Who’s A Boomer? (And Who’s Not?)

October 14, 2009

by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.

Many people from other age groups – and even some members of the media – seem to have a rather fuzzy idea about who is and is not a bona fide member of the Baby Boom generation. Here’s the beginning of a helpful guide to some prominent Boomers among us.

We’ll probably repeat this exercise at intervals for readers’ edification and enjoyment. Consider this the first installment.

Baby Boomers were born between January 1, 1946 and January 1, 1964. They turned 46-63 in 2009 and will turn 47-64 in 2010.

Who’s a Boomer? 75 Who Are

Politics

1. Barack Obama, President of the US, is a Boomer. He is 48, born August, 1961, in Hawaii. (Some dispute the place, but not the year.) Interesting Biographical Tidbit: President Obama has six living and one deceased half-siblings from his Kenyan father’s other marriages. He has a half-sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, from his American mother’s second marriage to an Indonesian citizen.

2. George W. Bush, former President of the US, is a Boomer. He’s 63, born July, 1946, in Connecticut. Biographical Tidbit: Born in New Haven, where his Dad was a post-World War II student at Yale, President Bush later attended the school himself. He was president of his social fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, and a member of the varsity rugby team.

3. Bill Clinton, fomer President of the US, is also a Boomer. He’s also 63, born August, 1946, in Arkansas, so our last three US presidents were all born in the summer. (I have no idea what this might portend, but it’s fascinating.) Biographical Tidbit: While a student at Yale Law School, Clinton worked on George McGovern’s presidential campaign and was assigned to its office in Texas. Among his fellow campaign workers were future Governor Ann Richards, future Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, and future superstar film director Steven Spielberg.

4. Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, is a Boomer. She is 62, born October, 1947, in Illinois. Biographical Tidbit: Between college and law school, Secretary Clinton spent an adventurous summer in Alaska, working as a restaurant dishwasher at Denali National Park and processing salmon at a cannery in Valdez.

5. Al Gore, former Vice-President of the US and global warming maven, is a Boomer. He’s 61, born March, 1948, in Washington, DC. Biographical Tidbit: Vice-President Gore spent a year at the Divinity School at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University, although he says he never intended to be a clergyman. His mother, Pauline La Fon Gore, was one of the first women to graduate from the Law School at Vanderbilt.

6. John Boehner, Minority Leader and former Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives, is a Boomer. He is 59, born November, 1949, in Ohio. Biographical Tidbit: Representative Boehner has eleven siblings. He’s lived in Southwest Ohio his entire life and attended local Jesuit school Xavier University.

7. Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida, is a Boomer. He is 53, born July, 1956, in Pennsylvania. Biographical Tidbit: Governor Crist’s Dad, a physician, was of Greek Cypriot descent, and the original family name was Christodoulou. Crist was a quarterback for the Wake Forest University football team, before finishing his undergraduate degree at Florida State.

8. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, is a Boomer. He’s 59, born March, 1950, in Texas. Biographical Tidbit: Governor Perry was an Eagle Scout, and as an adult, he’s been awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Scouting’s highest honor. At Texas A&M University, Perry was one of five male cheerleaders, called “yell” leaders.

9. Jennifer Granholm, Governor of Michigan, is a Boomer. She is 50, born February, 1959, in British Columbia, Canada. Biographical Tidbit: Although born in Canada, Governor Granholm’s family moved to California when she was four years old. She won the Miss San Carlos Beauty Pageant and tried for a Hollywood acting career before college, supporting herself as a tour guide at Universal Studios.

10. Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, Immediate Past Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and erstwhile Presidential candidate, is a Boomer. He is 61, born November, 1948, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Although Governor Dean never served in the Vietnam War – an unfused vertebra in his spine got him a medical deferment – he suffered a Southeast Asia tragedy. His younger brother Charlie was captured and killed by Laotian guerillas in 1974.

11. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and former Presidential candidate, is a Boomer. He’s 62, born March, 1947, in Michigan. Biographical Tidbit: Mitt isn’t a nickname. It’s Governor Romney’s actual middle name. (His given first name is Willard.) Mitt was the nickname of Romney’s Dad’s cousin, Milton Romney, who played pro football for the Chicago Bears from 1925-1929.

12. Mike Huckabee, successful television personality and author, former Governor of Arkansas and ex-Presidential candidate, is a Boomer. He is 54, born August 1955, in Arkansas. Biographical Tidbit: Governor Huckabee’s love of the media started early. His afterschool job in junior high and high school was reading news and weather reports on-air at a local radio station. As a young pastor in Texarkana and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, he started 24-hour local TV stations and hosted a program called Positive Alternatives.

