The Last Day of September 2016

Angie Dickinson is 85 today.

Chances are Johnny Mathis is 81.

Greg Brady (Barry Williams) is 62.

Marion Cotillard is 41 today.

Die ZauberflöteThe Magic Flute — premiered in Vienna 225 years ago tonight; libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder, music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. That night Mozart conducted the orchestra, Schikaneder played Papageno. Mozart died less than 10 weeks later at age 35.

James Dean was killed 61 years ago today at the junction of California Highways 41 and 46. He was 24.

NewMexiKen’s very own grandfather, John Louis Beyett, was born in Alvord, Wise County, Texas, 135 years ago today. He died before I was born, but I met his mother, my great-grandmother when I was 8-years-old. She was born in 1865 and was just 15 when my grandfather was born; the first of her nine children. She was 87 when I met her (and lived to be 93). It has always amazed me that I met an ancestor who was born the year Abraham Lincoln died.

The Penultimate Day of August

Warren Buffet, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is 86 today. I’ve always thought of him as Uncle Warren. Happy Birthday, Uncle.

Teddy Ballgame is 98 today. Again as he has in recent years, Ted Williams will spend the day hanging out and just chillin’.

Williams played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox. He was American League MVP twice, won the batting title six times and twice won the Triple Crown (led league in batting average, home runs and rbi). (The MVP years and the Triple Crown years were four separate seasons!) Williams career average was .344 and he hit 521 home runs.

Williams was the last hitter to bat over .400, hitting .406 for the season in 1941. “If I was being paid thirty-thousand dollars a year, the very least I could do was hit .400.”

Williams did not play during the 1943-1944-1945 seasons due to military service. And he only played 43 games over the 1952-1953 seasons, also due to military service. Nearly five years between age 24 and 34 missing from his career. Had he been available to play those seasons he might have reached Ruth’s 714 home runs.

It’s also the birthday —

… of Ellen Muriel Deason, known to us as Kitty Wells, and famous for “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Miss Wells was born in 1919; she died in 2012.

It wasn’t God who made Honky Tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men think they’re still single
That has caused many a good girl to go wrong

Fred MacMurray was born on this date in 1908. MacMurray required that all his scenes for My Three Sons be filmed at one time. After MacMurray was done, the rest of the cast started filming the shows in the normal sequence. IMDb has MacMurray saying: “The two films I did with Billy Wilder, ‘Double Indemnity’ and the ‘The Apartment’ are the only two parts I did in my entire career that required any acting.” It showed Fred, it showed.

Oscar-nominee Raymond Massey was born on this date in 1896. Massey received the nomination for Abe Lincoln in Illinois. Massey, related to the Masseys of Massey-Ferguson (tractors and such), was in a lot of westerns and did a lot of TV.

Best actress Oscar-winner Shirley Booth was born on this date in 1898. Booth won the award for Come Back, Little Sheba. Sadly, she’s probably better known for playing the maid Hazel on the sitcom.

The Kingfish, Huey Long, was born on August 30th in 1893. Governor of Louisiana 1928-1932 and U.S. Senator 1932-1935, Long was assassinated at age 42. Historians have argued whether he was dictator, demagogue, messiah or populist. I’d say he was just a little more megalomaniacal than almost any other politician.

Ty Cobb made his major league debut 111 years ago today.

August 29th

Senator John McCain is 80-years-old today. Seriously, Senator for Life?

Seven-time Oscar nominee for best actress, Ingrid Bergman was born on this date in 1915. She won the award three times: Gaslight, Anastasia, Murder on the Orient Express. No, she was not nominated for Casablanca. Ms. Bergman’s last role was as Golda Meir in 1982. She died that same year on her birthday, August 29.

Charlie Parker was born on this date in 1920.

Charlie Parker was one of the most influential improvising soloists in jazz, and a central figure in the development of bop in the 1940s. A legendary figure in his own lifetime, he was idolized by those who worked with him, and he inspired a generation of jazz performers and composers.

Above from PBS – JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns

Parker died in 1955.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Ruth Jones was born on this date in 1924.

Dinah Washington skirted the boundaries of blues, jazz and popular music, becoming the most popular black female recording artist of the ’50s.

She changed her name from Ruth Jones upon joining jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton’s band in 1943. After leaving Hampton in 1946, she began her own recording career, leading to Top 10 R&B hits in “Baby Get Lost” (No. 1, 1949), “Trouble in Mind” (No. 4, 1952), “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes” (No. 4 R&B, No. 8 pop, 1959), and “This Bitter Earth” (No. 1 R&B, No. 24 pop, 1960).

In 1960, Washington also sang two No. 1 R&B duets with Brook Benton, “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” (No. 5 pop) and “A Rockin’ Good Way” (No. 7 pop).

Washington died in 1963 after mixing alcohol and pills.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

August 29th is the birthday of Michael Jackson. He would have been 58 today.

The 241st Day of 2016 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 51 years ago today. We know her better as Shania Twain.

