Fun Fact Friday presents: Jack Hawkins, Determined To Speak

This week’s Fun Fact:
Jack Hawkins was an English actor whose film career spanned from 1930 to 1973 (“Jack Hawkins”). Hawkins can be described as “slender, ruggedly handsome, and—to American audiences, at least—thoroughly British” (“Jack Hawkins, the Actor”). The height of his career came during the 1950s. Perhaps he is more widely known for his roles in The Bridge Over River Kwai, (1957) Ben-Hur, (1959) and Lawrence of Arabia (1962). One of the more interesting roles of his that I discovered is Mandy, (aka Crash of Silence) (1952) where he plays Dick Searle, the Headmaster of a residential deaf school in Manchester, England, teaching deaf children how to speak and lip read. This practice reflects a belief in “oralism” at the time, where “deaf people can and should communicate without the use of sign language, relying exclusively on lip reading and oral speech” (Nielsen 96). Interestingly, Hawkins “lost” his voice after his larynx was removed due to cancer in 1966. He continued to act in films though, using his own voice “by using his diaphragm and stomach muscles” for short lines and having his lines dubbed by other actors for the longer speaking parts (“Jack Hawkins, the Actor”).

– Jonathan Bartholomy, RAFF Chicago Planning Committee Member

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Works Cited

“Jack Hawkins.” imdb,

Accessed 11 July 2017.

“Jack Hawkins, the Actor, Is Dead at 62.” New York Times, 19 July 1973, p. 38.

thoroughly-british-made-debut.html. Accessed 11 July 2017.

Nielsen, Kim E. A Disability History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2012.

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