Neil Armstrong may be the most famous astronaut in American history thanks to his historic first steps on the moon. In addition to his giant leap for mankind, Armstrong flew combat missions for the U.S. Navy, tested experimental aircraft, worked as an aerospace engineer, and was a university professor. He was a participant in both the Gemini and Apollo programs for NASA and worked as an administrator there until he retired from the agency in 1971. In his personal life, Armstrong stayed out of politics but did become involved with the Boy Scouts and served as a spokesman for several U.S. businesses. We remember Armstrong’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1992: Tray Walker, NFL cornerback who played one rookie season with the Baltimore Ravens, is born in Miami, Florida.
1972: Darren Shahlavi, British martial artist and actor who played Kano in “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” is born in Stockport, England.
1964: Adam Yauch, U.S. rapper who was a member of the Beastie Boys under the stage name MCA, is born in New York, New York.
The Brooklyn-born Yauch created the Beastie Boys with high school friend Michael “Mike D” Diamond. Originally conceived as a hardcore punk group, it became a hip-hop trio soon after Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz joined. They released their chart-topping debut, “Licensed To Ill,” in 1986, a raucous album led by the anthem “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”. In the seven studio albums that followed, the Beastie Boys expanded considerably and grew more musically ambitious. Their follow-up, 1989’s “Paul’s Boutique,” ended any suggestion that the group was a one-hit wonder. Extensive in its sampling and sonically layered, the album was ranked the 156th greatest album ever by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003. Read more
1959: Pete Burns, British singer for the new wave band Dead or Alive, is born in Cheshire, England.
1943: Sammi Smith, U.S. country singer who had a crossover hit in 1971 with “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” is born in Orange County, California.
1939: Bob Clark, U.S. film director and screenwriter known best for directing and co-writing “A Christmas Story,” is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Huxley played on the band’s signature hits from the era when they rivaled the Beatles in popularity. Their best-known songs included “Bits and Pieces” and “Glad All Over.” They enjoyed a large following in the United States after appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The band was known for drummer Clark’s driving beat and his exuberant vocals, but they faded after several years and broke up in 1970 after 12 years together. Read more
1937: Herb Brooks, U.S. hockey player and coach who coached the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team to a win in the “Miracle on Ice,” is born in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
U.S.-Soviet tensions were running high in 1980. The Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan in a move President Jimmy Carter called “the most serious threat to the peace since the Second World War.” The U.S. had withdrawn from nuclear arms talks, imposed embargoes, and upped military spending. The U.S. had also made known it was planning to boycott the 1980 Moscow Summer Games. Thus the USA vs. USSR game became not just a contest between opposing hockey players, but one between capitalism and communism, democracy and totalitarianism; it became the Cold War in miniature, to be played out on a 30-by-60-meter slab of ice. Read more
Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969, capping the most daring of the 20th century’s scientific expeditions. His first words after setting foot on the surface are etched in history books and the memories of those who heard them in a live broadcast. “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind,” Armstrong said. In those first few moments on the moon, during the climax of heated space race with the then-Soviet Union, Armstrong stopped in what he called “a tender moment” and left a patch to commemorate NASA astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts who had died in action. Read more
1911: Robert Taylor, U.S. actor who was one of the most popular leading men of Hollywood’s golden age, is born in Filley, Nebraska.
1906: John Huston, U.S. film director, screenwriter, and actor who directed classics including “The Maltese Falcon” and “The African Queen,” is born in Nevada, Missouri.