Beck: Good Morning Lou, its a pleasure to see you again.
Ferrigno: Hi Doug. Thanks, nice to be with you, too.
Beck: Lou, its very kind of you to give your time and energy to help support the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Thanks for being here! For your fans not aware of your hearing loss, I guess we should explain that youve worn hearing aids pretty much your whole life.
Ferrigno: Yes, thats right. The hearing aids have allowed me to participate in the mainstream, and the improvements in hearing aid technology and development have been amazing over the years. In fact, even though I have a profound hearing loss, Im able to use digital hearing aids and I can converse very well. The technology seems to continue to make giant strides every year.
Beck: I agree. If you dont mind, can we address the origin of your hearing loss?
Ferrigno: Sure. I had some really bad ear infections very soon after birth, and, at that time I lost some 75 or 80 percent of my hearing. We're not quite clear on what happened in those early days. I've worn hearing aids since I was 5 years old, and I'm 52 years old now, so it's been 47 years with amplification, and I wear two Starkey hearing aids. When I dont wear hearing aids, people think Im being rude or standoffishthey dont understand that I cant hear them. So having the hearing aids and wearing them all the time allows me to participate in a normal way with friends, colleagues and people around me, it makes all the difference in the world.
Beck: Let me read a few notes from your bio if I may.Lou Ferrigno was 21 years old when he won his first Mr. Universe title. Thats a Guinness Book record that stands to this day. The following year, you did it again, winning your second Mr. Universe title, and youre the only person to win two consecutive titles! After that, you starred in the successful movie Pumping Iron and after that, you starred in The Incredible Hulk. Has your hearing loss caused difficulty in you career? Has it held you back at all?
Ferrigno: No, it really hasnt held me back. If I wasn't hard of hearing I wouldn't be where I am now! As a youngster it was more difficult because many people have misconceptions about hearing loss.who has hearing loss and what it's like not to hear? So I talk about it. I think my hearing loss helped create a determination within me to be all I can be, and gave me a certain strength of character too. Anytime I do a movie or a TV show, I make them aware of my hearing loss at the beginning, and that disclosure makes it much easier for us to communicate and get the job done.
Beck: I think youre exactly right. Disclosing the hearing loss makes it easier for the folks youre trying to communicate with, and it makes it easier for you toobut some people choose to not mention it, or they just cannot bring themselves to do it and they wind up nodding without really knowing what theyve heard!
I know you wrote and published your autobiography last year, and it really was entertaining and revealing to read itat the end of this interview well link to your website so readers can learn more about you and obtain a copy of the bookwhich I recommend. Your story has a lot to do with strength, and of course, strength of character too!
Ferrigno: Thanks, Doug. The book has been successful and it helps the fans fill in the gaps about The Hulk series, and they can better understand what Im about too. Ill be writing another book on fitness too, and thatll be very detailed, and itll be out in 2005, itll be my 4th book.
Beck: Wow. Thats very impressive. Before I let you go, can you tell me about how you do on the telephone using the hearing aid with the T-coil, loop based system?
Ferrigno: The telephone has always been a problem for me. But, what was really exciting was that while I was visiting Starkey headquarters in Minneapolis for the Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala, we actually patched in your cell phone, through the Starkey neck loop system into the T-coil on my hearing aids, and I heard you just fine. This is so important because I really appreciate the opportunity to use the telephone as I drive, or when I go about my daily routines for personal and business purposes. I think its difficult to understand how often people use the phone until its not accessible! So I really hope Starkey continues to lead the way in making sure hearing impaired people can use cell phones and land-line phones successfullythe phone really impacts our quality of life. The phone sounded great and I was very impressed.
Beck: Telecoil technology and telephone access is really important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that. Can I ask what youre doing these days professionally?
Ferrigno: I have a recurring role as the neighbor in The King of Queens on CBS, and thats in its fifth season, so we feel pretty good about that! I also do a lot of motivational speaking, autograph conventions, gym openings and I have had my personal training business for 25 years.
Beck: After standing next to you for a few moments, its clear to me that Im doing something terribly wrong in my daily workout!
Ferrigno: No, you're doing fine - for an audiologist! I work out pretty aggressively and Ive been doing it for 40 years, and I have great genetics too! I think you do more sit-ups than I do, but you oughtta be doing crunches instead, and well see how that works for you. The most important factors are consistency in diet, exercise and in sleep.
Beck: Thanks Lou. Its a real honor to meet with you and I thank you for your time and energy, and your bodybuilding hints!
Ferrigno: My pleasure Doug.