December 9th Ought to Be a National Holiday

Kirk Douglas is 99 today. The three-time Oscar nominee was born Issur Danielovitch Demsky in Amsterdam, New York.

The 10 Best Kirk Douglas Movies

NewMexiKen’s favorite Douglas performance is in Lonely Are the Brave. “Filmed on location in New Mexico, Lonely are the Brave was adapted by Dalton Trumbo from Edward Abbey’s novel Brave Cowboy.”

Dame Judith Olivia “Judi” Dench is 81.

Lloyd Vernet “Beau” Bridges III, Jeff’s big brother, is 74 today. No Oscars for Beau, but he has three wins from 10 Emmy nominations.

John Malkovich, a two-time Oscar nominee, is 62.

The actor Broderick Crawford was born 104 years ago today. Crawford won the best actor Oscar in 1950 for his portrayal of politician Willie Stark in All the King’s Men. He has 141 acting credits at IMDb.

The actor Lee J. Cobb was born 104 years ago today as well. Cobb was twice nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar: On the Waterfront and The Brothers Karamazov. I thing he was superb as Juror #3 in 12 Angry Men. He has 104 acting credits listed on IMDb.

The screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo was born in Montrose, Colorado, 109 years ago today. Trumbo was nominated for three writing Oscars, winning twice, for Roman Holiday and The Brave One. Because he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, both Oscars were awarded to fronts. The records were changed only years later after Otto Preminger and Kirk Douglas fought the blacklisting and credited Trumbo’s screenwriting for Exodus and Spartacus respectively. Trumbo’s novel Johnny Got His Gun is a classic that everyone should read.

Emmett Kelly

The famed circus clown Emmett Kelly was born on December 9, 1898. Kelly was known for his character Weary Willie, in makeup as a bum sweeping up. His was a revolutionary character; clowns always appeared in white face before Kelly. He was a star performer with Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Grace Hopper was born in New York City 109 years ago today.

She began tinkering around with machines when she was seven years old, dismantling several alarm clocks around the house to see how they worked. She studied math and physics in college, and eventually got a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale.

Then World War II broke out, and Hopper wanted to serve her country. Her father had been an admiral in the Navy, so she applied to a division of the Navy called WAVES, which stood for Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. They turned her down at first[;] they said she was too old at 35, and that she didn’t weigh enough, at 105 pounds. But she wouldn’t give up, and they eventually accepted her. With her math skills, she was assigned to work on a machine that might help calculate the trajectory of bombs and rockets.

Hopper learned how to program that early computing machine, and wrote the first instruction manual for its use. And she went on to help write an early computer language known as COBOL — “Common Business-Oriented Language.” She remained in the Navy, and eventually she became the first woman ever promoted to rear admiral.

The Writers Almanac from American Public Media (2006)

Clarence Birdseye was born on this date in 1886. Birdseye, fishing with Inuit in the Arctic, observed that fish flash frozen at Arctic temperatures, when thawed, tasted much better and fresher than fish frozen at higher temperatures, as was being done commercially. That is, Birdseye came up with the approach that made frozen food acceptable. The company he founded eventually became General Foods.