Jack Paar ruled the late-night airwaves before Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, and Johnny Carson. We remember Paar’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Jack Paar ruled the late-night airwaves before Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, and Johnny Carson – he was the host of “The Tonight Show” for five golden years in the 1950s and ’60s when the talk show was one of the hottest things on TV. But in history’s eyes, he may be known better for his turbulent departure from the show – walking off the set midbroadcast after censors cut a joke, only to return after receiving an apology and being allowed to tell the joke. Paar was also an actor, appearing in films including “Love Nest” with Marilyn Monroe. We remember Paar’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1980: Jay Reatard, U.S. musician with the Reatards and Lost Sounds, is born in Lilbourn, Missouri.
Reatard started recording songs in his bedroom as a teenager and was playing Memphis clubs by age 15. Soon after, local independent label Goner Records began releasing his singles. He would go on to release more than 70 records, with some of the rarer ones now fetching hundreds of dollars on eBay. He also gained a reputation for raucous, fast-paced live performances with acts the Reatards and the Lost Sounds, before recording and performing under the solo moniker Jay Reatard. Read more
1939: Max Robinson, U.S. broadcast journalist who was the first African-American network news anchor in the U.S., is born in Richmond, Virginia.
1930: Little Walter, born Marian Walter Jacobs, U.S. blues harmonica player who is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is born in Marksville, Louisiana.
1930: Ollie Matson, U.S. sprinter and football player who won silver and bronze medals in the 1952 Summer Olympics and went on to play for the Chicago Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, and other NFL teams, is born in Trinity, Texas.
Matson played with the Cardinals from 1952-58 before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams for nine players. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1957. He spent 1959-62 with the Rams, then played a single season for the Detroit Lions before finishing his career with Philadelphia from 1964-66. Matson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972, and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976. He was a six-time Pro Bowl selection, winning MVP of the 1956 game. He also made the All-Pro team seven times. Read more
1925: Scott Carpenter, U.S. NASA astronaut who was the fourth American in space, is born in Boulder, Colorado.
Carpenter followed John Glenn into orbit, and it was Carpenter who gave him the historic send-off: “Godspeed, John Glenn.” The two were the last survivors of the famed original Mercury 7 astronauts from the “Right Stuff” days of the early 1960s. Glenn is the only one left alive. In his one flight, Carpenter missed his landing by 288 miles, leaving a nation on edge for an hour as it watched live and putting Carpenter on the outs with his NASA bosses. So Carpenter found a new place to explore: the ocean floor. Read more
1925: Chuck Bednarik, U.S. NFL Hall of Fame player who was one of the last great two-way players, is born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Known as Concrete Charlie, Bednarik epitomized the tough-guy linebacker and also was an outstanding center for the Eagles from 1949 to 1962. He is remembered best for a game-saving tackle at the 9-yard line on the final play of the 1960 title game, and it was typical Bednarik. He threw Green Bay running back Jim Taylor to the ground and refused to let him up while the final seconds ticked off as the Eagles held on for a 17-13 win. Read more
1924: Terry Southern, U.S. author and screenwriter who worked on films including “Dr. Strangelove” and “Easy Rider,” is born in Alvarado, Texas.
As with “Dr. Strangelove,” there has also been much haggling over who deserved credit for “Easy Rider.” The original idea (a “modern Western”) was proposed by Peter Fonda under the working title “Mardi Gras.” He and Dennis Hopper hired Southern to write the script for $350 a week, guild minimum at the time. “Easy Rider” – a title contributed by Southern – would take in $19 million in 1969 alone, but he made virtually no profits from the project as Fonda and Hopper denied him gross points. Read more
1924: Art Fleming, U.S. actor and game show host who was the first host of “Jeopardy!”, is born in New York, New York.
1923: Joseph Heller, U.S. author known best for his novel “Catch-22,” is born in Brooklyn, New York.
Central to the story was the “catch” of the title – the impossibility of getting out of military service. As the catch goes, only an irrational person would want to fight and put himself in danger. If you were irrational, you weren’t fit to fight (even though that’s what you wanted to do). But if you did not want to fight and asked to be released from service, well, that proved that you were rational and thereby fit for service – and so, you had to keep fighting. Read more
1918: Jack Paar, U.S. actor and TV personality who hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1957 to 1962, is born in Canton, Ohio.
In 1960, television standards were much different from today. 2016 TV viewers may see seriously steamy romantic scenes and gore to rival any R-rated horror movie, and hear language that would have shocked prior generations. But early television was much tamer: no steaminess, goriness, or profanity allowed – and neither was a joke about a toilet, even if you called it a “W.C.” (that’s “water closet” for you younger readers who may be unfamiliar with the term). Paar was the king of late-night when he made just such a joke. Read more
1917: John Beradino, U.S. actor and Major League Baseball player with the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians, and Pittsburgh Pirates, who went on to play Dr. Steve Hardy on “General Hospital,” is born in Los Angeles, California.
1916: Glenn Ford, Canadian-American actor whose films include “Gilda,” “Blackboard Jungle,” and “Superman,” is born in Sainte-Christine-d’Auvergne, Quebec.
Ford appeared in scores of films during his 53-year Hollywood career. The Film Encyclopedia, a reference book, lists 85 films from 1939 to 1991. He was cast usually as the handsome tough, but his acting talents ranged from romance to comedy. His more famous credits include “Superman,” “Gilda,” “The Sheepman,” “The Gazebo,” “Pocketful of Miracles,” and “Don’t Go Near the Water.” Read more
1907: Kate Smith, U.S. singer known best for her version of “God Bless America,” is born in Greenville, Virginia.
1864: Anna Jarvis, U.S. activist who founded Mother’s Day, is born in Webster, West Virginia.
1852: Calamity Jane, born Martha Jane Canary, U.S. frontierswoman who was one of the most notable figures of the Wild West, is born in Princeton, Missouri.