5 TV Stars You Probably Didn’t Know Were Missing a Finger

Matthew Perry.
Matthew Perry. / David M. Benett/GettyImages

Movies and television shows are very much an attempt at creating an illusion, from making viewers believe characters are on distant planets to putting them in harm’s way. Sometimes, that illusion extends to performers obscuring certain physical traits that may not be shared by their characters. Famously, professional wrestler Kerry Von Erich wrestled with a prosthetic foot in the 1980s following a motorcycle accident, a fact that was largely unknown to spectators.

Von Erich isn’t the only television personality who has lived with limb difference. These five actors appeared on weekly television without viewers noticing they’re each missing all, or part of, a finger.

1. Bob Ross

Television’s best-known art instructor hosted The Joy of Painting on PBS from 1983 to 1994. His painter’s palette obscured a lesser-known fact: He was down one digit. After dropping out of high school, one of Ross’s first jobs was working as a woodworker alongside his father; part of his left index finger was later severed in a carpentry accident. Ross left that vocation soon after, enlisting in the Air Force before his painting career took off.

2. James Doohan

James Doohan is pictured
James Doohan. / John Springer Collection/GettyImages

Best known as Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on Star Trek (1966-1969) and its numerous big-screen outings, Doohan went to some lengths to obscure a missing finger from being picked up by film cameras. The actor had suffered the injury while serving in the military and storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in 1944. Doohan—a member of the Royal Canadian Artillery Regiment—shot two German snipers in the fracas but later absorbed machine gun fire delivered by a trigger-happy Canadian sentry. Incredibly, one bullet in his chest was deflected by a cigarette case. Others wound up in his leg; the other went though his right middle finger, which was later amputated.

Camera angles kept the missing finger out of view most of the time on Star Trek. Hand doubles were also used at times, though there are a few scenes—including in “The Trouble With Tribbles”—where it’s noticeable.

3. Telly Savalas

Telly Savalas is pictured
Telly Savalas. / United Archives/GettyImages

Savalas was a ‘70s icon thanks to the cop show Kojak and the character’s omnipresent lollipop. The actor was actually missing a portion of his left index finger, which some fans might not have known or easily spotted if they watched the series or saw Savalas in films. The origin of the injury is difficult to pin down; Lost magazine reported that Savalas may have lost it in a grenade mishap while serving in the military or possibly that it was partially gnawed off by a rat when he was a child.

4. Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry is pictured
Matthew Perry. / Annamaria DiSanto/GettyImages

Perry, who starred as Chandler Bing on the NBC sitcom Friends for 10 seasons, is missing part of his right middle finger. According to Esquire, the actor lost it after his finger was inadvertently slammed in a car door when he was a child.

5. Walter Jones

Walter Jones is pictured
Walter Jones. / Bobby Bank/GettyImages

Jones portrayed Zack, one of the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The actor is missing the middle finger of his left hand, though it’s not particularly noticeable when he’s morphed. The series repurposed action footage from the Japanese series Super Sentai, where Zach’s Ranger was played by a different performer. “Because we had all of the Japanese footage, the only time we wore our suits was in the Command Center, with our helmet off,” Ranger Jason David Frank told Complex in 2013.