When it comes to who has the rarest birthday, leap day babies have no competition. They were born on February 29—the date that gets tacked onto the end of the second month whenever a leap year occurs once every four years. So instead of celebrating their birthday once every 365 days, members of this group have to wait 1461 days for the true date of their birth to appear on the calendar.
People born on a leap day represent less than 0.1 percent of the world’s population. Of that already tiny demographic, and even smaller number of leap day babies have grown up to become famous entertainers, leaders, and athletes. From Al Rosen to Ja Rule, here are 10 of the most notable celebrities and historical figures born on February 29.
1. Ja Rule
Ja Rule was born in New York City on a leap day in 1976. Though he’ll be turning 48 years old this year, the rapper is technically celebrating his 12th birthday in 2024. For his “10th birthday” party two leap years ago in 2016, he kicked off his Las Vegas residency at the Foxtail Nightclub.
2. Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins, who was born on February 29, 1960, is best known as a motivational speaker and the author of Awaken the Giant Within. He’s also a famous leap day baby. In 2024, he’ll be turning 64 on what’s technically his 16th birthday. That’s a long time to wait to celebrate your sweet 16.
3. Peter Scanavino
Peter Scanavino got his big break playing Dominick "Sonny" Carisi, Jr. on Law and Order: SVU. He was born on a leap day in 1980, which means the 44-year-old actor will be marking his 11th birthday on February 29, 2024.
4. Mark Foster
February 29, 2024, marks a major milestone for musical artist Mark Foster. In addition to turning 40 years old, he will also get to celebrate his actual birthday, which he's had the opportunity to do just nine times in the past. The Foster the People frontman was born on a leap day in 1984.
5. Morarji Desai
The former prime minister of India was born on February 29, 1896, and died on April 10, 1995. Despite living to the age of 99, Morarji Desai marked just 24 birthdays while he was alive. Because he was born during Holi, Desai chose to celebrate his birthday on the Indian holy day instead of waiting for a leap day every four years.
6. Dinah Shore
Dinah Shore achieved stardom as a singer and television personality during the 1940s and ‘50s. She was also a famous leap day baby, having been born on February 29 in 1916. She died at age 77 in 1994 after celebrating 19 birthdays.
7. Gioacchino Rossini
The famous opera The Barber of Seville was composed by a leap day baby. Gioacchino Rossini was born in Italy on February 29, 1792, and showed talent from a young age. William Tell and Cinderella are some of the other titles in his impressive body of work, which comprises 39 operas. He died in 1868, which also happened to be a leap year.
8. Pope Paul III
The Catholic Church has seen 266 popes, and only one that we know of was born on February 29. On top of coming into the world on a leap day in 1486, Pope Paul III was notable for being the last Renaissance pope. The modern Gregorian calendar was established by a different pope—Gregory XIII—in 1582. While his version overhauled the leap year system, the calendrical quirk was already being observed in Paul III’s time.
9. Alex Rocco
Though he’s best known for playing Moe Greene in The Godfather (1972), Alex Rocco had a long and varied screen career. He won the 1990 Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy for his work on The Famous Teddy Z, and he lent his vocal talents to The Simpsons. He was born on a leap day in 1936 and died in 2015.
10. Al Rosen
Al Rosen's 10-year run as Cleveland’s third baseman solidified him as an MLB legend. In 1953, he became the American League’s MVP with 43 home runs and 145 RBI. Here’s another impressive stat: Al Rosen celebrated just 22 birthdays despite living to be 91. He was born on February 29, 1924, and died in 2015.
11. Jack Lousma
When Jack Lousma celebrates his birthday on February 29, 2024, he’ll be 88 years young. The date marks the 22nd birthday the NASA astronaut has seen in his lifetime. Lousma spent more than 1600 hours in space during his career, which makes the question of his age even more complicated. Due to the time-dilating effects of relativity, people actually age slower in space than they do on Earth.
12. Cameron Ward
The NHL’s most famous leap year baby was born on February 29, 1984. For most of his career, Cam Ward was a goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes, and in 2019 he officially retired from ice hockey. In 2024 the athlete will celebrate what’s technically his 10th birthday after 40 years on Earth.