Cantinflas, the great Mexican comedian, acrobat and musician — and bullfighter — was born 103 years ago today. His actual name was Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes. Cantinflas appeared in more than 50 films, most famously as Passepartout in Michael Todd’s 1956 Around the World in Eighty Days. In English-speaking countries, David Niven was billed as the star. Elsewhere Cantinflas took top billing — he was the highest paid actor in the world at the time. He saved the movie from the stiff Niven if you ask me.
William Goldman is 83 today. He won Oscars for best original screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and best adapted screenplay for All the President’s Men. Other screenplays he has written include The Princess Bride, adapted from his own novel, Heat, Harper, Maverick and Marathon Man.
Parnelli Jones is 81 today. Jones won the Indianapolis 500 in 1963.
George Hamilton is 75 today.
Mark Knopfler is 65. Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
Pete Sampras is 43.
Katharine Lee Bates was born on this date in 1859. A poet, she is best remembered for the words to “America the Beautiful,” first published in 1895 and refined until 1913. She had been to the top of Pikes Peak in 1893.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
If you know anything about mythology you probably first learned about it from Edith Hamilton, born on this date in 1867. Hamilton’s book Mythology, written after she had retired as a school head mistress, was published in 1942.
Christy Mathewson was born on this date in 1880. Mathewson was one of the original five inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 — with Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson. Mathewson had died in 1925.
As charismatic and popular as any player in the early 1900s, the college-educated Christy Mathewson won 373 games over 17 seasons, primarily for the New York Giants. Using his famous fadeaway pitch, Matty won at least 22 games for 12 straight years beginning in 1903, winning 30 games or more four times. A participant in four World Series, Mathewson’s lone title came in 1905 when he tossed three shutouts in six days against the Athletics. He set the modern National League mark with 37 wins in 1908.
The movie producer Cecil B. DeMille was born on August 12th in 1881. Known for his extravaganzas (e.g., The Ten Commandments), DeMille won his only Oscar for The Greatest Show on Earth (still fun to watch if you ever went to the circus under the Big Top).
Three-time Emmy winner Jane Wyatt, Margaret Anderson of Father Knows Best and Spock’s mother on Star Trek, was born 104 years ago today. Her Emmys were in 1958, 1959 and 1960. She died in 2006.
The actor, director John Derek was born on August 12, 1926 (he died in 1998). Derek’s wives included Ursula Andress, Linda Evans and Bo Derek.
Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. was born on August 12, 1929. As Buck Owens with his band the Buckaroos he had 21 number one country music hits. Owens also co-hosted the television comedy-variety show Hee Haw 1969-1986.
And it’s the birthday of Zerna Sharp, born in Hillisburg, Indiana, on this date in 1889. According to The Writer’s Almanac a few years back, Ms. Sharp is the woman who —
invented the characters Dick and Jane to help teach children how to read…Sharp’s idea was to use pictures and repetition to teach children new words. She took her idea to Dr. William S. Gray, who had been studying the way children learn to read, and he hired her to create a series of textbooks. She didn’t write the books, but she created the characters Dick, Jane, their sister Sally, their dog Spot, and their cat Puff. Each story introduced five new words, one on each page.
The IBM PC (Personal Computer) was released 33 years ago today.
Cleopatra VII Philopator committed suicide on this date in 30 B.C. She was Ptolemaic Queen of Egypt for 21 years (ruling with her two brother-husbands and her son). In addition to her two brothers, her spouses were Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. She wasn’t yet 39 when she died.