For Beauty Passed Away… A Continuation

WMAQ-TV's Carol Marin presents the second installment of a documentary series on the life and challenges of the facially disfigured.

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00:57Copy video clip URL WMAQ-TV “Special Presentation” graphic.

01:07Copy video clip URL Camera opens on children swinging on a swing-set. Carol Marin (voice) says: “If people in the outside world could know what Joel Sonnenberg’s playmates know: that once you get past the scars on his face and body, he is the same as any other eight-year-old boy.” Montage of Sonnenberg playing soccer, attending school, and visiting a museum.

01:40Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg embracing his best friend. Marin remarks that if the rest of the world would accept Sonnenberg, life would be “much easier,” and describes his situation and others who have been disfigured as those “whose beauty has passed away.”

02:00Copy video clip URL “For Beauty Passed Away: A Continuation” title sequence featuring an animation of a gradually wilting rose. A voiceover announces that this is a Channel 5 News documentary.

02:20Copy video clip URL Camera zooms out from a marble statue of a woman with children to Marin, who explains how they chose Edna St. Vincent Millay’s line “pity me not for beauties past away” as the title for the original documentary four years ago.

02:45Copy video clip URL Marin lists the names of Sonnenberg, Gertrude Miller, and Johnny McQueen as their photos appear alongside a graphic of a wilted rose. Marin explains how they covered their stories four years ago, and that since then “all three have made great progress.” However, Marin adds that “in the same amount of time we as a society made almost none at all.”

03:02Copy video clip URL Miller says she’s been “feeling sorry” for herself, but then reminds herself that she’s “come so far.”

03:14Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller shopping at a grocery store. Marin recounts how a house fire took Miller’s “physical beauty away,” and that when they first reported on her she had “only just begun to re-enter the world.”

03:24Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller talking with others at a table at a formal gathering. Marin says “everyday is still a struggle” for Miller, despite four years of “personal progress.”

03:33Copy video clip URL McQueen says if people just listened to “the mental part” and ignore “the physical part” they would understand him.

03:42Copy video clip URL Footage of McQueen with bandages on his head. Marin recounts how an electrical fire “gutted” McQueen’s apartment and left him severely burned.

03:51Copy video clip URL Footage of McQueen yelling from the sidelines of a basketball court. Marin says McQueen is back coaching elementary school children on the Westside of Chicago.

03:56Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg in class, followed by a montage of photographs of Sonnenberg as a two-year-old and newspaper clippings of his car accident. Marin describes how a tractor-trailer-truck hit the Sonnenberg’s car and the gas tank exploded.

04:09Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg in a classroom with a teacher when he was four-years-old. Marin says Sonnenberg had “already had extensive surgeries on his hands and face” when they first reported on him four years ago.

04:21Copy video clip URL Marin asks Sonnenberg what he does “when they stare,” to which he replies: “just look the other way.” Marin asks Sonnenberg what he thinks about those who stare, and he says “they’re weird.” Marin asks Sonnenberg if he ever gets angry at them, to which he says: “no.”

04:43Copy video clip URL Fade to black.

05:17Copy video clip URL Camera fades into a group of schoolchildren singing while McQueen laughs. McQueen describes how he would contemplate suicide four years ago, and how now he is “more determined, more strong […] knowing that I’m blessed to be back.”

06:02Copy video clip URL Footage of McQueen with bandages on his head. Marin says: “When you’re burned as bad as Johnny McQueen was four years ago, the emotional pain can be as bad as the physical suffering…not just for the burn victim, but for those who care about him.”

06:17Copy video clip URL The principal of the school where McQueen works describes visiting him in the hospital after his accident. The principal says: “I cried, it was so upsetting […] because he was really a very handsome man, and one who, I think, had a lot of zest for life.”

06:51Copy video clip URL Footage of McQueen on a stationary bike. Marin says McQueen’s physical therapy “added to the recognition he will never look like he used to.”

07:03Copy video clip URL McQueen says “it’s hard to say” how he looks, as he recognizes his new face is different from how he used to look. McQueen touches his nose and says: “This nose, it’s not my nose.”

07:23Copy video clip URL Zoom in on a photograph of McQueen before the accident. Footage of Marin, McQueen, and McQueen’s daughter walking and talking. Marin says McQueen would like to date, but it’s not “as easy as it used to be.”

