Lucille Ball was born on this date in 1911. NewMexiKen once read that Ms. Ball’s image had been seen more times by more people than that of any other person in history.
Miss Ball, noted for impeccable timing, deft pantomime and an endearing talent for making the outrageous believable, was a Hollywood legend: a contract player at RKO in the 1930’s and 40’s who later bought the studio with Desi Arnaz, her first husband.
. . .
The elastic-faced, husky-voiced comedian was a national institution from 1951 to 1974 in three series and many specials on television that centered on her ”Lucy” character. The first series, ”I Love Lucy,” was for six years the most successful comedy series on television, never ranking lower than third. The series, on CBS, chronicled the life of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, a Cuban band leader played by Mr. Arnaz, who was Miss Ball’s husband on and off screen for nearly 20 years.
I recently saw an early Three Stooges film with Lucille Ball in a bit part.
If Lucy isn’t enough for a holiday, how about Andy Warhol? He was born Andrew Warhola on this date 81 years ago.
His father was a Czechoslovakian immigrant and a coal miner. His mother was extremely protective, and she let him spend all his time as a child drawing copies of Maybelline advertisements.
He got a job as an advertising illustrator in New York City in the 1950s, but he wanted to be a serious artist. One day, he got the idea to start painting pictures of advertisements, movie stars, and other popular images. He made silk-screened pictures of Campbell’s soup cans and sculptures of Brillo boxes, and his style became known as Pop Art.
Though he was surrounded by hard-partying rock stars and artists, he lived with his mother, and he went to a Catholic church almost every Sunday. His friends said that he never took drugs and only drank occasionally.
Or maybe one of America’s foremost historians, Richard Hofstadter, born on this date in 1916. Sam Tanenhaus, writing three years ago in a review of a Hofstadter biography:
At his death in 1970, Richard Hofstadter was probably this country’s most renowned historian, best known as the originator of the “consensus” school, whose measured siftings of the American past de-emphasized conflict — whether economic, regional or ideological — and highlighted instead the nation’s long tradition of shared ideas, principles and values.
This school had a limited shelf life, but Hofstadter’s work has outlived it, owing to the clarity and nuance of his thought and his talent for drawing parallels between disparate episodes in our national narrative, almost always bringing the argument around to the concerns of midcentury America. “I know it is risky,” he acknowledged in 1960, “but I still write history out of my engagement with the present.” The gamble, of course, was whether questions so pressing in his time would continue to engage later generations. To a remarkable extent they have, and so Hofstadter remains relevant — in some respects more relevant than ever.
M. Night Shyamalan is 39 today. David Robinson is 44.