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150 ICONS: Anthon's Charles Osborne had hiccups for 68 years straight

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Charles Osborne

Charles Osborne, of Anthon, Iowa, had hiccups for 68 years. Osborne, who died in 1991, appeared on the "Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson in 1983. His hiccup streak also landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records.

ANTHON, Iowa | The Woodbury County town of Anthon found its way into the popular Guinness Book of World Records a few decades ago.

Why? It was the hometown of Charles Osborne, who from 1922 to 1990 had the hiccups nonstop.

Osborne didn't only hold the world record, he traveled a bit for guest appearances on "Ripley's Believe It or Not!", a radio show held in New York City in 1936; ABC Television's "That's Incredible" in 1980; and "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson in 1983.

According to Osborne, his hiccups began when he was hanging a hog for a butchering operation. He picked up the 350-pound carcass and then fell down. He didn't feel a thing. However, his hiccups began.

And kept going and going and going.

A doctor treated Osborne and told him he likely broke a blood vessel in his brain when he fell. The result: He damaged the part of his brain that may have inhibited the hiccup response.

His hiccups went on at a rate of 40 per minute during the early portion of his record run. They slowed to 20 per minute later in life. Osborne's hiccups finally ended on June 5, 1990, about one year before his death.

It was estimated that he hiccuped more than 430 million times during his life.

His claim to fame didn't keep him from working and raising eight children. He sold farm machinery and toiled as a livestock auctioneer.

During his sleep, the hiccups often subsided. Osborne, it was said, often put some food through a blender to make dining a bit easier.

A 1987 syndicated newspaper column by Sioux City native Abigail Van Buren featured Osborne and resulted in his receiving multiple calls from readers from all over the U.S., each claiming to have a cure. Osborne and Van Buren, it was said, both received more than 800 letters following that column.

Osborne wasn't Anthon's lone physical claim to fame. Bernard Coyle, described as a "giant," resided in this Woodbury County town. He towered at more than 8 feet in height.


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