Mexican-American singer-songwriter Jenni Rivera won hearts with her music. We remember Rivera’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
Mexican-American singer-songwriter Jenni Rivera won hearts with her music. Known for putting her own spin on traditional musical styles such as banda and norteña, she found mainstream success in 2008 when her album “Jenni” rose to No. 31 on Billboard’s Albums chart and No. 1 on the Latin Albums chart. Fans got to know Rivera through her music – in which she often touched on personal themes including domestic abuse, divorce, and weight loss – as well as through her reality shows, including “I Love Jenni.” On Dec. 9, 2012, Rivera was traveling from a concert to a TV appearance when her plane crashed in northern Mexico. We remember Rivera’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.
1969: Jenni Rivera, Mexican-American pop singer-songwriter, is born in Long Beach, California.
Rivera began her career working in the office of her father’s small Mexican music label in Long Beach, California. Gifted with a powerful, soulful voice, she recorded her first album, “Chacalosa,” in 1995. It was a hit, and she followed it with two other independent albums, one a tribute to slain Mexican-American singer Selena that helped expand her following, according to her obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1949: Gene McFadden, U.S. singer-songwriter who was one-half of the duo McFadden & Whitehead and had a hit in 1979 with “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” is born in Olanta, South Carolina.
As teens, McFadden – who graduated from Edison High School in North Philadelphia – and Whitehead were members of a band, the Epsilons, which they formed. They toured with and were managed by Otis Redding until his death in 1967. They later signed with the label Stax and had a moderate hit in 1970 with “The Echo.” When fellow Epsilon member Lloyd Parkes left, McFadden and Whitehead changed their name to Talk of the Town and began working with record producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. Read more
1946: Ron Silver, U.S. actor who had notable TV roles in “Veronica’s Closet” and “The West Wing,” is born in Manhattan, New York.
In 1989, Silver founded the Creative Coalition, an advocacy group made up of liberal entertainment industry stars like Alec Baldwin and Susan Sarandon. In 2004, he spoke at the Republican National Convention, supporting the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush, but in 2008, according to his brother, voted for Barack Obama. Pinning Silver down or pigeonholing him with one particular political faction proved impossible. He was a one-man party, following his own evolving beliefs rather than partisan talking points. Read more
1946: Charlie Sanders, U.S. NFL Hall of Fame tight end for the Detroit Lions, is born in Richlands, North Carolina.
1939: Paul Williams, U.S. singer who was a founding member of the Temptations, is born in Ensley, Alabama.
1927: Brock Peters, U.S. actor known best for playing Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is born in New York, New York.
His long film career began in the 1950s with the landmark productions of “Carmen Jones” in 1954 and “Porgy and Bess” in 1959. In later years, he played Admiral Cartwright in two of the “Star Trek” feature films. He also appeared on numerous TV shows. His distinctive deep bass voice was often used for animated characters. He was perhaps known best for portraying accused rapist Tom Robinson, defended by Gregory Peck‘s Atticus Finch in the 1962 film “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Read more
1925: Medgar Evers, U.S. civil rights activist who led the Mississippi field office of the NAACP in the early 1960s, is born in Decatur, Mississippi.
In Biloxi, the beaches were reserved for whites only, a situation that a group of local black activists sought to change. A trip to the beach got them arrested, and when they began organizing “wade-ins” – in which they challenged the discrimination by bringing large groups of black bathers to the shore – Evers loaned his support and assistance in organizing the protests. The wade-in that became historic was known as “Bloody Sunday,” owing to the violence that began after crowds of counterprotesters descended on the beach and began beating the black beachgoers. Fear and terror threatened to derail the movement, but Evers urged protesters to continue fighting, saying, “If we are to receive a beating, let’s receive it because we have done something, not because we have done nothing.” Read more
1925: Patrice Lumumba, Congolese politician who was the first democratically elected prime minister of the Republic of Congo, is born in Katakokombe, Belgian Congo.
1916: Ken Curtis, U.S. actor who played Festus Haggen on “Gunsmoke,” is born in Lamar, Colorado.
1908: Thurgood Marshall, U.S. judge who was the first African-American justice to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, is born in Baltimore, Maryland.
After graduating high school near the top of his class, Marshall went to Lincoln University with plans to become a dentist. He was twice suspended for hazing and pranking other students. Students attending the university at the same time as Marshall included future luminaries such as Langston Hughes, Cab Calloway, and the future president of Ghana. (As far as we know, none of them fell victim to Marshall’s antics, though Hughes later would describe young Marshall as “rough and ready, loud and wrong.”) Read more
1904: Rene Lacoste, French tennis player who designed the first polo shirt, is born in Paris, France.
1877: Herman Hesse, German-Swiss author known for novels including “Siddhartha” and “Steppenwolf,” is born in Calw, Germany.