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Miscellaneous Biographical Errors

This page offers a sampling of miscellaneous biographical errors encountered in various books and some Web sites. Some of these errors are quite common and can be found in numerous books and literally hundreds of Web sites. While others are rather obscure and may only be found in a couple of reference books. If you require source data, or additional in-depth biographical information, many of the entries below offer a link to a detailed biographical profile of that individual, along with source information utilized for these error corrections.

For a look at specific errors contained in many popular almanacs, encyclopedias, and other reference books, visit our index of reference book errors.


Rose Bird

Error: Died "December 6, 1999"

Correction: Died December 4th, 1999

A few sources erroneously report Rose Bird, former Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, died "December 6, 1999." In reality, she died December 4th, 1999, at about 3 p.m., at Stanford University Medical Center, in Palo Alto, California. A number of her obits were published Monday, December 6th, 1999, but this was not her date of death. The obituaries were very clear: "... died December 4 after a lengthy illness at the Stanford University Medical Center." AP reports, "Bird died Saturday," in its Sunday, December 5th, 1999 article. Another reports she, "died of complications from breast cancer on Saturday," in its Monday, December 6th, 1999 report.

For more information about Ms. Bird, visit our biographical profile of Rose Bird.


Hume Cronyn

Error: Was one of "three" Cronyn children.

Correction: He was one of five Cronyn kids.

Some sources erroneously report actor Hume Cronyn was one of "three" children born to Hume Cronyn, Sr. and Frances Labatt. In his 1991 autobiography, Hume confirms he was actually one of five Cronyn kids.


Error: Won an Emmy Award for the 1991 television movie, Christmas on Division Street.

Correction: The multi-Emmy award-winning actor was nominated, but did not win for that particular TV-movie.

Several reports, including a couple of his obituaries, erroneously report he won an Emmy Award for his work opposite Fred Savage in the 1991 television movie, Christmas on Division Street. He was certainly nominated for an Emmy in the category of outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries or special, but did not win for that TV-movie.


For in-depth details on Hume and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Hume Cronyn.


John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower

Error: He died back in the 1960s.

Correction: He led a productive life several decades beyond that point in time.

A few sources erroneously report author and former first family member John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower died back in the 1960s. In actuality, John was very much alive several decades beyond that point.


Error: He married Barbara Jean Thompson "July 10, 1947."

Correction: They married June 10th, 1947.

Some sources erroneously report John S. D. Eisenhower married Barbara Jean Thompson "July 10, 1947," instead of the correct date of June 10th, 1947. Not only have members of the Eisenhower family confirmed the June 10th marriage date in their memoirs, but Time magazine also provided coverage of their marriage in its June 23rd, 1947 issue.


For in-depth details on Mr. Eisenhower and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of John Eisenhower.


Betty Ford

Error: She was born "April 18, 1918."

Correction: She was actually born April 8, 1918.

"April 18, 1918" is erroneously reported as Mrs. Ford's date of birth by some sources. She was actually born April 8, 1918, at 3:46 p.m., in Chicago, Illinois. This is the d.o.b. the former First Lady reports as her birth date in her 1978 autobiography, Betty Ford: The Times of My Life.


Error: Her father committed suicide.

Correction: Her father's death was accidental.

A few sources erroneously report her father committed suicide. Mrs. Ford specifically addresses the fact that her father's death was accidental in her autobiography: "Then, the year I was sixteen, my father died of carbon monoxide poisoning. He had gone out to the garage to work on the car; it was a summer day, very overcast, very humid. The garage doors were open, he had the engine running, and he'd got under the car to fiddle with something. A couple of friends from Detroit had stopped by the house to visit and Mother went out to the garage to get Dad to come in, and she found him. The ignition was on, but the motor wasn't running any more. The car must have run out of gas, and the air was so heavy."


Error: Her mother's name is spelled "Hortence."

Correction: Hortense is the proper spelling.

Note: Her mother's first name is spelled Hortense, not "Hortence" as a couple of sources erroneously report. Again, the former First Lady herself reports Hortense is the proper spelling of her mother's name in her autobiography.


For in-depth details on Mrs. Ford and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Betty Ford.


President Gerald R. Ford

Error: His biological father was born in either "1881," "1882" or "1886."

Correction: Leslie Lynch King, Sr. was born July 25, 1884.

A number of sources erroneously report that President Ford's biological father was born in either 1881, 1882 or 1886. Government records confirm Leslie Lynch King, Sr. was born July 25, 1884.


For in-depth details on the 38th President of the United States and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Gerald R. Ford.


Ned Harrigan

Error: He was born in "1845."

Correction: He was born October 26th, 1844, at 34 Scammel Street, in New York City, New York, U.S.A.

