Ah Yes, It Was a Very Good Year

The proto-Delorian pictured above is the 1962 Ford Seattle.

Why is it there?

It was the first picture to come up when I typed ‘1962’ into Google Images. Awesome, isn’t it?

And why did I type 1962 into Google Images in the first place?

Well, because earlier this week, I celebrated a grand half-century of existence.

And you know what? That got me thinking about the year I was born into. I thought about how much the world has changed in the years since. I was born into a world where a single computer took up an entire room, where telephones had rotary dials, television was black and white, and nobody had ever heard a single note of The White Album. Nobody had ever been terrified by a Dalek, nor had they said ‘beam me up, Scotty.’

But a quick Wikipedia search showed me a lot of interesting things did happen in the year of my birth. Politics, science, the arts, sports, religion… something cool or horrible or more vastly socially important than anyone could have known at the time happened in each category. People who matter in a global sense were born that year, and so, too, did some die.

It saddens me to realize that I missed sharing the earth with ee cummings by a matter of less than two weeks, and that Eleanor Roosevelt and Charles Laughton were both gone a couple months later. Other major losses that year include: William Faulkner, Stuart Sutcliffe, Marilyn Monroe, and Herman Hesse. I’m a lot less cut up about the death of Adolph Eichmann.

On the other hand, it delights me to know I share a birth year with such people as: Jon Stewart, Eddie Izzard, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Joan Cusack, Felicity Huffman, and Tom Colicchio. That’s not too shabby a list. Also? It’s painfully incomplete. 1962 was a good year to be born for greatness, it seems.

1962 saw the debut not only of moi, but of Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf on Broadway and Lawrence of Arabia on the big screen. Silent Spring debuted on bookshelves everywhere, as did Sex and the Single Girl. The Beatles released their first single and the Rolling  Stones played their first major gig. Johnny Carson became the host of the Tonight Show, a job he would do for the next thirty years. AT&T launched the first communications satellite. The Hulk and Spider Man arrived on the comic book scene. Alas, the curtain came down on two of the Flying Wallendas who were killed when their famous seven-person pyramid trick didn’t go as planned.

On the political end of the spectrum, there was the Cuban Missile Crisis, the arrest and imprisonment of Nelson Mandela,  the French Foreign Legion left Algeria, and Jamaica achieved independence. The US Supreme Court ruled that naked pictures of men were not pornography and that prayer in public schools could not be required. Fidel Castro was excommunicated by the Pope.

Oh, and there was that neato car.

So that’s a little bit about the year I was born.

What about the year you were born?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to go to Wikipedia and do a search on the year you were born. Tell me three interesting people who were born that year, three who died, and at least two culturally or politically significant things that happened – for good, for ill, or just for grins.

And if you don’t feel like revealing your ages, feel free to make it the year you were married, the year your dog was born, or any other year of significance to you for whatever reason you please.

Give me your best lists!

17 Responses to “Ah Yes, It Was a Very Good Year”

  1. BJ September 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    January 1980, and I’m not afraid to admit it. It used to tickle me as a kid that I could always count my age by the last digit in my birth year. What can I say, I’m easily amused.

    Significant people born, let’s see . . . Christina Ricci, James Rolfe (the Angry Video Game Nerd), and Yao Ming (NBA, retired, blows my mind he’s my age).

    Singnificant people who died . . . Bon Scott of AC/DC, Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, suspense film master Alfred Hitchcock, cartoonist Tex Avery and actor Steve McQueen. This is also the year of Richard Pryor’s Malfunctioning Crackpipe.

    In sport, the Los Angeles Rams fell to the Pittsburg Steelers 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV. The Philadelphia Flyers beat the New York Islanders 4-2 to take the Stanley Cup. The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Philadelphia 76ers to take the NBA title. And the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in six over the Kansas City Royals. Huh, good year for Pennsylvania sports fans, 1980 was, excepting Magic Johnson going all God Mode in Game Six.

    1980 was also an Olympic year. Winter Olympics notable for the Miracle On Ice and the withdrawl of American pairs figure skaters Babilonia and Gardner because of injury; Summer Olympics notable for the United States-led boycott to protest Soviet military action in Afghanistan.

    Cultural events include the release of Empire Strikes Back, which is the movie that made the Star Wars mythology in my opinion. The mighty mighty Pac-Man made his debut. And hey, I didn’t know that; in September the Washington Post published a Pulitzer Prize winning story of child heroin addict and come to find out the author made the whole thing up.

