of the universe. In 1981 at a Vatican conference he presented work suggesting that there might be no boundary—or beginning or ending—to the universe.[163][164] He subsequently developed the research in collaboration with Jim Hartle, and in 1983 they published a model, known as the Hartle–Hawking state. It proposed that prior to the Planck epoch, the universe had no boundary in space-time; before the Big Bang, time did not exist and the concept of the beginning of the universe is meaningless.[165] The initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models was replaced with a region akin to the North Pole. One cannot travel north of the North Pole, but there is no boundary there—it is simply the point where all north-running lines meet and end.[166][167] Initially the no-boundary proposal predicted a closed universe which had implications about the existence of God. As Hawking explained “If the universe has no boundaries but is self-contained… then God would not have had any freedom to choose how the universe began.”[168]

Hawking did not rule out the existence of a Creator, asking in A Brief History of Time “Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence?”[169] In his early work, Hawking spoke of God in a metaphorical sense. In A Brief History of Time he wrote: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we should know the mind of God.”[170] In the same book he suggested the existence of God was unnecessary to explain the origin of the universe. Later discussions with Neil Turok led to the realisation that it is also compatible with an open universe.[171]

Further work by Hawking in the area of arrows of time led to the 1985 publication of a paper theorising that if the no-boundary proposition were correct, then when the universe stopped expanding and eventually collapsed, time would run backwards.[172] A paper by Don Page and Raymond Laflamme led Hawking to withdraw this concept.[173] Honours continued to be awarded: in 1981 he was awarded the American Franklin Medal,[174] and in 1982 made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).[175][176] Awards do not pay the bills, however, and motivated by the need to finance the children’s education and home expenses, in 1982 Hawking determined to write a popular book about the universe that would be accessible to the general public.[177][178] Instead of publishing with an academic press, he signed a contract with Bantam Books, a mass market publisher, and received a large advance for his book.[179][180] A first draft of the book, called A Brief History of Time, was completed in 1984.[181]

During a visit to CERN in Geneva in the summer of 1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia which in his condition was life-threatening; he was so ill that Jane was asked if life support should be terminated. She refused but the consequence was a tracheotomy, which would require round-the-clock nursing care, and remove what remained of his speech.[182][183] The National Health Service would pay for a nursing home but Jane was determined that he would live at home. The cost of the care was funded by an American foundation.[184][185] Nurses were hired for the three shifts required to provide the round-the-clock support he required. One of those employed was Elaine Mason, who was to become Hawking’s second wife.[186] For his communication, Hawking initially raised his eyebrows to choose letters on a spelling card.[187] But he then received a computer program called the “Equalizer” from Walt Woltosz. In a method he uses to this day, using a switch he selects phrases, words or letters from a bank of about 2500–3000 that are scanned.[188][189] The program was originally run on a desktop computer. However, Elaine Mason’s husband David, a computer engineer, adapted a small computer and attached it to his wheelchair.[190] Released from the need to use somebody to interpret his speech, Hawking commented that “I can communicate better now than before I lost my voice.”[191] The voice he uses has an American accent and is no longer produced.[192][193] Despite the availability of other voices, Hawking has retained his original voice, saying that he prefers his current voice and identifies with it.[194] At this point, Hawking activated a switch using his hand and could produce up to 15 words a minute.[195] Lectures were prepared in advance, and sent to the speech synthesiser in short sections as they were delivered.[192]

One of the first messages Hawking produced with his speech generating device was a request for his assistant to help him finish writing A Brief History of Time.[195] Peter Guzzardi, his editor at Bantam, pushed him to explain his ideas clearly in non-technical language, a process that required multiple revisions from an increasingly irritated Hawking.[196] The book was published in April 1988 in the US and in June in the UK, and proved to be an extraordinary success, rising quickly to the top of bestseller lists in both countries and remaining there for weeks and months.[197][198][199] The book was translated into multiple languages,[200] and ultimately sold an estimated 9 million copies.[199] Media attention was intense,[200] and Newsweek magazine cover and a television special both described him as “Master of the Universe”. Success led to significant financial rewards, but also the challenges of celebrity status.[201] Hawking travelled extensively to promote his work, and enjoyed partying and dancing[citation needed] into the small hours.[200] He had difficulty refusing the invitations and visitors which left limited time for work and his students.[202] Some colleagues were resentful of the attention Hawking received, feeling it was due to his disability.[203][204] He received further academic recognition, including five further honorary degrees,[205] the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1985),[206] the Paul Dirac Medal (1987)[205] and, jointly with Penrose, the prestigious Wolf Prize (1988).[207] In 1989, he was named a Companion of Honour by Queen Elizabeth II.[202] He reportedly declined a knighthood.[208]

1990–2000

Hawking’s marriage had been strained for many years. Jane felt overwhelmed by the intrusion into their family life of the required nurses and assistants. The impact of his celebrity was challenging for colleagues and family members, and in one interview Jane described her role as “simply to tell him that he’s not God.”[209][210] Hawking’s views of religion also contrasted with her strong Christian faith, and resulted in tension.[211][210][212] In the late 1980s Hawking had grown close to one of his nurses, Elaine Mason, to the dismay of some colleagues, caregivers and family members who were disturbed by her strength of personality and protectiveness.[213] Hawking told Jane that he was leaving her for Mason,[214] and departed the family home in February 1990.[175] Following his divorce from Jane in the spring of 1995, Hawking married Mason in September,[215][175] declaring “It’s wonderful—I have married the woman I love.”[216]

Hawking pursued his work in physics: in 1993 he co-edited a book on Euclidean quantum gravity with Gary Gibbons, and published a collected edition of his own articles on black holes and the Big Bang.[217] In 1994 at Cambridge’s Newton Institute, Hawking and Penrose delivered a series of six lectures, which were published in 1996 as “The Nature of Space and Time”.[218] In 1997 he conceded a 1991 public scientific wager made with Kip Thorne and John Preskill of Caltech. Hawking had bet that Penrose’s proposal of a “cosmic censorship conjecture”—that there could be no “naked singularities” unclothed within a horizon—was correct.[219] After discovering his concession might have been premature, a new, more refined, wager was made. This specified that such singularities would occur without extra conditions.[220] The same year, Thorne, Hawking and Preskill made another bet, this time concerning the black hole information paradox.[221][222] Thorne and Hawking argued that since general relativity made it impossible for black holes to radiate and lose information, the mass-energy and information carried by Hawking Radiation must be “new”, and not from inside the black hole event horizon. Since this contradicted the quantum mechanics of microcausality, quantum mechanics theory would need to be rewritten. Preskill argued the opposite, that since quantum mechanics suggests that the information emitted by a black hole relates to information that fell in at an earlier time, the concept of black holes given by general relativity must be modified in some way.[223]

Hawking also maintained his public profile, including bringing science to a wider audience. A film version of A Brief History of Time, directed by Errol Morris and produced by Steven Spielberg, premiered in 1992. Hawking had wanted the film to be scientific rather than biographical, but was persuaded otherwise. The film, while a critical success, was however not widely released.[224] A popular-level collection of essays, interviews and talk titled Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays was published in 1993[225] and six-part television series Stephen Hawking’s Universe and companion book appeared in 1997. As Hawking insisted, this time the focus was entirely on science.[226][227] He also made several appearances in popular media. At the release party for the home video version of the A Brief History of Time, Leonard Nimoy, who had played Spock on Star Trek, learned that Hawking was interested in appearing on the show. Nimoy made the necessary contact, and Hawking played a holographic simulation of himself in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1993.[228][229][230] The same year, his synthesiser voice was recorded for the Pink Floyd song “Keep Talking“,[231][225] and in 1999 for an appearance on The Simpsons.[232]

In the 1990s, Hawking accepted more openly the mantle of role model for disabled people, including lecturing on the subject and participating in fundraising activities.[233] At the turn of the century, he and eleven other luminaries signed the “Charter for the Third Millennium on Disability” which called on governments to prevent disability and protect disabled rights.[234][235] In 1999 Hawking was awarded the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society.[236] The same year, Jane Hawking published a memoir, Music to Move the Stars, describing her marriage to Hawking and its breakdown. Its revelations caused a sensation in the media, but as was his usual practice regarding his personal life, Hawking made no public comment except to say that he did not read biographies about himself.[237]

2000–present

Hawking with string theorists David Gross and Edward Witten at the 2001 Strings Conference, TIFR, India

 Hawking on 5 May 2006, during the press conference at the Bibliothèque nationale de France to inaugurate the Laboratory of Astronomy and Particles in Paris and the French release of his work God Created the Integers

Following his second marriage, Hawking’s family felt excluded and marginalised from his life.[212][238] For a period of about five years in the early 2000s, his family and staff became increasingly worried that he was being physically abused.[238][239] Police investigations took place, but were closed as Hawking refused to make a complaint.[238][240][241]

Hawking continued his writings for a popular audience, publishing The Universe in a Nutshell in 2001, [242] and A Briefer History of Time which he wrote in 2005 with Leonard Mlodinow to update his earlier works to make them accessible to a wider audience, and God Created the Integers, which appeared in 2006.[243] Along with Thomas Hertog at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and Jim Hartle, from 2006 on Hawking developed a theory of “top-down cosmology”, which says that the universe had not one unique initial state but many different ones, and therefore that it is inappropriate to formulate a theory that predicts the universe’s current configuration from one particular initial state.[244] Top-down cosmology posits that the present “selects” the past from a superposition of many possible histories. In doing so, the theory suggests a possible resolution of the fine-tuning question.[245][246]

In 2006 Hawking and Elaine quietly divorced,[247][248] following which Hawking resumed closer relationships with Jane, his children and grandchildren.[248][210] Reflecting this happier period, a revised version of Jane’s book called Travelling to Infinity, My Life with Stephen appeared in 2007.[238] That year Hawking and his daughter Lucy published George’s Secret Key to the Universe, a children’s book designed to explain theoretical physics in an accessible fashion and featuring characters similar to those in the Hawking family.[249] The book was followed by sequels in 2009 and 2011.[250]

Hawking continued to feature regularly on the screen: documentaries entitled :The Real Stephen Hawking: (2001)[251] and Stephen Hawking: Profile (2002), [252] a TV film Hawking about the period around the onset of Hawking’s illness (2004),[252] and a documentary series Stephen Hawking, Master of the Universe (2008).[253] Hawking made further appearances in animated form on The Simpsons,[254][255] and Futurama[246] in which he does his own voice acting,[256] and in person on The Big Bang Theory.[257] Hawking continued to travel widely, including trips to Chile, Easter Island, South Africa and Spain (to receive the Fonseca Prize in 2008) [258][259] Canada[260] and multiple trips to the United States.[261] For practical reasons related to his disability Hawking increasingly travelled by private jet, and by 2011 that had become his only mode of international travel.[262]

Over the years, Hawking maintained his public profile with a series of attention-getting and often controversial statements:[263] he has asserted that computer viruses were a form of life,[264] that humans should use genetic engineering to avoid being outsmarted by computers,[265] and that aliens likely exist and contact with them should be avoided.[266][267] Hawking has expressed his concerns that life on earth is at risk due to “a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of”.[268] He views spaceflight and the colonisation of space as necessary for the future of humanity.[268][269] Motivated by the desire to increase public interest in spaceflight and to show the potential of people with disabilities, in 2007 he participated in zero-gravity flight in a “Vomit Comet“, courtesy of Zero Gravity Corporation, during which he experienced weightlessness eight times.[268][270][271][272]

 Hawking taking a zero-gravity flight in a “Vomit Comet

A longstanding Labour Party supporter, Hawking has also increasingly made his views known on a variety of political subjects.[273][274] He recorded a tribute for the 2000 Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore,[275] called the 2003 invasion of Iraq a “war crime“,[274][276] boycotted a conference in Israel due to concerns about Israel’s policies towards Palestinians,[277][278][279] maintained his longstanding campaigning for nuclear disarmament,[273][280][274] and has supported stem cell research,[274][281] universal health care,[282] and action to prevent climate change.[280] Hawking has also used his fame to advertise products, including a wheelchair,[235] National Savings,[283] British Telecom, Specsavers and Egg Banking,[284] and Go Compare.[285]

In the area of physics, by 2003, consensus was growing that Hawking was wrong about the loss of information in a black hole.[286] In a 2004 lecture in Dublin, the physicist conceded his 1997 bet with Preskill, but described his own, somewhat controversial solution, to the information paradox problem, involving the possibility that black holes have more than one topology.[287][223] In the 2005 paper he published on the subject, he argued that the information paradox was explained by examining all the alternative histories of universes, with the information loss in those with black holes being cancelled out by those without.[222][288] In January 2014 he called the alleged loss of information in black holes his “biggest blunder.”[289]

As part of another longstanding scientific dispute, Hawking had emphatically argued, and bet, that the Higgs Boson would never be found.[290] The particle, proposed to exist as part of the Higgs Field theory by Peter Higgs in 1964, became discoverable with the advent of the Fermilab near Chicago and the Large Electron Positron and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.[291] Hawking and Higgs engaged in a heated and public debate over the matter in 2002 and again in 2008, with Higgs criticising Hawking’s work and complaining that Hawking’s “celebrity status gives him instant credibility that others do not have.”[291] The particle was discovered at CERN in July 2012: Hawking quickly conceded that he had lost his bet[292][293] and said that Higgs should win the Nobel Prize for Physics.[294]

In 2007 he posed this open question on the Internet: “In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?” A month later he confessed: “I don’t know the answer. That is why I asked the question, to get people to think about it, and to be aware of the dangers we now face.” The Guardian, Britain.

