Last year I visited Denmark, the land of the famous writer, Hans Christian Anderssen, who wrote what are now world-renowned classics such as “The little Mermaid” made in to a huge Walt Disney hit, and other stories. Amongst them is the story of “The Ugly Duckling”. Below for those interested is a video of mine on youtube full of pictures of my visit there:
As many, if not most of you will know the ugly duckling is the story of a “duckling” which is lost and found by a group of other ducklings and viewed as ugly and subject to constant mocking and even physical abuse. Ultimately in the end the “ugly duckling” after suffering much trauma decides to join a group of swans even if it means he dies, such are the now suicidal feelings he has developed after years of verbal and physical degradation. To his surprise he finds out after looking at his reflection that he is not in fact a duckling or an ugly one at that but a beautiful swan. The book gained such popularity and made such an impact that the very phrase an “ugly duckling” has entered in to the English language to signify someone who initially ugly or unpopular later blossoms, with connotations of doing that despite the mocking of others.
George Clooney is one of the most famous men in the world and one of Hollywood’s most famous actors. He is admired by women all over the world (perhaps resented by some men) for his good looks. However what Clooney and others who have reached the top of Hollywood know all too well is that success does not come easy. Many of the top Hollywood actors, due to their profession, despite what it may seem, unlike other celebrities have a deeper understanding of the ups and downs of life, of the nature of people, including how fickle and superficial they can be. This is an actor’s job. To understand people and then to act as different people or characters. This stands in contrast to other sorts of celebrities such as popstars who may discover this the painful way.
The “ugly duckling”, George Clooney
Clooney was taunted as a kid in his teens because he had Bell’s Palsy, a medical problem which affects the face, paralyzing parts of it. Like the ugly duckling Clooney was subject to verbal cruelty and in his own words describes that period as “the worst time of my life… “You know how cruel kids can be. I was mocked and taunted, but the experience made me stronger.” .”
Clooney’s path to success was not easy and included failing in trying to be a professional baseball player. It also included failing to complete two university degrees in Northern Kentucky University and also the University of Cincinnati..” There have even been people known in history who went to prestigous universities and were about to complete their course but commited suicide since they would not get the grade they wanted. This did not destroy Clooney’s confidence and reduce him to a self-pitying wreck.
“If you don’t succeed at first, try, try and try again”
None of these setbacks stopped Clooney from carrying on and he kept on. At one point in his life it is said that he even stayed with a friend sleeping in the closet. He got a role as an extra in the American TV series, Centennial in 1978. He then progressed and 6 years later got his first non-extra role, speaking on the programme E/R, which is different to the much more famous ER where he gained fame and stardom and world recognition in the 1990s. He worked 7 days a week whilst being an actor on “ER” with him dividing his time between the TV series, “ER” and the different films he was working on.
This is a very short piece on one of the world’s most famous men, and does not include things such as his films or his role in things outside of acting such as human rights and so forth. However what is admirable about Clooney is his persistence and his sheer work rate. The road to the top was not easy as Clooney’s story clearly demonstrates and it is this which should be known about him to encourage others when they too face problems. Today the world talks about the boy with Bell’s Palsy, mocked at school and said to be shy by girls that knew him. They do not talk about those who used to insult him. The ugly duckling became a swan.
– Jahan Choudhry
1. Daily Mirror, UK