Born February 11
By: Legacy Staff
6 months ago
Leslie Nielsen was surely a master of deadpan comedy. With the charm and charisma of a traditional leading man, Nielsen was the ideal of the "straight man" for some of the 20th century's zaniest comedies. His career started with serious roles in epics such as "Forbidden Planet" and "The Poseidon Adventure" before he found his true calling in a series of wacky spoofs on television and in films throughout the 1980s and '90s. We remember Nielsen's life today and the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1943: Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin, U.S. trumpet player with the "Saturday Night Live" band and the Blues Brothers band, who appeared in "The Blues Brothers" and its 1998 sequel, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1942: Otis Clay, U.S. soul and blues singer who was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, is born in Waxhaw, Mississippi.
While living in Chicago, he was approached by One-derful Records to record more secular music. After a series of singles that registered on the Billboard R&B charts, he was signed to Atlantic Records and recorded "She's About A Mover," which became his one song to crack the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 97 in 1968. Read more
1939: Gerry Goffin, U.S. songwriter who co-wrote hit songs including "The Loco-Motion" and "Saving All My Love for You," and the former husband and songwriting partner of Carole King, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
Goffin, who married King in 1959 while they were in their teens, penned more than 50 top-40 hits, including "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees, "Crying in the Rain" for the Everly Brothers, "Some Kind of Wonderful" for the Drifters and "Take Good Care of My Baby" for Bobby Vee. The couple divorced in 1968, but Goffin kept writing hits, including "Savin' All My Love for You" for Whitney Houston. Read more
1938: Bobby "Boris" Pickett, U.S. singer-songwriter who co-wrote and sang "The Monster Mash," is born in Somerville, Massachusetts.
"Monster Mash" hit the Billboard chart three times: when it debuted in 1962, reaching No. 1 the week before Halloween; again in August 1970, and for a third time in May 1973. The resurrections were appropriate for a song where Pickett gravely intoned the forever-stuck-in-your-head chorus: "He did the monster mash. ... It was a graveyard smash." The novelty hit's fans included Bob Dylan, who played the single on his XM Satellite Radio program in October 2006, according to Pickett's obituary by The Associated Press. "Our next artist is considered a one-hit wonder, but his one hit comes back year after year," Dylan noted. Read more
1935: Gene Vincent, U.S. singer and guitarist who was a pioneer of rock 'n' roll and had a hit with "Be-Bop-A-Lula," is born in Norfolk, Virginia.
1934: Mel Carnahan, U.S. politician who served as governor of Missouri from 1993 to 2000 and was elected posthumously to the U.S. Senate, is born in Birch Tree, Missouri.
1934: Manuel Noriega, former military dictator of Panama, is born in Panama City, Panama.
1926: Leslie Nielsen, Canadian-American actor whose films include "The Naked Gun" and "The Poseidon Adventure," is born in Regina, Saskatchewan.
One of Nielsen's final projects before making the switch to comedy was 1976's "Project: Kill," with a plotline described thusly on imdb.com: "A former government assassin flees a mind-control program in the Philippines, is pursued by his ex-partner, the local police and Asian gangsters." The film wasn't widely released as a result of legal wrangling that occurred when one of the producers was murdered shortly after the movie was shot. Read more
1925: Kim Stanley, U.S. actress known for roles in "The Right Stuff" and "Séance on a Wet Afternoon," is born in Tularosa, New Mexico.
1925: Virginia E. Johnson, U.S. sexologist who was half of the Masters and Johnson sexuality research team, is born in Springfield, Missouri.
Johnson recruited graduate students, nurses, faculty wives and other participants for what was described as the "biggest sex experiment in U.S. history." The after-hours research, first on the medical school campus at Washington University and later at a nearby building, shattered basic perceptions about female sexuality, including Freud's concept that vaginal – rather than clitoral – orgasm was the more mature sexual response for women. She took the case studies – and asked the uncomfortable questions, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Hundreds of couples, not all of them married, would participate in the observed research, later discussed in their 1966 book, "Human Sexual Response." That book and their second, 1970's "Human Sexual Inadequacy," were both best-sellers. Read more
1921: Ottavio Missoni, Italian fashion designer who founded the Missoni fashion label, is born in Ragusa, Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
At the beginning, they produced athletic wear, likely inspired by Missoni himself, who had been a track-and-field star, specializing in 400-meter races and hurdles. He won several national medals, and competed in the 1948 Olympics. The company expanded, eventually constructing its main factory in Sumirago. But the philosophy of applying an artisan's eye to detail and precision continued to shape its fashion output, on the runways of Milan and in stores worldwide as their brand went global, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1921: Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. politician who was a U.S. Senator from Texas from 1971 to 1993 and ran for vice president in 1988 with presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, is born in Mission, Texas.
His distinguished political career took him from the humble beginnings of a county office in the Rio Grande Valley in the 1940s to six years in the U.S. House, 22 in the U.S. Senate and two in the Clinton Cabinet, where he was instrumental in directing the administration's economic policy, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1920: Daniel James Jr., U.S. fighter pilot who in 1975 became the first African-American to reach the rank of four-star general, is born in Pensacola, Florida.
"Green Acres" was a TV staple for six years, from 1965 to 1971. Gabor played Lisa Douglas – glamour girl turned good sport – who, on the whim of her husband (played by Eddie Albert), was whisked from the high life in Manhattan to a rather bizarre farm. Viewers loved seeing the glamorous Gabor do farm chores wearing city finery and giggled as her character made hotcakes for every meal. Read more
1917: Sidney Sheldon, U.S. author and screenwriter who created the TV series "The Patty Duke Show" and "I Dream of Jeannie" and wrote best-selling novels including "The Other Side of Midnight," is born in Chicago, Illinois.
"I try to write my books so the reader can't put them down," Sheldon explained in a 1982 interview, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. "I try to construct them so when the reader gets to the end of a chapter, he or she has to read just one more chapter. It's the technique of the old Saturday afternoon serial: Leave the guy hanging on the edge of the cliff at the end of the chapter." Read more
1915: Pat Welsh, U.S. actress who provided the voice of E.T. in "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial," is born in San Francisco, California.
1909: Max Baer, U.S. boxer and onetime world heavyweight champion who was the father of actor Max Baer Jr., is born in Omaha, Nebraska.
1909: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, U.S. filmmaker who won directing and screenwriting Academy Awards for "A Letter to Three Wives" (1949) and "All About Eve" (1950), is born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
1863: John F. Fitzgerald, U.S. politician who was the father of Rose Kennedy and grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, is born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1847: Thomas Edison, U.S. inventor who invented the photograph, the motion picture camera and other influential devices, is born in Milan, Ohio.
1802: Lydia Maria Child, U.S. abolitionist and activist who also wrote the poem "Over the River and Through the Woods," is born in Medford, Massachusetts.