Ed McMahon may have been the world’s most famous sidekick, laughing along with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show” for 30 years. We remember McMahon’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Ed McMahon may have been the world’s most famous sidekick, laughing along with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show for 30 years. Of course, he himself hosted a number of television shows as well, from The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon to TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes to Star Search. And his commercials for American Family Publishers sweepstakes were unforgettable. We remember McMahon’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1964: Yvette Wilson, U.S. actress known for roles in Moesha and The Parkers, is born in Los Angeles, California.
Wilson portrayed Andell Wilkerson, owner of The Den, the popular hangout on Moesha. The UPN sitcom starred the singer Brandy. Wilson was a stand-up comic and was featured on In Living Color. She also appeared in the movies Poetic Justice and House Party III. Read more
1963: Suzanne Crough, U.S. child actress known best for her role as Tracy Partridge on the sitcom The Partridge Family, is born in Fullerton, California.
The child actress was featured in commercials and on The Partridge Family, which ran on ABC from September 1970 to March 1974. The show revolved around a widowed mother and her five children who formed a band. The series starred Shirley Jones, with her real-life stepson David Cassidy as the resident heartthrob. Crough as Tracy played the tambourine as a member of the TV family’s band. She was often the warm backdrop that set up the zingers flung out by her on-screen brother Danny, played by Danny Bonaduce. Read more
1944: Richard Corliss, U.S. film critic and editor for Time Magazine, is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In his 35 years as the magazine’s film critic, Corliss wrote more than 2,500 reviews and other articles. Time Editor Nancy Gibbs called Corliss a master of the written word. Words “were his tools, his toys, to the point that it felt sometimes as though he had to write, like the rest of us breathe and eat and sleep,” she said. Read more
1940: Willie Stargell, U.S. Major League Baseball player who had a 21-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is born in Earlsboro, Oklahoma.
1936: Sylvia Robinson, U.S. singer and producer who had a hit as half of the duo Mickey & Sylvia with “Love Is Strange” and produced seminal hip-hop records including the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” is born in New York, New York.
When Robinson was just 20 in 1956, she and guitarist Mickey Baker recorded the Bo Diddley-penned song “Love Is Strange.” The quirky, sexy song climbed to No. 1 on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues singles chart and peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100. Over the years, a few covers from artists as diverse as Peaches & Herb and Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton kept the song in the nation’s consciousness. But it was a playfully steamy scene in the 1987 smash movie Dirty Dancing that made the song a favorite for new generations. Read more
1936: Marion Barry, U.S. politician who served as mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991 and 1995 to 1999, is born in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
Divisive and flamboyant, maddening and beloved, Barry outshone every politician in the 40-year history of District of Columbia self-rule. But for many, his legacy was not defined by the accomplishments and failures of his four terms as mayor and long service on the D.C. Council, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more
1931: Hal Needham, U.S. stuntman and film director who wrote the screenplay for Smokey and the Bandit, is born in Memphis, Tennessee.
A former paratrooper, Needham appeared in thousands of TV episodes and hundreds of movies, performing and designing stunts and new equipment to execute them. Needham jumped from planes, was dragged by horses and wrecked cars – breaking 56 bones in the process, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His best-known directing efforts involved 1970s Burt Reynolds action comedies, including Smokey and the Bandit, Cannonball Run and Stroker Ace. He also directed Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Villain. Read more
1929: Tom Foley, U.S. politician who represented Washington in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1965 to 1995 and was the 57th speaker of the house, is born in Spokane, Washington.
Foley also served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for four years in the Clinton administration. A longtime Japan scholar, Foley had been a frequent visitor to that nation, in part to promote the farm products his district produces, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. “Diplomacy is not, frankly, very different” from the deal-making, consensus and common courtesy that a successful politician needs, he said. He served 30 years in the U.S. House, including more than five years as speaker. Read more
1927: Gabriel García Márquez, Colombian author known best for novels including One Hundred Years of Solitude, is born in Aracataca, Colombia.
His flamboyant and melancholy fictional works – among them Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Love in the Time of Cholera and Autumn of the Patriarch – outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible. The epic 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude sold more than 50 million copies in more than 25 languages, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His stories made him literature’s best-known practitioner of magical realism, the fictional blending of the everyday with fantastical elements such as a boy born with a pig’s tail and a man trailed by a swarm of yellow butterflies. Read more
1927: Gordon Cooper, U.S. NASA astronaut who was one of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury and became the first American to sleep in space, is born in Shawnee, Oklahoma.
1927: William J. Bell, U.S. screenwriter and producer who created soap operas including Another World and The Young and the Restless, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1923: Wes Montgomery, U.S. jazz guitarist who influenced Jimi Hendrix, Pat Metheny and many more, is born in Indianapolis, Indiana.
McMahon gained fame as the longtime announcer of The Tonight Show, where he served as Johnny Carson’s sidekick and biggest booster … but it’s hard to say he was known best for any one show. Many fans knew and loved him best for a show that presaged today’s talent competitions. Long before American Idol and The Voice, there was Star Search, hosted by McMahon from its 1983 debut through its cancellation in 1995. Read more
1917: Will Eisner, U.S. cartoonist known for his comic book series The Spirit, is born in Brooklyn, New York.
Eisner started making comics in the 1930s and was the first to use “silent” balloonless panels to emphasize characters’ emotions by focusing attention on finely wrought facial expressions, according to his obituary by the AP. He addressed subjects considered unthinkable in comic books and rarely seen at the time in newspaper comics: spousal abuse, tax audits, urban blight and graft. Read more
1906: Lou Costello, U.S. comedian who was one-half of the comedy duo Abbott and Costello, is born in Paterson, New Jersey.
Costello officially partnered with Abbott in 1936. They gained national exposure in 1938 on radio’s Kate Smith Hour, where they debuted their now legendary “Who’s on First?” routine. The bit was a favorite of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Abbott and Costello performed it for the president five times, according to The Associated Press. Read more
1905: Bob Wills, U.S. singer-songwriter known as the King of Western Swing, is born in Kosse, Texas.
1885: Ring Lardner, U.S. author and journalist known for short stories including “The Haircut” and “Alibi Ike,” is born in Niles, Michigan.
1806: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, English poet whose best-known work is “How Do I Love Thee?”, is born in Kelloe, England.
1619: Cyrano de Bergerac, French dramatist whose life story was told in the play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, is born in Paris, France.