Born August 8
By: Legacy Staff
11 months ago
Esther Williams made a splash as a competitive swimmer, one who was on track for Olympic glory until the 1940 Summer Olympics were canceled in the chaos of World War II. Instead, Williams turned to the entertainment world, swimming alongside Olympic gold medalist Johnny Weissmuller in Billy Rose's Aquacade and catching the eye of MGM scouts. They put her in the movies and made her famous – films including "Neptune's Daughter" and "Million Dollar Mermaid" were big hits that showcased her skill in the water as well as her singing voice. She appeared in more than 30 movies and was also a popular pinup photo star. We remember Williams' life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1942: John Gustafson, English bassist with Roxy Music, Quatermass, and other groups, is born in Liverpool, England.
1941: George Tiller, U.S. physician whose murder by an anti-abortion activist ignited controversy, is born in Wichita, Kansas.
Tiller, who in his later years largely shunned interviews and public appearances amid his family's increasing fear of violence against him, said abortion was as socially divisive as slavery or prohibition. But he said the issue was about giving women a choice when dealing with technology that can diagnose severe fetal abnormalities before a baby is born. "Prenatal testing without prenatal choices is medical fraud," Tiller once said. Tiller contended that he pioneered the use of sonogram imaging during procedures, a process that has since been adopted by abortion providers nationwide. Read more
1935: Joe Tex, U.S. singer whose hits included "Hold What You've Got" and "Skinny Legs and All," is born in Rogers, Texas.
1930: Jerry Tarkanian, U.S. basketball coach who led the University of Nevada at Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels to the 1990 national championship, is born in Euclid, Ohio.
Tarkanian put the run in the Runnin' Rebels, taking them to four Final Fours and winning a national championship in 1990 with one of the most dominant college teams ever. His teams were as flamboyant as the city, with light shows and fireworks for pregame introductions and celebrities jockeying for position on the so-called Gucci Row courtside. He ended up beating the NCAA, too, collecting a $2.5 million settlement after suing the organization for trying to run him out of college basketball. But he was bitter to the end about the way the NCAA treated him while coaching. Read more
1930: Terry Nation, Welsh writer for "Doctor Who" and creator of the BBC television series' villainous Daleks character, is born in Cardiff, Wales.
1930: Joan Mondale, U.S. second lady who was the wife of Vice President Walter Mondale, is born in Eugene, Oregon.
1922: Rory Calhoun, U.S. actor who starred on TV's "The Texan," is born in Los Angeles, California.
1921: Esther Williams, U.S. swimmer and actress whose notable films included "Million Dollar Mermaid," is born in Inglewood, California.
Following in the footsteps of Sonja Henie, who went from skating champion to movie star, Williams became one of Hollywood's biggest moneymakers, appearing in spectacular swimsuit numbers that capitalized on her wholesome beauty and perfect figure. Such films as "Easy To Wed," "Neptune's Daughter," and "Dangerous When Wet" followed the same formula: romance, music, a bit of comedy, and a flimsy plot that provided excuses to get Esther into the water. Read more
1921: Webb Pierce, U.S. country music singer and guitarist whose many hits included "In the Jailhouse Now" and "Wondering," is born in West Monroe, Louisiana.
The former master of the honky-tonk became country music's king of bling. He commissioned Hollywood designer Nudie Cohn, maker of his outlandish suits, to customize two convertibles for him. Among the after-market additions were rare silver dollars covering every wooden surface inside the car, hand-tooled leather seats, steer horns on the front of the car, revolvers as door handles, rifles mounted on the fenders, and a small saddle between the two front seats for children. Read more
1919: Dino De Laurentiis, Italian-American film producer whose movies include "Serpico" and "Dune," is born in Torre Annunziata, Italy.
During a prolific career that included groundbreaking Italian neorealist films, spaghetti Westerns, literary epics, B-movie camp classics, low-budget horror films, big-budget action films, and cutting-edge dramas, there was virtually no genre from which he shied away. De Laurentiis had a hand in making nearly 150 movies during a career that spanned over six decades. Read more
1911: Rosetta LeNoire, U.S. actress who appeared in "Amen," "Gimme a Break!," and "Family Matters," is born in New York, New York.
1907: Benny Carter, U.S. jazz multi-instrumentalist known for songs including "Prelude to a Kiss," is born in Manhattan, New York.
1884: Sara Teasdale, U.S. poet who won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection titled "Love Songs," is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
1879: Emiliano Zapata, Mexican general who was a hero of the Mexican Revolution, is born in Anenecuilco, Mexico.
1879: Bob Smith, U.S. physician who co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous, is born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
1866: Matthew Henson, U.S. explorer who was part of the crew that was the first to reach the Geographic North Pole, is born in Nanjemoy, Maryland.