Getty Images / Redferns / David Redfern

Born February 17

Gene Pitney had the misfortune of being an American rock 'n' roller during the British Invasion … but his strength as a singer and songwriter kept him at the top of the charts even in the face of competition from the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He excelled across the pond as well, with some of his tracks faring even better in England than they did at home. Top hits for Pitney included "Only Love Can Break a Heart" and "(The Man Who) Shot Liberty Valance," and he recorded with other popular artists including country singer George Jones and Soft Cell's Marc Almond. We remember Pitney'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 jazz legend Thelonious Monk.

1949: Dennis Green, U.S. former head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings, is born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

1942: Huey P. Newton, U.S. activist who co-founded the Black Panther Party, is born in Monroe, Louisiana.

1940: Gene Pitney, U.S. singer whose hits include "Only Love Can Break a Heart" and "It Hurts To Be in Love," is born in Hartford, Connecticut.

1937: Mary Ann Mobley, U.S. actress who was crowned Miss America in 1958, is born in Brandon, Mississippi.

Mary Ann Mobley Collins (Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty)She graduated from Ole Miss in 1958, the same year she won the Miss America crown. She became an actress a few years later, with credits including such TV shows as "General Hospital" and "Perry Mason," and films such as "Girl Happy" with Elvis Presley and "Three on a Couch" with Jerry Lewis. It was on that film that she met her husband, actor Gary Collins, who died in 2012. Read more




1933: Craig L. Thomas, U.S. politician who represented Wyoming in the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2007, is born in Cody, Wyoming.

1931: Buddy Ryan, U.S. former defensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, is born in Frederik, Oklahoma.

Ryan was the defensive coordinator for the Bears during their 1985 Super Bowl-winning season, and it was, in part, his 46 defense formation that got them there. He had been with the Bears since 1978, and despite clashes with head coach Mike Ditka, Ryan was beloved by the players as he built the defensive strategy that would propel them to victory. Read more




1924: Margaret Truman, U.S. author who was the daughter of President Harry S. Truman and published a series of murder mysteries, is born in Independence, Missouri.

She published her first book, an autobiography titled "Souvenir," in 1956. She said it was "hard work" and told reporters: "One writing job is enough." But then she did a book on White House pets in 1969, and later more, one a biography of her father. The idea of doing a mystery called "Murder in the White House" came "out of nowhere," she said. That 1980 title was followed by mysteries set in the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian, Embassy Row, the FBI, Georgetown, the CIA, Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral, and the Pentagon. Read more



1908: Red Barber, U.S. sportscaster who called games for the Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Dodgers, and New York Yankees, is born in Columbus, Mississippi.

1844: Aaron Montgomery Ward, U.S. businessman who founded Montgomery Ward & Company, is born in Chatham, New Jersey.

1781: Rene Laennec, French physician who invented the stethoscope, is born in Quimper, France.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including jazz legend Thelonious Monk.