We remember actor Pete Postlethwaite and other notable people born this day in history.
British actor Pete Postlethwaite may not have been a household name, but his face was instantly recognizable to most movie fans, thanks to his prominent roles in “In the Name of the Father,” for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, “The Usual Suspects,” “Romeo + Juliet,” and many more. In Hollywood, he was deeply respected, and after working with him on “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” Steven Spielberg called Postlethwaite “probably the best actor in the world.” He was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire and used this status to aid in the fight for action against climate change. We remember Postlethwaite’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1974: J Dilla, born James Yancey, influential U.S. record producer and rapper, is born in Detroit, Michigan.
1955: Miguel Ferrer, U.S. character actor best known for starring as Owen Granger on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” is born in Santa Monica, California.
Ferrer, who will be seen this summer reprising his role as FBI pathologist Albert Rosenfield in the upcoming “Twin Peaks” reboot for Showtime, was born into Hollywood royalty. The oldest of the five children of singer Rosemary Clooney and Academy Award-winning actor Jose Ferrer, he is a first cousin of actor George Clooney. He started his career as a drummer and played the drums on a cover of the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” for Keith Moon’s solo album, “Two Sides of the Moon.” Read more
1948: Jimmy Greenspoon, U.S. keyboardist for rock band Three Dog Night, is born in Beverly Hills, California.
“He was like a brother to me,” Three Dog Night co-founder and vocalist Danny Hutton said in a statement. “I knew him since he was just a teenager, and he was my oldest friend in the band. Also, Jimmy was a critical part of our early history, bringing a sound to the band that helped develop our style; he left an indelible mark.” The group is best known for its 1960s and 1970s hits “Joy to the World,” ”Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” and “Black and White.” Read more
1947: Wayne Allwine, U.S. voice actor who provided the voice of Mickey Mouse for 32 years, is born in Glendale, California.
1946: Pete Postlethwaite, English actor known for roles in “The Usual Suspects” and “In the Name of the Father,” is born in Warrington, England.
Postlethwaite was part of a small coterie of British actors who came up together through the theater and found a measure of success in Hollywood. The group included Daniel Day-Lewis and Emma Thompson, longtime friends who starred with him in “In the Name of the Father,” a 1993 classic that earned Postlethwaite a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his role as Day-Lewis’ father. That part drew heavily on Postlethwaite’s ability to give a victim’s troubles wider meaning, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His character is wrongly imprisoned after his son implicates him in a deadly IRA bombing he did not commit. Postlethwaite’s quiet sense of hurt and injustice helps carry the film, regarded as one of the finest to deal with the long conflict in Northern Ireland. Read more
1946: Héctor Babenco, Argentine-born Brazilian film director, screenwriter, producer and actor best known for directing “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” is born Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Babenco was nominated for an Oscar for “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” which was released in 1985. He was the first Latin-American director to receive such a nomination, and the film was the first independent release to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Read more
1946: Sammy Johns, U.S. country singer-songwriter known best for his 1975 hit song “Chevy Van,” is born in Charlotte, North Carolina.
1934: King Curtis, U.S. saxophone virtuoso known for R&B, rock and roll, soul, blues, funk and soul jazz, is born in Fort Worth, Texas.
Patsy Swayze taught dance for decades, and her students included Tommy Tune and Debbie Allen. She taught at the University of Houston for more than a decade and was a choreographer for the Houston Playhouse Center and the Houston Youth Symphony and Ballet Company. She moved to Simi Valley in 1980 after choreographing the movie “Urban Cowboy,” according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1920: Oscar Brand, Canadian folk singer and radio host, is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
For more than 70 years, Brand hosted “Folksong Festival” every Saturday night on New York Public Radio. Beginning in 1945, the show’s guests included practically every star of the folk music scene, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger, the Weavers, and Peter, Paul & Mary. The show was certified by Guinness World Records as the longest-running radio show. Brand never received any compensation for the program. Read more
1920: An Wang, Chinese–American computer engineer and inventor, and co-founder of computer company Wang Laboratories, is born in Shanghai, China.
1915: Eddie Bracken, U.S. actor in movies including “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” is born in Queens, New York.
1908: Buster Crabbe, U.S. swimmer and actor who won Olympic gold in 1932 and went on to a career as an action star in Hollywood, is born in Oakland, California.
1906: Henry Pu Yi, the 12th and final ruler of the Qing Dynasty and the last emperor of China, is born in Beijing.
1887: Eubie Blake, U.S. composer and pianist whose songs include “Memories of You” and “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” is born in Baltimore, Maryland.
1885: Sinclair Lewis, U.S. author and playwright known for novels including “Babbitt” and “Elmer Gantry,” is born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.
1873: Thomas Andrews, Irish businessman and shipbuilder best known as the naval architect of the RMS Titanic, is born in Comber, County Down, Ireland.
In “Little House in the Big Woods,” the Ingalls family lived in a cabin (the place where Laura was born) near Pepin, in west central Wisconsin. The family homesteaded with a garden, field crops. and livestock, and they hunted, collected wild honey, and tapped maple trees for their syrup. Pepin remains a small town today, with fewer than 900 residents and a small business district. But they celebrate the life of their famous native each year with a “Laura lookalike” contest, traditional music and crafts, and other events. Read more
1812: Charles Dickens, English author of classic novels including “Great Expectations” and “A Tale of Two Cities,” is born in Landport, England.
Ebenezer Scrooge may be Dickens’ most famous character, so much so that his last name has become a common term for any stingy or miserly person. His story is one of the great reversals of English literature, making him a character we love to hate to love. He goes from ridiculously over-the-top humbugging (another word we strongly associate with Scrooge, although it didn’t originate with him) to just as pronounced do-goodery. His extreme change of heart at the end of “A Christmas Carol” might be a little hard to believe, but it still gives us hope. If that “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” can become generous and loving, maybe anyone can … even the scrooges in our own lives. Read more
1804: John Deere, U.S. businessman who founded Deere & Company, is born in Rutland, Vermont.
1478: Thomas More, English lawyer and author canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1935, is born in London, England.