January 27th

Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart was born in Salzburg on this date in 1756. Theophilus—or Gottlieb—or Amadé means “loved by God.” As an adult Mozart signed Wolfgang Amadé Mozart or simply Mozart. In the family he was known as Wolfgangerl or Woferl.

The actor James Cromwell is 75. Cromwell was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for Babe. So the pig had the lead role?

Mikhail Baryshnikov is 67.

Chief Justice John Roberts is 60 today.

Cris Collinsworth is 56

Keith Olbermann is 56.

Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies is 54. At 29 People thought she was one of the 50 most beautiful.

Peter Fonda’s daughter — Henry Fonda’s granddaughter — Bridget is 51.

Patton Oswalt is 46.

Oscar-winner Donna Reed was born in Denison, Iowa, on January 27, 1921. She won for a supporting role in From Here to Eternity.

Donna Reed as Alma: I do mean it when I say I need you. ‘Cause I’m lonely. You think I’m lying, don’t you?
Montgomery Clift as Robert E. Lee “Prew’ Prewitt: Nobody ever lies about being lonely.

1992 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Elmore James was born on January 27th in 1918.

Bluesman Elmore James was inspired by the local performances of Robert Johnson to take up the guitar. It was, in fact, a number by Johnson (“Dust My Broom”) that became James’ signature song and laid the foundation for his recording career. First cut by James in August 1951, “Dust My Broom” contains the strongest example of his stylistic signature: a swooping, full-octave opening figure on slide guitar. His influence went beyond that one riff, however, as he’s been virtually credited with inventing blues rock by virtue of energizing primal riffs with a raw, driving intensity.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Hyman Rickover was born January 27th, 1900.

Rickover underwent submarine training between January and June 1930. His service as head of the Electrical Section in the Bureau of Ships during World War II brought him a Legion of Merit and gave him experience in directing large development programs, choosing talented technical people, and working closely with private industry.

Assigned to the Bureau of Ships in September 1947, Rickover received training in nuclear power at Oak Ridge Tennessee and worked with the bureau to explore the possibility of nuclear ship propulsion.
In February 1949 he received an assignment to the Division of Reactor Development, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and then assumed control of the Navy’s effort as Director of the Naval Reactors Branch in the Bureau of Ships. This twin role enabled him to lead the effort to develop the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN-571). The latter joined the fleet in January 1955.

Promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral by 1958, Rickover exerted tremendous personal influence over the nuclear Navy in both an engineering and cultural sense. His views touched matters of design, propulsion, education, personnel, and professional standards. In every sense, he played the role of father to the nuclear fleet, its officers, and its men.

After sixty-four years of service, Rickover retired from the Navy as a full admiral on 19 January 1982.

Naval History and Heritage Command

Jerome Kern was born on this date in 1885.

… Then he met Oscar Hammerstein II, who became a lifelong friend, and the two collaborated on Show Boat in 1927. This musical gave us the songs “Ol’ Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man.” In 1933, Kern and Hammerstein produced Roberta, which included the famous song “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”

Kern moved to Hollywood in 1935, and he enjoyed success there. He wrote “The Way You Look Tonight” for the movie Swing Time, and the song won an Academy Award. In 1941, Kern and Hammerstein wrote “The Last Time I Saw Paris” because Paris had just been occupied by Nazi Germany, and that song also won an Academy Award.

The Writer’s Almanac (2008)

Billings Learned Hand was born on this date in 1872.

Learned Hand served as a federal judge longer than any other man—52 years. His opinions were prodigious, totaled more than 2,000, covering every phase of the law from maritime liens to complicated antitrust cases. His tart observations (“Judges can be damned fools like anybody else”) were treasured. On the bench. Judge Hand was a formidable figure, a stocky man with the broad shoulders of his Kentish forebears, glittering eyes under dense brows, and craggy features that might have been carved by Gutzon Berglum. Intolerant of lawyers who strayed from the point or became too verbose. Judge Hand sent wayward attorneys scampering back to the facts with an acid query—”May I inquire, sir, what are you trying to tell us?”—or just a furious “Rubbish!”‘ Once, confronting the ferocious old judge at a Yale Law School moot court, a terrified student fainted dead away.

In writing his decisions. Hand followed the meticulous painstaking procedure that he demanded in his court. He invariably wrote three or four drafts of every opinion in longhand on yellow foolscap before the language and reasoning finally satisfied him. His opinions cut to the marrow of the issue and proceeded eloquently but rapidly to the point. Hand’s famed 28-page opinion on United States v. Aluminum Co. of America, in which he ruled that “good” monopolies had no more legality than “bad” monopolies, was distilled from 40,000 pages and four years of testimony, has been a model for every subsequent antitrust suit.

Above from Time obituary, 1961.

Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Preußen was born on this date in 1859. His mother was Victoria, Princess Royal of the United Kingdom, and his father was Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia. He was the first grandchild of Queen Victoria. Wilhelm became King of Prussia and German Emperor in 1888. He abdicated in November 1918, but lived until 1941.

