History’s hugest honkers
Fashion magazines may frown on big noses, but here are some famous figures who managed to get ahead with a mighty proboscis.
“CLEOPATRA‘s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed.”
So wrote philosopher Blaise Pascal in his Pensées. No one knows precisely what Cleopatra looked like, but legend has it that the beguiling queen of Egypt had an extra-large nose which was part of her exotic beauty.
Her charms were enough to attract Julius Caesar and then Mark Antony, who became her lover and political ally. Their relationship helped lead to civil war between Antony and another Roman leader, Octavian, who finally crushed Antony’s forces in the naval battle of Actium. Octavian then assumed total control of Rome, becoming Caesar Augustus (and prompting Pascal’s remark 16 centuries later).
Pity poor CYRANO DE BERGERAC: his nose was so large they wrote a play about it.
Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac was an immediate hit in Paris and established the lasting public image of Cyrano: a witty, swashbuckling hero with a nose so enormous that no woman would love him. The real-life Cyrano de Bergerac lived nearly 300 years earlier, was also a soldier, and did indeed have a prominent nose.
Comedian JIMMY DURANTE made a living off his unusual anatomy. The beloved 20th-century comedian made so many jokes about his oversized nose that he earned the nickname “Schnozzola.”
Jimmy Durante’s good-natured humor made him one of the most popular stars of radio and TV in the 1940s and 1950s.
Another comedian who made hay out of his honker was BOB HOPE.
Hope’s nose wasn’t so much big as it was long, thin and just a bit curved, a trait he exaggerated for laughs. His longtime comic rival Bing Crosby called Hope “Old Ski Nose,” and Hope liked to say that during an early screen test “my nose came on screen 10 minutes before the rest of my face.”
The biggest nose in fairy tales belongs to PINOCCHIO, the creation of author Carlo Collodi.
In the story bearing his name, Pinocchio is a wooden puppet come to life; when he tells a string of lies, his nose begins growing until it crosses the room. These nasal shenanigans were only a small portion of the Pinocchio stories, but the naughty boy with the pole-length nose is the image that stuck.
Belgian ruler KING LEOPOLD II became infamous for his brutal exploitation of the Congo in central Africa. He was also famous for his skinny frame and big nose.
King Leopold was described in 1867 as being conspicuous “by his great height, his great nose and his great beard; with his sword, which banged his legs, he looked like a functionary who had put on his uniform without knowing how to wear it.” British statesman Benjamin Disraeli wrote “it is such a nose as a young prince has in a fairy tale, who has been banned by a malignant fairy.”
And that’s what they said of him before it was revealed that he used slave labor and killed possibly millions in his quest for personal wealth. Let’s move on.
Honorable Mention: TYCHO BRAHE.
Brahe is the world’s only famous astronomer with a replacement nose. His original was cut off in a duel with mathemetician Manderup Parsbjerg when Brahe was 20. Thereafter, Brahe wore a metal nose which he kept attached by a sort of liquid glue. The replacement nose may not have been extra-large, but it certainly stood out.
Actress Daryl Hannah and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel are two of the famous people who got ahead with missing digits.