Hawking’s disease-related deterioration has continued, and in 2005 he began to control his communication device with movements of his cheek muscles,[295][296][297] with a rate of about one word per minute.[296] With this decline there is a risk of him acquiring locked-in syndrome, so Hawking is collaborating with researchers on systems that could translate Hawking’s brain patterns or facial expressions into switch activations.[246][297][298] By 2009 he could no longer drive his wheelchair independently.[299] He has increased breathing difficulties, requiring a ventilator at times, and has been hospitalized several times.[246] In 2002, following a UK-wide vote, the BBC included him in their list of the 100 Greatest Britons. Hawking was awarded the Copley Medal from the Royal Society (2006),[300] America’s highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009),[301][302] and the Russian Fundamental Physics Prize (2012).[303]

U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Stephen Hawking in the Blue Room of the White House before a ceremony presenting him and 15 others with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on 12 August 2009

Several buildings have been named after him, including the Stephen W. Hawking Science Museum in San Salvador, El Salvador,[304] the Stephen Hawking Building in Cambridge,[305] and the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute in Canada.[306] Appropriately, given Hawking’s association with time, he unveiled the mechanical “Chronophage” (or time-eating) Corpus Clock at Corpus Christi College Cambridge in September 2008.[307][308]

As required by university regulations, Hawking retired as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in 2009. Despite suggestions that he might leave the United Kingdom as a protest against public funding cuts to basic scientific research,[309] Hawking has continued to work as director of research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and has indicated no plans to retire.[310]

Hawking has stated that he is “not religious in the normal sense” and he believes that “the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws.”[311] In an interview published in The Guardian, Hawking regarded the concept of Heaven as a myth, believing that there is “no heaven or afterlife” and that such a notion was a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”[170] In 2011, when narrating the first episode of the American television series Curiosity on the Discovery Channel, Hawking declared:

We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.[312][313]

In September 2014, Hawking declared himself an atheist.[314]

At Google’s Zeitgeist Conference in 2011, Hawking said that “philosophy is dead.” He believes that philosophers “have not kept up with modern developments in science” and that scientists “have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.” He said that philosophical problems can be answered by science, particularly new scientific theories which “lead us to a new and very different picture of the universe and our place in it”.[315] In August 2012 Hawking narrated the “Enlightenment” segment of the 2012 Summer Paralympics opening ceremony.[316] In 2013, the biographical documentary film Hawking, in which Hawking himself is featured, was released.[317][318][319] In September 2013, he expressed support for the legalization of assisted suicide for the terminally ill.[320]

We are all different – but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt – and survive.

—Stephen Hawking, Hawking[321]

In August 2014, Hawking was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September’s referendum on that issue.[322]

Also in August 2014, Hawking accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge to promote ALS/MND awareness and raise contributions for research. As he had had pneumonia in 2013, he was advised not to have ice poured over him, but his children volunteered to accept the challenge on his behalf. Hawking then nominated Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum, and David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville and Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University.[323]

Awards and honours

Hawking has received numerous awards and honours. In 1974 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS). His nomination reads

Hawking has made major contributions to the field of general relativity. These derive from a deep understanding of what is relevant to physics and astronomy, and especially from a mastery of wholly new mathematical techniques. Following the pioneering work of Penrose he established, partly alone and partly in collaboration with Penrose, a series of successively stronger theorems establishing the fundamental result that all realistic cosmological models must possess singularities. Using similar techniques, Hawking has proved the basic theorems on the laws governing black holes: that stationary solutions of Einstein’s equations with smooth event horizons must necessarily be axisymmetric; and that in the evolution and interaction of black holes, the total surface area of the event horizons must increase. In collaboration with G. Ellis, Hawking is the author of an impressive and original treatise on “Space-time in the Large”.Other important work by Hawking relates to the interpretation of cosmological observations and to the design of gravitational wave detectors.[14]

During his career Hawking has supervised 39 successful PhD students.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][324][325][326][327][328][329][330][331][332][333][334][335][336][337][338][339][340][341][342][343][344][345][346][347][348][349][350][351][352]

 

Bibliography

Selected academic works

Popular publications

 Benedict Cumberbatch portrayed the scientist in the 2004 film Hawking.

Children’s fiction

Stephen Hawking being presented by his daughter Lucy Hawking at the lecture he gave for NASA’s 50th anniversary

Co-written with his daughter Lucy.

Films and series

Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher
Born Carrie Frances Fisher
(1956-10-21) October 21, 1956 (age 57)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, novelist, screenwriter, performance artist
Years active 1975–present
Spouse(s) Paul Simon (m. 1983–84)
Partner(s) Bryan Lourd (1991–1994)
Children 1
Parents Eddie Fisher
Debbie Reynolds

Carrie Frances Fisher (born October 21, 1956) is an American actress, novelist, screenwriter, and performance artist. She is best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia Organa in the original Star Wars trilogy, and will reprise the character in Star Wars Episode VII. She is also known for her bestselling novel Postcards from the Edge and screenplay for a film of the same name, as well as her autobiographical one-woman play and the non-fiction book Wishful Drinking she based it on.

Early life

Fisher was born in Beverly Hills, California, the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. Her father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Russia, and her mother was raised a Nazarene, and is of Scots-Irish and English ancestry.[1][2][3][4] Her younger brother is producer and actor Todd Fisher, and her half-sisters are actresses Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher, whose mother is the singer and actress Connie Stevens.

When Fisher was two, her parents divorced after her father left Reynolds for her best friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor, the widow of her father’s best friend Mike Todd. The following year, her mother married shoe store chain owner Harry Karl, who secretly spent Reynolds’s life savings. She attended Beverly Hills High School, but she left to join her mother on the road.[5] She appeared as a debutante and singer in the hit Broadway revival Irene (1973), which starred her mother.

Career

1970s

 Fisher with Wim Wenders in 1978

In 1973, Fisher enrolled at London‘s Central School of Speech and Drama, which she attended for 18 months. She made her film debut in the Columbia comedy Shampoo (1975) starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn, with Lee Grant and Jack Warden as her character’s parents. In 1977, Fisher starred as Princess Leia Organa in George Lucas‘s science fiction film Star Wars (later retitled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) opposite Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford.[6] At the time, she believed the script for Star Wars was fantastic, but did not expect many people to agree with her, and though her fellow actors were not close at the time, they bonded after the commercial success of the film.[7] The huge success of Star Wars made her internationally famous and the character of Princess Leia became a merchandising triumph; small plastic action figures of the Princess were in toy stores across the United States.

In April 1978, she appeared as the love interest in Ringo Starr‘s 1978 TV special Ringo.[8][9] The next month, she appeared alongside John Ritter (who had also played in Ringo) in the ABC-TV film Leave Yesterday Behind, as a horse trainer who helps Ritter’s character after an accident leaves him a paraplegic. At this time, Fisher appeared with Laurence Olivier and Joanne Woodward in the anthology series Laurence Olivier Presents in a television version of the William Inge play Come Back, Little Sheba. That November, she appeared as Princess Leia in the 1978 made-for-TV film, Star Wars Holiday Special, and showed off her singing talent in the last scene.

1980s

Fisher later appeared in The Blues Brothers film as Jake’s vengeful ex-lover; she is listed in the credits as “Mystery Woman”. She appeared on Broadway in Censored Scenes from King Kong in 1980. That year, she reprised her role as Leia Organa in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. She made her final appearance as Leia Organa in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, for which she became a sex symbol due to her appearance wearing a golden metal bikini (the outfit Leia was forced to wear as a slave girl of Jabba the Hutt), which almost immediately rose to pop culture icon status. She is one of the few actors or actresses to star in films with both John and James Belushi, later appearing with the latter in the film The Man with One Red Shoe. She also was a replacement in the Broadway production of Agnes of God (1982). She appeared in the Woody Allen film Hannah and her Sisters in 1986.

In 1987, Fisher published her first novel, Postcards from the Edge. The book was semi-autobiographical in the sense that she fictionalized and satirized real-life events such as her drug addiction of the late 1970s and her relationship with her mother. It became a bestseller, and she received the Los Angeles Pen Award for Best First Novel. Also during 1987, she was in the Australian film The Time Guardian. In 1989, Fisher played a major supporting role in When Harry Met Sally, and in the same year, she appeared with Tom Hanks as his wife in The ‘Burbs.

1990s

In 1990, Columbia Pictures released a film version of Postcards from the Edge, adapted for the screen by Fisher and starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid. Fisher appeared in the fantasy comedy film Drop Dead Fred in 1991, and played a therapist in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). During the 1990s, Fisher also published the novels Surrender the Pink (1990) and Delusions of Grandma (1993).

2000s

Fisher at Star Wars Celebration IV, 2007

In the film Scream 3 (2000), Fisher played an actress mistaken for Carrie Fisher. In 2001, Fisher played a nun in the Kevin Smith comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. She also co-wrote the TV comedy film These Old Broads (2001), of which she was also co-executive producer. It starred her mother, Debbie Reynolds, as well as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and Shirley MacLaine. In this, Taylor’s character, an agent, explains to Reynolds’s character, an actress, that she was in an alcoholic blackout when she married the actress’s husband, “Freddy”.

Besides acting and writing original works, Fisher was one of the top script doctors in Hollywood, working on the screenplays of other writers.[10][11] She did uncredited polishes on movies starting with The Wedding Singer and Sister Act,[10] and was hired by the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, to polish scripts for his 1992 TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.[10] Her expertise in this area was the reason she was chosen as one of the interviewers for the screenwriting documentary Dreams on Spec in 2007. However, during an interview in 2004, she said that she no longer did much script doctoring.[11]

Fisher also voices Peter Griffin‘s boss, Angela, on the animated sitcom Family Guy and appeared in a book of photographs titled Hollywood Moms (2001) for which she wrote the introduction. Fisher published a sequel to Postcards, The Best Awful There Is, in 2004. In August 2006, Fisher appeared prominently in the audience of the Comedy Central’s Roast of William Shatner. In 2007, she was a full-time judge on FOX‘s filmmaking-competition reality television series On the Lot.