And he would become two-thirds of a tweed-wearing Englishman when he was in England. Then he’d go back to Berlin and he’d become a Prussian prince dressing up in German uniforms – eventually a German emperor, with even more uniforms. He had this really split personality. But the interesting and most important thing for European diplomacy and the future of the continent – which was going to lead up to the First World War – was Wilhelm’s admiration and envy of the British navy. He was from an almost landlocked country, which didn’t have and didn’t need a navy and yet he was taught to love the sea and ships.

Robert K. Massie


“He was a symbol of a political system that was out of control. There was no one authority that actually could operate, even though the law said that he was it. So, when the time came for major decisions to make, you both have a vision that the Kaiser’s hysterical, and that he makes the decisions.

“The answer is probably both, and neither, because the real core of the German Empire is the army and the navy. They run the show before the First World War behind the scenes. They run it during the war from the Front.”

Jay Winter

Edward Smith, the captain of the RMS Titanic, was born on this date in 1850. He went down with his ship on April 15, 1912.

Samuel Gompers was born in London in 1850 and came to New York in 1863.

Samuel Gompers was the first and longest-serving president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL); it is to him, as much as to anyone else, that the American labor movement owes its structure and characteristic strategies. Under his leadership, the AFL became the largest and most influential labor federation in the world. It grew from a marginal association of 50,000 in 1886 to an established organization of nearly 3 million in 1924 that had won a permanent place in American society. In a society renowned for its individualism and the power of its employer class, he forged a self-confident workers’ organization dedicated to the principles of solidarity and mutual aid. It was a singular achievement.
. . .

As a local and national labor leader, Gompers sought to build the labor movement into a force powerful enough to transform the economic, social and political status of America’s workers. To do so, he championed three principles. First, he advocated craft or trades unionism, which restricted union membership to wage earners and grouped workers into locals based on their trade or craft identification. This approach contrasted with the effort of many in the Knights of Labor to organize general, community-based organizations open to wage earners as well as others, including employers. It also contrasted sharply with the “one big union” philosophy of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Second, Gompers believed in a pure-and-simple unionism that focused primarily on economic rather than political reform as the best way of securing workers’ rights and welfare. Gompers’s faith in legislative reform was dashed in the 1880s after the New York Supreme Court overturned two laws regulating tenement production of cigars that he had helped pass. Gompers saw that what the state gave, it could also take away. But what workers secured through their own economic power in the marketplace, no one could take away.

Third, when political action was necessary, as Gompers increasingly came to believe in his later years, he urged labor to follow a course of “political nonpartisanship.” He argued that the best way of enhancing the political leverage of labor was to articulate an independent political agenda, seek the endorsement of existing political parties for the agenda and mobilize members to vote for those supporting labor’s agenda.


Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born January 27, 1832. We know him as Lewis Carroll.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

John Chivington was born on this date in 1821.

The hero of Glorietta Pass and the butcher of Sand Creek, John M. Chivington stands out as one of the most controversial figures in the history of the American West.
. . .

When the Civil War broke out, Colorado’s territorial governor, William Gilpin, offered Chivington a commission as a chaplain, but he declined the “praying” commission and asked for a “fighting” position instead. In 1862, Chivington, by that point a Major in the first Colorado Volunteer Regiment, played a critical role in defeating confederate forces at Glorietta Pass in eastern New Mexico, where his troops rapelled down the canyon walls in a surprise attack on the enemy’s supply train. He was widely hailed as a military hero.
. . .

A month later, while addressing a gathering of church deacons, he dismissed the possibility of making a treaty with the Cheyenne: “It simply is not possible for Indians to obey or even understand any treaty. I am fully satisfied, gentlemen, that to kill them is the only way we will ever have peace and quiet in Colorado.”

Several months later, Chivington made good on his genocidal promise. During the early morning hours of November 29, 1864, he led a regiment of Colorado Volunteers to the Cheyenne’s Sand Creek reservation, where a band led by Black Kettle, a well-known “peace” chief, was encamped. Federal army officers had promised Black Kettle safety if he would return to the reservation, and he was in fact flying the American flag and a white flag of truce over his lodge, but Chivington ordered an attack on the unsuspecting village nonetheless. After hours of fighting, the Colorado volunteers had lost only 9 men in the process of murdering between 200 and 400 Cheyenne, most of them women and children. After the slaughter, they scalped and sexually mutilated many of the bodies, later exhibiting their trophies to cheering crowds in Denver.

PBS – The West

Richard Nixon

… was born in Yorba Linda, California, 102 years ago today.

Nixon Birthplace

NewMexiKen was contacted by the staff working with Richard Nixon on his memoirs, RN, many years ago. I was asked to see if I could determine — from among the Nixon papers in my custody — the time of day he was born. As I remember it, my research was inconclusive. Someone else’s must have been helpful. The memoirs begin:

I was born in a house my father built. My birth on the night of January 9, 1913, coincided with a record-breaking cold snap in our town of Yorba Linda, California.

Nixon, by the way, did not use his middle name or initial. Though you always see him referred to as Richard M. Nixon, he himself signed as Richard Nixon and he titled his memoir RN.

