Minnie Riperton found chart-topping success with her 1975 song “Lovin’ You,” which showcased her five-octave vocal range and the incredibly high notes she could sing. Before her solo career, Riperton sang backup for artists including Etta James and Muddy Waters, and she sang in the rock-soul group Rotary Connection. In 1976, Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and subsequently became one of the first celebrities to make her breast cancer diagnosis public. She died of the disease just three years later at 31, leaving behind two children, one of whom was future actress Maya Rudolph. We remember Riperton’s life today as well as the lives and legacies of other notable personalities who were born this day in history.
1986: Aaron H. Swartz, U.S. computer programmer and internet activist who was involved in the development of the RSS feed, Creative Commons, and Reddit, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Swartz was a prodigy who as a young teenager helped create RSS, a family of Web feed formats used to gather updates from blogs, news headlines, audio, and video for users, according to his 2013 obituary by The Associated Press. He later co-founded Reddit, which ended up being sold to Conde Nast, as well as the political action group Demand Progress, which campaigns against internet censorship. Read more
1960: Michael Nyqvist, Swedish actor who played villains in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” and “John Wick,” is born in Stockholm, Sweden.
1947: Minnie Riperton, U.S. singer-songwriter known best for “Lovin’ You,” her No. 1 hit in 1975, is born in Chicago, Illinois.
Though Riperton’s talent and vocal range were huge, her career would be short. Her only major hit, “Lovin’ You,” captured the attention of the world in 1975, making it to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and in 24 other countries. The song showcased Riperton’s stunning range and the incredible clarity of her voice. Read more
1931: Morley Safer, Canadian television journalist best known as a reporter on the CBS news show “60 Minutes,” is born in Toronto, Ontario.
In 1970, Harry Reasoner, one of the original “60 Minutes” correspondents, quit CBS to become the news anchor for another network. Safer was tapped for Reasoner’s “60 Minutes” beat, where he flourished. Among his notable stories for “60 Minutes” were a report on the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam, for which he won an Emmy Award. He would return to Vietnam in 1989 for “60 Minutes,” interviewing Vietnamese people about their experiences in the war. Read more
1931: Darla Hood, U.S. child actress and singer who was well-known for starring as Darla in the “Our Gang” series and enjoyed a career as an adult doing voice-overs and commercials, is born in Leedey, Oklahoma.
1929: Bobby Bowden, Florida State University (FSU) head football coach from 1976 to 2009, considered one of the all-time greatest college coaches, is born in Birmingham, Alabama.
1927: Patti Page, U.S. pop music singer who sold more than 100 million records during her career, is born in Claremore, Oklahoma.
Page achieved several career milestones in American pop culture, but she’ll be remembered for indelible hits that crossed the artificial categorizations of music and remained atop the charts for months to reach a truly national audience, according to her 2013 obituary by The Associated Press. “Tennessee Waltz” scored the rare achievement of reaching No. 1 on the pop, country, and rhythm and blues charts simultaneously and was officially adopted as one of two official songs by the state of Tennessee. Its reach was so powerful, six other artists reached the charts the following year with covers. Read more
1927: Chris Connor, U.S. jazz singer who was a member of the Stan Kenton Band and also worked with Maynard Ferguson and Zoot Sims, is born in Kansas City, Missouri.
1924: Joe Flynn, U.S. actor known best for his role as Captain Binghamton on the sitcom “McHale’s Navy,” who also appeared in many Disney comedy movies, is born in Youngstown, Ohio.
1920: Esther Rolle, U.S. actress who played Florida Evans on the CBS television program “Maude” and starred on the sitcom’s spinoff, “Good Times,” is born in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Rolle played Evans for six seasons, including five on “Good Times” and one on “Maude,” where she originated the character. Florida Evans was memorable, but Rolle’s talents extended beyond sitcoms, and even beyond acting. Rolle was also an accomplished singer and dancer – she directed the dance troupe Shogolo Oloba – and showed off her skills in her onstage appearances, like her starring role in the 1973 play “Don’t Play Us Cheap.” Read more
1912: June Havoc, U.S. actress who appeared in “Brewster’s Millions” and “Gentleman’s Agreement,” is born in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Havoc was one of the first child movie stars, and she was one of the youngest. She also had one of the most difficult stage parents of all time – her seriously overbearing mother, Rose Hovick, who pushed June and her sister into vaudeville and movies when they were just toddlers as a way to support their family. That the sisters would rebel against their mother was, perhaps, predictable. June’s sister grew up to be Gypsy Rose Lee, one of the most famous strippers of the burlesque stage. And June was just 15 when she eloped with a fellow performer, trying to escape her mother’s influence. Read more
Mitchell wrote most of the novel in secret, fearing failure and a lack of encouragement. Even after she steeled herself and gave a partial manuscript to a publisher, she changed her mind and tried to get it back. Luckily for us, the publisher had already begun reading it … and he loved what he’d read. Mitchell completed the novel at his urging, and the rest is literary and cinematic history. Read more
1898: Marie Prevost, Canadian film actress who was a star during the silent period, is born in Sarnia, Ontario.
1847: Bram Stoker, Irish author who was well-known for his novel “Dracula,” is born in Dublin, Ireland.
Preparation for Dracula began with seven years of researching Eastern European folklore and vampire stories. As Stoker finally began to write, he settled on a name for his vampire, a name that would become synonymous with the terror of the undead blood-sucking fiend, the horrific name of … Count Wampyr. Read more
1836: Milton Bradley, U.S. inventor and board-game pioneer, is born in Vienna, Maine.