19 More Sets of Birthday Twins

Back in 2008, we presented 10 uncanny sets of birthday twins—celebrities born on the same exact day (Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, George W. Bush and Sylvester Stallone, the actors who played Steven and Elyse Keaton on Family Ties). Well, we decided it was time to name a few more. Witness the following pairs who happened to share the same birthdate and may (or may not) have other things in common.

1. Mikhail Gorbachev and Tom Wolfe (March 2, 1931)

You might think that the founder of glasnost and the founder of new journalism would have little in common"¦ and fair enough, you'd probably be right. Same birthday, though.

2. Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe (June 1, 1926)

Like Marlon Brando and Doris Day (see previous list), two more screen icons of the fifties were born on the same day. But while one went to even greater success in the sixties, the other suffered an early death.

3. Sigmund Freud and Robert E. Peary (May 6, 1856)

They both discovered new worlds in the early years of the 20th century, but on this world, the founder of psychoanalysis and the first man to reach the North Pole probably never met.

4. Roger Ebert and Paul McCartney (June 18, 1942)

Ebert is perhaps America's best-known film critic, with many books, a long-running TV show and a Pulitzer Prize to his name. Sir Paul must be green with envy.

5. Elliott Carter and Manoel de Oliviera (December 11, 1908)

The American composer and the Portuguese film director were both born on this date. At time of writing, they are both still active "“ at the age of 101. (Seventy-nine years after his first film, de Oliviera recently walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival.)

6. Donald Regan and Kurt Waldheim (December 21, 1918)

The US Treasury secretary and the UN secretary-general had high-flying careers, marred by scandal. Regan was forced to resign for his role in the 1986 "Irangate" affair—right around the time that Waldheim became President of Austria"¦ and was accused of involvement in war crimes.

7. Judy Holliday and Jane Russell (June 21, 1921)

Madonna's two biggest role models? Madonna has said that Holliday (died 1965) was one of her heroes, playing dumb blondes who were actually smarter than anyone else. The highly censored Russell (still with us) was the model for sex symbols for over 50 years.

8. Candy Barr and The Dalai Lama (July 6, 1935)

Let's see those astrologers try to explain this one: The notorious stripper and exotic dancer shared her special day with the revered spiritual leader of Tibet. Yin and yang?

9. Charlie Byrd and B.B. King (September 16, 1925)

The styles of these two guitar greats might have been worlds apart, but their birthplaces (Virginia and Mississippi) were slightly closer, and their births were closer still.

10. Rosemary Clooney and Shirley Temple (April 23, 1928)

Both of them were child stars (though by the time Clooney was starting, Temple was already past her prime). Both were recording stars who sang silly but popular songs. Both later had their own TV shows, and both became politically active in the 1960s (though they might have been at odds there; Clooney was a Democrat, Temple was a Republican).

11. Dame Diana Rigg and Natalie Wood (July 20, 1938)

Well, at least these two had the same job. Actually, back in the sixties, they were the height of fashion chic. In The Avengers TV series, Rigg dressed in tight leather. In Gypsy, Wood dressed in ... well, very little. But apart from that, they were accomplished actors. (Rigg was from the Royal Shakespeare Company; Wood had three Oscar nominations.)

12. Geoffrey Boycott, Frances Fitzgerald, Manfred Mann and Pele (October 21, 1940)

And now for a set of birthday quadruplets "“ which makes sense, because (apart from Fitzgerald, the Vietnam War journalist and author), they are all best-known as team players. Then again, Boycott, a legendary British cricketer, was notorious as a "selfish" player; the great soccer player Pele was so overpowering that people forgot he was part of a team; Mann was a guitarist so popular that his band was named after him. So maybe they weren't team players after all.

13. Jackie Collins and Anne Rice (October 4, 1941)

They were never exactly considered "highbrow," but these two doyennes of American literature have been remarkably popular for decades. One specializes in horror novels; the other specializes in novels that (according to critics) are truly horrific.

14. Danny De Vito and Lauren Hutton (November 17, 1944)

De Vito: short, pudgy and balding, specialized in playing sleazebags. Hutton: tall, stunning supermodel, specialized in playing sirens. Yeah, sure, we see the connection.

15. Farrah Fawcett and Melanie (February 2, 1947)

Almost everyone still recalls that Fawcett, Charlie's Angels star and seventies pin-up, died on on the same day as Michael Jackson in 2009. Fewer people noticed when she was born on the same day as another musical star: folk-pop singer-songwriter Melanie.

16. Edward Norton and Christian Slater (August 18, 1969)

Though both of them are famous for playing dangerous young psychotics, these two are among the most versatile talents of their generation. Off-screen, however, they seem to have nothing in common. Slater has been arrested for numerous offenses. Norton is clean-living, and even refuses to smoke on film.

