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Born November 17

Jeff Buckley's soaring voice brought beauty to the alternative music scene in the 1990s – but his greatest fame came only after his untimely death. Buckley's 1994 album, "Grace," was critically acclaimed and won him fans including Bob Dylan and Lou Reed, but the general public didn't really know it existed. Over the years, however, Buckley's version of the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" made its way into the nation's subconscious, used in movie soundtracks and commercials, until it finally exploded to the top of the iTunes chart in 2008 after being played on "American Idol." Buckley was, unfortunately, unable to enjoy his great fame, having died in an accidental drowning in 1997, just 30 years old. We remember Buckley'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 soul singer Jimmy Ruffin.

1966: Jeff Buckley, U.S. guitarist and singer-songwriter who was critically acclaimed and released his only studio album, "Grace," in 1994, is born in Anaheim, California.

Buckley was a songwriter, and a talented one … but his most famous and enduring recording is one that came from another pen. "Hallelujah" was written by Leonard Cohen and released in 1984 on his album "Various Positions." Ten years later, Jeff Buckley recorded his version. Read more




1955: Yolanda King, U.S. activist and actress who was the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and appeared in the movie "Ghosts of Mississippi," is born in Montgomery, Alabama.

King – an actor, speaker, and producer – was the founder and head of Higher Ground Productions, billed as a "gateway for inner peace, unity and global transformation." On her company's website, King described her mission as encouraging personal growth and positive social change, according to her 2007 obituary by The Associated Press. Read more




1951: Dean Paul Martin, U.S. actor and professional tennis player who was the son of Dean Martin, is born in Santa Monica, California.

1944: Gene Clark, U.S. guitarist and singer-songwriter who was one of the founders of the band the Byrds and wrote many of their songs, including "Eight Miles High," is born in Tipton, Missouri.

TGene Clark (Wikimedia Commonshe Byrds created an entirely new musical genre. Folk rock, as it became known, combined the brainy poetic lyrics and vocal harmonies of the former with the clean electric guitars and driving beats of the latter in what was essentially America’s musical response to the British Invasion. Read more




1940: Luke Kelly, Irish folk musician who was a founding member of the Dubliners and is considered one of Ireland's greatest folk singers, is born in Dublin, Ireland.

1937: Peter Cook, English comedian and actor who had a successful comedy duo with Dudley Moore, is born in Torquay, England.

1930: Bob Mathias, U.S. decathlete who won two gold medals in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics and later represented California in the U.S. Congress, is born in Tulare, California.

Mathias became the youngest Olympic gold medalist in a track and field event in 1948 in London, when he won the decathlon at 17. It was only his third decathlon competition, having qualified for the Olympics by winning two events in the United States, according to his 2006 obituary by The Associated Press. At the 1952 Games in Helsinki, he became the first athlete to repeat as Olympic champion in the decathlon. Earlier that year, he played fullback for Stanford in its Rose Bowl appearance. Though the Washington Redskins drafted him, he never signed. Mathias also won the 1948 Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Read more



1928: Rance Howard, veteran Hollywood actor who was the father of director/actor Ron Howard, is born in Duncan, Oklahoma.

1925: Rock Hudson, U.S. actor who was a popular leading man in the 1950s and '60s, is born in Winnetka, Illinois.

In the last months of his life, and the decades since, Hudson's career and talent became eclipsed by the sensational nature of his death. As the first major celebrity to die of AIDS, Hudson created endless controversy and gossip fodder with the announcement of his illness. There was a period when it seemed all the entertainment media could talk about was Hudson's diagnosis … and his sexuality. Somewhere along the way, we forgot about his career. Read more




1916: Shelby Foote, U.S. historian and author known for his many appearances in Ken Burns' Public Broadcasting Service documentary "The Civil War," who wrote "The Civil War: A Narrative," is born in Greenville, Mississippi.

Foote's first novel, "Tournament," was started before the war and published in 1949. Then came "Follow Me Down" in 1950, "Love in a Dry Season" in 1951, "Shiloh" in 1952 and "Jordan County" in 1954. That same year, Random House asked him to write a one-volume history of the Civil War. He took the job, but it grew into a three-volume project finally finished in 1974, according to his 2005 obituary by The Associated Press. In 1999, the Modern Library ranked Foote's "The Civil War: A Narrative" as No. 15 on its list of the century's 100 best English-language works of nonfiction, the obituary said. Read more



1905: Mischa Auer, Russian actor who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in "My Man Godfrey," is born in St. Petersburg, Russia.

1901: Lee Strasberg, U.S. acting coach who is considered the Father of Method Acting, is born in Budaniv, Ukraine.

1891: Frank Fay, U.S. vaudeville comedian and actor known for musical films of the early sound era, including "Under a Texas Moon," is born in San Francisco, California.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including soul singer Jimmy Ruffin.