07:34Copy video clip URL McQueen says he’s dated “off and on” and has not met a lot of understanding women, adding that “it takes a lot of beating around the bush.”

07:53Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller slow dancing with a man at a mixer. Marin says Miller has only met “a handful of understanding men,” and that only in the last few years has she “gathered the courage to confront the world, a world that places enormous emphasis on physical beauty.”

08:20Copy video clip URL Montage of footage of men and women sunbathing at the beach and walking through a city. Marin says: “The standard in this country is set in favor of beauty and the disfigured don’t fit it.”

08:32Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller speaking to a room of people. Marin says Miller has “embarked on her own crusade, speaking to any group that will listen in this country and abroad about the need to understand the disfigured.”

08:42Copy video clip URL Miller says she doesn’t think society has “gotten any better” about the importance it places on beauty.

08:55Copy video clip URL Montage of footage of a woman getting her hair and makeup done. Marin says “experts” share Miller’s concern that “we as a society” are “more obsessed than ever with our quest for beauty.”

09:18Copy video clip URL Sociologist Frances Cooke Macgregor says: “We live in a world where the way we look makes a difference in the way we respond.” Marin describes Macgregor’s lengthy career working on the topic of facial disfigurement. Macgregor says: “The public, first of all, is not aware of the extent to which the disfigured people exist in our country.”

10:00Copy video clip URL Marin explains the majority of the disfigured “hide,” that “they don’t go out because they feel they can’t go out.”

10:13Copy video clip URL Macgregor says the disfigured remain “the hidden people, because they can’t go out and not be stared at.”

10:24Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller kissing her dance partner and McQueen coaching a music performance.  Marin says Miller and McQueen are “the exception, and not the rule” as disfigured people who “re-entered society.”

10:33Copy video clip URL Marin says that, according to McQueen, “if he is an exception, it’s only because the kids he works with have forced him out in the open with the unconditional love and support that they’ve given him.” Footage of McQueen coaching children singing at a school concert.

11:00Copy video clip URL Marin says the acceptance McQueen found at his school “does not extend outside,” and that “despite all the progress he has made,” he “does what many facially disfigured people feel they must do: he shields himself as best he can from public view.”

11:20Copy video clip URL Marin asks McQueen if he would take off his sunglasses, to which he laughs and says: “I’ll give you a quick glance.” McQueen lifts his sunglasses and discusses what more work needs to be done to his face. Marin asks if McQueen wears his sunglasses “for protection” or “to stay behind them?” McQueen says: “Both […] it’s almost like saying that, I can look out but they can’t look in.”

11:58Copy video clip URL Fade to black.

12:30Copy video clip URL Fade into footage of Sonnenberg in class. Marin says Sonnenberg’s story is “different” than Miller or McQueen’s, “because Joel was a baby when his physical beauty was lost, it’s different because he doesn’t remember how he used to look.” Marin says Sonnenberg “doesn’t look like the other kids” and “he never will.”

13:06Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg walking in a line with classmates. Marin says Sonnenberg’s family moved less than a year ago, and that transferring schools is harder for Sonnenberg than it already is for kids.

13:20Copy video clip URL Sonnenberg’s teacher Norma Foster describes how one of Sonnenberg’s classmates first felt “uncomfortable” around him but is now his good friend. 

13:33Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg and classmates eating lunch outside. Marin says the beauty of Sonnenberg and his school is that they cope, describing how the school prepared the students for his arrival.

13:52Copy video clip URL Sonnenberg’s principal says: “We’ve all grown, having had Joel here this year […] we look at people, we look at the spirit, we look at the soul.” Footage of Sonnenberg laughing with a friend.

14:13Copy video clip URL Footage of Marin standing in a classroom. Marin says Sonnenberg has found “a warm, accepting, and supportive environment,” but adds there are concerns regarding what will happen when he leaves the school. 

14:30Copy video clip URL Footage of Joel and his parents Mike and Jan Sonnenberg sitting on a couch. Mike remarks that “everybody wants this perfect body,” and cites the gradual increase in workout media and fitness shops as evidence that society is “even more fixated” on the body. Footage of a fitness class and people working out at a gym. 

14:59Copy video clip URL Fade into title sequence of “The Elephant Man.” Marin says that while more public attention has been devoted to disfigurement due to some movies, some experts “are skeptical that these have generated significant change in people’s attitudes.” Footage from the movie “Mask.”

