Roy L. Dennis: Difference between revisions

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'''Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis''' (December 4, 1961 &ndash; October 4, 1978<!-- Please do not change to 1964-1980; those are the birth and death years of the fictional character based on Dennis in the feature film ''Mask'', not the birth and death years of the real-world person.-->) was an [[People of the United States|American]] boy afflicted with [[craniodiaphyseal dysplasia]], an extremely rare, [[Sclerosis (medicine)|sclerotic]] bone disorder. The condition usually results in [[neurology|neurological disorders]] and death during childhood. His body was donated to [[UCLA Medical Center]] after he died.<ref>[http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=9050 Roy L. "Rocky" Dennis (1961 - 1978) - Find A Grave Memorial]</ref> His life was the basis for the 1985 drama film ''[[Mask (film)|Mask]]''.
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'''Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis''' (December 4, 1961 &ndash; October 4, 1978<!-- Please do not change to 1964-1980; those are the birth and death years of the fictional character based on Dennis in the feature film ''Mask'', not the birth and death years of the real-world person.-->) was an [[People of the United States|American]] boy afflicted with [[craniodiaphyseal dysplasia]], an extremely rare, [[Sclerosis (medicine)|sclerotic]] bone disorder. The condition usually results in [[neurology|neurological disorders]] and death during childhood. His body was donated to [[UCLA Medical Center]].<ref>[http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=9050 Roy L. "Rocky" Dennis (1961 - 1978) - Find A Grave Memorial]</ref> His life was the basis for the 1985 drama film ''[[Mask (film)|Mask]]''.
   
 
==Biography==
 
==Biography==

Revision as of 22:20, 26 November 2017

Roy L. Dennis
RockyDennis.JPG
Dennis' junior high school yearbook photo, 1977
Born
Roy Lee Dennis

(1961-12-04)December 4, 1961[1]
DiedOctober 4, 1978(1978-10-04) (aged 16)[2]
Glendora, California, U.S.
Cause of deathSudden arrhythmic death syndrome
NationalityUnited States
Other namesRocky Dennis
Parent(s)Florence "Rusty" Tullis
Roy Dennis

Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis (December 4, 1961 – October 4, 1978) was an American boy afflicted with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare, sclerotic bone disorder. The condition usually results in neurological disorders and death during childhood. His body was donated to UCLA Medical Center.[3] His life was the basis for the 1985 drama film Mask.

Biography

Rocky Dennis was born in Glendora, California, to Florence "Rusty" Tullis and Roy Dennis, his legal, but not natural father. At the age of 2 he was diagnosed with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, also known as CDD or lionitis, an extremely rare disease occurring in approximately 1 in every 220 million births, with fewer than 20 recorded cases. CDD is a bone disorder that causes calcium to build up in the skull, disfiguring the facial features and reducing life expectancy.[4]

Doctors informed his parents that the pressure from the abnormal calcium deposits in his skull would distort his face, destroy his eyesight and hearing and, based on the handful of cases on record, eventually destroy his brain and result in his death before his seventeenth birthday.[5][6]

Dennis experienced problems with eyesight and hearing along with painful headaches; but he was able to do many things he was thought not to be able to accomplish, such as learning to read. His poor eyesight, which made him legally blind, meant that he would never read a book. He entered school at the age of 6, despite many of his teachers' disapproval;[6] and, although experiencing a slow start (he spent two years in the first grade), he was able to make some progress before dying at 16 from his condition. He turned down an offer to have plastic surgery.[5]

Dennis resided in Azusa, California. He, Joshua, and his parents lived in Covina, where he attended Ben Lomond Elementary School. After his mother's departure from the home, he was raised by Roy Sr. and Roy Sr.'s mother and later his step mother for a time. He later returned to Rusty's care and was raised by both parents separately. Rocky and Roy Sr. maintained a good relationship throughout Rocky's life.

Family

Dennis's older half-brother, Joshua "John" Mason, died in 1987 at age 32 from complications of AIDS. His mother, Rusty Tullis, died on November 11, 2006, at age 70 as a result of an infection following a motorcycle accident.[6] He had no other siblings. Neither his father nor half brother Joshua were portrayed in Mask.

Adaptations

Anna Hamilton Phelan wrote a screenplay based on Dennis' life; Peter Bogdanovich directed the 1985 drama film, titled Mask, in which Eric Stoltz portrays Dennis. In one scene in the film, the character Dennis reads a poem to his mother, Rusty (played by Cher), written by the real Dennis. Rusty's boyfriend Bernie is portrayed as the character Gar played by Sam Elliott. The movie is based very loosely on Dennis' life, with most of the scenes and dialogue altered for dramatic purposes.

Phelan also adapted her screenplay into a stage musical of the same name, with music by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The musical premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in California on March 12, 2008.

Swedish pop musician Jens Lekman self-published a song called "Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song to the Blind Girl", causing DJs to mistakenly call the musician by Rocky Dennis' name.[7] Lekman clarified that the song was not about himself with the release of Rocky Dennis in Heaven, an EP containing four songs about Dennis and his portrayal in the film.

References

  1. ^ Witt, Linda (11 May 1986). "An Unusual Mother: Helping Her Children Face Down Death (2 of 4)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  2. ^ Witt, Linda (11 May 1986). "An Unusual Mother: Helping Her Children Face Down Death (3 of 4)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  3. ^ Roy L. "Rocky" Dennis (1961 - 1978) - Find A Grave Memorial
  4. ^ "Craniodiaphyseal dysplasia", Orpha.net
  5. ^ a b Green, Michelle (March 18, 1985). "The Drama Behind Mask". People. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c McClellan, Dennis (November 20, 2006). "Florence 'Rusty' Tullis, 70; portrayed by Cher in 'Mask'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 11, 2016 – via Boston Globe.
  7. ^ Jens Lekman Interview, Indiepop.