Born Today in History ›
Getty Images / Photo by Allison Joyce
Published: 7 months ago
Trayvon Martin grew up in Florida, dividing his time between his parents, who divorced when he was 4. When he was 9, Trayvon saved his father's life, pulling him from a burning apartment after the elder Martin was injured and immobilized. He enjoyed sports, both in video games and real life, and earned spending money by washing cars, cutting grass and baby-sitting. In high school, Trayvon volunteered at the concession stand in a public park near his home and played football on his school's team. He showed a mechanical aptitude with dirt bikes and an interest in aviation. We remember Martin's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1995: Trayvon Martin, U.S. teenager shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, is born in Miami, Florida.
The shooting has reverberated far beyond Sanford with people across the country trying to make sense of it and many mourning another young man gone too soon. While we may never know what really happened on that rainy night, the impact of the shooting will continue to be felt – by Trayvon's family and friends seeking justice, and by a nation grappling with the role of guns in the wake of the shooting deaths of children from Connecticut to Chicago and beyond. Read more
1941: Stephen J. Cannell, U.S. television producer whose series included The Greatest American Hero, 21 Jump Street and The A-Team, is born in Los Angeles, California.
But his range was greater than for which he was given credit. Tenspeed and Brown Shoe was a clever detective drama starring Ben Vereen and a then-unknown Jeff Goldblum in 1980. Profit was a shocking saga of a psycho businessman that was unforgettable to the few viewers who saw it: Fox pulled the plug after just four episodes in 1996. With Wiseguy (1987-90), Cannell chilled viewers with a film-noir descent into the underworld that predated The Sopranos by more than a decade, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. The Rockford Files, of course, became an Emmy-winning TV classic following the misadventures of its hapless ex-con private eye played by James Garner. Read more
1940: H.R. Giger, Swiss painter and set designer who was part of the Oscar-winning design team for Alien, is born in Chur, Switzerland.
The image of a brooding, mysterious artist was nurtured by Giger working only at night, keeping his curtains permanently drawn and dressing mainly in black – a habit he acquired while working as a draftsman because it made Indian ink stains stand out less on his clothes. While his work was commercially successful, critics derided it as morbid kitsch. His designs were exhibited more frequently in Alien theme bars, short-lived Giger museums and at tattoo conventions than in established art galleries. Read more
1928: Andrew Greeley, U.S. Roman Catholic priest and author who wrote a weekly column for the Chicago Sun-Times as well as dozens of books, is born in Oak Park, Illinois.
The priest became often quoted and interviewed in the media. In a biography published on his website, Greeley described himself as having "unflinchingly urged his beloved church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere." The same biography noted he was a Chicago sports fan and cheered for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs, "while praying for them to improve." Read more
1927: Ruth Fertel, U.S. businesswoman who founded the Ruth's Chris Steak House chain, is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1926: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, U.S. publisher of The New York Times from 1963 to 1992, is born in New York, New York.
Sulzberger directed the Times' evolution from an encyclopedic paper of record to a more reader-friendly product that reached into the suburbs and across the nation. During his tenure, the Times started a national edition, bought its first color presses, and introduced popular as well as lucrative new sections covering topics such as science, food and entertainment. A key figure in the transformation was A.M. Rosenthal, executive editor from 1977 to 1986. Rosenthal, who died in 2006, called Sulzberger "probably the best publisher in modern American history." Read more
1923: Claude King, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for his hit, "Wolverton Mountain," is born in Keithville, Louisiana.
King was one of the original members of the Louisiana Hayride, the Saturday night show where Elvis Presley got his start and Hank Williams Sr. frequently performed. The show transformed country and western music from 1948 to 1960 – the Hayride's heyday – with music genres including hillbilly, western swing, jazz, blues and gospel. King's son Duane recalls meeting Presley and Hank Williams Sr. backstage with his dad at the Hayride, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1919: Tim Holt, U.S. actor who starred opposite Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, is born in Beverly Hills, California.
His greatest achievement came with his Sayonara role as Sgt. Joe Kelly, the soldier in the occupation forces in Japan whose romance with a Japanese woman (Miyoshi Umeki, who also won an Academy Award) ends in tragedy. Josh Logan, who directed the James Michener story that starred Marlon Brando, was at first hesitant to cast a well-known comedian in such a somber role, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. "The tests were so extensive that they could just put scenery around them and release the footage as a feature film," Buttons remarked. Read more
1914: William S. Burroughs, U.S. author who was a prominent member of the Beat Generation circle and wrote the novel Naked Lunch, is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
Impressed by his letters, Allen Ginsberg began urging Burroughs to write. The result was Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict. Acting as Burroughs' agent, editor and lead cheerleader, Ginsberg was eventually able to get the work published by Ace Books, who specialized in cheap paperbacks. At the age of 39, William Burroughs had become a published author. Read more
1908: Daisy and Violet Hilton, English conjoined twins who performed in vaudeville, are born in Brighton, England.
1906: John Carradine, U.S. character actor known for roles in The Grapes of Wrath and The Ten Commandments, is born in New York, New York.
1900: Adlai Stevenson II, U.S. politician who served as governor of Illinois and ran for president in 1952, 1956 and 1960, then was appointed ambassador to the United Nations, is born in Los Angeles, California.
1878: André Citroën, French industrialist who founded the Citroën car company, is born in Paris, France.
1848: Belle Starr, U.S. outlaw of the Wild West who was associated with Jesse James and his gang, is born in Carthage, Missouri.
1837: Dwight L. Moody, U.S. evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Bible Institute, is born in Northfield, Massachusetts.