Birthdays are on my mind since April is my birth month: April 8,1948, to be exact. When asked my birthdate now for ID purposes, I have always enjoyed responding with the jauntily repetitive “4-8-48.” I do admit, however, now that I’m 74, however, I probably wish I could honestly respond with the less memorable “4-8-88.” Ah, to be 34 again.
I don’t know if you’re still subscribing to your local morning newspaper, but ours here in Raleigh, North Carolina, has a daily feature that lists, in addition to the important historical events which occurred on today’s date, a list of those celebrities who are celebrating birthdays. That latter list always begins with the oldest celebrity and concludes with the youngest.
If you’re like me (OK, if you’re O-L-D), you usually recognize all the names of those VIPs who are sixty or over, but when scanning the names of those aged about fifty or younger you soon are at a loss:
Zach Golumphus, Age 27, Famed Gaming App Developer — who?
Penelope Balancelot, Age 19, Intercollegiate and World Juggling-Triathlon Champion —what?
Lil Swollen Parts, Age 22, Internationally-Known Rapper — who? — and yikes!
I think the problem for us mature types is that only the living celebrities are listed. Why not also include the truly famous who are no longer with us?
For example, if you were born on July 20, wouldn’t you want to know that you shared your birthday with Alexander The Great, who shares his middle name with another celebrity—Smokey The Bear (Hey, quit groaning — I’m working here)? Or that your special natal day of November 30 also includes both Winston Churchill AND Mark Twain?
But the trifecta of cool birthdates has to be April 5, because it is that of Bette Davis AND Spencer Tracey AND Gregory Peck, each of whom snared two Oscars and countless nominations. Even more remarkably coincidental, there were eight years between each pair, evenly separating their three births: Tracey in 1900, Davis in 1908, Peck in 1916. Imagine the combined birthday bashes that such a coincidence must have occasioned in 1950’s and 1960’s Hollywood, when all three celebrities were at the height of their fame — as was Hollywood itself.
Alas, my birthdate of April 8 — just three days later — is woefully deficient in celebrities. Well, there’s former First Lady Betty Ford and the Hollywood actress Mary Pickford (good news about her — she’s a huge Hollywood star; bad news — but before The Talkies hit the scene). Does anybody else hear that scraping sound coming, let’s say, not from the top of the barrel?
But wait — who needs another superstar born on that date? I do believe that all of you reading this essay know Lil Ol’ Me (my new rapper name!) as perhaps The Big -Speaker, Big-Writer Big Kahuna? Now that’s 100% name recognition.
No wonder April 8th has such a VIP Void. Why bother with Henry The Eighth’s birthday when we have an Elliot The April-Eighth-er? Once I was born, the “No Celebrity Vacancy” sign was hung out permanently on April 8th, and that lovely early springtime birthdate was off-limits for any other superstar.