Coco Chanel did no less than change the way the women of the world dress, offering a sporty, casual look that a generation of corseted women was eager to embrace. So widely accepted was her new approach to fashion that Chanel is included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century – the only fashion designer so honored. Even today, more than 100 years after her first designs debuted, the Chanel name is everywhere, on beloved perfume, sought-after handbags, and more. We remember Chanel’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1969: Nate Dogg, born Nathaniel Hale, U.S. rapper who was a member of 213, is born in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
His near monotone crooning anchored some of rap’s most seminal songs and helped define the sound of West Coast hip-hop. Read more
1958: Tony Longo, U.S. actor who appeared in “Sixteen Candles” and “Six Feet Under,” is born in Belmar, New Jersey.
1946: Dawn Steel, U.S. film producer who was the first woman to head Columbia Pictures, is born in the Bronx, New York.
1942: Fred Thompson, U.S. senator from Tennessee and actor known best for his appearances on TV’s “Law & Order,” is born Sheffield, Alabama.
1940: Johnny Nash, singer best known for his No. 1 hit song “I Can See Clearly Now” in 1972, is born in Houston, Texas.
1939: Ginger Baker, legendary drummer for the power trio Cream, is born in South London, England.
1931: Bill Shoemaker, U.S. jockey who won 11 Triple Crown races during his career, is born in Fabens, Texas.
1930: Frank McCourt, U.S. author and teacher who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “Angela’s Ashes,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.
Until his mid-60s, McCourt was known primarily around New York as a creative writing teacher and as a local character – the kind who might turn up in a New York novel – singing songs and telling stories with his younger brother Malachy and otherwise joining the crowds at the White Horse Tavern and other literary hangouts. But there was always a book or two being formed in his mind, and the world would learn his name, and story, in 1996, after a friend helped him get an agent and his then-unfinished manuscript was quickly signed by Scribner. With a first printing of just 25,000, “Angela’s Ashes” was an instant favorite with critics and readers and perhaps the ultimate case of the noncelebrity memoir, the extraordinary life of an ordinary man. Read more
1926: Angus Scrimm, U.S. actor known best for playing the Tall Man in the horror movie “Phantasm,” is born in Kansas City, Kansas.
1921: Gene Roddenberry, U.S. TV screenwriter and producer who was the creator of “Star Trek,” is born in El Paso, Texas.
The original show conceived by Roddenberry – just three seasons long and not extremely popular when it aired in the late 1960s – has expanded over the years, spawning five additional TV series (including the animated series of the mid-’70s) and 11 movies (with more on the way). But more than that, “Star Trek” has come to epitomize sci-fi culture. The show generated a rabid fan base long before geekdom and sci-fi conventions were cool. And the franchise helped bring tales of space exploration out of entertainment’s fringes and into the mainstream. Read more
1919: Malcolm Forbes, U.S. publisher of Forbes magazine, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1906: Philo Farnsworth, U.S. inventor who was a pioneer of television technology, is born near Beaver, Utah.
1902: Ogden Nash, U.S. poet known for his short, humorous verses, is born in Rye, New York.
1883: Coco Chanel, French fashion designer who founded the Chanel brand, is born in Saumur, France.
The casual knits in Chanel’s boutiques were new and exciting for a generation of young women raised in corsets but eager to live active lives. Chanel herself was the epitome of what these women strove to be: independent, dynamic, slim, and sporty. Her cropped hair and boyish figure became the ideal for many young women, and the straight lines and boxy silhouettes of her designs were tailor-made for that figure. Her own taste in color was also a key element in Chanel’s fashion design: in her home and her dress, Chanel looked toward classic blacks, whites, and beiges. Those colors were the cornerstone of the House of Chanel – particularly the “little black dress,” a wardrobe staple made famous by Coco Chanel. Read more