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Born June 11

by Legacy Staff

Gene Wilder was a comic acting genius. We remember his life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.

Gene Wilder was a comic acting genius. He had an ability to play a neurotic sensitive character who was on the edge of hysteria. Wilder’s first big role was in the Mel Brooks movie “The Producers” but he really burst onto the scene playing the title character in the classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Wilder became a favorite of Mel Brooks and played memorable characters in “Blazing Saddles” and Young Frankenstein.” He also partnered with Richard Pryor and the two showed off great chemistry in movies such as “Silver Streak.” He married the brilliant comic actress Gilda Radner in 1984 and tragically lost her five years later to ovarian cancer. After she passed, he co-founded Gilda’s Club, a support group to raise awareness of cancer.  We remember his life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including Hollywood legend John Wayne.


1977: Ryan Dunn, U.S. stuntman and actor who was part of the “Jackass” crew, is born in Medina, Ohio.

Ryan Dunn (AP Photo)Dunn appeared on MTV shows “Jackass” and “Viva La Bam” and the three “Jackass” big-screen adaptations. He also was the star of his own MTV show, “Homewrecker,” and hosted “Proving Ground” on the G4 cable network. His longtime friend and fellow “Jackass” daredevil Johnny Knoxville tweeted on the day Dunn died, “Today I lost my brother Ryan Dunn. My heart goes out to his family and his beloved Angie. RIP Ryan, I love you buddy.” Read more




1943: Henry Hill, U.S. mobster who was the subject of the true-crime book “Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family,” which was adapted into the movie “Goodfellas,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.

Henry Hill (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)An associate in New York’s Lucchese crime family, Hill told detailed, disturbing, and often hilarious tales of life in the mob that first appeared in the 1986 book “Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family,” by Nicholas Pileggi, a journalist Hill sought out shortly after becoming an informant. “Henry Hill was a hood. He was a hustler. He had schemed and plotted and broken heads,” Pileggi wrote in the book. “He knew how to bribe and he knew how to con. He was a full-time working racketeer, an articulate hoodlum from organized crime.” Read more




1937: Chad Everett, U.S. actor known best for playing Dr. Joe Gannon on “Medical Center,” is born in South Bend, Indiana.

Chad Everett (Associated Press/Courtesy Katherine Thorp)Everett played sensitive Dr. Joe Gannon for seven years on “Medical Center.” The role earned him two Golden Globe awards and an Emmy nomination. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Everett guest-starred on such TV series as “The Love Boat,” “Without a Trace,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” Everett later appeared on the TV series “Castle.” His films credits included “The Jigsaw Murders,” “The Firechasers,” and director Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho.” Read more




1933: Gene Wilder, U.S. comic actor who played memorable roles in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Blazing Saddles,” is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Wilder is indelibly associated with many of the funniest films of the 1970s, but for many, it’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” that stands out as his defining film. Read more





1925: William Styron, U.S. author whose notable novels include “Sophie’s Choice” and “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” is born in Newport News, Virginia.

Styron was a Virginia native whose obsessions with race, class, and personal guilt led to such tormented narratives as “Lie Down in Darkness” and “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” which won the Pulitzer despite protests that the book was racist and inaccurate. His other works included “Sophie’s Choice,” the award-winning novel about a Holocaust survivor from Poland, and “A Tidewater Morning,” a collection of fiction pieces. He also published a book of essays, “This Quiet Dust,” and the best-selling memoir “Darkness Visible,” in which Styron recalled nearly taking his own life. Read more



1920: Hazel Scott, Trinidadian-American singer and television personality who was the first black woman to have her own TV show, 1950’s “The Hazel Scott Show,” is born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

1915: Magda Gabor, Hungarian-American actress and socialite who was the oldest sister of Zsa Zsa and Eva Gabor, is born in Budapest, Hungary.

1914: Gerald Mohr, U.S. actor who starred on TV’s “Foreign Intrigue” as well as guest-starring on dozens of other shows, is born in New York, New York.

1913: Vince Lombardi, U.S. football player and coach known best as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, when he led the team to victory in Super Bowls I and II, is born in Brooklyn, New York.

1913: Coby Whitmore, U.S. illustrator known best for his Saturday Evening Post covers, is born in Dayton, Ohio.

1913: Risë Stevens, U.S. operatic mezzo-soprano well-known for her performances of “Carmen,” is born in New York, New York.

Rise Stevens (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)Stevens started singing with the Met in 1938, on tour in Philadelphia. Among her greatest roles was the title character in the opera “Carmen,” which she sang for 124 performances. The Met released a statement calling her “a consummate artist, treasured colleague, and devoted supporter of the company for 75 years.” Read more




1910: Jacques Cousteau, French explorer and conservationist known for his documentaries about the ocean, who also co-invented the Aqua-Lung, is born in Saint-André-de-Cubzac, France.

1894: Kiichiro Toyoda, Japanese businessman who founded Toyota, is born in Shizuoka, Japan.

1880: Jeannette Rankin, U.S. politician who was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, representing Montana in the House of Representatives from 1917 to 1919 and 1941 to 1943, is born in Missoula County, Montana.

Jeannette Rankin (Wikimedia Commons)By 1912, Rankin had entered the national scene in the suffrage movement. That year, she was appointed field secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and the following year she was one of thousands of women who marched in Washington, D.C., in the Woman Suffrage Parade. In 1914 came a victory that must have been particularly sweet for Rankin – Montana granted women the right to vote. This had an almost immediately obvious impact; it was just two years later that the women and men of Montana elected Rankin to their 2nd District seat in the House of Representatives. Read more



1864: Richard Strauss, German composer known best for works including “Salome” and “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” is born in Munich, Germany.

Click to discover notable people who died this day in history including Hollywood legend John Wayne.

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