Born Today in History ›
Published: 7 months ago
Steve Allen created a television institution when he became the first host of "The Tonight Show" in 1954. Though Allen only hosted "Tonight" for a few short years, he pioneered talk show techniques that remain staples of the genre, including the man-on-the-street interview. After leaving, Allen went on to host "The Steve Allen Show," "Meeting of Minds," and more, but his fame went beyond hosting. He was a Grammy Award-winning songwriter, an actor in movies including "The Benny Goodman Story," and an author of more than 50 books. We remember Allen's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
He also worked as the opening act for such music stars as Lena Horne, Billy Eckstine, Patti Page, and Judy Garland, whom he joined in a command performance in London for Queen Elizabeth II. After that show, he was introduced to the queen and, when she asked, "How do you do, Mr. King?" he said he replied: "'How do you do, Mrs. Queen?' She stared at me, and then Prince Philip laughed," he recalled. "Thank God Prince Philip laughed." Read more
1921: Steve Allen, U.S. television host, actor, musician, and author who was the first host of "The Tonight Show," is born in New York, New York.
1914: Richard Widmark, U.S. actor who won a Golden Globe for his performance in "Kiss of Death," is born in Sunrise Township, Minnesota.
After a career in radio drama and theater, Widmark moved to films as Tommy Udo, who delighted in pushing an old lady in a wheelchair to her death down a flight of stairs in the 1947 thriller "Kiss of Death," according to his obituary by The Associated Press. The performance won him an Academy Award nomination as supporting actor; it was his only mention for an Oscar. "That damned laugh of mine!" he told a reporter in 1961. "For two years after that picture, you couldn't get me to smile. I played the part the way I did because the script struck me as funny and the part I played made me laugh. The guy was such a ridiculous beast." Read more
1907: Al Gore Sr., U.S. politician from Tennessee who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1939 to 1953 and the U.S. Senate from 1953 to 1971, and the father of former Vice President Al Gore Jr., is born in Granville, Tennessee.
1903: Elisha Cook Jr., U.S. actor known best for his role as Wilmer in "The Maltese Falcon," is born in San Francisco, California.
1894: Jean Toomer, U.S. poet and novelist who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance, is born in Washington, D.C.
1891: Henry Miller, U.S. author who wrote contentious novels that were banned in the U.S. for decades, including "Tropic of Cancer" and "Tropic of Capricorn," is born in Manhattan, New York.
1837: George Dewey, U.S. hero of the Spanish-American War who was the only person in U.S. history to hold the title admiral of the Navy, is born in Montpelier, Vermont.
1791: Charles Babbage, English mathematician and inventor who is considered one of the fathers of the computer, having originated the concept of a programmable computer, is born in London, England.