October 14, 2009
by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.
26. Bonnie Hammer, president of NBC Universal Cable, which includes the USA Network and the Syfy Channel, is a Boomer. She’s 59, born January, 1950, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Credited with making Syfy – formerly called Sci Fi – appealing to adults as well as children and teens, Hammer used a series of unlikely science fiction fans for promos, including Jet Li, Venus and Serena Williams, Traci Lords, and Moby.
27. Mark Burnett, the producer who brought reality TV to the US, is a Boomer. He’s 49, born July, 1960, in London, UK. Biographical Tidbit: Burnett joined the British military at age 18 and became a skilled parachuter, serving both in Northern Ireland and in the Falklands War. Before achieving Hollywood success, he worked as a nanny for a wealthy family and sold T-shirts in Venice Beach, California.
28. Robert Iger, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, is a Boomer. He’s 58, born February, 1951, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Iger is that rare poster child for staying at one company and rising through the ranks. He joined ABC at the age of 22 and became president of the network twenty years later. ABC became part of Disney in 1996.
29. Brian Williams, NBC news anchor, is a Boomer. He’s 50, born May, 1959, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: While attending high school in New Jersey, Williams was a volunteer firefighter from age 16 on. His first paying job was as a busboy at a Perkins Pancake House.
30. Ellen DeGeneres, comedienne and talk-show host, is a Boomer. She is 51, born January, 1958, in Louisiana. Biographical Tidbit: An Early Bloomer, DeGeneres was already the emcee of a popular comedy club in New Orleans just five years out of high school. A year later, at age 24, she was named Showtime’s Funniest Person in America.
31. Pierce Brosnan, former James Bond, is a Boomer. He’s 56, born May, 1953, in County Louth, Ireland. Biographical Tidbit: In his late teens, Brosnan was a circus performer, with fire-eating part of his repertoire. He got his first acting break in a Tennessee Williams play in London’s West End.
32. Bruce Willis, action film hero, is a Boomer. He’s 54, born March, 1955, in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Biographical Tidbit: Willis’s parents met and were married in Germany, where his Dad, a soldier, was stationed. His Mom is German and was working as a bank clerk. Willis’s first post-high school job in New Jersey, where he was raised, was as a security guard at a nuclear power plant.
33. Demi Moore, accomplished actress, is also a Boomer. She’s 46, born November, 1962, in New Mexico. Biographical Tidbit: Moore’s mother and stepfather changed jobs so often, the family is reported to have lived in forty different homes by the time Demi was a teenager. At age 16, her friend Nastassja Kinski persuaded her to drop out of Fairfax High School and try for a film career.
34. Cheryl Ladd, former Charlie’s Angel and frequent star of made-for-television movies, is a Boomer. She’s 58, born July, 1951, in South Dakota. Biographical Tidbit: Under her former stage name, Cherie Moor, Ladd was a member of the original Josie and the Pussycats, a three-girl “bubblegum pop” singing group of the early 1970s. More recently, enthusiastic golfer Ladd has written a golf book for women.
35. Mel Gibson, actor, director, and producer, is a Boomer. He’s 53, born January, 1956, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Mel’s first name is really Mel, not Melvin, and his extraordinary middle name is Colm-Cille. Gibson’s Mom, nee Anne Reilly, was born in Ireland, and Saint Mel was a 5th-century Irish saint and founder of her home-county diocese, Ardagh. Colm-Cille, also the name of a saint, is the parish in which Anne Reilly Gibson was born.
36. Cher, actress and singer, is a Boomer. She is 63, born May, 1946, in California. Biographical Tidbit: Cher’s first recorded song, “Ringo, I Love You,” (1964), was released under the pseudonym Bonnie Jo Mason , because its producer, current jailbird Phil Spector, thought her real name, Cherilyn Sarkisian, sounded too foreign. According to reports, one reason the song wasn’t a hit is that DJs thought the contralto might be a homosexual male gushing over Ringo Starr.
37. Danny Glover, actor and controversial political activist, is a Boomer. He, too, is 63, born July, 1946, in California. Biographical Tidbit: While a student at San Francisco State University in the late 1960s, Glover participated in a five-month-long student-led strike, on record as the longest student walkout in American history. Among its results was creation of the first Black Studies department in the US.
38. Whoopi Goldberg, comedienne, actress, and talk-show host, is a Boomer. She is 53, born November, 1955, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Extreme fear of flying has kept Goldberg off airplanes for the past decade or so. She’s traveled via a personal bus – inconvenient for someone who commutes between Los Angeles and New York. In April of this year, she flew to London for the first time, after taking a course for flight-phobics with Virgin Atlantic Airways.
