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.