Look Who’s Turning 65
April 6 – Janet Lynn
Figure skater Janet Lynn won a bronze medal at the 1972 Olympics, and is also a two-time world championships medalist and five-time U.S. national champion. Born Janet Lynn Nowicki, she dropped her last name in competition because it was so often misspelled and mispronounced. She started skating almost as soon as she could walk, performing in her first exhibition at the tender age of four. By seven, she spent part of the year away from home to be nearer to her coach.
Known as a strong jumper and long program artist, she won the U.S. Junior Ladies Championship at the age of 13 after landing a triple salchow, and she soon was one of the only female skaters to include a triple toe loop in her programs. But compulsory figures, where skaters are judged on how well they copy patterns in the ice, were her Achilles’ heel. Lynn continued to progress, placing 9th at the 1968 Olympics at age 14, but she had trouble getting on the podium at the 1970 Worlds after winning the national title. She hired a new coach to help her with her weakness, and in 1972 won the national title for the fourth year in a row. However, Lynn finished the 1972 Olympics with a bronze, and was also third at the World Championships due to low scores in compulsories. At the 1973 World Championships, a short program was added to benefit skaters like Lynn who excelled at jumps and spins, but two falls pushed her back to 12th place. However, a stellar free skate enabled her to finish with a silver medal in the final event of her amateur career.
Lynn transitioned into a three-year, $1,455,000 contract with the Ice Follies, making her the highest-paid woman athlete at the time. Lynn struggled with ashma, made worse by the damp, chilly air in rinks, and she had to quit after only two years. She came back to skating after getting the condition under control, also working as Christian motivational speaker and writing articles promoting conservative causes.
April 9 – Hal Ketchum
Country Music Artist
Ketchum began performing in clubs in his native New York at the age of 15, singing and writing all the songs for the album Threadbare Alibis after a move to Austin, TX. He attained stardom with 17 entries on the Hot Country Songs charts between 1991 and 2006. “Small Town Saturday Night”, “Past the Point of Rescue”, and “Hearts Are Gonna Roll” all reached number 2 on that chart. He also had success with “Mama Knows the Highway” and “Stay Forever” in 1992 and 1994, when he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
His last single to reach the charts was a cover of Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light” in 1998, which was also the year Ketchum was diagnosed with acute transverse myelitis. The neurological disorder affects the spinal column, leaving Ketchum without the use of the left side of his body. The singer had to relearn how to walk, play guitar, and other basic tasks. He also suffers from a sister disease, multiple sclerosis, which killed his mother at an early age.
Ketchum appeared in the 1988 movie Heartbreak Hotel, and did a cameo in the 1994 film Maverick. More recently, his painting led to a show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The artist also enjoys using his carpentry skills to make toys.
April 18 – Rick Moranis
Actor and Musician
Canadian Rick Moranis found stardom with Second City Television in the 1980’s and went on to become a screenwriter, producer, comedian, musician and songwriter. He is perhaps best known for his goofball role in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, but he also made memorable appearances in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, Little Shop of Horrors, Parenthood and The Flintstones.
Moranis began his career as a radio disc jockey in Toronto. Then he teamed up with Winnipeg native Ken Finkleman for a duo of television comedy pilots starring the two in irreverent mockumentaries. That led to an SCTV sketch dubbed The Great White North featuring characters Bob and Doug McKenzie. It got such positive reviews that it spawned a pop culture phenomenon featuring an album by the same name and a 1983 movie, Strange Brew.
In 1986, Moranis married costume designer Ann Belsky, and had two children. Sadly, Belsky was killed by breast cancer five years after their marriage. By 1997, the difficulties of being a single parent with a travel schedule for the movies he was making led Moranis to take a break from the film industry. “And the little bit of a break turned into a longer break, and then I found that I really didn’t miss it,” the actor said. He now says he’s not retired, but has become very selective about roles.
Moranis’ 2005 work The Agoraphobic Cowboy, featuring country songs with a comic twist, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Comedy Album category. A year later, Moranis reprised his voice-over role for the animated film Brother Bear 2. In 2013 he released the unabashedly Jewish comedy album My Mother’s Brisket and Other Love Stories. Most recently, the star has done charity concerts.
April 23 – James Russo
American film and television star James Russo has made a good living in the industry, appearing in more than 156 movies in thirty years. Born in New York City, the actor graduated from New York University. But he didn’t achieve instant fame, and he put in time as a cabdriver, construction worker, and even a gravedigger before he got his first big break.
A made-for-television movie, Chicago Story, provided his first acting role in 1981. A small part as a robber in Fast Times at Ridgemont High led to Russo’s first big break and a slew of roles in such films as Beverly Hills Cop, The Cotton Club, Freeway, and Once Upon a Time in America. He even landed a part in the 1986 drama Extremities opposite icon Farrah Fawcett.
Russo also had parts in 90s films such as My Own Private Idaho, A Kiss Before Dying, Donnie Brasco, and The Postman. The actor has made many guest appearances for television, including cameos on Miami Vice and CSI.
FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the Senior Spirit newsletter.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors