The Quick 10: 10 Fourth of July Birthdays
I think this is one of the greatest pieces of presidential trivia out there (and I love presidential trivia): John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826. And James Monroe followed in their footsteps exactly five years later. There's only one president, however, who was born on the Fourth: Calvin Coolidge. Although they may not have been presidents, here are 10 other people who celebrate their birthdays along with the U.S.
1. Nathaniel Hawthorne, born 1804. You no doubt remember Hawthorne from your ninth-grade English class: he wrote The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, among other things. He also wrote a biography of Franklin Pierce, whom he counted among his good friends.
2. Stephen Foster, born 1826 (the exact same date Adams and Jefferson died). Foster is sometimes called the "Father of American Music," because he wrote the tunes that have been frequently stuck in our heads ever since: Oh Susanna, Camptown Races, Beautiful Dreamer, My Old Kentucky Home and Swanee River, to name a few.
3. Louis B. Mayer, born 1882(ish "“ records are fuzzy). The story goes that Mayer chose his own birthday when he came to America with his parents. He also chose his name, his birthplace and his birth year "“ he was born Ezemiel "Lazar" Mayer (or Meir) in a small town in Belarus, but by the time he became involved with the movie business, he was Louis B. Mayer, born July 4, 1885, from Minsk.
4. Rube Goldberg, born 1883.
I wonder if he ever drew up an extremely complicated and unnecessary invention for setting off fireworks. No? Goldberg was also known for his controversial political cartoons and was so concerned that someone would try to harm him over his views that he insisted his two sons change their surnames to protect themselves. His son Thomas chose the last name George. His other son wanted to keep some sort of a family tie with his brother and also chose the last name George, resulting in the name George W. George.
5. Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, born 1918. Twin advice columnists Ann Landers (Esther Pauline Friedman) and Dear Abby (Pauline Esther Friedman) grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. It's safe to say that they didn't celebrate many adult birthdays together; although they were very close in their younger years (they even had a joint wedding), a falling out caused the two to stop speaking to one another for years. They publicly reconciled in 1964, but were said to be rather on-again, off-again for the rest of their lives. Ann Landers' daughter said that the two were not speaking when her mother died in 2002.
6. Neil Simon, born 1927. Simon has written many plays and screenplays, including Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Lost in Yonkers, and The Goodbye Girl.
7. George Steinbrenner, born 1930. It's fitting that the owner of the team formerly known as the New York Americans was born on July 4th, don't you think?
8. Geraldo Rivera, born 1943. Conan's favorite mustachioed target was born in Manhattan. He was "Gerald" at the time, though. He went by "Gerry" for many years, but when he entered the field of journalism, he changed it to what his Puerto Rican father's side of the family called him.
9. Ron Kovic, born 1946. Kovic is the Vietnam Vet who wrote the book Born on the Fourth of July, which was later turned into the movie starring Tom Cruise. Go figure. During his second tour of Vietnam, he became paralyzed from a gunshot that caused a spinal cord injury. Upon his return to the U.S., he became arguably the most famous veteran peace activist.
10. Malia Obama, born 1998. The president's oldest daughter is going to have some pretty awesome celebrations on her birthday this year, that's for sure.
Who did I miss? Let me know in the comments, and have a great holiday weekend!