29 December 2005

Pedro Wins!

I've found dozens of incorrect birthdates on Wikipedia and in celebrity press releases. So far the one that's the furthest from the truth is the age of Efren Ramirez who played the teen-aged Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite. 1983 seems to be the birth year that everyone has.

California birth records for twins Efrain and Carlos Ramirez note that they were born in Los Angeles on October 2, 1973. Ten years earlier!!!

22 December 2005

Happy 90th Birthday, Barbara Billingsley

Most people would be surpised to hear that the woman who played June Cleaver is 90 years old today. Maybe she herself would be surprised. Every reference to her age or birthdate -- going back to a 1961 TV Guide article -- says she was born in 1922. That would make her 83, not 90.

When I checked her out in the 1930 census, I was surprised to find her age listed as 14. Thinking I may have found the wrong person, I checked some more records. The record for her 1959 marriage to William Mortensen indicates her birthdate is 1921, but her 1953 marriage to Roy Kellino has her born in 1918.

The clincher was the birth record for Barbara L. Combes on 22 Dec 1915. Imagine, the Beaver's mother lied about her age! By 7 years!!

Congratulations, Barbara, for reaching 90 and for fooling us all these years.

09 December 2005

Surprise -- Wikipedia Has Errors

I am not surprised to find reports that some of the info on Wikipedia is wrong. Over the past few months I have personally amended several entries. Some of these I've discussed on this blog: Skitch Henderson, William Rehnquist, and Sheree North. Based on census and other record research, I've also made changes to entries for a diverse range of notables including Ted Williams, Alice Cooper, Rodney King, John Derek, and Phyllis Diller.

The errors are usually in birth name, ethnic heritage, or birth year. A lot of these entries must be based on press releases. I've yet to find anyone younger than the age given in Wikipedia.

04 December 2005

Andy Rooney Talks About Hyphenated Americans

Andy Rooney was on the Don Imus radio show last month and seems to have stirred up some buzz when he said that he didn't care for the term "African-American." Some simple-minded people thought this meant he did not care for African-Americans, but one takes that kind of response for granted nowadays. What got my interest was when he said, "I mean, am I an Irish-American?" My response, not surprisingly, was, "I'll check that out."

Turns out Andrew Aitken Rooney was named for a Scottish great-grandfather, Andrew Aitken. One of Andy's grandparents was Scottish. The other three grandparents were all born in England and all of their parents were born in England.

Maybe sometime in the distant past the Rooneys went from Ireland to England. That would make them Irish-British before they came to this country. And so, no, Andy you are not Irish-American. You are Irish-British/English/Scots-American.

29 November 2005

Vic Power Dies

Baseball Golden Glover Vic Power should really be known in this country as Vic Pellot, Pellot being his father's surname. Power comes from his mother's maiden name. Looking at these Puerto Rican census returns, we can see the pattern of naming that results in many Latinos in the US being called by their mothers' maiden names. Sometimes the word "and" (y) is between the father's surname and the mother's. Note too that sometimes a wife uses her maiden name after she is married and sometimes she would add her husband's last name after her maiden name. I don't know enough about the culture to know the nuances of when to use what name, I just know enough to not take anything for granted.

According to some sources, Vic was born Victor Felipe Pellot Pove. But according to the census records, the family was known as Power long before he was born. Other sources say his mother's name was mistakenly changed from Pove to Power by a 1st grade teacher. If this story is true, somehow this teacher convinced everyone else in the family to change their name as well. But then as I've said, I don't know enough about the culture to take anything for granted.

16 November 2005

Ralph Edwards Dies

Ralph Edwards died a whopping 200 years after the birth of his grandfather. I hope to do the same. Since my paternal grandfather was born in 1884, I've got another 79 years to go. Whippee!!

Ralph's grandfather, John Cummins Edwards, was born in Kentucky in 1805 or 1806. He was 53 when his son Henry Levi Edwards was born in 1859. Henry was then 53 when his son (Ralph) was born in 1913.

15 November 2005

Las Vegas Founded 100 Years Ago

I watched the PBS documentary on Las Vegas tonight. They had Vegas getting its start in 1931 with the dam builders from Boulder City. In 1930, Boulder City did not exist. The census for that year has just a handful of miners living in Nelson township.

Although the TV show didn't mention it, Las Vegas really started with Stewart Ranch. Archibald Stewart's widow Helen sold it to wealthy railroader William Clark in 1902 and Clark auctioned off lots in 1905.

04 November 2005

Sheree North Dies

I didn't recognize her name until I read of her long and diverse acting career. Every obituary states that she was born as "Dawn Bethel" in Los Angeles on January 17, 1933. I searched California birth records for this name and date and came up empty. The closest I could find was a Dawn Shirley Crang born January 17, 1932 in Los Angeles. Her mother's maiden name was listed as Shoard.

There were two Bethel kids born a few years earlier with mother's maiden name Shoard and I found the Bethel family in the 1930 census. GlamorGirls lists North's mother's name and the info matches the birth records and 1930 census -- but it does not really clear things up.

The site states that in 1956, North learned for the first time that Edward Bethel was her stepfather and that her real father was Richard Crang. North's mother was obviously married to Bethel before North's birth. Was she married to him when North was born? North's mother, June, died in 2000. Her last name was still Bethel so she was not likely ever married to Crang. Edward Bethel died in Pomona in 1957 and Richard Crang in Santa Cruz in 1953.

Contrary to what the GlamorGirls site states, North knew by 1949 that Bethel was not her father. She entered her real maiden name -- Crang -- on her daughter Dawn Bessire's birth certificate.

1930 Los Angeles, CA:

01 November 2005

Skitch Henderson Dies

Named Lyle Russell Henderson when he was born in 1918, his official biography and most sources state that Skitch was born in Birmingham, England and did not come to the US until he was 12 or so. He actually was born in Halstad, Minnesota. His mother died in 1920 and he was raised by his Aunt Hatty.

31 October 2005

04 October 2005

Harriet Miers Nominated for Supreme Court

Two of Harriet's siblings have had long marriages but Harriet's brother Robert is on his third marriage; brother Harris divorced in 1997. Harriet never married.

I'm not sure what it means, but Texas death records state that Miers' father, Harris, was single when he died in 1973. News reports tell us that he was taken care of by his wife after he suffered a stroke in 1963.

In 1920, Harris Miers is living with his family in Dallas. By 1930, the family has scattered. Harris is lodging in a Dallas suburb and his brother, Hudson, is a boarder in Dallas. I haven't found his parents or other siblings in 1930.

25 September 2005

Don Adams Dies

Don Adams of Get Smart was originally named Donald Yarmy. His father, William Yarmy, was a Hungarian Jew and his mother, Consuelo Morgan, was an Irish Catholic, though her father appears to have been Dutch. The name Morgan does not seem particularly Dutch.

Anyone seen Consuelo in earlier census records? Adams' father is married with no wife in 1920. The only person close in 1900 is a Consuelo Dieter with an uncle James Morgan.

05 September 2005

William Rehnquist Dies

You will find frequent mention of Rehnquist's Swedish ancestry but that's only half the story. His maternal lineage traces back from his mother, Margery Peck, via New York to the Pilgrims and other early New England settlers giving him a long American pedigree.