13. David Axelrod, Senior Advisor to President Obama and former newspaperman, is a Boomer. He is 54, born February, 1955, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Well before rising to national prominence on the Obama campaign, Axelrod specialized in working with black politicians. He was a key advisor on the mayoral campaigns of Harold Washington in Chicago, Dennis Archer in Detroit, Michael White in Cleveland, Anthony Williams in Washington, D.C., and John Street in Philadelphia.

14. Sonia Sotomayor, newest US Supreme Court Justice, is a Boomer. She’s 55, born June, 1954, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Justice Sotomayor’s Dad, Juan, completed only the third grade in his native Puerto Rico, was never fluent in English, and worked in a tool-and-die factory. But his daughter was valedictorian at academically-acclaimed Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, New York, and later was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Princeton.

15. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California and former movie star, is a Boomer. He’s 62, born July, 1947, in the province of Styria, Austria. Biographical Tidbit: Governor Schwarzenegger’s Dad was the police chief of Thal, Austria, a small town near the Styrian provincial capital, Graz. His Mom, a young widow, had a son, Meinhard, from her first marriage. Meinhard died in a car accident in 1971, leaving a three-year-old son, Patrick. The Governor has paid for Patrick’s education and helped him immigrate to the United States.

Media

16. Oprah Winfrey, all-media megastar, is a Boomer. She is 55, born January, 1954, in Mississippi. Biographical Tidbit: Winfrey can claim she’s a “coal miner’s daughter.” Her Dad Vernon’s original profession was mining, although he was in the Armed Forces when she was born. Her gift for entertaining people may stem from her grandmother, Hattie Mae Lee, who raised her as a tot. Hattie May taught her to recite verses from the Bible, and little Oprah was known as “the Preacher” at her local church.

17. Jay Leno, comedian and talk-show host, is a Boomer. He’s 59, born April, 1950, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: As everyone knows, Leno loves classic cars. It’s led him to an affiliation with McPherson College in Kansas, a small religious school with an acclaimed Automobile Restoration department. Leno serves on the national advisory board for the program and helps fund their scholarships.

18. David Letterman, comedian and talk-show host, is also a Boomer. He’s 62, born April, 1947, in Indiana. Biographical Tidbit: A disk jockey for student-run radio stations at Ball State University, Letterman may have gained the first adult fans for his comedy at a local TV station in Indianapolis, where he was a weatherman. He was known for colorful descriptions like “hailstones the size of canned hams” and occasionally reported the high and low temperatures for completely fictitious cities.

19. Jon Stewart, comedian and talk-show host, is a Boomer, too. He is 46, born November, 1962, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Before earning enough to support himself from comedy, Stewart worked as a contract administrator, a puppeteer for children with disabilities, a busboy, a caterer, a retail shelf stocker, and a bartender.

20. Arianna Huffington, columnist and Internet magnate, is a Boomer. She’s 59, born July, 1950, in Athens, Greece. Biographical Tidbit: While still a student at Cambridge University in the UK, Huffington appeared frequently on a BBC political discussion show called Any Questions? She was also a very young panelist on two BBC game shows, Call My Bluff and Face the Music.

21. Christiane Amanpour, international correspondent, is a Boomer. She’s 51, born January, 1958, in London, UK. Biographical Tidbit: Among the most memorable moments in her career, Amanpour cites an on-air telephone interview with Yasser Arafat during a siege on his compound in 2002. Piqued at one of her questions, Arafat just hung up on her.

22. Wolf Blitzer, CNN newscast host, is a Boomer. He is 61, born March, 1948, in Augsburg, Germany. Biographical Tidbit: Blitzer’s career in international journalism began in the Tel Aviv bureau of the Reuters news agency. A few years later, he got a scoop as the first journalist allowed to interview convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

23. Bill O’Reilly, Fox News commentator and host, is a Boomer. He’s 60, born September, 1949, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Before becoming a journalist, O’Reilly played semi-professional baseball for a team called the New York Monarchs. He was also a high school English and history teacher at Monsignor Pace High School in Miami, Florida.

24. Keith Olbermann, MSNBC commentator and host, is a Boomer. He’s 50, born January, 1959, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Olbermann was a published author as a teenager, writing for various magazines about sports card-collecting. As a young broadcaster, he did the voice-overs for USA Network’s Cartoon Express.

25. James Cramer, CNBC financial commentator and author, is a Boomer. He is 54, born February, 1955, in Pennsylvania. Biographical Tidbit: While working as a cub newspaper reporter in Los Angeles, Cramer lost all his possessions in an apartment robbery and claims to have lived in his car for nine months.

For the next section of this story, Boomers 26-50, please click here: http://wp.me/pxD3J-1S

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10 Responses to “Who’s A Boomer? (And Who’s Not?)”

  1. Scott Adams Says:

    The birth rate in the the United States started a steady climb around 1940 and only dropped briefly during the War.

    While we associate Baby Boomers with the movements of the 60′s, many of the notables such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and the Beatles were born before 1946, but after 1940.

