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12 People Who Died on Their Birthdays

Mental Floss logo Mental Floss 16/01/2018 Stacy Conradt

person sitting in a box: 12 People Who Died on Their Birthdays © Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images 12 People Who Died on Their Birthdays

It's called The Birthday Effect: a statistical phenomenon the seems to indicate that the likelihood of one's death increases on or around his or her birthday. While one Swiss study in 2012 put your chances of leaving this world on the same day you entered it as 14 percent higher, there aren't a lot of examples of famous people who have managed to pull it off—with a few exceptions.

1. INGRID BERGMAN

Oscar-winning Casablanca star Ingrid Bergman was born on August 29, 1915, in Stockholm, Sweden. She died 67 years later in 1982 in London after battling breast cancer (though the official cause of death was lymphoma complications that came after a breast cancer operation).

2. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

a black and white photo of William Shakespeare: English dramatist William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), circa 1600 © Provided by The Week Publications English dramatist William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), circa 1600

William Shakespeare couldn't have written a more poetic circle of life for himself: while the exact date of his birth has long been a source of debate, the general consensus is that he was born on April 23, 1564 and died on that same date in 1616, at the age of 52. Though the exact cause of his death is unknown—he was said to be in high spirits and "perfect health" just weeks before his passing—though an entry in the diary of John Ward, a vicar in the town where Shakespeare was both born and died, claimed that, "Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and it seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted."

3. WALTER DIEMER

Walter Diemer, the inventor of bubble gum, went "pop!" on his 93rd birthday on January 8, 1998.

4. BETTY FRIEDAN

Author Betty Friedan attends a reading of the U.S. Constitution at Cooper Union for the People For the American Way Foundation September 1, 2004 in New York City © Provided by The Week Publications Author Betty Friedan attends a reading of the U.S. Constitution at Cooper Union for the People For the American Way Foundation September 1, 2004 in New York City

Betty Friedan, author of the groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique, was born on February 4, 1921, and died on the same day in 2006. She died of congestive heart failure at her home in Washington, D.C. on her 85th birthday.

RELATED GALLERY: 11 Things Women Couldn't Do In The 1920s 1. HAVE THEIR OWN NAME PRINTED ON A PASSPORT: <p>Requesting in a passport in the 1920s was a pretty straightforward process—if you were a man. For female travelers, passport applications could be rejected based on the name they used or because their husband was already issued a passport. Unmarried women could apply using their maiden name, but married women were <a href="https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/us-passport-history-women">issued a joint passport with their husband</a>, where in place of their name, the passport granted travel privileges to "wife of" (followed by the husband's name). Married women who requested separate passports could receive them, but were often met with rejections or headaches if trying to use their maiden name, since passports were automatically issued with their husband's surname.</p> 11 Things Women Couldn't Do In The 1920s

5. GEORGE "MACHINE GUN" KELLY

For a lifelong gangster and bootlegger, George "Machine Gun" Kelly got off pretty easy when he died of a heart attack at 59 years old, dying on his birthday, July 17, in 1954. Kelly was incarcerated at Leavenworth at the time.

6. LEVI P. MORTON

Ismail Qemali wearing a suit and tie: Levi Morton © Provided by The Week Publications Levi Morton

Levi P. Morton, Benjamin Harrison's vice president, died of pneumonia on his 96th birthday on May 16, 1920—outliving his former boss by nearly 20 years.

7. JOHNNY LONGDEN

Johnny Longden—a Triple Crown-winning jockey who took home wins at the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes while riding Count Fleet in 1943—was born on and died on Valentine's Day (on 1907 and 2003, respectively).

8. SIDNEY BECHET

person holding a gun: Sidney Bechet Playing Soprano Saxophone © Provided by The Week Publications Sidney Bechet Playing Soprano Saxophone

Though he was largely overshadowed by Louis Armstrong, jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer Sidney Bechet actually found his way into the recording studio a few months ahead of Armstrong. But his alleged temper proved detrimental to his career, and it wasn't until the late 1940s that Bechet's accomplishments were fully recognized. Fortunately, he lived long enough to see it happen; he passed away in Garches, France on May 14, 1959, his 62nd birthday.

9. ELLA BAKER

Though she largely stayed behind the scenes, Ella Baker was a key activist who worked alongside some of the most well-known civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall. She was born in Virginia on December 13, 1903 and passed away on the same day 83 years later, in 1986.

10. KAMEHAMEHA V, KING OF HAWAII

a person posing for the camera © Provided by The Week Publications

Kamehameha V, King of Hawaii, died on his 42nd birthday on December 11, 1872.

11. ALLEN DRURY

Novelist Allen Drury—who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1959 political novel Advise and Consent, based partially on the true-life story of the scandal and suicide of Senator Lester Hunt—died on his 80th birthday on September 2, 1998.

12. SWEDE RISBERG

a black and white photo of a baseball field © Provided by The Week Publications

Swede Risberg, whose name became synonymous with the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, died on October 13, 1975, his 81st birthday.

RELATED VIDEO: How to Stop Procrastinating and Get Things Done (Provided by TPSY)

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