Josephine Baker was one of the most remarkable stars of the 20th century. We remember Baker’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day, June 3, in history.
1991: Yordano Ventura, pitcher for the Kansas City Royals who could throw 100 MPH fastballs, is born in Samana, Dominican Republic.
1952: Billy Powell, U.S. keyboardist who was a longtime member of Lynyrd Skynyrd, is born in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The Jacksonville-based band was formed in 1966 by a group of high school students – famously, it took its name from a physical education teacher they disliked, Leonard Skinner. Powell joined the group around 1972, the year before they released their first album, “Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd.” It became one of the South’s most popular rock groups, and gained national fame with such hits as “Free Bird,” “What’s Your Name,” and especially “Sweet Home Alabama,” which reached the top 10 on the national charts in 1974. Read more
1950: Melissa Mathison, U.S. screenwriter who wrote the movie “E.T.” and was the first wife of actor Harrison Ford, is born in Los Angeles, California.
1947: Mickey Finn, English drummer with the glam rock band T. Rex who also played with the Blow Monkeys and the Soup Dragons, is born in London, England.
1946: Michael Clarke, U.S. drummer known best as a member of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, is born in Spokane, Washington.
1942: Curtis Mayfield, U.S. R&B singer who was the frontman for the Impressions and had hits including “People Get Ready” and “Freddie’s Dead,” is born in Chicago, Illinois.
The year was 1964, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. still had four years to live, and the struggle for civil rights was igniting the nation. King’s March on Washington, a year earlier, had been a success, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approaching passage. And then a song was released, one that perfectly summed up the fight so far and imparted the strength to keep going: “Keep On Pushing” by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. Read more
1937: Edward Winter, U.S. actor known best for playing Colonel Flagg on TV’s “M*A*S*H,” is born in Ventura, California.
1930: Marion Zimmer Bradley, U.S. author of science fiction and fantasy novels including “The Mists of Avalon,” is born in Albany, New York.
1930: Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe’s, is born in San Diego, California.
1929: Chuck Barris, U.S. creator of the popular game shows “The Gong Show” and “The Newlywed Game,” is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Barris was the King of Schlock TV, the creator of a genre of titillating TV shows that some say is the direct ancestor of today’s tell-all reality shows. Read more
As a session musician, he played on Elvis Presley‘s “Return to Sender,” Roy Orbison‘s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree” and “I’m Sorry,” REO Speedwagon’s “Little Queenie,” Al Hirt’s “Java,” and other songs including ones by Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash. In 1963, he had his biggest solo hit, “Yakety Sax,” which he wrote. “‘Yakety Sax’ will be my trademark,” Randolph said in a 1990 interview with The Associated Press. “I’ll hang my hat on it. It’s kept me alive. Every sax player in the world has tried to play it. Some are good, some are awful.” Read more
1926: Allen Ginsberg, U.S. poet who was a major figure of the Beat Generation and is well-known for poems including “Howl,” is born in Newark, New Jersey.
1925: Tony Curtis, U.S. actor famous for popular films including “Some Like It Hot” and “Spartacus,” is born in the Bronx, New York.
Then, in the 1980s, Curtis revealed another side of himself: He was an artist, and had been saving his work since childhood. His collection included paintings done in oils, acrylics, or watercolors, mixed-media works, and an illustrated journal. In 2005, his painting “Red Table” joined the permanent collection of the film and media wing of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1987, Curtis told United Press International that he found painting more fulfilling creatively than acting, saying he would rather “be known as an artist who acts than an actor who paints.” Read more
1918: Lili St. Cyr, U.S. burlesque star who appeared in movies including “Son of Sinbad” and “The Naked and the Dead,” is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
1911: Ellen Corby, U.S. actress known best for her Emmy-winning role as Grandma Walton on “The Waltons,” is born in Racine, Wisconsin.
Corby won three Emmys for her portrayal of the feisty and wise Esther Walton. It was just one role among many she played—a crooked car salesman on “The Andy Griffith Show,” a lonely aunt in “I Remember Mama” (a role that earned Corby an Oscar nomination), even an uncredited part in Frank Capra‘s “It’s a Wonderful Life”—but Grandma Walton brought Corby her greatest fame. So vital was Corby to the show, and the show to Corby, that she appeared as Grandma Walton even as she was recovering from a massive stroke, with her recovery written into the script.
1910: Paulette Goddard, U.S. actress who starred opposite Charlie Chaplin in “Modern Times” and was Oscar-nominated for “So Proudly We Hail!”, is born in New York, New York.
1906: Josephine Baker, U.S. dancer, singer, and actress who was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture and an important figure of the civil rights movement, is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
Baker was one of the most remarkable stars of the 20th century. Born poor, she was abused by authority figures and became a school dropout and homeless by 13. She joined a vaudeville show at 15 after a recruiter noticed her dancing on the street. She rose to great heights of fame and influence, touring the world, becoming the first African-American woman to star in a movie (1927’s “Siren of the Tropics”), working with the French resistance in World War II, and fighting for civil rights in the U.S.
1864: Ransom Olds, U.S. automotive industry businessman who founded Oldsmobile, is born in Geneva, Ohio.
1852: Theodore Robinson, U.S. painter who was a well-known impressionist, is born in Irasburg, Vermont.
1808: Jefferson Davis, U.S. politician who was the president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, is born in Fairview, Kentucky.