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19 Times That Actors Have Been Injured On Set

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Sometimes, the show really must go on. They may play larger-than-life characters on screen, but actors are human and sometimes get the short end of the stick when it comes to on-set injuries. Here are 19 times where big stars were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

1. MARGARET HAMILTON IN THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)

Fire was a bit of a problem for the makers of The Wizard of Oz and the actress who played the Wicked Witch of the West. Margaret Hamilton’s stunt double was badly burned on the legs by pyrotechnics during a skywriting broomstick scene and had to stay in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Hamilton herself was out for a month after being burned on the hands and face in an accident involving a trapdoor in Munchkinland and flames that were triggered too soon.

2. CHANNING TATUM IN THE EAGLE (2011) AND FOXCATCHER (2014)


While filming The Eagle in Scotland, Channing Tatum and other cast members had to wade into freezing waters. Tatum told Details that he suffered an unfortunate penis injury while trying to stabilize his body temperature: “The only way to keep warm was by pouring a mix of boiling water and river water down your suit. We were finally done shooting for the day, and one of the crew guys asks if I want to warm up before I go ... Thing is, he'd forgotten to dilute the kettle water. So he poured scalding water down my suit. And I was trying to pull the suit away from my body to somehow get away from the boiling water, and the more I pulled the suit away, the lower the water went." (You know where he's going with this.)

Tatum’s injury in Foxcatcher was at least by his own hand. Director Bennett Miller told The Hollywood Reporter that the actor really went for it during a particularly tense scene (above) and completely smashed a plastic-covered mirror. “He punched that thing with his head three times and shattered it, and put his head through it and through the frame behind the mirror and through the drywall that the mirror was hanging on and left a divot two inches deep,” Miller said. “When we took the mirror down, there was a hole in the wall. And he actually cut himself, and you see his blood in that scene.”

3. VIGGO MORTENSEN AND ORLANDO BLOOM IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS (2002)

Several injuries were sustained over the course of making The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but the most talked about mishaps happened during the filming of the second film. In an interview for the special features for the film’s home video release, Peter Jackson talks about the direction he gave Viggo Mortensen in a scene that required him to angrily kick a helmet toward the camera. After four takes Jackson was happy with the actor’s performance but thought if he gave him one more try, it would be perfect. Mortensen kicked the helmet again and broke two toes in the process. The kick and the genuine yell that followed made it into the film.

During a horse riding scene, Orlando Bloom took a tumble and broke a rib when another character landed on top of him, an injury that the other actors never let him live down.

4. LEONARDO DICAPRIO IN DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)


Once cited as one of the best improvised movie moments, Leonardo DiCaprio accidentally cut his hand when he slammed it onto glass during a heated monologue. Instead of seeking immediate medical attention, DiCaprio stayed in character and used the real injury to improve the scene, smearing his blood across the face of an unsuspecting Kerry Washington.

5. LINDA HAMILTON IN TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)


Shotgun blasts are very loud. Actress Linda Hamilton learned that the hard way while filming the 1991 sequel to The Terminator. Between takes, Hamilton neglected to put her earplugs back into her ears, so when Arnold Schwarzenegger let off a round in the elevator, the amplified sound caused the actress permanent hearing loss.

6. BRUCE WILLIS IN DIE HARD (1988)

An injury similar to Hamilton's befell Bruce Willis while making the classic action film, Die Hard. Being too close to a firing gun caused “two-thirds partial hearing loss” in Willis’ left ear. In defending her father’s tendency to not be very talkative during press junkets, Rumer Willis said that Bruce still has trouble hearing interview questions.

7. GEORGE CLOONEY IN SYRIANA (2005)

In 2005, George Clooney told The Guardian that an injury sustained on the set of Syriana made him contemplate suicide because the pain was so great. “There was this scene where I was taped to a chair and getting beaten up. The chair was kicked over and I hit my head,” the actor recalled. He went into detail to explain the injury and hard recovery: “I tore my dura, which is the wrap around my spine that holds in the spinal fluid. But it's not my back; it's my brain. I basically bruised my brain. It's bouncing around my head because it's not supported by the spinal fluid ... Before the surgery it was the most unbearable pain I've ever been through, literally where you'd go, 'Well, you'll have to kill yourself at some point, you can't live like this.'"

