Lying about their ages

As you know (I hope) the next ideas4writers book is to be a Date-A-Base compendium of forthcoming anniversaries covering 2008-2012. Naturally we want this to be as accurate as possible, but this is proving tricky as certain people (notably Hollywood types) lie about their ages.

The general population, and possibly the press and media, might be celebrating the 100th birthday of someone like Ethel Merman (American actress/singer) in 2009, since she always gave her year of birth as 1909. But official records show she was actually born in 1908.

James Brown (godfather of soul) claims to have been born in 1933 but was actually born in 1928 – a 5 year difference.

This presents problems. Do we put the real date, or do we put the one that everyone recognises and accepts? Do we list them under the real date and add a note about the discrepancy? Do we list them under the “fake” date and add a similar note? Or do we need to list them twice – taking up valuable space that might mean dropping someone else?

Encyclopaedia Britannica generally gives the “claimed” date of birth while Wikipedia tends to give the real one.  Rarely do they mention the discrepancy. Your thoughts and opinions please!

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