Man of Principle

Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, was born on this date in 1939. Davis played for Syracuse — he was on their undefeated National Championship team as a sophomore in 1959 — and wore the same number as Jim Brown, 44. He was the number one pick in the 1962 NFL draft, selected by the Washington franchise. Davis was the first African-American drafted by the Washington team, and then only under pressure from Stewart Udall who, as Secretary of the Interior, controlled the stadium where the team played. Davis refused to play for Washington, hence the trade to Cleveland. During the summer of 1962 Davis was diagnosed with acute monocytic leukemia; he died the following May.

October 22nd Really Should Be a Holiday

Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz) was born on this date in 1903. The most popular of the Three Stooges, Curly had no formal training and was often improvising. According to older brother Moe Howard, “If we were going through a scene and he’d forget his words for a moment, you know. Rather than stand, get pale and stop, you never knew what he was going to do. On one occasion he’d get down to the floor and spin around like a top until he remembered what he had to say.” It’s said Curly squandered all his money on wine, food, women, homes, cars, and especially dogs. Sounds like good choices, but they took their toll. Curly Howard died at age 48 in 1952 after a series of strokes.

“N’yuk, n’yuk, n’yuk.”

In Any Civilized Nation Today Would Be a Holiday

Two country music immortals were born on September 8th.

Jimmie Rodgers, considered the “Father of Country Music,” was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on September 8, 1897. He died from TB in 1933. Jimmie Rodgers was the first person inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

James Charles Rodgers, known professionally as the Singing Brakeman and America’s Blue Yodeler, was the first performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was honored as the Father of Country Music, “the man who started it all.” From many diverse elements—the traditional melodies and folk music of his southern upbringing, early jazz, stage show yodeling, the work chants of railroad section crews and, most importantly, African-American blues—Rodgers evolved a lasting musical style which made him immensely popular in his own time and a major influence on generations of country artists.

Blue Yodel No. 9

Patsy Cline, the most popular female country singer in recording history, was born in Winchester, Virginia, on September 8, 1932. She died in a plane crash in 1963. Patsy Cline is an inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Cline is invariably invoked as a standard for female vocalists, and she has inspired scores of singers including k. d. lang, Loretta Lynn, Linda Ronstadt, Trisha Yearwood, and Wynonna Judd. Her brief career produced the #1 jukebox hit of all time, “Crazy” (written by Willie Nelson) and her unique, crying style and vocal impeccability have established her reputation as the quintessential torch singer.


The 240th Day of the Year Is the Birthday

… of German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born in Frankfurt on this date in 1749. Goethe said, “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

… of Mother Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton, the first American-born Saint, born in New York City on this date in 1774.

… of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, born near Tula on this date in 1828.

… of ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson, born in Jamestown, New York, on this date in 1908.

… of Nancy Kulp, Miss Hathaway of The Beverly Hillbillies, was born on August 28th in 1921. She died in 1991.

Eilleen Regina Edwards was born 49 years ago today. We know her better as Shania Twain.

August 17th

Maureen O’Hara is 94 today. Once voted one of the five most beautiful women in the world, Miss O’Hara is probably best known now as Natalie Wood’s unbelieving mother in the classic Miracle on 34th Street (filmed when O’Hara was 26); or perhaps as Esmeralda to Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Nobel Prize-winning author V.S. Naipaul is 82.

Robert De Niro is 71 today. De Niro has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar five times, winning for Raging Bull in 1981. He also won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role as the young Vito Corleone in Godfather II. De Niro’s other nominations were for Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Awakenings and Cape Fear, and in 2013 for supporting in Silver Linings Playbook.

Novelist Jonathan Franzen is 55 today. His The Corrections won the 2001 National Book Award.

Sean Penn is 54 today. Penn has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar five times, winning for Mystic River and Milk. Penn’s other nominations were for Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown and I Am Sam.

Football coach/commentator Jon Gruden is 51.

Davy Crockett — frontiersman, soldier, three-term congressman, restless soul — was born on this date in 1786. As congressman 1827-1831 and 1833-1835, Crockett opposed many of President Andrew Jackson policies, particularly the Indian Removal Act. Crockett published A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett. Written by Himself in 1834. When he lost reelection that year he went to Texas, where he died at the Alamo on March 6, 1836.

After seeing Mae’s jewelry the coat check girl exclaims, “Goodness, what lovely diamonds!” Mae replies, “Goodness had nothing to do with it.” That’s screen legend Mae West in Night After Night. Ms. West was born on this date in 1893.

Francis Gary Powers was born on August 17, 1929. The CIA pilot was shot down over Soviet airspace on May 1, 1960, flying in a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft. It was a major international incident. He was convicted of espionage but released in 1962 in a prisoner exchange. Upon arriving home he was criticized for not activating the plane’s self-destruct mechanism (he said it didn’t work) and not killing himself. He was largely exonerated and was ultimately highly decorated much of it long after his death. Powers died in 1977 when his Los Angles news helicopter crashed.