Top 12 Famous People with Marfan Syndrome

God made all of us special, excluding a few, who were made extra special. For all those of you who don’t know about Marfan syndrome must feel like it must be some kind of a rare disease. However, one must know that it is not a disease, but a disorder of the connective tissue in the human body. First and foremost, it is named after the French pediatrician, Antoine Marfan. This is caused by the mis-folding of the protein fibrillin-1, which holds the body together. This protein in the connective tissue malfunctions. People suffering from Marfan syndrome tend to have longer arms, legs and grow taller than the rest. However, such people have complications and this arachnodactyly effects eyes, bones, heart and major blood vessels.

However, this disorder does not affect intelligence. Contrary to this, history has an impressive collection of famous people who turned this condition into their forte and excelled in their respective fields. These are the people who reached the pinnacle of success and overcame any kind of obstacle they faced in life. So have a look at the top 12 famous people with the Marfan syndrome.


12. Sergei Rachmaninoff

Marfan Syndrome

Sergie Rachmaninoff had magical hands. His long, beguiling hands had a connection with the keyboard in such a way as if they were enchanted and consequently, would fill everyone’s ears with mesmerizing musical notes. Rachmaninoff was tall and slim, with a small head and a thin- long nose. The size of his hands may have been a manifestation of Marfan syndrome. In 1986, D.A Young proposed that the artist may have suffered from this condition. Other than being myopic, later on he developed arthritis, eye strain and back strain as well, which caused hindrance to his musical career. Thus this assumption is justified. Rachmaninoff was a legendary performer, and a consummate composer, musician and conductor.

  1. Flo Hyman

Flora Jean Hyman, nicknamed as Flo was an Olympic silver medalist and a renowned volleyball player for the United States and played professionally in Japan. As a child, she had developed rapid bone and tissue growth in several parts of her body, which made her conscious. Her mother, being her inspiration, encouraged her to use this as an advantage. She stood 6’5” tall. On January 24th, 1986, she died at a young age of 31, after she collapsed during a game in Japan. After getting an autopsy done, it was ascertained that she suffered from Marfan syndrome which caused aortic dissection.

  1. Robert Johnson

Marfan Syndrome

The multifaceted Robert Johnson is the epitome of talent and has innumerable achievements to his name. Born in 1911, he was one of the most admired American musician of all times. Marfan syndrome consumed him at a younger age of 27, in the form of massive heart problem. He is popularly known as the master of blues. He gained recognition primarily after his death. Some of his famous works include ‘I Believe I’ll dust My Broom’ and ‘Sweet Home Chicago’. His songs have been recorded by Muddy Waters, Elmore James, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.

  1. Vincent Schiavelli

Marfan Syndrome

The American actor, Vincent Schiavelli is one of the most famous personality who suffered from Marfan syndrome. He gained immense popularity and rose to fame with his performances in “One flew over the cuckoo’ nest”, “Taking Off”, “Man on the Moon”, and many more movies. His untimely death, at the age of 57 was caused due to this disorder, which lead to lung collapse. Standing 6’6” tall with disproportionate limbs, Vincent was an esteemed member of the National Marfan Foundation and helped those who had a similar fate as him.

  1. John Tavener

This immensely popular and gifted British music composer is another one of the famous personalities who despite having Marfan syndrome became gigantically successful. The New York Times bestowed him with the title of “Composer with the eye on God”. He gained popularity with his composition song for Athene, sung at Princess of Wale, Diana’s funeral in 1997. Being abnormally thin and lean, he supported the Marfan trust. He succumbed at the age of 69. His music touched hearts and many renowned personalities paid him tribute after his demise.

  1. Bradford Cox

Marfan Syndrome

An actor, songwriter, guitarist and a singer of rock band Deerhunter, Bradford Cox is surely a storehouse of talent. At an early age of 10, he started noticing the symptoms of this disorder, which made him isolated and awkward. Having no friends made him more focused and passionate about music. He is 6’4” with long limbs, and an elongated face. Despite all odds, he started his acting debut with the widely acclaimed movie, “Dallas Buyers Club”.

