Top 13 Famous People With Marfan Syndrome You Didn’t Know About

Filed in Articles by on December 30, 2022


Marfan syndrome (MFS) is a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue. The top 13 famous people with Marfan Syndrome You Didn’t Know about. Continue reading for more.

About Marfan Syndrome

The most serious complications involve the heart and aorta, with an increased risk of mitral valve prolapse and aortic aneurysm.  There is no known cure for MFS.

Many of those with the disorder have a normal life expectancy with proper treatment so don’t expect to find them in hospitals. About 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 10,000 people have MFS.

The damage caused by Marfan syndrome can be mild or severe. If your aorta is the large blood vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

Treatment usually includes medications to keep your blood pressure low to reduce the strain on your aorta. Regular monitoring to check for damage progression is vital.

Symptoms Of Marfan Syndrome

The signs and symptoms of Marfan syndrome can vary greatly, even among members of the same family, because the disorder can affect so many different areas of the body.

Some people experience only mild effects, but others develop life-threatening complications.

Marfan syndrome features may include;

1. Tall and slender build

2. Disproportionately long arms, legs and fingers

3. A breastbone that protrudes outward or dips inward

4. A high, arched palate and crowded teeth

5. Heart murmurs

6. Extreme nearsightedness

7. An abnormally curved spine

8. Flat feet

Famous People With Marfan Syndrome

Many people with Marfan syndrome eventually require preventive surgery to repair the aorta. Below are famous people with Marfan syndrome that you didn’t know;

1. Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden

This person needs no introduction since he was famous for a lot of reasons. Born in a family of 16 children, he was 6 feet 6 inches tall.

His long and bony face with long fingers and arms do point towards the fact that he had this disorder.

He weighed only 160 pounds and had difficulty in walking which means he had some spinal problem which is again a symptom of Marfan syndrome.

His disease could not be diagnosed, obviously because he stayed in hills and jungles as a fugitive. He is one of the most famous Marfan syndrome sufferers.

Well, this list gives us an example of such people who have learnt to live with their disabilities and yet excelled in life.

2. Bradford Cox

Bradford Cox

Bradford was a member of the rock band Deerhunter, a singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor by profession Bradford Cox is a man of many talents.

Around the age of 10-12, he first started noticing the symptoms of his condition.

As a result of Marfan and the resulting awkwardness he experienced, he made very few friends and music was his sole refuge.

In the face of all odds, not only did he become a famous musician, but he also earned his first big-screen role in the widely acclaimed movie “Dallas Buyers’ Club”.

The way we look at things in life also makes a big difference since human life is full of complexities, be it physical or mental.

3. John Taverner

John Taverner

A very famous British classical composer had Marfan syndrome and was diagnosed after he had spent 46 years of his life struggling with it.

The disorder was rooted in his family, as many members of his family were suffering from this disorder. His brother and his two daughters were also among them.

Taverner has publicly spoken about his disorder and how it affects him. He needed an aortic root development in 1991.

One impressive thing about him was that he had a very positive spirit towards life and he believed in public awareness of the disorder.

4. Niccolo Paganini

Niccolo Paganini

His long slender fingers granted him a mind-boggling reach of 3 octaves on the violin!

5. Jonathan Larson

Jonathan Larson

Jonathan was a playwright who died in the year 1996 because of aortic dissection. His disorder was diagnosed at a very later stage, making him a classic case of undetected Marfan syndrome.

He received three Tony awards and one Pulitzer Prize for his rock opera. Larson was also a famous music composer but he became famous only after his death.

During Princess Diana’s funeral his cello piece ‘Song for Athene’ was played. He kept complaining of regular chest pains but nobody could suspect that he had Marfan syndrome.

These famous people with Marfan syndrome mentioned above never gave up on life despite the challenges they faced, some saw it as a gift and used it like Paganini.

6. Sergei Rachmaninov

Sergei Rachmaninov

A genius in the field of music, Sergei Rachmaninov was a composer and pianist. He had an extraordinarily long reach on the piano which was attributed to his long and flexible fingers.

He was tall and had a slender and long nose. Along with being a pianist and composer, he was also an orchestra conductor.

However, later in life, complications in the form of arthritis and back pain proved to be a great hindrance in his career.

However, what was a bane to him late in life gifted him to become one of the most recognized composers of the 19th-20th century.

7. Julius Caesar

Sergei Rachmaninov

Those who are associated with the Asterix comics will know how Caesar has been depicted in the flesh.

Long and skinny with long fingers, the world’s greatest ruler and dictator was supposedly a victim of this condition.

However, as we all know, that did not stop him from becoming the great general that he was and the greater ruler and dictator that he became.

Empires were made to bow down and submit to the might of Julius Caesar, the man who suffered from frailties of connective tissue (and also epilepsy)!!

And surprisingly enough, he fell victim to death at the hands of his most trusted aide and not any of the aforementioned conditions!

8. Vincent Schiavelli

Vincent Schiavelli

Although not known to many by name, his character in “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” was certainly one few people are not familiar with.

Among the most famous people to have been diagnosed with this condition, he was among the first.

Marfan Syndrome was responsible for the untimely death of this Italian-American actor who succumbed to the disorder through lung collapse.

Vincent Schiavelli was a member of the National Marfan Foundation which helped people cope with this disorder as well as spread awareness regarding the same.

9. Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

The 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln’s lean stature coupled with his long head is a figure that is hard not to notice.

Add to that the thin, long nose with a not-so-wide chest and bam! We get Marfans Syndrome!

Now, although the aforementioned symptoms are those of classical Marfans and even though his descendants have been rumoured to be suffering from the same disorder.

And clearly, the argument of malnourishment is a no-sticker in this case!

10. Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps

Undoubtedly a shock inclusion in this list- considering a person, who has won 18 Olympic Gold medals and has 39 world records to his name, in such a list of physical frailty seems quite fantastical.

Yet, true it is. Arguably the best swimmer of all time, he is rumoured to be a patient of Marfans Syndrome (although he has repeatedly denied it).

He stands at a formidable height of 6’4” and has an even more formidable arm span of 6’7”! His knees, as he has acknowledged are hyper-mobile or, in other words, double-jointed.

Due to these extremely common symptoms, Phelps has been under close scrutiny by doctors from Johns Hopkins for quite some time.

11. Flo Hyman

Flo Hyman

Flora Jean Hyman, nicknamed 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 the 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.

12. Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

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 musicians of all time.

Marfan syndrome consumed him at the younger age of 27, in the form of a 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.

13. Tutankhamun


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.

He ruled for a decade. Years of research, CT scans and DNA tests of his mummy, threw light on 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

Thus let’s keep our positive attitude up as we deal with the adversities in life instead of getting discouraged.

Trust you have been able to gain insights about famous personalities with Marfan Syndrome

CSN Team.

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