A number of sources, including some editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica©, erroneously report "1845" as the year of Ned Harrigan's birth. A few sources also report the incorrect street address of "31 Scammel Street" for the actor/singer/comedian's birth. In actuality, the Harrigan family didn't move across the street to 31 Scammel until a year after Ned made his debut in the world. Note that Scammel Street later ceased to exist when it was swallowed up by a public school playground. Also be aware that some government records (including some census records) erroneously spell their family name "Harigan" and also "Harrington."


Error: His son, William Harrigan, was born in "1893" or "1894."

Correction: He was actually born in 1886.

His son, William Harrigan, was not born in 1893 or 1894 as most sources state. Government records and family papers alike, confirm his 1886 birth.


For in-depth details about Mr. Harrigan and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Ned Harrigan.


Katharine Hepburn

Error: She was born "November 8, 1909."

Correction: May 12, 1907, is her true date of birth.

An endless number of published reports erroneously state actress Katharine Hepburn was born "November 8, 1909." She specifically addresses this issue in her 1991 autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life, and confirms May 12th, 1907 as her true date of birth, not "November 8th, 1909."


Error: Her mother died in 1950.

Correction: Kate's mother actually died in 1951.

One biography erroneously reports Katharine Hepburn's mother died in 1950. Kate specifically addressed the death of her mother in her autobiography, and confirms she actually died in 1951.

Note: A few sources also misspell her name "Katherine" Hepburn.


For more information about Ms. Hepburn and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Katharine Hepburn.


Audrey Hepburn

Error: She was born "Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston."

Correction: She was actually born Audrey Kathleen Ruston.

Ms. Hepburn was not born "Edna," or "Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston" as many biographies, encyclopedias, countless reference books, and websites erroneously report. Members of her family have addressed, at length, the erroneous birth name attributed to her, (Her mother briefly changed Audrey's name to Edda while living in Nazi-occupied World War II Holland to protect her from possible deportation). They have also confirmed that Audrey Kathleen Ruston is the name listed on her birth certificate.

NOTE: Many early Audrey Hepburn biographies mistakenly claim Audrey's son Sean Ferrer was born on "January 17, 1960." In his biography of his mother, Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit: A Son Remembers, Sean Ferrer reports, "Most subsequent biographers repeated this error of fact. Nevertheless, July, not January 17, 1960, is the day that I was graced with the honor of being born to this great woman."


For more information about Ms. Hepburn, visit our profile of Audrey Hepburn.


Billie Holiday
0

Error: She was born Eleanora Gough, Eleanora Fagan Gough, Eleanora Gough McKay, or Eleanora Gough Harris.

Correction: Birth records show she was born Elinore Harris.

The overwhelming majority of reference sources report that singer Billie Holiday was born Eleanora Gough, Eleanora Fagan Gough, Eleanora Gough McKay, or Eleanora Gough Harris. Birth records show she was actually born Elinore Harris. Her name is spelled "Elinore" on her birth certificate, but some medical records show her name as "Eleanor," while other medical documents spell it "Elenoir." Billie's mother did not marry Philip Gough until five years after her birth. Additionally, Philip Gough was not her biological father. Though born Elinore Harris, she was almost always referred to as Eleanora, until she took her stage name.


Error: She was born in Baltimore, Maryland.

Correction: She was born April 7, 1915, at Philadelphia General Hospital, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Billie Holiday was most assuredly not born "April 17th, 1915" as a couple of sources report. She was not born in Baltimore, Maryland, as most sources erroneously report. Birth records clearly show she was born April 7th, 1915, at Philadelphia General Hospital, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She certainly was raised in Baltimore, but was not born there. The birth data that appears above has been confirmed by her birth certificate, hospital records, and other government documents.


For more information about Ms. Holiday and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Billie Holiday.


Buddy Holly
1

Error: He was born "Charles Hardin Holly."

Correction: His last name at birth was spelled Holley.

Several sources offer the misspelling "Charles Hardin Holly" as music legend Buddy Holly's name at birth. He was actually born Charles Hardin Holley. The spelling change from Holley to Holly didn't take place until he received his first recording contract from Decca Records in 1956. They had inadvertently spelled his last name "Holly" and he kept it that way for the remainder of his career.

NOTE: The 1958 marriage announcement that appeared in the local Lubbock newspaper, misspelled his name "Buddy Charles Halley." Some editions of Chase's Calendar of Events misspell Buddy's middle name "Harden."

For more information about this pioneering singer/guitarist/songwriter and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Buddy Holly.


Al Jolson
2

Error: He was born in "Washington, D.C."

Correction: Al Jolson was born in Serednik or Srednik (now Seredzius), Lithuania. He was later raised, in Washington, D.C., but was not born there, as some early editions of Who's Who in America erroneously report.


Error: His fourth marriage took place in "Quartzite," Arizona.

Correction: It's actually spelled Quartzsite, Arizona.

