We remember civil rights icon Rosa Parks and other notable people born this day in history.
Rosa Parks embodied the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. throughout the 1960s, and her name is still an inspiration for those in pursuit of social justice. But she was more than an icon or a legend, and her journey from high school dropout to civil rights crusader is a fascinating account. When she performed her legendary act of civil disobedience, refusing to stand and give her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks was more than just tired after a long day’s work – she was, as she said, “tired of giving in.” Her simple act of defiance galvanized her neighbors into action, becoming an inspiring symbol for everyone who wishes to change an unequal status quo. We remember Parks today as well as other notable people who were born this day in history.
1967: Sergei Grinkov, Russian figure skater who won Olympic gold in 1988 and 1994, along with his partner and wife, Ekaterina Gordeeva, is born in Moscow, Russia.
1965: Jerome Brown, U.S. NFL defensive tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1987 to 1991, is born in Brooksville, Florida.
1960: Siobhan Dowd, award-winning British author and activist best known for her novels for young adults, is born in London, England.
In the last two and a half years before her death from breast cancer, Dowd wrote four novels for older children. Two – “A Swift Pure Cry” and “The London Eye Mystery” – have both gone on to critical and popular acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Read more
1960: Jonathan Larson, U.S. composer and playwright known best for Rent, is born in White Plains, New York.
1940: George Romero, director of the zombie classic “Night of the Living Dead,” is born in The Bronx, New York.
1936: Claude Nobs, Swiss businessman who founded the Montreux Jazz Festival, is born in Montreux, Switzerland.
A visit to the New York offices of Atlantic Records led to the first festival in his home city in June 1967, featuring musicians such as Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. The festival was an overnight success, building over the decades on Nobs’ passion for jazz, as much as his gumption and contacts abroad, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “‘And why not?’ You would repeatedly ask the same question when we tried to explain why a project would not be feasible,” festival officials wrote in an homage to Nobs on the website that praised his audacity to dream big. “The Montreux Jazz Festival is the ultimate proof of that! But not the only one!” Read more
The tall, thin and always sharply dressed Brenner became one of the most frequent visitors to Johnny Carson’s Tonight in the 1970s and ’80s, according to his obituary by the AP. His 150-plus appearances as guest and substitute host turned the former documentary filmmaker into a hot comedian, one who was ubiquitous on other talk shows and game shows. He also briefly hosted his own syndicated talk show in 1987 and starred in four HBO specials. Read more
1925: Russell Hoban, U.S.-born author known for children’s books such as “Bedtime for Frances” as well as fantasy and science fiction for adults, is born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
Hoban wrote more than 50 book for children, including “The Mouse and His Child” and his series of books dealing with a badger named Frances. “Russell Hoban was a complete original,” said Bill Swainson, his editor at Bloomsbury. “People who only read his adult fiction don’t know he was also one of the great children’s writers of our time.” Read more
1923: Joan Vollmer, U.S. author who was a member of the Beat Generation circle and the common-law wife of William S. Burroughs, is born in Loudonville, New York.
The show that made him famous debuted on NBC in 1978, an era when television comedies tackled relevant social issues, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Diff’rent Strokes touched on serious themes but was known better as a family comedy that drew most of its laughs from its standout child actor, Gary Coleman. Bain played wealthy Manhattan widower Philip Drummond, who promised his dying housekeeper he would raise her sons, played by Coleman and Todd Bridges. Race and class relations became topics on the show as much as the typical trials of growing up. Read more
1921: Betty Friedan, U.S. author and activist whose book The Feminine Mystique helped spark the second wave of American feminism, is born in Peoria, Illinois.
The feminine mystique, she said, was a phony bill of goods society sold to women that left them unfulfilled, suffering from “the problem that has no name” and seeking a solution in tranquilizers and psychoanalysis. “A woman has got to be able to say, and not feel guilty, ‘Who am I, and what I want out of life?’ She mustn’t feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of husband and children,” Friedan said, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1920: Janet Waldo, U.S. voice actress behind characters including Judy Jetson of “The Jetsons” and Josie of “Josie and the Pussycats,” is born in Yakima, Washington.
Waldo was long past her teen years when she took on the role of Judy Jetson with the 1962 debut of “The Jetsons,” but she still had a voice full of breathless enthusiasm to offer to the futuristic teen. As she recalled later in her interview with MovieWeb, “Judy was a cinch, because I just did my own voice.” Waldo played Judy on the original series, the 1985 series revival and two television movies, “The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones” (1987) and “Rockin’ With Judy Jetson.” She was tapped to perform as Judy in the 1990 theatrical film “The Jetsons,” even recording her role, but she was later replaced by the pop star Tiffany in a widely criticized move. Read more
1918: Ida Lupino, English-American actress and director who was the first actress to write, produce and direct her own movies, is born in London, England.
1915: Norman Wisdom, British actor, comedian, and singer who was Britain’s biggest box office draw in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is born in Marylebone, London, England.
It’s not surprising that Charlie Chaplin appreciated Wisdom’s comic persona, as in many ways it was similar to his own – a slight chap in ill fitting clothing, an irrepressible innocent bumbling his way through a world seemed turned against him. With its slapstick physicality, Wisdom’s comedy harkened back to a previous era, and in the bleakness of post-war England, many found his music hall aesthetic comforting. For nine years beginning in 1955, he was Britain’s biggest box office draw, beating out even Sean Connery. Read more
1915: William Talman, U.S. actor known best for playing District Attorney Hamilton Burger on the TV series Perry Mason, is born in Detroit, Michigan.
1913: Rosa Parks, U.S. civil rights activist known for her legendary refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man, sparking the successful and symbolic Montgomery Bus Boycott, is born in Tuskegee, Alabama.
Speaking in 1992, she said history too often maintains “that my feet were hurting and I didn’t know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long.” Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. Read more
1906: Clyde Tombaugh, U.S. astronomer who discovered Pluto, is born in Streator, Illinois.
1902: Charles Lindbergh, U.S. pilot who gained worldwide fame for conducting the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, is born in Detroit, Michigan.