Born April 7

Billie Holiday changed the world's expectations for popular music, bringing intense emotion and a unique style to the art form. She gained notoriety with her rendition of the protest song "Strange Fruit" and won fans with more mainstream work like "Miss Brown to You" and "When a Woman Loves a Man." More than half a century after her death, Holiday is still considered one of the all-time greats, and her recordings endure as classics. We remember Holiday'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 the king of insult comics Don Rickles.

1962: Hugh O'Connor, U.S. actor who portrayed Lonnie Jamison on the TV drama "In the Heat of the Night" from 1988 to 1995, and the son of actor Carroll O'Connor, is born in Rome, Italy.

1946: Stan Winston, U.S. special effects artist who worked on films including "Avatar" and "Aliens," is born in Arlington, Virginia.

Working with such directors as Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Tim Burton in a career spanning four decades, Winston created some of the most memorable visual effects in cinematic history. He helped bring the dinosaurs from "Jurassic Park," the extraterrestrials from "Aliens," the robots from "Terminator," and even "Edward Scissorhands" to the big screen, and was a pioneer in merging real-world effects with computer imaging. Read more




1944: Julia Phillips, U.S. film producer and author who was the first female producer to win an Academy Award for best picture, for "The Sting," is born in New York, New York.

1941: Danny Wells, Canadian-American actor who played Charlie the bartender on "The Jeffersons" and had roles in films including "Magnolia" and "Private Benjamin," is born in Montreal, Quebec.

1939: David Frost, English journalist and television host well-known for his interviews with President Richard Nixon, is born in Tenterden, England.

Frost first gained national fame in Britain in the early 1960s as host of "That Was the Week That Was," a satirical news program that some have called a prequel to "The Daily Show." The program, which ran for 18 months, counted John Cleese of Monty Python fame among its team of writers. From that time on, Frost appeared on television continuously, his catchphrase, "Hello, good evening, and welcome," becoming part of the broader lexicon. Read more




1938: Freddie Hubbard, U.S. jazz trumpeter known for his contributions to bebop, hard bop, and post-bop, is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Hubbard was an ardent supporter of the Jazz Foundation of America. The organization helps lift up jazz and blues musicians in need, providing them with emergency funds for expenses – health care, daily living, whatever is needed – as well as connecting them with performance opportunities. In a profession where passion and skill don't always pay the bills, it's a hugely important organization. Hubbard himself turned to them when he was suffering from congestive heart failure and couldn't work. Read more




1938: Spencer Dryden, U.S. drummer with the Jefferson Airplane and New Riders of the Purple Sage, is born in New York, New York.

He played in some early rock bands but soon drifted toward jazz and was working as a drummer at the Hollywood strip club the Pink Pussycat when session drummer Earl Palmer recommended him to the Airplane's manager. He replaced Skip Spence, who went on to start another Fillmore-era San Francisco rock group, Moby Grape. During his stint with the Airplane, Dryden had an affair with the band's female vocalist, Grace Slick, and his marriage to the former Sally Mann was covered extensively in Rolling Stone magazine. He left the band in 1970. Read more




1936: Cynthia Lynn, Latvian-American actress who played Fraulein Helga on TV's "Hogan's Heroes," is born in Riga, Latvia.

Cynthia Lynn (Maury Foldare & Associates-publicity agency)She was among the last surviving cast members of the 1960s military comedy. Read more





1934: Ian Richardson, Scottish actor who was a top Shakespearean stage actor but was known best to many in the U.S. for asking, "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" in a series of mustard commercials, is born in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Richardson played the silkily evil Francis Urquhart in three miniseries, "House of Cards" in 1990, "To Play the King" in 1993, and "The Final Cut" in 1995. Urquhart's smooth riposte to any slur against another character – "You may think that; I couldn't possibly comment" – was picked up by British politicians and heard again and again in the House of Commons. Read more




1933: Wayne Rogers, U.S. actor known best for his role as Trapper John on the sitcom "M*A*S*H," is born in Birmingham, Alabama.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Rogers graduated from Princeton in 1954 with a degree in history. He turned to acting after serving in the Navy, co-starring in “Stagecoach West” from 1960-61. But he's known best for his iconic turn as Army surgeon Trapper John on "M*A*S*H," one of the most popular series in the history of TV. His character’s wisecracks and high jinks with his on-air partner-in-crime, Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce, landed him deep in the affections of the show’s fans, despite the fact that Rogers only appeared in the first three of the show’s 11 seasons. Read more




1932: Cal Smith, U.S. country music singer who had a hit in 1974 with "Country Bumpkin," is born in Gans, Oklahoma.

1928: Alan J. Pakula, U.S. film director, producer, and writer whose films include "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Sophie's Choice," is born in the Bronx, New York.

Pakula was particularly interested in the complexity, emotions, and motivations of characters. He had considered, for a time, becoming a psychiatrist. In an interview shortly after Pakula's death, his biographer, Jared Brown ("Alan J. Pakula: His Films and His Life," 2005) said that when Pakula sat next to people on planes, he would often tell them he was a psychiatrist, not a film director. Julia Roberts, who starred in "The Pelican Brief," called him "a psychiatrist and a director." Read more



1928: James Garner, U.S. actor who starred on the TV series "Maverick" and "The Rockford Files," is born in Norman, Oklahoma.

The handsome movie and TV star is remembered for iconic roles on "Maverick," "The Rockford Files," "Murphy’s Romance," and many more. Read more





1920: Ravi Shankar, Indian-American sitar player who was well-known for his association with George Harrison and the Beatles, is born in Varanasi, India.

Thanks to the Beatles and other sitar-wielding rock bands like the Rolling Stones and the Byrds, the sound of the sitar was soon all over the radio, and Western audiences fell in love with the music they were once unsure of. Shankar himself became a superstar and an unlikely icon of hippie culture. He won a Grammy Award in 1967, the same year when he played at the Monterey International Pop Festival along with Jimi Hendrix, the Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin, and other rock stars. Two years later, he was featured on the opening day of Woodstock. Read more




1915: Billie Holiday, U.S. jazz singer known for her powerful rendition of "Strange Fruit" and other classics, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 1939, Billie Holiday took a bold step – bold even for a black woman who rose from a troubled childhood in a segregated country to become one of the most celebrated singers of her time. In that year, disgusted with the racism she saw all around her, she recorded "Strange Fruit." The song's bluntly poignant descriptions of southern lynchings were shocking and eye-opening, and it became Holiday's deeply effective closing song for her live performances. Read more




1908: Percy Faith, Canadian bandleader who popularized easy-listening music, is born in Toronto, Ontario.

Percy Faith: Delicado ( began his career as a bandleader when the big band style was in its heyday. Gradually, he massaged the brassy big band sound into something different, something quieter, mellower, and with all the rough edges sanded off. He pulled brass instruments out of the mix and put the focus on the strings. Applying this technique to both original compositions and current popular music, he jump-started the popular "mood music" genre of the 1950s and '60s – and won more than one Grammy for his efforts. Read more



1891: Ole Kirk Christiansen, Danish businessman who created the Lego toy, is born in Filskov, Denmark.

1860: Will Keith Kellogg, U.S. industrialist who founded the Kellogg Co., is born in Battle Creek, Michigan.

1770: William Wordsworth, English poet who was poet laureate of Britain from 1843 to 1850, is born in Cockermouth, England.

1506: Francis Xavier, Basque Roman Catholic missionary who co-founded the Society of Jesus, is born in Xavier, Kingdom of Navarre.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including the king of insult comics Don Rickles.