Jack Klugman is 88. Casey Kasem is 78.
Ulysses Grant was born on this date in 1822.
He had previously rejected requests to write about his experience as a Civil War general. Now he desperately needed the money. Mark Twain offered him 75 percent of the profits if Grant would publish with Twain’s newly started publishing house.
But by that time, Grant had also been diagnosed with throat cancer and his health deteriorated rapidly. He realized that he didn’t have long to live, and wrote his memoirs as fast as he could. In extreme pain, and in a daze from pain medication, he still managed to write 275,000 words in less than a year. In the last few weeks of his illness, he couldn’t even speak, but he kept writing and revising, and checking everything he wrote against the official records to make sure it was all factual. He finished his memoirs in July 1885, and died four days later.
Grant’s book did not appear in bookstores, but was sold by subscription, and it was Mark Twain’s idea to send out former Union soldiers, in uniform, to sell the subscriptions door to door across the country. The book eventually sold more than 300,000 copies. It provided Grant’s family with $450,000 in royalties, the largest amount of royalties that had ever been paid out for a book at that point in history.
Critics and writers of the time were shocked at how well Grant wrote. His book Personal Memoirs (1885) is one of the few books ever written by an American president that qualifies as great literature.
[I]t will be seen that Grant was a modest man, a simple man, a man believing in the honesty of his fellows, true to his friends, faithful to traditions, and of great personal honor. When the United States District Court in Richmond was about to indict Gen. Lee and myself for treason, Gen. Grant interposed and said: “I have pledged my word for their safety.” This stopped the wholesale indictments of ex-Confederate officers which would have followed. He was thoroughly magnanimous, was above all petty things and small ideas, and, after Washington, was the highest type of manhood America has produced.
Quotation from obituary in The New York Times
Walter Lantz was born 111 years ago today (1899). Lantz was the creator of such animated characters as Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, Wally Walrus and the greatest cartoon character of them all, Woody Woodpecker. Lantz was nominated for the Academy Award 10 times. He received the Academy’s Life-Time Achievement Award in 1979.
Click on the image above to visit The Walter Lantz Cartune Encyclopedia for audio and video clips and lots of other goodies.
Samuel F. B. Morse was born on April 27, 1791.
When a scarcity of commissions led Samuel Morse to reconsider his career as an artist, he turned from painting to pursue his earlier interest in inventing. In 1832, he conceived a plan for an electromagnetic recording telegraph and dedicated his energies to developing a working model for his invention.
When Morse applied for a patent in 1840, he had succeeded in devising a relay system for transmitting messages over long distances and had created the practical transmission code that bears his name.
Perhaps the game’s most proficient right-handed hitter, Rogers Hornsby captured seven batting titles — including six in a row — topping .400 three times. A complete player with a fierce passion for the game, Hornsby’s .424 mark in 1924 is a National League record for the 20th century and his career average of .359 is the highest ever in the National League. The Rajah, a two-time MVP and two-time Triple Crown winner, was the player-manager of the Cardinals’ first World Championship team in 1926 and was the first National League player to hit 300 home runs.