Famous People Who First Appeared in 1950 Census Records – U.S. Census Bureau

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Today, the National Archives and Records Administration released the individual census records for the 1950 Census.
For the first time, we can glimpse personal details about life in post-World War II America and the beginning of the economic, housing and demographic boom that followed.
We can also peek into the lives of some of the famous Americans born during this time and who first appeared in census records in 1950.

James Marshall Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix November 27, 1942, in Seattle, Washington, which in 1950 had a population of 467,591. Hendrix is widely recognized as perhaps the greatest electric guitarist of all times. Despite his untimely death September 18, 1970, his unique and innovative sound continues to influence performers today.



Nora Ephron was born May 19, 1941, in New York City, which in 1950 had a population of 7,891,957 and was the largest city in America then and remains so to this day. A journalist, writer and filmmaker, she is widely considered the ”mother of the romantic comedy”  (When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle). She died June 26, 2012 but her legacy lives on in her many books, plays and movies.


Arthur Ashe, Jr., was born July 10, 1942, in Richmond, Virginia, a city of 230,310 people in 1950. He became a top-ranked tennis player, beginning as a student at the University of California, Los Angeles when he won National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) singles, doubles and team titles. Arthur is the only Black or African American man to have won singles titles at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. After contracting HIV/AIDS from a blood transfusion, he became a dedicated activist until his death February 6, 1993.


Richard Pierce Havens was born January 21, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, which in 1950 had a population of 2,738,175. He was of Native American (Blackfoot) and British West Indies descent. He began performing in doo-wop and gospel groups before finding his niche in a combination of folk, soul and rhythm and blues music. He was the opening act of the 1969 Woodstock Festival and continued to play almost until his death April 22, 2013.


Annette Joanne Funicello was born October 22, 1942, in Utica, New York, which had a population of 100,489 in 1950. Her family soon moved to Bakersfield, California, where she rose to fame as one of the original Mouseketeers on the Mickey Mouse Club. She later found success in the 1960s in the popular “Beach Party” movies with partner Frankie Avalon. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1987, she became a tireless advocate and fundraiser for those with the disease before her death April 8, 2013.



Janis Joplin was born January 19, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas, a small city of just 57,530 people in 1950. Her distinctive raspy voice and style, which blended rock, soul and blues, made her an icon of the 1960s music scene. Even more than 50 years after her death October 4, 1970, she remains one of the top-selling musicians in the United States.


Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr. was born  January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky (population 369,129 in 1950). He began boxing at age 12, and just 10 years later became World Heavyweight Champion. After the win, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. He continued to dominate the boxing world as one of the greatest heavyweight boxers and sports personalities of all time, with several of his bouts considered historic. After retirement, and despite his 1984 diagnosis with Parkinson’s Syndrome, Ali devoted himself to philanthropic, religious and humanitarian work until his death June 3, 2016.


Robert Norman Ross was born October 29, 1942, in Daytona Beach, Florida (population 30,167 in 1950) but was raised in nearby Orlando. After serving 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, Bob retired as a master sergeant. He studied painting and began filming his show The Joy of Painting, which ran from 1983-1994. His gentle, relaxed manner and confidence that anyone could learn to paint continues to inspire amateur artists long after his death July 4, 1995.


"Eddie would go" by Like_the_Grand_Canyon is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

Edward Ryon Makuahanai Aikau was born May 5, 1946, in Kahului, the then-territory of Hawaii, which had a population of 6,294 in 1950. He was a champion surfer who helped popularize the sport. He was the first lifeguard hired by the city of Honolulu and is credited with saving the lives of more than 500 swimmers on its treacherous North Shore. Aikau died when March 17, 1978, while paddling to shore on his surfboard seeking help for his crew after their voyage canoe capsized following the ancient Polynesian migration route. His willingness to battle even the most dangerous waves gave rise to the cry, “Eddie Would Go,” still the unofficial motto of surfers everywhere. The annual Eddie Big Wave Invitational celebrates big wave surfers from around the world.


