Look Who’s Turning 65
Aug. 3—Jay North
North is best known for his role as Dennis the Menace in the 1960s CBS situation comedy based on the comic strip created by Hank Ketcham. He started his career at age 6 on his favorite television program, local Los Angeles children's show Cartoon Express. North's first professional acting job was a live appearance on the game show Queen for a Day. He continued to work as a child model and actor in commercials, as well as landing small parts on numerous popular NBC variety shows of the 1950s, before auditioning for the role that made him a star. Dennis the Menace premiered on October 4, 1959, and quickly became a hit. In addition to filming the series, North appeared as Dennis in commercials for the show's sponsors and regularly traveled around the country on the weekends to promote the show.
In the fall of 1960, the second season of the series was ranked among TV's top 20 shows, and North's portrayal of Dennis had become a beloved pop culture icon. With the series’ success, North's guardians, his aunt and uncle, Marie and Hal Hopper, had become strict taskmasters and stern disciplinarians. He wasn't allowed to socialize with other cast members on the set and missed being around children his own age. Many years later, North revealed that his aunt physically and verbally abused him when he made mistakes on the set or didn't perform to her standards. By the end of the fourth season, ratings were down, and in the spring of 1963, Dennis the Menace was cancelled.
In 1965, North landed the lead role in the MGM family comedy film Zebra in the Kitchen. A year later, he starred in another MGM family adventure film, Maya, and, in 1967, its subsequent television series adaptation. Both made North a popular teen idol of the era, featured in numerous teen magazines, but the series was cancelled after one season.
North found work as a voice actor for animated television series. In 1974, he appeared in his last starring role, in the R-rated coming-of-age suspense thriller The Teacher. By early 1977, disillusioned with his career in show business, he left acting and enlisted in the U.S. Navy but was harshly treated by his shipmates and superiors for being a former child star and left within two years. While he found small roles during the 1980s in television and film, he was unable to make a steady living.
In January 1990, after former child star Rusty Hamer from The Danny Thomas Show had committed suicide, North started seeing therapist Dr. Stanley Ziegler, who specialized in helping troubled former child actors. In 1993, with the release of the feature film Dennis the Menace, North publicly disclosed the abuse he'd experienced as a child star. After moving to Florida, he became employed as a correctional officer, reportedly working with troubled youth within Florida's juvenile justice system.
Aug. 23—Queen Noor of Jordan
Born Lisa Najeeb Halaby in Washington, D.C., Queen Noor is the American widow of King Hussein of Jordan. She was his fourth spouse and queen consort between their marriage in 1978 and his death in 1999. She is also known as Noor Al-Hussein. In 1977, while working for Royal Jordanian Airlines, she attended various high-profile social events and met Hussein of Jordan. Upon her marriage in 1978, she accepted her husband's Sunni Islamic religion and the royal name Noor Al-Hussein ("Light of Hussein"). Although initially regarded as a stranger to the country and its people, she soon gained power and influence by using her role as King Hussein's consort and her education in urban planning for charitable work and improvement to the country's economy.
Behind the scenes, Noor's involvement in politics was sometimes criticized by fundamentalists. In 1984, she supported her husband when he criticized the Americans for their one-sided commitment to Israel, while Americans criticized her for siding with the Jordanians. Following a long battle with lymphatic cancer, King Hussein died in 1999. Noor is a board member of Refugees International and has been advocating for the protection of civilians in conflict and displaced persons around the world. She has spoken out for Iraqis displaced in Iraq, Jordan, Syria and other countries after the 2003 Iraq conflict, and for the millions of Syrians displaced since the onset of the 2011 Syrian civil war.
She is the longest-standing member of the Board of Commissioners of the International Commission on Missing Persons. As of 2011, she is president of the United World Colleges movement and an advocate of the anti-nuclear weapons proliferation campaign, Global Zero. In 2015, Queen Noor received the Woodrow Wilson Award for her public service.
Aug. 25—Rob Halford
Best known as the lead vocalist for the Grammy Award-winning heavy metal band Judas Priest, the English singer and songwriter is famed for his powerful wide ranging operatic voice. AllMusic says of Halford: "There have been few vocalists in the history of heavy metal whose singing style has been as influential and instantly recognizable, possessing a voice which is able to effortlessly alternate between a throaty growl and an ear-splitting falsetto." In 2009, Halford was voted No. 33 in the greatest voices in rock by Planet Rock listeners. In addition to his work with Judas Priest, he has been involved with several side projects, including Fight, 2wo and Halford. In 1998, he came out as gay in an interview with MTV news, making him the first openly gay singer in heavy metal music.
Raised near Birmingham, England, Halford joined Judas Priest as a singer, and the band debuted in August 1974 with the single "Rocka Rolla," before releasing an album of the same name a month later. The band’s Stained Class and Killing Machine (1978, released in America as Hell Bent for Leather) heralded the first style change when Halford (and Priest) shifted from gothic style robes to a leather and studs image. The year 1979 brought their first live recording with the now classic Unleashed in the East. Their 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance had a song, "You've Got Another Thing Comin'," which garnered strong U.S. radio airplay, and the popular follow-up Defenders of the Faith released in 1984. In September 1990, the Painkiller album dropped the 1980s-style synthesizers.
After spending nearly 20 years with Judas Priest, Halford left the band in May 1992. He first formed the band Fight, then returned to his metal roots in 2000 with his band Halford and the widely acclaimed album Resurrection (2000). In July 2003, Halford returned to his former band, and they released Angel of Retribution in 2005. The world tour that accompanied the release marked the band's 30th anniversary. In 2011, Judas Priest embarked upon what was billed as their final world tour as a group, but Halford and Judas Priest recorded another album, Redeemer of Souls, which was released in 2014. Halford and Priest were on the road in support of that album through much of 2014 and into 2015.
Aug. 30—Timothy Bottoms
The actor and film producer is best known for his role as Sonny Crawford in The Last Picture Show (1971) where he and his fellow co-stars, such as Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges, rose to fame. Bottoms made his film debut as Joe Bonham in Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun. In 1973's The Paper Chase, he starred as a Harvard law student facing the fearsome Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman). Among other films, he has also appeared in Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing (1973), Rollercoaster (1977) and Elephant (2003).
Bottoms has the unique distinction of portraying U.S. President George W. Bush in three widely varying productions. In 2000–2001, he played a parody of Bush in the Comedy Central sitcom That's My Bush!; he subsequently appeared as Bush in a cameo appearance in the family film The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course. Finally, following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Bottoms once again played Bush, this time in a serious fashion, in the telefilm DC 9/11, one of the first movies to be based upon the attacks.
He also co-produced the documentary Picture This—The Times of Peter Bogdanovich in Archer City, Texas (1991), a behind-the-scenes work about the making of the films The Last Picture Show and its sequel Texasville. He was also heavily featured in the Metallica video for "One," which featured footage of the film Johnny Got His Gun.
FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the August 2016 Senior Spirit newsletter.
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