Born January 17

Muhammad Ali (born Cassius Clay) was arguably the greatest boxer in history. No argument that he was the most charismatic boxer ever. Ali was a perfect combination of speed and power. As he himself said, he "floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee." His memorable fights were against Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Sonny Liston. Ali was also a symbol for the civil rights movement in the 1960s. We remember his 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 chess champion Bobby Fischer.

1952: Darrell Porter, U.S. Major League Baseball catcher with the Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals and other teams, is born in Joplin, Missouri.

1949: Andy Kaufman, U.S. comedian and actor known best for his unusual material and for his role on TV's Taxi, is born in New York, New York.

It's said that Elvis Presley praised Kaufman's Elvis impersonation as his personal favorite, and Kaufman has been hailed as a genius by fans and colleagues. Many were introduced or reintroduced to his career by the 1999 movie Man on the Moon, which starred Jim Carrey as Kaufman. In 2013, a posthumous comedy album was released, and a new rumor that he was still alive was quickly quashed as a hoax. Read more




1942: Muhammad Ali, U.S. heavyweight boxing champion and civil rights activist who was named Sportsman of the Century by Sports Illustrated, is born in Louisville, Kentucky.

Born Cassius Clay Jan. 17, 1942, he began boxing as a preteen, enjoying an award-winning amateur career. He won six Golden Gloves titles in his home state of Kentucky, two national Golden Gloves titles and an Amateur Athletic Union National Title. His amateur career culminated with a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy. Read more




1942: Nancy Parsons, U.S. actress known best for her role as Coach Beulah Balbricker in Porky's and its sequels, is born in St. Paul, Minnesota.

1928: John Bellairs, U.S. author whose fantasy and mystery novels for young adults were illustrated by Edward Gorey, is born in Marshall, Michigan.

1933: Shari Lewis, U.S. puppeteer and actress known best for her work with the sock puppet Lamb Chop, is born in the Bronx, New York.

For someone talking via a sock with stitched-on eyes, Lewis created something very special. Children knew it; so did their parents, who helped Lewis earn 12 Emmys, seven Parents' Choice awards, a Peabody Award, a John F. Kennedy Center Award for Excellence and Creativity … the list goes on and on. Read more




1932: Sheree North, U.S. actress who was intended as a successor to Marilyn Monroe and starred in movies including How To Be Very, Very Popular, is born in Los Angeles, California.

1931: Don Zimmer, U.S. Major League Baseball player and coach who was involved in professional baseball for 65 years, is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Don Zimmer (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)Zimmer played for the only Brooklyn Dodgers team to win the World Series, played for the original New York Mets, nearly managed the Boston Red Sox to a championship in the 1970s, and was Joe Torre's right-hand man with the New York Yankees' most recent dynasty, according to his June 2014 obituary by The Associated Press. Zimmer was easily recognizable for the big chaw that always seemed to be in his cheek, and his storytelling was a treat for anyone lucky enough to hear him. Read more




1928: Vidal Sassoon, English hairdresser and businessman who founded the first chain of hairstyling salons and released a line of hair care products, is born in London, England.

Vidal Sassoon (Associated Press Photo)When Sassoon picked up his shears in the 1950s, styled hair was typically curled, teased, piled high and shellacked into place. Then came the 1960s, and Sassoon's creative cuts, which required little styling and fell into place perfectly every time, fit right in with the fledgling women's liberation movement. "My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous," Sassoon said in 1993 in the Los Angeles Times, according to his 2012 obituary by The Associated Press. "Women were going back to work; they were assuming their own power. They didn't have time to sit under the dryer anymore." Read more




1927: Eartha Kitt, U.S. actress and singer whose songs include "C'est Si Bon" and "Santa Baby," is born in North, South Carolina.

She wasn't just a sex kitten, although feline adjectives were often used to describe her. As The New York Times noted, "From practically the beginning of her career, as critics gushed over Ms. Kitt, they also began to describe her in every feline term imaginable: Her voice 'purred' or 'was like catnip'; she was a 'sex kitten' who 'slinked' or was 'on the prowl' across the stage, sometimes 'flashing her claws.' Her career has often been said to have had 'nine lives.'" Read more




1925: Patricia Owens, Canadian actress whose movies include The Fly (1958), is born in Golden, British Columbia.

1914: Irving Brecher, U.S. screenwriter who wrote for the Marx Brothers and won an Academy Award for his screenplay of Meet Me in St. Louis, is born in New York, New York.

1911: John S. McCain Jr., U.S. Navy admiral who served as commander-in-chief, Pacific Command, during the Vietnam War and was the father of 2008 presidential candidate John S. McCain III, is born in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

1908: Costantino "Cus" D'Amato, U.S. boxing trainer and manager who handled the careers of Mike Tyson, Floyd Patterson and Jose Torres, is born in the Bronx, New York.

1899: Al Capone, U.S. gangster who was a notorious crime boss during the Prohibition era, is born in Brooklyn, New York.

You might think the man who ruled a criminal empire would have the most ostentatious grave of them all – with the biggest ceramic photo of them all. Instead, the grave is small, flush to the ground, and hidden behind a bush. If you don't know where to look, you're going to wander around for quite a while trying to find it (as we did). And the inscription is simple: Alphonse Capone, 1899 – 1947 (no months or days, though the full truth is that he was born Jan. 17, 1899, and died Jan. 25, 1947), and a brief epitaph: "My Jesus Mercy." Read more




1867: Carl Laemmle, German movie pioneer who founded Universal Studios, is born in Laupheim, Germany.

Of tCarl Laemmle (Wikimedia Commons)he early Hollywood film moguls – Laemmle, Adolph Zukor, William Fox and Marcus Loew – Laemmle was considered the warmest and most easygoing. He endeared himself to actors by being among the first to give them credit on screen and is often said to have created the first named movie star – Florence Lawrence, previously known only as the Biograph Girl. His was the only studio that allowed tourists to visit (a practice that has evolved into a $100 million annual business with Universal Theme Parks in Orlando, Florida; Los Angeles; and Osaka, Japan). On the lot, he was affectionately referred to as Uncle Carl – though with his penchant for nepotism, for many the moniker wasn't a nickname. Read more



1863: Constantin Stanislavski, Russian actor and theater director who developed the Stanislavski system for training actors, which gave rise to Method acting, is born in Moscow, Russia.

1853: Alva Belmont, U.S. activist who had a prominent role in the fight for women's suffrage, is born in Mobile, Alabama.

1820: Anne Brontë, English novelist who wrote Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and was the sister of Charlotte and Emily Brontë, is born in Thornton, England.

1814: Ellen Wood, English author who wrote internationally best-selling novels including East Lynne under the name Mrs. Henry Wood, is born in Worcester, England.

1706: Benjamin Franklin, U.S. publisher, inventor and politician who was among the Founding Fathers and made important discoveries regarding electricity, is born in Boston, Massachusetts.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including chess champion Bobby Fischer.