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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Portraits of the Past: Southpaws are in good company

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  • Some of us are right-brained and some left-brained, and by the same token some are right-handed and others left-handed.
    Did you know former President Harry S Truman was left-handed? Not only him, but so was John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.
    Even our current president, Barack Obama, is a southpaw. The first director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill were also lefties.
    Back in the days when they all started the first grade and were just beginning to learn to write, teachers tried to make them learn to use their right hand to write with, but I don’t believe that is common practice anymore.
    Scientists aren’t sure what drives someone to use their left hand, but lefties reportedly make up about 10 percent of the population and are often credited with being more adept at examining situations creatively.
    From boy geniuses like Bill Gates to Hollywood superstars, here's a look at some celebrities who've made their left-handed mark on the world.
    Legendary lefty athletes include baseball players Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb and Ricky Henderson. Also lefties are basketball star Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, fiery American tennis star Jimmy Connors and Czech tennis star Martina Navratilova. John McEnroe is a world champion tennis player famous for his temperamental outbursts.
    If you are a left-handed singer, you are in good company, because so is Glen Campbell, Celine Dion, pop star Lady Gaga, former Beatles Paul McCartny and Ringo Starr, George Michael, Natalie Cole, Lou Rawls, Phil Collins, David Bowie, and the man from Shaft, Isaac Hayes. Also, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, guitarist, singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix, rapper Eminem, and Sting, who was born Gordon Sumner, best known as front man of The Police.
    Mark Twain, who wrote classic American novels on a typewriter “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer,” was a lefty, as was H.G. Wells, writer of "The War of the Worlds."
    Neil Armstrong, who became the first man on the moon July 20, 1969, and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, were left-handed.
    Digging back a little further in history we learned Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Mozart, and Cole Porter all wrote music scores with their left hands.
    Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and cubist Pablo Picasso were left-handed artists, so were Albert Einstein, Joan of Arc, and Napoleon Bonaparte.
    Scads of actors sign/signed with their left-hand, such as Robert De Niro, Richard Pryor, W.C. Fields, Julia Roberts, Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Matthew Broderick, Tim Allen, The Nanny Fran Drescher, Dan Aykroyd, Carol Burnett, Robert Redford, Bruce Willis, and Cary Grant.
    Steve McQueen, best known for “The Great Escape,” Peter Fonda, Emma Thompson, Tina Fey, Keanu Reeves, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Charlie Chaplin, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie, and actress/singer Judy Garland. Fred Astaire was a world-class dancer who was best known for a number of successful musical comedy films in which he starred with our own Ginger Rogers, who incidentally, was right-handed.
    Page 2 of 2 - Talk show hosts Jay Leno, Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman are all southpaws. Cartoonist and the creator of "The Simpsons," Matt Groening, Model T and the assembly line creator Henry Ford also.
    Both Prince Charles, the oldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip and the heir apparent to the British throne, along with his son Prince William, the next in line for the British throne after his father, are both left-handed.
    So, if by any chance you are left handed, stand tall and proud, you’re in good company.
     
    Information from "Right Hand, Left hand" by Chris McManus was used in this column.
     
    Ted W. Stillwell is available to speak before any club, church, civic, senior, or school group. He can be reached at teddy.stillwell@yahoo.com or (816) 252-9909.

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