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Big Birthday Cakes in December

Pope Francis, Steven Spielberg and Mary Tyler Moore celebrate multiples of 10 this month

  • Michael Conroy/AP

    December 7

    Larry Bird, 60: As a forward for the Boston Celtics for 13 seasons (1979-1992), the 6-foot-9 basketball legend led the team to three NBA championships. At the end of his pro career, Bird represented the U.S. at the Barcelona Summer Olympics as part of the Dream Team, alongside his college rival Magic Johnson. Twitter has dubbed its bird mascot “Larry” in his honor.  

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  • Rodolfo Sassano/Alamy

    December 8

    Sinéad O’Connor, 50: There was no escaping the Irish-born singer in the early ’90s, when her plaintive version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U soared up the charts. And talk about outspoken: In 1992, she ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live to protest the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandals. Now a grandmother, O’Connor — who once said, “I’m proud to be a troublemaker” — shows no signs of mellowing.

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  • Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

    December 17

    Eugene Levy, 70: Can you imagine a Christopher Guest comedy without this bushy-browed, bristle-haired, bespectacled Canadian funnyman? Levy has been cracking up audiences since he first played dense-as-cheese newscaster Earl Camembert on Second City Television in the 1970s. But he really broke out as the awkwardly supportive father in 1999’s teen sex comedy American Pie. He now stars with fellow SCTV alum Catherine O’Hara in the sitcom Schitt’s Creek.

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  • Sergei Fadeichev/TASS/Alamy

    December 17

    Pope Francis, 80: He may be from Argentina, but the 266th pontiff speaks our language: “Where the elderly are not honored,” he told a crowd in St. Peter’s Square in 2015, “there is no future for the young.” Since his 2013 election, the first pope to hail from one of the Americas has emulated his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, donning simpler vestments and taking a humble approach to his duties. Within 12 hours of launching his Instagram account in March, he gained his first million followers.

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  • Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

    December 18

    Steven Spielberg, 70: He made his first film — a crash starring his Lionel train set — at age 12, then went on to slightly bigger productions: Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan. Having just received his seventh best-picture nod (for last year’s Bridge of Spies), the two-time Oscar winner has four new projects in the works, including Indiana Jones 5. Whence his inspiration? “Once a month the sky falls on my head,” Spielberg has said. “When I come to, I see another movie I want to make.”

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  • AP

    December 21

    Kiefer Sutherland, 50: He won an Emmy — and immortalized the line “Drop the gun, now!” — as antiterrorism agent Jack Bauer on 24 (2001-2010). In his new hit series, Designated Survivor, Sutherland jumps the line of succession from lowly cabinet member to president after a devastating attack on the Capitol. The former teen star of Stand by Me (1986) now calls youth “an amazing thing: Back when we did The Lost Boys [1987], I didn’t think I could do anything wrong.”

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  • Reuters/Alamy

    December 29

    Mary Tyler Moore, 80: She starred opposite Elvis in Change of Habit (1969) and nabbed an Oscar nomination for playing an uptight suburban mom in Ordinary People (1980). But the Brooklyn-born actress will always be best known for turning the world on with her smile as TV news producer Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977). Type 1 diabetes has caused health struggles, including near-blindness, but Moore is ever upbeat: “You can’t be brave if you’ve had only wonderful things happen to you.” 

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