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Born May 3

James Brown was the Godfather of Soul, one of the most influential musicians in the history of popular music. He all but invented funk music, with innovative songs like "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," and he contributed to the development of rock 'n' roll, soul, and more. He was an icon of civil rights who helped catalyze the black pride movement, and he was an activist for education. Four of his records rank in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and six of his singles are in the corresponding list of singles. We remember Brown'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 supermodel Suzy Parker.

1947: Doug Henning, Canadian magician who starred on a number of popular "World of Magic" TV specials, is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

1933: James Brown, U.S. singer whose hit singles include "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud," is born in Barnwell, South Carolina.

Brown was also a believer in the power of education, perhaps because he was not able to finish school himself. Brown grew up in poverty, and his early life was filled with turmoil. His mother left the family when he was 2, and his father sent him to live with an aunt who ran a brothel. Brown left school for good in the seventh grade after he was dismissed for "insufficient clothing." Though Brown eventually achieved success, he knew his story was a rare one, and he encouraged African-American children and teens to stay in school. In 1966's "Don't Be a Drop-Out," he worked hard to convince young people not to follow in his footsteps. Read more

 

 

1929: Denise Lor, U.S. singer and actress who was a featured artist on "The Garry Moore Show," is born in Los Angeles, California.

1928: Dave Dudley, U.S. country music singer whose signature song was "Six Days on the Road," is born in Spencer, Wisconsin.

1921: Sugar Ray Robinson, U.S. boxer who held the welterweight and middleweight championship titles and is considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, is born in Detroit, Michigan.

Sugar Ray Robinson (Wikimedia Commons)Robinson was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1943. He served alongside his boyhood idol Joe Louis, with the two fighters staging boxing exhibitions for the troops in Europe. Robinson often fell afoul of military regulations, and he got in trouble when he refused to perform unless African-American troops were also allowed to attend. He received an honorable discharge little more than a year later, after disappearing for days and claiming to have no memory of what had happened. Read more

 

 

 

1919: Pete Seeger, U.S. folk singer and songwriter whose compositions include "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)," is born in Patterson, New York.

Ask almost any folk singer from the 1940s through today, and they're likely to tell you Seeger was a friend, an influence, or both. His gentle compositions helped drive the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s, and he helped nurture other talents, including giving a leg up to a young Bob Dylan. Read more

 

 

 

1917: George Gaynes, U.S. actor known for playing the Commandant in the movie "Police Academy" and for his role as the adoptive father on the TV series "Punky Brewster," is born in Helsinki, Finland.

1915: Stu Hart, Canadian professional wrestler who founded Stampede Wrestling and was the father of wrestlers Bret and Owen Hart, is born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

1913: William Inge, U.S. playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize for "Picnic," is born in Independence, Kansas.

1906: Anna Roosevelt Halsted, U.S. writer and radio personality who was the daughter of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is born in New York, New York.

1906: Mary Astor, U.S. actress whose notable movies include "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Great Lie," is born in Quincy, Illinois.

1903: Bing Crosby, U.S. singer and actor who was one of the greatest stars of the 20th century and won an Academy Award for his performance in "Going My Way," is born in Tacoma, Washington.

Crosby's recording of "White Christmas" was massively popular when it was released in 1941, and then the following year when it was featured in the hit film "Holiday Inn" starring Crosby and Fred Astaire. The song was so popular, in fact, that within six years, the master recording was completely worn out after being duplicated so many times. In 1947, Crosby had to rerecord the song, striving to come as close as possible to the original. Read more

 

 

 

1898: Golda Meir, Israeli politician who was the first woman to serve as prime minister of Israel, is born in Kiev, Ukraine.

In 1906, Meir's family immigrated to the U.S., ending up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The family ran a grocery store, and young Meir was often put in charge of it. Even with her duties at the store, Meir was able to attend school, where she became a young leader. From her beginnings in the U.S., when she spoke no English, she rose to valedictorian of her grade-school class. Along the way, she organized a fundraiser for textbook fees and founded the American Young Sisters Society. Read more

 

 

 

1896: Dodie Smith, English author known best for her book "The Hundred and One Dalmatians," is born in Whitefield, England.

1889: Beulah Bondi, U.S. actress who played the mother of Jimmy Stewart's characters in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life," is born in Valparaiso, Indiana.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including supermodel Suzy Parker.