Casey Stengel earned his fame as a baseball player and manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, New York Yankees and Mets, but it was the world of dentistry that was his first calling. Charles Dillon Stengel was born in Kansas City (hence his nickname) and attended dental college there. In the days before players commanded top salaries baseball was considered more of a hobby than a professional career. Stengel planned to play ball in the summer and work in his dental practice off season. His having an alternate career to turn to proved a good bargaining chip when negotiating a better salary from team owners. He was able to make a living playing baseball and gave up his dental practice. Dr. Stengel once remarked that her never did think he was particularly good at dentistry, but his mother like his work.
Another dentist had aspirations to be a baseball player... or a writer. Zane Grey attended the University of Pennsylvania on a baseball scholarship. He studied dentistry but really hoped for a break into major leagues. A lucrative offer never came, so he graduated dental school, thinking that career to likely be more predictable than being a writer. In deference to his dream he did locate his practice in New York city instead of his native Ohio to be close to publishers-- just in case. The decision paid off. He sold one of his stories to a magazine and proudly put reprints in his waiting room for his patients to read. He eventually became one of the most successful authors or Western novels of all time. Many of his works were turned into movies including "Riders of the Purple Sage," a novel that critics have said defined the genre of the Western thriller.
John "Doc" Holliday is remembered as a gunslinger and top notch gambler of the Wild West, but that wasn't his original intention. A native of Georgia and graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry in Philadelphia, he liked dentistry and was good at it. He had to leave his practice after contracting tuberculosis. There was no cure, and his terrible cough was disconcerting to patients. His doctor said he would feel better in a dry climate, so he moved West. A southern gentleman, characteristically polite and impeccable on the dance floor, he found the western frontier rather uncouth. He also discovered his dexterity learned as a dentist translated to manipulating cards at the gaming table and ease with a revolver. Immortalized in Western lore for his role in the "shootout at the OK Corral," legendary frontier Sheriff Wyatt Earp recollected “the Doc save my life on more than once occasion.”
Anyone old enough to remember 1960's prime time television will like recall Uncle Joe "who was moving kind of slow at the Junction." Edgar Buchannon, who played the manager and later owner of the Shady Rest on "Petticoat Junction", "Green Acres," and three episodes of the "Beverly Hillbillies" was anything but lazy in real life. Dr. Buchanan had a thriving dental practice before succumbing to the lure of show business. The Humansville, Missouri, native appeared in over 100 movies as well as many different television shows. When he decided to devote his efforts to acting full time he turned his practice over to his wife, who was also a dentist.
Due to his participation at the Indianapolis 500 Dr. Jack Miller is frequently referred to as "The Racing Dentist." He was active five years-- 1997 through 2001-- and would have likely continued his dual career had not a 13 car pileup caused sufficient injuries to foster a decision to retire. Dr. Miller has a successful dental practice in Indianapolis today.
Richard Warner, D.D.S.
Warner Family Dentistry in Council Bluffs
Dr. Richard Warner, Family Dentist in Council Bluffs
Though most wouldn't necessarily know Dr. Byron McKeeby's name, it's hard to imagine that there is anyone in the civilized world that hasn't seen his picture. The man whose image is more recognizable than any other dentist (or any other Iowan for that matter) was a University of Iowa College of Dentistry graduate and the Woods' family dentist when Grant Wood chose to use him as a model. The painter paired his sister Nan with Dr. McKeeby to portray a pitchfork-holding farmer and his daughter in front of a house in Eldon, Iowa, that had caught his fancy. Nan never actually posed with her dentist or in front of the house; her brother painted the various elements separately. "American Gothic" has achieved iconic status. It's also become one of the most parodied paintings in history, prompting takeoffs in a limitless array of places, from the Saturday Evening Post to the Rocky Horror picture show.
Paul Revere took over the family trade—a silver shop—but business was so poor he needed another way to support his family. Figuring his metal working skills would come in handy in dentistry he turned to a practicing surgeon who was “a friend of a friend” to teach him the trade. He didn’t actually go to dental school; the first dental college in the United States wouldn’t open for another fifty years.
His skills proved good and he became known for his prosthetics made of wire, ivory, and animal teeth. He advertised his dental practice in the local newspapers and his business grew.
Paul Revere also pioneered dental forensics. Major General Joseph Warren was killed during the Battle of Bunker Hill and was buried in a mass grave. Later, when relatives wanted to find the hero’s remains and have them reburied in an individual grave, Paul Revere was able to make a positive identification when he recognized a false tooth he had made.