In With the New, Out With the Old


Some folks just know how to make an entrance.

Take for example this group of people: Betsy Ross, Paul Revere, J. Edgar Hoover, Rocky Graziano, Dana Andrews, Carole Landis, Barry Goldwater, Florence Lawrence, Frank Langella, Hank Greenberg, Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer, and J.D. Salinger.

Each of these individuals was born on January 1, entering the world along with a new year.

I’m not sure if there is any truth to the “famous deaths come in threes” theory, but taking a quick look at a list of famous birthdays, a couple of interesting “triple-birth” days stand out.

The first took place on January 1, 1900, the opening day of the previous century, when Mildred Davis, Billy Haines, and Xavier Cugat were all born.

Mildred Davis was a wonderful film comedienne who became silent genius Harold Lloyd’s leading lady onscreen and off. The couple appeared together in several shorts and features, including Safety Last, before marrying in 1923. Davis retired from acting shortly after the marriage, and remained at Lloyd’s side until her death from a heart attack in 1969.

Billy Haines was one of the top box office draws before his openly homosexual lifestyle – which he refused to hide – ended his film career. He switched careers and became one of Hollywood’s leading interior designers. He died in 1973.

Xavier Cugat, the famous bandleader of the 30’s and 40’s, was the last of the trio to go. He died in 1990.

Another “triple-birth” day took place nineteen New Year’s Days later when Rocky Graziano, Carole Landis, and J.D. Salinger drew their first breaths.

Boxer Rocky Graziano was born in New York City and achieved the title of world middleweight champion in 1947. He was portrayed by Paul Newman in the 1956 film Somebody Up There Likes Me. He died in 1990.

Carole Landis was a popular “sweater girl” star during the 30s and 40s. She committed suicide after a failed love affair with Rex Harrison in 1948.

J.D. Salinger is best known for being unknown. A legendary recluse, Salinger disappeared from public view shortly after writing his landmark alienated-youth classic A Catcher in the Rye in 1951. His death last year surprised many who thought that he had left us decades ago.

It makes you wonder if three babies were born this past Saturday who we will be reading about 50 years from now.

Conversely, the following individuals seemed to know when to leave the party. Peter Duel, Floyd Cramer, George Allen, Raoul Walsh, Ricky Nelson, and Roberto Clemente all passed away on New Year’s Eves.

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About deadwrite

Freelance writer, film historian, taphophile View all posts by deadwrite

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