Wednesday, Sep. 01, 2010

Ben Turpin's Cross-Eyes

Most people would probably pay great sums to have their eyes uncrossed, but not silent-film comedian Ben Turpin, whose "centripetal optics," as TIME wrote in 1923, served him well. Always up for making people laugh, the clown-star of films like The Shriek of Araby (who better to spoof dreamy Valentino than cross-eyed Turpin?) was very possibly the first celebrity to have a body part insured. As TIME noted back in 1928, "The crossed eyes of Ben Turpin, cinemactor, were insured for $100,000, the money payable to his producer, Mack Sennett, if the eyes become normal." (Other reports put the figure at $20,000, which isn't really any less ridiculous.)