Gordon Jump was a television favorite from the 1970s on. We remember Jump’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Gordon Jump was a television favorite from the 1970s on. He made his mark on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” playing radio station manager Arthur “Big Guy” Carlson and uttering one of the most iconic sitcom lines of all time: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.” Jump went on to take a number of guest and recurring roles on classic TV shows including “Soap,” “Growing Pains,” and “Seinfeld.” But his most recognizable role after “WKRP” ended was on a commercial: He became the perennially bored Maytag repairman, playing the part from 1989 until his death in 2003. We remember Jump’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1983: Sean Taylor, U.S. professional football player with the Washington Redskins, is born in Miami, Florida.
“His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,” said Richard Sharpstein, Taylor’s former lawyer. “It’s a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.” Read more
1958: Dennes “D.” Boon, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist with the Minutemen, is born in San Pedro, California.
No one would epitomize this DIY ethic more than the Minutemen. They were soon signed to SST Records (hands down the most important indie label of the 1980s) and their early efforts were recorded with extreme economy. The band would book studios after midnight, lay down well-rehearsed tracks on previously used tape, and even record songs in the order they wanted them to appear on the album in order to spend less time mastering the record. Boon even contributed artwork for many of the band’s cover sleeves. Read more
1954: Jeff Porcaro, U.S. drummer with Toto who also played for Steely Dan, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, and many more, is born in South Windsor, Connecticut.
Porcaro’s remarkable career as a session drummer would prove sufficient to secure his legacy as a pop and rock legend, but he will be remembered best for the band he started in 1977: Toto. Together with his younger brother and a talented team of session artists, Porcaro and Toto scored a string of hits in the late 1970s and ’80s, including “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” and their signature classic, “Africa.” Read more
1949: Gil Scott-Heron, U.S. poet, musician and author whose well-known spoken-word works include “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott-Heron recorded the song that would make him famous, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” which critiqued mass media, for the album “125th and Lenox” in Harlem in the 1970s. He followed up that recording with more than a dozen albums, initially collaborating with musician Brian Jackson. His most recent album was “I’m New Here,” which he began recording in 2007 and was released in 2010. Throughout his musical career, he took on political issues of his time, including apartheid in South Africa and nuclear arms. He had been shaped by the politics of the 1960s and the black literature, especially of the Harlem Renaissance. Read more
1946: Ronnie Lane, English guitarist who was a founding member of the bands Faces and Small Faces, is born in London, England.
1940: Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmental and political activist who founded the Green Belt Movement and in 2004 became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is born in Ihithe village, Kenya.
Maathai said during her 2004 acceptance speech that the inspiration for her life’s work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya, where she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water. Although the Green Belt Movement’s tree-planting campaign did not initially address the issues of peace and democracy, Maathai said it become clear over time that responsible governance of the environment was not possible without democracy. Read more
1935: Larry McDonald, U.S. politician who represented George in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1983, is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
1934: Jim Ed Brown, U.S. country music singer-songwriter who gained fame in the 1950s with his sisters as a member of the Browns, is born in Sparkman, Arkansas.
1932: Gordon Jump, U.S. actor known best for roles in “WKRP in Cincinnati” and a long-running series of Maytag commercials, is born in Dayton, Ohio.
And then there was Jump’s signature role. “WKRP” was one of the best-loved shows of the late 1970s and early ’80s, and Jump’s “Big Guy” – with his hilarious cluelessness – helped make it great. As “Big Guy,” Jump played a key part in one of the most enduringly funny sitcom episodes of all time – “Turkeys Away.” Read more
1930: Grace Lee Whitney, U.S. actress known for her role as Janice Rand on the original “Star Trek” TV series, is born in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1929: Bo Schembechler, U.S. football player and coach who was head coach at the University of Michigan from 1969 to 1989, is born in Barberton, Ohio.
1969 – The University of Michigan thinks about it for just 15 minutes before hiring Schembechler as head coach. That same year, Schembechler’s Wolverines go head to head with his old mentor’s Buckeyes with Michigan stomping OSU 24-12. Woody Hayes takes it well, remaining lifelong friends with Schembechler. Read more
1926: Anne McCaffrey, American-Irish author known best for her “Dragonriders of Pern” science fiction series, is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1920: Harry Lewis, U.S. actor with a notable role in “Key Largo” who also co-founded the Hamburger Hamlet restaurant chain, is born in Los Angeles, California.
Lewis was an actor who appeared in the 1948 movie “Key Largo” before founding Hamburger Hamlet chain in 1950 with his future wife, Marilyn. The restaurants were decorated with movie memorabilia and offered customized hamburgers long before the idea became trendy. At its peak, the chain had 24 restaurants nationwide; five remained at the time of his death. Read more
1917: Sydney Newman, Canadian producer who helped create “The Avengers” and “Doctor Who,” is born in Toronto, Ontario.
1885: Wallace Beery, U.S. actor who won an Academy Award for his performance in “The Champ,” is born in Clay County, Missouri.
1883: Lon Chaney Sr., U.S. actor known for roles in silent horror films including “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” and the father of actor Lon Chaney Jr., is born in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
1873: Sergei Rachmaninoff, Russian composer and pianist known for his romantic classical music, is born in Great Novgorod, Russian Empire.