July 18th, 2011
09:05 AM ET

Happy birthday, John Glenn

Today is John Glenn’s 90th birthday. Glenn's many accomplishments include being the first American to orbit the earth, a decorated Marine Corps veteran and a United States senator. To celebrate his birthday, Life.com published previously never-before-seen photos of Glenn during the Space Race.

Go to Life.com for more previously unpublished photos.

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Filed under: On Earth
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Chen Bengde

    Only Americans could get excited a a loser.

    Yuri Gagarin is the real hero of Mankind's Space Age.
    German Titov was the second place finisher.
    Glenn was an also-ran.

    July 20, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  2. pat bluso

    Happy 90th on the 18th of July–I turned 88 on the 17th. Best wishes to you and Annie.

    July 19, 2011 at 10:39 am |
  3. bachmanntwit

    FACT: Michele Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann is gay.

    July 19, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  4. Tim Knecht

    Happy Birthday, Marine!!!!

    July 19, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  5. TO Foley

    What a great day for great men.
    John Glenn
    Red Skelton
    And ME!
    Happy Birthday Y'all

    July 19, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  6. Tina

    Happy Birthday, Mr Glenn.... I Learned to Always Look Upward in Life... Beginning with the Moon & Stars...Amazing what the Space Program has accomplished to date... You are an inspiration... to men and women...

    July 19, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  7. A Ross

    John Glenn and my uncle "Pete" flew together in the same squadron in WWII. I met Senator Glenn several years ago at a Marine Corps. Aviation Association function. He was gracious and warm as he recalled stories of my uncle and their adventures in the air. He and his lovely wife, Annie, spent time with me and really showed me why he is a true American hero. He may have been in outer space, but his ego is grounded and down to Earth. There will never be another man like John Glenn. Happy Birthday, Sir. Semper Fi.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:14 am |
    • Priscilla

      It was an honor to meet all 7 original Astronauts during my living in Fla, and working for a car dealership in Melbourne,Fl
      The owner of the dealership was personal friends to all 7 of them. While working there, I got several signed autographs from some. Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper,along with Pete Conrad visited us the day before the fire in their simulator.
      They all (7) bought identicle Corvettes (gold with a black racing strip going over the full drivers length of their cars.A photo was taken as they came to pick up the cars with each standing in front of their car.They were all great men,with a great sense of humor and an absolute delight to know. God bless you Glenn and all the survivors of the Original 7

      July 19, 2011 at 7:45 am |
      • Priscilla

        Hope your birthday is a memorable one, and God Bless every one,then and now for your fearless endevers to our space program.

        July 19, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  8. John Paige

    Happy Birthday, John! It was a different world with a different breed back then, and it was a honor to have shared your company.

    July 19, 2011 at 12:13 am |
    • Priscilla

      Amen to that.

      July 19, 2011 at 7:53 am |
  9. Aki-chan

    What a coincidence. It's also my birthday today. Feeling good to share with John Glenn the astronaut.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Jacob

      My Birthday as well!!!!

      July 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  10. The King

    Mr John Glenn, the real deal! Humble, smart, dedicated, patriotic, emphathetic. Teabaggers take a real hard look at what a real American hero looks like. Then, get off your Rascals, drop 100 lbs, stop eating canned lard, and maybe you too can do something for your country!! In your own sad and pathetic ways.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  11. Siege

    I'm proud to say I live in the John Glenn school district in Indiana. This man is amazing!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  12. Patrick

    Happy Birthday, John Glenn! I remember your flight when I was a kid in Indiana, and that you were from Ohio originally.
    The Midwest was very proud of you and the late Gus Grissom.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  13. The_Mick

    Glenn was the first American to orbit the Earth and that was a big deal because all the Russian manned spaceflights were orbital and our first two were not. Glenn drew us even.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • nyepx

      ha ha US education has reached new heights! Glenn was not an orbital flight, then what? intergalactic what?

      July 19, 2011 at 3:56 am |
  14. Astonlad

    Happy Birthday John Glenn. May the people you inspired to follow in your footsteps, go on to inspire others to follow in their own footsteps. And may those footsteps be on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  15. Shawn

    Happy Birthday to Nelson Mandela.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Eden

      and me..my birthday today too...Good company with John Glenn, Nelson Mandela.....