Fisher wrote and performed in her one-woman play Wishful Drinking at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles from November 7, 2006, to January 14, 2007.[12] Her show played at the Berkeley Repertory Theater through April 2008,[13] followed by performances in San Jose, California, in July 2008, Hartford Stage in August 2008[14] before moving on to the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., in September 2008[15] and Boston[16] in October 2008. Fisher published her autobiographical book, also titled Wishful Drinking, based on her successful play in December 2008 and embarked on a media tour. On April 2, 2009, Fisher returned to the stage with her play at the Seattle Repertory Theatre with performances through May 9, 2009.[17] On October 4, 2009, Wishful Drinking then opened on Broadway in New York at Studio 54 and played an extended run until January 17, 2010.[18][19] In December 2009, Fisher’s audiobook recording of her best-selling memoir, Wishful Drinking, earned her a nomination for a 2009 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word Album category.[20]

Fisher joined Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne on Saturday evenings for The Essentials with informative and entertaining conversation on Hollywood’s best films. She guest-starred in the episode titled “Sex and Another City” from season 3 of Sex and the City with Sarah Jessica Parker. This episode also featured Vince Vaughn, Hugh Hefner, and Sam Seder in guest roles. On October 25, 2007, Fisher guest-starred as Rosemary Howard on the second season episode of 30 Rock called “Rosemary’s Baby”, for which she received an Emmy Award[21] nomination. Her last line in the show was a spoof from Star Wars: “Help me Liz Lemon, You’re my only hope!” On April 28, 2008, she was a guest on Deal or No Deal. In 2008, she also had a cameo as a doctor in the Star Wars-related comedy Fanboys.

2010s

In 2010, HBO aired a feature-length documentary based on a special live performance of Fisher’s Wishful Drinking stage production.[22] Fisher also appeared on the seventh season of Entourage in the summer of 2010.[22]

In August 2013, she was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Venice Film Festival.

In June 2014, she filmed an appearance on the UK comedy panel show QI. It will be broadcast in December 2014.[23]

Return to Star Wars

In an interview posted March 2013, Fisher said she would reprise her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars Episode VII, “Elderly. She’s in an intergalactic old folks’ home [laughs]. I just think she would be just like she was before, only slower and less inclined to be up for the big battle.”[24] After other media outlets reported this on March 6, 2013, her representative said the same day Fisher was joking and nothing has been announced.[25]

On January 21, 2014, in an interview with TV Guide, Carrie Fisher confirmed her involvement and the involvement of the original cast in the upcoming sequels by saying “as for the next Star Wars film, myself, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill are expected to report to work in March or April. I’d like to wear my old cinnamon buns hairstyle again but with white hair. I think that would be funny.”[26]

In March 2014, Fisher stated that she was moving to London for six months because that was where filming would take place. She also confirmed she would try to get in better shape for the role.[27]

On April 29, 2014, the cast for Star Wars Episode VII was officially announced, and Fisher, along with original trilogy castmates Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, and Kenny Baker have all been cast in their original roles for the upcoming film. New castmates include Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Max von Sydow. The as yet unsubtitled Star Wars Episode VII is slated for release worldwide on December 18, 2015.

Personal life

Fisher was briefly engaged to Canadian actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd, who proposed on the set of their film The Blues Brothers in 1980. She has stated: “We had rings, we got blood tests, the whole shot. But then I got back together with Paul Simon.”[28] Fisher dated musician Paul Simon from 1977 until 1983 and was then married to him from August 1983 to July 1984. They dated again for a time after their divorce. During their marriage, she appeared in Simon’s music video for the song “Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War“. Simon’s song “Hearts and Bones” is about their relationship.[29]

Subsequently, she had a relationship with Creative Artists Agency principal and casting agent Bryan Lourd. They had one child together, Billie Catherine Lourd (born July 17, 1992). Eddie Fisher states in his autobiography (Been There Done That) his granddaughter’s name is Catherine Fisher Lourd and her nickname is “Billy”. The couple’s relationship ended when Lourd left to be in a relationship with another man. Though Fisher has described Lourd as her second husband in interviews, according to a 2004 profile of the actress and writer, she and Lourd were never legally married.[30]

Fisher also had a close relationship with James Blunt. While working on his album Back to Bedlam in 2003, Blunt spent much of his time at Fisher’s residence. Vanity Fair‘s George Wayne wanted Fisher to explain if their relationship was sexual. Fisher dismissed the suggestion: “Absolutely not, but I did become his therapist. He was a soldier. This boy has seen awful stuff. Every time James hears fireworks or anything like that, his heart beats faster, and he gets ‘fight or flight.’ You know, he comes from a long line of soldiers dating back to the 10th century. He would tell me these horrible stories. He was a captain, a reconnaissance soldier. I became James’s therapist. So it would have been unethical to sleep with my patient.”[31]

On February 26, 2005, R. Gregory “Greg” Stevens, a lobbyist, was found dead in Fisher’s California home due to an overdose of OxyContin compounded by obstructive sleep apnea.[32] In an interview, Fisher claimed that Stevens’s ghost haunted her mansion, which unsettled her: “I was a nut for a year”, she explained, “and in that year I took drugs again.”[33]

Fisher has described herself as an “enthusiastic agnostic who would be happy to be shown that there is a God”.[34] She was raised Protestant,[2] but often attends Jewish services, the faith of her father, with Orthodox friends.[35] She was a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, Inc. television ads that aired in January 2011.[36]

Bipolar disorder and drug problems

Fisher has publicly discussed her problems with drugs, her struggle with bipolar disorder, and her overcoming an addiction to prescription medication, most notably on ABC‘s 20/20 and The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive with Stephen Fry for the BBC. She discussed her 2008 memoir Wishful Drinking and various topics in it with Matt Lauer on NBC‘s Today on December 10, 2008 and also revealed that she would have turned down the role of Leia Organa had she realized it would give her the celebrity status that made her parents’ lives difficult.[37] This interview was followed by a similar appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on December 12, 2008, where she discussed her electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments.[38] She has said that she receives ECT every six weeks to “blow apart the cement” in her brain.[39]

While she was in Sydney, Australia, Fisher revealed in another interview that she had a cocaine addiction during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, and also survived an overdose. “Slowly, I realized I was doing a bit more drugs than other people and losing my choice in the matter”, she said in an interview.[40][41]

During an interview with AMC Fisher said that she has no regrets about appearing in the Star Wars films.[42]

Filmography

Film, television and video games
Year Title Role Notes
1975 Shampoo Lorna Carp
1977 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Princess Leia Organa
1977 Come Back, Little Sheba Marie Videotaped TV drama
1978 Ringo Marquine TV movie
1978 Leave Yesterday Behind Marnie Clarkson TV movie
1978 Star Wars Holiday Special Princess Leia Organa TV movie
1980 Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back Princess Leia Organa
1980 Blues Brothers, TheThe Blues Brothers Mystery Woman
1981 Under the Rainbow Annie Clark
1982 Laverne & Shirley Cathy TV series, episode: “The Playboy Show”
1983 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Princess Leia Organa
1984 Faerie Tale Theatre Thumbelina TV series, episode: “Thumbelina”
1984 Garbo Talks Lisa Rolfe
1984 Frankenstein Elizabeth TV movie
1985 From Here to Maternity Veronica TV short
1985 Man with One Red Shoe, TheThe Man with One Red Shoe Paula
1985 George Burns Comedy Week TV series, episode: “The Couch”
1985 Happily Ever After Alice Conway Voice only, TV movie
1986 Hannah and Her Sisters April
1986 Hollywood Vice Squad Betty Melton
1986 Liberty Emma Lazarus TV movie
1986 Sunday Drive Franny Jessup TV movie
1987 Amazing Stories Laurie McNamara TV series, episode: “Gershwin’s Trunk”
1987 Amazon Women on the Moon Mary Brown segment “Reckless Youth”
1987 Time Guardian, TheThe Time Guardian Petra
1988 Appointment with Death Nadine Boynton
1989 The ‘burbs Carol Peterson
1989 Loverboy Monica Delancy
1989 Two Daddies Alice Conway Voice only, TV movie
1989 She’s Back Beatrice
1989 When Harry Met Sally… Marie
1989 Trying Times Enid TV series, episode: “Hunger Chic”
1990 Sweet Revenge Linda
1990 Sibling Rivalry Iris Turner-Hunter
1991 Drop Dead Fred Janie
1991 Soapdish Betsy Faye Sharon
1991 Hook Woman kissing on bridge Uncredited role
1992 This Is My Life Claudia Curtis
1994 Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Princess Leia Video game
1995 Present Tense, Past Perfect TV short
1995 Frasier Phyllis TV series, episode “Phyllis”, voice only
1997 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Therapist Uncredited role
1997 Gun Nancy TV series, episode: “The Hole”
1998 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Roz Katz TV series, episode: “Thanksgiving”
1999 Return of the Ewok short subject, filmed in 1983
2000 Scream 3 Bianca
2000 Sex and the City Herself TV series, episode: “Sex and Another City”
2001 These Old Broads Hooker TV movie
2001 Heartbreakers Ms. Surpin
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Nun
2002 Midsummer Night’s Rave, AA Midsummer Night’s Rave
2002 Nero Wolfe Mystery, AA Nero Wolfe Mystery Ellen Tenzer TV series, two-part episode: “Motherhunt
2003 Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle Mother Superior
2003 Wonderland Sally Hansen
2003 Good Morning, Miami Judy Silver TV series, episode: “A Kiss Before Lying”
2004 Stateside Mrs. Dubois
2004 Jack & Bobby Madison Skutcher TV series, episode: “The First Lady”
2005 Undiscovered Carrie
2005 Smallville Pauline Kahn TV series, episode: “Thirst”
2005 Romancing the Bride Edwina TV movie
2005–present Family Guy Angela TV series, episodes: “Jungle Love“,
The Courtship of Stewie’s Father“,
Hell Comes to Quahog“,
Whistle While Your Wife Works“,
It Takes a Village Idiot, and I Married One“,
Tales of a Third Grade Nothing“,
Peter-assment“,
Baby, You Knock Me Out“,
Road to the North Pole“,
Friends of Peter G.“,
It’s a Trap!
Into Harmony’s Way
2007 Suffering Man’s Charity Reporter
2007 Cougar Club Glady Goodbey
2007 Odd Job Jack Dr. Finch TV series, episode: “The Beauty Beast”
2007 Weeds Celia’s attorney TV series, episode: “The Brick Dance”
2007 Side Order of Life Dr. Gilbert TV series, episode:” Funeral for a Phone”
2007 30 Rock Rosemary Howard TV series, episode: “Rosemary’s Baby
2008 Women, TheThe Women Bailey Smith
2009 Fanboys Doctor Cameo appearance
2008 Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II Princess Leia, Mon Mothma, Krayt Dragon’s Mother TV movie, voice only
2008 Bring Back… Star Wars Herself One-off TV episode
2009 White Lightnin’ Cilla
2009 Sorority Row Mrs. Crenshaw
2010 Wright vs. Wrong Joan Harrington TV movie
2010 Entourage Anna Fowler TV series, episode “Tequila and Coke”
2010 Family Guy Mon Mothma TV series, episode: “It’s a Trap“, voice only
2010 A Quiet Word With … Herself Australian TV conversation series, season 1, episode 2[43]
2011 The Talk Herself TV series, November 15
2012 It’s Christmas, Carol! Eve Hallmark TV movie
2012 Dishonored Loudspeaker Video game
2012 Comedy Central Roast Herself The Roast of Roseanne Barr
2014 Maps to the Stars Herself Post-Production
2014 The Big Bang Theory Herself
2014 The Last Leg Herself 2 appearances, 15th August and 5 September
2014 QI Herself Filmed, Yet to be Broadcast
2015 Star Wars: Episode VII Princess Leia Organa Solo Filming

Bibliography

Novels
Non-fiction
Screenplays
Plays

Stephen Fry

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For other people named Stephen Fry, see Stephen Fry (disambiguation).
Stephen Fry
Fry in Happy Birthday to GNU (2008)
Born Stephen John Fry
(1957-08-24) 24 August 1957 (age 57)
Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Education The College of West Anglia
Alma mater Queens’ College, Cambridge
Occupation Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, film director
Years active 1981–present
Title President of Mind (2011–present)[1]
Kentucky colonel[2][3]
Freeman of the City of London[4]
Honorary Life Member of the Union of UEA Students
Patron of the Lip Theatre Company
Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre
Vice-President of the Noël Coward Society
Honorary fellow of Queens’ College, Cambridge
Honorary fellow of Cardiff University
Honorary president of the Cambridge University Quiz SocietyRector of the University of Dundee (1992–1998)
Partner(s) Daniel Cohen (1995–2010)
Parents Alan John Fry
Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman)
Stephen Fry’s voice

Signature Stephen Fry signature.svg
Website
www.stephenfry.uk

Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957) is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist.

