Johnny Weissmuller was a multitalented man of action. We remember Weissmuller’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Johnny Weissmuller was a multitalented man of action. Starting out as a swimmer, he won five Olympic gold medals, as well as a bronze for water polo. He went on to set dozens of world records and win even more competitions in a stunning and undefeated career. When he retired from swimming, his fame just grew as he took on the role of Tarzan, playing the jungle dweller in 12 films, from 1932’s “Tarzan the Ape Man” to 1948’s “Tarzan and the Mermaids.” Weissmuller was responsible for the distinctive Tarzan call that is still heard often today. We remember Weissmuller’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1951: Gilbert Baker, gay rights activist and creator of the iconic rainbow flag, is born in Chanute, Kansas.
1944: Marvin Hamlisch, U.S. composer who is one of only 12 people to win an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony, is born in New York, New York.
In his 1992 memoir “The Way I Was,” Hamlisch describes how producer Ray Stark asked him to write a theme song for the new movie he was working on – on spec. “Which meant that if he didn’t care for the song, it was no harm, no foul. I’d be here today, gone tomorrow,” Hamlisch wrote. “If, on the other hand, he liked it, I would get the job of scoring the whole movie. What Stark didn’t tell me till the end of the conversation was that the director was Sydney Pollack, the stars were Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, and the movie was ‘The Way We Were.’ For this I would certainly work ‘on spec,’ and I must confess that I sensed from the beginning that this was going to be my watershed in the movies.” Read more
1941: William Guest, U.S. singer who was a member of Gladys Knight & the Pips, is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
1937: Jimmy Jones, U.S. singer who had an R&B hit in 1960 with “Handy Man,” is born in Birmingham, Alabama.
1935: Carol Shields, American-Canadian author who won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Stone Diaries,” is born in Oak Park, Illinois.
1930: Pete Conrad, U.S. astronaut who was the third person to walk on the moon, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1922: Charlie Sifford, U.S. professional golfer who was the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour, is born in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sifford challenged the Caucasian-only clause and the PGA rescinded it in 1961. He won the Greater Hartford Open in 1967 and the Los Angeles Open in 1969. He also won the 1975 Senior PGA Championship, five years before the Champions Tour was created. His career was fully recognized in 2004 when he became the first black inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. In 2014, President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only other golfers who received that honor. Read more
1920: Tex Schramm, U.S. football manager who was the founding president and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, is born in San Gabriel, California.
1907: Dorothy West, U.S. author who was a part of the Harlem Renaissance and wrote the novel “The Living Is Easy,” is born in Boston, Massachusetts.
1904: Johnny Weissmuller, Romanian-American swimmer and actor who won five Olympic gold medals and went on to star in a number of Tarzan movies, is born in Freidorf, Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In the pool, Weissmuller “was without peer in his time,” his New York Times obituary said. “A remarkably buoyant 190-pounder, he seemed to glide across the water, his broad shoulders and heavily muscled back protruding above the surface.” Weissmuller swam mostly front crawl, but he excelled at multiple strokes. He took up the backstroke – and set a world record in it – because, “I got bored,” he said, “so I swam on my back, where I could spend more time looking around.” Read more
1878: Wallace Hartley, English violinist who was the bandleader on the Titanic and continued to lead the band as the ship sank, is born in Colne, England.
1840: Thomas Hardy, English author whose well-known novels include “Far From the Madding Crowd” and “Tess of the D’Urbervilles,” is born in Stinsford, England.
1731: Martha Washington, U.S. first lady who was the wife of President George Washington, is born in New Kent County, Virginia.