ABC’s “Astronaut Wives Club” is based on a book of the same name, which is based on a true story. And although some events and characters are dramatized on the show, one thing that’s rooted in truth is Annie Glenn’s debilitating stutter.
On Thursday (June 25) night’s episode, Annie (played by Azure Parsons) is put in the spotlight as her husband, John Glenn, attempts to be the first American to orbit the Earth. However, things take an unfortunate turn when his flight is canceled and, to comfort her in this stressful time, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson asks to speak with her in front of cameras. But, because of her stutter, she turns down his visit.
Since the series is based on a true story, it’s not such a crazy thing to wonder if the real-life Annie actually does have a stutter. The short answer is, yes, she does. In fact, her stutter is a such a big part of her history as an astronaut’s wife that Parsons had to put in a lot of time and effort to master Annie’s stutter.
“I did a ton of research, a ridiculous amount of research, once I got the role,” Parsons tells Nola.com. “I did a lot of research on what a really severe stutterer would sound like, because there’s no real footage of her stuttering or anything. There’s no real footage of her speaking. There’s one small clip (for which) she rehearsed and spoke very clearly, but it was very small … I just kind of took a leap of faith.”
Take a look below at the ins-and-outs of Annie Glenn’s stutter.
1. Is her stutter as intense as it seems on the show?
According to CNN, Annie’s stuttering was “so severe that it was categorized as an ’85 percent’ disability,” which means that 85 percent of the time should could say words.
2. Did she actually refuse to speak with Lyndon B. Johnson?
Just as it’s illustrated in the film “The Right Stuff,” “Astronaut Wives Club” shows a scene in which Annie turns down the Vice President of the United States. Although Annie did in fact decline Johnson’s visit, the Seattle Times reports she did so not because of her stutter but because of a “tension headache” and the fact that Johnson wanted to use one of his reporters instead of the Life magazine reporter.
3. Was her husband as supportive as he is portrayed?
In a time in history when husbands didn’t always support their wives, John seems to be Annie’s No. 1 fan on “Astronaut Wives Club.” In real life, he has publicly applauded his wife’s struggles and bravery.
“I saw Annie’s perseverance and strength through the years and it just made me admire and love her even more,” John once wrote. “I don’t know if I would have had the courage.”
4. Does she still have a stutter?
Although she wouldn’t call herself “cured,” she did undergo an intensive program at the Communications Research Institute at Hollins College in Virginia, which has enabled her to feel comfortable speaking and giving speeches at public events.
“Astronaut Wives Club” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.