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Baby Boomers Start Hitting 60

George W. Bush and Bill Clinton can't escape. Neither can Laura Bush, Loni Anderson and Dolly Parton.

From politicians and celebrities to athletes and rock stars, some of the most celebrated members of the America's most celebrated generation are turning 60 this year.

They are the oldest of the baby boomers, that group of 78.2 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964.

And they are getting old.

"I see people going two ways," said Nancy Schlossberg, a professor emerita of counseling psychology at the University of Maryland. "They can continue with the plastic surgery, and just deny they're aging. Or there can be a group who are saying, hey, age is good, age is great, I'm proud of my wrinkles, I'm proud of my gray hair."

The Census Bureau estimates that 7,918 people will turn 60 each day in 2006. Their most popular names are Mary and James.

Among them, there are enough musicians to staff a pretty good rock band. Jimmy Buffett turns 60 on Christmas Day. He will be joined this year by Syd Barrett and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Robby Krieger of the Doors, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Edgar Winter of the Edgar Winter Group and irreverent folk singer Loudon Wainwright III.

If you prefer something more mellow, Linda Ronstadt turns 60 this year, as well as Liza Minnelli, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and Donovan, perhaps best known for singing "Mellow Yellow."

Demographers and marketers note that this isn't the first generation to face its own mortality. But it is the biggest, so it demands attention.

"The fact is that Frank Sinatra also turned 60 once," said Robert Friedland, director of Georgetown University's Center on an Aging Society.

But he couldn't dance like Mick Jagger, who at 62 is just a little bit ahead of the demographic. He will front the Rolling Stones during the halftime show at this year's Super Bowl.

"Mick Jagger at 62 is not old. Frank Sinatra at 62 was old," said Matt Thornhill of the Boomer Project, a marketing company focusing on baby boomers.

Still, it's been a long time since some baby boomers starred on the big stage.

It's been more than a quarter century since Reggie Jackson became "Mr. October" while playing for the New York Yankees. And it's been nearly 40 years since Bob Beamon shocked the world by jumping farther than any other human before him in the 1968 Olympics. Both turn 60 this year.

They will be joined by financiers (Donald Trump and Michael Milken), more actresses (Cher, Susan Lucci, Patty Duke, Diane Keaton, Susan Saint James), more actors (Sylvester Stallone, Timothy Dalton, Tommy Lee Jones) and a game show host (Pat Sajak). Born on July 6, Stallone is exactly the same age as the president — Bush, that is. Clinton was born six weeks later on Aug. 19.

There are also quite a few famous people who would have turned 60 this year, but they died young.

Among those are comedian Gilda Radner of "Saturday Night Live," actor Gregory Hines, college basketball coach Jim Valvano and pro wrestler-turned-actor Andre the Giant.

The list of dead musicians who would have turned 60 this year is right up there with the list that is still alive. It includes Keith Moon of The Who, Bon Scott of AC/DC and Freddie Mercury of Queen.

Serial killer Ted Bundy would have turned 60 this year as well, but he was executed in 1989.

Thornhill, the marketer, said baby boomers in general will try hard to age differently than their parents. They will try to be more active and more vital, socially, financially and spiritually.

But, he said, there are some truisms that are impossible to escape.

"There's a transition that takes place somewhere between age 45 and 55 when you come to grips with the fact that you are getting old," Thornhill said. "Boomers are going to have to come to grips with it."