Johnny Cash was the Man in Black, one of the greatest and most influential country musicians of all time. We remember Cash’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Johnny Cash was the Man in Black, one of the greatest and most influential country musicians of all time. His fame spanned half a century, from early singles “Cry! Cry! Cry!” and “I Walk the Line” in the 1950s to his haunting covers of popular singles like “Hurt” and “Ain’t No Grave” in the 2000s. In between, he weathered career ups and downs, acted on screens big and small, spoke out as a Native American activist, became one-half of a country music power couple when he married June Carter, and continued to fascinate his fans all the while. He was a member of the Country Music, Gospel Music and Rock and Roll halls of fame; won multiple Grammy and Country Music Association awards; and received the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts. We remember Cash’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1943: Bob Hite, U.S. singer-songwriter who led the band Canned Heat, is born in Torrance, California.
1932: Johnny Cash, U.S. country music singer-songwriter whose hit singles include “I Walk the Line,” “Ring of Fire” and “Folsom Prison Blues,” is born in Kingsland, Arkansas.
On Jan. 13, 1968, Cash, considered by many one of the 20th century’s most influential musicians, performed two shows inside California’s Folsom Prison. It was an appropriate choice for a performer known as a bit of an outlaw, with a penchant for dark clothing that earned him the nickname the Man in Black. The performances and resulting album, At Folsom Prison, helped revitalize Cash’s previously lagging career. “That’s where things really got started for me again,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in a 1973 article. But Cash wasn’t just seeking personal gain when he decided to play behind bars. He also was thinking of those for whom he was performing. Read more
1928: Fats Domino, early rock ‘n’ roll superstar who sang enduring songs including “Blueberry Hill,” and was a huge influence in the creation of Rock and Roll, is born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
1928: Ariel Sharon, Israeli politician who served as the prime minister of Israel from 2001 until 2006, is born in Kfar Malal, British Palestine.
The man Israel knew simply by his nickname Arik fought in most of Israel’s wars, gained a reputation as an adroit soldier and was the godfather of Israel’s massive settlement campaign in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He detested Yasser Arafat, his lifelong adversary, as an “obstacle to peace” and was in turn detested in the Arab world, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His career spanned the Middle East conflict from its early skirmishes through five wars, one of which left him hailed as his nation’s savior, and another reviled as its disgrace. Read more
1921: Betty Hutton, U.S. actress whose movies include Annie Get Your Gun and Let’s Dance, is born in Battle Creek, Michigan.
She was spiraling down the same self-destructive path that claimed fellow 1950s luminaries Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland. But unlike many Hollywood flameouts, she was able to turn her life around. Hutton moved to Rhode Island and (with the help of a Roman Catholic priest named the Rev. Peter Maguire) kicked her addiction to drugs. By 1974 she was working as a cook in a rectory, a fate that made headlines when it was discovered and prompted comedian Joey Adams to host a benefit for her. Read more
1920: Tony Randall, U.S. actor known best for playing Felix Unger on TV’s The Odd Couple, is born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Beyond his star turns on TV, the silver screen and Broadway, he was a frequent guest on other people’s shows. He appeared on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson a record-setting 105 times, and he was David Letterman’s talk show guest 70 times. He was often seen gracing game shows like What’s My Line?, Password and The Hollywood Squares. He was even honored with an animated cameo on The Simpsons – as one of only two people to finish a steakhouse’s 16-pound gut buster, Sir Loinalot. Read more
1918: Theodore Sturgeon, U.S. author of science fiction including the award-winning novel More Than Human, is born in Staten Island, New York.
1916: Jackie Gleason, U.S. actor who portrayed Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
But, of course, Jackie Gleason’s career added up to much more than a single comedic role. Though The Honeymooners and his variety show were quite popular, Gleason also found success on Broadway, winning a Tony for his performance in the musical Take Me Along. And he could play more dramatic roles as well, earning praise for his work in films like Nothing in Common with Tom Hanks and The Toy opposite Richard Pryor. In 1961, he received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Minnesota Fats in the Paul Newman classic The Hustler. Read more
1914: Robert Alda, U.S. actor whose movies include Rhapsody in Blue, and the father of actor Alan Alda, is born in New York, New York.
1908: Tex Avery, U.S. animator and voice actor who created the characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, is born in Taylor, Texas.
1887: William Frawley, U.S. actor who played Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy, is born in Burlington, Iowa.
1852: John Harvey Kellogg, U.S. doctor who created cornflakes, is born in Tyrone, Michigan.
1846: William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, U.S. scout, bison hunter and showman who founded Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show, is born in Le Claire, Iowa.
1829: Levi Strauss, German-American businessman who founded the first blue jeans company, Levi Strauss & Co., is born in Buttenheim, Germany.
1802: Victor Hugo, French author known for novels including Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is born in Besançon, France.