David Bowie’s Eyes

Ask a hundred people to name a physical feature of David Bowie and almost all of them will say that he “has different colored eyes”:


Here’s the thing though… Bowie doesn’t have different color eyes. That’s a medical condition called heterochromia iridum, which is usually just shortened to heterochromia. Instead, as the picture above clearly demonstrates, one of his pupils is permanently dilated, a condition known as anisocoria. And the reason his eyes are like that… is because of a girl.

In 1962, when Bowie was 14, he fell for a girl named Carol Goldsmith. Problem was, his best friend, George Underwood, fell for her too.

According to Bowie, he got the date with Goldsmith. The next day, Bowie went to school and bragged to everyone about it, and the jealous Underwood punched him.

According to Underwood, he’d gotten the date with Goldsmith, and Bowie was jealous of him. So Bowie called Underwood on the day of the date and made up some story about how Goldsmith couldn’t make it. Underwood believed him, and made other plans. Goldsmith waited for Underwood for an hour and, of course, was furious when he didn’t show up. So she went out with Bowie instead. When Underwood found out that he’d been double-crossed, he punched Bowie.

Whatever actually happened, Underwood’s punch landed so that his knuckle hit Bowie in the left eye. This badly tore the sphincter muscles in his eye (oh, grow up), preventing the pupil from closing. Doctors were able to save his eye, but the dilation was permanent.

As proof of the old “bros before hos” maxim, Bowie and Underwood remained friends after the incident. Underwood played in a few of Bowie’s early bands, and ended up becoming a graphic designer. He did the covers for Bowie’s Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars albums, as well as several Bowie posters, flyers and book covers. You can see several of Underwood’s works on his website here.

There are, however, several celebrities that do have heterochromia iridum. Kate Bosworth’s eyes are particularly striking:


English actress Alice Eve’s eyes are two slightly different shades of blue:


Wikipedia also lists Dan Aykroyd, Elizabeth Berkley, Henry Cavill, Benedict Cumberbatch, Robert Downey, Jr., Mila Kunis, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Simon Pegg, Jane Seymour, Kiefer Sutherland, Christopher Walken, and Alyson Hannigan as having the condition.

EDIT: Sadly, David Bowie died two years ago. However, I recently found a picture of him, taken at age 14 before the infamous fight, that shows him with identical eyes:

David Bowie at 14


9 Replies to “David Bowie’s Eyes”

  1. Nope. From http://www.bowiewonderworld.com/faq.htm#p18

    “He has a condition called anisocoria, which is the medical term for unequal pupils. In 1962, aged 14, he got punched in the eye by his schoolfriend George Underwood, during an argument over a girl named Carol Goldsmith. George’s fingernail caught David’s eye and dislodged something. David was admitted to Farnborough Hospital, where it was found that the sphincter muscles of his left eye were badly torn and he underwent two eye operations. He has an enlarged pupil that remains permanently open, giving them an unusual appearance.

    Contrary to popular belief David DOESN’T have two different coloured eyes – they are both the same colour. The enlarged pupil only gives the “effect” of two different coloured eyes.”

    Also, from: http://mentalfloss.com/article/27273/nine-people-heterochromia-and-one-without

    “Many people think Bowie has two different colored eyes, but that’s not actually what’s going on with his ocular oddity. They’re both blue. What you’re seeing is his permanently dilated pupil.”

  2. Bowie’s left eye appears to be darker simply BECAUSE it is dialated!! It is not a different colour from his right eye. Why is that so hard to understand?

  3. You people are so bratty about this “I see two colored eyes end of story” carp loke holy he’ll you act like if you say it its fact. Fed by silver spoon much? Some of you need to learn to respect facts, especially when it comes to this legend. Instead of acting like 2 year olds holding your hands over your ears and screaming to avoid accepting the truth lol

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