Born Today in History ›
Published: 11 months ago
Walter Matthau played "The Odd Couple's" sloppy Oscar Madison on both stage and screen, originating the role in Neil Simon's Broadway play and reprising it in the film adaptation of the movie that would become one of his greatest legacies. He was also well-known for playing Coach Buttermaker in the original "Bad News Bears," and he won an Academy Award for his supporting performance in "The Fortune Cookie." His other popular films include "JFK," "Hello, Dolly!," and "Grumpy Old Men." In real life, he was close friends with his frequent co-star and "Odd Couple" roommate, Jack Lemmon. We remember Matthau's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1953: Grete Waitz, Norwegian runner who was the first woman to run the New York Marathon in less than 2.5 hours, is born in Oslo, Norway.
A former Oslo schoolteacher, Waitz won her first New York City Marathon in 1978, setting a world best in two hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds in her first attempt at running the distance. She went on to win eight more times — more than any other runner, male or female — with her last victory coming in 1988. She won the London Marathon twice, in 1983 and '86, and earned five titles at the world cross-country championships from 1978-81 and 1983. Read more
1948: Cub Koda, U.S. singer-songwriter who founded Brownsville Station and wrote the band's hit "Smokin' in the Boy's Room," is born in Detroit, Michigan.
1947: Mariska Veres, Dutch singer with the rock band Shocking Blue, who had a No. 1 hit in 1970 with "Venus," is born in The Hague, Netherlands.
1947: Dave Arneson, U.S. game designer who co-created Dungeons & Dragons, is born in Hennepin County, Minnesota.
"(Arneson) developed many of the fundamental ideas of role-playing: that each player controls just one hero, that heroes gain power through adventures, and that personality is as important as combat prowess," according to a statement from Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc. that produces Dungeons & Dragons. Blackmoor, a game Arneson was developing before D&D, was the "first-ever role-playing campaign and the prototype for all (role-playing game) campaigns since," the company said. Read more
1945: Donny Hathaway, U.S. singer whose 1972 duet with Roberta Flack, "Where Is the Love," won a Grammy Award in 1973, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1933: Albert Collins, U.S. blues guitarist who influenced younger players including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, is born in Leona, Texas.
1930: Richard Harris, Irish actor and singer who starred in "Camelot" and had a hit in 1968 with "MacArthur Park," is born in Limerick, Ireland.
"He was a proud Limerick man, who never lost his pride or love for his home county. He was always personable, kind and generous to any person from Ireland that he met on his travels. Dickie made many trips home, and there are a wealth of stories about these trips all over Limerick. He is well-loved here in Limerick, so much so that Limerick City Council erected a brass statue of his King Arthur character from his film 'Camelot' on Bedford Row in the city center." Read more
1928: George Peppard, U.S. actor who had starring roles in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and on TV's "The A-Team," is born in Detroit, Michigan.
Peppard and Audrey Hepburn helped make "Breakfast at Tiffany's" one of the great cinema classics, a film that's timeless at the same time that it epitomizes the cool and crazy 1960s. (Well, we'll concede "mostly timeless," given Mickey Rooney's now-unfortunate Asian caricature.) Though the only awards the movie won were for Henry Mancini's pitch-perfect music, it has remained tops in the hearts of viewers for more than 50 years, finding a spot among the American Film Institute's top romantic movies and inspiring a new stage adaptation that opened in 2013 on Broadway. Read more
1927: Tom Bosley, U.S. actor known best for playing Howard Cunningham on TV's Happy Days, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Bosley's big Broadway debut – for which he won a Tony – came in portraying colorful New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in "Fiorello!" in 1959. The elevator man in a building where director Arthur Penn owned an apartment had tipped off Bosley that plans for the play were underway because he thought Bosley physically resembled the mayor. Bosley would portray LaGuardia in 800 performances, never missing a show. Read more
1920: Walter Matthau, U.S. actor well-known for his role as Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple" on Broadway and in the movie adaptation, is born in New York, New York.
1910: Bonnie Parker, U.S. criminal who was one-half of the notorious crime duo Bonnie and Clyde, is born in Rowena, Texas.
Parker's nationwide reputation in the early 1930s was that of a cigar-smoking gun moll who gleefully robbed banks and killed anyone who got in her way. This reputation remains intact today. To a point, it was deserved. Parker was certainly a major player in at least 100 felonies over a two-year period. But she may not have been quite the cold-blooded killer of legend. In fact, she was a bit dismayed with the public's perception of her character, and she even attempted on one occasion to correct it. Read more
1896: Ted Healy, U.S. actor and comedian who created the Three Stooges, is born in Kaufman, Texas.
1893: Yip Man, Chinese martial artist who was Bruce Lee's teacher, is born in Foshan, China.
1832: Caroline Harrison, U.S. first lady who was the wife of President Benjamin Harrison, is born in Oxford, Ohio.