After a troubled childhood and adolescence, during which he was expelled from two schools and spent three months in prison for credit card fraud, he secured a place at Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he studied English literature. While at university, Fry became involved with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met his long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie. As half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, and took the role of Jeeves (with Laurie playing Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster.

Fry’s acting roles include a Golden Globe Award–nominated lead performance in the film Wilde, Melchett in the BBC television series Blackadder, the title character in the television series Kingdom, a recurring guest role as Dr. Gordon Wyatt on the crime series Bones, and as Gordon Deitrich in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award–winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his mental illness. He is also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI.

Besides working in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines and written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles and More Fool Me. He also appears frequently on BBC Radio 4, starring in the comedy series Absolute Power, being a frequent guest on panel games such as Just a Minute, and acting as chairman for I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, where he was one of a trio of hosts who succeeded the late Humphrey Lyttelton. Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, and narrating the LittleBigPlanet and Birds of Steel series of video games, as well as an animated series of explanations of the laws of cricket.[5]

Early life and education

Fry, upper right, rehearsing a student production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Norfolk College of Arts and Technology in 1975

Fry was born in Hampstead, London, on 24 August 1957, the son of Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman) and Alan John Fry, an English physicist and inventor.[6][7][8] Fry was raised in no religious faith.[9]

Fry’s mother was Jewish, and his maternal grandparents, Martin and Rosa Neumann,[8] were Hungarian Jews, who emigrated to Britain in 1927; Martin’s parents, who originally lived in Vienna, Austria, were sent to a concentration camp in Riga, Latvia and murdered.[8][9][10] His mother’s aunt and cousins were sent to Auschwitz and never seen again.[8] Fry’s father is English, and his paternal grandmother had roots in Kent and Cheshire.[11][12][13]

Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, at an early age. He has an elder brother named Roger and a younger sister named Joanna.[14][15]

Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School in Cawston, Norfolk,[16] before going on to Stouts Hill Preparatory School in Uley, Gloucestershire, at the age of seven, and then to Uppingham School, Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house, and was described as a “near-asthmatic genius”.[17] He was expelled from Uppingham when he was 15 and subsequently from the Paston School.

At 17, after leaving Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, Fry absconded with a credit card stolen from a family friend.[18] He had taken a coat when leaving a pub, planning to spend the night sleeping rough, but had then discovered the card in a pocket.[19] He was arrested in Swindon, and, as a result, spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison on remand. While Fry was in Pucklechurch, his mother had cut out the crossword from every copy of The Times since he had been away, something which Fry said was “a wonderful act of kindness”. Fry later stated that these crosswords were the only thing that got him through the ordeal.[18]

Following his release, he resumed his education at City College Norwich, promising administrators that he would study rigorously to sit the Cambridge entrance exams. He scored well enough to gain a scholarship to Queens’ College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, Fry joined the Cambridge Footlights, appeared on University Challenge,[20] and read for a degree in English literature, graduating with upper second-class honours.[21][22] Fry also met his future comedy collaborator Hugh Laurie at Cambridge and starred alongside him in the Footlights Club.

Career

Television

Comedy

Fry signing autographs at the Apple Store, Regent Street, London, on 3 February 2009

Fry’s career in television began with the 1982 broadcasting of The Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue which was written by Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery. The revue caught the attention of Granada Television, who, keen to replicate the success of the BBC’s Not the Nine O’Clock News, hired Fry, Laurie and Thompson to star alongside Ben Elton in There’s Nothing to Worry About!. A second series, re-titled Alfresco, was broadcast in 1983, and a third in 1984; it established Fry and Laurie’s reputation as a comedy double act. In 1983, the BBC offered Fry, Laurie and Thompson their own show, which became The Crystal Cube, a mixture of science fiction and mockumentary that was cancelled after the first episode. Undeterred, Fry and Laurie appeared in an episode of The Young Ones in 1984, and Fry also appeared in Ben Elton’s 1985 series, Happy Families. In 1986 and 1987 Fry and Laurie performed sketches on the LWT/Channel 4 show Saturday Live.

Forgiving Fry and Laurie for The Crystal Cube, the BBC commissioned, in 1986, a sketch show that was to become A Bit of Fry & Laurie. The programme ran for 26 episodes spanning four series between 1986 and 1995, and was very successful. During this time, Fry starred in Blackadder II as Lord Melchett, made a guest appearance in Blackadder the Third as the Duke of Wellington, then returned to a starring role in Blackadder Goes Forth, as General Melchett. In the 1988 television special Blackadder’s Christmas Carol, he played the roles of Lord Melchett and Lord Frondo.

Between 1990 and 1993, Fry starred as Jeeves (alongside Hugh Laurie’s Bertie Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster, 23 hour-long adaptations of P. G. Wodehouse‘s novels and short stories.

Towards the end of 2003, Fry starred alongside John Bird in the television adaptation of Absolute Power, previously a radio series on BBC Radio 4.

In 2010, Fry took part in a Christmas series of short films called Little Crackers. His short was based on a story from his childhood at school.[23] He appeared as the Christian God in 2011’s Holy Flying Circus.

Drama

Fry has appeared in a number of BBC adaptations of plays and books, including a 1992 adaptation of the Simon Gray play The Common Pursuit (he had previously appeared in the West End stage production); a 1998 Malcolm Bradbury adaptation of the Mark Tavener novel In the Red, taking the part of the Controller of BBC Radio 2; and in 2000 in the role of Professor Bellgrove in the BBC serial Gormenghast, which was adapted from the first two novels of Mervyn Peake‘s Gormenghast series. In 2011, Fry portrayed Professor Mildeye in the BBC adaption of Mary Norton’s 1952 novel The Borrowers.[24]

Fry narrates the first two seasons of the English-language version of the Spanish children’s animated series Pocoyo.[25]

From 2007 to 2009, Fry played the lead role in (and was executive producer for) the legal drama Kingdom, which ran for three series on ITV1.[26] He has also taken up a recurring guest role as FBI psychiatrist Dr. (later chef) Gordon Wyatt in the popular American drama Bones.

In 2010, having learned some Irish for the role,[27] he filmed a cameo role in Ros na Rún, an Irish-language soap opera broadcast in Ireland, Scotland and the United States.[28][29][30]

In 2014 he began starring alongside Kiefer Sutherland and William Devane in 24: Live Another Day as British Prime Minister Alastair Davies.[31]

Documentaries and other factual programs

Fry’s first documentary was the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006.[32] The same year, he appeared in the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his maternal family tree to investigate his Jewish ancestry.[33] Fry narrated The Story of Light Entertainment, which was shown from July–September 2006.[34] In 2007, he presented a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me.[35]

On 7 May 2008, Fry gave a speech as part of a series of BBC lectures on the future of public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom,[36] which he later recorded for a podcast.[37]

His six-part travel series Stephen Fry in America began on BBC One in October 2008, and saw him travel to each of the 50 US states.[38] In the same year, he narrated the nature documentaries Spectacled Bears: Shadow of the Forest for the BBC Natural World series.

In the 2009 television series Last Chance to See, Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine sought out endangered species, some of which had been featured in Douglas Adams‘ and Carwardine’s 1990 book and radio series of the same name.[39]

In August 2011, Stephen Fry’s 100 Greatest Gadgets was shown on Channel 4 as one of the 100 Greatest strand.[40] His choice for the greatest gadget was the cigarette lighter, which he described as “fire with a flick of the fingers”.[40] In the same month, the nature documentary series Ocean Giants, narrated by Fry, premièred.

In September 2011, Fry’s Planet Word, a five-part documentary about language, aired on BBC HD and BBC Two.[41][42]

In November 2011, an episode of Living The Life featured Fry in an intimate conversation discussing his life and career with Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman.[43]

At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards, broadcast on ITV on 30 October, Fry, along with Michael Caine, Elton John, Richard Branson and Simon Cowell, recited Rudyard Kipling‘s poem If—, in tribute to the 2012 British Olympic and Paralympic heroes.

In November 2012, Stephen Fry hosted a gadgets show called Gadget Man, exploring the usefulness of various gadgets in different daily situations to improve the livelihoods of everyone.[44]

In October 2013, Fry presented Stephen Fry: Out There, a two-part documentary in which he explores attitudes to homosexuality and the lives of gay people in different parts of the globe.[45]

On Christmas Day 2013, Fry featured with adventurer Bear Grylls in an episode of Channel 4‘s Bear’s Wild Weekends. Over the course of two days, in the Italian Dolomites, Fry travelled on the skids of a helicopter, climbed down a raging 500-foot waterfall, slept in a First World War trench and abseiled down a towering cliff face.[19]

QI

Main article: QI

In 2003, Fry began hosting QI (Quite Interesting), a comedy panel game television quiz show. QI was created and co-produced by John Lloyd, and features permanent panellist Alan Davies. QI has the highest viewing figures for any show on BBC Four and Dave (formerly UKTV G2).[46][47] In 2006, Fry won the Rose d’Or award for “Best Game Show Host” for his work on the series.

Film

Having made his film début in the 1985 film The Good Father, Fry had a brief appearance in A Fish Called Wanda (in which he is knocked out by Kevin Kline, who is posing as an airport security man), and then appeared as the eponymous Peter in Kenneth Branagh‘s Peter’s Friends in 1992. In the 1994 romantic comedy film I.Q., he played the role of James Moreland. Portraying Oscar Wilde (of whom he had been an ardent admirer since the age of 13) in the 1997 film Wilde, he fulfilled to critical acclaim a role that he has said he was “born to play”. It also earned him a nomination for Best Actor – Drama in the 1998 Golden Globe Award. A year later, Fry starred in David Yates‘ small independent film The Tichborne Claimant, and in 2001 he played the detective in Robert Altman’s period costume drama, Gosford Park. In the same year, he also appeared in the Dutch film The Discovery of Heaven, directed by Jeroen Krabbé and based on the novel by Harry Mulisch.

In 2003, Fry made his directorial début with Bright Young Things, adapted by him from Evelyn Waugh‘s Vile Bodies. In 2001, he began hosting the BAFTA Film Awards, a role from which he stepped down in 2006.[48] Later that same year, he wrote the English libretto and dialogue for Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of The Magic Flute.

Fry continues to make regular film appearances, notably in treatments of literary cult classics. He portrayed Maurice Woodruff in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, served as narrator in the 2005 film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and in 2005 appeared in both A Cock and Bull Story, based on Tristram Shandy, and V for Vendetta, as a non-conforming TV presenter who challenges the fascist state. They pointed out that it was Fry’s “normalcy” in the face of the insanity of the censorship of BTV that makes his character truly powerful and adds a “wholly unexpected dimension to the film”.[49] In 2006, he played the role of gadget-master Smithers in Stormbreaker, and in 2007 he appeared as himself hosting a quiz in St Trinian’s. In 2007, Fry wrote, for director Peter Jackson, a script for a remake of The Dam Busters.[50]

Fry was offered a role in Valkyrie, but was unable to participate.[51] Fry starred in the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, as the voice of the Cheshire Cat.[52] He played Mycroft Holmes in the sequel to Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie.[53] In 2010, Fry provided the voice of Socrates the Lion in the environmental animated film Animals United. He portrayed the Master of Lake-town in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second part of the film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit.[54]

Radio

Fry came to the attention of radio listeners with the 1986 creation of his alter-ego, Donald Trefusis, whose “wireless essays” were broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 programme Loose Ends. In the 1980s, he starred as David Lander in four series of the BBC Radio 4 show Delve Special, written by Tony Sarchet, which then became the six-part Channel 4 series This is David Lander in 1988. In 1988, Fry wrote and presented a six-part comedy series entitled Saturday Night Fry. Frequent radio appearances have ensued, notably on panel games Just a Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. In 2000, he began starring as Charles Prentiss in the Radio 4 comedy Absolute Power, reprising the role for three further series on radio, and two on television. In 2002, Fry was one of the narrators of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, in which he voiced Winnie-the-Pooh. He presented a 20-part, two-hour series, The Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music, a “witty guide” to the genre over the past 1,000 years, on Classic FM.

