This post is a long time coming, and almost didn't arrive at all. My first list like this was Famous People Born 1908. The 1909 list and the 1910 list got more elaborate with descriptions of each person on the list. And each year, as I search for names, there are more and more names offered online. So for 2011, I collected some names. I put them in order of birthdate. I narrowed the list down to 35 people. That was ready months and months ago. I finally realized that if I was going to wait until I had bios for each person on the list, it wasn't ever going to be posted. So this is more a return to the format of the first year. With links and some comments.
I've found it fascinating to see which famous people were birth year cohorts. If they all lived in the same neighborhood, they would have been in the same kindergarten class. Hank Greenberg would have been the oldest. Imagine how the world might be different if Le Duc Tho, Ronald Reagan, Tennessee Williams, and Anatol Rapoport had all been in the same graduating class. And I can't help but wonder why one person only lives to age 26 (Jean Harlow) and others to 66 (Hubert Humphrey and EF Schumacher.)
And there's lots to ponder about what we've done with our own lives. But not necessarily to fret. You don't get 'famous' for helping your neighbors and making the world a better place in small daily acts of kindness. You don't need to become famous - in fact it can be an obstacle - to be a great person. I've got one such 'ordinary' person on the list this year - my dad.
I also realize that these are people who, for the most part, came to prominence as I was coming to be aware of the greater world. So many of these people might mean nothing to younger readers. In those instances, I'm pleased to introduce them. Well, maybe not all of them.
Hanging In There [UPDATE October 2013: General Giap died in early October 2013 at age 102.]
There's one name on the list who appears to still be alive, so he gets a little more coverage than the others. Vo Nguyen Giap the North Vietnamese general who defeated the US in what the Vietnamese call "The American War," turned 100 on August 25, 2011.
|Image from Wikipedia|
From Vets With A Mission
Four-star General Vo Nguyen Giap led Vietnam's armies from their inception, in the 1940s, up to the moment of their triumphant entrance into Saigon in 1975.
Possessing one of the finest military minds of this century, his strategy for vanquishing superior opponents was not to simply outmaneuver them in the field but to undermine their resolve by inflicting demoralizing political defeats with his bold tactics.
This was evidenced as early as 1944, when Giap sent his minuscule force against French outpost in Indochina. The moment he chose to attack was Christmas Eve. More devastatingly, in 1954 at a place called Dien Bien Phu, Giap lured the overconfident French into a turning point battle and won a stunning victory with brilliant deployments. Always he showed a great talent for approaching his enemy's strengths as if they were exploitable weaknesses.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, in 1968, the General launched a major surprise offensive against American and South Vietnamese forces on the eve of the lunar New Year celebrations. Province capitals throughout the country were seized, garrisons simultaneously attacked and, perhaps most shockingly, in Saigon the U.S. Embassy was invaded. The cost in North Vietnamese casualties was tremendous but the gambit produced a pivotal media disaster for the White House and the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Giap's strategy toppled the American commander in chief. It turned the tide of the war and sealed the General's fame as the dominant military genius of the 20th Century's second half.About the Chart
The names on the chart below are in order of birth dates in 1911, starting with Hank Greenberg, born on January 1, 1911, and the oldest of the cohort until he died September 4, 1986. The youngest, until others began to die, was Jules Dassin, born December 18, 1911. In the end though, he died March 21, 2008 at age 96, older than everyone except Gen. Giap.
The right hand column lists the order in which they died - with Jean Harlow number 1 at age 26.
"V" next to the links on their names indicates it goes to a video.
Blue indicates Nobel Prize winners (4).
