April 8th Should Be a National Holiday

It’s Robin Wright’s birthday. She’s 48 today.

Seymour Hersh is 77.

John Havlicek is 74.

While aptly described as soft-spoken and modest, John Havlicek is regarded as the best sixth man in NBA history. “Hondo” who popularized the integral role of the sixth man, was a collegiate star at Ohio State. An All-America and All-Big Ten selection in 1962, Hondo teamed with Larry Siegfried and fellow Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and Bob Knight to land Ohio State the 1960 NCAA Championship. Havlicek combined his running ability and endurance to establish a style of constant movement on offense and defense that frustrated opponents and added to the Boston Celtics’ magic. From the day he arrived in Boston, Havlicek was a scoring threat, and became the first player to score 1,000 points in sixteen consecutive seasons. During his sixteen years with the Boston Celtics, coach Red Auerbach described Havlicek as the “guts of the team.”

Basketball Hall of Fame

Barbara Kingsolver is 59.

Gladys Marie Smith was born on this date in 1892. We know her as Mary Pickford. Miss Pickford won the Oscar for best actress for Coquette. The first big female movie star, Pickford was an industry leader as well, helping found United Artists and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Jim “Catfish” Hunter was born on this date in 1946.

The bigger the game, the better he pitched. Jim “Catfish” Hunter, with his pinpoint control, epitomized smart pitching at its finest. He pitched a perfect game in 1968, won 21 or more games five times in a row, and claimed the American League Cy Young Award in 1974. Arm trouble ended his career at age 33, but he still won 224 games and five World Series rings. The likable pitching ace died in 1999 at age 53 – a victim of ALS, the same disease that cut short the life of Lou Gehrig.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Hunter died in 1999. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Perhaps it should be renamed Lou Gehrig’s and Catfish Hunter’s disease.

Gary Carter, who died in 2012, was born on this date in 1954.

A rugged receiver and enthusiastic on-field general, Gary Carter excelled at one of baseball’s most demanding positions, as both as offensive and defensive force. A three-time Gold Glove Award winner, Carter belted 324 home runs in his 19-season major league career. “Kid” showed a knack for the big-time, twice earning All-Star Game MVP awards in his 11 selections. His clutch 10th-inning single in Game Six of the 1986 World Series sparked a dramatic Mets’ comeback victory, ultimately leading to a World Series title.

National Baseball Hall of Fame

Edgar Y. (Yip) Harburg was born on this date in 1896. One of the great lyricists, Harburg would be loved by us all if only for —

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true

Some day I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why oh why can’t I?

The Harburg Foundation provides this biographical sketch:

Edgar Y. (Yip) Harburg (1896-1981) was born of Russian-Jewish immigrant parents of modest means on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He attended the City University of New York. In high school (Townsand Harris) he met his lifelong friend, Ira Gershwin and discovered that they shared a mutual love for the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Yip and Ira were frequent contributors of poetry and light verse to their high school and college papers.

The years after college found Yip slipping further away from writing and eventually into the world of business. After the electric appliance business Yip had helped develop over seven long years was decimated by the stock market crash of 1929, Yip turned his attention back full time to the art of writing lyrics. His old friend Ira Gershwin became a mentor, co-writer and promoter of Yip’s.

Mr. Harburg’s Broadway achievements included Bloomer Girl, Finnian’s Rainbow, Flahooley and Jamaica.

His most noted work in film musicals was in The Wizard of OZ for which he wrote lyrics, was the final editor and contributed much to the script (including the scene at the end where the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion are rewarded for their efforts by the Wizard). He also wrote lyrics for the Warner Brothers movie, Gay Purr-ee.

Yip was “blacklisted” during the 50′s by film, radio and television for his liberal views.

In all, Yip wrote lyrics to 537 songs including; “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”, “April In Paris”, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, “Hurry Sundown”, “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”, “How Are Things In Glocca Mora” and of course his most famous… “Over the Rainbow”.