Dick Clark was America’s oldest teenager, or at least that’s how it appeared thanks to his youthful appearance and a lifetime spent introducing us to the newest in new music. We remember Clark’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
Dick Clark was America’s oldest teenager, or at least that’s how it appeared thanks to his youthful appearance and a lifetime spent introducing us to the newest in new music. On “American Bandstand,” he gave artists such as Stevie Wonder, the Talking Heads, and Simon & Garfunkel their first national exposure, and he created a space on television where segregation had no place. His face and voice became fixtures for our New Year’s Eve celebrations, and he even created the American Music Awards, which still continues to honor the best in popular music each year. We remember Clark’s life today as well as the lives of other notable people who were born this day in history.
The country singer, who found early fame with songs such as “Ten Thousand Angels” and “Guys Do It All the Time,” had long struggled with substance-abuse problems before ending her life with a bullet in 2013 at age 37. She had publicly tried –– and ultimately failed –– to get sober on “Celebrity Rehab.” Her once-promising career had stalled, and she only made headlines when she encountered legal problems, including custody issues concerning her sons, fraudulently attempting to get prescriptions medications, and driving under the influence. Read more
June Pointer, who died in 2006, was a member of a very special group of musicians: women who made their mark on the music world alongside their sisters. She was still a teen when she formed the Pointers-A Pair with her sister Bonnie. Sister Anita soon joined them, and they became the Pointer Sisters; sister Ruth jumped on board in 1972. When Bonnie left the group in 1977, they were well on their way to the massive fame they achieved in the 1980s with hits including “He’s So Shy” and “Jump.” Read more
1953: Sagan Lewis, U.S. actress known best for her role on the TV medical drama “St. Elsewhere,” is born in Omaha, Nebraska.
1936: Abbie Hoffman, U.S. political and social activist who co-founded the Youth International Party – whose members were called “Yippies” – is born in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Throughout an 11-month trial stemming from the 1968 riots at the Democratic National Convention, Hoffman expressed his contempt for Judge Julius Hoffman (no relation) through stunts such as dressing up in judicial robes with Chicago police uniforms underneath, offering to find the judge LSD, and bringing a parade of counterculture celebrities to testify. Authors Norman Mailer and Allen Ginsberg came to Hoffman’s defense, as well as musician Phil Ochs, activist Timothy Leary, and a host of others. Read more
His iconic rock ‘n’ roll TV show, “American Bandstand,” ran for decades – and when it was done, Clark wasn’t. He stayed in the game with TV specials like “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” radio shows like “Rock, Roll, & Remember,” a chain of rock ‘n’ roll-themed restaurants, and much more. Read more
1928: Rex Reason, U.S. actor known best for his role in the movie “This Island Earth,” is born in Berlin, Germany.
1926: Richard Crenna, U.S. actor who appeared in many films including “Rambo” and “The Flamingo Kid,” is born in Los Angeles, California.
Crenna was an actor who was blessed with career longevity like few others – for more than 65 years, from radio to TV to movies, he created memorable characters. With his first radio role coming when he was just 11 – and his final TV role ending only with his death – Crenna was truly a lifelong star. Read more
1924: Allan Sherman, U.S. television writer and song parodist who scored his biggest novelty hit with the Grammy-winning “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” is born in Chicago, Illinois.
1920: Virginia Mayo, U.S. actress who was the biggest box office draw for Warner Bros. in the late 1940s, is born in St. Louis, Missouri.
Her honey blond hair and creamy, flawless face made Mayo ideal for the Technicolor musicals, Westerns, and adventures that were the rage in Hollywood in the 1940s and ’50s, according to her 2005 obituary by The Associated Press. Starting as a chorus girl, she quickly advanced to co-star status, appearing opposite Bob Hope in “The Princess and the Pirate” in 1944. She went on to make five films with Danny Kaye before signing a contract with Warner Bros., where she became one of the studio’s biggest stars. Read more
1918: Efrem Zimbalist Jr., U.S. actor known for starring roles on the television series “77 Sunset Strip” and “The F.B.I.”, is born in New York, New York.
1912: Gordon Parks, U.S. photographer known for photographic essays in Life magazine and for directing the movie “Shaft,” is born in Fort Scott, Kansas.
He covered everything from fashion to politics to sports during his 20 years at Life, from 1948 to 1968, according to his 2006 obituary by The Associated Press. But as a photographer, he was perhaps best known for his gritty photo essays on the grinding effects of poverty in the United States and abroad and on the spirit of the civil rights movement. “Those special problems spawned by poverty and crime touched me more, and I dug into them with more enthusiasm,” he said. “Working at them again revealed the superiority of the camera to explore the dilemmas they posed.” Read more
1874: Winston Churchill, English politician who was the prime minister of Britain from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, is born in Woodstock, England.
1835: Samuel Clemens, U.S. author known better by his pen name, Mark Twain, whose classic books include “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” is born in Florida, Missouri.
Twain is remembered best as the author of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” but he also made a name for himself as the pre-eminent speaker and humorist of his time. His essays, speeches, and personal letters are full of his unique wit, providing readers with laughter and thought-provoking quotes that continue to stand the test of time. Read more
1667: Jonathan Swift, Irish author who wrote the classic “Gulliver’s Travels,” is born in Dublin, Ireland.