Leonard Bernstein was one of the most famous figures in classical music of the 20th century, directing the New York Philharmonic and conducting a series of acclaimed “Young People’s Concerts” for television. He delighted generations of Broadway fans and moviegoers with his music for “West Side Story,” and his operetta “Candide” was Tony-nominated and remains popular today. Other beloved Bernstein shows include “On the Town” and “Wonderful Town,” and he composed the score for Elia Kazan’s “On the Waterfront.” We remember Bernstein’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1965: Mia Zapata, U.S. singer with punk band the Gits, is born in Louisville, Kentucky.
1955: John McGeoch, Scottish guitarist who was a member of influential new wave bands including Siouxsie and the Banshees and Public Image Ltd., is born in Greenock, Scotland.
1946: Charlie Sanders, U.S. professional football player with the Detroit Lions from 1968 to 1977, is born in Richlands, North Carolina.
Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 1968 NFL Draft, Sanders remained with the team for his entire 10-season playing career (1968-1977). During his time on the field, Sanders made the Pro-Bowl seven times, was a two-time All-Pro, and was selected for the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team. His career achievements were cemented in 2007 when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Read more
1938: David Canary, U.S. actor known best for his role as the Ponderosa’s foreman on the TV Western “Bonanza,” is born in Elwood, Indiana.
1927: Althea Gibson, U.S. tennis player and professional golfer who was the first African-American player in international tennis, is born in Clarendon County, South Carolina.
In the 1950s, Althea Gibson joined the ranks of trailblazers like Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, and Jesse Owens when she became the first black woman to compete on the world tennis tour. Her 1956 grand slam win was a crucial step in ushering in the integration of professional sports. Read more
1921: Monty Hall, Canadian who was the host of the classic TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
1919: George Wallace, U.S. politician who served as governor of Alabama and is known for his attempts at blocking desegregation, is born in Clio, Alabama.
During the tumultuous 1960s, Wallace would become the most popular and powerful governor in Alabama history, so popular that his first wife, Lurleen, won the 1966 gubernatorial election as a virtual stand-in candidate (at the time, Wallace was constitutionally forbidden from winning his own consecutive term). When it came to actually governing, however, he was generally disinterested in policy. Many of Alabama’s current problems related to education, tax reform, prisons, and economic development date back to the time Wallace took office. Read more
1918: Leonard Bernstein, U.S. composer and conductor who wrote the music for “West Side Story,” is born in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
1917: Mel Ferrer, U.S. actor, director, and producer who starred in “War and Peace” with his wife, Audrey Hepburn, is born in Elberon, New Jersey.
1916: Van Johnson, U.S. actor whose notable films include “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” and “The Caine Mutiny,” is born in Newport, Rhode Island.
With his tall, athletic build, handsome, freckled face, and sunny personality, the red-haired Johnson starred opposite Esther Williams, June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor, and others during his two decades under contract to MGM. He proved to be a versatile actor, equally at home with comedies (“The Bride Goes Wild,” “Too Young To Kiss”), war movies (“Go for Broke,” “Command Decision”), musicals (“Thrill of a Romance,” “Brigadoon”), and dramas (“State of the Union,” “Madame Curie”). Read more
1913: Walt Kelly, U.S. animator and cartoonist known best for creating the comic strip “Pogo,” is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1913: Don DeFore, U.S. actor who played neighbor Thorny on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” is born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
1909: Michael Rennie, English actor who played Klaatu in the 1951 sci-fi classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” is born in Idle, England.