12 Milestone Celebrity Birthdays in January
Faye Dunaway, Neil Diamond among those celebrating big ones this month
by Susan Wloszczyna, AARP, December 31, 2020
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Jan. 5: Robert Duvall, 90
This titan of the big screen, whose career spans more than six decades, made his movie debut as the hermitlike Boo Radley in 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird. He went on to rack up numerous iconic character roles, including the malicious Major Frank Burns in the 1970 movie version of M*A*S*H and as lawyer Tom Hagen in The Godfather franchise. The seven-time Oscar nominee claimed the prize for 1979's The Great Santini. Next project? Hustle, a basketball-themed movie with Adam Sandler, Queen Latifah and Ben Foster for Netflix.
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Jan. 9: Joan Baez, 80
This pillar of counterculture folk music and activism in the ‘60s was known for songs of protest and social justice. Baez shared an ongoing relationship with Bob Dylan, romantically but more so professionally by lending her pristine soprano voice to covers of his songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind.” In 2017, the year she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Baez posted her first song in 27 years on Facebook, “Nasty Man,” a viral hit reflecting her feelings about President Trump.
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Jan. 9: Crystal Gayle, 70
The sister of country music legend Loretta Lynn found her own path to success by following her sibling's sage advice: “Don't sing my songs and don't record anything I would. You go middle of the road.” She defined her signature style with her Grammy-winning 1977 hit, “Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” Gayle also became known for allowing her flowing brunette locks to grow down to her ankles. Her latest album release is 2019's You Don't Know Me.
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Jan. 12: Kirstie Alley, 70
This Emmy-winning actress made her film debut in 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as a Vulcan Starfleet officer. But Alley is best known as taking over for Shelley Long on NBC's high-rated sitcom Cheers. She played Rebecca Howe, the new manager of the Boston landmark, who rejects the advances of bartender Sam Malone (Ted Danson). In 2011, she came in second on Dancing With the Stars, and in 2020, she appeared in the TV film You Can't Take My Daughter.
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Jan. 13: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, 60
Most actresses feel lucky to be tied to one beloved TV show. Louis-Dreyfus has four on her résumé: Saturday Night Live, Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine and Veep. Little wonder she has said, “Everyone seems to know me. It's very strange.” She is one of the most honored performers in TV history, with 11 Emmys and nine Screen Actors Guild Awards. The actress shared her breast cancer diagnosis with fans in 2017 and, later, the news she was cancer-free.
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Jan. 17: Faye Dunaway, 80
This film actress had quite a hot streak over several decades by playing notorious female characters, including bank robber Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde, the deceptive Lady de Winter in The Three Musketeers, an overly ambitious news executive in Network, and Joan Crawford, famously shrieking “No wire hangers,” in the biopic Mommie Dearest. In 2017, she made headlines for being part of a mix-up with co-presenter Warren Beatty by wrongly declaring La La Land as the year's Best Picture Oscar winner instead of the rightful winner, Moonlight. The error was attributed to the accountants, but she told Variety she still felt a bit guilty: “I could have done something surely. Why didn't I see Emma Stone's name on the top of the card?"
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Jan. 17: Kid Rock, 50
A self-taught Nashville rapper and DJ, Kid Rock found fame with his breakthrough 1998 album Devil Without a Cause, which sold 14 million copies and blended elements of hip hop and country. He recently released a single, “Quarantine,” that recalled his old-school hip hop roots. Proceeds went to fight COVID-19.
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Jan. 17: James Earl Jones, 90
This admired actor has had memorable roles in such movies as Coming to America, Field of Dreams and The Hunt for Red October. But he is even more in demand for his imposing vocal intonations, evident in his roles as Darth Vader in Star Wars and as Simba's royal father Mufasa in The Lion King. Cable news station CNN still uses his intro on air. He'll reprise his role as King Jaffe Joffer (the father of Eddie Murphy's character) in the upcoming sequel Coming 2 America.
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Jan. 24: Neil Diamond, 80
Retired since 2018 after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, the singer-songwriter behind such hits as “I'm a Believer,” “Cracklin’ Rosie,” “Song Sung Blue,” “You Don't Bring Me Flowers” and “America” gave the world a gift in March 2020 by posting a video performance of his signature 1969 tune “Sweet Caroline.” The twist? Modified lyrics to reflect the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including “washing hands, don't touch me, I won't touch you.”
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Jan. 24: Aaron Neville, 80
This New Orleans-born solo artist and member of the Neville Brothers had his first solo hit in 1966 with “Tell It Like It Is,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1989, he joined Linda Ronstadt on her album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind on which they shared four duets, including the hits “Don't Know Much” and “All My Life.” An optimistic guy, he's said, “Every day, some act of kindness comes my way, even if it's just someone opening the door."
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Jan. 26: Wayne Gretzky, 60
"You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take,” this Canadian ice hockey player and former coach famously said. Known as “The Great One,” Gretzky never took much for granted in his career, which included 20 seasons in the National Hockey League for four teams from 1979 to 1999. He is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player. After he retired, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame instantly — no waiting period needed.
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Jan. 30: Phil Collins, 70
The British singer-songwriter and drummer made plans last year to reunite with two original members of the band Genesis, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford, while planning to tour for the first time in 13 years — before the pandemic hit. But Collins got a sales boost in August for his 1981 solo smash “In the Air Tonight,” thanks to the viral YouTube video twins Tim and Fred Williams. The clip shows them reacting with awe to Collins iconic drum break, which explodes at around the song's five-minute mark.