Whitney Houston spent her childhood singing in church and nightclubs with her mother. By 14 she was working as a backup singer, performing on two hit singles before she could even legally drive. She would go on to sell millions of her own records as one of the most-beloved solo artists of all time, and she toured the world many times over. She also conquered the big screen, starring in blockbusters such as “The Bodyguard” and “Waiting To Exhale” and producing hits like “The Princess Diaries.” We remember Houston’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1963: Jay Leggett, U.S. actor and comedian who was a cast member of “In Living Color,” is born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin.
Leggett was a respected fixture in Chicago’s improv comedy community before moving to Los Angeles to join the cast of “In Living Color” for the show’s final season. He was also a successful screenwriter and filmmaker, as well as an avid hunter. He finished production in 2013 on his final feature film, “Live Nude Girls,” which he wrote and directed. Read more
1963: Whitney Houston, U.S. singer and actress whose hits include “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “I Will Always Love You,” is born in Newark, New Jersey.
Houston’s debut, aptly titled “Whitney Houston,” was quietly released in February 1985. She was little-known at the time, with only a couple of duets (with Teddy Pendergrass and Jermaine Jackson) to her credit. But critics liked the album, and the lead single, “You Give Good Love,” began a slow climb to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. As more singles were released, the public caught on and began rushing to their record stores, eventually helping the album become the all-time best-selling debut by a female artist. Houston held the record for more than a decade (before being surpassed in 1999 by Britney Spears and “Baby One More Time”), and the album remains a remarkable debut, full of fantastic songs that range from soulful ballads to bright and cheery dance numbers. Read more
1943: Ken Norton, U.S. boxer who fought legendary bouts against Muhammad Ali, is born in Jacksonville, Illinois.
Norton broke Ali’s jaw in their first bout, beating him by split decision in 1973 in a nontitle fight in San Diego. They fought six months later, and Ali narrowly won a split decision. They met for a third time Sept. 28, 1976, at Yankee Stadium and Ali narrowly won to keep his heavyweight title. Norton would come back the next year to win a heavyweight title eliminator and was declared champion by the World Boxing Council. On June 9, 1978, he lost a bruising 15-round fight to Larry Holmes in what many regard as one of boxing’s epic heavyweight bouts and would never be champion again. Read more
1942: Tommie Agee, U.S. professional baseball player who made two memorable catches in the 1969 World Series while playing for the New York Mets, is born in Magnolia, Alabama.
1931: Paula Kent Meehan, U.S. businesswoman who co-founded Redken, is born in Beverly Hills, California.
1927: Marvin Minsky, U.S. scientist who was a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, is born in New York, New York.
1927: Robert Shaw, English actor known for roles in movies including “Jaws,” “The Sting,” and “A Man for All Seasons,” is born in Westhoughton, England.
1927: Daniel Keyes, U.S. author known best for his novel “Flowers for Algernon,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.
First published as a short story in 1959, and later as a novel, “Algernon” is a series of journal entries by a low-IQ laborer named Charlie Gordon who participates in experiments that triple his intelligence just as researchers did with a laboratory mouse named Algernon. As the protagonist reaches the height of his brainpower, the mouse’s progress begins to reverse until he dies, a harbinger of what’s to come for Charlie. The very makeup of the book’s entries follows the ascension and decline of the main character, whose writings are filled with spelling and grammatical errors at the start, then soar to sophistication before regressing. Read more
1899: P.L. Travers, Australian-English author who wrote the “Mary Poppins” series of books, is born in Maryborough, Queensland.
1896: Jean Piaget, Swiss developmental psychologist known for his work with children, is born in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.