Today is the birthday
… of Andre Previn. The composer-conducter and 13-time Oscar nominee — he won for Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Irma la Douce and My Fair Lady — is 85. Previn was married to Mia Farrow for most of the 1970s. They had three children and adopted three more.
… of Merle Haggard. The Country Music Hall of Fame inductee is 77.
Haggard has recorded more than 600 songs, about 250 of them his own compositions. (He often shares writing credits as gestures of financial and personal largess.) He has had thirty-eight #1 songs, and his “Today I Started Loving You Again” (Capitol, 1968) has been recorded by nearly 400 other artists.
In addition, Haggard is an accomplished instrumentalist, playing a commendable fiddle and a to-be-reckoned-with lead guitar. He and the Strangers played for Richard Nixon at the White House in 1973, at a barbecue on the Reagan ranch in 1982, at Washington’s Kennedy Center, and 60,000 miles from earth—courtesy of astronaut Charles Duke, who brought a tape aboard Apollo 16 in 1972. Haggard has won numerous CMA and ACM Awards including both organizations’ 1970 Entertainer of the Year awards, been nominated for scores of others, was elected to the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in 1977, and won Country Music Hall of Fame membership in 1994. In 1984 he won a Grammy in the Best Country Vocal Performance, Male category for “That’s the Way Love Goes.”
… of Billy Dee Williams. Lando Calrissian is 77: “There’s always been a lot of misunderstanding about Lando’s character. I used to pick up my daughter from elementary school and get into arguments with little children who would accuse me of betraying Han Solo.” Williams played Gale Sayers in the classic 1971 TV movie Brian’s Song.
… of Barry Levinson. The six-time Oscar nominee (writing, directing) won for best director for Rain Man. Other films: Diner, The Natural, Good Morning, Vietnam, Bugsy. He’s 72.
… of John Ratzenberger. Best known as Cliff Clavin the mailman on Cheers, Ratzenberger is also the voice of Hamm the Piggy Bank in the Toy Story movies and Yeti in Monsters, Inc. Ratzenberger is 67.
… of Jason Hervey. Wayne Arnold of “The Wonder Years” is 42.
… of Zach Braff of Scrubs. He’s 39 today.
Oscar-winner and four-time nominee Walter Huston was born on this date in 1884. Huston won Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, one of the great performances. Walter was the father of John and grandfather of Anjelica.