I'm sure many of the current movies out today, in an effort to obtain as much realism as possible, hire consultants to ensure the sign language used in movies is as accurate as any other language used by characters.

However, I'm watching the Vincent Price classic The Tingler and I can't help but feel that the sign language used by the deaf mute at the beginning of the movie was just some crazy hand gestures ad-libbed.

Does anyone know, for sure, if they were using real signs for that part?

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    I'm betting it's more real than the fake sign language made up by our infamous fake sign reader at Nelson Mandela's funeral. RIP Madiba. But on a serious note, thank you for asking this question as it's something I often wonder about when someone plays a hearing impaired character in tv/ movies.
    – 0pinion8d
    Nov 18, 2014 at 19:21
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    LOL. Yes, I recall that. There were some great Late Night TV parodies after that event, though it was scary that he was able to get so close to Mandela when he was so obviously a phony. Nov 18, 2014 at 19:27
  • I have to admit to crying with laughter at your error. Being that it was Nelson Mandela funeral he didn't get close to him at all. He was however within arms reach of Barack Obama and hundreds of other heads of state and VIP guests from every nation. It's on par with those who published photos of Morgan Freeman with RIP Mandela messages.
    – 0pinion8d
    Nov 21, 2014 at 14:30
  • Ha! I had Mandela on the brain. :o) Nov 21, 2014 at 14:39

2 Answers 2


According to a United Press International blurb that was run in the Provo Daily Herald and the The Weirton Daily Times in 1959, Judith Evelyn did in fact learn sign language for the movie:

Learns Sign Language HOLLYWOOD -- (UPI) - Judith Evelyn, whose speaking voice is one of the finest in the acting profession, took lessons in sign language for her role as a deaf- mute in Columbia's "The Tingler."

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    Interesting. The Wiki article (yes, I know they're not 100% accurate) states, "She even communicates in a neurotic pantomime." That, coupled with what I've seen in recent movies, led me to believe that she wasn't really using ASL. Nov 18, 2014 at 15:55
  • She took lessons, but this doesn't mean that the portrayals onscreen are accurate :) I'm just kidding though, I don't know wither way
    – m1gp0z
    Oct 25, 2018 at 15:43

I am watching the movie with my boyfriend, who is fluent in ASL. His younger brother is deaf, so the whole family learned.

It started with "that's actual sign language" and continued with him live translating the conversations.

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