A couple of sources mistakenly report he married his fourth wife at "Quartzite," Arizona. The name of the town in which they exchanged their vows is spelled Quartzsite, Arizona.


For in-depth details on this actor/singer and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Al Jolson.


Angela Lansbury
3

Error: She was born in "1926" in "New York."

Correction: She was actually born October 16, 1925, in London, England.

Actress Angela Lansbury was not born in "1926" as some sources mistakenly claim, nor was she born in "New York" as another source erroneously reports. She was actually born October 16, 1925, in London, England.


For more information on Ms. Lansbury and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Angela Lansbury.


Myrna Loy
4

Error: She was born in "Raidersburg," Montana.

Correction: Her place of birth is spelled Radersburg, Montana.

A number of sources, including the 1994 edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia, erroneously spell her place of birth "Raidersburg," Montana. It's actually spelled Radersburg, Montana.


Error: Her fourth husband's last name was "Sergeant."

Correction: Myrna Loy confirms it's spelled Sargeant.

The last name of her fourth husband is spelled Sargeant, not "Sergeant" as many sources report. Myrna Loy confirms this fact several times throughout her 1987 autobiography, Myrna Loy: Being and Becoming.


Error: The actress died "Dec. 15, 1993."

Correction: She passed away December 14th, 1993, at 6:22 p.m., at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, New York.

The 1994 edition of Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia erroneously reports actress Myrna Loy died "Dec. 15, 1993." Obituaries and her death certificate clearly show she died December 14th, 1993, at 6:22 p.m., at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City, New York.


For more information on Ms. Loy and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Myrna Loy.


Charles Manson
5

Error: He was born "November 11."

Correction: Both Charles Manson and his birth records confirm he was born November 12, 1934.

A number of sources mistakenly report notorious criminal Charles Manson was born "November 11." His birth certificate on file with the Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics, clearly shows his date of birth as Nov. 12, 1934. To be precise, he was born November 12th, 1934, at 4:40 p.m., at Cincinnati General Hospital, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Be aware that some of his arrest records mistakenly show the erroneous "November 11" date of birth. Also, his middle name is not spelled "Mills" as a couple of sources mistakenly claim. Note that some of the early newspaper accounts of the Tate-LaBianca murders misspell his middle name "Miles." Manson's middle name is actually Milles.

NOTE: The hospital made a typographical error when supplying his birth data to the government, offering the misspelling "Moddox" instead of the properly spelled Maddox. So this misspelling appears on the aforementioned birth certificate.

For more information on Charles Manson and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Charles Manson.


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Kevin Payne
6

Error: Professional boxer Kevin Payne died in the ring during his final fight.

Correction: The fight took place Saturday, March 18, 2006, at The Centre in Evansville, Indiana. He actually died the next day, March 19, 2006, at 2 p.m., at Deaconess Hospital, in Evansville, Indiana, of a brain injury sustained in the professional boxing match.


For more information about this boxer, visit our biographical profile of Kevin Payne


Albert Pick, Jr.
7

Error: His 50th wedding anniversary occurred in "1970."

Correction: Albert Pick, Jr. and his wife Corinne celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary December 27th, 1967.

Some sources erroneously report businessman Albert Pick, Jr. and his wife celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in "1970." In point of fact, it was December 27th, 1967, that the hotel executive and his wife Corinne celebrated that milestone.


For in-depth details on Mr. Pick and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Albert Pick, Jr.


Russell Sage
8

Error: He was born in "Shenandoah, New York."

Correction: Russell Sage was born August 4, 1816, in Verona, New York.

A few sources erroneously report "Scanandoah, New York" or "Shenandoah, New York" as the birthplace of Russell Sage. In 1899, the business titan and railroad tycoon specifically addressed his birth in a New York Times article: "They have, I see, got out a pleasant enough story about my having been born at Shenandoah . . . but this is wrong. My parents Elisha and Prudence Sage were well settled at Verona, two miles from the Oneida Castle when I was born . . ."


For in-depth details on Mr. Sage and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Russell Sage.


Jessica Savitch
9

Error: She was born "February 2" in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Correction: Jessica Savitch was born February 1, 1947, at 11:51 a.m., at Delaware Hospital, in Wilmington, Delaware.

NBC News journalist Jessica Savitch was raised in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, but was not born there as the overwhelming majority of sources erroneously report. Birth records confirm her birth took place at Delaware Hospital, in Wilmington, Delaware.
NOTE: Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is just a couple of miles north of the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, and is a little more than 10 miles from Wilmington.

Also note that as Jessica approached age 30, she shaved a year off her age, erroneously reporting "1948" as her year of birth.


Error: She died "October 24."

Correction: Jessica died October 23, 1983, at 7:20 p.m., in the Delaware Canal, near the Chez Odette restaurant, 274 South River Road, New Hope, Pennsylvania.

