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Chloe Effron // Getty Images

10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in September

Chloe Effron // Getty Images
Chloe Effron // Getty Images

September 16 is reportedly the most common birthday, and the month itself is routinely the second most popular one for babies to be born. As you'll see though, that doesn't mean it's a month for commoners. Here are a few notable birthdays in September.

1. SEPTEMBER 7, 1533: QUEEN ELIZABETH I

George Gower via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

England’s first Queen Elizabeth had a bit of a complicated path to the throne. When her father, King Henry VIII, died in 1547, the throne passed to his nine-year-old son Edward VI (from his third marriage to Jane Seymour). Edward died six years later at age 15, but in that time he'd already changed the order of succession and named his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor. Grey ruled for just nine days before the Privy Council declared Mary (daughter of Henry and first wife, Catherine of Aragon) queen instead. Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, reigned for five tumultuous years until she died at age 42 without heirs. Elizabeth finally ascended the throne in 1558 at age 25 and ruled for 45 years. Like her siblings, she died without an heir and her reign was the last of the Tudor dynasty.    

2. SEPTEMBER 9, 1890: COLONEL HARLAND SANDERS

Edgy01/Dan Lindsay via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Colonel Sanders will always be known as the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but he was 40 years old before he even began selling food at his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. Before that, he worked as a farmhand, a painter, a streetcar conductor, a blacksmith’s assistant, a railroad fireman, a lawyer, an insurance salesman, a secretary, a midwife, and a ferry operator. He didn't own his first KFC franchise until age 62

3. SEPTEMBER 13, 1916: ROALD DAHL

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The British author who gave us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox and many other memorable stories, did some of his most profound writing outside the realm of fiction. In 1962, Dahl's eldest child, Olivia—the apple of his eye—died after contracting measles that developed into measles encephalitis. Dahl wrote about the loss in his private diary, an entry which was uncovered by his family long after the writer's death. While that prose stayed private during Dahl's life, in 1988 he wrote an open letter to parents about the measles vaccine, which was published in a pamphlet from the Sandwell Health Authority. You can read the entire heart-wrenching letter here.

4. SEPTEMBER 15, 1890: AGATHA CHRISTIE

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Dame Agatha Christie holds the world record as the best-selling novelist ever. While much credit can be given to her pure talent and imagination, Christie was also influenced by her time spent working at a Red Cross hospital during World War I. She was trained in pharmacy work for the job, but became obsessed with the fear of accidentally poisoning someone. No wonder so many of her fictional victims—83 in all—were poisoned. 

5. SEPTEMBER 16, 1924: LAUREN BACALL

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Anyone who's seen one of Bacall's 72 movie and television appearances knows that the legendary actor was magnetic—a fact that didn't escape those around her during her very first movie. Bacall was only 20 years old when she was cast in To Have and Have Not (1944). On set, she met and fell in love with Humphrey Bogart, who was 44 years old and married at the time. The chemistry between the two was so evident that the filmmakers worked to expand her screen time until she had a lead role. A year later, she and Bogart were married, and went on to make three more films together—1946's The Big Sleep, Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948). 

6. SEPTEMBER 18, 1905: GRETA GARBO

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Garbo was a bit of an unlikely movie star; she was a notorious introvert who stopped giving interviews early in her career, making 32 movies and then retiring from Hollywood at age 35. Her enigmatic nature was one of the reasons she was recruited to work for the British intelligence agency MI6 during World War II. The exceedingly-recognizable Garbo couldn’t go undercover, but she socialized with persons of interest and reported evidence of their sympathies back to headquarters. She also helped talk the king of Sweden, Gustav V, into meeting with physicist Niels Bohr, which ultimately led the king to offer asylum to Danish Jews. She was criticized in public for not doing enough for the war effort, but in typical Garbo fashion, she kept silent about her espionage activities.