      July 19, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  16. jesseca5

    Semper Fi, Colonel...And a happy 90th.

    Jesse in Texas

    July 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  17. Rick A. Parsons

    A truly great hero and American. My late father, also a war veteran and hero, would have turned 90 in a few weeks. This was truly the "greatest generation" in so many ways. As a child I idolized the original seven, especially Gus Grissom, who is from my home state. I would highly recommend Mr. Glen's autobiography it is a wonderful American story. It can not be said any better than the CAPCOM on that amazing day... "God Speed John Glenn" !!!

    July 18, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  18. Dennis

    Happy Birthday to an American Legend

    July 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  19. r4bbit

    Happy birthday Mr. Gleen.Run for president & win. Another record there just sitting waiting to be broken ya know🙂

    July 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Levi

      He would have to be a puppet for some evil secret society like every other d0uchbag president that has "graced" the US spotlight... You have to be a good actor to be president.

      July 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
      • Lou patrizzi

        Just when I was thinking how polite, respectful & civilized all the commments were,..there's always one

        July 19, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  20. Kim Stimson

    Happy Birthday John Glenn, you have always been a hero of mine, hope you have many more, you deserve it.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  21. Mario S. Cano

    Happy Birthday, Senator. You are, and have long been, a true American iconic hero. Mario in Miami

    July 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  22. Notayesman

    If any person can live to say they've done it ALL...this guy is the ONE! Congrats to ninety good years! Keep up the Good Work and many more happy years to you!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  23. where do we go from here

    Picture #3 Fabulous....two of my heros...Happy Birthday Mr Glen "Mission accomplished! and many more!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  24. Dave from Canada

    a class act !

    July 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  25. Michael J. Ingber

    God Speed Senator John Glenn, God speed. I was born in 1958 and i remember growing up listenng to news about America's first space shots. I, too, like all of the other kids wanted to become scientists and airplane pilots. what a generation, indeed. Now it has all been taken way from us along with the dream. I only hope that our future will bring us a new breed of hero – built on your "Right stuff" By the way, let us not all forget that you flew in the space shuttle as well. You make us all proud.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • JohnnyB70

      OK, enough of this ridiculous "God speed" non-sense.. its awful.. Seriously, move on people..

      July 18, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
      • Leon

        Have you ever done anything important in your life???

        July 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
      • Calvin

        OK, enough of this ridiculous "JohnnyB70" non-sense.. its awful.. Seriously, move on people..

        July 18, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Marine!

      Good Speedo, John Glenn, you still look good walking on Cocoa Beach!

      July 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
      • Todd

        Good one. And for a 93 year old, pretty accurate.

        July 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  26. PaulB

    Dear Sen. Glenn – my sincere and deepest best wishes on your 90th birthday. To say you were an inspiration to so many people would be an understatement; your service to your country and to science are exemplary. You have helped all the world with your heroic exploits. You and all of the early astronauts (both American and Russian) possessed courage, intelligence and leadership that few can lay claim to. God bless you and thank you for all that you have done.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  27. MYTCHYB

    Happy 90th Birthday to a true AMERICAN hero. You guided this country on a path of greatness that has withered away over the years and sadly left us without any heroes. John Glenn, a very Happy Birthday and thank you for all you accomplished for mankind.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  28. Mary F Huston

    Thank You for inspiring the Generations! Reinstate the Space shuttle Program!!!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  29. cathy clark

    Thank You for helping bring the space race into my world. Happy Birthday!

    July 18, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  30. GG

    Happy birthday John Glenn! Your life has shown true American grit, innovation and determination. Can't believe your a democrat. Semper Fi

    July 18, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  31. gah123

    sure – flying around the earth as a space pioneer is very impressive – but did any of you see his guest stint on Frasier? OMG, the man was hilarious!!!

    Happy birthday Mr Glenn

    July 18, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  32. Ed

    Met John when he brought his Beech Baron in for service, nice guy. Cool to meet a legend.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  33. Naughtius "The Right Stuff" Maximus

    God Speed, John Glenn...

    July 18, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • David

      I Love it!

