Historical records matching Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis
About Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis
Poem Written by Rocky:
These things are good:' ice cream and cake, a ride on a harley, seeing monkeys in the trees, the rain on my tongue, and the sun shining on my face.
These things are a drag:' dust in my hair, holes in my shoes, no money in my pocket, and the sun shining on my face.
From Wikipedia (English):
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 after he died. His life was the basis for the 1985 Academy Award winning drama film Mask.
Rocky Dennis was born December 4, 1961 in Glendora, California, to Florence "Rusty" Tullis and Roy Dennis. At the age of 4, Dennis 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.
Doctors informed his mother that the abnormal calcium deposits in his skull would push his eyes toward the edges of his head, twist his nose out of shape, cause his eyesight and hearing to fail and, if the handful of cases on record were any indication, result in tremendous pressure that would destroy his brain before he was seven.
Dennis experienced problems with eyesight and hearing along with painful headaches, but was able to do many things he was thought not be able 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 six, despite many of his teachers' disapproval, and although experiencing a slow start (he spent two years in the first grade), he was able to make some progress thereafter and died at 16 years of age from his life limiting condition.
Dennis resided in Azusa, California. He and his mother lived for a time in Covina (Grandview Avenue), where he attended Ben Lomond Elementary School.
Medical Curiosity Victim. Born with the rare disease, craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, which causes the calcium to accumulate on the skull and makes the head grow to twice its normal size, Rocky showed a remarkable display of courage in the face of inevitable death. The movie "Mask" (1985) was made about him, with Eric Stoltz playing the role of the teenaged Rocky, and Cher playing the role of his mother, Rusty. Rocky was the son of Roy Dennis and Florence "Rusty" Tullis. Rocky was the second child of Rusty Tullis, a go-go dancer who had a passion for motorcycle bikers like herself. Her first born son, Joshua, would die in 1987 from AIDs. In 1959, Rusty and her second husband, Roy Dennis, moved to Covina, California, where Rocky was born two years later. Initially Rocky appeared normal, but when he was two years old, an X-ray technician noticed irregularities in his shull, and a battery of tests by the UCLA Medical Center confirmed the diagnosis of Craniodiaphyseal Dysplasis (CDD). Rocky was four years old, when he was diagnosed with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare disease that occurs approximately once in every 22 million births. In all of medical history, according to some sources, there are less than 20 recorded cases. Doctors would inform Rusty that the calcium deposits would push his eyes towards the edges of his head, resulting in his eyesight and hearing to fail, and the pressure on his brain would eventually kill him, probably before his seventh birthday. The doctors gave him less than four years of survival. Despite this dire diagnosis, Rocky would learn to read, even though his eyesight deteriorated to the point of legal blindness. His mother insisted he live as much of a normal life as possible, to include attending public school, and at age 6, he entered first grade at Ben Lomond Elementary School in Covina, California. Despite having to repeat first grade again, he then had a relatively normal schooling and progressed normally. Rocky would graduate from junior high school as an honor student. To cope with his condition and to help others cope with him, he developed a knack of making friends, with a "happy go-lucky" attitude. Due to an active role of helping the students and teachers understand his disease, Rocky enjoyed as close to a normal life as a boy afflicted with a horrible disease could, and his positive attitude won him many friends. Although Rocky experienced poor eyesight, failing hearing, and painful headaches, he accomplished almost everything a boy of his age would be expected to accomplish. Rocky would die at the age of 16. His mother would later state in an interview in 2001, that her sons had "lived every day of their lives. Every moment." After his death, his mother donated his body to the UCLA Medical Center for medical research. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)
A former teacher remembers Rocky Dennis, a horribly disfigured boy whose life was portrayed in the 1985 film, “Mask.”
“If anyone showed signs that his appearance made them uncomfortable, he would say, kind of matter-of-factly, ‘If I make you uncomfortable, you can move. But I can’t change my face.’ It would be an icebreaker. He would put you at ease by addressing what was obviously bothering you, and say, 'It's okay, I get it,'” said Silva.