Look Who’s Turning 65
Sept. 7—Chrissie Hynde
Best known as a founding member of the rock band the Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde has been the only constant member of the band throughout its history. "I saw her play in Central Park [when the Pretenders played in August 1980]," Madonna recalled. "She was amazing: the only woman I'd seen in performance where I thought, Yeah, she's awesome! . . . It gave me courage, inspiration, to see a woman with that kind of confidence in a man's world."
Born in Akron, Ohio in 1951, Hynde later moved to London, where she landed a position at the music magazine NME and got to know Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious (of the Sex Pistols). In the midst of the early punk movement, she joined several short-lived bands. In 1978, Hynde started putting together a band with Pete Farndon (bass guitar, vocals), James Honeyman-Scott (guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Martin Chambers (drums, vocals, percussion). The name Pretenders was inspired by the Sam Cooke version of the Platters' 1955 R&B song "The Great Pretender."
They recorded a demo tape (including "Precious," "The Wait" and a Kinks cover, "Stop Your Sobbing"), produced a single ("Stop Your Sobbing"/"The Wait") and performed their first gigs in a club in Paris. The single was released in January 1979 and hit the Top 30 in the U.K. Later that spring (1979), the Pretenders recorded their eponymous first album and hit the charts in the U.K. and U.S. with the song "Brass in Pocket.” The band released an EP album, titled Extended Play, then Pretenders II later in the summer, which included "Talk of the Town" and "Message of Love."
Hynde has also released numerous hits with other musicians, including Frank Sinatra, UB40, Sheryl Crow and Emmylou Harris. In 2005, the Pretenders were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. In 2014, Hynde released a new album, Stockholm, featuring contributions from Neil Young and John McEnroe. In 2015, she published an autobiography, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. Hynde is also an animal rights activist and a supporter of PETA and the animal rights group Viva! She lives in London and also has an apartment in the Northside Lofts in her hometown of Akron.
Sept. 5—Michael Keaton
The actor, comedian, producer and director first rose to fame for his comedic film roles in Night Shift (1982), Mr. Mom (1983), Johnny Dangerously (1984) and Beetlejuice (1988), and he earned further acclaim for his dramatic portrayal of the title character in Tim Burton's Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). Keaton's critically praised lead performance in Birdman (2014) earned him several awards. Keaton first appeared on TV in Pittsburgh public television programs, including Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (1975). After moving to Los Angeles, he appeared in various popular TV shows, including Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. Around this time, Keaton adopted a stage name to avoid confusion with well-known actor Michael Douglas and daytime host Mike Douglas. He chose Keaton because of an affinity for the physical comedy of Buster Keaton. He showed off his comedic talents with James Belushi in the short-lived comedy series Working Stiffs, which led to a co-starring role in the comedy Night Shift, directed by Ron Howard. His role as the fast-talking schemer Bill "Blaze" Blazejowski earned Keaton critical acclaim, and he scored leads in the subsequent comedy hits Mr. Mom, Johnny Dangerously and Gung Ho.
His title character in Tim Burton's 1988 horror-comedy Beetlejuice earned Keaton widespread acclaim and boosted him to movieland's A-list. Keaton's career was given another major boost when he was again cast by Tim Burton, this time as the title comic book superhero of 1989's Batman. Keaton's dramatic performance earned widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike, and Batman became one of the most successful films of the year. During the 1990s, Keaton appeared in a wide range of films, including Pacific Heights, The Paper and twice in the same role as Elmore Leonard character Agent Ray Nicolette, in Jackie Brown and Out of Sight. In the early 2000s, Keaton appeared in several films with mixed success, including Live From Baghdad (for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award), First Daughter, White Noise and Herbie: Fully Loaded. While he continued to receive good notices from the critics (particularly for Jackie Brown), he was not able to revive the box-office success of Batman until the release of Disney/Pixar's Cars (2006), in which he voiced Chick Hicks.
