March 18th

John C. Calhoun, National Portrait Gallery
John C. Calhoun, National Portrait Gallery

Today is the birthdate of John Caldwell Calhoun, born March 18, 1782, in Abbeville, South Carolina. Calhoun was the 7th Vice President of the United States, serving under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He was the 16th Secretary of State, serving President John Tyler. He was the 10th Secretary of War, serving President James Monroe. He was twice United States Senator. He was a U.S. Representative, 1811-1817. Early in his political career, Calhoun was a nationalist. After 1840, he was an ardent states-rightist. Slavery corrupted Calhoun every bit as much as it did the most brutal slave-trader or overseer.

Grover Cleveland, "Grover the Good," National Portrait Gallery
Grover Cleveland, “Grover the Good,” National Portrait Gallery

Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, on this date in 1837. Cleveland was elected in 1884 and 1892. He also had the most popular votes in 1888, but as we know, the winner of the popular vote isn’t always elected. Cleveland was a pro-business Democrat, somewhat a reformer, known for his honesty. Republicans found that Cleveland had fathered a child outside of marriage while a lawyer in Buffalo, New York, a decade earlier. He was greeted with chants “Ma, ma, where’s my pa?” Cleveland admitted he had paid the woman child support (though whether he actually was the father is uncertain). After the election the chant became, “Ma, ma, where’s my pa? Gone to the White House, ha ha ha.”

Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister known for his appeasement of Hitler before World War II, was born on March 18, 1869. Chamberlain, a Conservative, was prime minister from May 1937 to May 1940. He was succeeded by Winston Churchill. The concessions with Hitler were signed at Munich in September 1938. It permitted the German annexation of the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland.

The actor Edward Everett Horton was born on March 18, 1886. Horton’s career lasted from 1906-1970. Primarily a supporting character actor, he was in many films with Fred Astaire. Horton was the narrator of “Fractured Fairy Tales” on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Ernest Gallo was born on this date in 1909. With his brother Julio he founded the Gallo Winery in 1933 with $5,900. Ernest Gallo was a billionaire when he died in 2007. His wife of 62 years was Amelia Franzia.

Andy Granatelli would have been 91 today. Granatelli was a major player in auto racing and CEO of STP. He died in December.

Charlie Pride is 76. The country singer will appear in Albuquerque next month (Isleta).

Wilson Pickett would have been 73 today; he died in 2006.

Wilson Pickett brought the gruff, throaty power of his gospel-trained voice to bear on some of the most incendiary soul music of the Sixties. Some of his best work, including “In the Midnight Hour” and “634-5789,” was cut in the mid-Sixties at Stax studios in Memphis and released on Atlantic Records. Pickett also connected with the crew of house musicians at Muscle Shoals, where, beginning in 1966, he cut such memorable soul smashes as “Land of 1,000 Dances,” “Mustang Sally” and “Funky Broadway.” Pickett enjoyed a steady run of hits on Atlantic, leaving behind a legacy of some of the deepest, funkiest soul music ever to emerge from the South.

Pickett’s forceful style was nurtured in the Baptist choirs of his native Prattville, Alabama, and on the streets of Detroit, where he moved with his family as a teenager.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s is 63 today. Queen Latifah (Dana Elaine Owens) is 44.