Now a decade later, Clooney reportedly still feels the pain from the injury, and in 2014 he visited a hospital in Germany to see a doctor about it. It's also worth noting that Clooney won his first Oscar for his role in Syriana.

8. HARRISON FORD IN STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

Han Solo isn’t as spry as he used to be, but his age was the least of his worries when a part of the Millennium Falcon fell off and landed on his leg while filming the newest installment in the Star Wars saga. “They closed the f***ing door on me!” Harrison Ford told Jimmy Fallon during an appearance on The Tonight Show (above). The actor then used an action figure of himself to hilariously reenact the incident, twisting and breaking the toy’s legs. Director J.J. Abrams told Fallon that he, too, was injured while trying to help, to which Ford sarcastically responded, “Oh, poor guy. What a pity.”

9. JOEL EDGERTON AND TOM HARDY IN WARRIOR (2011)

It should come as no surprise that a film about the brutal sport of mixed martial arts led to a couple of injuries. In an interview with E! Online, director Gavin O’Connor revealed that both of the stars had to seek medical attention at some point during production. “Joel [Edgerton] blew out his knee. He tore his ACL,” O’Connor said. “Tommy [Hardy] broke ribs, a finger [and] toes. A lot of black eyes … it was intense. We were trying not to act. That was the goal.”

10. JACKIE CHAN IN SEVERAL FILMS

It would probably be easier to list the films that martial arts legend Jackie Chan was not injured making. Throughout his entire career, Chan has done his own stunts, which has resulted in dozens of broken bones and near-death experiences. In 2013, a Japanese poster made to promote Chan’s film Raising Dragon was an anatomical map to all of Chan’s injuries and the movies in which he sustained them. Translated by Kotaku, the poster includes damaged eyebrow bones; lip lacerations; knocked out teeth; broken fingers, nose, breastbone, and ankles; a dislocated pelvis, shoulders, and cheekbone; and numerous other things that make the fact that he can still move very impressive.

11. JAIMIE ALEXANDER IN THOR: THE DARK WORLD (2013)

It’s hard out here for an Asgardian, especially when heights are part of the equation. As actress Jaimie Alexander told MTV News (above), she slipped and fell from something “very high” and did some serious damage to her body when she reached the ground. “I herniated a disk in my thoracic spine, dislocated my left shoulder, tore my right rhomboid, and chipped 11 vertebrae,” Alexander revealed. But that wasn’t the end of it: “The next morning I got in a car to go to the hospital, and I sat in the car and compressed my spine a little bit, and went paralyzed in my right leg and my right hand.” After a week in the hospital and a month of therapy, Alexander was back in action.

12. TOM HANKS IN CAST AWAY (2000)

In an interview with the National Enquirer, Tom Hanks told a story that shows that infections can sometimes be more dangerous than actual injuries. Before leaving the island where Cast Away was filmed, the actor got a small cut. “Something got in there,” Hanks said. “I flew home and, boy, was my leg hurting! The weekend we were home it swelled up really big so I finally went to the doctor, thinking he was going to clean out my knee and give me some antibiotics, but it turned out I had a staph infection that was close to giving me blood poisoning.” According to his doctor, the infection could have been fatal had Hanks waited any longer to have it looked at.

13. MICHAEL J. FOX IN BACK TO THE FUTURE PART III (1990)

During a hanging scene in the third installment of the Back to the Future series, Michael J. Fox was nearly hanged for real. The actor had agreed to have the rope tied around his neck to make the scene more believable, but something went wrong: he didn’t get his hand into place in time to spare his neck from the noose. “It was a full 30 seconds before anyone noticed,” Fox wrote in his autobiography. “Thankfully Bob Zemeckis, a fan of mine though he was, realized that I wasn’t that good of an actor.”

