We were the “Victory Babies” — the people born in 1945, the year the Allies defeated Germany and Japan, the watershed year into a new world of the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, rock ‘n’ roll, Vietnam …
But now we’re senior citizens, 64 years old, with grown children, grandchildren, Social Security checks, 401(K)s (well, maybe they’re just 201(K)s now), aches and pains, and a tendency to doze off after lunch.
Of course there were many millions of us. But who were some of the ones whose names we’d all recognize at once — the headline makers, the movers and shakers? I’ve always been fascinated to learn which prominent people were born in 1945, just as I was, so whenever I encountered information about one, I made a mental note that we had something in common: We were “Victory Babies.” When I took my first steps, when I entered first grade, when I heard about The Day The Music Died and got my first teenage kiss, likely most of them were doing the same thing, somewhere else.
If you’re interested in the prominent people who share my birth year (could be yours, too), read on. You’ll notice that most of these are involved in either the entertainment or professional sports fields. All I can say is, I’m more familiar with those fields than others, and just try to find information about people prominent in fields that don’t get as much publicity. It ain’t easy, my friend.
OK, here goes, with the “Big Shots of 1945” listed in order of their birthdays:
Jan. 29 — Tom Selleck, actor, screenwriter, film producer. See? I got the attention of the ladies right away. He was one of their favorite pin-up boys in the 1980s, when he was starring as “Magnum P.I.” on TV for eight years. Tall, rugged, dark-haired and handsome, he also starred in a number of movies, including several Westerns. My favorite film of his is “An Innocent Man,” 1989, in which he plays an airline mechanic who is framed by two crooked cops and winds up in prison.
Feb. 6 — Bob Marley, singer, songwriter and musician, in the reggae, ska and rocksteady genres. He was born in Jamaica, and was the star of the bands “The Wailers” and “Bob Marley and the Wailers.” A compilation album, “Legend,” was released in 1984, three years after his death, and it became the best-selling reggae album ever — 20 million-plus copies. His most-recognized song is “I Shot the Sheriff.”
Feb. 9 — Mia Farrow, actress, singer, and former fashion model. She appeared in more than 40 movies, winning a Golden Globe award for the lead in “Rosemary’s Baby.” She has also done humanitarian work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She was married to Frank Sinatra, 1966-68; and had a long-term relationship with comedian and director Woody Allen, which ended when she claimed that he molested their daughter when she was 7 years old — an allegation that Allen vehemently denied.
March 8 and Dec. 30 — Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, half of the rock group The Monkees from the 1960s. Dolenz, from California, got his show business start at age 10 when he played the lead in the TV series “Circus Boy.” Jones, an Englishman, wanted to become a jockey just after leaving high school, but decided to try his hand at show business after his trainer complained about his doing “stand-up” for the horses in the stable. The Monkees was a manufactured group which had its own TV show from 1966 to 1968. The group’s biggest hits were “Now I’m A Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville.”
March 20 — Pat Riley, star basketball player for the Kentucky Wildcats, later an NBA player, and after his playing years, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history. He was a Wildcats starter in 1966 when Texas Western, which started five blacks, defeated the all-white Kentucky squad in the NCAA finals. He coached the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami Heat to five NBA championships in the 1980s and ’90s. He is known as “Coach Slick” and “Mr. GQ” for his always-stylish appearance.
March 29 — Walt Frazier, one of the best point guards in NBA history while playing for the New York Knicks. He played his college ball at Southern Illinois University, which won the National Invitational Tournament in 1967, his senior year. He was a member of NBA championship teams with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973, and was selected an NBA All-Star seven times.
March 30 — Eric Clapton, English blues-rock guitarist, singer, songwriter and composer. He was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Yardbirds, Cream, and as a solo performer. He was ranked fourth on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” Two of his best-known songs are “Layla” and “Tears In Heaven,” which he wrote in memory of his young son who fell to his death from Clapton’s New York skyscraper penthouse.
April 13 — Tony Dow, TV child actor of the 1950s and ’60s, best known as big brother Wally Cleaver in the classic family comedy “Leave It To Beaver.” The show also starred Barbara Billingsley as mother June, Hugh Beaumont as father Ward, and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver. Later Dow appeared in “My Three Sons,” “Dr. Kildare,” and “Mr. Novak.” As an adult he has been a film producer and a director, and an amateur sculptor.
May 6 — Bob Seger, musician and songwriter. The Detroit-born Seger, still a Michigan resident, and his Silver Bullet Band are best known for his hit songs “Old Time Rock ‘N’ Roll,” his signature song; “Night Moves,” “Still the Same” (my favorite of his songs), and “Like A Rock.”
