COUNTRY MUSIC CHANTEUSE NAOMI JUDD SAYS JAN. 11 will be a day she'll happily "celebrate." Tycoon Donald Trump, however, snorts that his big day on June 14th will be "nothing fabulous...no matter what spin you put on it." For actress Patty Duke, the moment of truth arrives on Dec. 14, and "I'm ready for it," she says.
Ready or not, she and other postwar baby boomers, including dozens of sensitive showbiz types, will share one common event this year: their 50th birthdays. And many will embrace their big day as warmly as they would an onrushing diesel. "Looking 50 is great-if you're 60," says comedian Joan Rivers (herself a child of the 1930s). Still, upcoming birthday celebrants won't suffer alone. On Jan. 1 the first wave of the 76 million boomers began to turn 50-one every 7½ seconds-and their numbers will include President Bill Clinton (born Aug. 19, 1946), actor Sylvester Stallone (July 6) and singers Linda Ronstadt (July 15) and Liza Minnelli (March 12), among others.
All of them have seen a few changes in their lifetimes. When boomers began sprouting in the maternity wards a half century ago (see Inside PEOPLE, p. 6), Harry Truman was President, radio ruled the airwaves, and liposuction was still some surgeon's science project. Now in Hollywood, where looking young isn't everything (but close to it), most stars would rather wax their own Bentleys than admit to turning 50. "Half of Hollywood is worried they'll be perceived as too old for their next job, and the other half should be," says one agent.
Of course, not everyone sees the upcoming milestone as a millstone. "It's all programming," says actress Suzanne Somers, who was born Oct. 16, 1946. "I feel like 50 is the halfway mark. I've got a whole half left." Even Cher, born May 20, whose nose and breasts have been refined by the cosmetic surgeon's art, knows that what's inside is all that really counts. "Aging gracefully is such a superficial term," the singer-actress told a London newspaper recently. "What you really mean is, Do they look like they're aging—not, Are they a wonderful person having a wonderful time?"
In the following pages we present some of the more famous faces who will mark their first half century this year. Most, happily, share a sense of prudent perspective about the achievement. "The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age," Lucille Ball once said. And if that doesn't work, even Donald Trump concedes that when all is said and done, "age is far less important than the way you feel."
Now, please pass the prune juice.