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Cusp of Genius: Famous People Born Jan. 19-24
From the Back of the Pack to Front Runners
Look up the birthday of any straight-arrow kid obsessed with some kind of art or skill. If he or she was born in late January, on the Capricorn-Aquarius cusp, you might know a future star. Capricorn grants these children incredible drive and persistence, and Aquarius grants them inventiveness, talent and a taste for fame. They get where they are by working for it. For example, Dolly Parton has written more than 3,000 songs. Here are some who changed the world:
Janis Joplin (Jan.19) Art major voted "Ugliest Man on Campus" by a University of Texas fraternity, acne-scarred Joplin moved to San Francisco and established blues singing for the rock and roll era, in her short life becoming one of the most influential singers of all time.
Dolly Parton (Jan. 19) Grew up in a one-room cabin with 11 siblings, and began songwriting at age seven. The longtime singing partner of Porter Wagoner, Parton became a famous solo artist, topping country, pop, and adult-contemporary charts and starring in movies, after hyper-glamorizing herself as the "backwoods Barbie."
Bill Maher (Jan. 20) Nominated for Emmy awards 22 times, this Roman Catholic boy attended Cornell University and graduated with degrees in English and history. He became an outspoken libertarian political comedian, hosting Politically Incorrect and other topical TV talk shows.
Wolfman Jack (Jan. 21) As a teenager, Robert Weston Smith loved radio and idolized disk jockeys, and sold encyclopedias and Fuller brushes door-to-door. A graduate of the National Academy of Broadcasting, he developed his career and "Wolfman" act working at a Mexican radio station with a signal audible in the U.S. coast to coast. He taped his shows for syndication worldwide, and at his peak was heard in 53 countries.
Christian Dior (Jan. 21) Against his wealthy parents' wishes, this French boy sold his fashion drawings on the street for 10 cents. His father bought him an art gallery and subsidized it until the family business failed. Dior got a job at a fashion-design house and opened his own business in 1946. His nipped-waist dresses and exotic strapless evening wear dominated fashion in the 1940s and 1950s.
George Gordon, Lord Byron (Jan. 22) Born with a clubfoot, English poet Byron inherited a great-uncle's title at age 10 and became a brooding drama-king spendthrift and high-society womanizer whom poets idolize to this day. Rumors about incest with his half-sister got him booted from England and sent into exile.
Rasputin (Jan. 22) Peasant boy confined to a monastery for stealing became a wandering religious mystic and supposedly developed faith-healing powers that got the attention of the Russian king and queen, who had a hemophiliac son. The young prince was cured and Rasputin became part of their royal court and the queen's closest adviser.
Chesley Sullenberger (Jan. 23) High-IQ boy made model planes, played the flute, and was president of his high-school Latin club. He learned to fly at 16 and became an Air Force fighter pilot. As captain of US Airways Flight 1549, on January 15, 2009 he safely landed in the Hudson River a disabled plane with 155 people aboard, and became an instant national hero.
Frederick the Great (Jan. 24) Crown Prince Frederick loved to play the flute and subverted his strict authoritarian father by secretly reading classics and philosophy and organizing concerts and plays. Ran away with friends at age 18 and was imprisoned by his father and forced to study military strategy. As King of Prussia, he greatly enlarged and enriched his kingdom and became a fearless soldier and the military leader Napoleon most admired.
John Belushi (Jan. 24) Son of Albanian immigrants, captain of his high-school football team and homecoming king, Belushi married his high-school sweetheart and rose to star status as a loud, fat, raucous comedian in the Second City stage troupe, on television in Saturday Night Live (1975-79), and in movies such as Animal House and Blues Brothers. His comedic idol was Lucille Ball. His early death by drug overdose stunned his fans.
Ernest Borgnine (Jan. 24) Italian-American film and TV actor. After 10 years in the military he became an actor after his mother suggested it. Capitalizing on his unromantic appearance, he succeeded for six decades in "character" roles both dramatic (Oscar for the movie Marty, 1955) and comic (TV's McHale's Navy). Acted the voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob Square Pants.
I've met Capricorn-Aquarius cusp people obsessed with photography, literature, genealogy, novel-writing, and physics. All think of themselves as artists and larger than life, and one wears on her wedding finger a gold ring stamped "Genius."