Smiling through the pain, the show must go on! Throughout history, some of our most famous artists, actors, athletes, inventors, scientists, and musicians have suffered from migraines. Here are just a few. 

Vincent van Gogh

Known for his vivid colors and broad strokes of paint, van Gogh suffered from migraine pain that may have caused his cataracts. Some theorize that his wild colors and brushstrokes were a result of his mental state during his periods of migraine pain.

Terrell Davis

Former Denver Bronco Terrell Davis suffered migraine pain severe enough to cause him to miss the second quarter of Super Bowl XXXII, but he was still able to rush for 157 yards and catch 2 touchdown passes during the game (and rush for a third!).

Elvis Presley

Elvis was frequently rushed to the hospital for migraine pain, and his slurred speech was thought to be a result of migraine.

Lisa Kudrow

Famous for playing the ditzy blonde Friend Phoebe, Lisa Kudrow suffered from migraines all during childhood. Her father was a migraine specialist who became famous for advocating lidocaine as a treatment.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor suffered from a number of debilitating illnesses, including chronic pain and migraine. She was hospitalized more than 70 times for her various ailments but eventually succumbed to heart failure in 2011.

John F. Kennedy

In addition to Addison’s disease and chronic back pain, JFK suffered from migraines for all of his adult life. He may have been addicted to opioids as a direct result of his painful conditions.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin suffered migraines for his entire life and still managed to develop the theory from which all modern biological science springs!

Thomas Jefferson

The third president of the United States suffered chronic migraine throughout his entire life.

Janet Jackson

In 2008, Miss Jackson had to cancel several shows on her tour when she began feeling vertigo and severe migraine. Jackson suffers a form of migraine called vestibular migraine where dizziness, loss of coordination, and nausea are the primary symptoms.

Ben Affleck

Migraine sidelined Ben Affleck in 2010 during World Series of Poker charity event in Las Vegas, but prior to that he also spent Memorial Day 2006 in the hospital with severe migraine. He is the Oscar-winning writer and director of Good Will Hunting, among other movies.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

This basketball star suffered his first migraine at the age of 15 and has since managed his pain with a combination of yoga, diet, and biofeedback. He has missed very few games due to migraine pain, but the stress of the playoffs seems to have had an effect: he suffered 6 migraines in the 9 days leading up to the championship series in 1985.

Serena Williams

Williams suffers from menstrual migraines. These migraines affect 60-70% of female migraine sufferers and are timed to hormonal changes brought on by the menstrual cycle. Serena was diagnosed at age 17 and manages her migraines by avoiding salt and bright lights and staying hydrated.

The individuals in the list above have accomplished extraordinary things, even in the face of migraine pain. What will you accomplish?

Image by Jinx! via Flickr


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