The Medical Credentials of 7 Famous Doctors

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Slate's recent shocking revelations about rapper-turned-psychologist Dr. Roxanne effectively knocked the wind out of one of this year's feel-good stories. And while we never really pictured, say, Dr. J performing major surgery, the piece did make us wonder about the credentials of some other famous "doctors."

1. Dr. Roxanne Shanté

Lolita Shanté Gooden was just 14 years old when she first gained fame during the hip-hop "Roxanne Wars" of the mid-1980s. Adopting the stage name of Roxanne Shanté, she recorded "Roxanne's Revenge," one of the many "answer records" to U.T.F.O.'s "Roxanne, Roxanne." She had a few more hits before retiring to a life of relative obscurity.

Her name was back in the headlines recently when the New York Daily News reported that Dr. Roxanne, as she now styled herself, had taken advantage of an "education clause" in her original recording contract with Warner Music. The former rapper had earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Cornell University on Warner's dime. Slate's reporter did some digging, however, and couldn't find any evidence that Gooden had ever attended Cornell; in fact, her only record of any post-secondary education was a four-month stint at Marymount Manhattan College. Dr. Shanté, who runs her own therapy practice, is also not licensed to practice psychology in the state of New York.

2. Dr. Martens

doc-martens

The favorite footwear of punks and skinheads was, in fact, invented by a bona fide physician. Klaus Maertens was an Army doctor who injured his ankle skiing while on leave during World War II. His military-issue boots made the pain worse, so he tinkered with the design and came up with his now-patented soft leather, extra cushioned boot.

3. Doc Severinsen

Tonight Show band leader "Doc" Severinsen was born Carl Severinsen, Jr. His father was a dentist, and family and friends called the younger Severinsen "Little Doc" in order to differentiate between him and Carl Senior. Even though his dad urged him to study the violin, Little Doc took up the trumpet at age seven. Five years later he won top honors at the prestigious Music Educator's National Contest.

4. Dr. Seuss

seuss-bigAfter graduating from Dartmouth College, Theodore Seuss Geisel attended Lincoln College at Oxford University with the intent of obtaining a PhD in English, but he found that he enjoyed doodling cartoons more than studying Shakespeare. He left school before getting his degree, but added the medical honorific to his name anyway in order to please his father, who had always hoped to brag to friends that his son was a doctor.

5. Dr. Phil

Phillip McGraw earned a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of North Texas. His father is also a psychologist, and the pair worked together for several years conducting life skills seminars. Dr. Phil later founded Courtroom Sciences, a trial consulting firm, which is how he crossed paths with Oprah Winfrey. Oprah hired McGraw in 1995 to coach her in preparation for her infamous "beef trial" in Amarillo, Texas.

6. Dr. Scholl

William Mathias Scholl obtained his medical degree from what is now Loyola University in 1904. He invented several foot care products (such as arch supports) for his patients while working as a podiatrist, and began marketing them commercially in 1906. Dr. Scholl established the William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University in Chicago in 1912.

7. Dr. Ruth

ruthKarola Ruth Siegel Westheimer studied psychology in Paris before moving to the U.S. and getting her master's degree in sociology. Although she has done some post-doctoral work in the study of human sexuality, her official area of expertise is education "“ she earned a Ed.D. from Teachers College at Columbia University.

Believe it or not, she was also a sniper. After Israel declared independence in 1948, (not-yet-Dr.) Ruth was trained by the Israeli military as a sniper. At 4 feet, 7 inches tall, Westheimer made a small target, but she was wounded when a bomb (which killed several of her friends) exploded in her barracks.

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September 11, 2009 - 12:37pm
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