7. SEPTEMBER 22, 1791: MICHAEL FARADAY

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Among other scientific breakthroughs, the English chemist and physicist gave us the concept of an electromagnetic field, and invented devices that paved the way for our everyday use of electricity. He was quite an educator, too. In addition to his work for the Royal Institution, Faraday inaugurated a series of science lectures designed for children in 1825, when such curriculum was rare. He gave 19 of the so-called Christmas Lectures (the last in 1860), and the series continues to this day. 

8. SEPTEMBER 23, 1838: VICTORIA WOODHULL

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Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States, despite the fact that, at the time (1872), she couldn’t legally vote! Women in office was a radical idea, but Woodhull was a radical woman in many ways. She divorced twice, invested in the stock market, published a newspaper, and worked as a clairvoyant. Woodhull ran for president on the Equal Rights Party ticket, but spent election night in jail on indecency charges for calling out the hypocrisy of a local minister.

9. SEPTEMBER 24, 1936: JIM HENSON

AP Wirephoto via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Henson was the genius behind the Muppets, but he didn’t grow up with grand aspirations of puppeteering. As a high school senior in 1954, he landed a position with a local television station that wanted a show with puppets. Henson—then only an amateur puppet maker and operator—decided he could learn as he went along. The show only lasted for two episodes, but that was enough time for Henson to make some contacts and an impression. More television appearances soon followed.

10. SEPTEMBER 25, 1930: SHEL SILVERSTEIN

The beloved children's author has quite the claim to fame in the music world, though few people know about it: He wrote the Johnny Cash hit "A Boy Named Sue." Silverstein first played the ditty for the country crooner at a party in 1969, and days later, Cash played it during the live recording of At San Quentin. Columbia Records then released the song, and it went to #2 on the pop charts, becoming Cash's biggest-selling single. Silverstein nabbed a Grammy for the tune and a year later, he appeared on The Johnny Cash Show to perform it with the Man in Black himself. In 1978, Silverstein followed up with a sequel called "The Father of a Boy Named Sue," which recounted the saga from dear old dad's perspective.

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13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.

1. NINA SIMONE WAS HER STAGE NAME.

The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.

2. SHE HAD HUMBLE BEGINNINGS.


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There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.

3. SHE WAS BOOK SMART...

Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.

4. ... WITH DEGREES TO PROVE IT.

Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.

5. HER CAREER WAS ROOTED IN ACTIVISM.

A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”

6. ONE OF HER MOST FAMOUS SONGS WAS BANNED.

Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.

7. SHE NEVER HAD A NUMBER ONE HIT.

Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.

8. SHE USED HER STYLE TO MAKE A STATEMENT.

Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”

9. SHE HAD MANY HOMES.

New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.

10. SHE HAD A FAMOUS INNER CIRCLE.

During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.

11. YOU CAN STILL VISIT SIMONE IN HER HOMETOWN.

Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.

12. YOU'VE PROBABLY HEARD HER MUSIC IN RECENT HITS.

Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.

13. HER MUSIC IS STILL BEING PERFORMED.

Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

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15 Wonderfully Wise Quotes From Judy Blume
Evan Agostini, Getty Images
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Judy Blume was the queen of the YA novel before the concept even existed, inspiring generations of passionate fans—and a fair share of dissenters—in her nearly 50-year career. Here are just a few of our favorite thoughts about books, writing, and life from the iconic author, who turns 80 years old today.

1. ON BEING ONE OF THE MOST BANNED AUTHORS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

“I’ll tell you what I make of that—that censors, those who want to censor, they don’t come after books until they know that kids really like them, and once kids like a book, it’s like, ‘There must be something wrong with this book, because why do the kids like it.’ You look at the banned books and you’ll see that they’re popular books with kids.”

— From a 2012 interview with PBS

2. ON THE EFFECTS OF CENSORSHIP

“But it's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.”

— From Blume's official website

3. WHY SHE WORRIES ABOUT KIDS THESE DAYS

“Yes, I was a great daydreamer. You know what I worry about? I worry that kids today don't have enough time to just sit and daydream. I was a great pretender, always making up stories inside my head. Stories and stories and stories, but I never told anyone.”

