LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Los Angeles actor and director has found himself at the center of a public relations kerfuffle, after it was found that his image, minus a leg, has been used to warn of the dangers of diabetes.

Cleo Berry’s image has been splashed all over the Internet, New York City subways and the New York Department of Health’s website as an anti-diabetes campaign. The poster shows 27-year-old Berry sitting on a stool, his right leg amputated. A pair of crutches lean against a wall behind him.

Problem is, Berry has both legs. The photos were taken several years ago, when Berry was a struggling actor eager to take $500 for photographs in a Manhattan studio so he could pay his rent, according to the New York Times. An advertising agency for the city’s health department bought the rights to use the photo, editing away Berry’s right leg and adding in the crutches, the Times reports.

Berry told the Times he was beyond shocked at the ad. “I cried at my computer screen for, like, a minute,” he told the newspaper.

Berry signed a waiver allowing his image to be manipulated.

“I am deeply saddened to see my likeness manipulated by the New York City Health Department in such a hurtful way.  While I respect the city’s efforts to educate its citizens about the dangers of obesity and diabetes, using an edited image of myself, an able-bodied person, has caused me distress but more importantly, makes light of the disease and the severity of its side effects,” a statement from Berry said. “I have put a lot of time and effort into building my acting career and will continue to focus on the movie I am currently filming as well as future projects.”

New York City’s health department says a majority of adult New Yorkers (nearly 57%) are overweight or obese, and nearly 10% have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

“This issue isn’t about one actor but rather the 700,000 New Yorkers who struggle with diabetes, which kills 1,700 people a year and causes amputations in another 3,000. Advertising to warn the public about health concerns saves lives and we will continue our efforts to warn New Yorkers about diabetes,” NYC Health spokesman John Kelly said in an emailed statement.

Comments (12)
  1. Steve V. says:

    This could be the biggest break of this young actor’s life. Google his name and check out his portfolio on youtube.

  2. MeMe DaVInci says:

    The actor in the wheelchair on GLEE is not physically challenged (or whatever the term is now) in real life, so what makes Mr. Berry think this is going to ruin opportunities for future employment in the entertainment industry since he is not recognizable in this print ad?

    1. Roy says:

      Fact is, it isn’t. However, the fact that this made the news, and we are talking about it, does promote opportunities for him…

      “The only thing worse about people talking about you is no one talking about you.” – Oscar Wilde

  3. Rolando Marin Jr. says:

    LAME! He’s more upset that he’s over-weight and could probably become a diabetic who really loses his leg. The message is indeed a good one. I love it when they show disgustingly fat people as a warning against obesity or diabetes. I love it when they show a skeleton scab faced crack head to point out the effects of drugs. I love it when they show a dismembered body at a traffic accident to show how that person should not have been texting and driving.

  4. Jerry says:

    MeMe DaVInci & Rolando Marin Jr.

    What if it was your picture that was photoshopped to show how ugly or unattractive you may be behind the computer screen? You guys are missing the whole point; especially Rolando.

    “I love it when they show disgustingly fat people as a warning against obesity or diabetes”

    Nevermind that people can also get that big from a thyroid condition… see the flaw in your logic there? Ever example you’ve used involved real people in those situations. The guy in the picture does not have diabetes and has both legs. They should have used an actual person who has those conditions. Using an actor to send a real message has no more effect than using a person with the diseases.

  5. GC1008 says:

    They should have used someone who has diabetes and lost a limb. Even with the short term publicity he’s right, it could hurt his career. More importantly it’s a lie being presented as it is. The most profound ad I ever saw was an anti-smoking ad done by Yule Brenner. In it he tells of the hazards of smoking and how it can kill you. At the end he says, “Look at me. I’m dead.” He knew it would be aired after his death. That man had true courage and the ad was the truth. But cowards pulled it as being too disturbing… that was the entire point. If he had the courage to do the ad, we should have had the courage to continue showing it.

  6. Jeff says:

    Being an amputee I find this ad to be disguting…

  7. Anna says:

    The ad may be fake but losng a leg or a foot to diabetes is real!
    The Anti Obesity drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!!

    Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank

    The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity WITHOUT MEDICATIONS in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

  8. MeMe DaVinci says:

    Just a note to Jerry and others…the gentleman agreed to pose, signed a waiver, and was paid $500 for getting his photo taken. The photo and probably others were sold to a clearinghouse that holds the rights to millions of photos that show up in ads in virtually every periodical around the globe. As a writer and photographer, I understand what the agreement means. The fact that anyone is talking about him at all is because he thinks his presence as an actor will be misunderstood. He said he did this gig years ago to help pay his rent. You either embrace everything you do and move forward or reject it all and go nowhere. Love the Oscar Wilde quote, too. Thank you for the reminder…

  9. Buzz Off says:

    on the subject of losing things, does that spokesman Kelly have a toupee?

  10. Best Garbage Disposer says:

    Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my website thus i came to go back the desire?.I’m attempting to in finding things to improve my site!I suppose its good enough to use a few of your ideas!!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Watch & Listen LIVE