    Perhaps that spirit goes beyond those 18 years, but it belongs to Baby Boomers.

  2. Alan Mendelsohn Says:

    Boomer as a demographic is different from Boomer as a subculture.

    Technically Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. But when we think of Boomer culture, we think of Father Knows Best, rock music, college radicals, and the like.

    Arnold Schwarznegger may be technically a Boomer, but in Austria, he didn’t have the same experience as Boomers in North America.

    Sometimes Boomer is used as a synonym for the 60′s generation, so there is a lot of ambiguity.

    If you remember the March on Washington, The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, anti-war protests, Car 54, Where are You?, Mission Impossible, Dr. Strangelove, Mary Poppins, The Graduate, the Rolling Stones, and Sergeant Bilko, you are part of Boomer culture and not just the demographic.

    The fact that many of the icons of the Boomers were not Boomers is irrelevant, because it was the Boomers who ultimately decided that Joni Mitchell – and not Frank Sinatra – spoke to them.

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Alan, I’ll approve that comment, because I know you’ve been following this series, but it’s more than a little irrelevant.

      It seems to imply that “Boomer culture” suddenly ceased when we turned 25, and everything since that point hasn’t influenced and impacted us.

      Which is total nonsense and – I am sorry to have to say this – tacitly supports the efforts of those who are now engaged in a propaganda war to push us off Center Stage in this nation’s – and your native Canada’s – political, economic, and cultural life.

      Your comment about Governor Schwarzenegger, for instance, is a tad silly. He came here at about age 20 and is now over 60. So two-thirds of his life experience has clearly been as an American Boomer.

      And much of the essence of a “Boomer cultural experience” and political experience since we passed that age-25 mark has involved the hollowing out of the US manufacturing and resources base; massive financial re-engineering; loss of several generations’ jobs to the developing world; a determined weakening of the entire “middle class,” to which over 90 percent of all Americans have always belonged; and an extraordinary – and at times quite malicious – shifting of assets from the Very Many to the Greedy Few.

      This little Boomer catalogue exercise is fluffy and fun. But it subtly shows that some of those clamoring for Boomers in our 40′s, 50′s, and early 60′s to retire or “downsize” are themselves considerably older than the Boomer generation. It subtly shows some of those asking that the 99 percent of us who Aren’t Them accept our Fate quietly and settle for less are themselves still as active and productive as possible.

      This series is just getting under way and beginning to become influential in our Generation’s thinking.

      We Boomers will likely make up more than half! of all active voters in the next several national elections. Those who “diss” us, those who dismiss us, and those who seek to marginalize us in any way, shape, or form are about to receive a massive wake-up call.

  3. Marilyn Ellis Says:

    I’m really enjoying this thread.

    Seeing the list of fellow Boomers, it’s nice to realize, despite what Hollywood and the 30-somethings would like to think, that we are still very relevant and, indeed, continue to be Thought Leaders.

  4. Dotty Says:

    I am a Boomer, age 61.

    Yes, it has to do with our mindset in the 60′s. And now, we are the same as we were!

    We changed society, at least somewhat. We came out of Father Knows Best, but we rejected that culture and made our own. And politics.

    We still do it. We are not irrelevant, thank you.

    Still hip (and radical) after all these years.

  5. Carole Brown Says:

    Ellen,

    Your reply to Alan was pretty passionate, and you both reminded me of my belief that each one of us may identify with a particular era more than another, irrespective of our age.

    However, are you really saying that what is most important and relevant here is not what influences us, but that we Baby Boomers have the potential to influence through our numbers alone?
    Carole
    (a 1955 median baby boomer!)

    • ellenbrandtphd Says:

      Carole,

      Absolutely!

      I believe Boomers are as interested in social action and politically involved as ever – maybe more so, now that so many of us believe we have been the Designated Victims of various schemes and machinations by the Powers That Be.

      I also strongly believe that Boomers are overwhelmingly Centrist at this point in our history, the Preservers and Creators, rather than the Destroyers of values, culture, and wealth.

      It’s no mere accident that various “Official Gatekeepers” are seeking to distract the US public with fringe issues and extremist politics, which are of very little interest to the vast majority of us, particularly us Boomers.

      What most of us – being intelligent and experienced – care about are the “bread and butter” issues: getting back to building a dynamic and sustainable economy and country, where the economic pie starts growing again for all of us.

      If the Left insists on trying to redistribute said “pie” away from us Boomers to their youngest supporters, and the Right just dithers or caves in to special interest groups, there’s going to be one heckuva Rebellion from the Center ahead, led by us Boomers.

      That’s very rare in American history. But this may be the time for it to happen.

  6. Jeff Moskovitz Says:

    Ellen,

    The fact that Barack Obama, George Bush, Al Gore, Bill O’Reilly and I are all Boomers provides more than adequate evidence supporting your “Centrist” argument. Where do I sign up?


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