Age fabrication occurs when a person deliberately misrepresents his or her true age. This is usually done with the intent to garner privileges or status that would not otherwise be available to the person (i.e., a minor misrepresenting their age in order to garner the privileges given to adults). It may be done through the use of oral or written statements or through the altering, doctoring or forging of vital records.
On some occasions, age is increased so as to make cut-offs for minimum legal or employable age in showbusiness or professional sports. Sometimes it is not the people themselves who lower their public age, but others around them such as publicists, parents, and other handlers. Most cases involve taking or adding one or two years to their age. However, in more extreme cases such as with Al Lewis and Charo, a decade has been added or subtracted. Official state documents (such as birth, marriage and death certificates, the census, and other identity documents) typically provide the correct date.
Although uncommon in modern Western society, it is still possible for a person not to know their exact date of birth. Such a person may arbitrarily choose a date of birth which after later research is found to be false. This situation should not be considered age fabrication as there is no obvious intent to deceive on the part of the individual.
Subtracting time from one's age is often known in English as "shaving", while adding time to one's age may be referred to as "padding".
In sports, people may falsify their age to make themselves appear younger thus enabling them compete in world-level junior events (with prominent examples appearing in football (soccer) and athletics). In gymnastics, diving, and figure skating, competitors may claim to be older in order to bring themselves over the age minimums for senior competition or below an age limit for junior competition. A female pair skater may be aged up while her male partner may be aged down to allow them to compete together. In some cases, they may feel pressure to change their ages. As these fabrications have an effect upon a person's performance (through the greater athleticism of age or greater flexibility of youth), the practice is known as age cheating in the field of sports.
- Danny Almonte (born April 7, 1987) played in the Little League World Series for his Bronx team in 2001, despite being over the cutoff age for the league. His parents had provided a doctored birth certificate misrepresenting his birth year as 1989. A Sports Illustrated writer discovered the discrepancy when Almonte's Dominican elementary school records gave his correct birth year.
- American golfer Tom Shaw claimed throughout his career on the PGA Tour to have been born on December 13, 1942. He was suspected by some of being older, notably by Frank Hannigan, who as Executive Director of the United States Golf Association paired him with the then-19-year-old Ben Crenshaw and 24-year-old Johnny Miller, both known as fast players, for the first two rounds of the 1971 U.S. Open for his apparent amusement. As it turned out, Hannigan was right; in 1988, Shaw produced a birth certificate proving that he had been born on the same date in 1938, which made him eligible for the Senior PGA Tour (now PGA Tour Champions) starting with the 1989 season.
In the entertainment industryEdit
Age fabrication is common in the entertainment industry. Many actresses subtract at least one year from their actual age so that producers and casting directors will be more likely to hire them for roles, or for publicity purposes. Time joked in 1949:
To find the age of a star, a Hollywood press-agent takes the year of her (or his) birth, subtracts it from itself, and burns the paper the numbers were written on; then adds last week's fan mail to the box-office receipts from the star's last picture, subtracts her salary, divides the remainder by the number of press agents assigned to care for her career, subtracts the number of her marriages, adds three months for every child she has had (things grow fast in the sub tropics), and knocks off ten years just for gallantry. If the age is still higher than the one the boss ordered, he works in slight mathematical errors until the answer comes out right.
- Gracie Allen, comedian, was notorious for keeping her true age concealed and even her husband George Burns did not know her exact age. Various sources claim she was born on July 26 in 1894, 1895, 1897, 1902 or 1906. Her exact age could not be retrieved by a birth certificate, as it was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Allen herself gave her year of birth as 1906, despite the fact the earthquake occurred three months before her birthday that year. When the 1900 United States Census became public information, the true year was revealed as 1895, which meant she was actually a few months older than her husband.
- Sandra Bullock's birthdate was erroneously given as July 26 in 1965, 1966, and 1967 for most of her early career. In 1997 Vanity Fair discovered that the correct year was 1964.
- Irene Cara's exact age was a mystery for most of her career, with various sources claiming that she was born on March 18 in either 1964 or 1959. In 2004 the Associated Press retrieved a copy of her voter registration records from Florida, which verified that she was actually born in 1959. Cara vehemently claimed that she was born in 1964, but refused to comment on the voter registration records.
- Charo is often accused of trimming 10 years from her age. In 1977, a Las Vegas federal district court allowed Charo's claim that she was born in 1951 and that her March 13, 1941 birth date on her original Spanish birth certificate, passport, and naturalization papers was incorrect based on affidavits submitted by Charo's parents, a claim that has been viewed with skepticism. The same judge who permitted Charo to change her legal age issued a near-identical order finding that Charo's older sister Carmen Martinez Molina was 29, not 40 as stated in her Spanish passport. That order was similarly premised on affidavits submitted by Carmen's parents, who claimed that Carmen was 11 years younger than stated in all Spanish public records. However, a 1951 birthdate is inconsistent with Charo's statements in numerous articles and interviews regarding the dates of her childhood, education and emigration to the United States. The performer did not appear to be a young teenager at the time of her live and TV performances in the 1960s, during which she variously cited her birth year as 1947 and 1949. If born in 1951, Charo would have been only 15 years old when she married 66-year-old bandleader Xavier Cugat in 1966. She has stated in many interviews that she was attending school in Madrid at that age and graduated at 16, not having yet begun her performing career. She has never clarified the obvious discrepancy. As of 2016, Charo's current IMDb entry indicates a birth date of March 13, 1941.
