Celebrity Hip Replacements

Even the Famous have Hip Surgery

 Celebrity hip replacements are becoming common place.  The operation, which used to be associated with old-age and infirmity, has taken on a new breath of life and the stars of stage and screen are less shy about owning up to having had one.

So let's look at some of the most famous.

Luciano Pavarotti


Probably the most famous opera singer that ever-lived, Pavarotti joined the list of celebrity hip replacements at the age of 63.

Pavarotti had suffered from hip pain since he was 12 years old (when he injured his hip playing football). His problems were aggravated by his increasing weight and became so severe that he was forced to cancel many performances.

He always tried to honour his commitments and during the world-famous Three Tenors concert in Paris 1998, watched by over a billion people, he performed whilst in severe pain.

After surgery he stuck to a strict health regime of diet and exercise and managed to lose 50 1lbs of weight.

Pavarotti continued to perform until his death at the age of 71.

Billy Joel

Billy Joel

Billy has got to be one of the most celebrated musicians of all time. With over 150 million records sold world-wide, 23 Grammy nominations and achieving top 40 hits in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Billy - also known as The Piano Man after one of his most loved songs - was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1992. He officially retired in 1993 but is still touring.

In 2010 Billy underwent a bilateral hip replacement to correct a congenital condition that had been increasingly impacting on his quality of life. Within weeks of the procedure he was back on stage playing with Elton John.  

Wayne Sleep - Dancer

Wayne Sleep hip replacement

Wayne is best known for his work as a Principle Dancer with the Royal Ballet but he is also an actor (Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream), choreographer (David and Goliath) and director (Carnival for the Birds) as examples.

In January 2010, at the age of 62, Wayne underwent hip replacement surgery.

Three months later he was dancing the role of one of the Ugly Sisters with the Royal Ballet. Part of his routine consisted of 50 continuous jumps - in high heels.

Probably the most active member on our list of celebrity hip replacements but also probably going to go through his new hip faster than most.

Evel Knivel - motorbike stuntman

evel knievel hip replacement

Amongst Evel Knievel's claims to fame is the Guinness world record for the most broken bones - 35. He's had 14 open-reduction surgeries (to repair or replace bones, some with steel screws, pins or rods) and has spent over 36 months in hospital. Not really surprising for a man who tried to jump the fountains at Caesar's Palace and enjoyed nothing better then the chance to jump a canyon on his rocket powered bike. But the hip replacement? That came after he took a fall playing golf!!!

Perhaps not so surprising when you consider how much of a hammering his body had taken over the years.

Jack Nicklaus - champion golfer

Considered to be the greatest golfer of the 20th century Jack (Golden Bear) Nicklaus has over 100 worldwide golfing victories to his name. But it hasn't been an easy run.

In 1963 Jack injured his hip playing golf and had to endure 25 cortisone injections in a 10 week period. At that time his doctor warned him that there might well be repercussions. There were - osteoarthritis. By the time he agreed to surgery his Jack had been suffering bone-on-bone wear for about 7 years - ow!

Jack joined the list of celebrity hip replacements when he opted for a ceramic-on-ceramic implant in 1999.  He wanted a prosthesis that would suit his active life style. After his recovery from surgery he became an public advocate for hip replacement surgery.

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother - royalty

queen mother hip replacement

Having a hip replacement at 97 years of age must make Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother one of the oldest hip replacement patients ever and definitely the oldest on our list of celebrity hip replacements.

The Queen Mum (as she was affectionately known) had already had one hip replaced at the age of 95 (metal-on-poly) and recovered well from the procedure only to fall and break her other hip two years later.

On each occasion the Queen Mother made an amazingly quick recovery. She was a woman with a huge amount of spirit.

Mick Mars - guitarist

Rock guitarist Mick Mars who played with Mötley Crüe until it split in 2001 needed a hip replacement three years later to deal with ankylosing spondylitis. The illness (which he'd first had diagnosed at age 19) had caused his lower spine to seize up, "causing scoliosis in my back and squashing me further down and forward until I was a full three inches shorter than I was in high school." When he could no longer deal with the pain and the restricted mobility he went for surgery.

