Famous people with autism traits

September 13th, 2007

Only a person’s close friends or relatives, or doctors, are likely to be able to judge whether he or she can be diagnosed with autism or Asperger’s syndrome (AS). But it is illuminating to learn of people with similar characteristics to ourselves, especially when those well-known people? are successful or well-known. For this reason, I have listed here some celebrities who have shown some?autistic or AS traits. Some of these celebrities?may have autism or AS, in their mild or severe forms. Others may be elsewhere on the autistic continuum. And others listed may just be unusual individuals.


Fictional characters

Television characters

* NEARLY NEW Alex P Keaton, played by Michael J Fox in Family Ties, USA 1982-1989
* Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, BBC 1975-1979
* Bert (voiced by Frank Oz) in Sesame Street, USA 1969-
* Cliff Clavin, played by John Ratzenberger in Cheers, USA 1982-1993
* Daria Morgendorffer (voiced by Tracy Grandstaff) in Daria, MTV cartoon USA 1997-
* Jim Dial, played by Charles Kimbrough in Murphy Brown, USA 1988-1998
* Lisa Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith) and Moe (Moe Szyslak of Moe’s Tavern, voiced by Hank Azaria) in The Simpsons cartoon, USA 1989-
* Martin Miller (”Ben’s little brother”) played by Matthew Buckley in Grange Hill, Children’s BBC UK 1978-
* Mr Bean, played by Rowan Atkinson in the eponymous TV series UK 1989- and film Bean UK/USA 1997-
* Taz Tasmanian Devil (voiced by Jim Cummings) in Taz-Mania, USA cartoon 1991-1993
* Steven Quincy “Steve” Urkel / Myrtle Urkel / Stephan Urquell, played by Jaleel White in Family Matters, USA 1989-1998
* Dr Victor Ehrlich and Dr Mark Craig, played by Ed Begley Jr and William Daniels, in Saint Elsewhere, USA 1982-1988

TV Aliens/Extra-Terrestrials

* Mr Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek, TV and films, USA 1966-
* Data and Reginald Barclay, played by Brent Spiner and Dwight Schultz in Star Trek: The Next Generation, USA 1987-1994
* Seven of Nine and The Doctor, played by Jeri Ryan and Robert Picardo in Star Trek: Voyager, USA 1995-
* The Doctor, The Daleks and The Cybermen, from Dr Who, BBC TV and films UK 1963-1989
* Mork, played by Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy, USA 1978-1982
* Dick, Sally, Harry and Tommy Solomon, played by John Lithgow, Kristen Johnston, French Stewart and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 3rd Rock from the Sun, USA 1996-

Film characters

* Andrew Martin the robot, played by Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man, USA 1999 from a story by Isaac Asimov (see below)
* Barry, played by Jack Black in High Fidelity, USA 2000 (based on the book of the same name by Nick Hornby, whose son is autistic)
* Benjie, played by Oliver Conant in Summer of ‘42, USA 1971
* Chance the Gardener (”Chauncy Gardener”), played by Peter Sellers in Being There, USA 1979
* Charly Gordon, played by Cliff Robertson in Charly, USA 1968; also known as Charlie Gordon, played by Matthew Modine, in Flowers for Algernon, USA 2000; based on the novel by Daniel Keyes
* Cody, played by Holliston Coleman in Bless the Child, USA 2000
* Edward Scissorhands, played by Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands, USA 1990
* Herbie Stempel, played by John Turturro in Quiz Show, USA 1994
* “Joon” (Juniper Pearl), played by Mary Stuart Masterson in Benny & Joon, USA 1993
* Malcolm Hughes, played by Colin Friels in Malcolm, Australia 1986
* Melvin Udall, obsessive-compulsive writer played by Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets, USA 1997
* Molly McKay, played by Elisabeth Shue in Molly, USA 1999
* “Noodles” (David Aaronson), played by Robert De Niro in Once Upon a Time in America, Italy/USA 1984
* “Powder” (Jeremy Reeves), played by Sean Patrick Flanery in Powder, USA 1995
* Raymond Babbitt, played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, USA 1988
* Ricky Fitts, played by Wes Bentley in American Beauty, USA 1999
* Simon Lynch, “nine-year-old autistic boy”, played by Miko Hughes in Mercury Rising, USA 1998
* Thomas Newton, played by David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, UK 1976
* Victor, played by Jean-Pierre Cargol in L’Enfant Sauvage, directed by Fran??????ois Truffaut, France 1969 (based on the true story of “the wild boy of Aveyron”; see also Genie, below)
* William Forrester, played by Sean Connery in Finding Forrester, UK/USA 2000

Cartoon characters

* Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Watterson, US
* Dilbert, engineer, created by Scott Adams, US
* Mr Logic, literalist character from the adult British comic Viz, inspired by Steve Donald (brother of the comic’s creators)
* Gerald McBoing-Boing, created by “Dr Seuss” (Theodore Seuss Geisel), US books, films and TV