14. CHARLIZE THERON IN AEON FLUX (2005)

It’s sad to think that a movie like Aeon Flux could have been the end of Charlize Theron’s career. The actress says that she was nearly paralyzed after attempting a back handspring and landing on her neck 10 days into filming, suffering a herniated disc in her spine. The injury halted production for eight weeks.

15. HALLE BERRY IN DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002), GOTHIKA (2003), CATWOMAN (2004), CLOUD ATLAS (2012), AND THE CALL (2013)

Who knew that Halle Berry is basically the female Jackie Chan? According to reports, Berry has had some bad luck when it comes to movie sets and has been injured numerous times. The Los Angeles Times writes that Berry has been “knocked out during The Call, broken her foot on Cloud Atlas, broken her arm on Gothika, injured her eye on Die Another Day, and suffered a head injury on Catwoman.”

16. SYLVESTER STALLONE IN THE EXPENDABLES 3 (2014)


During the promo tour for The Expendables 3, Sylvester Stallone joked at a press conference about his accident-plagued career: “I usually grade the quality of the film by the intensity of the injury ... In this one I ended up really taking a fall on my back and ended up having some metal inserted in there so if I'm squeaky then it's not my shoes.” In the years prior, Stallone also injured his neck while making the first film in The Expendables franchise and had to have metal plates inserted, so the more recent back plate surgery was familiar territory.

17. NICOLE KIDMAN IN MOULIN ROUGE! (2001)

While rehearsing a dance routine, Nicole Kidman fractured a rib. She later fractured it again when she attempted to wear a corset before the rib was completely healed. “I had this thing that I wanted to get my waist down to 18 inches, which Vivien Leigh had on Gone with the Wind and I was just like, 'tighter, tighter!,'" Kidman said.

18. DANIEL CRAIG IN SPECTRE (2015)
 

During his latest stint as James Bond, Daniel Craig suffered a knee injury at the hands of costar and former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista. In speaking to the press, however, Craig downplayed the seriousness of the injury: “It could have happened to me getting out the shower. It’s one of those injuries. I hit it at the wrong angle and it just went ... Dave Bautista was picking me up and throwing me! So I wasn’t getting out of the shower.”

The actor confessed that it was not his first injury, but he resisted surgery. “My fear was, if I had a proper surgery on it, it would stop filming for a long time. The amazing thing was, it didn’t need it. It slowed me down. I couldn’t run without pounding pain. So I took two weeks off, had the surgery and got back to work.”

19. BRAD PITT IN SE7EN (1995) AND TROY (2004)

 

Brad Pitt is so cool, his injury was actually written into the script of David Fincher's Se7en. The actor slipped during a chase scene and his arm went through a windshield, severing a tendon. “He wasn’t supposed to break his arm, but that’s what we’ve done,” producer Arnold Kopelson said about the decision to give Pitt’s character a cast following a fight with the villain. For the scenes that came before the fight, Pitt’s real cast was hidden.

Nearly a decade later, in one of the most ironic film injuries in history, Pitt—while playing the Greek hero Achilles in Troy—tore his Achilles tendon and could not shoot for 10 weeks.

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15 Things You May Not Know About Close Encounters of the Third Kind
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We are not alone. Here are a few facts about Steven Spielberg’s 1977 UFO classic, on its 40th anniversary.

1. IT WAS INITIALLY A VERY DIFFERENT FILM.

Spielberg’s initial story outline involved UFOs and shady government dealings following the Watergate scandal, which became a script entitled “Watch the Skies.” The idea involved a police or military officer working on Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official study into UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, who would become the whistleblower on the government cover-up of aliens. There were numerous rewrites—Taxi Driver scribe Paul Schrader even took a crack at it, penning a political UFO thriller titled “Kingdom Come” that Spielberg and the movie studio rejected—before the story we know today emerged.