  1. Julius Caesar

Marfan Syndrome

Yes, it is true. Even the mighty Julius Caesar was a victim of Marfan syndrome! He has been depicted as a person with long and skinny fingers by Asterix comics. Even this condition did not stop him from ruling the world and become the greatest ruler of all times. His power and influence had no bounds and empires were made to bow down and submit to the mighty Julius Caesar. Even his death was caused in the most dramatic way and Marfan syndrome is not the one to be blamed here.

  1. Jonathan Larson

Jonathan Larson is another one of those super famous and talented characters who achieved success in life despite facing harsh atrocities. As an American playwright and composer, he is someone who has been an inspiration to millions. Sadly, he passed away the night before the preview of his rock opera ‘Rent’ were to open at the Off-Broadway! His death was caused due to aortic aneurysm, a consequence of Marfan syndrome, which wasn’t diagnosed in him until then. His death caused National Marfan Foundation to take active steps in spreading awareness amongst the general public.

  1. Tutankhamun

Marfan Syndrome

As surprising as it might look, the list even includes the Egyptian pharaoh, King Tut, who allegedly suffered from this condition as well. His early death, at the tender age of 19 years, sparked historians’ speculations of familial disease. He ruled for decade. Years of research, CT scans and DNA tests of his mummy, threw light at the possibility that he was a victim of Marfan syndrome. The boy king had a curved spine, unusually tall height and thin extremities also proved the same. It is believed that Tutankhamun’s father and mother, both showed similar traits.

  1. Abraham Lincoln

Marfan Syndrome

The 16th President of the United States of America, Sir Lincoln emanates power and valor. His charisma and boldness shows no signs of weakness or frailty. This might be a hard one to digest, but it is speculated that Sir Lincoln was a patient of Marfan syndrome. His lean structure, thin nose, shallow skin, elongated hands, thin chest and drooping shoulders provided enough evidence for the same. However, concrete evidence is not available in support of this statement. Ostensibly, it is believed that his descendants faced a similar doom.

  1. Michael Phelps

Marfan Syndrome

This man, with his never ending list of achievements is someone who is an idol for many people. Shocking as it might seem, a person with 18 Olympic Gold medals and 39 world records to his name is encompassed in a list of physical frailty. Unquestionably, the best swimmer of all times, Michael Phelps is extremely flexible, tall and thin, providing green signals to the fact that he is a victim. Standing 6’4” tall he has a formidable arm span of 6’7”! Apparently, his knees are double jointed. This curious body structure has led many doctors to believe that he suffers from this syndrome.

  1. Osama Bin Laden

Marfan Syndrome

Bin Laden made it to the top of the list.  Yes, it might actually be true that his super criminal was a victim of Marfan syndrome, though there is no categorical proof of it. The man, who is the founder of al- Qaeda and brought misery and desolation to the millions of family was himself not free from many ailments. Long fingers, bony face are among few of the physical attributes which depicted that he was a victim of Marfan syndrome. Apparently, he had difficulty in walking and siting for long hours at a stretch. Before the disorder could kick start, the SEAL did the job.

Life is full of complexities, both physical and mental. But learning to accept our disabilities and turning them into our strong points to reach the apex of success is something which we need to learn from these people.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I would like to use this Article as reference for a book. How can i cite this article?

    Thanks in advance,

    Paul Geraedts

  • Nick Drake, possibly Duane Allman-long thin fingers. Also, Duane Allman and Jimi Hendrix, who had hands like slabs of beef, were left handed. It would be interesting to know if Robert Johnson-and Bill Evans- were also left handed.

    • Joey Ramone, the lead singer of the band, The Ramones, also had Marfans. He died at a young age, of lymphoma, which I believe those with Marfans are at increased risk for.

  • Joey Ramone who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and lead singer of the Ramones had Marfan syndrome..

  • Hi. Your article is very interesting. I am being tested for Parkinson’s & Marfan’s. My father & a sister suffered from Parkinson’s.

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