British comedian and actor Benny Hill delighted television audiences on “The Benny Hill Show” for 36 years. We remember Hill’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
British comedian and actor Benny Hill delighted television audiences on “The Benny Hill Show” for 36 years. His hourlong sketch program mixed impersonations, slapstick, parodies, musical elements, and filmed segments, all highlighting the comedic talents of the titular star. At its zenith, “The Benny Hill Show” brought in more than 21 million viewers, but by 1991 the audience shrank to just under 10 million. High production costs led to the show’s cancellation despite continued pleas from fans for continued production. Hill counted among his fans celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Michael Jackson, and Johnny Carson. We remember Hill’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
1965: Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, U.S. disc jockey with the hip-hop group Run-D.M.C., is born in Brooklyn, New York.
1942: Mac Davis, singer-songwriter who had a No. 1 hit in 1972 with “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me” and wrote hit songs for other artists including Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto,” is born in Lubbock, Texas.
1942: Edwin Starr, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for his 1970 hit “War,” is born in Nashville, Tennessee.
Any list of Vietnam War protest songs must include the classic “War.” In 1970, the track soared to No. 1 on the strength of Starr’s powerful vocals and the song’s no-nonsense message: “War – what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” It summed up the sentiments of a generation weary of a war that seemed as if it would never end. Read more
Havens, a folk singer and guitarist, was the first performer at the three-day 1969 Woodstock Festival. He returned to the site during the 40th anniversary in 2009. “Everything in my life, and so many others, is attached to that train,” he said in a 2009 interview with The Associated Press. Read more
Back in the days before compact discs, MP3s, and Internet streaming, we all listened to the radio. We couldn’t download a hot new song on demand, so we waited for our favorite DJ to play it on our favorite station. DJs had power over what we heard, and they kept us listening with a great music mix and hip patter between songs. It was a time when DJs were stars – and one of the brightest was Wolfman Jack. Read more
1934: Ann Wedgeworth, actress known for her recurring role as Lana in “Three’s Company,” is born in Abilene, Texas.
1926: Steve Reeves, U.S. bodybuilder and actor who was named Mr. Universe in 1950, is born in Glasgow, Montana.
1925: Eva Ibbotson, Austrian novelist who wrote books for children including “Journey to the River Sea” and “Which Witch?”, is born in Vienna, Austria.
1924: Benny Hill, English comedian and actor known best for his sketch comedy program, “The Benny Hill Show,” is born in Southampton, England.
His iconic sketch comedy TV show ran for almost 40 years, becoming a staple of British television. He appeared in movies, played a part in the 1986 Genesis video “Anything She Does,” and had his own No. 1 hit song, “Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West).” Hill offended and delighted the viewing public in equal measures. Read more
1922: Paul Scofield, English actor who won an Academy Award for his role in the 1966 film “A Man for All Seasons,” is born in Birmingham, England.
Scofield made few films even after the Oscar for his 1966 portrayal of Tudor statesman Sir Thomas More. He was a stage actor by inclination and by his gifts – a dramatic, craggy face and an unforgettable voice that was likened to a Rolls Royce starting up or the rumbling sound of low organ pipes. Read more
1922: Telly Savalas, U.S. actor known for his starring role on the television crime drama “Kojak,” as well as for a number of movie roles, is born in Garden City, New York.
In Kojak, Savalas created a tough guy with a big heart. The charismatic cop beat down bad guys in suit jackets while sucking on lollipops. His distinctive deep voice, which had a career of its own as a narrator and spoken-word artist, could growl as well as purr. Television critic Clive James described Savalas this way: “Telly Savalas can make bad slang sound like good slang and good slang sound like lyric poetry. It isn’t what he is, so much as the way he talks, that gets you tuning in.” Kojak’s catchphrase – “Who loves ya, baby?” – became part of the American vernacular. Read more
1905: Karl Wallenda, German acrobat who founded the Flying Wallendas, is born in Magdeburg, Germany.
A circus performer from early childhood, he founded the troupe that would achieve world fame and break record after record. Some of those death-defying achievements belonged to Karl himself – as when he broke the world skywalk distance record by walking 1,800 feet on a high wire at King’s Island. Even when he didn’t set a new standard on the high wire for highest or longest, he dazzled and amazed, performing stunts like a midair headstand. Read more
1905: Christian Dior, French fashion designer known for his postwar New Look designs for women, is born in Granville, France.
1884: Roger Nash Baldwin, U.S. activist who co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union, is born in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
1824: Stonewall Jackson, U.S. general with the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, is born in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
1738: Ethan Allen, U.S. Revolutionary War patriot who was one of the founders of the state of Vermont, is born in Litchfield, Connecticut.