Leslie Lemke: blind, savant piano player on That's Incredible! (1981)


This is the episode of That’s Incredible that I remember and as I recall, it looked actually 3D on my home TV back in the 80s. I never did understand why this technology didn’t end up being mainstream. It seemed like it worked better than the kind that uses glasses:

check out Lou, another blind autistic piano player

I remember That’s Incredible very well. A strange mix of exploiting and celebrating the odd. (I associate the show with soft-serve sundaes from Carvel . . . because Wednesday was Sundae at Carvel!)

Years after the That’s Incredible showing, Lemke and his siblings appeared on an interview show; it might have been Phil Donahue’s.

The siblings were not happy with their mother’s exploitation of Leslie; she was either deceased or an invalid at the time and no longer had custody.

Leslie performed when asked, beginning with a chipper “sure thing!”

Thanks a lot! I’ve been wanting to see that clip again for, well, 32 years, and my attempts to find out what’s become of Mr. Lemke have all come to nothing — until today! I was just commenting at YouTube or somewhere, at a video with a similarly able piano player, and mentioned Leslie Lemke (whose name I had wrong, of course), so this is a very timely post.

Good to know he’s still performing. What ability! And what an amazing, patient woman his foster mother was. What we call miracles seem to happen around people like her — saints, I’d say.

Check the YouTube videos around this one, by the way. “May’s Miracle” is in three parts (link goes to part 1), and it’s all about Lemke and his playing and family. (Thanks again! This is what I love about the net.)

Lemke singing “Everybody’s beautiful in their own way” is a message that has stuck with me since I saw that clip when it originally aired. I still refer to it all the time, and it’s wonderful to see him sing it again.

What a powerful video, I couldn’t believe my eyes were welling up in only 4 minutes, those are people who give you hope for humanity’s future.

@pesco That was incredible. I love his mother, she reminds me of my own grandmother, tenacious and wonderful. If you haven’t seen it, this short clip of him playing for her is poetic and moving… she has Alzheimer’s and looks a bit zombied out until he starts playing and then something in her brain just turns on again.

Just crying buckets right now.


I only knew this story indirectly, via Fred Small’s song Leslie_Is_Different. I trusted Fred when he said it was a real story, but I’d thought he might have amplified a bit for effect. Apparently not.

Wow. Again.

Obviously you missed out on Afterschool Specials! He also has one: “The Woman who Willed a Miracle”, you get to see him at the end of the dramatization (with Cloris Leachman!) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0237930/

I loved That’s Incredible! and the other show (I always assumed it was by the same producers) Real People. man, i thought those jackets were just the coolest thing going.

For a moment I thought this was talking about That’s Amazing with Carl Hooper.

Never heard of “That’s Incredible!”.

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