Born May 22

Harvey Milk was the epitome of the "late bloomer," entering politics at age 40 and quickly becoming an icon for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights movement. Milk was gunned down, however, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by a former city supervisor in November 1978. Milk's tragic death, at the start of what promised to be an amazing career in public service, transformed him into a martyr for the gay community and a source of inspiration for countless leaders who came after him. We remember Milk'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 poet Langston Hughes.

1940: Michael Sarrazin, Canadian actor who starred in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?", is born in Quebec City, Quebec.

Michael Sarrazin (Photo by Ron Galella/Contributor/WireImage)Sarrazin was remembered by his brother Pierre for his "wicked sense of wit," but fans might recall his "soulful eyes." Major stardom proved elusive. Sarrazin suffered a professional setback in 1969 when he had to give up the role of Joe Buck in "Midnight Cowboy." The actor was on his way to Texas for a costume fitting when he found out his studio wouldn't release him from his contract, his brother said. He had to turn down a part that eventually went to Jon Voight. Read more




1939: Paul Winfield, U.S. actor known for roles in "King," in which he played the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and "Sounder," is born in Los Angeles, California.

Perhaps Winfield's finest hour was in the 1972 movie "Sounder," in which he played a Louisiana sharecropper during the Great Depression. The movie was a critical and popular success, and Winfield was nominated for an Academy Award for best actor –– only the third African-American to be nominated for that honor. (Marlon Brando won the Oscar that year for "The Godfather.") Read more




1938: Susan Strasberg, U.S. actress who originated the title role of "The Diary of Anne Frank" on Broadway, is born in New York, New York.

Not just an actress, Strasberg also was a best-selling author. Her two books were her autobiography, "Bittersweet," and her memoir of a friendship, "Marilyn and Me: Sisters, Rivals, Friends." The Marilyn of the book title was the legendary Marilyn Monroe, who was a dear friend to Strasberg. Strasberg considered Monroe a member of the family. Read more




1930: Harvey Milk, U.S. politician who was the first openly gay person elected to public office in California and became an icon of the gay community, is born in Woodmere, New York.

1927: Peter Matthiessen, U.S. author who co-founded The Paris Review, is born in New York, New York.

Peter Matthiessen (Associated Press)Few authors could claim such a wide range of achievements. Matthiessen helped found The Paris Review, one of the most influential literary magazines, and won National Book awards for "The Snow Leopard," his spiritual account of the Himalayas, and for the novel "Shadow Country." A leading environmentalist and wilderness writer, he embraced the best and worst that nature could bring him, whether trekking across the Himalayas, parrying sharks in Australia, or enduring a hurricane in Antarctica. Read more




1914: Sun Ra, born Herman Blount, U.S. jazz pianist and composer known for his experimental music, is born in Birmingham, Alabama.

The man was a conundrum, exhibiting equal parts genius and madness. He was a brilliant innovator in jazz and electronic music, adopting new technologies such as electric bass guitars and MOOG synthesizers before anyone else and staging elaborate live performances unlike any who came before him. He also claimed to have visited Saturn to meet with aliens. Read more




1910: Johnny Olson, U.S. television announcer for "The Jackie Gleason Show" and "The Price Is Right," is born in Windom, Minnesota.

1907: Laurence Olivier, English actor who was a great star of the British stage as well as the silver screen, with notable roles in movies including "Rebecca" and "Henry V," is born in Dorking, England.

Olivier was nominated for and won most of the industry's major awards, including multiple BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and Emmys. Nominated for 12 Academy awards as actor, producer, or director, he won twice – for best film and best actor for "Hamlet." He also received two special Oscars – one in 1947, an "outstanding achievement" award for directing "Henry V," and the other in 1979, for his contribution to film. Read more



1813: Richard Wagner, German composer known for operas including "The Ring of the Nibelung," is born in Leipzig, Germany.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including jazz poet Langston Hughes.