39. Rene Russo, former model and leading lady, is a Boomer. She’s 55, born February, 1954, in California. Biographical Tidbit: Russo was discovered by a modeling scout while attending a Rolling Stones concert. A year later, she was on the cover of Vogue.
40. Brad Pitt, leading man, just squeaks in as a Boomer. He’s 45, born December, 1963, in Oklahoma. Biographical Tidbit: We’ve all heard of Renaissance men. Pitt was a Renaissance teenager at Kickapoo High School in Springfield, Missouri, playing for the golf, swimming, and tennis teams, standing out as a debater, and starring in school musicals. While waiting for his big break in Hollywood, he was a chauffeur and dressed up in a chicken suit for El Pollo Loco.
41. George Clooney, actor and United Nations activist, is a Boomer. He’s 48, born May, 1961, in Kentucky. Biographical Tidbit: In his early teens, Clooney developed Bell’s palsy, a medical condition which partially paralyzes the face. The malady disappeared within a year. But while suffering from it, the future matinee idol’s left eye closed completely, and taunting schoolmates called him “Frankenstein.”
42. Holly Hunter, movie and television star, is a Boomer. She’s 51, born March, 1958, in Georgia. Biographical Tidbit: When she moved to Los Angeles at age 24, Hunter shared a house with a bunch of other Hollywood hopefuls, including director Sam Raimi and future Academy Award winners Frances McDormand and Joel and Ethan Coen.
43. Quentin Tarantino, director, producer, and screenwriter, is a Boomer. He is 46, born March, 1963, in Tennessee. Biographical Tidbit: A fan of such genres as Japanese anime cartoons and Chinese Wuxia martial arts cinema, Tarantino is an extremely popular filmmaker throughout Asia. In 2007, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo presented him with a lifetime achievement award at the Malacanang Palace.
44. Tim Burton, versatile director, is a Boomer. He’s 51, born August, 1958, in California. Biographical Tidbit: A movie-crazy kid who grew up in Burbank, California, Burton’s early idol was actor Vincent Price. His first film, a six-minute short called “Vincent” is a tribute to the horror star, with Price himself providing the narration.
45. Julie Taymor, film, theater, and opera director, is a Boomer. She’s 56, born December, 1952, in Massachusetts. Biographical Tidbit: As a college student, Taymor developed an interest in classical forms of visual performance art. She studied Indonesian topeng masked dance and wayang kulit shadow puppetry, later winning a fellowship to research ancient puppetry forms in Japan.
46. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is a Boomer. He’s about to turn 54, born October, 1955, in the state of Washington. Biographical Tidbit: While Gates’s early image was more than a tad nerdy, he is said to have been girl-crazy in high school. Already a consultant for a local computer company, the administrators of his Seattle prep school asked him to write the program scheduling students for classes. Gates fixed the code so his own classes were predominantly female.
47. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc., is a Boomer. He is also 54, born February, 1955, in California. Biographical Tidbit: Jobs dropped out of Reed College in Oregon after one semester and started saving money for a trip to India, a country which still fascinates him. He made the journey shortly afterwards, telling friends he sought “spiritual enlightenment.” On his return, he adopted Indian clothing, continued to shave his head, and announced that he had converted to Buddhism, a religion he still follows.
48. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, is a Boomer. He’s 55, born December, 1953, in Georgia. Biographical Tidbit: Bernanke grew up in small-town Dillon, South Carolina, where his Mom was a schoolteacher, and his Dad and uncle managed the local pharmacy. During breaks from high school and college, Bernanke waited tables at South of the Border, a popular roadside attraction.
49. Timothy Geithner, US Secretary of the Treasury and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is a Boomer. He is 48, born August, 1961, in New York. Biographical Tidbit: Because his Dad, Peter, is an international foundation executive, Geithner spent the majority of his childhood outside of the US, living in Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, and Thailand. He speaks a number of languages, including Japanese and Mandarin.
50. Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric Company, is a Boomer. He’s 53, born February, 1956, in Ohio. Biographical Tidbit: Immelt’s Dad, Joseph, was an employee of the General Electric aircraft engines division in Cincinnati for 38 years, retiring as a middle manager. During summer breaks from Dartmouth, where he was a tackle on the football team, Immelt worked at a Ford Motor assembly plant.
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