Friday, May 30, 2008
Lori and George Schappell
Lori and George Schappell, born September 18, 1961 in Reading, Pennsylvania, are American entertainers. George Schapell was born Dori Schapell, and was known for several years as Reba Schapell.As conjoined twins, Lori and George have acted in an episode of Nip/Tuck, playing Rose and Raven Rosenburg. They have also appeared in a number of television documentaries about their lives as well as talk shows.
As country singer Reba Schappell, George has performed widely in the United States, and has also performed in Germany and Japan. In 1997, she won the L.A. Music Award for Best New Country Artist. She also sang Fear of Being Alone as the voice-over to the credits of a spoof on conjoined twins, Stuck on You.
Previously, George designed support equipment for people with physical handicaps, including her own specialized wheelchair, and a mobility aid for dogs. She is also a trophy-winning bowler.
Lori acts as George's facilitator. She works in a laundry, arranging her workload around George's singing commitments. Lori says that, as a fan of George's, she pays to attend her concerts, just like all the other fans, simply making herself quiet and "invisible" while her sister is on stage.
On June 21, 2007, Lori and George Schappell, took part in grand opening of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not ! Odditorium" in Times Square in New York. This is the first time they were billed as Lori and George Schapell.
Born as Lori and Dori Schappell, the sisters are craniopagus conjoined twins, joined at the head and sharing 30% of their brain matter, but having very different personalities and living, insofar as possible, individual lives. As a mark of individuality, and disliking the fact that their names rhymed, Dori changed her name to Reba. By 2007 she was preferring to be known as George.
While Lori is able-bodied, George has spina bifida which has caused growth retardation of her lower body and severe mobility impairment. The two women are therefore of very different heights. There was no wheel chair that suited George's unique condition, as to move around, she must be raised to her sister's height, to avoid undue strain upon Lori's neck and back. The only thing on wheels that was the right height was a bar stool. Using this as the foundation, George designed the wheelchair that she currently uses. One of the benefits of having a high wheel chair is that, unlike most people in conventional wheelchairs, the user is raised to about the height of a standing adult, which better facilitates normal communication.
Lori and George spent the first twenty-four years of their lives living in an institution in Reading in which the majority of inmates suffered severe intellectual disability. Although neither is intellectually disabled, George's condition required special care. A court decision was made that their parents would be unable to care for them properly and they were removed and institutionalized. In the 1960s there were few hospital institutions for those people who had special needs that were unusual. In order that they might be placed in the institution, they were diagnosed as suffering from intellectual disability. When they reached adulthood, George, with the help of Ginny Thornburgh, wife of a former Governor of Pennsylvania, fought to have this diagnosis overturned and Lori and George were able to go to college.
They live in an apartment, each maintaining their own private space. George has several pets. They respect each other’s privacy in terms of work time, recreation and friendships.
In 2006, George was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Reading, PA. Lori did not join the LDS Church, but has been supportive of her sister's decision.
Video Reba Schappell - "The Fear of Being Alone"