In 2007, he hosted Current Puns, an exploration of wordplay, and Radio 4: This Is Your Life, to celebrate the radio station’s 40th anniversary. He also interviewed Tony Blair as part of a series of podcasts released by 10 Downing Street.[55]

In February 2008, Fry began presenting podcasts entitled Stephen Fry’s Podgrams, in which he recounts his life and recent experiences.[56] In July 2008, he appeared as himself in I Love Stephen Fry, an Afternoon Play for Radio 4 written by former Fry and Laurie script editor Jon Canter.[57]

Since August 2008, he has presented Fry’s English Delight, a series on BBC Radio 4 about the English language.[58] As of 2011, it has been running for five series and 17 episodes.

In the summer 2009 series of I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, Fry was one of a trio of hosts replacing Humphrey Lyttelton (the others being Jack Dee and Rob Brydon).[59]

In 2012, he appeared as a guest panellist in the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel show Wordaholics.[60]

In September 2012, he guest-starred as himself in the audio comedy drama We Are The BBC, produced by the Wireless Theatre Company, written by Susan Casanove.[61]

Theatre

Fry wrote the play Latin! or Tobacco and Boys for the 1980 Edinburgh Festival, where it won the Fringe first prize.[62] It had a revival in 2009 at London’s Cock Tavern Theatre, directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher.[63] The Cellar Tapes, the Footlights Revue of 1981, won the Perrier Comedy Award. In 1984, Fry adapted the hugely successful 1930s musical Me and My Girl for the West End, where it ran for eight years.

Fry was cast in Simon Gray’s The Common Pursuit for its first staging in London’s West End on 7 April 1988, with Rik Mayall, John Sessions, Sarah Berger, Paul Mooney and John Gordon Sinclair, directed by Simon Gray.[64] He was also cast in a lead role in Simon Gray’s 1995 play Cell Mates, which he left three days into the West End run, pleading stage fright. He later recalled the incident as a hypomanic episode in his documentary about bipolar disorder, The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. In 2007, Fry wrote a Christmas pantomime, Cinderella, which ran at London’s Old Vic Theatre.[65]

Fry is a long-standing fan of the anarchic 1960s British musical comedy group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and particularly of its eccentric front man, the late Vivian Stanshall. Fry helped to fund a 1988 London re-staging of Stanshall’s Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera, written by Vivian and Ki Longfellow-Stanshall for the Bristol-based Old Profanity Showboat. Fry performed several of Stanshall’s numbers as part of the Bonzos’ 2006 reunion concert at the London Astoria. He also appears as a shiny New Millennium Bonzo on their post-reunion album, Pour l’Amour des Chiens, on which he recites a recipe for “Salmon Proust”, plays a butler in “Hawkeye the Gnu”, and voices ads for the fictitious “Fiasco” stores.

Following three one-man shows in Australia, Fry announced a “sort of stand-up” performance at The Royal Albert Hall in London for September 2010.[66]

In September 2012,[67] Fry made a return to the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe, appearing as Malvolio in a production of William Shakespeare‘s Twelfth Night, which transferred to the West End in November 2012.[68] He received excellent reviews.[67][68] The production transferred to Broadway, with previews beginning 15 October 2013 and Opening Night 10 November 2013. Fry was nominated for a Tony in the category Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for the Broadway revival.[69][70]

In August 2013, he lent his voice to the title role in Britten‘s operetta Paul Bunyan at the Wales Millennium Centre with the Welsh National Youth Opera.[71]

Audiobooks

Fry has been the reader for the British versions of all of J. K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series of audiobooks. He discussed this project in an interview with J. K. Rowling in 2005.[72] He has also been the reader for Douglas Adams‘s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film tie-in edition, and has made recordings of his own books, such as The Stars’ Tennis Balls and Moab Is My Washpot, and of works by Roald Dahl, Michael Bond, A. A. Milne, Anthony Buckeridge, Eleanor Updale and Alexander Pushkin.

Video games

Fry’s distinctive voice has been featured in a number of video games, including an appearance as Reaver, an amoral supporting character in Lionhead Studios games Fable II and Fable III, and as the narrator of Sackboy’s story in the crossover fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

He also narrated LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita and LittleBigPlanet Karting,[73][74] and the first four Harry Potter games: (Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire).

Advertising

Fry has appeared in numerous advertisements – either on-screen or in voice-over – starting with an appearance as “Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar” in a 1982 advert for Whitbread Best Bitter. Fry has said, in his memoirs, that after receiving his payment for this work – £25,000 – he has never subsequently experienced “what one could call serious money troubles”.[75] He has since appeared in adverts for products and companies such as Marks and Spencer, Twinings, Kenco, Vauxhall, Honda, Direct Line, Calpol, Heineken, Alliance & Leicester (a series of adverts which also featured Hugh Laurie), After Eights, Trebor, Panama cigars, Virgin Media and Orange Mobile.

Literature

Since the publication of his first novel, The Liar (1991), Fry has written three further novels, several non-fiction works and two volumes of autobiography. Making History (1997) is partly set in an alternative universe in which Adolf Hitler‘s father is made infertile and his replacement proves a rather more effective Führer. The book won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The Hippopotamus (1994) is about Edward (Ted/Tedward) Wallace and his stay at his old friend Lord Logan’s country manor in Norfolk. The Stars’ Tennis Balls (2000) is a modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Fry’s book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within is a guide to writing poetry.

When writing a book review for Tatler, Fry wrote under a pen name, Williver Hendry, editor of A Most Peculiar Friendship: The Correspondence of Lord Alfred Douglas and Jack Dempsey, a field close to his heart as an Oscar Wilde enthusiast. Once a columnist in The Listener and The Daily Telegraph, he now writes a weekly technology column in the Saturday edition of The Guardian. His blog attracted more than 300,000 visitors in its first two weeks.[38]

In May 2009, Fry unveiled The Dongle of Donald Trefusis, an audiobook series following Donald Trefusis (a fictional character from Fry’s novel The Liar and from the BBC Radio 4 series Loose Ends), set over 12 episodes.[76] After its release, it reached No. 1 on the UK Album Chart list.

Fry’s use of the word “luvvie” (spelled “lovie” by Fry) in The Guardian on 2 April 1988 is given by the Oxford English Dictionary as the earliest recorded use of the word as a humorous synonym for “actor”.[77]

Football

In August 2010, Fry joined the board of directors at Norwich City Football Club. A lifelong fan of “the Canaries” and a regular visitor to Carrow Road, he said, on being appointed, “Truly this is one of the most exciting days of my life, and I am as proud and pleased as I could be.”[78] In February 2014 Stephen Fry became the honorary president of Proud Canaries, a new club for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans.[79]

Twitter

In October 2008, Fry began posting to the social networking site Twitter,[80] which he regularly updates.[81] On 16 May 2009, he celebrated the 500,000-follower mark: “Bless my soul 500k followers. And I love you all. Well, all except that silly one. And that’s not you.”[82]

Fry wields a considerable amount of influence through his use of Twitter.[83][84] He is frequently asked to promote various charities and causes, often inadvertently causing their websites to crash because of the volume of traffic generated by his large number of followers; as Fry notes on his website: “Four thousand hits a second all diving down the pipeline at the same time for minutes on end.”[85] He uses his influence to recommend underexposed musicians and authors (who often see large increases in web hits and sales)[86][87] and to raise awareness of contemporary issues in the world of media and politics, notably the dropping of an injunction against The Guardian[88][89] and the lambasting of Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir over her article on the death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately.[90][91]

In October 2009, Fry again sparked debate amongst users, when he announced his intention to leave the social networking site after criticism from another user on Twitter. However, he retracted the announcement the following day.[92] In October 2010, Fry left Twitter for a few days, with a farewell message of “Bye bye”, following press criticism of a quote taken from an interview he had given. After returning, he explained that he had left Twitter to “avoid being sympathised with or told about an article” he “would otherwise never have got wind of”.[93] In some quarters, the general methods Fry uses on Twitter have been criticised.[94]

In November 2009, Fry’s Twitter account reached one million followers. He commemorated the million-followers milestone with a humorous video blog in which a ‘Step Hen Fry’ clone speaks from the year 2034, where MySpace, Facebook and Twitter have combined to form ‘Twit on MyFace’.[95] In November 2010, he welcomed his two-millionth follower with a blog entry detailing his opinions and experiences of Twitter.[96] On 11 March 2012, Fry noted his passing of the four-million-followers mark with a tweet: “Lordy I’ve breasted the 4 million followers tape. Love you all. Yes even YOU. But let’s dedicate today to Douglas Adams‘s diamond jubilee”.[97]

Acclaim

Stephen Fry visits Nightingale House, a care home in London, in December 2009

In 1995, Fry was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Dundee, which named their main Students’ Association bar after his novel The Liar. Fry is a patron of its Lip Theatre Company.[98] He also served two consecutive terms – 1992 to 1995 and 1995 to 1998 – as the student-elected Rector of the University of Dundee. Such was his popularity, he was unopposed when he sought re-election to office in 1995, and by the time he completed his second term in office, he had won the widespread admiration of the University’s staff and students.[99][100] He was awarded the AoC Gold Award in 2004, and was entered into their Hall of Fame.[101] Fry was also awarded an honorary degree from Anglia Ruskin University in 2005.[102][103] He was made honorary president of the Cambridge University Quiz Society and honorary fellow of his alma mater Queens’ College, Cambridge. On 13 July 2010, he was made an honorary fellow of Cardiff University,[104] and on 28 January 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Sussex, for his work campaigning for people suffering from mental health problems, bipolar disorder and HIV.[105]

He is a Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre and a Vice-President of The Noël Coward Society.[106] Fry was the last person to be named Pipe Smoker of the Year before the award was discontinued.[107]

In December 2006, he was ranked sixth for the BBC’s Top Living Icon Award,[108] was featured on The Culture Show, and was voted Most Intelligent Man on Television by readers of Radio Times. The Independent on Sunday Pink List named Fry the second most influential gay person in Britain in May 2007; he had taken the twenty-third position on the list the previous year.[109] Later the same month, he was announced as the 2007 Mind Champion of the Year,[1] in recognition of the success of his documentary The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive in raising awareness of bipolar disorder. He was also nominated in “Best Entertainment Performance” for QI and “Best Factual Series” for Secret Life of the Manic Depressive at the 2007 British Academy Television Awards.[110] That same year, Broadcast magazine listed Fry at number four in its “Hot 100” list of influential on-screen performers, describing him as a polymath and a “national treasure“.[111] He was also granted a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards on 5 December 2007,[112] and the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards on 20 January 2010.[113]

BBC Four dedicated two nights of programming to Fry on 17 and 18 August 2007, in celebration of his 50th birthday. The first night, comprising programs featuring Fry, began with a sixty-minute documentary entitled Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out. The second night was composed of programmes selected by Fry, as well as a 60-minute interview with Mark Lawson and a half-hour special, Stephen Fry: Guilty.[114] The weekend programming proved such a ratings hit for BBC Four that it was repeated on BBC Two on 16 and 17 September 2007.