      July 18, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  34. KY Woman

    Godspeed, John Glenn! Thank you so much for all the inspiration you've provided me and countless others over the years. We're a better people because you were here.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  35. Byrd

    Happy birthday, John. Semper Fi.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  36. Mark Dyer

    A hero, and seemingly a really nice man.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  37. Fladabosco

    If you have never been to the Smithsonian and stood next to the Friendship 7 you have no idea how brave this dude is. It reminded me of a Volkswagen bug but it's smaller! It's barely six feet wide. I can't imagine being strapped inside that thing atop a nine story tall Atlas rocket and blasted into space. You can see the rivets! It looks like a high school auto shop project!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  38. bosko

    He finished in third place. Yuri Gagarin was the FIRST human in outer space, followed by German Titov. Being the first American is meaningless. Now Neil Armstrong was the FIRST human on the moon and Americans can be proud of that. Besides, Glenn was always a goodygoody twerp. The other first seven astronauts were cooler people.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Dave

      That Goodygoody image was forcedon him by NASA and the government to keep their polished pilot image from ever making a mistake or getting tarnished. He was as good as the rest and they are all superior not knowing what would happen if they ventured outside earths atmosphere and return.

      July 18, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • hadenough

      No human has ever set foot on the moon. Moon landing was just BS from our government

      July 18, 2011 at 11:04 am |
      • Aletheya

        hadenough – I guess you don't mind publicly posting your stupidity, eh?

        July 18, 2011 at 11:44 am |
      • Marine!

        No, no, Aletheya, hadenough is correct. The landing was filmed on the grassy knoll.

        Jack Ruby and Guy Banister were in the suits. Capcom was an Oswald look-alike.

        July 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Osobien

      And your contribution to anything would be??? Oh yes, your caustic comments. Good job bosko. Keep it up. On your 90th birthday we will all be here to comment on that occasion.

      July 18, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • David

      Hey Bosko... go have some more chocolate milk...

      July 18, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Josh

      Not really. After the Soviet Union disintegrated, we found the truth that Gagarin failed to meet the criteria for claiming to be the first "man in space". Part of the agreed upon (set forth in an international treaty) definition of being the first "man in space", REQUIRED the man safely return back to the ground WITH HIS SPACECRAFT. Gagarin did NOT return with his spacecraft, but instead jettisoned out and parachuted down separately. His actual capsule was destroyed on impact. The Soviets then brought in a new capsule, and had Gagarin stand next to for photos.

      July 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
      • nyepx

        ha ha! and we found that americans have never been in space, but good at making movies in Hollywood including about Glenn and about US mission to the moon where they have never been. Thnk you mr. Stanley Kubrick for your "US space program," filmed in the halls of Hollywood😉

        July 19, 2011 at 4:00 am |
  39. Howard

    Happy 90th, Senator. You are and always have been a genuine American hero. Sadly, it's been too long since we've had another like you. Best wishes to you and your lovely wife, Annie.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  40. williamjones

    Congratulations on America's last great HERO

    July 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • JustThinkinOutloud

      What about Batman??

      July 18, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  41. nyepx

    Happy Birthday, Mr. First After Russian Gagarin!😉

    July 18, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Josh

      Not really. After the Soviet Union disintegrated, we found the truth that Gagarin failed to meet the criteria for claiming to be the first "man in space".

      July 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  42. Jon Stamos

    Godspeed John Glenn!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  43. TheMovieFan

    Happy Birthday, John Glenn...and thank you so much for all you have done for this country.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  44. rex

    Awesome! Someday when I grow up I ant to be just like you!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  45. michael smith

    I was born in 1969 and have been in awe of the pioneers as far back as I can remember. I have an autographed photo I saved from a rent house clean up, been a treasure to me for 15 years plus. God Bless You Sir, Happy birthday and GOD Speed ...

    July 18, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  46. TheaOH

    Wishing you a very Happy Birthday, Senator! You've made all of us in Ohio so very proud.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  47. john j good

    i was a cub scout with the rank of bear when you first flew. your work at nasa and the examples you displayed were a huge influance on my life, you were my hero.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  48. Rstuff

    Happy Birthday and God Bless you John Glenn.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  49. cogman62

    Happy Birthday to you sir! My parents gave me the middle name "Glenn" after you. You have always been someone I've looked up to all my life. Even became a pilot just like my hero.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Tina

      Big shoes to fill... Congrats...I like Happy Beginnings...and Endings

      July 19, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  50. Cori

    Happy Birthday, Sir. You have always been one of my heros🙂

    July 18, 2011 at 9:58 am |

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