The Encyclopedia Britannica© Book of the Year 1984, reports not only the incorrect place of birth for Jessica Savitch, but also erroneously reports her date of death as "October 24." In reality, she died Sunday evening, October 23rd, 1983.


For more information on Ms. Savitch and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Jessica Savitch.


Alan Shepard
0

Error: American astronaut Alan Shepard died in Pebble Beach, California on July 22, 1998.

Correction: He passed away July 21st, 1998, at 7:30 p.m., at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, in Monterey, California.

Some of the earliest newpaper reports of his death carried the erroneous data.


Governor William Stephens
1

Error: California Governor William Stephens was born December 18th, 1859, and died April 24, 1944.

Correction: The 24th Governor of California and 3-term U.S. Congressman was born December 26, 1859, in Eaton, Ohio. He died of a heart ailment, April 25, 1944, at Santa Fe Hospital, in Los Angeles, California.


For more information about Gov. Stephens and the source information utilized for these error corrections, visit our biographical profile of Governor William D. Stephens.


George Takei
2

Error: He was born in "1939," or "1940."

Correction: George Takei confirms he was born April 20, 1937.

Several sources erroneously report Star Trek actor George Takei was born in "1939," while others mistakenly claim "1940" was his year of birth. There are also a few erroneous reports regarding his name.

George specifically addressed his name, and date of birth in his 1994 autobiography, To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei.
"But they knew joy again at the birth of a healthy boy on April 20, 1937. This baby, so precious after the loss of their firstborn, became the center of their lives, the most important being in their world. He needed a fitting name. To them, this baby was as great as a prime minister, even a king. As an Anglophile, an admirer of things English, my father therefore had a choice between Neville and George. He and Fumiko Emily - whom he had decided to call "Mama" from then on, and she would call him "Daddy" - settled on the royal choice. The baby was named George, for King George VI of England. They chose Hosato, Japanese for "Village of the Bountiful Harvest," for his Japanese middle name."


For more information about Mr. Takei, visit our biographical profile of George Takei.


Lew Wasserman
3

Error: He was born "Lewis Robert Wasserman" on "March 15, 1913."

Correction: His name at birth was Louis Robert Wasserman, and he was born March 22, 1913, at 6:42 a.m., on Woodland Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Nearly every reference source on the planet and most of his obituaries, erroneously report "March 15, 1913" as pioneering movie mogul Lew Wasserman's date of birth. Many also mistakenly state "Lewis Robert Wasserman" was his name at birth. This is one instance where sloppy data entry, or poor research is not to blame. Lew Wasserman himself reported the 15th as his birthday, but this simply is not true. During his high school days, Wasserman puzzled classmates by changing the spelling of his first name from Louis to Lewis, and changed his date of birth from the actual date of March 22nd, to the fabricated date of "March 15," which he continued to give for the rest of his life. Some of his classmates have speculated that the 15th carried more historical mystique for him. In truth, he was born March 22, 1913, at 6:42 a.m., on Woodland Avenue, in Cleveland, Ohio.


For more information about Mr. Wasserman and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Lew Wasserman.


J. Madison Wright
4

Error: She was married in "London, England."

Correction: Maddie and Brent Joseph Morris were married at the Corinth Baptist Church in London, Laurel County, Kentucky.

A couple of sources erroneously report Earth 2 actress J. Madison Wright was married in "London, England." In reality, she was married at the Corinth Baptist Church in London, Laurel County, Kentucky.


For more information about J. Madison Wright, visit our biographical profile of J. Madison Wright.


Malcolm X
5

Error: He was born at "3448 Pinkney Street," in Omaha, Nebraska.

Correction: Malcolm X was born May 19th, 1925, at 10:25 p.m., at University Hospital, in Omaha, Nebraska.

A number of sources mistakenly report Civil Rights activist Malcolm X was born at his boyhood home at "3448 Pinkney Street" (later, 34th and Evans Street), in Omaha, Nebraska. Although he certainly did live at that address with his family for a short time, his birth certificate clearly shows he was not born there. He was born May 19th, 1925, at 10:25 p.m., at University Hospital, in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm himself confirms this date and place of birth in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.


For additional information about Malcolm X and the source information utilized for this error correction, visit our biographical profile of Malcolm X.


Mayor Sam Yorty
6

Error: Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty was married just once.

Correction: Mayor Yorty was married three times.

A number of sources erroneously report three-term Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty was married just once. Some also claim the marriage lasted from 1938 till his death in 1998. Mayor Yorty's first wife actually died in 1984, and that marriage was followed by two more. He was also widowed by his second wife, Gloria, and then married a third and final time to Valery King Yorty, who survived him.


For more information about Mr. Yorty, visit our biographical profile of Sam Yorty.


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