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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Famous and 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

December 21 - Chris Evert, Tennis Player

Chris Evert was more than a tennis player, she was a tennis legend. Born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, her father was a tennis coach and the game was a way of life for the Catholic family with five children, all of whom played. However, it was Chris who displayed unique talent early on, becoming the number one ranked under-14 girl in the U.S. the same year she played her first senior tournament. Evert made her Grand Slam entry at age 16, losing to Billie Jean King in the semifinal.

Over her lifetime, she won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles titles, and a total of 157 singles championships and 32 doubles titles. Her record of reaching 34 Grand Slam singles finals still stands for both men and women (and she skipped some French and Australian Opens because the Slams were not as prestigious in her day). She never lost in the first or second round of a Grand Slam singles tournament, and only faltered twice in the third round. She broke record after record as she dominated women’s tennis from 1974 to 1982. Her last big win was when she was a month shy of her 34th birthday.

Dubbed the “Ice Maiden” for her cool, focused demeanor on the courts, Evert played it right in business. She owns the Evert Tennis Academy with her brother John and helps out with her old high school tennis team. Evert is a publisher of Tennis magazine and joined the ESPN team to provide commentary during Grand Slam events. She also put her name on a line of tennis apparel, Chrissie by Tail.

December 25 - Annie Lennox, Vocalist (Eurythmics)

Pop singer Annie Lennox can put “OBE” after her name, as the Queen bestowed her with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her "tireless charity campaigns and championing of humanitarian causes.” But her claim to fame is rooted in music. One half of the Eurythmics, Lennox achieved international success and wowed music video viewers of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by appearing with short-cropped, orange hair and wearing a man’s suit. Check it out here.

Lennox studied at the Royal Academy of music in London, concentrating in flute, piano and harpsichord for three unhappy years. Her flute teacher noted, "Ann has not always been sure of where to direct her efforts, though lately she has been more committed. She is very, very able, however.”

After a stint as lead singer for The Tourists, Lennox and Dave Stewart left to form the Eurythmics, putting out such hits as “Love Is a Stranger,” “Here Comes the Rain Again” and “Would I Lie to You?” In 1990, Lennox took off on her solo career, recording the wildly successful album Diva and multiple other hits. Lennox has won eight Brit Awards and has been named Best British Female Artist six times.

In the 1990s she got back with Stewart to record Peace and donated profits from a subsequent concert tour to Greenpeace and Amnesty International. Lennox also supports work to benefit people with HIV/AIDS and the LGBTQ community. She has been married three times and has two children from her second union.

December 28 - Denzel Washington, Actor

Winner of two Golden Globe awards, a Tony and two Academy Awards, Denzel Washington is a staple around Hollywood. Washington directed his first film, Antwone Fisher, in 2002. His third directorial effort, Fences, also starred the actor and earned him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2016.

Washington grew up in Mount Vernon, New York. His mother operated a beauty parlor, and when his parents divorced when he was 14, she sent him to a private prep school. Washington said, "That decision changed my life, because I wouldn't have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them.”

Washington got a BA in Drama and Journalism, but wasn’t sure of his next step. Working as creative arts director at a summer camp, he joined a staff talent show and another staff member told him he should try acting. Washington returned to Fordham to study acting, and attended graduate school at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco before starting his professional career. He gained notoriety on the hospital drama St. Elsewhere, soon appearing on television, in films and on the stage. He proved adept at roles that spanned the spectrum from Disney to drama, and is a steady box-office draw.

Washington married Pauletta Pearson in 1983. The couple has four children, and lives in New York City.  He’s a devout Christian and donated $2.5 million to construct a new church in Los Angeles in 1995, as well as contributing to a number of other philanthropic efforts.

Click below for the other articles in the December 2019 Senior Spirit