Woody Guthrie is a folk music icon.
Woody Guthrie is a folk music icon. His music inspired generations of musicians and encouraged others to take action on important social issues. Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Johnny Cash cited Guthrie as a major influence. His song “This Land Is Your Land” is considered one of the most important in folk music history. We remember his life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1957: Scot Breithaupt, U.S. pro-BMX racer who was one of the founders of the cycling sport, is born in Long Beach, California.
Breithaupt was among the first to organize bicycle races on dirt motorcycle courses in the early 1970s, becoming first a founder of BMX — or bicycle motocross — then a champion, then one of its first famous faces. “Scot was one of the key figures in making BMX become what it is today. He would say he was the key figure because that was the kind of guy he was,” said Craig Barrette, spokesman for USA BMX, which runs the sport’s Hall of Fame, where Breithaupt is enshrined. Read more
1938: Jerry Rubin, U.S. activist who became an icon of the counterculture in the 1960s, is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1936: Robert F. Overmyer, U.S. astronaut who was a pilot and commander in the space shuttle program, is born in Lorain, Ohio.
1930: Polly Bergen, U.S. actress whose notable films include “Cape Fear” and “The Caretakers,” is born in Knoxville, Tennessee.
A brunette beauty with a warm, sultry singing voice, Bergen was a household name from her 20s onward. She made albums and played leading roles in films, stage musicals, and TV dramas. She also hosted her own variety series, was a popular game show panelist, and founded a thriving beauty products company that bore her name. In recent years, she played Felicity Huffman’s mother on “Desperate Housewives” and the past mistress of Tony Soprano‘s late father on “The Sopranos.” Read more
1926: Harry Dean Stanton, character actor known for roles in movies including “Repo Man” and “Cool Hand Luke” as well as for the TV show “Big Love,” is born in West Irvine, Kentucky.
1923: Dale Robertson, U.S. actor who starred on TV in “Tales of Wells Fargo” and “The Iron Horse,” is born in Harrah, Oklahoma.
In the 1950s, he moved to television, starring on series such as “Tales of Wells Fargo” (1957-62), “Iron Horse” (1966), and “Death Valley Days” (1968-70). Robertson continued to work on TV in the 1970s, and in the 1980s he landed roles on the popular nighttime soap operas “Dallas” and “Dynasty.” In 1993, he took what would be his final role, as Zeke on the show “Harts of the West,” before retiring from acting to spend more time at his ranch in Yukon, Oklahoma. Read more
1918: Ingmar Bergman, Swedish film director who was highly influential, known for films including “The Seventh Seal” and “Fanny and Alexander,” is born in Uppsala, Sweden.
1913: Gerald Ford, U.S. politician who was the 38th president of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, is born in Omaha, Nebraska.
At the University of Michigan, Ford was the star of the football team. As center and linebacker, he helped the team to two undefeated seasons and national titles in 1932 and 1933. Ford remained devoted to UM football all his life, often asking the Naval band to play his team’s fight song instead of “Hail to the Chief” before state events. Ford made a name for himself in politics, but he could have found fame in a different arena – if he’d accepted offers to play with the Detroit Lions or the Green Bay Packers. Read more
1912: Woody Guthrie, U.S. singer-songwriter who wrote and recorded classic folk songs including “This Land Is Your Land,” is born in Okemah, Oklahoma.
He wrote his most famous song because he was bored with Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” Guthrie was tired of hearing Berlin’s patriotic – but boring and unrealistic, in his opinion – “God Bless America” on the radio. In response, he wrote a song originally titled “God Blessed America for Me,” then renamed “This Land Is Your Land.” Sung to the tune of an old Baptist hymn, the song celebrates the natural beauty of the U.S. – and takes a few digs at the concept of private property. Today, Guthrie’s composition is probably known just as well-known as – if not better than – “God Bless America,” and campaigns to make it our national anthem crop up from time to time. Read more
1910: William Hanna, U.S. animator who co-founded Hanna-Barbera and created cartoons on such shows as “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” and “Yogi Bear,” is born in Melrose, New Mexico.
1906: Olive Borden, U.S. film actress who was a star of the silent era, is born in Richmond, Virginia.
1862: Gustav Klimt, Austrian painter well-known for works including “The Kiss,” is born in Baumgarten, Austrian Empire.