Ernie Kovacs was more than just a funnyman; he also was a television innovator and an influence on decades of comedians and TV shows. We remember Kovacs’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Ernie Kovacs was more than just a funnyman; he also was a television innovator and an influence on decades of comedians and TV shows. One of the first early morning TV hosts, he proved that a market for morning programs existed, and he directly influenced the creation of shows such as Today. Kovacs’ visual comedy and camera tricks were forerunners to visuals seen on more modern programs, and his wacky, ad-libbed style was echoed in Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live and more. As for the time when he wrestled a jaguar on live TV – well, that may not have inspired any imitators, but it exemplified his up-for-anything style. We remember Kovacs’ life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1998: XXXTentacion, controversial rapper who had a number 1 album, is born in Plantation, Florida.
1950: Danny Federici, U.S. musician who played organ, glockenspiel and accordion with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, is born in Flemington, New Jersey.
Federici played accordion on the wistful “4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” from Springsteen’s second album, and his organ solo was a highlight of Springsteen’s first top 10 hit, “Hungry Heart.” His organ coda on the 9/11-inspired Springsteen song “You’re Missing” provided one of the more heart-wrenching moments on The Rising in 2002, according to his 2008 obituary by The Associated Press. In a band with larger-than-life characters such as saxophonist Clarence Clemons and bandana-wrapped guitarist “Little” Steven Van Zandt, Federici was content to play in his familiar position to the side of the stage. Read more
1930: William Pogue, U.S. astronaut who was the pilot of NASA’s Skylab 4 mission, is born in Okemah, Oklahoma.
1930: Mervyn Rose, the Aussie won 7 tennis grand slam titles. He was born in Coffs Harbour, Australia.
1929: Myron Cope, U.S. sportscaster known as the voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who was the first football announcer inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Beyond Pittsburgh’s three rivers, Cope is known best for pioneering the Terrible Towel, the yellow cloth twirled by fans as a good luck charm at Steelers games since the mid-’70s. The towel is arguably the best-known fan symbol of any major pro sports team, has raised millions of dollars for charity, and is displayed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Read more
1928: Jeanne Moreau, the acclaimed French actress who starred in director Francois Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim,” is born in Paris, France.
1927: Lars-Eric Lindblad, Swedish businessman and explorer who led the world’s first tourist expedition to Antarctica, is born in Solna, Sweden.
1924: Frank Lautenberg, U.S. politician who represented New Jersey in the U.S. Senate from 1982 to 2001 and 2003 to 2013, is born in Paterson, New Jersey.
Lautenberg was a staunch gun control advocate and frequent critic of the tobacco industry, and he fought for greater government spending on transportation and the environment. He wrote the laws banning smoking on domestic airline flights and setting the national minimum drinking age of 21, according to his 2013 obituary by The Associated Press. Along with Lautenberg’s legislative accomplishments, he had a string of electoral coups, including an upset over someone he called “the most popular candidate in the country” in his first race for Senate, and a victory in a strange, abbreviated, back-from-retirement campaign 20 years later. Read more
1923: Horace Ashenfelter III, the American runner set a world record in winning the steeplechase at the 1952 Olympic Games. He was born in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
1920: Fred Morrison, U.S. entrepreneur who invented the Frisbee, is born in Richfield, Utah.
Morrison sold the production and manufacturing rights to his “Pluto Platter” in 1957, according to his 2010 obituary by The Associated Press. The plastic flying disc was later renamed the “Frisbee,” with sales surpassing 200 million discs. It is now a staple at beaches and college campuses across the country and spawned sports like Frisbee golf and the team sport Ultimate. An official disc golf course at Creekside Park in the Salt Lake City suburb of Holladay is named for Morrison. Read more
1919: Ernie Kovacs, U.S. comedian and television host of Three To Get Ready, The Ernie Kovacs Show and more, and the husband of actress and comedian Edie Adams, is born in Trenton, New Jersey.
1910: Django Reinhardt, Belgian jazz guitarist considered to be one of the greatest of all time, is born in Liberchies, Belgium.
1898: Randolph Scott, U.S. actor known best for performances in Westerns including Heritage of the Desert and Belle Starr, is born in Orange County, Virginia.
1884: George McManus, U.S. cartoonist known best for his syndicated comic strip, Bringing Up Father, is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
1855: John Browning, U.S. weapons designer who founded the Browning Arms Co. and made major contributions to the development of automatic and semi-automatic firearms, is born in Ogden, Utah.
1832: Edouard Manet, French painter considered one of the first impressionists and one of the first modern artists, is born in Paris, France.
1737: John Hancock, U.S. politician and statesman known best for his big, bold signature on the Declaration of Independence, is born in Braintree, Massachusetts.