During the silent film era, actors had only one way to make their audience laugh – by doing dumb stuff with their body. Hilariously lines and clever comebacks were useless, mostly because moviegoers had to read the dialogue. To become famous and rich, The film star Ben Turpin went with the childish “crossed-eyes routine”. In 1907, the sight of a man with crossed eyes was all it took to send hordes of moviegoers into fits of laughter. Thinking that his crossed eyes were the key to his comedic success, Turpin took out an insurance policy that would pay him $25,000 in the event that his eyes somehow became uncrossed.
Ben was so determined on making sure his eyes never uncrossed that, according to sources, he would check a mirror anytime he received a hit on the head to make sure his eyes hadn’t gone in the right direction.
What is especially strange about this, at least these days, is that most actors would spend some of that movie cash to have their eyes uncrossed. Given that Turpin’s left eye was actually normal when off camera (he intentionally crossed it to match the right one), it wouldn’t have been much of a stretch to shell out some cash to get that shit fixed and just cross them both on his own when the cameras rolled.