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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

October 17 - Mae Jemison, engineer, physician, astronaut

Jemison, the first female Black astronaut to travel into space, has enough accomplishments to fill many lifetimes. She graduated from Stanford (chemical engineering, African, and African American studies) and then got a medical degree at Cornell University. Jemison was a doctor for the Peace Corps in Liberia and Sierra Leone, then decided to apply to NASA and was chosen for the first group of astronauts after the Challenger disaster. 

But that’s not all. She left NASA to found a technology research company and then a non-profit educational foundation for the sciences. She wrote several children’s books, appeared on Star Trek, and has been awarded a slew of honorary doctorates. She has also had a lifelong love of dance, nearly choosing a professional dance career (she knows African, Japanese, ballet, jazz, and modern styles) over medicine. 

Jemison began Stanford at the tender age of 16. She has asserted that some arrogance is a necessary trait for women to be successful, and lamented teachers who failed to support her lofty ambitions. Aboard the Endeavor, Jemison had with her a poster from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a West African statuette, a photo of female aviator Bessie Coleman, the first Black American to hold an international pilot’s license, and an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority banner. 

Jemison is an active speaker with an array of outreach programs, primarily to promote female achievement in the sciences. She is a member of several scientific organizations, including the Association of Space Explorers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association, and the American Chemical Society.


Image Source: Wikipedia

October 18 - Martina Navratilova, tennis player

Czech-born Martina Navratilova is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won 59 major titles. She had a great rivalry with Chris Evert, including what may be the best woman’s match of all time in the 1985 French Open final. She also displayed amazing career longevity, topping her career by triumphing in the mixed doubles at the 2006 U.S. Open just two months shy of her fiftieth birthday.

The child of a ski instructor father and a mother who was a gymnast, tennis player, and ski instructor, Navratilova started playing the game at age seven with her stepfather filling in as coach. She famously defected from communist Czechoslovakia at the age of 18 after living for two years in the United States. The country renounced her citizenship at the time, although she has reclaimed it now that her native land has become a democracy. She has made it clear that she has no plans to move out of the U.S.

Navratilova is renowned for her expertise on fast, low-bouncing grass, but her titles showcase ability across clay as well. She is one of only three female players to win a “Grand Slam Boxed Set,” claiming victory in women’s singles and doubles, as well as mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Although she is naturally right-handed, Navratilova has always competed as a southpaw. 

You can read her autobiography, Martina, or one of three thrillers she co-authored with Liz Nickles. Navratilova is active in gay rights, animal rights, and charities that support underprivileged children.

Image Source: Wikipedia

October 20 - Danny Boyle, film director and producer

If you haven’t seen Slumdog Millionaire, the most successful British film of a decade, go treat yourself. Perhaps you could view Shallow Grave at the same time, since it earned a BAFTA for Best British Film. Complete the trifecta with Trainspotting, the tenth greatest British film of the 20th century. All were directed by directorial phenomenon Danny Boyle.

Although currently a “spiritual atheist,” Boyle grew up in a Catholic family with a mother who wanted her son to become a priest. But at the age of 14 Boyle was dissuaded from this vocation by a priest. He muses:

“Whether he was saving me from the priesthood or the priesthood from me, I don't know. But quite soon after, I started doing drama. And there's a real connection, I think. All these directors – Martin Scorsese, John Woo, M. Night Shyamalan – they were all meant to be priests. There's something very theatrical about it. It's basically the same job – poncing around, telling people what to think.”

Boyle’s work can be viewed on the small screen, and he has been active in theater productions. But you may have already seen a critically acclaimed piece of his in another venue; Boyle was artistic director for the opening ceremony Isles of Wonder at the 2012 Olympics.


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