Lucille Ball won America’s hearts as one of the funniest figures of the 20th century. The redhead with the incredibly expressive face and impeccable comedic timing started in movies and became a superstar on TV, with “I Love Lucy,” “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour,” “The Lucy Show,” and more. She was the first woman to run a major television studio, and she broke new ground on television by continuing to star in “I Love Lucy” while pregnant. She graced the first cover of TV Guide and appeared on the cover of the magazine more than any other star. We remember Ball’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1969: Elliott Smith, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for his song “Miss Misery” from the soundtrack of “Good Will Hunting,” is born in Omaha, Nebraska.
A surprise nomination for his work in the indie film “Good Will Hunting,” the comparatively unheralded performer took the stage clad in a frumpy looking white dinner jacket, hair greasy, acoustic guitar slung over his shoulder. Looking nervous and uncomfortable, he delivered a spare, heartfelt rendition of “Miss Misery” that’s now regarded as one of the Academy Awards‘ finest musical moments, providing a breath of fresh air amid the other typically overblown musical segments. Read more
1938: Paul Bartel, U.S. actor, director, and screenwriter known best for writing, directing, and starring in “Eating Raoul,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1930: Abbey Lincoln, U.S. singer and actress whose films include “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Mo’ Better Blues,” is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Over her long career, Lincoln acted with Sidney Poitier and collaborated in music with the drummer Max Roach, whom she married in 1962 and later divorced. In later years, she had chart-topping albums with “You Gotta Pay the Band,” which she recorded with Stan Getz, and “Devil’s Got Your Tongue,” in which she rebuked some rappers, comics, and filmmakers for profiting from the denigration of black culture. Read more
1928: Andy Warhol, U.S. artist known for his pop art and for leading a group of countercultural celebrities, is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Warhol didn’t want the public to read anything too deep into his work. He wasn’t sending a message about consumerism or fame or anything else – just painting what he loved, however humble it might be. In his own words, “Just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” His examination of the mundane things he loved went beyond the canvas. His experimental films also delved into the everyday, showing things like six hours of a poet sleeping, eight hours of the Empire State Building, and even a few minutes with the artist himself eating a hamburger. Read more
1926: Norman Wexler, U.S. screenwriter who penned movies including “Saturday Night Fever” and “Serpico,” is born in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
1926: Clem Labine, U.S. professional baseball player who helped the Brooklyn Dodgers to their first World Series win in 1955, is born in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
In 1951, Labine was thrust into the three-game National League pennant playoff between the Dodgers and New York Giants. After the Giants won the opener, Brooklyn had no regular starter available for Game 2. Labine got the assignment by default and threw a six-hit shutout to keep the Dodgers alive in the best-of-three series. Bobby Thomson’s ninth-inning home run won the pennant for the Giants the next day. Labine would throw another shutout, allowing just seven hits in Game 6 of the 1956 World Series and beating the New York Yankees 1-0 in 10 innings to force a seventh game, which the Yankees won. That shutout came a day after Don Larsen’s perfect game, the only no-hitter in World Series history. Read more
1925: Barbara Bates, U.S. actress known best for her role in “All About Eve,” is born in Denver, Colorado.
1920: Selma Diamond, Canadian-American actress who played bailiff Selma Hacker on “Night Court,” is born in London, Ontario.
1918: Norman Granz, U.S. jazz music producer who founded record labels including Verve, is born in Los Angeles, California.
1917: Robert Mitchum, U.S. actor who starred in movies including “The Night of the Hunter” and “Cape Fear,” is born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
1911: Lucille Ball, U.S. actress, comedian, and TV executive who starred on “I Love Lucy,” is born in Jamestown, New York.
“I Love Lucy” broke new television ground. Desi Arnaz saw the opportunity to record a show so it could be aired again later, basically “inventing the idea of syndicated television,” said Steve Neilans, former communications coordinator at the Lucy Desi Museum & Center for Comedy. The show also was the first to use multiple camera angles. And the show challenged social mores. Ball and Arnaz were allowed to be shown as married, “which in itself was breaking barriers,” Neilans said. Ball also was the first pregnant woman shown on television, although the word “pregnant” was never mentioned, he said. “They said she was expecting.” Read more
1908: Will Lee, U.S. actor who played Mr. Hooper on “Sesame Street” from 1969 until 1982, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1881: Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist and pharmacologist who discovered penicillin, is born in Lochfield, Scotland.
1861: Edith Roosevelt, U.S. first lady who was the wife of President Theodore Roosevelt, is born in Norwich, Connecticut.
1809: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, English poet whose well-known poems include “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “Crossing the Bar,” is born in Somersby, England.