Muhammad Ali turned 70 last month, but some of the world’s most famous people are still wishing the boxer known simply as “The Greatest” a happy birthday.
“Happy birthday, champ,” President Barack Obama told Ali through a video message, saying he wished he could have attended a swanky dinner gala in Las Vegas on Saturday featuring some of the biggest names in sports, film, television and music.
The gala’s 2,000 attendees were there to celebrate Ali’s life and generate millions of dollars for brain research, a mission Ali’s family says is important to him in part because of his nearly 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Football great Jim Brown said Ali represents the greatest of America, because at one time people only recognized his athletic ability and didn’t like what he had to say. That changed over time, he said.
Guests arriving on the red carpet included football great Franco Harris, supermodel Cindy Crawford, actor Samuel L. Jackson, Ali’s children and grandchildren, and Chuck Wepner, who fought Ali in 1975 for the heavyweight title and lost.
Dench losing her eyesight
Academy Award-winning Actress Judi Dench is battling to save her sight.
The 77-year-old actress, known recently for her role as M in the latest James Bond movies, said in an interview published Saturday that she had been diagnosed with macular degeneration, an eye condition which can cause blindness, and that her eyesight was already so bad that she couldn’t even read her own scripts.
Dench told the Daily Mirror that she was relying on friends and family to keep her up to speed with her lines.
“It’s usually my daughter or my agent or a friend, and actually I like that, because I sit there and imagine the story in my mind,” she told the newspaper during an interview at a London hotel. “The most distressing thing is in a restaurant in the evening I can’t see the person I’m having dinner with.”
The birthday bunch
Singer Smokey Robinson is 72. Sony Chairman, CEO and President Howard Stringer is 70. Singer Lou Christie is 69. Rock musician Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell) is 64. Author Amy Tan is 60. Actor Jeff Daniels is 57. Talk show host Lorianne Crook is 55. Actor Leslie David Baker (“The Office”) is 54. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is 53. Britain’s Prince Andrew is 52. Singer Seal is 49. Rock musician Jon Fishman (Phish) is 47. Actress Justine Bateman is 46. Actor Benicio Del Toro is 45. Pop singer-actress Haylie Duff is 27.