- Geena Davis was born January 21, 1956 but claimed a 1957 birthdate until the early 2000s.
- Doris Day long claimed to have been born on April 3, 1924, but public records show her year of birth was 1922. Day had attempted to explain the discrepancy, saying that as a young woman she pretended to be two years older so she could sing with big bands. However, US census records show that she was 7 years old on April 1, 1930, and 18 years old on April 10, 1940, indicating that she was born in 1922. One day before her birthday in 2017, she admitted to having been born in 1922, after the Associated Press obtained a copy of her birth certificate confirming she had been born on April 3 of that year.
- Lee Grant's year of birth is disputed, with various sources giving dates ranging from 1925–1931.
- Mila Kunis was 14 when she auditioned for the role of Jackie Burkhart in That 70s Show, even though the minimum eligible age was 18. She apparently explained that she was not yet 18, but not that she was 14. She was cast in the role anyway.
- Al Lewis, actor from The Munsters, is reported by various sources to have been born on April 30 in either 1910 or 1923. Shortly after Lewis' death, his son claimed that he was actually born in 1923. This contradicts Lewis' own statement that he was born in 1910. Lewis claimed to have graduated from high school in 1927 and to have earned a PhD from Columbia University in 1941, but research by Dan Barry of The New York Times failed to reveal evidence of either. In April 2006, Lewis' listing on the Social Security Death Index gave his date of birth as April 30, 1923.
- Sondra Locke (1944–2018) lied about her age throughout her career, with 1947 being her most commonly reported birth year. In 1989 her half-brother told The Tennessean that she was actually born in 1944.
- Traci Lords, born on May 7, 1968, claimed for the purpose of being eligible to act in pornographic films that she was born in 1964. On July 18, 1986, it was discovered that she had only recently turned 18, and that most of her pornographic films had been made while she was under age.
- Sean Paul Lockhart, better known as gay adult film actor and director Brent Corrigan, began modeling in pornographic productions prior to turning 18 years old. A porn producer fabricated Lockhart's age to allow him to appear nude in porn films. Lockhart continued to perform in and direct adult entertainment after turning 18.
- Rebecca De Mornay's year of birth was alternately given as 1961 or 1962 for much of her career. She was born in 1959.
- Simon Oakland, a prolific character actor, claimed in media interviews to have been born in 1922, a date repeated in his New York Times obituary. Vital records indicate his actual year of birth was 1915.
- Indian actress Kangana Ranaut claimed to have been born in 1987 for many years until mid-2016, when a copy of her passport that was received by Asian News International revealed her year of birth to be 1986.
- Katie Redford was announced in January 2015 as the new 19-year-old actress playing 14-year-old Bethany Platt in the ITV serial drama Coronation Street. Online discussion and research quickly revealed that Redford was actually 25 years old, and ITV announced that the role would now be recast with an actress closer to the character's age.
- Amanda Redman gave her date of birth as August 12, 1959, for many years, and gave interviews in 2009 about turning 50. A newspaper revealed she was actually about to turn 52, having been born 1957 not 1959.
- Katharine Ross was born January 29, 1940 but a March 1968 Life magazine article gave her age as 25.
- Riley Weston, a writer and actress for Felicity, claimed that she was an 18-year-old when she began on the show. After it was discovered Weston was actually 32, she issued a public apology.
- Peter Wyngarde died in January 2018 and was reported to have been 90 years old, born on August 28, 1927. During his lifetime he had given various later years of birth, usually 1933, and after his death his appreciation society changed this "official" birth year to 1937. Primary sources suggest the 1927 birthdate is likely to be correct. As well as his year of birth, Wyngarde may have also fabricated other aspects of his personal life including his birth name, country of birth, ethnicity, and his parents' nationalities and professions.
- Anastacia (born September 17, 1968) shaved four years off her age when she first signed a record deal, and came clean in August 2008 when she turned 40.
- Laura Branigan's 2004 obituaries reported that she was born in 1957. Media reports in the 1970s indicated her birth year was 1955, and circumstantial evidence suggests her actual year of birth was 1952.
- Paloma Faith has been accused of age fabrication after claiming to be born in 1985 early in her career. She later admitted to having been born in 1981 after her birth certificate was revealed online.
- Amanda Lear showed a journalist an identity card in 2010 which stated she was born in November 1950, and previously said she was born in 1946. More reliable and credible public records show she was born in 1939. UK marriage records confirm she was married there on December 11, 1965, which is unlikely to have been a month after her 15th birthday. Lear is known or suspected to have obscured or fabricated other facts of her life, including her birth gender, ethnic origin, place of birth, and her parents' names and nationalities.
- Jay Sean claims to have been born in 1981, but British birth records and his schooling history indicate he was born in 1979.