Literary and stage characters

* Alexandre Luzhin of The Luzhin Defence by Vladimir Nabokov, Russia/USA/Europe 1899-1977; played by John Turturro in the 2000 film
* Bartleby of Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall-Street, a short story by Herman Melville, USA 1819-1891
* Billy Bibbit of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, USA 1935-; played by Brad Dourif in the 1975 film
* Frankenstein’s Monster from Frankenstein, much-filmed book by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, England 1797-1851
* Geoffrey Firmin of Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, played by Albert Finney in the subsequent film
* Professor Henry Higgins, the linguist in Pygmalion, a play by George Bernard Shaw (see below), staged and filmed as the musical My Fair Lady
* Monsieur Hercule Poirot, Belgian private detective, from the books of Agatha Christie, England 1890-1976
* Ignatius Reilly of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
* Jeremy Clockson of Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
* Mary Bennet, Mr Bennet and Mr Collins from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (see below)
* Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, France 1828-1905
* Sherlock Holmes of the detective stories by English-Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930, who himself may have had some autistic traits

Characters from children’s literature

* Catweazle the wizard, from children’s stories by Richard Carpenter, played by Geoffrey Bayldon in the UK TV series
* UPDATED Pippi Longstocking or Pippi Langstrump, from the children’s stories written by Astrid Lindgren, Sweden 1907-2002

Musical characters

* Albert Herring from the 1947 comic opera of the same name by Benjamin Britten, England 1913-1976
* Petroushka or Petrushka, the puppet, from the 1911 ballet of the same name by Igor Stravinsky, 1882-1971

Fabled characters

* Domme Hans (”Stupid Hans”) from the Tales of the Brothers Grimm
* Brother Juniper, disciple to Saint Francis of Assisi

Historical famous people

* Jane Austen, 1775-1817, English novelist, author of Pride and Prejudice (see above)
* B????la Bart????k, 1881-1945, Hungarian composer
* Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827, German/Viennese composer
* AMENDED Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/Canadian/American inventor of the telephone
* Anton Bruckner, 1824-1896, Austrian composer
* Henry Cavendish, 1731-1810, English/French scientist, discovered the composition of air and water
* Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, US poet
* Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, US inventor
* Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German/American theoretical physicist
* Henry Ford, 1863-1947, US industrialist
* Kaspar Hauser, c1812-1833, German foundling, portrayed in a film by Werner Herzog
* Oliver Heaviside, 1850-1925, English physicist
* Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, US politician
* NEW Carl Jung, 1875-1961, Swiss psychoanalyst
* Franz Kafka, 1883-1924, Czech writer
* Wasily Kandinsky, 1866-1944, Russian/French painter
* H P Lovecraft, 1890-1937, US writer
* Ludwig II, 1845-1886, King of Bavaria
* Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, Scottish architect and designer
* NEW Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, Czech/Austrian composer
* Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791, Austrian composer
* Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, English mathematician and physicist
* Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher
* Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British logician
* George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish playwright, writer of Pygmalion (see above), critic and Socialist
* Richard Strauss, 1864-1949, German composer
* Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943, Serbian/American scientist, engineer, inventor of electric motors
* Henry Thoreau, 1817-1862, US writer
* Alan Turing, 1912-1954, English mathematician, computer scientist and cryptographer
* Mark Twain, 1835-1910, US humorist
* Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890, Dutch painter
* Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889-1951, Viennese/English logician and philosopher

Historical people prominent in the late twentieth century (died after 1975)

* Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, Russian/US writer on science and of science fiction, author of Bicentennial Man (see above)
* Hans Asperger, 1906-1980, Austrian paediatric doctor after whom Asperger’s Syndrom is named
* John Denver, 1943-1997, US musician
* Glenn Gould, 1932-1982, Canadian pianist
* Jim Henson, 1936-1990, creator of the Muppets, US puppeteer, writer, producer, director, composer
* Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980, English/American film director
* NEARLY NEW Howard Hughes, 1905-1976, US billionaire
* Andy Kaufman, 1949-1984, US comedian, subject of the film Man on the Moon
* L S Lowry, 1887-1976, English painter of “matchstick men”
* Charles Schulz, 1922-2000, US cartoonist and creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown
* Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, US artist

Contemporary famous people

* Woody Allen, 1935-, US comedian, actor, writer, director, producer, jazz clarinettist
* Tony Benn, 1925-, English Labour politician
* Bob Dylan, 1941-, US singer-songwriter
* Joseph Erber, 1985-, young English composer/musician who has Asperger’s Syndrome, subject of a BBC TV documentary
* Bobby Fischer, 1943-, US chess champion
* Bill Gates, 1955-, US global monopolist
* Genie, 1957-?, US “wild child” (see also L’Enfant Sauvage, Victor, above)
* Crispin Glover, 1964-, US actor
* Al Gore, 1948-, former US Vice President and presidential candidate
* Jeff Greenfield, 1943-, US political analyst/speechwriter, a political wonk
* David Helfgott, 1947-, Australian pianist, subject of the film Shine
* Michael Jackson, 1958-, US singer
* Garrison Keillor, 1942-, US writer, humorist and host of Prairie Home Companion
* Kevin Mitnick, 1963-, US “hacker”
* John Motson, 1945-, English sports commentator
* NEW John Nash, 1928-, US mathematician (portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, USA 2001)
* Keith Olbermann, 1959-, US sportscaster
* Michael Palin, 1943-, English comedian and presenter
* Keanu Reeves, 1964-, Lebanese/Canadian/US actor
* Oliver Sacks, 1933-, UK/US neurologist, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings


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