In 2011, he was the subject of Molly Lewis‘s song An Open Letter to Stephen Fry, in which the singer jokingly offers herself as a surrogate mother for his child.[115] In February 2011, Fry was awarded the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University, the Harvard Secular Society and the American Humanist Association.[116]

In 2012, Fry wrote the foreword to the Union of UEA Students report on the student experience for LGBT+ members.[117] As recognition of his public support for LGBT+ rights and for the Union’s report, the Union of UEA Students awarded him, on 18 October 2012, Honorary Life Membership of the Union.[118]

In March 2014 Fry beat David Attenborough and Davina McCall to win the Best Presenter award at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards. The award was given for his BBC2 programme Stephen Fry: Out There.[119]

Personal life

He is on cordial terms with Prince Charles, through his work with the Prince’s Trust. He attended the Prince’s wedding to Camila Parker Bowles in 2005. Fry is a friend of comedian and actor (and Blackadder co-star) Rowan Atkinson and was best man at Atkinson’s wedding to Sunetra Sastry at the Russian Tea Room in New York City. Fry was a friend of British actor John Mills.[120] His best friend is Hugh Laurie,[121] whom he met while both were at Cambridge and with whom he has collaborated many times over the years. He was best man at Laurie’s wedding and is godfather to all three of his children.[122]

A fan of cricket, Fry has claimed to be related to former England cricketer C.B. Fry,[123] and was interviewed for the Ashes Fever DVD, reporting on England‘s victory over Australia in the 2005 Ashes series. Regarding football, he is a supporter of Norwich City, and is a regular visitor to Carrow Road. He has been described as “deeply dippy for all things digital“, claims to have bought the third Macintosh computer sold in the UK (his friend Douglas Adams bought the first two) and jokes that he has never encountered a smartphone that he has not bought.[124] He counts Wikipedia among his favourite websites “because I like to find out that I died, and that I’m currently in a ballet in China, and all the other very accurate and important things that Wikipedia brings us all”.[125]

Fry has a long-standing interest in Internet production, including having his own website since 1997. His current site, The New Adventures of Mr Stephen Fry, has existed since 2002 and has attracted many visitors following his first blog in September 2007, which comprised a 6,500-word “blessay” on smartphones. In February 2008, Fry launched his private podcast series, Stephen Fry’s Podgrams, and a forum, including discussions on depression and activities in which Fry is involved. The website content is created by Stephen Fry and produced by Andrew Sampson. Stephen Fry’s weekly gadget column Dork Talk appeared in The Guardian from November 2007 to October 2008.[124] Fry is also a supporter of GNU and the Free Software Foundation.[126] For the 25th anniversary of the GNU operating system, Fry appeared in a video explaining some of the philosophy behind GNU by likening it to the sharing found in science.[127]

When in London, he drives a dark green TX4 London cab.[128][129] This vehicle has been featured in Fry’s production Stephen Fry in America.[130]

Sexuality

Stephen Fry with Stonewall marchers at WorldPride 2012 in London.

Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage years at public school, and by his own account did not engage in sexual activity for 16 years from 1979 until 1995.[131]

When asked when he first acknowledged his sexuality, Fry quipped: “I suppose it all began when I came out of the womb. I looked back up at my mother and thought to myself, ‘That’s the last time I’m going up one of those'”.[132] Fry was in a 15-year relationship with Daniel Cohen, which ended in 2010.[133]

Politics

Fry was an active supporter of the Labour Party for many years and appeared in a party political broadcast on its behalf with Hugh Laurie and Michelle Collins in November 1993. He did not vote in the 2005 General Election because of the stance of both the Labour and Conservative parties with regard to the Iraq War. Despite his praise of the Blair/Brown government’s work on social reform, Fry has been critical of the Labour Party’s “Third Way” concept. Fry appeared in literature to support changing the British electoral system from first-past-the-post to alternative vote for electing members of parliament to the House of Commons in the Alternative Vote referendum in 2011.[134]

On 30 April 2008, Fry signed an open letter, published in The Guardian newspaper by some well-known Jewish personalities, stating their opposition to celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.[135] Furthermore, he is a signatory member of the British Jews for Justice for Palestinians organisation, which campaigns for Palestinian rights.[136] Fry was among over 100 signatories to a statement published by Sense About Science on 4 June 2009, condemning British libel laws and their use to “severely curtail the right to free speech on a matter of public interest”.[137]

In August 2013, Fry published an “Open Letter to David Cameron and the IOC”[138] calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, due to concerns over the state-sanctioned persecution of LGBT persons in Russia. David Cameron however stated on Twitter he believed “we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics”.[139][140] Adrian Hilton, writing in the Daily Mail, criticised Fry for not calling for a boycott of all Russian performing arts.[141] Fry responded by accusing the Daily Mail of being “against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality)”.[142]

In March 2014, Fry publicly backed “Hacked Off” and its campaign towards press self-regulation by “safeguarding the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable.”[143]

Poland controversy

On 6 October 2009, Fry was interviewed by Jon Snow on Channel 4 News[144] as a signatory of a letter to British Conservative Party leader David Cameron expressing concern about the party’s relationship with the Polish national conservative Law and Justice party in the European Parliament.[145] During the interview, he stated:

There has been a history, let’s face it, in Poland of a right-wing Catholicism which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on and know the stories, and know much of the anti-semitic, and homophobic and nationalistic elements in countries like Poland.

The remark prompted a complaint from the Polish Embassy in London, an editorial in The Economist and criticism from British Jewish historian David Cesarani.[146][147][148][149] Fry has since posted an apology in a six-page post on his personal blog, in which he stated:

I offer no excuse. I seemed to imply that the Polish people had been responsible for the most infamous of all the death factories of the Third Reich. I didn’t even really at the time notice the import of what I had said, so gave myself no opportunity instantly to retract the statement. It was a rubbishy, cheap and offensive remark that I have been regretting ever since. I take this opportunity to apologise now. I said a stupid, thoughtless and fatuous thing. It detracted from and devalued my argument, such as it was, and it outraged and offended a large group of people for no very good reason. I am sorry in all directions, and all the more sorry because it is no one’s fault but my own, which always makes it so much worse.[150]

Health

Fry has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder,[151] specifically stating he suffers from cyclothymia, referring to it as “bipolar lite”.[152][153] He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1995 while appearing in a West End play called Cell Mates and subsequently walked out of the production, prompting its early closure and incurring the displeasure of co-star Rik Mayall and playwright Simon Gray. Mayall’s comedy partner, Adrian Edmondson, made light of the subject in his and Mayall’s second Bottom live show. After walking out of the production, Fry went missing for several days while contemplating suicide. He abandoned the idea and left the United Kingdom by ferry, eventually resurfacing in Belgium.[154]

Fry has spoken publicly about his experience with bipolar disorder, which was depicted in the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.[155] In the programme, he interviewed other sufferers of the illness including Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss and Tony Slattery. He is involved with the mental health charity Stand to Reason[156] and is president of Mind.[1]

Fry has attempted suicide on a number of occasions, most recently in 2012.[157] In an interview with Richard Herring in 2013, Fry revealed that he had attempted suicide the previous year while filming abroad. He said that he took a “huge number of pills and a huge [amount] of vodka” and had to be brought back to the UK to be “looked after”.[158]

In January 2008, Fry broke his arm while filming Last Chance to See in Brazil.[159] He later explained in a podcast how the accident happened: while climbing aboard a boat, he slipped between it and the dock, and, while stopping himself from falling into the water, his body weight caused his right humerus to snap. The damage was more severe than first thought: The resulting vulnerability to his radial nerve – he was at risk of losing the use of his arm – was not diagnosed until he saw a consultant in the UK.[160]

As the host of QI, Fry has stated that he is allergic to both champagne[161] and bumble bee stings.[162]

Appearing on Top Gear in 2009, Fry had lost a significant amount of weight, prompting host Jeremy Clarkson to ask jokingly, “Where’s the rest of you?” Fry explained that he had shed a total of 6 stone (84 lb; 38 kg), attributing the weight loss to doing a lot of walking while listening to downloaded audiobooks.[163] Fry is between 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) in height.[164][165]

In 2013 he revealed that, in the previous year, he had started taking medication for the first time, in an attempt to control his bi-polar condition.[19]

Views on religion

Fry has repeatedly expressed opposition to organised religion, and has identified himself as an atheist and humanist, while declaring some sympathy for the ancient Greek belief in capricious gods. In his first autobiography he wrote, “I knew I couldn’t believe in God, because I was fundamentally Hellenic in my outlook”.[166] He has stated that religion can have positive effects: “Sometimes belief means credulity, sometimes an expression of faith and hope which even the most sceptical atheist such as myself cannot but find inspiring”.[167]

In 2009, The Guardian published a letter from Fry addressing his younger self, explaining how his future is soon to unfold, reflecting on the positive progression towards gay acceptance and openness around him, and yet not everywhere, while warning on how “the cruel, hypocritical and loveless hand of religion and absolutism has fallen on the world once more.”[168] Later that year, he and Christopher Hitchens participated in an “Intelligence Squared” debate in which they argued against Ann Widdecombe and Archbishop John Onaiyekan, who supported the view that the Catholic Church was a force for good. Fry and Hitchens argued that the church did more harm than good. Fry attacked the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality and denounced its wealth.[169] Subsequently in the Channel 4’s series The Bible: A History, in an interview with Ann Widdecombe for the episode The Law of Moses, Fry continued his attack in “an ill-tempered dialogue of the deaf”.[170]

In 2010 he was made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association, stating: “it is essential to nail one’s colours to the mast as a humanist.”[171] Later that year, Fry, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom being a state visit.[172] On 22 February 2011, Fry was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.[173][174]

Business

In 2008, Fry formed SamFry Ltd, with long-term collaborator Andrew Sampson, to produce and fund new material, as well as manage his official website.[175]

He is also the co-owner, with Gina Carter and Sandi Toksvig, of Sprout Pictures, an independent film and television company.[176]

Computing and software freedom

Fry uses Ubuntu as his desktop operating system.[177] In 2008 he appeared in a film made by the Free Software Foundation to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the GNU Project to create a completely free (libre) operating system.[178] In the film Fry explains the principles of software freedom central to the development of the Linux and GNU software projects.[179]

Russell Brand

Russell Brand
Russell Brand Arthur Premier.jpg

Brand at the premiere for Arthur in 2011
Born Russell Edward Brand
(1975-06-04) 4 June 1975 (age 39)
Grays, Essex, England
Residence Shoreditch[1]
Alma mater Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Drama Centre London
Spouse(s) Katy Perry
(2010–2012; divorced)
Parents Ronald Henry Brand
Barbara Elizabeth Nichols
Comedy career
Medium Stand-up, television, film, radio
Years active 1994–present
Genres Observational comedy, black comedy, blue comedy, improvisational comedy
Influences Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks,[2] Peter Cook, Lenny Bruce, Tony Hancock, Jack Kerouac, Stewart Lee,[3] Tenacious D,[4] Eddie Murphy,[5] Monty Python
from the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, 21 July 2013.[6]

Website
russellbrand.tv

Russell Edward Brand[7] (born 4 June 1975)[8] is an English comedian, actor, radio host, author, and activist.

In 2004, Brand achieved notoriety as the host of Big Brother’s Big Mouth, a Big Brother spin-off. In 2007, he had his first major film role in St Trinian’s. In 2008, he had a major role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall; the film led to him starring in the spinoff Get Him to the Greek in 2010. He also worked as a voice actor in the animated films Despicable Me in 2010, Hop in 2011, and Despicable Me 2 in 2013. He played the title character of the 2011 remake Arthur.

Brand has received significant media coverage for controversies such as his dismissal from MTV, his behaviour as a presenter at various award ceremonies, and his drug use. In 2008, he resigned from the BBC following prank calls he made to actor Andrew Sachs on The Russell Brand Show. He has incorporated his drug use, alcoholism, and promiscuity into his comedic material.

