Jim Croce was one of the best-loved singer-songwriters of the early 1970s, writing songs that captured the American imagination. We remember Croce’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Jim Croce was one of the best-loved singer-songwriters of the early 1970s, writing songs that captured the American imagination. Bouncy tales of tough guys – “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” – mixed with tender tunes like “Time in a Bottle” and “I Got a Name” to create the rich and varied discography Croce recorded during his short life. Poised for even greater success, Croce was just 30 when he died in a plane crash. We remember Croce’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1982: Josh Ryan Evans, U.S. actor known best for his role as Timmy on the soap opera “Passions,” is born in Hayward, California.
1963: Kira Ivanova, Russian figure skater who won a bronze medal at the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, is born in Moscow, Russia.
1948: Teresa Graves, U.S. actress who became the first African-American woman to star in an hourlong TV drama when she starred on “Get Christie Love!”, is born in Houston, Texas.
Graves’ greatest role would also be her last. In 1974, she played the lead in a made-for-TV movie that built on the popularity of the blaxploitation genre. In “Get Christie Love!”, Graves played a tough cop with a great catchphrase: “You’re under arrest, Sugah” (decades later, Mike Myers’ “Austin Powers” sequel “Goldmember” would pay homage to Love by having Foxxy Cleopatra utter the line). “Get Christie Love!” was so well-received that it became a series – the show that would give Graves the opportunity to make history as the first black woman with her own hourlong dramatic TV series. Read more
1944: Frank Sinatra Jr., U.S. singer who was the son of the legendary Frank Sinatra, is born in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In 1966, Frank Sinatra Jr. appeared in the movie “A Man Called Adam,” which starred one of his father’s best friends, the entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. He also played guest-star roles on television shows. In 1989, Sinatra sang “Wedding Vows in Vegas” on “What Up, Dog?” – an album by the band Was (Not Was). Read more
1943: Jim Croce, U.S. singer-songwriter whose hit songs include “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle,” is born in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was his biggest hit, reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but it was just the beginning – Croce enjoyed success with many other singles. “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” was another song that drew on Croce’s time in the military. After watching soldiers line up to phone home – sometimes only to receive bad news from wives and girlfriends who were no longer waiting – Croce penned the mournful tune that made it to Billboard’s top 20. Read more
1939: Sal Mineo, U.S. actor known best for his starring role in “Rebel Without a Cause” with James Dean and Natalie Wood, is born in the Bronx, New York.
Teenage girls across the country were swept up in “Mineo mania” and, when Bob Hope joked in a TV appearance that there would be no school the next day because, “It’s Sal Mineo’s birthday – all those in the Bronx can stay home,” hundreds of Bronx schoolchildren did just that. But while “Rebel Without a Cause” made Mineo a teen idol, its popularity also led to him being typecast as a tough but vulnerable juvenile delinquent, a role he played in “Crime in the Streets,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” and “The Young Don’t Cry.” People started referring to him as the Switchblade Kid. Read more
1939: Scott McKenzie, U.S. singer-songwriter who recorded the iconic song “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” is born in Jacksonville, Florida.
“San Francisco” was written by John Phillips, the leader of the 1960s group the Mamas and the Papas. But McKenzie sang it, and it has stood as an anthem for the 1960s counterculture movement, according to his 2012 obituary by The Associated Press. McKenzie also co-wrote “Kokomo,” a No. 1 hit for the Beach Boys in 1988, and toured with the Mamas and the Papas in the 1990s. Read more
1938: Willie McCovey, U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame slugger called “Stretch,” who hit more than 500 home runs to become one of the most popular San Francisco Giants of all time.
1936: Stephen E. Ambrose, U.S. historian and author who wrote best-selling works of U.S. history, including biographies of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon, is born in Lovington, Illinois.
For much of his career, Ambrose was a little-known history professor. He burst onto the best-sellers list with his 1994 book “D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II,” according to his 2002 obituary by The Associated Press. Based in large part on interviews with veterans about their combat experiences, the book recounted the chaotic, bloody beach invasions of Normandy from the American soldier’s perspective. “He was saying, ‘There’s all this obsession with high command, but the real story is these citizen soldiers who still live in every town and hamlet in the United States,'” said Douglas Brinkley, a former student. Read more
Starting in the 1950s, the younger Roy Disney worked for years in the family business as an editor, screenwriter, and producer, according to his 2009 obituary by The Associated Press. Two short films he worked on were nominated for Academy awards: the 1959 “Mysteries of the Deep,” which he wrote, was nominated as best live action short, and the 2003 film “Destino,” which he co-produced, was nominated as best animated short. Read more
1928: Phillip Levine, U.S. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet known best for his poems about working-class Detroit, is born in Detroit, Michigan.
1927: Johnnie Ray, U.S. singer-songwriter who was an early teen idol and helped lay the groundwork for rock ‘n’ roll with songs including “Cry” and “Such a Night,” is born in Hopewell, Oregon.
It wasn’t just Ray’s sweet voice that 1950s teeny-boppers loved. His onstage antics set him apart from the crowd of crooners and drove his female fans wild. As he threw himself to the floor, tore at his hair, and cried his way through his songs, he became known as Mr. Emotion and the Prince of Wails. Read more
1924: Max Roach, U.S. jazz drummer who was an influential pioneer of bebop, is born in Newland, North Carolina.
Wexler earned his reputation as a music industry giant while a partner at Atlantic Records, according to his 2008 obituary by The Associated Press. Atlantic provided an outlet for the groundbreaking work of African-American performers in the 1950s and ’60s. Later, it was a home to rock icons like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. He later helped Bob Dylan win his first Grammy by producing his 1979 “Slow Train Coming” album. Read more
1908: Paul Henreid, Italian-American actor known best for his role as Victor Laszlo in “Casablanca,” is born in Trieste, Italy.
1904: Ray Bolger, U.S. actor, singer, and dancer who portrayed the Scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz,” is born in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
1865: Mary Ingalls, U.S. woman who was the older sister of author Laura Ingalls Wilder and was a character in her “Little House on the Prairie” series, is born near Pepin, Wisconsin.
1843: Frank James, U.S. outlaw who was the brother of Jesse James and a well-known figure in the American Wild West, is born in Clay County, Missouri.
1836: Charles Ingalls, U.S. pioneer who was the father of author Laura Ingalls Wilder and was a character in her “Little House on the Prairie” series, is born in Cuba, New York.