2. IT’S NAMED AFTER LEGITIMATE UFO RESEARCH.


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Spielberg partly based his idea on the research of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a civilian scientific advisor to Project Blue Book who eventually admitted that 11 percent of the study’s findings about unidentified flying objects could not be explained using science.

The title (which is never specifically explained in the movie) is actually derived from Hynek’s own alien close encounter classification system: A close encounter of the first kind is sighting of a UFO; the second kind is physical evidence to prove the existence of an alien; and the third kind is actual contact with alien life forms.

3. THERE’S A CAMEO FROM THE GODFATHER OF UFO RESEARCH.

Hynek, who also served as a technical advisor on the movie, makes an uncredited cameo in the final scene of the movie. You can spot him pretty easily—he’s the goateed man smoking a pipe and wearing a powder blue suit who pushes through the crowd of scientists to get a better look at the aliens.

4. NOBODY WANTED THE STARRING ROLE.

Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Columbia Pictures

The director first offered the part of Roy Neary to actor Steve McQueen, who turned it down because he said he couldn’t cry on cue, something he saw as essential to the character. Spielberg then went to Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman, and James Caan who all turned him down as well before asking his friend Richard Dreyfuss, who previously worked with Spielberg on Jaws, to take the part.

5. BUT IT WASN'T THE MOST DIFFICULT ROLE TO CAST.

Spielberg approached French actors like Lino Ventura, Yves Montand, and Jean-Louis Trintignant to play Claude Lacombe—who was based on famous UFO researcher Jacques Vallée—before settling on director and sometimes-actor François Truffaut. The initially skeptical Truffaut, who was nervous about appearing in a big budget Hollywood movie, accepted the role because he wanted to compile research for a book about acting (he never did write the book).

6. MERYL STREEP COULD HAVE PLAYED ROY'S WIFE.

Many actresses—including a then-unknown Yale Drama School grad named Meryl Streep—auditioned for the part of Roy’s wife Ronnie, but he ultimately cast actress Teri Garr because he saw her in a coffee commercial and loved the way she was able to convey a wide range of emotions in a 30-second clip.

7. THEY SHOT IN A DISUSED AIR FORCE HANGAR.


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Spielberg wanted to shoot in real suburban locations rather than studio backlots, but the production had trouble finding locations. The biggest question: Where could Spielberg shoot the climactic canyon sequence with the mothership?

The production looked for huge indoor enclosures that would allow for the massive scale of the scene, though they only found ones with center support dividers that spoiled the openness Spielberg wanted for the UFO runway. The only location producers found without center dividers was a 300 foot by 300 foot disused hangar that had been used for dirigibles during World War II at Brookley Air Force base in Mobile, Alabama.

8. THE TEAM BOUGHT A HOUSE FOR THE PRODUCTION—AND SOLD IT FOR A PROFIT.

The Nearys' house, which is located at 1613 Carlisle Drive East in Mobile, was actually purchased by the production for $35,000 so they could do whatever they wanted with the interiors. It was later sold for $50,000 after production wrapped, netting a $15,000 surplus that went back into the film’s budget.

9. THE MEMORABLE 5-NOTE TONES TOOK A LONG TIME TO FIGURE OUT

Composer John Williams worked with Spielberg to come up with the movie’s distinct five-note musical method of communication between humans and aliens—which Spielberg partly based on the Solfège system of musical education—a year before shooting began.

Williams initially wanted a seven-note sequence, but it was too long for the simple musical “greeting” Spielberg wanted. The composer enlisted a mathematician to calculate the number of five-note combinations they could potentially make from a 12-note scale. When that number proved to be somewhere upwards of 134,000 combinations, Williams created 100 distinct versions, and they simply whittled the combinations down one by one until they had a winner.

10. SPIELBERG USED TRICKS TO GET THE PERFORMANCE OUT OF HIS CHILD ACTOR.


Columbia Pictures

Cary Guffey, who plays little Barry Guiler, had never acted before, so Spielberg set up ways to coax a performance out of the 3-year-old. To get a shot of Guffey reacting to the aliens first approaching the Guiler house, Spielberg slowly unwrapped a present for the young actor just off camera, making him smile. Guffey even exclaims “Toys! Toys!” in the final take.