- Sinitta claims to have been born in 1968, but her personal history and persuasive evidence, including a birth certificate published in The Sun in September 2013 indicate that she was born on October 19, 1963.
- Toni Tennille, half of the husband-and-wife duo Captain & Tennille, born May 8, 1940, was encouraged by her record label to shave five years off her age because the label was concerned that a 35-year-old starting a recording career would be seen as unusual. She compromised by using 1943 as her birth year, which has appeared in numerous sources. Tennille herself corrected the error in a 2006 entry on her blog, in which she also confirmed that she had married her musical partner Daryl Dragon on November 11, 1975, instead of February 14 in the same year.
- Jazz violinist Joe Venuti was known for providing conflicting information regarding his date of birth, claiming to have been born as early as 1894 and as late as 1906; music writer Gary Giddins said that "depending on which reference book you consult, (Venuti's age when he died in 1978) was eighty-four, eighty-two, eighty, seventy-five, seventy-four, or seventy-two."
- Many websites and online services ban children under 13-years-old from joining their platforms in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a U.S. federal law which prohibits website operators under U.S. jurisdiction from collecting personal information about children under age 13 without parental consent. To avoid the ban, many children under 13 falsify their age in order to sign-up to use those websites, many with the help of an adult. It is estimated that around 5 million Facebook users are under the age of 13.
In law and politicsEdit
- There are many stories of men lying about their age to join the armed forces, for example to fight in World War I. In mid-1918, Walt Disney attempted to join the United States Army to fight against the Germans, but he was rejected for being too young. After forging the date of birth on his birth certificate to 1900, he joined the Red Cross in September 1918 as an ambulance driver. Conversely, those wishing to avoid conscription may also falsify their age: the birthdate of Henryk Gulbinowicz, Bishop Emeritus of Wroclaw, Poland and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, was changed from 1923 to 1928 by his parents and his parish priest to prevent him from being conscripted during World War II.
- In 2016 the United Kingdom Home Office reported 2/3 of allegedly child refugees from Calais were adults.
- An adult MS-13 member (Herberth Geovani Argueta-Chavez) apprehended crossing into Yuma, Arizona in a migrant caravan in early 2018 from Central America lied about being a minor.
- In 1994, 15-year-old R&B singer Aaliyah and 27-year-old R. Kelly illegally married in Cook County, Illinois. Upon meeting Kelly and prior to the nuptials, Aaliyah admitted she had falsely stated she was 18, though she was a minor. In a 2008 interview, Kelly's tour manager, Demetrius Smith, said that he facilitated the wedding by obtaining falsified identification for Aaliyah which listed her as 18 years of age. A Michigan judge annulled the marriage in 1995.
- Joseph Stalin, born December 18 (December 6 OS), 1878, changed the date to December 21, 1879, later in his life for unknown reasons. The December 18, 1878, birth date is maintained by his birth registry, his school leaving certificate, his extensive tsarist Russia police file, and all other surviving pre-revolution documents. Russian playwright and historian Edward Radzinski argues in his book, Stalin, that Stalin changed the year to 1879 to have a national birthday celebration of his 50th birthday. He could not do it in 1928 because his rule was not absolute enough. The incorrect December 21, 1879, date was printed in many almanacs and encyclopedia during Stalin's reign and remains one of the most widely reported incorrect dates of birth.
- Eva Perón, born May 7, 1919, had her birth certificate altered to 1922 after becoming First Lady of Argentina. She made herself seem to be younger and also to appear that her parents had been married when she was born.
- Gary Hart, former senator from Colorado and 1984 and 1988 Democratic presidential candidate, originally claimed in campaign and Senate biographies that he was born on November 28, 1937, when in fact he was one year older exactly, this fact unearthed after he briefly overtook Walter Mondale as the party front-runner in the 1984 primary race. This among other things (his name change from Hartpence mainly) would be a nagging source of controversy throughout his national political career.
- While official records of film producer S. S. Vasan show his date of birth as March 10, 1903, according to his family he was actually born on January 4, 1904. Film historian Randor Guy suggested in 2003 that, as with many families in that period, Vasan's date of birth could have been deliberately fabricated to help in his school admission. The 1903 date of birth entered Vasan's SSLC book, and has remained his official date of birth since, although a postage stamp of him was released in 2004 to commemorate his centenary.
- Kalpana Chawla, the first woman of Indian origin to go into space, was born on March 17, 1962. But her official date of birth was changed to July 1, 1961 to allow her to become eligible for the matriculation exam.
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Don Locke loves his sister. He misses her, and he regrets the fact that his three daughters don't have any knowledge of Sondra other than what they see on TV or in print or hear from gossipmongers. 'Sondra's not this kind of bad character,' he says. 'Maybe she's changed, but she was my big sister who used to play baseball with me. Sondra's gonna be 45 May 28 ...' Locke's publicist claims Sondra will be 42 today.
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Roger had provided Nora with fake identification that added 5 years to her age.
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- State of California. California Birth Index, 1905–1995. Center for Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.
- State of Texas. Texas Birth Index (1903–1997). Texas Department of State Health Services.
- Dawn of a New Age Baseball America, July 8, 2002. Chart of nearly 300 players found to have falsely recorded ages.