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  • Brian Fishbach

Apollo 13 Astronaut Ken Mattingly and Actor Gary Sinise Share A Birthday, March 17

In an astronomic coincidence, Apollo 13 astronaut Ken Mattingly and actor Gary Sinise, who portrayed him in the 1995 Ron Howard film, share the same birthday—March 17.

Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II was born on March 17, 1936 in Chicago. Although he did not fly aboard Apollo 13 due to a potential measles exposure, he was grounded. Today he turned 87.

He did fly aboard Apollo 16, where he orbited the moon while Astronauts John W. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr. became the ninth and tenth humans to walk on the moon.

Actor Sinise was born 19 years after Mattingly to the day, on March 17, 1955, also in the Chicago area. Today he turned 68.

As of this writing, Commander Jim Lovell (94) and Captain Fred Haise (89) are still alive. Their fellow astronaut, Jack Sweigert was elected to Congress in 1980, but died before he could serve in office.

There is a statue of Sweigert in the United States Capitol Statuary Collection representing his home state of Colorado. There is also an identical statue in concourse B of the Denver International Airport.

Sweigert was portrayed in the film by Kevin Bacon, and Lovell was portrayed by Tom Hanks. Haise was portrayed by actor Bill Paxton, who passed away in 2017.

In the final moments of the 1995 film, the real Commander Jim Lovell is shown greeting actor Hanks on an aircraft carrier.


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