Larry King, 82.
Dick Cavett. He’s 79.
Ted Turner, 77.
Ann Curry. She’s 59.
Jodie Foster, 53.
Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella was born on November 19, 1921.
A star with both the bat and glove, Roy Campanella was agile behind the plate, had a rifle arm and was an expert at handling pitchers. He was named National League MVP three times, including a 1953 selection when he set single-season records for catchers with 41 homers and a National League best 142 RBI. Before signing with the Dodgers, the broad-shouldered receiver starred with the Negro National Leagues’ Baltimore Elite Giants for seven seasons. His career was cut short by a tragic auto accident prior to the 1958 season.
Bandleader and trombonist Tommy Dorsey was born on November 19, 1905.
Though he might have been ranked second at any given moment to Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, or Harry James, Tommy Dorsey was overall the most popular bandleader of the swing era that lasted from 1935 to 1945. His remarkably melodic trombone playing was the signature sound of his orchestra, but he successfully straddled the hot and sweet styles of swing with a mix of ballads and novelty songs. He provided showcases to vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Jo Stafford, and he employed inventive arrangers such as Sy Oliver and Bill Finegan. [Dorsey] was the biggest-selling artist in the history of RCA Victor Records, one of the major labels, until the arrival of Elvis Presley, who was first given national exposure on the 1950s television show [Tommy Dorsey] hosted with his brother Jimmy.
Evangelist Billy Sunday was born on November 19, 1862. Sunday played professional baseball for the Chicago White Stockings, Pittsburgh Alleghenies and Philadelphia Phillies 1883-1890. Following a conversion in 1886, Sunday became the most influential preacher of the era.
In the early 1900s, Billy Sunday sold what was then a unique brand of muscular, testosterone-laden Christianity.
Today, ministers in some of the country’s largest churches preach in shirtsleeves and talk about God in terms of football or golf. Billy Sunday was one of the first to do this. He was a professional baseball player turned tent preacher who became the richest and most influential preacher of his time.
. . .
Sunday, says Martin, was “one of the most acrobatic evangelists of the age.” One newspaper columnist at the time estimated that Sunday traveled about a mile during each sermon.
“I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fist less and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!”
James Garfield, the 20th president of the United States, was born on this date in 1831. He was assassinated two months before his 50th birthday.
But James A. Garfield – president for less than four months before he was shot is 1881 – is for most Americans an historical footnote.
And that, says author Candice Millard, is a great shame.
“He was without question one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president,” she told Rocca. “He was absolutely brilliant. He was born into incredible poverty – the last of the ‘log cabin presidents.’ His father died before he was two years old, so to put himself through college his first year, he was a janitor and a carpenter. By his second year they made him assistant professor of literature and ancient languages.
“By the time he was 26 he was his college’s president. He had just an off-the-charts mind.”
His loss is all the more heartbreaking because Garfield (Millard writes in a new book) didn’t need to die – even after he was shot.
Millard’s Destiny of the Republic about Garfield’s death is first-rate, an excellent read.