May 15 — Jerry Quarry, a leading heavyweight boxing contender in the 1960s and early 1970s. A California native, Quarry was known as “Irish Jerry Quarry” and “The Bellflower Bomber.” He won the 1964 National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Tournament with five straight knockouts in three days — a feat never equalled before or since. As a pro, he defeated such leading heavyweights as Floyd Patterson, Buster Mathis, and Mac Foster in his quest for the heavyweight championship. But he was not able to get past either Muhammad Ali or Joe Frazier, the leading heavyweights of his day. He was a thunderous puncher and could also take punishment well (he was famous as a counter-puncher, that is a boxer who could come off the ropes and hurt his opponent) but his tendency to facial cuts cost him heavily in several key matches. Left financially needy by three divorces and several business reverses, Quarry continued to fight periodically until he was 47 years old. He died Jan. 3, 1999, at the age of 53, of dementia pugilistica — atrophy of the brain from repeated blows to the head.
May 28 — John Fogerty, rock singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was best known as the lead singer for Creedence Clearwater Revival, most popular rock band of the 1968-72 era. As a child growing up in Berkeley, Calif., he was inspired by rhythm ‘n’ blues singers Little Richard and Bo Diddley. In his early 20s, Fogerty, his older brother Tom, and two others formed Creedence, whose biggest hits were “Susie Q,” “Looking Out My Back Door,” and “Proud Mary.” The band broke up over “creative differences” in 1972; Fogerty went single for a number of years, with several short-lived reunions with Creedence. In 1993 the band was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame.
June 11 — Adrienne Barbeau, TV, film and musical theater actress, and author. She drew male attention in the same way that Selleck got the eye from the women. In the 1970s Barbeau played the original “Rizzo” in the Broadway musical “Grease.” She also portrayed Bea Arthur’s divorced daughter Carol Trainer in the TV comedy series “Maude,” and starred in several 1980s horror and science fiction films. The beautiful and shapely Barbeau also showed her sex appeal in “The Fog,” “Creepshow,” “Swamp Thing,” and “Escape From New York.”
Oct. 1 — Rod Carew, major league baseball player who won seven American League batting championships in his career from 1967 to 1985 with the Minnesota Twins and California Angels. Born in the Panama Canal Zone, he came to New York City with his family at age 14. He was discovered by a Twins scout while playing sandlot baseball for the Bronx Cavaliers. Playing first base and second base, he was 1967 American League Rookie of the Year, 1977 AL Most Valuable Player, and the same year received the Roberto Clemente Award. He was selected to the All-Star Team 18 times.
Oct. 2 — Don McLean, singer-songwriter, who wrote and recorded “American Pie,” the rock anthem partially inspired by the deaths of rock giants Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper in a 1959 plane crash. The song, recorded in 1971, made the phrase “The Day the Music Died” part of American culture. It was chosen as the fifth-best song of the 20th Century by the Recording Industry Association of America, and the National Endowment for the Arts. McLean’s second-biggest hit was “Vincent,” a song about the 19th Century Dutch impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh.
Oct. 30 — Henry Winkler, actor, director, producer and author. He was best known for his role as Arthur Fonzarelli, alias “The Fonz,” the super-cool leather-jacket-wearing “hoodlum” of the TV comedy “Happy Days” in the 1970s. In the year the series started, 1974, Winkler also had a leading role in the cult film “The Lords of Flatbush,” along with Sylvester Stallone, Perry King and Paul Mace. He also starred as Benedict Slade, an Ebenezer Scrooge-type character, in the made for TV movie “An American Christmas Carol” in 1979.
Nov. 21 — Goldie Hawn, actress, film director and producer. She first gained fame as the “ditzy blonde” with the loony laugh on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” starting in the late 1960s. Later she starred in the movies “Cactus Flower,” “There’s A Girl in My Soup,” and “Butterflies Are Free.” She received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for “Cactus Flower.”
And last but certainly not least:
Dec. 1 — Bette Midler, “The Divine Miss M,” singer, actress and comedienne. In her career she has won four Grammy Awards, four Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a Tony Award. The Hawaiian-born Midler got her start singing in gay bathhouses in New York City, starred in the stage-performance film “Divine Madness” and the thinly veiled Janis Joplin bio “The Rose,” then in the late 1980s hit pay dirt with “Down And Out in Beverly Hills,” “Ruthless People,” “Outrageous Fortune,” “Big Business,” and the only chick flick I ever liked, “Beaches.” She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for “The Rose.” Two of her hit songs were selected among “The 100 Years of the Greatest Songs” by the American Film Institute: “Wind Beneath My Wings” (No. 44) and “The Rose” (No. 83).
The “Victory Babies.” I think we did right well. What do you think?