Since guest editing an edition of the New Statesman, a British weekly magazine, Brand has become increasingly active politically.[9] This includes a widely publicised interview with Newsnight host editor Jeremy Paxman, in which he encouraged the British electorate not to vote and endorsed a system based on the ‘massive redistribution of wealth’ to replace the status quo.[10]

Early life

Russell Edward Brand was born in Orsett Hospital in Grays, Essex, England. He is the only child of photographer Ronald Henry Brand and Barbara Elizabeth Nichols.[7] Brand’s parents divorced when he was six months old, and he was raised by his mother. He has described his childhood as isolated and lonely.[11] When he was 7, a tutor sexually abused him.[12] When Brand was 8, his mother contracted uterine cancer and then breast cancer one year later. While she underwent treatment, Brand lived with relatives. When he was 14, he suffered from bulimia nervosa. When he was 16, he left home because of disagreements with his ill mother’s live-in partner. Brand then started to use illegal drugs such as cannabis, amphetamines, LSD, and ecstasy.[13]

Brand says he had a “strange relationship” with his father, whom he saw sporadically and who took him to visit prostitutes during a trip to the Far East when Brand was a teenager.[14]

He made his theatrical debut at the age of 15 in a school production of Bugsy Malone, and then began work as a film extra. Brand attended Grays School Media Arts College and in 1991, he was accepted to the Italia Conti Academy and had his first year of tuition funded by Essex County Council. After his first year at Italia Conti Academy, Brand was expelled for illegal drug use and poor attendance.[15]

Career

Stand-up

Brand performed stand-up at the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year final in 2000. Although he finished fourth, his performance attracted the attention of Gagged and Bound Comedy Ltd agent Nigel Klarfeld.[16] That year, he also made his Edinburgh debut as one-third of the stand-up show Pablo Diablo’s Cryptic Triptych, alongside ventriloquist Mark Felgate and Anglo-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi.[citation needed]

Brand performs stand-up at the London Roundhouse, 25 January 2008

In 2004, he took his first one-man show, the confessional Better Now, to the Edinburgh Festival, giving an honest account of his heroin addiction. He returned the following year with Eroticised Humour. He launched his first nationwide tour, Shame, in 2006. Brand drew on embarrassing incidents in his own life and the coverage about him in the tabloid press. The show was released on DVD as Russell Brand: Live. Brand appeared in a sketch and performed stand-up at the 2006 Secret Policeman’s Ball. In March 2007, he co-hosted an evening of the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs with Noel Fielding. In December 2007, Brand performed for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip as an act in the 2007 Royal Variety Performance. His second nationwide tour, in 2007, was called Russell Brand: Only Joking and released on DVD as Russell Brand: Doin’ Life. Brand began performing in the US, and recorded a special for Comedy Central titled Russell Brand in New York, which aired in March 2009.[17]

Brand began touring the UK, America and Australia from January to April 2009 on a tour called Russell Brand: Scandalous.[18] In October, a further four dates that were performed in November were added to raise money for Focus 12, the drug charity for which Brand is a patron.[19]

Presenting

Brand’s first presenting role came in 2000 as a video journalist on MTV. He presented Dancefloor Chart, touring nightclubs in Britain and Ibiza, and hosted the tea-time request show Select. Brand was fired several days after coming to work dressed as Osama bin Laden the day after the 11 September 2001 attacks and bringing his drug dealer to the MTV studios.[20]

After leaving MTV, Brand starred in RE:Brand, a documentary and comedy television program that aimed to take a challenging look at cultural taboos. It was conceived, written, and hosted by Brand, with the help of his comic partner on many projects, Matt Morgan. The series was shown on the now-defunct digital satellite channel UK Play in 2002.[citation needed]

In 2004, he hosted Big Brother’s Eforum on E4, a sister show to Big Brother 5. The show gave celebrity guests and the public the chance to have their say on the goings-on inside the Big Brother house. For Big Brother 6, the show’s name changed to Big Brother’s Big Mouth. Following Celebrity Big Brother 5, Brand said he would not return to host the Big Brother 8 series of Big Brother’s Big Mouth. In a statement, Brand thanked all the producers for “taking the risk of employing an ex-junkie twerp” to front the show. Of his time presenting the show, he said, “The three years I’ve spent on Big Brother’s Big Mouth have been an unprecedented joy”.[21]

Brand hosted a one-off special called Big Brother According to Russell Brand, in which Brand took a surreal, sideways look at Big Brother through the ages. On 8 January 2008, Brand was the fifth celebrity to “hijack” the Big Brother house,[22] in the E4 show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. Brand next returned to MTV in the spring of 2006 as presenter of the chat show 1 Leicester Square, which initially aired at 8 pm on Sundays before being shifted to a post-watershed time of 10 pm on Mondays, allowing for a more adult-oriented theme. Guests included Tom Cruise, Uma Thurman, The Mighty Boosh, and Boy George. A second series began in September 2006 on MTV UK. After Big Brother 7 finished, Brand presented a debate show called Russell Brand’s Got Issues, on digital channel E4. The viewing figures for the first episode were seen as disappointing, being beaten by nearly all of E4’s main multi-channel rivals despite a big publicity and promotional campaign for the show. The poor ratings prompted the network to repackage the show as The Russell Brand Show and move it to Channel 4.[23] The first episode was broadcast on 24 November on Channel 4,[24] and it ran for five weeks.[citation needed]

Brand presented the 2006 NME Awards. At the ceremony Bob Geldof, who was accepting an award from Brand, said at the podium, “Russell Brand – what a cunt“, to which Brand replied, “Really, it’s no surprise [Geldof]’s such an expert on famine. He has, after all, been dining out on ‘I Don’t Like Mondays‘ for 30 years.”[25] Brand hosted the 2007 BRIT Awards and presented Oasis with an “Outstanding Contribution to Music” award at the event.[26] He also hosted one hour of Comic Relief. On 7 July 2007, he presented at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London.[citation needed]

Brand speaking with Courtney Love in Los Angeles, 2008

On 12 December 2007, BBC Four aired Russell Brand On the Road, a documentary presented by Brand and Matt Morgan about the writer Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road. Brand returned to Channel 4 to host Russell Brand’s Ponderland, in which he discussed topics like childhood and science through stand-up comedy. The show first aired on 22 October 2007 and continued for the next five nights. A second series began on 30 October 2008, drawing more than a million viewers, and was broadcast every Thursday night for four weeks, plus a Christmas special that aired in December.[citation needed]

Brand was later announced as the host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards, which drew skepticism from the American media, as he was relatively unknown to the American public. Brand’s stint as host of the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards created controversy.[27] At one point, he said the night “marked the launch of a very new Britney Spears era”, referring to it as “the resurrection of [Spears]”. He also said, “If there was a female Christ, it’s Britney”.[28] Brand implored the audience to elect Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and later called then–U.S. President George W. Bush “a retarded cowboy fella”, who, in England, “wouldn’t be trusted with scissors”.[28][29] He made several references to the purity rings worn by the Jonas Brothers, but apologized for the comments later in the show.[30] These comments led to Brand receiving death threats by some offended viewers.[31] Brand claimed that MTV asked him to host the 2009 awards after the ratings for the 2008 show were 20% up from the previous year.[32] Also in 2008 Brand hosted a one-off stand up comedy show called Comedy Live Presents: Russell Brand and Friends shown on Channel 4 on 25 January 2008. Brand hosted the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards on 13 September 2009, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.[33][34] The ratings for the 2009 show were the best since the 2004 VMAs.[35] On 12 February 2011, Brand guest hosted an episode of the hit American sketch comedy Saturday Night Live. Brand also hosted the 2012 MTV Movie Awards.[36]

Acting

While still a teenager, Brand appeared in 1994 episodes of The Bill and the children’s adventure series Mud.[37][38] In 2002, Brand appeared on the TV shows Cruise of the Gods and White Teeth. In 2005, he played Tommy in the BBC sitcom Blessed, which was written and directed by Young Ones co-writer Ben Elton. Brand auditioned for the part of Super Hans in the Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show; the role eventually went to Matt King.[39]

In 2007, Brand appeared in Cold Blood for ITV, playing an ex-con called Ally. Brand played a recovering crack addict named Terry in the pilot for the ITV comedy The Abbey, written by Morwenna Banks.[40] He voiced an Earth Guardian in Robbie the Reindeer in Close Encounters of the Herd Kind. Brand appeared in a small role in the 2006 movie Penelope; although his first major film role was as Flash Harry in the 2007 film St Trinian’s.

Brand achieved American fame when he starred in the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which he played rock star Aldous Snow, the boyfriend of the title character (played by Kristen Bell). Brand received rave reviews for his performance as Snow, and he revealed the character was changed from an author to a rock star because of his audition.[41] Brand starred alongside Adam Sandler in the Disney film Bedtime Stories, which was released on 25 December 2008.[42] He reprised the role of Aldous Snow for a buddy comedy titled Get Him to the Greek, co-starring Jonah Hill.[43] He reunited with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow for the film.[43]

Brand starred in Julie Taymor‘s 2010 version of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as Trinculo.[44][45][46] In 2010, Brand voiced Dr. Nefario in the Universal movie Despicable Me,[47] and reprised the role in the 2013 sequel. Brand also guest starred in The Simpsons episode “Angry Dad: The Movie” as himself. Brand also starred in the April 2011 live action/CGI animated film Hop with James Marsden, voicing the film’s protagonist E.B. Hop opened at number one at the Friday box office in the US, earning $11.4 million.[48][49] The same month, he played the title character in a remake of Arthur,[50] written by Peter Baynham. Brand starred as Lonny in a film adaptation of the 1980s-set musical Rock Of Ages, released in cinemas in June 2012.[citation needed]

Brand’s other projects include a remake of Drop Dead Fred;[51] another Sandler film; a Sandler-produced film, co-written by Brand and Matt Morgan, about a con-man posing as a priest tentatively titled Bad Father;[52] and a film adaptation of the children’s programme Rentaghost, in which he stars as Fred Mumford.[citation needed]

Production

As of October 2008, Brand’s own production company is called Vanity Projects.[53] The company’s most recent production, Russell Brand Doing Life, was released in 2009.[54]

Brand also established his own production company in 2011 with friend Nik Linnen. Called ‘Branded Films’, the company operates from the Warner Bros. studios in Burbank, California, United States. The company’s primary focus is to develop films that Brand stars in.[55]

Radio

 Russell Brand in April 2011

Brand’s radio career began in early 2002, when he hosted a Sunday afternoon show with Matt Morgan on London’s Indie Rock station Xfm. Brand was fired from the job after reading pornographic material live on-air.[56]

Brand co-hosted The Russell Brand Show beginning in April 2006 on BBC Radio 6 Music. In November 2006, the show transferred to BBC Radio 2 and aired on Saturdays from 9 – 11pm. The show regularly drew about 400,000 listeners.[57] In an episode of the show broadcast on 18 October 2008, Brand and fellow Radio 2 DJ Jonathan Ross made a series of phone calls to actor Andrew Sachs that crudely discussed Sachs’ granddaughter. Sunday tabloid The Mail on Sunday broke the story and regarded the phone calls as obscene. Both presenters were later suspended by the BBC due to the incident,[58] and Brand resigned from his show.[59][60] The BBC was later fined £150,000 by Britain’s broadcast regulator for airing the calls.[61]

Brand returned to radio when he and Noel Gallagher hosted a football talk show on 19 April 2009 for Talksport which led to a 250% boost in web traffic.[62][63]

Brand returned to Talksport on 9 October 2010, with a Saturday night show that lasted 20 weeks. The show featured clips and back-stage recordings from his Booky Wook 2 promotional tour. Brand was joined by a host of guests, including Noel Gallagher and Jonathan Ross.[64]

Writing

Brand’s first autobiography, My Booky Wook, was released on 15 November 2007 and received favorable reviews. Andrew Anthony from The Observer commented that “Russell Brand’s gleeful tale of drugs and debauchery in My Booky Wook puts most other celebrity memoirs to shame”.[65][66] The second book, Booky Wook 2: This Time It’s Personal, was released on 30 September 2010.

