Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett was a superstar for the Minnesota Twins, setting and holding the team’s records for career hits, runs, doubles, and total bases. We remember Puckett’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Baseball Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett was a superstar for the Minnesota Twins, setting and holding the team’s records for career hits, runs, doubles, and total bases. He helped the Twins toward two World Series titles, in 1987 and 1991. In 1997, two years after his retirement, the Twins retired his No. 34. We remember Puckett’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1976: Merlin Santana, U.S. actor who had notable roles in “Getting By” and “The Steve Harvey Show,” is born in New York, New York.
1960: Kirby Puckett, U.S. Major League Baseball player with the Minnesota Twins, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Puckett carried the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 before his career was cut short by glaucoma. His family, friends, and former teammates gathered at the hospital throughout Monday. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am terribly saddened by the sudden passing of Kirby Puckett,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. “He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the term.” Read more
1943: Anita Morris, U.S. actress and singer whose most prominent role was in “Ruthless People,” is born in Durham, North Carolina.
Television audiences loved her, no matter how far she pushed her sensuality on screen. Throughout the 1980s and early ’90s, she turned up in guest-starring roles all over the dial. From comedies, such as “Cheers,” “Who’s the Boss?”, and “Murphy Brown,” to more serious fare like “Melrose Place,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and “Miami Vice,” Morris was up for just about any role. Read more
1943: Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, U.S. guitarist and singer with the Ohio Players, is born in Hamilton, Ohio.
Bonner had said he learned about music in Hamilton, where he was the oldest of a large family, playing harmonica, learning guitar, and sneaking into bars as an adolescent to play with adult musicians. He said he ran away from his home some 20 miles north of Cincinnati at age 14, and told the Hamilton JournalNews in 2009 that he had only gone back there once. He explained he had bad memories of growing up poor. He wound up in Dayton, where he connected with the players who would form the band. Their lineup changed at times, but featured horns, bass, guitar, drums, and keyboards. Read more
1934: Eugene “Gene” Cernan, former NASA astronaut who remains the last human being to date to set foot on the surface of the moon, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1923: Diane Arbus, U.S. photographer known for her images of unusual people, is born in New York, New York.
As she studied and practiced photography, her uniquely disturbing style soon began to develop. She found inspiration visiting places that made her nervous – gay nightclubs, city tenements, the “Freak Museum” in Times Square – and used her fear as a springboard for adventurous creativity. From a 21st-century perspective, it can be a little hard to condone Arbus’ frequent use of the word “freaks” to describe her photographic subjects. But 50 years ago, it was a common term for anyone with physical abnormalities, from unusual height or weight to enlarged or extra body parts. And these abnormalities fascinated Arbus, providing a rich source of flawed subject matter. Read more
1921: Ada Louise Huxtable, U.S. architecture critic who won the first Pulitzer Prize for criticism, is born in New York, New York.
Huxtable began working at The New York Times in 1963 and was a groundbreaker in bringing architecture criticism to an American newspaper. In her time there, she also was the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, in 1970. Huxtable, a native New Yorker, later went to work for The Wall Street Journal and had pieces published as recently as the month before her death. She looked at buildings and architecture not only for the actual physical design, but also the meaning and importance of the structures in their environment. Read more
1921: S. Truett Cathy, U.S. businessman who founded Chick-fil-A, is born in Eatonton, Georgia.
Cathy opened his first postwar diner in an Atlanta suburb in 1946, and by 1967 he had founded and opened his first Chick-fil-A Inc. restaurant in Atlanta. Over ensuing decades, the chain’s boneless chicken sandwich he is credited with inventing would propel Chick-fil-A expansion to more than 1,800 outlets in 39 states and the nation’s capital. By early 2013, the company says on its website, annual sales topped $5 billion as the chain offered up a taste of the South that went beyond chicken to such offerings as sweet tea, biscuits, and gravy. Read more
1920: Hank Ketcham, U.S. cartoonist known for creating “Dennis the Menace,” is born in Seattle, Washington.
Ketcham began the strip in 1951, inspired by the antics of his 4-year-old son. In March 2001, Ketcham’s panels celebrated 50 years of publication – running in 1,000 newspapers, 48 countries, and 19 languages. The strip inspired several books of cartoons, a television show, a musical, a 1993 movie, and a playground in Monterey, where Ketcham had his studio. The TV show, starring Jay North as Dennis and Joseph Kearns as Mr. Wilson, ran on CBS from 1959 to 1963. Read more
1916: Horton Foote, U.S. playwright and screenwriter known best for writing the screenplays for “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Tender Mercies,” is born in Wharton, Texas.
Foote left the cotton fields of his native Wharton, Texas, as a teenager, dreaming of becoming an actor. But realizing his gifts as a storyteller, he embarked on a writing career that spanned more than half a century and earned him two Academy awards (“To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Tender Mercies” and a 1995 Pulitzer Prize for “The Young Man From Atlanta.” Foote was active in the theater until the end of life. His play, “Dividing the Estate,” the comic tale of a Texas family squabbling over an inheritance, was presented on Broadway in 2009 by Lincoln Center Theater. Read more
1914: Lee Petty, U.S. race car driver who was one of the first superstars of NASCAR, is born in Randleman, North Carolina.
1914: Lee Hays, U.S. folk music singer-songwriter who performed with the Weavers and co-wrote songs including “If I Had a Hammer” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” is born in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Throughout his life, his path intertwined with Pete Seeger’s. Both men were in both groups, they were roommates for a time, and they were both blacklisted during the McCarthy era. They wrote together, too. The songs written by Seeger and Hays for the Weavers are enduring compositions that have inspired generations of folkies. Much covered and greatly admired, these songs and other Weavers classics formed the backbone of the folk revival in the 1960s and beyond. Read more
1912: Les Brown, U.S. bandleader and clarinetist who led Les Brown and his Band of Renown for more than 60 years, is born in Reinerton, Pennsylvania.
Brown and his Band of Renown brought a lot of good things to the music world. Hot singles like “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm.” Keeping the troops entertained on 18 USO tours. Years of music on movies and TV shows like “Rock-A-Billy-Baby” and “The Dean Martin Variety Show.” But perhaps what we can thank Les Brown for the most are his collaborations with Doris Day. The Band of Renown introduced Day to the world in 1945 with their single “Sentimental Journey.” Read more
1879: Albert Einstein, German-born U.S. theoretical physicist who developed the Theory of Relativity, is born in Ulm, Germany.
Time magazine’s Frederic Golden once said that Albert Einstein was “a cartoonist’s dream come true,” and it’s not hard to see why. The high forehead, bushy eyebrows, walrus mustache, and those famous unruly shocks of electrified white hair – he’s the very image of a mad scientist or absent-minded professor. Surely this is a big reason he has become such a staple of the silver screen. Had he looked like, say, Robert Oppenheimer, it’s hard to imagine he would remain such a movie icon. Read more
1863: Casey Jones, U.S. locomotive engineer whose heroic death has been immortalized in song, is born in Missouri.
The legend has gotten muddy as it’s been passed down. It all started with a ballad by Wallace Saunders, written just a few years after Jones’s death. This song gets many of the broad strokes right – it shows Jones as a skilled engineer who liked to run on time, and it attributes the accident that killed Jones to another train on the track. But it doesn’t fill in the interesting details that show what a hero Jones was, and in an odd last couplet, it implies that Jones’s wife was having an affair with another railroad man – something she fervently denied for the rest of her life. Read more