Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Eli Wallach. This from his Times obituary in 2014:
A self-styled journeyman actor, the versatile Mr. Wallach appeared in scores of roles, often with his wife, Anne Jackson. No matter the part, he always seemed at ease and in control, whether playing a Mexican bandit in the 1960 western “The Magnificent Seven,” a bumbling clerk in Ionesco’s allegorical play “Rhinoceros,” a henpecked French general in Jean Anouilh’s “Waltz of the Toreadors,” Clark Gable’s sidekick in “The Misfits” or a Mafia don in “The Godfather: Part III.”
Despite his many years of film work, some of it critically acclaimed, Mr. Wallach was never nominated for an Academy Award. But in November 2010, less than a month before his 95th birthday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded him an honorary Oscar, saluting him as “the quintessential chameleon, effortlessly inhabiting a wide range of characters, while putting his inimitable stamp on every role.”
Willa Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virginia, on this date in 1873. The following is from her New York Times obituary in 1947.
One of the most distinguished of American novelists, Willa Sibert Cather wrote a dozen or more novels that will be long remembered for their exquisite economy and charm of manner. Her talent had its nourishment and inspiration in the American scene, the Middle West in particular, and her sensitive and patient understanding of that section of the country formed the basis of her work.
Much of her writing was conceived in something of an attitude of placid reminiscence. This was notably true of such early novels as “My Antonia” and “O Pioneers!” in which she told with minute detail of homestead life on the slowly conquered prairies.
Perhaps her most famous book was “A Lost Lady,” published in 1923. In it Miss Cather’s talents were said to have reached their full maturity. It is the story of the Middle West in the age of railway-building, of the charming wife of Captain Forrester, a retired contractor, and her hospitable and open-handed household as seen through the eyes of an adoring boy. The climax of the book, with the disintegration of the Forrester household and the slow coarsening of his wife, is considered a masterpiece of vivid, haunting prose.
Another of her famous books is “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” 1927, in which she tells in the form of a chronicle a simple story of two saints of the Southwest. Her novel, “One of Ours,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1922.
Richard Warren Sears was born December 7, 1863, in Stewartville, Minnesota. In 1886, seeking to make some extra money, he took a number of watches on consignment and sold them all to fellow railroad stations agents. Within six months he quit the railroad and formed the R.W. Sears Watch Company, a mail-order business. He joined with watch repairman Alvah C. Roebuck the next year. Sears, Roebuck and Co. moved to Chicago in 1893.
Today is the birthday also
… of Ellen Burstyn. Alice is 83. Ms. Burstyn has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress five times, winning for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore in 1975. She was also nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Last Picture Show.
… of Johnny Bench. The Hall of Fame catcher is 68.
As one of the most impressive defensive catchers, Johnny Bench was also considered to be an outstanding hitter. A durable catcher, noted for his excellent baseball intelligence, Bench won 10 Gold Glove Awards, two Most Valuable Player Awards and the Rookie of the Year Award during his 17-year National League career. A skilled hitter, the 14-time All-Star selection belted 389 home runs and led the league in RBIs three times as a leader of the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970s.
… of Tom Waits. He’s 66. His voice is 138.
… of Larry Bird. The Basketball Hall of Famer is 59.
Harry Chapin was born on this date in 1942. He died in 1981. “Cat’s in the Cradle” was his only number one song.
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then