Florence Glenda Ballard was born June 30, 1943, in Detroit, Michigan, which was one of the top 10 largest U.S. cities in 1950 with a population of 1,849,568 at its peak. She was a founding member of the Motown group The Supremes and sang on 10 of their number-one hits before leaving the group in 1967. Twelve years after her death February 22, 1976, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Ronald Lee Ermey was born March 24, 1944, in Emporia, Kansas, a town of just 15,669 in 1950. After getting in trouble with the law, he chose to enter the U.S. Marines rather than go to jail. He served in San Diego stateside, and in Vietnam and Okinawa before receiving a medical retirement in 1972. He then moved into acting (Full Metal Jacket), most famously playing military men and other authority figures. Lee also devoted himself to military charities, often visiting troops overseas until his death April 15, 2018.


John Henry Deutschendorf, Jr., was born in Roswell, New Mexico (population 25,738 in 1950) December 31, 1943, but moved to Tucson, Arizona, and Montgomery, Alabama, when his father, a member of the Air Force, was transferred there. He embraced folk music, becoming one of the most popular and bestselling acoustic guitarists and entertainers of all time. He released more than 300 songs, with 33 of his songs or albums certified as gold and platinum. He was still producing award winning music when killed in a plane crash October 12, 1997.


Malcolm Michaels, Jr., was born August 24, 1945, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, (1950 population 112,817). She moved to New York City’s Greenwich Village immediately after high school, and became one of the key figures in the Stonewall uprising of 1969 which marked the beginning of the gay liberation movement and is celebrated each year with Pride parades in cities across the country. Johnson continued as an activist until her death July 6, 1992.


Jerome John Garcia was born August 1, 1942, in San Francisco, California, which had a population of 775,357 in 1950. He rose to stardom as a singer, song writer and guitarist with the Grateful Dead, a band that typified 1960s’ counterculture. The band attracted loyal fans — called “Deadheads” — who follow the band which is still performing nearly three decades after Garcia’s death August 9, 1995.



Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor, Jr., was born December 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois (population 111,856 in 1950). He was raised in a violent, unconventional household, an experience he would later channel into his comedy when he became a stand-up comedian and actor. He rose to prominence in the 1960s and eventually moved into screenwriting and acting. He is widely considered one of the most-groundbreaking and influential stand-up comedians of all time. In 1986, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but continued to perform until his death January 9, 2005.


Wilma Glodean Rudolph was born June 23, 1940, in Saint Bethlehem, an unincorporated community in the city limits of Clarksville, Tennessee, which in 1950 had a population of 16,246. Stricken with polio, Rudolph wore a leg brace until she was 12 years old. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a basketball and track star in high school. She would go on to become a premier sprinter and international celebrity after winning a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics and three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics, becoming the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics. She was the fastest woman in the world in the 1960s and held three world records. She then became a teacher and worked in her community until her death November 12, 1994.


Ellison Shoji Onizuka was born June 24, 1946, in Kealakekua, part of the South Kona district in then-territory Hawaii (1950 population 3,719). After receiving a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, Onizuka became a U.S. Air Force test pilot. He was then selected for NASA’s astronaut program. On January 28, 1986, he was aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, his second mission, when it exploded just 73 seconds after launch. Onizuka and his six crewmates were killed, including Christa McAuliffe, the first civilian teacher in space. 


Wilma Pearl Mankiller was born November 18, 1945, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which is the capital of the Cherokee Nation and in 1950 had a population of just 4,750. She was an activist and community coordinator, who brought economic, medical and educational benefits to her community. In 1985, she became the Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief. She continued her advocacy work in her community until her death April 6, 2010.


John Adam Belushi was born January 24, 1949, in Chicago, Illinois, the second-largest U.S. city in 1950 (now the third largest) with a population of 3,620,605. He performed in Chicago’s famous Second City comedy club before becoming a founding member of TV’s Saturday Night Live. Belushi also founded the Blues Brothers with actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd, a blues and soul group that released an album and inspired a comedy film. He died March 5, 1982, but his comic genius lives on through the many wacky TV and movie characters he created.


Born Conrado Morales November 22, 1941, In New York City, (1950 population 7,891,957). He started his career as a dancer before co-writing the hit musical A Chorus Line, which became the longest- running show on Broadway. Dante based the character of Paul on himself.  He won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, a Tony Award, and a Drama Desk Award for the popular production. The show was still playing on Broadway when Dante died May 21, 1991.

Sharon Tosi Lacey is the U.S. Census Bureau’s chief historian.
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