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Roy Lee Dennis
Dennis' junior high school yearbook photo, 1977
Born Roy Lee Dennis
(1961-12-04)December 4, 1961
Glendora, California, United States
Died October 4, 1978(1978-10-04) (aged 16)
Glendora, California, United States
Nationality United States
Parent(s) Florence "Rusty" Tullis
Roy Dennis

Roy Lee "Rocky" Dennis (December 4, 1961 – October 4, 1978) was an American boy afflicted with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, an extremely rare, sclerotic bone disorder. The condition usually results in neurological disorders and death during childhood. His body was donated to UCLA Medical Center after he died.[1] His life was the basis for the 1985 Academy Award-winning drama film Mask.


Rocky Dennis was born December 4, 1961, in Glendora, California, to Florence "Rusty" Tullis and Roy Dennis. At the age of 4, Dennis was diagnosed with craniodiaphyseal dysplasia, also known as CDD or lionitis, an extremely rare disease occurring in approximately 1 in every 220 million births, with fewer than 20 recorded cases. CDD is a bone disorder that causes calcium to build up in the skull, disfiguring the facial features and reducing life expectancy.[2]

Doctors informed his mother that the abnormal calcium deposits in his skull would push his eyes toward the edges of his head, twist his nose out of shape, cause his eyesight and hearing to fail and, based on the handful of cases on record, result in tremendous pressure that would eventually destroy his brain.[3]

Dennis experienced problems with eyesight and hearing along with painful headaches; but he was able to do many things he was thought not to be able to accomplish, such as learning to read. His poor eyesight, which made him legally blind, meant that he would never read a book. He entered school at the age of 6, despite many of his teachers' disapproval; and, although experiencing a slow start (he spent two years in the first grade), he was able to make some progress thereafter and died at 16 years of age from his life-limiting condition.

Dennis resided in Azusa, California. He and his mother lived for a time in Covina (Grandview Avenue), where he attended Ben Lomond Elementary School.


Dennis's older brother, Joshua Mason, died in 1987 at age 32 from complications of AIDS. His mother, Rusty Tullis, died on November 11, 2006, at age 70 as a result of an infection following a motorcycle accident.[4] His sister, Amanda Ballinger, currently lives in Illinois.


Anna Hamilton Phelan wrote a screenplay based on Dennis' life; Peter Bogdanovich directed the 1985 drama film, titled Mask, in which Eric Stoltz portrays Dennis. In one scene in the film, the character Dennis reads a poem to his mother, Rusty (played by Cher), written by the real Dennis. The movie is based very loosely on Dennis' life, with most of the scenes and dialogue altered for dramatic purposes. For example, the film shows Rusty at Dennis' gravesite; however, the real Dennis was not buried, as his mother donated his body to UCLA for medical research. The dates of birth and death on the tombstone are also incorrect.

Phelan also adapted her screenplay into a stage musical of the same name, with music by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The musical premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in California on March 12, 2008.

Swedish pop musician Jens Lekman self-published a song called "Rocky Dennis' Farewell Song to the Blind Girl", causing DJs to mistakenly call the musician by Rocky Dennis' name.[5] Lekman clarified that the song was not about himself with the release of Rocky Dennis in Heaven, an EP containing four songs about Dennis and his portrayal in the film.


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_L._Dennis — Please support Wikipedia.
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5 news items

Gazette Review

Gazette Review
Thu, 28 Jan 2016 14:29:12 -0800

In many ways, it might be good that Stoltz didn't continue working on Back to the Future. Instead of being in theaters that year as Marty McFly, he was presented to audiences as Rocky Dennis in Mask. The film was based on the life and death of Roy L ...


Fri, 24 Jul 2015 21:05:36 -0700

Bluestone Missionary Baptist Church, 9892 NC 700, Pelham, North Carolina, will celebrate its 10th anniversary of the Rev. Roy L. Dennis Jr. with a banquet on Aug. 1 with Pastor McGowens from Greater Galilee Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Winston-Salem Chronicle

Winston-Salem Chronicle
Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:04:53 -0700

Roy L. Dennis was a student of Taylor's at Shaw University in 2004. Dennis is currently a religion professor at Apex School of Theology in Durham. The character value that stands out most to him about Dr. Taylor is his humility. He also considers ...


Thu, 20 Jun 2013 08:01:22 -0700

Roy L. Dennis nella foto dell'annuario scolastico (1977) – Photocredit: WIkipedia. UNA VITA “NORMALE” - Non tutti, però, conoscono la vera storia di Roy Lee Dennis, morto a 17 anni non ancora compiuti a causa delle inevitabili complicazioni della sua ...

Le Repaire des Motards

Le Repaire des Motards
Tue, 30 Jul 2013 22:21:40 -0700

Film moto : Mask Mask est un film américain réalisé par Peter Bogdanovich et sorti dans les salles en 1985. L'intrigue se base sur des faits réels puisqu'elle reprend l'histoire de Roy L. Dennis atteint d'une maladie rare et incurable baptisée ...

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