To get the boy to react to the aliens offscreen, Spielberg had Guffey walk up to his mark where—unbeknownst to the little actor—two crewmembers were dressed as a gorilla and a clown standing behind cardboard blinds. When Guffey entered the kitchen, Spielberg dropped the first blind revealing the clown to scare him, and then dropped the other blind to reveal the gorilla, which scared him even more. The gorilla then took off his mask, revealing the film’s makeup man, Bob Westmoreland, who Guffey recognized, causing him to laugh and smile in the final take.

11. THE MOVIE NEARLY FEATURED VERY EARLY CGI.

Spielberg originally toyed with the idea of using computer generated images to create the aliens and their ships, even going so far as to have animator Colin Cantwell create a CGI test of three UFOs floating over a stadium. The single-shot test, which took three weeks to complete and was one of the first computer generated images ever created for a film, proved to be unfeasible for the whole movie—so the idea was dropped.

12. THERE WERE SOME UNORTHODOX IDEAS FOR CREATING THE ALIENS.

Spielberg wanted the aliens to be non-human beings that glided instead of walked, and he had a weird idea to pull it off: An orangutan dressed in a specially-made suit. For a screen test, the production team outfitted an orangutan in grey spandex and strapped it into roller skates. The orangutan immediately took off the skates and crawled to its owner, so a full test couldn’t be completed, and the team scrapped the idea. The majority of the small aliens in the final movie were played by local elementary school girls from Mobile in specially made grey suits and masks who were heavily backlit to create the final alien silhouette effect.

13. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS FEATURES A PRECURSOR TO E.T.


Columbia Pictures

To create the alien who bids farewell using the musical hand signals at the end of the film, Spielberg enlisted the help of Italian special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi, who designed a fully articulated steel, aluminum, and fiberglass animatronic puppet that Spielberg nicknamed “Puck.” Puck’s expressions were based on photos of Guffey. The puppet was operated by a crew of seven puppeteers, with Spielberg himself controlling the final articulation before the alien leaves to go to the mothership.

Puck would help inspire E.T. after Spielberg asked himself, “What if this little guy didn’t get back on the mothership?” Rambaldi would also go on to design the character of E.T.

14. SPIELBERG BET AGAINST HIS OWN MOVIE—AND REALLY CASHED IN.

Spielberg and his buddy George Lucas both had new movies coming out in 1977; Lucas’s was a little movie called Star Wars. Lucas thought his ramshackle space movie wouldn’t make back its budget, and he knew his friend’s new movie would break box office records just like Jaws had done, so he offered Spielberg a friendly wager. Both agreed to give the other 2.5 percent of the profits of their respective films. Lucas grossly underestimated his movie, which went on to become the second highest grossing movie of all time if adjusted for inflation (in comparison, Close Encounters is #71). The difference ended up being $40 million.

15. SPIELBERG DIDN'T LIKE THE VERSION THAT WAS INITIALLY RELEASED.

Spielberg wanted to release Close Encounters in the summer of 1978, which would have given him ample time to edit the film and finish its special effects—but Columbia Pictures, which was going through major financial troubles, insisted he have it ready for a November 1977 release, leaving the director with a final cut on a movie he didn’t feel was completely ready. 

Three years later, the company allowed Spielberg to “finish” the movie under one condition: That he show the inside of the mothership, which would give the studio’s marketing department an angle to sell this new version. The director capitulated, adding new scenes and cutting others to create a “Special Edition.” The director was unhappy with the scene, though, and later cut it for the Collector's Edition home video release.

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:Blu-ray special features; Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Making of Steven Spielberg’s Classic FilmClose Encounters of the Third Kind Diary.