17. James Baldwin and Carroll O'Connor (August 2, 1924)

An unusual pair: a writer who explored racial identity and prejudice in his novels and plays, and an actor who played America's favourite bigot, Archie Bunker. In real life, O'Connor didn't share Archie's prejudices. Soon after Baldwin's death in 1987, he started playing Sheriff Bill Gillespie in the racially charged TV drama "In the Heat of the Night".

18. George W. Bush and Peter Singer (July 6, 1946)

You might recall from the previous birth twins list that former President Bush shares his birthday with Sylvester Stallone. Strangely, he also shares his special day with Professor Peter Singer, philosopher, committed vegetarian and founder of Animal Liberation. As Bush once explained his dietary preferences by saying "I'm a meat guy," they probably won't have any birthday dinners together. In 2004, Singer wrote The President of Good & Evil, a book about the ethics of President Bush.

19. Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen (June 13, 1986)

OK, this one's cheating. Sorry. Who'd we miss?

Mark Juddery is an author and historian based in Australia. His latest book, Overrated: The 50 Most Overhyped Things in History (Perigree), is already causing a stir. You can order it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can see a slideshow excerpt from the book, and you can argue with Mark's choices (or suggest new ones) on his blog. Mark offers one tip: If you want to say "This book is overrated"... it's been done.

Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

Marvel Entertainment
10 Facts About Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian
Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment

Nearly every sword-wielding fantasy hero from the 20th century owes a tip of their horned helmet to Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. Set in the fictional Hyborian Age, after the destruction of Atlantis but before our general recorded history, Conan's stories have depicted him as everything from a cunning thief to a noble king and all types of scoundrel in between. But beneath that blood-soaked sword and shield is a character that struck a nerve with generations of fantasy fans, spawning adaptations in comics, video games, movies, TV shows, and cartoons in the eight decades since he first appeared in the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales. So thank Crom, because here are 10 facts about Conan the Barbarian.


Conan wasn’t the only barbarian on Robert E. Howard’s resume. In 1929, the writer created Kull the Conqueror, a more “introspective” brand of savage that gained enough interest to eventually find his way onto the big screen in 1997. The two characters share more than just a common creator and a general disdain for shirts, though: the first Conan story to get published, “The Phoenix on the Sword,” was actually a rewrite of an earlier rejected Kull tale titled “By This Axe I Rule!” For this new take on the plot, Howard introduced supernatural elements and more action. The end result was more suited to what Weird Tales wanted, and it became the foundation for future Conan tales.


A few months before Conan made his debut in Weird Tales, Howard wrote a story called "People of the Dark" for Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror about a man named John O’Brien who seemed to relive his past life as a brutish, black-haired warrior named … Conan of the reavers. Reave is a word from Old English meaning to raid or plunder, which is obviously in the same ballpark as barbarian. And in the story, there is also a reference to Crom, the fictional god of the Hyborian age that later became a staple of the Conan mythology. This isn't the barbarian as we know him, and it's certainly not an official Conan tale, but the early ideas were there.


Howard was meticulous in his world-building for Conan, which was highlighted by his 8600-word history on the Hyborian Age the character lived in. But the one area the creator had no interest in was linearity. Conan’s first story depicted him already as a king; subsequent stories, though, would shift back and forth, chronicling his early days as both a thief and a youthful adventurer.

There’s good reason for that, as Howard himself once explained: “In writing these yarns I've always felt less as creating them than as if I were simply chronicling his adventures as he told them to me. That's why they skip about so much, without following a regular order. The average adventurer, telling tales of a wild life at random, seldom follows any ordered plan, but narrates episodes widely separated by space and years, as they occur to him.”


For fans of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century, one of the only names bigger than Robert E. Howard was H.P. Lovecraft. The two weren’t competitors, though—rather, they were close friends and correspondents. They’d often mail each other drafts of their stories, discuss the themes of their work, and generally talk shop. And as Lovecraft’s own mythology was growing, it seems like their work began to bleed together.

In “The Phoenix on the Sword,” Howard made reference to “vast shadowy outlines of the Nameless Old Ones,” which could be seen as a reference to the ancient, godlike “Old Ones” from the Lovecraft mythos. In the book The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, editor Patrice Louinet even wrote that Howard’s earlier draft for the story name-dropped Lovecraft’s actual Old Ones, most notably Cthulhu.

In Lovecraft’s “The Shadow of Time,” he describes a character named Crom-Ya as a “Cimmerian chieftain,” which is a reference to Conan's homeland and god. These examples just scratch the surface of names, places, and concepts that the duo’s work share. Whether you want to read it all as a fun homage or an early attempt at a shared universe is up to you.


