Yesterday was my 57th birthday.
Alexander Pope, the poet and satirist who introduced such oft-used quotes into the common lexicon as “To err is human, to forgive divine,” “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” and “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread,” died at 56.
Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazis and one of the most hated men in the world. With defeat closing in, he downed a cyanide capsule and shot himself at 56.
Charles Rocket, an actor and comedian, who as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, was fired for saying "fuck" on live television. He slit his own throat at 56.
Billy Mitchell, a brigadier general who is considered the "Father" of the US Air Force, was an outspoken critic of military strategy. He was convicted of insubordination and court-martialed. He resigned his commission rather than serve a five-year suspension. He died at 56.
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. While attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington DC, Lincoln was shot to death by John Wilkes Booth. He was 56.
Ian Fleming was famous and celebrated for his eleven novels and short story collections about fictional super spy "James Bond." As a counter to critics labeling him a "one trick pony," Fleming wrote the epic children's novel "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." He died at 56 on his son's twelfth birthday.
Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the world's most influential composers. Beethoven composed some of his most famous and admired pieces during the last decade of his life, when he was almost completely deaf. After years of heavy alcohol consumption, he died of severe liver damage at 56.
Max Schreck was an actor, most famous for his role as "Count Orlok" in F.W. Murnau's creepy 1922 film Nosferatu. He died of heart failure at 56.
Rick James was a favorite purveyor of funk music. He had several encounters with law enforcement, including holding and torturing two women for six days while under the influence of crack cocaine. Rick died of heart failure at 56.
Betty Grable was an actress and popular pinup model during World War II. She died from lung cancer at 56.
Steve Jobs was a true marketing genius. Despite having never written a line of computer code in his life, he convinced the world to latch on to the technology that was Apple. He also exploited the talents of his pal Steve Wozniak. Jobs' dying wish was to never allow consumers to replace the batteries in their iPhones. He died at 56.
Warren Zevon was the anti-Jackson Browne. His sardonic tales of miscreants and headless mercenaries afforded him a cult following and the appreciation of many, including David Letterman, who welcomed Warren as the sole guest on his late-night show eleven months before the died at 56.
Charles Mingus was a brilliant and influential jazz bassist. Later in life, he suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease that prevented him from playing his instrument. He died at 56.
John Hancock was one of the leaders in the United States' pursuit of freedom from England. He was the first signer of the Declaration of Independence, barely leaving enough room for the signatures of the 55 men who would follow. He died at 56.
These folks only made it as far as their 56th birthday, so I'm feeling pretty good.
Yep. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.