We remember comedian Moms Mabley and other notable people who were born this day in history.
Moms Mabley was billed as the Funniest Woman in the World, a rare success story as a black lesbian comedian in a world that was, for the bulk of her 20th-century career, dominated by men. Her edgy comedy tackled subjects that few took on until more recently, including racism, and she influenced younger generations of comedians including Whoopi Goldberg, Wanda Sykes, Sarah Silverman, and more. And she was more than a comedian – she was a recording artist as well. Her 1969 cover of “Abraham, Martin, and John” rose to No. 35 on the Billboard chart and made her the oldest living person to have a Top 40 hit. We remember Mabley’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1953: Ricky Wilson, U.S. guitarist who was a member of the B-52’s, is born in Athens, Georgia.
Wilson and the B-52’s burst onto the scene in a big way with their self-titled debut album in 1979. The lead single made the Billboard charts and is still a dance favorite more than 35 years later. It even inspired John Lennon to come out of retirement and start making music again, so much did it remind him of Yoko Ono’s sound. Written by Wilson and his bandmate Fred Schneider, the silly, surfy track was “Rock Lobster.” Read more
1942: Heather Robertson, Canadian journalist and author who co-founded both the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Professional Writers Association of Canada, is born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
1935: Nancy Malone, U.S. Emmy Award-winning television producer and director, is born in Queens, New York.
1932: Gay Brewer, U.S. professional golfer who won the Masters Tournament in 1967, is born in Middletown, Ohio.
Brewer won the 1967 Masters for his lone major title a year after he lost an 18-hole playoff to Jack Nicklaus. In 1966, Brewer three-putted the 72nd hole to fall into the playoff with Nicklaus and Tommy Jacobs. In June 2007, Picadome Golf Course in Lexington, where Brewer learned to play, changed its name to honor him. Brewer played college golf at the University of Kentucky. Read more
1932: Peter Hall, English urban planner who pioneered the industrial enterprise zone concept to develop industry in disadvantaged areas, is born in Hampstead, London, England.
1928: Patrick McGoohan, American-English actor whose notable films included “Braveheart” and “Scanners,” is born in Queens, New York.
McGoohan won two Emmys for his work on the Peter Falk detective drama “Columbo,” and appeared as King Edward Longshanks in the 1995 Mel Gibson film “Braveheart.” But he was known best as the title character Number Six in “The Prisoner,” a surreal 1960s British series in which a former spy is held captive in a small village and constantly tries to escape. Read more
1923: Pamela Britton, U.S. actress who played Lorelei Brown on TV’s “My Favorite Martian,” is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
1922: Guy Lewis, U.S. college basketball coach who led the University of Houston Cougars to five NCAA Final Four appearances in three decades as head coach, is born in Arp, Texas.
The actor often played detectives during his television career, which spanned five decades and included appearances on more than 60 shows. His daughter said he was proud of his stint as Capt. Adam Greer on “The Mod Squad,” which aired during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The popular TV drama starred three young actors – Clarence Williams III, Michael Cole, and Peggy Lipton. “He felt the show made a big difference because it was one of the first television series to address social issues such as drugs, prostitution, and teen pregnancy that were more hush-hush before that time,” said Barbara Andrews, one of the actor’s six children. Read more
1916: Eric Christmas, English actor known for his role as Principal Carter in the “Porky’s” movies, is born in London, England.
1916: Irving Wallace, U.S. best-selling author and screenwriter, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1912: Hugh Watt, New Zealand politician who served as MP and as Deputy Prime Minister, is born in Perth, Western Australia.
1900: Frédéric Joliot-Curie, French physicist who with his wife Irène Joliot-Curie, daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie, won the Nobel Prize, is born in Paris, France.
1892: James Van Fleet, U.S. Army officer who President Harry S. Truman called “the greatest general we have ever had,” is born in Coytesville, Fort Lee, New Jersey.
1891: Earl Warren, U.S. politician and jurist who served as chief justice of the United States from 1953 to 1969, is born in Los Angeles, California.
1881: Edith Nourse Rogers, U.S. social welfare volunteer and politician who was one of the first women to serve in Congress, is born in Saco, Maine.
1868: Senda Berenson, Lithuanian-American teacher who pioneered women’s basketball, is born in Butrimonys, Vilna Governorate, Russian Empire.
It’s Friday afternoon, March 1892, and the gymnasium in Northampton, Massachusetts, is packed to the rafters. Eighteen players take their positions, both teams wearing bloomers, the two sides distinguished not by uniforms but colored handkerchiefs tied around their arms. On either end of the court, a peach basket has been hung by ropes from the balcony and dangles some eight feet off the ground. A crowd of rapt spectators has gathered to watch the unique spectacle about to occur, but there is not a man among them. To warn off the curious, a note has been placed on the door. “Gentlemen are not allowed in the gymnasium during basket ball games,” it says. The note is signed “S. Berenson.” Read more
1860: William Jennings Bryan, U.S. politician who served as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson before resigning due to pacifist opposition to World War I, is born in Salem, Illinois.
1848: Wyatt Earp, U.S. lawman who was a major figure of the American Wild West, is born in Monmouth, Illinois.
In one of many letters to Western-movie star William S. Hart, Earp urged that his version of events be brought to the big screen. “If the story were exploited on the screen by you, it would do much toward setting me right before a public which has always been fed lies about me,” he wrote. Earp did not live to see that happen, but it did. After the best-selling and highly fictionalized “Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall” was published in 1931, his actions at the OK Corral were celebrated and immortalized by Hollywood in movies big and small. Read more
1813: David Livingstone, Scottish explorer who was the first Westerner to see Victoria Falls and other natural wonders of Africa, is born in Blantyre, Scotland.
1748: Elias Hicks, U.S. Quaker preacher and abolitionist who advocated for a boycott of slave-produced goods, is born in Hempstead, New York.