|Death date||Age||Name||Noted for||Death Order|
|Jan 1||9/4/86||75||Hank Greenberg||Two-time American League MVP||16|
|Jan 17||12/1/91||80||George J. Stigler||Nobel Prize Economic Theory of Regulation||20|
|Feb 6||6/5/2004||93||Ronald Reagan||40th US President||29|
|Feb 9||4/26/70||69||Gypsy Rose Lee - V||Dancer/Stripper||12|
|March 3||6/7/37||26||Jean Harlow||Actor||1|
|Mar 12||7/15/79||68||Gustavo Días Ordaz - V||President of Mexico 1964-70||11|
|Mar 13||1/24/86||74||L Ron Hubbard - |
|Founded Scientology, Author||14|
|Mar 16||2/7/79||68||Josef Mengele||Evil Nazi doctor||10|
|Mar 25||1/3/67||55||Jack Ruby V||Killer of Lee Harvey Oswald||3|
|Mar 26||2/25/83||71||Tennessee Williams||Playwright - Glass Menagerie||13|
|May 7||2/28/93||81||Ishiro Honda - V||Film Director Godzilla||22|
|May 11||11/1/85||74||Phil Silvers - V||Actor||15|
|May 15||4/4/91||79||Max Frisch||Novelist |
|May 17||6/28/98||87||Maureen O'Sullivan||Actor |
Mia Farrow's Mom
|May 17||12/1/2003||92||Clark Kerr||President University of California||30|
|May 22||1/20/2007||95||Anatol Rapoport||Mathematical Biologist - Systems Theory||32|
|May 27||1/13/78||66||Hubert Humphrey||US Vice President 65-69||8|
|May 27||10/28/93||82||Vincent Price||Actor||24|
|July 7||2/1/2007||95||Gian-Carlo Menotti||Composer||33|
|July 14||1/8/90||78||Terry Thomas||Actor||19|
|July 16||4/25/95||83||Ginger Rogers - Video||Dancer, Actor||25|
|Aug 5||6/8/69||57||Robert Taylor||Actor||4|
|Aug 6||4/26/89||77||Lucille Ball||Actor |
I Love Lucy
|Aug 7||6/17/79||67||Nicholas Ray||Film Director |
Rebel Without a Cause
|Aug 16||9/4/77||66||EF Schumacher||Economist, Small is Beautiful||7|
|Aug 25||Still Alive||100||Vo Nguyen Giap||North Vietnamese General, Minister of Defense||35|
|Sept 9||8/2/72||61||Paul Goodman||Anarchist writer Growing Up Absurd||6|
|Sept 19||6/19/93||81||William Golding||Nobel Prize Lit Lord of the Flies||23|
|Sept 29||10/11/88||77||Werner Aufrecht||Great Father||17|
|Oct 14||10/13/90||79||Le Duc Tho||Vietnames Diplomat - Nobel Peace Prize |
1973 Paris Cease Fire
|Oct 26||1/27/72||60||Mahalia Jackson||Queen of Gospel Music||5|
|Nov 5||7/6/98||86||Roy Rogers||Movie Cowboy||26|
|Nov 27||4/25/2000||88||David Merrick||Theater Producer, Hello Dolly||28|
|Dec 11||8/30/2006||94||Naguib Mahfouz||Egyptian Nobel Prize The Cairo Trilogy||31|
|Dec 14||5/1/65||53||Spike Jones |
|Dec 18||3/31/2008||96||Jules Dassin||Blacklisted Film Director, He Who Must Die, Never On Sunday, Topkapi||34|
This is not an exhaustive list, but they are all people I knew about, and a couple I have some sort of extra connection to. I'll list some of those linkages here.
In1967 President of Mexico Ordaz, along with the President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson, spoke at my graduation at UCLA. (I didn't attend.) In 1968, Ordaz ordered troops to end the student demonstrations at the University of Mexico. National Guard troops killed 4 students at Kent State University the same year. From NPR on the Mexican Massacre:
Government sources originally reported that four people had been killed and 20 wounded, while eyewitnesses described the bodies of hundreds of young people being trucked away. Thousands of students were beaten and jailed, and many disappeared. Forty years later, the final death toll remains a mystery, but documents recently released by the U.S. and Mexican governments give a better picture of what may have triggered the massacre. Those documents suggest that snipers posted by the military fired on fellow troops, provoking them to open fire on the students.Let's hope the current Occupy Movement doesn't face the same sort of 'solution' by the powers that be.
Ronald Reagan was Governor of California when I graduated from UCLA, so his signature is on my diploma. Clark Kerr was President of the University of California system when I graduated, so his signature is also on my diploma.
I watched Jack Ruby live on television (the video linked), along with much of the US, when he shot Lee Harvey Oswald.
I read EF Schumacher's book Small Is Beautiful when it came out and it has had a lasting impact on my understanding of things. I also spent a lot of time with Naguib Mahfouz
when I read The Cairo Trilogy. I have Max Frisch's Homo Faber, but I've never read it. I think I'll check it out.
My father, Werner Aufrecht, exposed me to art, to nature, to animals, to theater, to movies, to books, to politics, to critical thinking, and many other important aspects of my life today. I remember how affected I was watching, with my father, the Greek film He Who Must Die by Jules Dassin, based on Kazantzaki's The Last Temptation of Christ.
And what can I say about Roy Rogers? He was part of being American in the 50's and 60's.