— From an interview with Scholastic

4. ON BEING A WRITER

"Everybody who writes fiction draws from their own life, but if it ended there, it would be very boring. When I talk to kids and they say, 'How do you become a writer?', well, I don't know that you become a writer: you just are. I always had stories, they were always there inside my head."

— From a 2014 Interview with The Guardian

5. ON WRITING

"Writing saved my life. It saved me, it gave me everything, it took away all my illnesses.”

— From a 2014 Interview with The Guardian

6. ON THE CREATIVE PROCESS

“I don't understand the creative process. For years I would say one thing when kids would ask where I got my ideas. Because I was forced to think up something even though I don't really know. And now I'm just saying to people, 'I don't know. I don't understand how it works. How do I know?'”

— From an interview with January Magazine

7. ON DEALING WITH REJECTION

"It's all about your determination, I think, as much as anything. There are a lot of people with talent, but it's that determination. I mean, you know, I would cry when the rejections came in—the first couple of times, anyway—and I would go to sleep feeling down, but I would wake up in the morning optimistic and saying, 'Well, maybe they didn't like that one, but wait till they see what I'm going to do next.' And I think you just have to keep going."

— From a 2011 interview with NPR

8. ON YA AUTHORS AND BOOKS

“[My husband] George and I listened … to the first Hunger Games and we loved it. And we couldn’t wait to get my car and come home. And when we came home, I’m not sure if we’d quite finished, and we sat in the car until we finished. I did not read any of the others. I had no interest in Twilight. But I did see the first movie.”

— From a 2014 interview with Lena Dunham through KCRW

9. ON THE PROS AND CONS OF TWITTER

“I like it. It’s a tremendous—I don’t want to say waste of time, but it also … what can I say? I enjoy reading the people I follow and discovering new people. It’s a lot of fun. I get a lot of laughs from it. And it connects you; it’s nice.”

— From a 2013 interview with Vanity Fair

10. ON GETTING KIDS TO READ

“Whatever gets them excited about reading is good! If you want them to read my books don't tell them so. Maybe just leave around a paperback with a new cover and say, 'I'm not sure you're ready for that.'"

— From a 2013 Reddit AMA

11. ON HER LITERARY INSPIRATIONS

“I was so inspired by Beverly Cleary's funny and wonderful books. And also, Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy. And E. L. Konigsberg's first book, Jennifer Hecate. And my favorite books from when I was young, the Betsy-Tacy books.”

— From an interview with Scholastic

12. ON "MARGARET" AND TEENAGED JUDY

“Margaret is fiction, but based on the kind of twelve year old I was. Growing up, we did have a club like The PTKs. And Margaret's interests and concerns were similar to mine. I was small and thin when thin wasn't in. I was a late developer and was anxious to grow like my friends. Margaret was right from my own sixth grade experience. I wanted to tell the truth as I knew it.”

— From an interview with Scholastic

13. ON HOW BOOKS HELP US COMMUNICATE

“I’ve never really thought in terms of taboos. I think that books can really help parents and kids talk together about difficult subjects. I’ve always felt that way. The parent reads the book. The kid reads the book and then they can talk about the characters instead of talking about themselves. You know there’s a connection even if you don’t talk about it when you read the same books.”

— From a 2014 interview with Lena Dunham through KCR

14. ON THREE THINGS THAT WOULD SURPRISE US ABOUT HER

“I’m phobic about thunderstorms. Writing is incredibly hard for me. I’m not the world’s best mother, though kids always assume I must be. And I love a good cupcake. (I know, that makes four things, but I’m hungry and wishing I had that cupcake.)”

— From a 2012 interview with Smithsonian Magazine

15. ON REVISITING OLD CHARACTERS

"I don't want to rewrite anything. My characters are who they are. For years, people have written and asked me to let Margaret go through menopause. And it's like, 'Hey guys! Margaret is 12 and she is going to stay 12. That's who she is.' No, I don't want to rewrite any of them."

— From a 2018 interview with NPR

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