Best Line of the Day

“I read omnivorously, I always have, my entire life. I would rather be dead than not read. So, there’s always time for that. I read while I eat, and our whole family did. We all had very bad manners at the table. All of our books are stained with spaghetti sauce, and that sort of thing.”

Annie Proulx, who turns 81 today.

Quotation found at The Writer’s Almanac (2010).

May 28, 2016

jerry-west-nba-logoJerry West is 78 today.

Jerry West was on the fast track to stardom from the day he touched a basketball. Throughout the NBA’s history, it would be hard to find a better pure shooter. At West Virginia University, West led the Mountaineers to the NCAA Finals and captured the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award in 1959. In a superlative senior season, West was a consensus All-America and led West Virginia to its third consecutive conference championship. In Los Angeles, West played virtually his entire career with Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor, and five years with Wilt Chamberlain. When the game was on the line, West’s Los Angeles Laker teammates always found a way to get the ball to “Mr. Clutch.” His cool, calm, and collected personality and his leadership on the court was a coach’s dream. When he retired, West’s name was on nearly every page of the record books. He scored 25,192 points (third), averaged 27.0 ppg (fourth), made 7,160 free throws (second), dished out 6,238 assists (fifth). West was equally adept on the defensive end, named to the NBA All-Defensive First-Team four times.

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

Gladys Knight is 72. The Pips are various ages.

Gladys Knight and the Pips – brother Merald “Bubba” Knight and cousins Edward Patten and William Guest – are one of the most respected and longest-lived soul groups, with hits spanning four decades. Knight was born in Atlanta, Georgia, where she began singing at age four with her brother and cousins at Baptist church functions. The group first recorded for the Brunswick label in 1958 and dented the charts with “Every Beat of My Heart” and “Letter Full of Tears,” both released in 1961 on Fury Records. After a few more singles and personnel changes, which cemented Gladys Knight and the Pips in their most enduring and best-known lineup, the group signed with Motown’s Soul label in 1966. Motown founder Berry Gordy, who saw them perform at Harlem’s Apollo Theater in 1966, made note of Knight’s “class, artistry and stage presence….She could talk to an audience and articulate what she wanted to say with just the right words.”

At Motown, Gladys Knight and the Pips quickly rose to prominence with their version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (#1 R&B, #2 pop), which boasted more of an uptempo, gospel-style arrangement than Marvin Gaye’s classic version from the following year.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

John Fogerty is 71 today. Fogerty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 with Creedence Clearwater Revival.

“In 1968, I always used to say that I wanted to make records they would still play on the radio in 10 years,” John Fogerty, former leader of Creedence Clearwater Revival, said on the eve of the group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In retrospect, Fogerty got all he wished for and more. Four decades later, Creedence’s songs – including “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Green River” – endure as timeless rock and roll classics. Under Fogerty’s tutelage, Creedence Clearwater Revival defined the spirit and sound of rock and roll as authentically as any American group ever has.

DionneThe Dionne Quintuplets were born in Corbeil, Ontario, Canada, 82 years ago today.

  • Annette Lillianne Marie Dionne
  • Cécile Marie Emilda Dionne
  • Emilie Marie Jeanne Dionne (died 1954)
  • Marie Reina Alma Dionne (died 1970)
  • Yvonne Edouilda Marie Dionne (died 2001)

Together, the five girls, at least two months premature, weighed about 14 pounds. They were put by an open stove to keep warm, and mothers from surrounding villages brought breast milk for them. Against all expectations, they survived their first weeks.

According to the CBC Archives:

When the quints are still babies, the Ontario government takes the sisters from their parents, apparently to protect their fragile health, and makes the girls wards of the state. For the first nine years of their lives, they live at a hospital in their hometown that becomes a tourist mecca called “Quintland.” The Ministry of Public Welfare sets up a trust fund in their behalf with assurances that the financial well-being of the entire Dionne family would be taken care of “for all their normal needs for the rest of their lives.”

Between 1934 and 1943, about 3 million people visit Quintland. The government and nearby businesses make an estimated half-billion dollars off the tourists, much of which the Dionne family never sees. The sisters are the nation’s biggest tourist attraction — bigger than Niagara Falls.

After nine years and a bitter custody fight, the girls rejoined their family.

There is still a mystery surrounding what happened to the money the Ontario government placed in a trust fund for the quints, though it’s believed that most of the funds went to pay for the many employees of “Quintland.”

In 1998 the surviving quints were awarded $4 million by Ontario.

And the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century was born near Prague, Oklahoma, on this date in 1888. His Sac and Fox given name was Wa-Tho-Huk (Bright Path). We know him as Jim Thorpe. Thorpe was named by ESPN as the 7th greatest athlete of the 20th century (after Jordan, Ruth, Ali, Brown, Gretsky and Owens). Read the biographical essay, Thorpe preceded Deion, Bo. A couple of items from the biography:

  • Thorpe won both the decathlon and the pentathlon at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. Swedish King Gustav V told him, “Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world.” Thorpe reputedly replied, “Thanks, king.”
  • Jim Thorpe was a twin. His brother Charles died of pneumonia at age 8.