A Virginia neurologist thinks that Pio Pico--the last Mexican governor of California, whose Pico House Hotel still stands near Olvera Street--suffered from acromegaly, complicated by a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. That made cartilage and soft tissue in his face grow large and disproportionate.
The Los Angeles Times headline reads: What made Pio Pico so feo? It's a bit harsh, but yeah. He's no Antonio Banderas. And he don't look a bit like his brother Andres, below.
Dr. Ivan S. Login (the neurologist) says "When you see one person who's got that [acromegaly], you recognize it forever." Well, yes, and I'm sure the doctor knows his stuff. But it's also true that if you're holding a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.
Andres and Pio once owned a large part of the land that became the San Fernando Valley, and a graduate student wrote a whole book about Andres' fight to retain it. The book is called Forster Vs. Pico: The Struggle for the Rancho Santa Margarita, by John Kielbasa. Good luck trying to find a copy.
Unless the doctor has dna or exhumed the body, I'm leery of a diagnosis based on a few daguerreotypes and an oil painting. Remember a few years ago when news outlets were reporting that Abraham Lincoln suffered from Marfan's Syndrome? Unlikely, the experts now admit.
OK, ready for a picture of Pio in all his youthful feo-city? This copy came from Picasa. I've seen it many times--but no idea where the original is kept. It's of Pio with his wife and nieces. Since the Times printed a cut-up copy with no attribution, I assume it's public domain.