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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Famous and 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

January 18 - Kevin Costner, Actor, Director, Country Singer

“I’ve lived quite a colorful life,” Kevin Costner explained in 2008, after demurring over a run for political office. The blue-eyed actor with the charmingly tilted smile was born in southern California. His father moved around a lot for work when his youngest son was in high school, a period when Costner “lost a lot of confidence.” But after becoming interested in acting his last year in college, he worked jobs on fishing boats, driving a truck and giving tours of the Hollywood homes of stars while taking lessons and auditioning for roles.

After several bit parts, he was cast in The Big Chill as Alex, the friend whose funeral serves as the setting. However, these flashback scenes were left on the floor after the final cut and Costner never appeared in the iconic film. Starring roles came his way in 1987 in The Untouchables and No Way Out, followed in succeeding years by Bill Durham and Field of Dreams. Perhaps his biggest hit was Dances with Wolves, which Costner directed and starred in. The movie won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Costner is married to his second wife and has a ranch in Aspen, Colorado. His country rock band Kevin Costner & Modern West toured worldwide in 2007 and plays internationally. Costner has a variety of charitable and business interests, including Tatanka: The Story of the Bison in South Dakota, where tourists can learn the story of westward expansion.

January 26 - Eddie Van Halen, Rock Guitarist

“We came here with approximately $50 and a piano, and we didn’t speak the language. Now look where we are. If that’s not the American dream, what is?” Born in Amsterdam, Eddie Van Halen’s family moved to Pasadena, California in 1962 and became U.S. citizens. Although voted No. 1 in a 2012 Guitar World poll to find “The Greatest Guitarist of All Time,” Van Halen swears he never really learned how to read music.

Starting with four grade lunch room performances for his classmates, Van Halen and his brother, Alex, moved to paying gigs when they formed a band in 1972 that two years later became the enduring hard rock group Van Halen. The band’s first album became one of the most lucrative debuts ever after getting accolades in both heavy metal and hard rock circles. Eddie Van Halen popularized the solo technique he called “tapping,” or using both hands on the guitar neck.

After a long marriage to child star Valerie Bertinelli, she filed for divorce in 2005. The couple has a son, Wolfgang. Van Halen remarried in 2009 with Bertinelli in attendance and his son filling the role of best man.

January 28 - Nicolas Sarkozy, 23rd President of France

"What made me who I am now is the sum of all the humiliations suffered during childhood,” Sarkozy has said of being shorter and less wealthy than his classmates. Born to a Hungarian father and French/Greek mother, Sarkozy was influenced by his Gaullist paternal grandfather. After building an advertising agency and becoming wealthy, his mostly absentee father divorced his mother in 1959.

Reportedly a mediocre student through high school, Sarkozy found his footing in college, graduating with a degree in business law and was very active in the right-wing political organization. A skilled speaker who can turn on the charm, Sarkozy rose through the political ranks as a mayor, then Minister of the Budget, Minister of the Interior and finally Minister of Finances. After leading his party for three years, he was elected President of France in 2007.

During his tenure, Sarkozy faced the European sovereign debt crisis, the Russo-Georgian War (he negotiated a ceasefire) and the Arab Spring. An innovator, he initiated reform in both universities and the pension system. However, he was defeated in 2012 and largely retired from public life. The politician married three times, including current spouse and singer-songwriter Carla Bruni.

January 31 - Virginia Ruzici, Tennis Star

When you think of Romanian athletes, gymnasts likely spring to mind. But over a 12-year career that began in 1975, tennis player Virginia Ruzici made quite a name for herself and went head-to-head with superstar Chris Evert.

Ruzici used a powerful forehand to garner 12 career singles titles, including the 1978 French Open. But she was a better sportsman than many, as evidenced by her actions during a match with Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1978. The Australian was playing in spite of an ankle injury, and when Goolagong collapsed on the court during a quarterfinal match with Ruzici, her husband spontaneously jumped down to the court to check on his ailing wife, causing a technical default. When Goolagong recovered, however, Ruzici allowed the match to continue, costing her the game.

Ruzici is rumored to have had a hand in starting American tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams on their career paths. The sisters’ father was watching a match in Salt Lake City where he was inspired by Ruzici’s victory and impressed by the prize money, leading him to concentrate on teaching his daughters to play the game.

Click below for the other articles in the January 2020 Senior Spirit