Age fabrication occurs when an individual 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 individual. 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 an individual not to know his or her exact date of birth. Such an individual 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.
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 the Champions Tour) starting with the 1989 season.
In the entertainment industry
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 pressagents 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 sometimes accused of trimming 10 years from her age. In 1977, a Las Vegas court upheld Charo's claims and ruled she was born in 1951. The ruling held that the 1941 date on her original Spanish birth certificate is incorrect. However, some still doubt the historical accuracy of a 1951 birthday. Skeptics point to her 1966 marriage and some media reports as evidence that she was born before 1951.
Doris Day says she was born on 3 April 1924, but public records show her year of birth was 1922. Day has 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 the 1930 and 1940 censuses show her as aged 7 and 17 respectively, indicating that she was born in 1922 or 1923.
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.
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.
Amanda Redman gave her date of birth as August 12, 1959 for many years, and gave interviews in 2009 about her dread of turning 50. A newspaper revealed she was actually about to turn 52, having been born 1957 not 1959.
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.
Dan Savage was discovered to be lying about his age by five years by Seattle Weekly writer Mark D. Fefer. Fefer was able to cite three occasions from Savage's newspaper column, and one occasion when he was asked to confirm his age to a reporter researching a Seattle Post-Intelligencer profile on him.
Beginning in the early 1980s, heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio (born 10 July 1942) consistently told people he was born in 1949. Shaving seven years off his age put him closer in age to the band members he'd been collaborating with in those years, such as Ritchie Blackmore and the founding members of Black Sabbath. Dio never publicly recanted the deception during his lifetime, though 1942 was used in official announcements of his death.
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.
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.
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 19 October 1963.
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.
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 encyclopaedia 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.
There are many stories of men lying about their age to join the armed forces, for example to fight in World War I. 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.