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10 Treasures From the New York Academy of Medicine Library
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
A urine wheel from Fasciculus Medicinae
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Tucked away on a side street near Central Park, the New York Academy of Medicine Library is one of the most significant historical medical libraries in the world. Open to the public by appointment since the 19th century, its collection includes 550,000 volumes on subjects ranging from ancient brain surgery to women's medical colleges to George Washington's dentures. A few weeks ago, Mental Floss visited to check out some of their most fascinating items connected to the study of anatomy. Whether it was urine wheels or early anatomy pop-up books, we weren't disappointed.

1. FASCICULUS MEDICINAE (1509)

The Fasciculus Medicinae is a compilation of Greek and Arabic texts first printed in Venice in 1491. While it covers a variety of topics including anatomy and gynecology, the book begins with the discipline considered most important for diagnosing all medical issues at the time: uroscopy (the study of urine). The NYAM Library's curator, Anne Garner, showed us the book's urine wheel, which once had the various flasks of urine colored in to help aid physicians in their diagnosis. Each position of the wheel corresponded to one of the four humors, whether it was phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, or melancholic. The image on the left, Garner explains, "shows the exciting moment where a servant boy brings his flasks to be analyzed by a professor." Other notable images in the book include one historians like to call "Zodiac Man," showing how the parts of the body were governed by the planets, and "Wound Man," who has been struck by every conceivable weapon, and is accompanied by a text showing how to treat each type of injury. Last but not least, the book includes what's believed to be the first printed image of a dissection.

2. ANDREAS VESALIUS, DE HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA (1543)

Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Frontispiece of Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Andreas Vesalius, born 1514, was one of the most important anatomists who ever lived. Thanks to him, we moved past an understanding of the human body based primarily on the dissection of animals and toward training that involved the direct dissection of human corpses. The Fabrica was written by Vesalius and published when he was a 28-year-old professor at the University of Padua. Its detailed woodcuts, the most accurate anatomical illustrations up to that point, influenced the depiction of anatomy for centuries to come. "After this book, anatomy divided up into pre-Vesalian and post-Vesalian," Garner says. You can see Vesalius himself in the book's frontispiece (he's the one pointing to the corpse and looking at the viewer). "Vesalius is trying to make a point that he himself is doing the dissection, he believes that to understand the body you have to open it up and look at it," Garner explains.

3. THOMAS GEMINUS, COMPENDIOSA (1559)

Flap anatomy from Thomas Geminus's Compendiosa
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

There was no copyright in the 16th century, and Vesalius's works were re-used by a variety of people for centuries. The first was in Flemish printer and engraver Thomas Geminus’s Compendiosa, which borrowed from several of Vesalius's works. The first edition was published in London just two years after the Fabrica. Alongside a beautiful dedication page made for Elizabeth I and inlaid with real gemstones, the book also includes an example of a "flap anatomy" or a fugitive leaf, which was printed separately with parts that could be cut out and attached to show the various layers of the human body, all the way down to the intestines. As usual for the time, the female is depicted as pregnant, and she holds a mirror that says "know thyself" in Latin.

4. WILLIAM COWPER, THE ANATOMY OF HUMANE BODIES (1698)

Illustration from William Cowper's The Anatomy of Humane Bodies
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

After Vesalius, there was little new in anatomy texts until the Dutch anatomist Govard Bidloo published his Anatomia humani corporis in 1685. The work was expensive and not much of a financial success, so Bidloo sold excess plates to the English anatomist William Cowper, who published the plates with an English text without crediting Bidloo (a number of angry exchanges between the two men followed). The copperplate engravings were drawn by Gérard de Lairesse, who Garner notes was "incredibly talented." But while the engravings are beautiful, they're not always anatomically correct, perhaps because the relationship between de Lairesse and Bidloo was fraught (Bidloo was generally a bit difficult). The skeleton shown above is depicted holding an hourglass, by then a classic of death iconography.

