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Happy May Birthday to ...

Stephen Colbert, Gladys Knight and the ‘Jersey Boy’ Himself, Frankie Valli, plus other celebs turning 50, 60, 70 or 80 this month

  • Newscom

    MAY 1

    En español | Rita Coolidge, 70: The Grammy winner (and former wife of country rocker Kris Kristofferson) hit it big in the ’70s with Boz Scaggs’s “We’re All Alone.” Exploring her Cherokee heritage, she later formed a Native American-inspired musical trio called Walela.   

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  • Getty

    MAY 3

    Frankie Valli, 80: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Rag Doll” are just two hits Valli performed with the iconic Four Seasons. Catch the band’s story on the big screen next month in Jersey Boys, a new film directed by Clint Eastwood and based on the award-winning Broadway musical.

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  • Corbis

    MAY 4

    Pia Zadora, 60: She had roles in low-profile ’80s films (Butterfly, The Lonely Lady) and later toured with Frank Sinatra — who, she’s said, had such a temper he’d throw pasta at people, “sauce and everything.” She now sings regularly at a Vegas restaurant. 

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  • Getty

    MAY 8

    Melissa Gilbert, 50: Gilbert was Laura Ingalls Wilder (“Half-Pint,” to Pa) on NBC’s Little House on the Prairie, and later played “Ma” onstage in a musical version. President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001-05, she has a new hubby, the actor Timothy Busfield. 

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  • Comedy Central

    MAY 13

    Stephen Colbert, 50: Colbert’s satiric rendition of a conservative blowhard on Comedy Central’s Emmy-winning The Colbert Report is nearing its end. We’ll soon discover the mysterious “real” Colbert when he replaces David Letterman on CBS’s Late Show next year.

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  • Getty

    MAY 14

    George Lucas, 70: There are few who’ve had a greater influence on popular culture than Lucas, mastermind behind the immortal Star Wars franchise. He now plans to build a museum for his vast collection of American art and movie memorabilia.

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  • Newscom

    MAY 18

    Dwayne Hickman, 80: In 1959 Hickman became the girl-chasing Dobie Gillis, with beatnik-ish pal Maynard (Bob Denver), on CBS’s The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Last year’s release of a DVD set with all 147 episodes was, as Maynard might have said, “Cool, daddy-o.”

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  • Getty

    MAY 19

    Jim Lehrer, 80: The go-to presidential debate moderator and venerable newsman of PBS NewsHour semiretired in 2011, but he’s still often on-air. Lehrer also writes novels, including White Widow, about a bus driver who falls for a beautiful stranger.

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  • Getty

    MAY 20

    Joe Cocker, 70: The bluesy British rocker’s huge hits include his version of “With a Little Help From My Friends” in 1968 and, later, “Up Where We Belong.” Besides his raspy voice, he’s known for, as Rolling Stone once put it, his “insane spastic contortions” onstage.

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  • AP

    MAY 22

    Garry Wills, 80: The prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning historian has written many critiques of the Catholic Church (last year’s book was Why Priests? A Failed Tradition). His new tome, Making Make-Believe Real: Politics as Theater in Shakespeare’s Time, is out next month.

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  • Getty

    MAY 23

    Marvin Hagler, 60: The undisputed world middleweight champion in the ’80s, Marvelous Marvin Hagler is forever famous for his much-disputed 1987 loss to Sugar Ray Leonard. Leonard declined Hagler’s request for a rematch, and Hagler retired soon after.    

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  • Getty

    MAY 24

    Patti LaBelle, 70: The Grammy winner, whose biggest hit was “Lady Marmalade” in 1974, was later a fixture on ’80s radio (“On My Own,” “New Attitude”). She’s also a foodie, with cookbooks, a line of Patti’s Good Life sauces and a widely praised mac-and-cheese recipe.

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  • Getty

    MAY 26

    Lenny Kravitz, 50: Most recently he’s played Katniss’s stylist Cinna in The Hunger Games movies, but Kravitz is really a rocker: The Grammy winner’s many hits include “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and “Fly Away.” His daughter, Zoë, 25, is an actress, singer and model.

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  • Getty

    MAY 28

    Gladys Knight, 70: The Empress of Soul is now a great-grandmother, but she was just a kid when she and family members formed Gladys Knight & the Pips, with chart-toppers such as “Midnight Train to Georgia.” She still performs a lot; she’ll be in seven cities this month.

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  • Getty

    MAY 28

    Rudolph Giuliani, 70: While he reigned as New York’s crime-fighting mayor from 1994 to 2001, the city’s murder rate plunged. But not everyone’s a fan (or gives Giuliani credit for the change); he lost the 2008 Republican presidential primary and now runs a consulting firm.

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  • Getty

    MAY 30

    Wynonna Judd, 50: She and mom Naomi were the hit-making country duo the Judds in the ’80s, before Wynonna went solo. These days she performs with her band the Big Noise at concerts — where for $250 you can meet and have a photo taken with the star.

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AARP Boomers at 50 Plus

As the last of the Baby Boomer Generation turns 50 and more baby boomers are retiring, AARP celebrates the generation that changed the world.



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