15:21Copy video clip URL Dr. Norman Bernstein says of “The Elephant Man” and “Mask”: “They don’t give you the truth…they are dressed up in a way.” 

16:00Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller in a meeting of disfigured people. Marin says organizations seeking to help the disfigured are few in number. 

16:12Copy video clip URL Burn-survivor Alan Breslau discusses his “Phoenix Society” organization. Breslau says: “We want disfigured people to be seen by the public, so they understand that it’s not contagious, it won’t hurt you, we’re normal people like everybody else.” 

16:20Copy video clip URL Marin stands in front of a hospital and describes the “major offensive” in New York City, NY to spread awareness about the facially disfigured sponsored by the Foundation for Facial Reconstruction at NYU.

16:34Copy video clip URL Footage of surgeons entering an operating room. Marin says the foundation deals daily with people with “profound disfigurement.”

16:50Copy video clip URL The director of the foundation, Joseph McCarthy, M.D., says: “Let’s get behind these people.”

17:06Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg playing on a slide. Marin says “there isn’t time” to wait for building organizations according to Sonnenberg’s parents. Marin says the Sonnenbergs have worked for the last six years “to gain greater acceptance and understanding.”

17:22Copy video clip URL Footage of the Sonnenbergs eating a meal. Marin describes how Jan has written a book about Joel, and how both parents “spent endless hours out in the community explaining the plight of the facially disfigured.”

17:37Copy video clip URL Marin asks Mike if he’s tired, to which he replies: “Yes, exhausted […] it’s like running the marathon, hittin’ the wall.” Mike explains how they have to rely on family and “keep pushing and pushing.” Jan says: “I’m never really tempted to give up…I just get tired.” Jan explains how she can’t give up because Joel is her child.

18:14Copy video clip URL Footage of Joel at a museum with classmates. Mike discusses how they worry about Joel’s future, particularly in regards to dating, marriage, and raising children. However, Mike adds that “it has to do with the spirit” of Joel, who has “risen above” many obstacles.

18:49Copy video clip URL Footage of Joel playing soccer. Marin says: “Other people who know Joel can’t help but agree. Everyday Joel walks better, runs better, writes better, and learns more.”

19:00Copy video clip URL Marin asks Joel if the amount he can do with his hand surprises people, to which Joel nods. Marin asks Joel what people say, and Joel says: “Wow!”

19:11Copy video clip URL Fade to black.

19:44Copy video clip URL Fade into footage of McQueen coaching on the side of a basketball court. Marin describes how most disfigured people think it’s “next to impossible” for others to understand. Marin says McQueen feels so strongly about this that he had to write a poem.

20:07Copy video clip URL Footage of McQueen outside reciting a poem about being burned. He recites two versions, the latter of which ends with “you wish you woulda died.” Marin says McQueen has experienced moments in which he thought “death would be a blessing,” but adds “as time has passed, so too has the frequency of the darker moments.” 

21:15Copy video clip URL Marin asks McQueen: “At 30-years-old are you ever tempted now to give up?” McQueen pauses and then answers “no,” adding that at 30 he feels like “going forward…I know it’s out there, all I gotta do is keep going, Imma find it.”

21:30Copy video clip URL Footage of Miller slow dancing. Marin describes how disfigured people need to find “a way to accept themselves.” Marin says Miller described herself four years ago as “a phoenix, one who was ascending from the ashes.”

21:49Copy video clip URL Miller says: “We have to learn to accept ourselves as we are, otherwise we can’t show a positive image to the public.” Marin asks Miller if she’s accepted herself, to which she replies: “Oh yeah! I’m beautiful, didn’t I tell you that?”

22:05Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg playing soccer. Marin explains that the number of living disfigured people is growing because advancements in medicine save more lives. Marin says: “The disfigured want and deserve more than just survival. They want what we all want: a life filled with possibilities.”

22:33Copy video clip URL Mike says: “There’s a world out there that Joel needs to be a part of.” Mike describes how Joel is developing an attitude “that he can and will conquer.”

22:58Copy video clip URL Footage of Sonnenberg doing a drill at soccer practice where he makes a goal.

23:19Copy video clip URL Credits.

24:21Copy video clip URL Tape ends.



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