Alan Shepard was known for an experience that only a few can say they share: He walked on the moon. We remember Shepard’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Alan Shepard was known for an experience that only a few can say they share: He walked on the moon. After beginning his NASA fame in 1961 by becoming the second person, and the first American, to go into space, Shepard joined the Apollo 14 mission to the moon. When he walked on the lunar surface, he planted a U.S. flag … and indulged one of his hobbies when he hit a golf ball on the moon. After retiring from NASA, he became a successful businessman and established the Mercury Seven Foundation to encourage students to pursue science and engineering careers. We remember Shepard’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
1963: Len Bias, U.S. college basketball star at the University of Maryland who was drafted second overall by the Boston Celtics, is born in Landover, Maryland.
1953: Jan Kuehnemund, U.S. guitarist who founded the all-girl hard rock band Vixen, is born in St. Paul, Minnesota.
1948: Jack Tatum, NFL defensive back for the Oakland Raiders who was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and was known for his hard hitting, including the hit that paralyzed New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley, is born in Cherryville, North Carolina.
Tatum was a central figure in “The Immaculate Reception” in the Raiders’ 1972 playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. With 22 seconds left, Tatum jarred loose a pass to Frenchy Fuqua from Terry Bradshaw, and the ball bounced off Fuqua’s foot and ricocheted into the arms of Steelers running back Franco Harris. Harris never broke stride and ran 42 yards for the winning touchdown. Read more
1945: Wilma Mankiller, Native American activist who was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, is born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
Mankiller was just 40 when she became chief in 1985. But her relative youth didn’t stop her from displaying strong leadership and making positive changes. During her 11-year tenure, she oversaw a period of huge growth for the Cherokee Nation, with the population almost tripling from 55,000 to 156,000. Read more
1927: Hank Ballard, U.S. rhythm and blues singer whose group the Midnighters had a hit song with “Work With Me, Annie” in 1953 and who is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is born in Detroit, Michigan.
Ballard wrote “Work With Me, Annie,” but it was banned from the airwaves by the Federal Communications Commission for its suggestive lyrics. The government may not have approved, but they couldn’t keep it out of the hands of white teenagers. The record rose to No. 1 on the R&B charts and stayed there for nearly two months, selling nearly 1 million copies. Follow-ups “Annie Had a Baby” and “Annie’s Aunt Fannie” also were restricted from radio and proved big hits. Read more
1924: Les Lye, Canadian actor known best for starring on the children’s television series “You Can’t Do That on Television,” on the U.S. cable channel Nickelodeon, is born in Toronto, Ontario.
1923: Alan Shepard, U.S. astronaut who was the oldest man to walk on the moon at age 47 in 1971, is born in Derry, New Hampshire.
Not many people would have the presence of mind or the creativity of instinct to hit golf balls on the moon. What kind of guy would even dream that up? That would be Shepard, the first American to travel into space and, later, the oldest American in the space program, piloting the Apollo 14 mission, and the fifth person to walk on the moon. It was during the Apollo 14 mission that he teed up with a 6-iron. Read more
1919: Georgia Carroll, U.S. singer, model, and actress known best as a singer with Kay Kyser’s big band, is born in Blooming Grove, Texas.
1919: Jocelyn Brando, U.S. actress who was the older sister of Marlon Brando and who starred in the movie “The Big Heat,” is born in San Francisco, California.
1909: Johnny Mercer, U.S. singer-songwriter who wrote many classic songs, including “Hooray for Hollywood,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Moon River,” and “Summer Wind,” and who co-founded Capitol Records, is born in Savannah, Georgia.
1908: Imogene Coca, U.S. actress and comedian remembered best for starring on “Your Show of Shows” with Sid Caesar and playing Aunt Edna in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
She was a true trailblazer, a funny woman in a world of funny men, a comedienne who didn’t play straight woman to a man’s gag, an award-winner whose hilarious career stretched over decades and touched generations of audiences. She was Imogene Coca. Coca was a rubber-faced goofball, equally comfortable doing sketch comedy on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” guest-starring on popular sitcoms and dramas, and hamming it up through song in a Tony-nominated Broadway performance in “On the Twentieth Century.” Read more
1901: George Gallup, U.S. advertising researcher who pioneered survey sampling techniques with his Gallup Poll, is born in Jefferson, Iowa.