Brand signed a £1.8 million two-book deal with HarperCollins in June 2008.[67] The first book, Articles of Faith, examined Brand’s philosophy and consisted of a collection of Guardian columns that were published between 2007 and 2008. The book was released on 16 October 2008, and also includes Brand interviewing Noel Gallagher, James Corden, and David Baddiel about football.[68]

From 2006 until 2009, Brand wrote a column for The Guardian that focused on West Ham United and the England national football team. A collection of the columns from 2006 and 2007 was released in a second book entitled Irons in the Fire.[citation needed]

Brand continues to pen other columns for “The Guardian” that offer his perspectives on current events and pop culture, including the deaths of Amy Winehouse and Robin Williams. Following the 2011 London riots, Brand wrote a column in which he criticized the government’s response to the rioters as a failure to address the root causes.[69]

In October 2014, Brand published Revolution. He will also be making his children’s book debut in November 2014 with Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin. It is the first installment of an intended series, featuring illustrations by Chris Riddell.[70]

Media reception

On 18 June 2013, the Business Insider website wrote about his appearance on the MSNBC program Morning Joe. The article was titled, “Comedian Russell Brand Humiliated These MSNBC Anchors On Live TV For Being Unprofessional.” He appeared on the show to promote his comedy tour, Messiah Complex. The MSNBC anchors appeared uninformed, even referring to him as Willy Brandt. Brand interviewed the anchors and asked what they did for a living.[71]

Brand was ejected from the GQ Awards show on 3 September 2013 after receiving the ‘Oracle’ award. In his acceptance speech he mentioned sponsor Hugo Boss‘s business making uniforms for the Nazi regime.[72][73]

Newsnight and New Statesman

In October 2013, it was announced that Brand would guest-edit an issue of the New Statesman magazine later that month. On 23 October 2013, Brand was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman for the BBC’s Newsnight and was challenged about his call for “revolution” and whether someone who had never voted could edit a political magazine.[74]

In the issue of the New Statesman, published on 24 October 2013, Brand’s essay explained his objection to the destruction of earth by greedy exploiters and called for a change in consciousness to accompany political and economic measures to achieve a more sustainable future.[75] Joan Smith dismissed the “canny self-publicist” who indulges in “adolescent waffle about ‘revolution'” as “one celebrity, I’m afraid, who’s more idiot than savant.”[76] Former Independent editor Simon Kelner largely defended his appearance on Newsnight: “It sounded rather attractive, even if it wasn’t exactly worked through. But Brand’s rhetorical flourishes made up for the lack of detail”.[77]

Personal life

Brand dresses in a flamboyant bohemian fashion, describing himself as looking like an “S&M Willy Wonka“,[78] and has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder.[79] He also suffered from bulimia[80] and experienced a period of self-harming.[81] Brand has described the concept of ‘fame’ as “like ashes” in his mouth.[82]

Brand has shown interest in the Hare Krishna Movement and wrote in a 2007 Guardian column: “I say Hare Krishna as often as possible, sometimes even when I’m not being filmed”.[83] Additionally, during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2010, Brand talked about his love of Transcendental Meditation (TM).[84] This love of TM was reaffirmed in a 2013 New Statesman editorial he wrote: “Through Transcendental Meditation, twice daily I feel the bliss of the divine….. I connect to a boundless consciousness that has no pal­pable relationship with my thoughts, fears or desires.”[85]

Brand is a vegetarian.[86]

Relationships

Brand met singer Katy Perry in mid-2009 when she filmed a cameo for his film Get Him to the Greek, although the cameo did not make it into the final cut of the film.[87] They began dating after meeting again in September, when Perry threw a water bottle at his head from across the room[88] during rehearsals for the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The two became engaged on New Year’s Eve 2009 during a holiday in India.[89] They privately married on 23 October 2010 in a traditional Hindu ceremony, near the Ranthambhore tiger sanctuary in Rajasthan, India.[90]

Brand ended the marriage 14 months later by filing for divorce on 30 December 2011,[91] which was finalized in July 2012.[92] Perry’s July 2012 autobiographical documentary, Katy Perry: Part of Me, revealed that conflicting career schedules and Perry’s unwillingness to parent children in accordance with Brand’s desire led to the end of their marriage.[93] In June 2013, Perry revealed in an interview with Vogue that Brand did not like the idea of her “being the boss” of things, and never spoke to her again after sending her a SMS message in which he initiated their divorce.[94]

Brand first alluded to a new relationship in an early September 2013 Guardian article, written after his acceptance of the GQ magazine oracle award. A mid-September 2013 Telegraph article then displayed a photograph of Brand and Jemima Khan, an associate editor of the New Statesman, walking together in public in New York City.[95] In an interview with Jonathan Ross in late January 2014, Brand explained that he was “very, very happy” in a relationship that felt unlike anything he had previously experienced.[96] In May 2014 Brand received libel damages from The Sun following a story they had printed in November 2013 alleging that he had cheated on Khan. Brand said he would be donating the unspecified damages to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.[97]

Activism

In January 2009, Brand participated in a celebrity letter to The Independent—as a supporter of the Hoping Foundation—to condemn Israel’s assault on Gaza, and the “cruel and massive loss of life of the citizens of Gaza”.[98] In February 2009, Brand and several other entertainers wrote to The Times in defense of Bahá’í leaders, who were on trial in Iran at the time.[99] In April 2009, he attended the 2009 G-20 London summit protests and spoke to the press.[100]

Brand was selected by the Dalai Lama to host the Buddhist leader’s 2012 youth event in Manchester. The Dalai Lama’s representatives explained that Brand was selected because he had proved “the power of spirituality to effect change in his own life”, while Brand stated to the BBC after the event: “I said yes because he’s the living incarnation of Buddha and I thought, if you’re around the Dalai Lama, that can only be good for your spiritual quest through life. He’s an amazing diplomat, an incredible activist, a wonderful human being and an inspiration to us all.”[101] In June 2013, Brand appeared in a video in support of Chelsea Manning.[102]

Brand was invited by the Cambridge Union Society to participate in an interview, held in the Union’s debating chamber with Leo Kirby, the Union’s 2014 Speakers’ Officer, in 2014. The interview ran for over one hour and was published on the Union’s YouTube channel on 16 January 2014.[82]

Brand launched the YouTube series “The Trews: True News with Russell Brand” on 27 February 2014, in which Brand “analyses the news, truthfully, spontaneously and with great risk to his personal freedom”. The inaugural episode featured Brand critiquing the Daily Mail newspaper, followed by an open invitation to viewers who have suggestions on how the show can be improved.[103] As of 3 October 2014, 160 episodes of “The Trews” have been published on the channel.[104] The series is produced by writer and journalist Johann Hari.[105]

Substance use and legal issues

Brand in March 2008

The media published articles on Brand during his drug-using period, typically in relation to incidents, and his public profile has since been associated with this era. Drug-related issues led to Brand’s arrest on 12 occasions.[106] Brand was ejected from the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh, Scotland and following a subsequent show in the city in 2004, a reviewer stated that “you’d rather hug him than hit him”, as he had embraced recovery by this point. Following the cessation of his use, Brand revealed through his stand-up performances that he introduced his drug dealer to Kylie Minogue during his time at MTV and masturbated a stranger in a public toilet for the purpose of research.[107] In January 2014, Brand described his first experience with heroin as “blissful”.[82]

Brand has abstained from drug use since 2003[108] and became a patron of the Focus 12 drug treatment programme after his own use of the service. Brand’s sobriety was instigated by his agent, John Noel, after Brand was apprehended using heroin in a bathroom during a Christmas party. Brand cites his practice of TM as a significant factor in his recovery from drug dependence[109] and, as of April 2014, he has been drug-free for slightly more than a decade.[110] Brand organised three fundraisers for Focus 12 in London, Dublin and Belfast in 2009, and has also acted as a “sponsor” for numerous people during the rehabilitation stage of their treatment process.[111]

On 16 September 2010, Brand was arrested on suspected battery charges after he allegedly attacked a paparazzo who blocked his and then-fiancée Katy Perry’s way to catch a flight at Los Angeles International Airport.[112] The paparazzo placed Brand under citizen’s arrest until the police arrived and he was released from custody the next day after posting US$20,000 bail.[113]

On 15 March 2012, an arrest warrant was issued for Brand in New Orleans due to allegations that he had thrown a photographer’s mobile phone through a window. The paparazzo was taking pictures of Brand with an iPhone when Brand wrestled the device from his hands and tossed it at a law firm’s window. The warrant cited “simple criminal damage to property”, leading Brand, who offered to pay for the replacement of the window, to voluntarily appear at a police station. Brand was filming a movie in New Orleans at the time of the incident.[114]

During his Cambridge Union Society interview in January 2014, Brand explained that he observed the recreational use of drugs like heroin and crack-cocaine and believes that, if personal liberties do not cause harm to others, then the state should not interfere—this principle led Brand to also state that all drugs should be legalized and regulated. In the same interview, Brand stated that drug use appeals to a “pre-existing paradigm”, making it very “seductive”, and shared the “personal problem” that underpinned his own drug use: “I couldn’t cope with being alive—I needed to take drugs.” As a form of guidance for other people with drug-related problems, Brand encouraged people to seek out peers who no longer use drugs to benefit from the support of a community.[citation needed]

Filmography

Film

Title Year Role Notes
St Trinian’s 2007 Flash Harry
Penelope 2008 Sam
Forgetting Sarah Marshall 2008 Aldous Snow
Bedtime Stories 2008 Mickey
Get Him to the Greek 2010 Aldous Snow
Despicable Me 2010 Dr. Nefario Voice
The Tempest 2010 Trinculo
Hop 2011 E.B./”Hoff Knows Talent” Production Assistant Voice/Live-action
Arthur 2011 Arthur Bach
Rock of Ages 2012 Lonny Barnett
Katy Perry: Part of Me 2012 Himself Cameo
Uncredited
Despicable Me 2 2013 Dr. Nefario Voice
Paradise 2013 William

Television

Show Year Role Episode Notes
The Bill 1994 Billy Case Land of The Blind
Mud 1994 Shane Series 1 Episodes 1-6
White Teeth 2002 Merlin The Peculiar Second Marriage of Archie Jones
RE:Brand 2002 Host
Cruise of the Gods 2002 Glynn (Woolly Hat Fan)
A Bear’s Christmas Tail 2004 Mr Wolf
Blessed 2005 Tommy
A Bear’s Tail 2005 Tony the Ringmaster
Russell Brand’s Got Issues 2006 Host
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2006, 2007, 2009 Himself
The Abbey 2007 Terry
Cold Blood 2007 Ally Parkins
Russell Brand’s Ponderland 2007–08, 2009 Host
2008 MTV Video Music Awards 2008 Host TV special
2009 MTV Video Music Awards 2009 Host TV special
Big Time Rush 2011 Himself Big Time Beach Party
Saturday Night Live 2011 Himself Season 36, Russell Brand & Chris Brown
2012 MTV Movie Awards 2012 Host TV special
Brand X with Russell Brand 2012–13 Himself Host
Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery 2012 Himself BBC Three Documentary

Music video appearances

Video Year Role Notes
AKA… What a Life! 2011 The Dark [citation needed]

Awards

Awards
Award Award category Year Result
Time Out Best Stand-Up 2006 Won[115]
Loaded Laftas Best Stand-Up 2006 Won[116]
British Comedy Awards Best Newcomer 2006 Won[117]
33rd Annual Television and Radio Awards Best Television Performer in a Non-Acting Role 2007 Won[118]
British Comedy Awards Best Live Stand-Up 2008 Won[119]
Variety’s Power of Comedy Award 2010 Won[120]
British Comedy Awards Outstanding Contribution to Comedy 2011 Won[121]
GQ Men of the Year Awards Oracle 2013 Won[73]

Stand-up DVDs

  • Live (20 November 2006)
  • Doing Life – Live (26 November 2007)
  • Scandalous – Live At The O2 (9 November 2009)
  • Live in New York City (21 November 2011)
  • Messiah Complex (25 November 2013)

External links

Interviews