Enthralled by the bright studio lights, he starred in It’s A Wonderful Life (1939) and Vertigo (1958). Throughout his film career, Variety reported that James developed a “trademark stammer”. An acquired stammer, the British Stammering Association began, could be due to “a head injury, a stroke, or a condition such as Parkinson’s disease”.
While James did not suffer from any of those particular ailments, another cause of a stammer includes “extreme emotional distress”.
Allegedly, James said his stammer resulted from a lifelong difficulty with memorising scripts.
As he aged, the movie icon required a hearing aid to distinguish more clearly what others around him were saying.
Signs of hearing loss
Regain Hearing, part of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, points out the “warning signs that you need a hearing aid”.
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The first potential sign that you need a hearing aid is experiencing tinnitus, which is when you hear ringing in your ears.
“Hearing damage resulting in hearing loss is often the primary culprit,” Regain Hearing says of tinnitus.
“When hearing is damaged, the cells in the ear that pick up sounds die. In the absence of sound from these cells, the brain invents its own — the ringing in your ears.”
Regain Hearing added: “Dead cells mean an inability to hear through them. The fewer cells you have available for hearing, the more profound your tinnitus and hearing loss will be.”
Another sign is being able to hear people, but not being able to understand what they are saying.
It elaborated: “You hear the noise, but it’s slightly unintelligible like they’re speech is too fast, or they’re talking in a different language, or they’re a little bit too far away.”
Difficulty with picking up on which direction a sound came from is another sign of hearing loss.
The NHS says: “A GP can help you get hearing aids if you think you need them.
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“The earlier you get them, the more you’ll get out of them – so do not wait until your hearing gets really bad before seeing a GP.”
In addition to stammer and hearing loss, James also had a troubling cancer scare.
The Washington Post revealed James suffered from skin cancer – one of the most common cancers in the world.
Cancer Research says the symptoms of skin cancer can include a sore or area of skin that:
- Doesn’t heal within four weeks
- Looks unusual
- Hurts, is itchy, bleeds, crusts or scabs for more than four weeks.
Any health issue that is troubling you should be reported to your doctor.
While James survived cancer, it was his heart that eventually gave way.
On July 2, 1997, the star – whose feature films include Known for Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) – died from a cardiac arrest in LA.
James was 89 when he lost his life; he was survived by his four children and grandchildren.
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