    In October, imprisoned members of the IRA went on a hunger strike. Ten of the strikers died. 1980 was also an election year, with Republican Ronald Reagan winning over incumbant Jimmy Carter.

    And of course, 1980 was the year John Lennon was murdered in New York.

  2. Twistie September 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    @BJ: 1980 was the year I first got to vote. Yes, my first election was a presidential one… and I got to vote for my mother, who was running for re-election to the local Board of Education. She won, incidentally. I do remember the scandal about the fake story about the child heroin addict. As for the death of John Lennon, I remember that the way my parents remembered JFK’s assassination. As in I remember what I was wearing when the news came through, what show I was watching on TV, and even which of our (at the time) four cats was sitting in my lap. Yeah, 1980 is a year I remember a lot about.

  3. Denise Rehse Watson September 15, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    came into this world in 1954 with Oprah Winfrey, Jackie Chan and Denzel Washington…missed hanging with Robert Capa, Frida Kahlo and Henri Matisse…Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio – Vietnam officially splits into two nations, North and South – the words “under God” are added to the Pledge of Allegiance – the Miss America Pageant was broadcast on TV for the first time.

  4. Erin September 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    April, 1986.

    In 1986, the first computer virus was spread– it’s name was Brain.

    The Challenger disaster occurred in 1986, as did the Chernobyl disaster, which happened less than 2 weeks after I was born.

    Elie Weisel won the Nobel Peace Prize. Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway.

    1986 saw the birth of Kat Dennings, Lauren Conrad, and Lady Gaga.

    Donna Reed, Simone de Beauvoir, Benny Goodman, and Jorge Luis Borges died in 1986, along with Desi Arnaz.

  5. TropicalChrome September 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    @Twistie: that’s funny, I also cast my first vote for my mother, who was also running for school board, and who also won. But it was in 1982 :).

    I was born in 1964. The first year of the Ford Mustang, and the year the Beatles first toured the US. The year BASIC was first introduced. My cultural touchstones are a little different from others’ :).

    Also born in 1964: Sandra Bullock, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Keanu Reeves, Bonnie Blair, and one actress whose IMDB page says she was born in 1968 but we were in HS together – in the same homeroom even – and I know damn well she is not 4 years younger than the rest of us.

    Died in 1964: Gracie Allen, Rachel Carson, Checkers (of the famous political speech), Ian Fleming, T.H. White, and Douglas MacArthur.

  6. Violet September 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    In 1965…

    Jesse Jackson, Jr. (Chicago politician and son of Jesse Jackson, and whom I have met) was born, along with so many actors I admire and/or enjoy, including Diane Lane and Robert Downey, Jr.

    Winston Churchill died just 16 days before my birth. Malcolm X was killed when I was 11 days old. Shirley Jackson, author of short story “The Lottery,” which haunts me to this day, died when I was 6 months old.

    The first American troops set foot in Vietnam.

    The SS Georgina, a Confederate ship owned by the real Rhett Butler (I didn’t know there was a real Rhett Butler!) was discovered sunk in the waters off of South Carolina.

  7. Dianne September 16, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    1973 – I entered the world along with the wonderful Jim Parsons (aka Sheldon), Adrien Brody, Heidi Klum and Kate Beckinsale. The most notable deaths were LBJ (36th President), Pablo Picasso, Betty Grable, Noel Coward and Bruce Lee.

    Nixon was sworn in as President, announced “peace” had been reached in Vietnam, the last American troops left and then he promptly got involved in the Watergate scandal. Pink Floyd released their Dark Side of the Moon album and the original World Trade Centre was officially opened.

  8. Julie September 16, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    Since I share 1973 with Dianne, I’ll just add:

    The U.S. Supreme Court overturned state bans on abortion (Roe v. Wade.)
    The American Psychiatric Association removes homosexuality from its DSM-II.
    The Original World Trade Center Complex in New York City is officially opened.
    Skylab is launched.
    Secretariat won the triple crown.
    Princess Anne marries Captain Mark Phillips in Westminster Abbey (they divorce in 1992).