Howard was only 30 when he died, so there aren’t as many completed Conan stories out in the world as you’d imagine—and there are even less that were finished and officially printed. Despite that, the character’s popularity has only grown since the 1930s, and publishers looked for a way to print more of Howard’s Conan decades after his death. Over the years, writers and editors have gone back into Howard’s manuscripts for unfinished tales to doctor up and rewrite for publication, like "The Snout in the Dark," which was a fragment that was reworked by writers Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. There were also times when Howard’s non-Conan drafts were repurposed as Conan stories by publishers, including all of the stories in 1955's Tales of Conan collection from Gnome Press.


Chances are, the image of Conan you have in your head right now owes a lot to artist Frank Frazetta: His version of the famous barbarian—complete with rippling muscles, pulsating veins, and copious amounts of sword swinging—would come to define the character for generations. But the look that people most associate with Conan didn’t come about until the character’s stories were reprinted decades after Robert E. Howard’s death.

“In 1966, Lancer Books published new paperbacks of Robert E. Howard's Conan series and hired my grandfather to do the cover art,” Sara Frazetta, Frazetta's granddaughter owner and operator of Frazetta Girls, tells Mental Floss. You could argue that Frazetta’s powerful covers were what drew most people to Conan during the '60s and '70s, and in recent years the collector’s market seems to validate that opinion. In 2012, the original painting for his Lancer version of Conan the Conqueror sold at auction for $1,000,000. Later, his Conan the Destroyer went for $1.5 million.

Still, despite all of Frazetta’s accomplishments, his granddaughter said there was one thing he always wanted: “His only regret was that he wished Robert E. Howard was alive so he could have seen what he did with his character.”


The cover to Marvel's Conan the Barbarian #21
Marvel Entertainment

Conan’s origins as a pulp magazine hero made him a natural fit for the medium’s logical evolution: the comic book. And in 1970, the character got his first high-profile comic launch when Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian hit shelves, courtesy of writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith.

Though now it’s hailed as one of the company’s highlights from the ‘70s, the book was nearly canceled after a mere seven issues. The problem is that while the debut issue sold well, each of the next six dropped in sales, leading Marvel’s then editor-in-chief, Stan Lee, to pull the book from production after the seventh issue hit stands.

Thomas pled his case, and Lee agreed to give Conan one last shot. But this time instead of the book coming out every month, it would be every two months. The plan worked, and soon sales were again on the rise and the book would stay in publication until 1993, again as a monthly. This success gave way to the Savage Sword of Conan, an oversized black-and-white spinoff magazine from Marvel that was aimed at adult audiences. It, too, was met with immense success, lasting from 1974 to 1995.


John Milius’s 1982 Conan movie is a classic of the sword and sorcery genre, but its original script from Oliver Stone didn’t resemble the final product at all. In fact, it barely resembled anything related to Conan. Stone’s Conan would have been set on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where the barbarian would do battle against a host of mutant pigs, insects, and hyenas. Not only that, but it would have also been just one part of a 12-film saga that would be modeled on the release schedule of the James Bond series.

The original producers were set to move ahead with Stone’s script with Stone co-directing alongside an up-and-coming special effects expert named Ridley Scott, but they were turned down by all of their prospects. With no co-director and a movie that would likely be too ambitious to ever actually get finished, they sold the rights to producer Dino De Laurentiis, who helped bring in Milius.


When President Barack Obama sent out a mass email in 2015 to the members of Organizing for Action, he was looking to get people to offer up stories about how they got involved within their community—their origin stories, if you will. In this mass email, the former Commander-in-Chief detailed his own origin, with a shout out to a certain barbarian:

“I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman.

Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story—the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.”

This bit of trivia was first made public in 2008 in a Daily Telegraph article on 50 facts about the president. That led to Devil’s Due Publishing immortalizing the POTUS in the 2009 comic series Barack the Barbarian, which had him decked out in his signature loincloth doing battle against everyone from Sarah Palin to Dick Cheney.


The father of 20th century fantasy may always be J.R.R. Tolkien, but Howard is a close second in many fans' eyes. Though Tolkien’s work has found its way into more scholarly literary circles, Howard’s can sometimes get categorized as low-brow. Quality recognizes quality, however, and during a conversation with Tolkien, writer L. Sprague de Camp—who himself edited and touched-up numerous Conan stories—said The Lord of the Rings author admitted that he “rather liked” Howard’s Conan stories during a conversation with him. He didn’t expand upon it, nor was de Camp sure which Conan tale he actually read (though it was likely “Shadows in the Moonlight”), but the seal of approval from Tolkien himself goes a long way toward validation.


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