Getty Images / Photo by J. Emilio Flores

Born March 7

"Tammy Faye Messner was known better when she was Tammy Faye Bakker, but you could also just call her "Tammy Faye" and most people who were around in the '80s would know who you mean. Rising to fame on "The PTL Club" as the wife of televangelist Jim Bakker, she sang and cried her way into viewers' hearts. When her husband's career collapsed under the weight of scandal, she bounced back, remarrying and finding herself the star of two documentaries and a season of the reality show "The Surreal Life." Her public struggle with colon cancer was inspirational to friends and fans. We remember Messner'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 cult hero Divine.

1958: Rik Mayall, English actor and comedian known for roles in "The Young Ones" and "Drop Dead Fred," is born in Epping, England.

Rik Mayall (Associated Press Photo/Matthew Fearn/PA)In the 1980s, Mayall was part of the Comic Strip, a hugely influential group of alternative young comics that included Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, and Mayall's writing and performing partner, Adrian Edmondson. He was known best for co-writing and performing in "The Young Ones," a sitcom about slovenly students that was much loved by those it satirized. On television, he memorably played Conservative politician Alan B'stard on the sitcom "The New Statesman" and lecherous Lord Flashheart in comedy classic "Blackadder." He and Edmondson also created and starred on "Bottom," a surreally violent slapstick series about two unemployed slobs. Read more

 

 

1945: Arthur Lee, U.S. musician who was the lead singer for the folk-rock band Love, is born in Memphis, Tennessee.

1945: John Heard, the actor who played the father in “Home Alone,” and appeared in numerous other movies, is born in Washington, D.C.

1944: Townes Van Zandt, U.S. singer-songwriter whose compositions include "Pancho and Lefty," is born in Fort Worth, Texas.

Van Zandt was a cult favorite in his day, beloved by other musicians but held back from wider fame by managerial disputes, strange production on his studio releases, and Van Zandt's own struggles with bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol abuse. Still, the attention from his fellow country rockers helped bring his music to some devoted fans – a gig opening for the Cowboy Junkies in 1990; the unabashed adulation of Steve Earle; and covers of his work by Emmylou Harris, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, and many more. Read more

 

 

 

1942: Tammy Faye Messner, U.S. televangelist known best for co-hosting "The PTL Club," is born in International Falls, Minnesota.

The Bakkers were notorious for their frequent donation requests on "The PTL" Club. Much of the money they received went toward the construction of Heritage USA, a religious theme park that at its height was third only to Walt Disney World and Disneyland in the list of top U.S. vacation destinations. After 13 years of "PTL," scandal brought the empire down in 1987. While Jim went to jail for mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy, Tammy Faye managed to stay on the right side of the law. The Bakkers' marriage ended five years later. Read more

 

 

1929: Yvonne Chouteau, U.S. ballerina dancer who was one of the five American Indian prima ballerinas from Oklahoma, is born in Fort Worth, Texas.

1927: James Broderick, U.S. actor who starred on the TV series "Family" from 1976 to 1980, and the father of actor Matthew Broderick, is born in Charlestown, New Hampshire.

1875: Maurice Ravel, French composer known best for "Boléro," is born in Ciboure, France.

1873: Madame Sul-Te-Wan, U.S. actress who was the first African-American actor to sign a film contract and be a featured performer, is born in Louisville, Kentucky.

Madame Sul-Te-Wan (Public Domain)Later in her career, Madame Sul-Te-Wan did get a chance to showcase some of her talents, winning praise for her role in the hit movie "Maid of Salem." And when Dorothy Dandridge became the first African-American nominated for a best actress Oscar, Madame Sul-Te-Wan appeared in the film as her grandmother. Apparently she was so convincing in the role that for years biographers mistakenly referred to her as Dandridge's real-life grandmother. Read more

 

 

 

1872: Piet Mondrian, Dutch painter known for creating the neoplasticism style, is born in Amersfoort, Netherlands.

1671: Rob Roy McGregor, Scottish outlaw who was a folk hero, known as the Scottish Robin Hood, is born in Stirlingshire, Scotland.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including cult hero Divine.