Louis Armstrong was one of the most popular and influential entertainers of the 20th century. Known as Satchmo, he was famed for his trumpet playing, his gravelly voice and fantastic scat singing, and his seemingly ever-present big smile. His hit songs included “Stardust,” “Ain’t Misbehaving,” and “Hello, Dolly!” His rendition of “What a Wonderful World” is a timeless classic. Armstrong was one of the first African-American performers to be widely accepted by white audiences, and he used his prominent position to speak out against segregation in the 1950s. We remember Armstrong’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1975: Andy Hallett, U.S. actor and singer known best for playing Lorne on TV’s “Angel,” is born in Osterville, Massachusetts.
Born and raised in Osterville, Massachusetts, Hallett moved out to Los Angeles when he was 23 and worked as a messenger at a talent agency, said his agent, Pat Brady. He went on to become an assistant to Joss Whedon’s wife, Brady said. It was when Whedon saw the lanky Hallett perform karaoke that he had him audition for “Angel,” a spinoff of Whedon’s hit series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Hallett snagged the part of Lorne. Hallett proved himself a fan favorite on “Angel” as the show-tune loving, red-horned demon seer who runs the karaoke club Caritas and can read a person’s aura when they sing, revealing their problems and futures. Read more
1959: Robbin Crosby, U.S. guitarist with Ratt who co-wrote some of their hits, including “Round and Round,” is born in La Jolla, California.
1942: Don S. Davis, U.S. actor who had notable roles on “Stargate SG-1” and “Twin Peaks,” is born in Aurora, Missouri.
1940: Timi Yuro, U.S. singer-songwriter who had a hit in 1961 with “Hurt,” is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1940: Larry Knechtel, U.S. bassist with Bread and the Wrecking Crew, is born in Bell, California.
1934: Dallas Green, former MLB manager who led the Philadelphia Phillies to a World Series title in 1980, is born in Newport, Delaware.
1920: Helen Thomas, U.S. journalist who was a member of the White House press corps, covering presidents from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama, is born in Winchester, Kentucky.
In her long career, she was indelibly associated with the ritual ending White House news conferences. She was often the one to deliver the closing line: “Thank you, Mister. President” — four polite words that belied a fierce competitive streak. Her disdain for White House secrecy and dodging spanned five decades, back to President John F. Kennedy. Her freedom to voice her peppery opinions as a speaker and a Hearst columnist came late in her career. Read more
1913: Robert Hayden, U.S. poet who was the first African-American to serve in the office known today as poet laureate, is born in Detroit, Michigan.
1912: Raoul Wallenberg, Swedish architect and diplomat known for saving tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust, is born in Lidingo Municipality, Sweden.
1910: Anita Page, U.S. actress and singer who was a star in the early days of sound films, opposite leading men including Clark Gable and Robert Montgomery, is born in Queens, New York.
1901: Louis Armstrong, U.S. trumpeter and singer known for his renditions of classics including “What a Wonderful World,” is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Armstrong was a bit of a sound pioneer, as NPR noted, when “during one particular song, Armstrong claims to have dropped the lyric sheet, and when the time came for the vocals, he sang hornlike nonsense syllables instead. With that one song, ‘Heebie Jeebies,’ he literally invented ‘scat’ and opened up an entirely new world to singers.” Armstrong once said that, “If it hadn’t been for jazz, there wouldn’t be no rock and roll,” according to his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame biography. Read more
1900: Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, English monarch who was the wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II, is born in London, England.
She was known best to younger generations as the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and grandmother of Prince Charles. Remarkably sprightly despite her age, the queen mother was a fixture at royal occasions, delighting in mixing with the public and greeting people who flocked to meet her. But those who were young when German bombs rained down on London in 1940 remembered her as the queen who endured the blitz with them and visited their shattered homes. Read more
1821: Louis Vuitton, French fashion designer who founded the Louis Vuitton brand, is born in Anchay, France.
1792: Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet known for poems including “Ozymandias” and “Ode to the West Wind,” is born in Horsham, England.