Michael Jackson was the King of Pop, a musical powerhouse whose fame spanned decades and found fans from all walks of life. He was a compelling performer from a young age, leading his brothers in the Jackson Five before he was 10 years old and scoring his first No. 1 hit single, “I Want You Back,” when he was 11. He went on to solo stardom, making history with albums like “Thriller,” which remains the best-selling album of all time. He won 13 Grammy awards and a record-breaking 26 American Music awards, set a number of Guinness world records, and is a two-time member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as a member of the Dance Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and more. We remember Jackson’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
1958: Michael Jackson, U.S. singer-songwriter, dancer, and actor known for smash hits including “Beat It,” “Man in the Mirror,” and “Black or White,” is born in Gary, Indiana.
Jackson’s solo works were often critical and commercial successes, including the albums “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” and “Bad.” “Off the Wall,” released in 1979, was Jackson’s fifth solo album, but his first with Epic Records, the label that represented him until his death. The record produced multiple hit singles, including “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” The record “introduced Jackson as a dashing, charismatic solo performer,” noted mtv.com in a retrospective written after Jackson’s death. “The exuberant set established Jackson as one of the premier talents in music and positioned him as the sexiest entertainer since Elvis Presley first gyrated his hips on national television.” Read more
1942: Sterling Morrison, U.S. guitarist with the Velvet Underground, is born in East Meadow, New York.
1941: Robin Leach, journalist who became famous as host of the syndicated TV series “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” is born in London, England.
1940: James Brady, U.S. politician who was White House press secretary under President Ronald Reagan and was severely injured during the assassination attempt on Reagan, is born in Centralia, Illinois.
Of the four people struck by gunfire in the assassination attempt by John Hinckley Jr. – later found to be insane – Brady was the most seriously wounded. A news clip of the shooting, replayed often on television, showed Brady sprawled on the ground as Secret Service agents hustled the wounded president into his limousine. Reagan was shot in one lung while a policeman and a Secret Service agent suffered lesser wounds. Brady never regained full health. The shooting caused brain damage, partial paralysis, short-term memory impairment, slurred speech, and constant pain. Read more
1936: John McCain, the “maverick” Republican who survived years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam to become one of the most influential U.S. senators of his time, is born in Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone.
1928: Dick O’Neill, U.S. actor who played Charlie Cagney on “Cagney & Lacey,” is born in New York, New York.
1928: Charles Gray, English actor whose notable films include “Diamonds Are Forever” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” is born in Bournemouth, England.
1927: Jimmy C. Newman, U.S. country music singer who was a longtime Grand Ole Opry member and had hits including “Cry, Cry, Darling,” is born in Mamou, Louisiana.
1924: Dinah Washington, U.S. singer and pianist who was one of the great vocalists of the 1950s with songs such as the top-10 pop hit “What a Diff’rence a Day Made,” is born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
As a director, Attenborough made several successful movies, from “Oh What a Lovely War” in 1969 to “Chaplin” and “Shadowlands” in the 1990s. But his greatest success was “Gandhi,” a film that was 20 years in the planning and won eight Oscars, including best picture. The generation that was introduced to Attenborough as an avuncular veteran actor in the 1990s — when he played the failed theme park developer in “Jurassic Park” and Kriss Kringle in a remake of “Miracle on 34th Street” — may not have appreciated his dramatic range. Read more
1922: Richard Blackwell, U.S. fashion designer and critic known for his yearly “Ten Worst Dressed Women List,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.
Blackwell, whose first name was Richard, was a little-known dress designer when he issued his first tongue-in-cheek criticism of Hollywood fashion disasters for 1960 – long before Joan Rivers and others turned such ridicule into a daily affair. Year after year, he would take Hollywood’s reigning stars and other celebrities to task for failing to dress in what he thought was the way they should. Being dowdy was bad enough, but the more outrageous clothing a woman wore, the more biting his criticism. He once said a reigning Miss America looked “like an armadillo with corn pads.” Read more
1920: Charlie Parker, U.S. jazz saxophonist known as Bird, who was an icon of bebop, is born in Kansas City, Kansas.
Sanford’s career began with a small but powerful role in the award-winning 1967 drama “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Co-starring with Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy, Sanford played a maid – a role that, in another movie, might feel like a disappointing example of typecasting. But in this civil rights-era examination of prejudice and interracial relationships, Sanford’s Tillie became much more than the stereotypical black maid of yore. She was a crucial piece of the movie’s puzzle, examining the relationship from a very different viewpoint from that of her employers. Read more
1915: Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress known for iconic roles in movies including “Casablanca” and “Notorious,” is born in Stockholm, Sweden.
Bergman’s first Oscar nomination came early in her career and didn’t result in a win, though she once said it would be the movie for which she’d be remembered. Nominated for best actress for 1944’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Bergman starred opposite Gary Cooper (who earned a best actor nomination, but also didn’t win). The Ernest Hemingway adaptation was a hit and a financial success, though Hemingway himself wasn’t a fan. Bergman’s performance as the vulnerable refugee Maria stands among her best. Read more
1915: Nathan Pritikin, U.S. nutritionist who created the well-known Pritikin Diet, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1809: Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., U.S. physician and author whose works include “The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table,” is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1632: John Locke, English philosopher known as the Father of Classical Liberalism, is born in Wrington, England.