Did he make a comeback? For sure. The band reunited in 2004 and have been making music ever since.

Rudy Galindo - champion ice skater.

rudy galindo hip replacement

In 2002 Rudy received the devastating news that he had avascular necrosis in both hips. Despite his deteriorating condition he continued to skate. But by the summer of 2003 reality hit hard when he learned that the head of his left femur had fractured and was only being held in place by his hip socket!

Recognising it was time to join the list of celebrity hip replacements, Rudy opted for ceramic-on-ceramic hip implants. The operations were performed in Sept (left hip) and Oct (right hip) and Rudy focused himself on his recovery. By April 2004 he was ready for the Champions on Ice Tours and was able to include all four of the triple jumps he is so famous for.

Lionel Richie - Singer

Another celebrity that chose to keep his hip replacement secret is Lionel Richie.  After years of ‘dancing on the ceiling’, in his trademark platform boots, Lionel began to experience pain due to arthritis in both his knee and hip.  He admits, he put off his hip replacement for a year but is totally satisfied with the results.

Lionel says he’s definitely learnt from his mistakes and no longer performs in platform boots. ‘Since the Commodore days, we don’t wear those big boots anymore because of the knees and ankles…. I think about it now, and think, “what was I doing?”…. Craziness!’


Elizabeth Taylor - Actress and Fund-Raiser

Having undergone two hip replacements Elizabeth Taylor could be forgiven for thinking she'd had her share. But the fates have never been kind to this woman and it was soon obvious that the procedure had left one leg shorter than the other and a third operation would be needed.

"When deciding whether or not to undergo surgery, I didn't anticipate the lengthy time I would need to fully recuperate...but I don't regret choosing to have this surgery because, in the long run, it will improve my quality of life--and already has." She said.

Elizabeth underwent 100 surgical procedures in her life.

Eddie Van Halen - guitarist

Often cited as being "second only to Hendrix" Eddie Van Halen is one of the most widely acclaimed rock guitarists in the business eddie van halen  - ever!

eddie van halen hip replacement

In 1999 at just 43 years of age and in chronic, debilitating pain Eddie had no option but to join the list of celebrity hip replacements. Received wisdom gives the cause as too much wear and tear on his body brought about my his demanding stage act. How much his well publicised alcohol problem contributed to that is not mentioned.

Although he recovered well from the hip surgery and was soon back on tour he was later diagnosed with oral cancer. Did that stop him - not at all. The last I heard the band is preparing for its 2010 tour.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Politician, Actor, Body Builder

Arnold Swarzenegger

Many celebrities don’t like to talk about their hip replacement.  After all, isn’t hip surgery just for frail, older people?  Absolutely not, and it’s time to dispel that myth and acknowledge the significant number of otherwise fit and healthy people, of all ages, who are forced to undergo the procedure. Surely the best people to do that are those that are in the public eye.

One of the  more shy people to join the list of celebrity hip replacements was Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He managed to keep his surgery under wraps for five years and then it only came out after he his leg in a ski-ing accident.  The hip replacement went really well and Arnie was soon back on set, filming the third terminator movie.

It is not clear why Schwarzenegger needed his hip replaced but he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs (before they were illegal), which can’t have helped, and his body has been subjected to significant wear and tear over the years; firstly, during his body building era and more lately, doing stunts for his action-packed movies.

Schwarzenegger has had other major health issues in the last few years.  He’s undergone open heart surgery, had a damaged rotator cuff repaired and received treatment for broken ribs, following a motor bike crash.

With the introductions of longer lasting hip implants we can expect there to be more celebrity hip replacements. Hopefully there will also be more openness now that the procedure is less associated with old age.

More Celebrity Hip Replacements Coming Soon

Learn more about:

The Best Time for a Hip Replacement 
Preparing for Recovery 
Choosing a Hospital

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