5. 17TH-CENTURY IVORY MANIKINS

17th Century Ivory Manikin
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

These exquisite figures are a bit of a mystery: It was originally thought that they were used in doctors’ offices to educate pregnant women about what was happening to their bodies, but because of their lack of detail, scholars now think they were more likely expensive collector's items displayed in cabinets of curiosity by wealthy male physicians. The arms of the manikins (the term for anatomical figures like this) lift up, allowing the viewer to take apart their removable hearts, intestines, and stomachs; the female figure also has a little baby inside her uterus. There are only about 100 of these left in the world, mostly made in Germany, and NYAM has seven.

6. BERNHARD SIEGFRIED ALBINUS, TABULAE SCELETI (1747)

Illustration from Bernhard Siegfried Albinus's Tabulae Sceleti
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

One of the best-known anatomists of the 18th century, the Dutch anatomist Bernhard Siegfried Albinus went to medical school at age 12 and had a tenured position at the University of Leiden by the time he was 24. The Tabulae Sceleti was his signature work. The artist who worked on the text, Jan Wandelaar, had studied with Gérard de Lairesse, the artist who worked with Bidloo. Wandelaar and Albinus developed what Garner says was a bizarre method of suspending cadavers from the ceiling in the winter and comparing them to a (very cold and naked) living person lying on the floor in the same pose. Albinus also continued the dreamy, baroque funerary landscape of his predecessors, and his anatomy is "very, very accurate," according to Garner.

The atlas also features an appearance by Clara, a celebrity rhinoceros, who was posed with one of the skeletons. "When Albinus is asked why [he included a rhinoceros], he says, 'Oh, Clara is just another natural wonder of the world, she's this amazing creation,' but really we think Clara is there to sell more atlases because she was so popular," Garner says.

7. FERDINAND HEBRA, ATLAS DER HAUTKRANKHEITEN (1856–1876)

Circus performer Georg Constantin as depicted in Ferdinand Hebra's dermatological atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

By the mid-19th century, dermatology had started to emerge as its own discipline, and the Vienna-based Ferdinand Hebra was a leading light in the field. He began publishing this dermatological atlas in 1856 (it appeared in 10 installments), featuring chromolithographs that showed different stages of skin diseases and other dermatological irregularities.

"While some of the images are very disturbing, they also tend to adhere to Victorian portrait conventions, with very ornate hair, and [subjects] looking off in the distance," Garner says. But one of the most famous images from the book has nothing to do with disease—it's a depiction of Georg Constantin, a well-known Albanian circus performer in his day, who was covered in 388 tattoos of animals, flowers, and other symbols. He travelled throughout Europe and North America, and was known as "Prince Constantine" during a spell with Barnum's Circus. (The image is also available from NYAM as a coloring sheet.)

8. KOICHI SHIBATA, OBSTETRICAL POCKET PHANTOM (1895)

19th century Obstetrical Pocket Phantom
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Obstetrical phantoms, often made of cloth, wood, or leather, were used to teach medical students about childbirth. This "pocket phantom" was originally published in Germany, and Garner explains that because it was made out of paper, it was much cheaper for medical students. The accompanying text, translated in Philadelphia, tells how to arrange the phantom and describes the potential difficulties of various positions.

9. ROBERT L. DICKINSON AND ABRAM BELSKIE, BIRTH ATLAS (1940)

Image from Robert Dickinson's Birth Atlas
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

Robert Dickinson was a Brooklyn gynecologist, early birth control advocate, and active member of NYAM. His Birth Atlas is illustrated with incredibly lifelike terracotta models created by New Jersey sculptor Abram Belskie. The models were exhibited at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where they became incredibly popular, drawing around 700,000 people according to Garner. His depictions "are very beautiful and serene, and a totally different way of showing fetal development than anything that had come before," Garner notes.

10. RALPH H. SEGAL, THE BODYSCOPE (1948)

The Bodyscope
Courtesy New York Academy of Medicine Library

This midcentury cardboard anatomy guide contains male and female figures as well as rotating wheels, called volvelles, that can be turned to display details on different parts of the body as well as accompanying explanatory text. The Bodyscope is also decorated with images of notable medical men—and "wise" sayings about God's influence on the body.

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