  9. Pamici September 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Twistie, I am ten days away from celebrating my first half-century as well! Your list and post are too beautiful to improve upon, but I do have to add that I was born on my mother’s 39th birthday in 1962. She generously decided to give all the rest of the birthdays to me, even though we’ll still celebrate her 89th together next weekend.

  10. dillene September 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    Ha- I’m also a 1973 baby. I missed sharing the planet with Bruce Freaking Lee by 48 hours. However, I did get a good month and a half with Tolkein.

  11. La Petite Acadienne September 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    1975 —

    Born: David Beckham, Eva Longoria and Angelina Jolie (yes, 1975 was a year of beautiful people, evidently).
    Died: Casey Stengal, Rod Serling, P.G. Wodehouse

    Notable events: Altair 8800 is released, sparking the microcomputer revolution. Watergate. Jimmy Hoffa goes missing. The “Thrilla in Manilla”. Rocky Horror Picture Show is released in America. And Iron Maiden is formed. The Godfather, Part II is the first sequel to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

    ‘Twas quite the year…

  12. Wendy September 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Like BJ, I’m a decade-year baby, and I’ve always delighted in being able to count my age by the last digit in the year. The older I get, the handier this becomes, actually.

    So! December 14, 1960.

    Sharing a birth year with me are Colin Firth (!), Hugh Grant (and their birthdays are A DAY APART – thank you, Wikipedia), and Bono who was known as Paul Hewson before he went all Latin on us so he could tell us what a great singer he is, and subsequently dropped the “Vox” part of that name, presumably because it’s not just his voice that’s awesome.

    Notable losses in 1960 include Clark Gable, who probably frankly gave a damn after all; English author Nevil Shute, whose books filled several of my parents’ bookshelves for years; and Peter Llewellyn Davies, namesake for Peter Pan, who I include here purely because I was named for a character in that book/play/movie, too.

    In world events, in January, Senator John F. Kennedy (D-MA) announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. This would turn out to be a fatal decision. The Hollywood Walk of Fame started, with Joanne Woodward’s star. Elvis Presley came home from 2 years serving in Germany, and three days later the US government announced plans to send troops to Vietnam. Ben-Hur won Best Picture at the Oscars. The newly-named band The Beatles performed a long engagement in Hamburg, Germany.

  13. abdabs September 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    1969

    Woodstock, first landing on the moon, and premiere of Sesame Street.

    Born: Cate Blanchett (year ahead of me at school, but I only did final year there, so never met her), Alexander McQueen and Linus Torvalds;

    Died: May Gibbs, Jack Kerouac and Judy Garland.

  14. barbara September 17, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Another 1969!
    Births: Marilyn Manson, David Boreanaz, Matthew McConaughey, Jason Bateman, Ken Griffey, Jr, Gerard Butler

    Deaths: Boris Karloff, Ho Chi Minh, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John Kennedy Toole

    The other representative from 1969 pointed out the moon landing and woodstock. But!

    Star Trek ended; my dad mourned.
    The first message is sent over ARPANET, the forerunner of the internet.
    Monty Python’s Flying Circus first airs.
    The Beatles release Abbey Road
    Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid opens
    Chappaquiddick
    Golda Meir becomes the first female prime minister of Israel.

  15. abdabs September 17, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    Oh, and happy birthday! A marvellous milestone, by anyone’s standards.

  16. The Accidental Tangoiste September 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    This is not to do with the year I was born but rather the day itself: I was born in the wee small hours of Thanksgiving Day–Mama’s little turkey! So every year I consider that people get the day off and stores have major sales in my honor. ;) Plus, the traditional Thanksgiving meal contains many of my favorite foods–turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole… But instead of pumpkin pie, I always have a slice of birthday cake.

    Congratulations, Twistie, on this auspicious anniversary of the day the world was graced with your presence!

  17. ChloeMireille September 18, 2012 at 2:07 am #

    Well, in the interest of giving the 80s more representation:

    In 1980:

    Born– Chelsea Clinton, Venus Williams, and Jason Segel.

    Died– Richard Gurley Drew(inventor of masking tape and cellophane tape), Mae West, Dr. Hans Asperger, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

    Random facts
    1. The birth of Usenet, precursor to the internet forum.
    2. We find out “Who shot JR?” on Dallas.
    3. The Dark Phoenix Saga runs in the X-Men comics.
    4. This was the year that “The War of the Roses”, “Clan of the Cave Bear”, and “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” books were published.