Chareles Osborne’s hiccups first started in 1922, at age of 28, while weighing a hog for slaughter. As he says, “I was hanging a 350 pound hog for butchering. I picked it up and then I fell down. I felt nothing, but the doctor said later that I busted a blood vessel the size of a pin in my brain.” The result being that he damaged a small part of his brain that inhibits the hiccup response, according to Dr. Terence Anthoney who treated Osborne later in life.
In the beginning, Osborne’s hiccups occurred at a rate of around 40 times per minute on average. Throughout his life, this gradually slowed to about 20 hiccups per minute until they finally stopped about one year before his death in 1991. It is estimated that he hiccuped over 430 million times in his lifetime. Eventually, he learned to suppress most of the noise of a typical hiccup by breathing methodically between hiccups, which was a technique taught to him by doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
Charles Osborne lead a pretty normal life. He married twice over his 97 year long life. When he married his first wife he didn’t have his famous hiccups but his second wife marryed him despite them. He also was the father of eight children. Later in life though, he was forced to start grinding any food he ate in a blender due to the fact that it was hard for food to reach his stomach between hiccups, though for about the last year of his life he was miraculously hiccup free.
Osborne’s curious disorder even brought him a measure of fame: He was on “Robert Ripley’s Believe It or Not” radio program in 1936, ABC’s “That’s Incredible!” in 1980, “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in 1983 and he was entered in Guinness World Records as the man with the Longest Attack of Hiccups.