John Phillips was known otherwise as Papa John, leader of the iconic ’60s folkies the Mamas and the Papas. As the group’s primary songwriter, he wrote or co-wrote their top hits, including “California Dreamin’,” “Monday, Monday,” and “Creeque Alley.” He also wrote songs for other artists, including the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo,” on which he collaborated with Scott MacKenzie, Mike Love, and Terry Melcher, and “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair,” made famous by MacKenzie. His legacy continues with his talented daughters, actress Mackenzie Phillips, singer Chynna Phillips of the band Wilson Phillips, and actress and singer Bijou Phillips. We remember Phillips’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1963: Dave Brockie, Canadian musician who sang lead vocals for the metal band GWAR, is born in Ottawa, Ontario.
The band founded in 1984 is known for its comically grotesque costumes, stage antics, and vulgar lyrics. GWAR was nominated for a Grammy Award for the best long-form music video in 1993 for “Phallus in Wonderland” but lost to “Diva” by Annie Lennox. It also was nominated for best metal performance for “S.F.W.” in 1996 but lost to “Happiness in Slavery” by Nine Inch Nails. Read more
1948: Fred Hampton, U.S. activist who was a leader of the Black Panther Party in Illinois and was murdered by FBI agents in a notorious raid, is born in Summit, Illinois.
1946: Peggy Lipton, actor who starred as Julie on the “Mod Squad,” is born in New York, New York.
1944: Tug McGraw, U.S. professional baseball pitcher with the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, whose son is country singer Tim McGraw, is born in Martinez, California.
McGraw also was known for his larger-than-life personality. A screwball pitcher, he wasn’t ashamed to say he could be a screwball in life, too. He was quick with a quip – once asked whether he preferred playing on grass or AstroTurf, he said, “I don’t know. I never smoked any AstroTurf” – and generous with his time. He autographed balls, replied to fan mail, and generally seemed to relish life. As The New York Times baseball writer Tyler Kepner noted in a 2004 appreciation piece, every kid who grew up around Philadelphia loved McGraw. “How could you not? Mike Schmidt hit home runs. Steve Carlton struck people out. Pete Rose smacked singles. Tug McGraw smiled all the time.” Read more
1944: Molly Ivins, U.S. newspaper columnist and author known for her biting commentary, is born in Monterey, California.
Ivins loved to write about politics and called the Texas Legislature, which she referred to as “The Lege,” the best free entertainment in Austin. “Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair’s-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?” she wrote in a 2002 column about a California political race. Read more
1939: John Peel, English radio presenter for BBC Radio 1 known for his popular “Peel Sessions” recordings, is born in Heswall, England.
1935: John Phillips, U.S. singer-songwriter and guitarist with the Mamas and the Papas, whose compositions include “Monday, Monday” and “California Dreamin’,” is born in Parris Island, South Carolina.
1927: Geoffrey Beene, U.S. fashion designer whose womenswear clients included Nancy Reagan and Glenn Close, is born in Haynesville, Louisiana.
A move to New York City in 1947 was followed by enrollment at the Traphagen School of Fashion, followed by time in Paris to learn the business. He returned to New York and got his first big break in 1954, a job designing for Teal Traina and his fledgling firm. In 1963, Beene opened his own company in a champagne-colored showroom on Seventh Avenue, and the business was an instant success. In its first year, Geoffrey Beene Inc. sold $500,000 worth of clothes, a figure that would quadruple in just two years. Read more
1926: Daryl Gates, U.S. police officer who was chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and co-founded the D.A.R.E. education program aimed at preventing substance abuse, is born in Glendale, California.
A tart-tongued career cop with a short fuse and a penchant for making controversial statements, Gates was a flashpoint for controversy long before the riots that broke out after four white police officers were acquitted of most charges in the beating of black motorist Rodney King. He once told a congressional committee that drug users should be shot. Although often at odds with civil rights activists, the mayor, and other political figures, Gates was well-liked by rank-and-file police officers and could be charming when he was in his element. He was responsible for numerous police department successes that came to be overlooked when he was forced into early retirement after the riots. Read more
1919: Kitty Wells, U.S. country singer whose hits include “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” is born in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wells’ success changed her life – and it also opened the door for other female country musicians. Before Wells, record labels were reluctant to release anything by a woman, but she showed them that a woman’s records could sell. Others soon followed in her footsteps, and as the ’60s went by, those other female country artists began to eclipse Wells’ fame, bringing new country sounds to a new generation. Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and many more stepped through the door that Kitty Wells opened, enjoying the fame she made possible. Read more
1918: Ted Williams, U.S. Major League Baseball player with the Boston Red Sox who is considered one of the sport’s all-time greatest hitters, is born in San Diego, California.
Late in his life, MacMurray would become the first to be honored as a “Disney Legend.” But in 1959, he was simply the father of a teen boy turned sheepdog (it could happen to anyone, really). In “The Shaggy Dog,” MacMurray uttered a classic line when he referred to the horror fave from two years prior, “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”: “Don’t be ridiculous – my son isn’t any werewolf! He’s just a big, baggy, stupid-looking, shaggy dog!” Read more
1906: Joan Blondell, U.S. actress whose films include “The Blue Veil” and “The Cincinnati Kid,” is born in Manhattan, New York.
1898: Shirley Booth, U.S. actress who starred on the 1960s sitcom “Hazel,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1893: Huey Long, U.S. politician who was governor of Louisiana from 1932 until his assassination in 1935, is born in Winnfield, Louisiana.
1797: Mary Shelley, English novelist known best for writing “Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus,” is born in London, England.