Born April 2

When Marvin Gaye died, he left behind an extensive catalog that is as moving and beloved today as it was during his lifetime. His name is synonymous with classics like "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" and his signature hit, "What's Going On." Gaye's voice helped to shape and define the sound of Motown, and his artistic sensibilities pushed the boundaries of what popular music could achieve. His album "What's Going On," inspired by the violence he witnessed at an anti-war rally, was Gaye's first million-selling album, propelled on the strength of songs like "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" that served up starkly honest depictions of the plight of urban America. We remember Gaye's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including Pope John Paul II.

1992: Sammi Kane Kraft, U.S. actress known for her role in 2005's remake of "Bad News Bears," is born in Livingston, New Jersey.

Sammi Kane Kraft (Associated Press/Stephen Chernin)Kraft was 13 when she was discovered on an L.A. baseball diamond and cast in her only film. She played the role originated by Tatum O'Neal in 1976. Read more

 

 

 

 

1980: Ricky Hendrick, U.S. NASCAR driver who was part owner of Hendrick Motorsports, is born in Charlotte, North Carolina.

After moving to the NASCAR Busch Series in 2002, a racing injury prompted him to search for a replacement driver. With the driver he selected and in his initial year as an owner, he won Hendrick Motorsports' first-ever championship in the Busch Series. Ricky and his late grandfather co-owned two of Hendrick Motorsports' pre-eminent race teams, while Ricky's father, Rick, prepared him for increased leadership in the organization. Read more

1965: Rodney King, U.S. construction worker who became nationally known after being beaten by police while an onlooker videotaped the incident, is born in Sacramento, California.

Rodney King (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)The 1992 riots, which were set off by the acquittals of the officers who beat King, lasted three days and left 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and swaths of Los Angeles on fire. At the height of the violence, King pleaded on television: "Can we all get along?" King, a 25-year-old on parole from a robbery conviction, was stopped for speeding on a darkened street March 3, 1991. He was on parole and had been drinking – he later said that led him to try to evade police. Four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with their batons, kicked him, and shot him with stun guns. Read more

 

 

1953: Debralee Scott, U.S. actress known for roles in "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," is born in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

1952: Leon Wilkeson, U.S. bassist who was a longtime member of the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, is born in Newport, Rhode Island.

1949: Ron Palillo, U.S. actor known best for playing Arnold Horshack on the 1970s TV sitcom "Welcome Back, Kotter," is born in New Haven, Connecticut.

Ron Palillo (Associated Press/Tina Fineberg)Palillo was forever remembered for the character he played from 1975 to 1979 on the ABC sitcom: a nasally Brooklyn teen whose hand shot skyward and who barked out a string of "Ooohs" when a teacher posed a question. Though his co-star on the show, John Travolta, went on to fame, Palillo struggled to expand beyond his role as Horshack. Read more

 

 

 

1943: Larry Coryell, jazz guitarist who was known as the Godfather of Fusion, is born in Galveston, Texas.

1942: Leon Russell, U.S. musician and songwriter who played with the Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, and the Rolling Stones, is born in Lawton, Oklahoma.

He worked with Joe Cocker and, most famously, led the English singer's band on the classic 1970 tour “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” The list of bands and timeless songs he worked on is almost endless. He played on the Beach Boys classic “Pet Sounds” and with a variety of musicians including Frank Sinatra and the Monkees. He toured with the Rolling Stones. He was also part of George Harrison's "Songs for Bangladesh." Russell also enjoyed a long solo career. Read more

 

 

 

1939: Marvin Gaye, U.S. singer whose major hits include "What's Going On" and "Sexual Healing," is born in Washington, D.C.

The first Motown album to wholly credit a single artist for its production, "What's Going On" was an instant critical and commercial success, receiving universal praise and yielding three hit singles. More to the point, it lent the R&B genre credibility as an art form in a time when it was losing relevance, expanding its territory beyond catchy love songs sung by glamorous girl groups with tambourines. Today, "What's Going On" is hailed as one of the all-time greats, with Rolling Stone naming it in 2004 as the sixth-best album ever recorded. Read more

 

 

 

1932: Edward Egan, U.S. cardinal who was archbishop of New York from 2000 to 2009, is born in Oak Park, Illinois.

Cardinal Edward Egan (Seth Wenig / AP)In 2000, Egan was chosen by Pope John Paul II for the difficult job of succeeding larger-than-life Cardinal John O'Connor, who was a major figure not only in the city, but in the country. From him, Egan inherited an annual deficit of about $20 million. Egan cut spending and laid off staff — and said he wiped out the shortfall within two years. Yet Egan bristled at the suggestion that he was more a manager than shepherd. In a 2001 interview with The New York Times, he said, "I am about, first and foremost, serving 413 communities of faith," he said, referring to the archdiocese's parishes. Read more

 

 

1928: Joseph Bernardin, U.S. cardinal who was archbishop of Chicago from 1982 to 1996, is born in Columbia, South Carolina.

1920: Jack Webb, U.S. actor known best for playing Sergeant Joe Friday on both radio and TV versions of the police drama "Dragnet," is born in Santa Monica, California.

1914: Alec Guinness, English actor whose notable films include "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and the original "Star Wars" series, is born in London, England.

The award-winning actor even portrayed Adolf Hitler in "Hitler: The Last Ten Days" before becoming the first actor to ever portray a Jedi knight. Despite his misgivings about "Star Wars," Guinness joined the production, taking home a sizable paycheck and 2 percent of the profits. That deal changed his life, as the film went on to become an enormous blockbuster, generating ticket sales that allowed Guinness to live comfortably and only pursue projects he felt passionate about. Read more

 

 

 

1908: Buddy Ebsen, U.S. actor and dancer who starred as Jed Clampett on TV's "The Beverly Hillbillies," is born in Belleville, Illinois.

Ebsen's greatest successes were on television, and he starred or co-starred on hit TV shows in the 1950s (as Davy Crockett's sidekick Georgie, alongside Fess Parker), 1960s ("The Beverly Hillbillies") and 1970s (as private detective Barnaby Jones). But he began his performing career as a dancer, one-half of a brother-sister dance act, and though he's best remembered for nonmusical roles, he was always a hoofer at heart. Read more

 

 

 

1891: Max Ernst, German artist who was a pioneer of surrealism, is born in Brühl, Germany.

1875: Walter Chrysler, U.S. businessman who founded the Chrysler Corp., is born in Wamego, Kansas.

1840: Emile Zola, French author who was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1901 and 1902, is born in Paris, France.

1805: Hans Christian Andersen, Danish author of fairy tales including "The Little Mermaid" and "The Ugly Duckling," is born in Odense, Denmark.

742: Charlemagne, French king who united much of Western Europe into the Carolingian Empire, is born in an unknown location.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including Pope John Paul II.