Off the back of her roles in Blade Runner, Splash, Roxanne and Wall Street, Daryl Hannah was one of the most successful film actresses and renowned beauties of the 1980s. What you might not have noticed, at least from her movies, is that the pin-up has imperfections like everyone else.
Hannah is missing part of the index finger on her left hand, the result of an accident when she was three. Following a mishap at her grandmother’s house and due to the medical limitations of the time, Hannah was left minus a digit. Since then, Hannah’s severed finger has been the subject of Family Guy gags and internet myth, while the actress herself has only rarely gone on record about what really happened.
Daryl Christine Hannah was born December 3, 1960, in Chicago, Illinois. Diagnosed as autistic at an early age, Hannah struggled with shyness throughout her youth, but took a keen interest in film and the performing arts and decided it was something she wanted to pursue.
As Hannah told The Guardian in 2010, she explored getting into show business on her own initiative. “I realised acting was a job you could choose to do – so I looked under A for agent in the Yellow Pages, then called from the school payphone and signed up. My first job was a public service announcement encouraging kids not to be embarrassed by their grandparents if they had a weird accent because they came from a foreign country.”
Hannah was 16 when she made her first film, landing a small role in director Brian DePalma’s 1978 horror The Fury. However, she got her real breakthrough when cast as the replicant Pris in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. The 1982 sci-fi classic put Hannah on the Hollywood map, and she followed the film with lead roles in Summer Lovers and Reckless.
Hannah then became a fully-fledged star alongside Tom Hanks in 1984’s fantasy rom-com Splash, which cast her as an earthbound mermaid. A-list and sex symbol status followed, while Hannah went on to enjoy high-profile romances with John F. Kennedy Jr. and singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. All the while, few seemed aware of Hannah’s minor deformity.
Looking back at photos of the actress in her earlier years, it’s easy to spot how often she would emphasise her right hand whilst covering her left. It is also believed that for at least some of her major roles, Hannah was fitted with a small prosthetic to give her a complete fingertip.
Hannah suffered the injury that resulted in the loss of her fingertip aged three. Though some have repeated the myth that Hannah trapped her finger in a pulley on a garden well, the actress herself explained what really happened in a 2010 interview.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Hannah outlined the on-set injuries she had endured over the years before talk turned to her finger: “I’ve had knee and elbow operations, and I’ve broken my back three times, riding and performing movie stunts, and that gives you an appreciation of your body. When I was three years old I had an accident that still influences my attitude.
“I lost the top of my finger playing on my grandma’s mobility stair lift. It was terrifying, but could have been so much worse – and it has bestowed on me an ability to be a more compassionate person.”
It wasn’t until 1968 that the surgical re-attachment of severed digits became commonplace. As Hannah incurred her stair lift injury several years prior to this, her wound was simply stitched closed. The unfortunate irony is that, as more recent medical research has shown, it is actually possible for young children to naturally re-grow fingertips if the wound is left unstitched.
Following a critically well-received role in the 1989 hit comedy-drama Steel Magnolias, Hannah’s career took a downturn in the 90s, after she starred in a series of bombs including Memoirs of an Invisible Man and The Tie That Binds.
Outside of her roles in Quentin Tarantino’s two-volume Kill Bill and the Wachowskis’ Netflix series Sense8, Hannah has largely disappeared from the Hollywood spotlight in more recent years. The bulk of her efforts have instead been focused on social and environmental activism.
It was through environmentalism that Hannah met singer-songwriter Neil Young whilst filming a 2013 Greenpeace documentary. The two began a relationship and married in 2018. No stranger to unfounded speculation about her personal life, another urban legend about Hannah arose.
In summer 2022, a rumour surfaced that Hannah was pregnant with Young’s child. Of course, this was a hoax: Hannah has never had children, while she was 61 at the time of the rumour going viral. (Young was 76.) By all accounts, however, Hannah and Young are more than happy simply to have each other.