One of just 13 men to win baseball’s triple crown (with Baltimore in 1966), Frank Robinson is 77 today. A few of the others: Cobb, Hornsby (twice), Foxx, Gehrig, Williams (twice), Mantle. The last, Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Frank Robinson was one of baseball’s great gamers. As Rookie of the Year in 1956 and an MVP in both leagues (with the Reds in 1961 and the Orioles in ’66), he developed a reputation as an aggressive outfielder and hard-charging baserunner. The American League Triple Crown winner in 1966, Robinson amassed 586 home runs and ended his career just 57 hits shy of the 3,000-hit club. His intelligence and leadership helped him become the Major Leagues’ first African-American field manager in 1975, when he skippered the Cleveland Indians.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Van Morrison is 67 today.
One of the greatest singers of all time, Van Morrison has been following his muse in an uncompromising way since the early Sixties. His career has been a model of artistic consistency and workmanlike devotion. He has explored soul, jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, rock and roll, Celtic folk, pop balladry and more, forging a distinctive amalgam that has Morrison’s unvarnished passion at its core. He has referred to his music as “Caledonia soul,” reflecting his deep immersion in American roots music and Irish mysticism.
Violinist Itzhak Perlman is also 67 today.
New York Giants Coach Tom Coughlin is 66.
Richard Gere is 63. No Oscar nominations for Gere, but his actual middle name is Tiffany.
Two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner Edwin Moses is 57 today. Moses set the world record in the 400-meter hurdles four different times.
Five time Oscar nominee for best actor, two time winner, Frederic March was born on the last day of August in 1897. March won for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1931 and The Best Years of Our Lives in 1946, an incredible performance and film.
Radio and television performer Arthur Godfrey was born on the last day of August in 1903. Godfrey, seemingly forgotten now, was one of the biggest stars of early television.
Arthur Godfrey ranks as one of the important on-air stars of the first decade of American television. Indeed prior to 1959 there was no bigger TV luminary than this freckled faced, ukelele playing, host/pitchman. Through most of the decade of the 1950s Godfrey hosted a daily radio program and appeared in two top-ten prime time television shows, all for CBS. As the new medium was invading American households, there was something about Godfrey’s wide grin, his infectious chuckle, his unruly shock of red hair that made millions tune in not once, but twice a week.
The esteemed New Yorker editor William Shawn was born on the last day of August in 1907. His actual name is William Chon. Before The New Yorker, Shawn worked briefly at the Las Vegas, New Mexico, Optic.
Four days before he died in 1992, Shawn had lunch with Lillian Ross, and she showed him a book cover blurb she had written and asked if he would check it. She later wrote of that day, “He took out the mechanical pencil he always carried in his inside jacket pocket, and … made his characteristically neat proofreading marks on a sentence that said ‘the book remains as fresh and unique as ever.’ He changed it to read, ‘remains unique and as fresh as ever.’ ‘There are no degrees of uniqueness,’ Mr. Shawn said politely.”
The Writer’s Almanac (2006)
The lyricist Alan Jay Lerner was born on the last day of August in 1918.
But Lerner and Loewe’s biggest success was a musical version of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion: My Fair Lady, which premiered on Broadway on March 15, 1956. In that musical’s most famous song, Professor Henry Higgins teaches Eliza Doolittle to properly pronounce the phrase “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” Lerner spent six weeks working on most of the songs in the musical, but he wrote “The Rain in Spain” in 10 minutes.
The Writer’s Almanac (2007)
Maria Montessori was born in Chiaravalle, Italy, on the last day of August in 1870.
Mary Ann Nichols, a prostitute, was found murdered in London’s East End on August 31, 1888. She is generally regarded as the first victim of Jack the Ripper.
Princess Diana died 15 years ago today.