For his role in the 2007 TV miniseries The Company, Keaton received a 2008 SAG nomination for Outstanding Performance. He provided the voice of Ken in Toy Story 3 (2010), which received overwhelmingly positive acclaim and grossed over $1 billion worldwide, making it one of the most financially successful films ever. In 2014, Keaton starred in Birdman as a screen actor famous for playing the iconic titular superhero, who tries to regain his former glory. For his portrayal, he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. In the 1980s, Keaton bought a ranch near Big Timber, Montana, where he spends much of his time.
Sept. 20—Guy Lafleur
The Canadian former professional ice hockey player was the first player in the National Hockey League (NHL) to score 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons. Between 1971 and 1991, he played for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques in an NHL career spanning 17 seasons, and five Stanley Cup championships (all five with the Canadiens). Lafleur started playing hockey at the age of 5 after receiving his first hockey stick as a Christmas present. In his teens, Lafleur gained considerable recognition for his play as a member of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he led his team to the Memorial Cup in 1971, scoring 130 regular season goals. He was a cornerstone of five Stanley Cup championship teams. He was one of the most popular players on a very popular team; fans chanted "Guy, Guy, Guy!" whenever he touched the puck. He became known among English fans as "Flower" due to the literal translation of his surname, while among French fans he was dubbed "le Démon Blond" (the Blond Demon).
When the Canadiens' dynasty came to an end in 1979 and injuries shortened Lafleur's 1980–1981 season, he decided to retire. After being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he came out of retirement to return to the NHL for three more seasons, from 1988 through 1991, with the New York Rangers and the Quebec Nordiques. Due to a grandfather clause, Lafleur remained one of the few players who did not wear protective helmets. He is the all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history, notching 1,246 points (518 goals and 728 assists) in his 14 years with the Habs. He led the NHL in points in 1976, 1977 and 1978. Lafleur was also the fastest player (at the time) to reach 1,000 points, doing so in only 720 games. In 1988 Lafleur was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1998, he was ranked No. 11 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. Lafleur currently operates a helicopter rental company in Montreal that shuttles VIPs to and from the airport.
Sept. 25—Mark Hamill
The actor is best known for his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars film series. Released in May 1977, Star Wars was an enormous unexpected success and made a huge impact on the film industry. Hamill also appeared in the Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978 and later starred in the successful sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. For both of the sequels, he was honored with the Saturn Award for Best Actor given by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. In 2015, Hamill appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue to star in the new trilogy, alongside fellow Star Wars actors Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher.
After the success of Star Wars, Hamill appeared on teen magazine covers. To avoid typecasting, he appeared in the 1978 film Corvette Summer and the better known 1980 World War II film The Big Red One. To further distance himself from his early blockbuster role, Hamill started acting on Broadway, starring in plays such as The Elephant Man in 1979, Amadeus in 1983 and Harrigan 'N Hart in 1985 (for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination). After a six-year hiatus, Hamill returned to film with the 1989 science fiction film Slipstream and continued to star in films throughout the 1990s, including the thriller Midnight Ride and The Guyver in 1991. When the Wing Commander series of computer games started using full motion video cut scenes, he was cast as the series protagonist. He also directed and starred in the 2004 direct-to-DVD Comic Book: The Movie, which won an award for Best Live-Action DVD Premiere Movie at the 2005 DVD Exclusive Awards.
Hamill has gained a reputation as a prolific voice actor. Though the voice role he is most known for is Batman's archenemy, the Joker, his success as the Joker has led him to portray a wide variety of characters in television, film, anime and video games (mostly similar super-villains). Hamill was the voice of The Hobgoblin in the 1990s Spider-Man animated series, as well as in other Marvel superhero genre roles. Non-comic related television roles include Dr. Jak in Phantom 2040, Christopher "Maverick" Blair in Wing Commander Academy and Buzz Buzzard in The New Woody Woodpecker Show. In animated films, he has voiced roles in Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Joseph: King of Dreams and Futurama: Bender's Big Score. Notable video game voice roles include those in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix and the LucasArts game Full Throttle.
FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the September 2016 Senior Spirit newsletter.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors