History of 10 Famous Noses

About the history of ten famous noses, history and biography of people with unusual schnozzes including Michelangelo and Jimmy Durante.


1. RUDOLF I OF HAPSBURG (German king and Holy Roman emperor, 1218-1291)

According to one historian of anatomy, he "had so large a nose that no artist would ever paint its full dimension."

2. MICHELANGELO (Italian artist, 1475-1564)

His nose was so squashed against his face that, in the words of one historian, "his forehead almost overhangs the nose." As a boy, Michelangelo had mercilessly teased the painter Pietro Torrigiano while Torrigiano was trying to study some art inside a church. Angered, Torrigiano turned on young Michelangelo and, in his own words, "dealt him such a blow on the nose that I felt the bone and the cartilage yield under my fist as if they had been made of crisp wafer. And so he'll go with my mark on him to his dying day."

3. MATTHEW PARKER (English clergyman, 1504-1575)

His name entered the English language as "Nosey" Parker--meaning someone who pokes his nose into other people's business. Parker was Archbishop of Canterbury under Queen Elizabeth I. Though shy and modest, he was overinquisitive about church matters, and his enemies began to call him "Nosey" Parker.

4. TYCHO BRAHE (Danish astronomer, 1546-1601)

He lost the tip of his nose in a sword fight and replaced it with a gold one.

5. CYRANO DE BERGERAC (French poet and novelist, 1619-1655)

He really was a living person. He is said to have fought 1,000 duels over insults concerning his enormous nose.

6. THOMAS WEDDERS (English circus freak, 1700s)

He had the longest known nose of any human being in history. It measured 7 1/2 in. in length. He was exhibited throughout England and was said to be mentally retarded.

7. JOSEF MYSLIVECEK (Czech composer, 1737-1781)

Nicknamed the Bohemian, he was known for his operas Armida and II Bellerofonte and for the fact that he had no nose. In 1777, suffering from a venereal disease, he went to a third-rate doctor who told him that the only way to cure the disease was to remove his nose. So off it came.

8. KATE ELDER, alias FISHER (American brothel owner, 1870s)

She was famous in the Wild West as "Big Nose" Kate. Her nose was of the bulbous variety. She ran a house of ill fame in Dodge City, Kans., and was the mistress of badman Doc Holliday. Once when Holliday, in an argument over a poker hand, slit his opponent's throat and was about to be arrested, "Big Nose" Kate set the livery stable afire, creating a distraction that allowed her lover to escape.

9. JIMMY "SCHNOZZOLA" DURANTE (American entertainer, 1893- )

He parlayed his elongated proboscis into a show business fortune as a song-and-dance comic star of stage, screen, and television.

10. ALBERT WEBER (American organoleptic analyst, 1905- )

His nose is his livelihood. He's an official smeller. According to Ruth Winter, in The Smell Book, Weber "is still at work protecting us from rotten food and drink. He is the dean of two dozen organoleptic analysts-food sniffers-working for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A graduate chemist with a master's degree, Weber was testing food with his test tubes and microscopes in the FDA's New York District Laboratory in Manhattan in 1943, when a call came in from the Boston office. A shipment of suspect ocean perch was on its way. There was-and is-no way to test chemically for partly decomposed fish-they have to be smelled. Weber was elected that day and has been at it for more than three decades since. He sniffs everything from dog food to soft drinks...."

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