1920s Silent film comedian Ben Turpin famously bought a $25,000 insurance policy with Lloyd's, payable if his trademark crossed eyes ever uncrossed. How serious this was is open to conjecture; such publicity stunts, centred around a performer’s trademark, were common attention-getters at the time.
1930s Jimmy ‘the Schnozzle’ Durante's infamously large nose was insured by Lloyd’s for $140,000
And in no particular order:
Marlene Dietrich insured her vonderful voice for $1m and years later, Bruce Springsteen insured his for £3.5m; Bette Davis insured her tiny waist against weight gain to the tune of $28,000; and 1940s actress, dancer and pin-up girl Betty Grable insured her stupendous pins for $1,000,000 (hence the phrase ‘million-dollar legs’).
Betty Grable’s legs was the beginning of a rush of celebrity leg insurance which has since taken in ballet dancer Rudolph Nureyev’s rather more muscular legs, insured for a then-considerable $34,000, Michael ‘Riverdance’ Flatley’s legs, and in 2006, soccer giant David Beckham’s legs, insured for a cool £100m.
Dolly Parton has insured her reputedly 40DD breasts for £3.8m; Rolling Stones’ guitarist Keith Richards’ hands are insured for $1.6m; and, movingly, James Dean took out a policy on his life for $100,000 just a week before his tragic death at the age of 25.
Food critic Egon Ronay has insured his taste buds for $400,000; comedian Ken Dodd, as we all know, has insured those teeth for £4m; and former Australian cricketer Merv Hughes insured his moustache, which seems to have a life of its own and could probably have signed the policy itself, for £200,000.
More recently, Ugly Betty star America Ferrera's actually very beautiful smile (once her character’s braces are removed) was insured for $10m. The policy was bought by the makers of at home teeth-whitening product Aquafresh White Trays as part of a promotion involving Ms Ferrera, which aims to raise money for US charity Smiles for Success. Said Ferrera, ‘It’s very flattering to have my smile insured. It’s not something that I ever imagined happening.’