Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Famous People Born in 1909

Last year I put up a list of famous people born in 1908. I got the idea accidentally when stumbled onto Brainy History.  [Update:  There's also famous people born 1910.][Udate: And famous people born 1911.] I added the death dates where Brainy didn't have them and I discovered that I could verify one who was still alive - Claud Lévi-Strauss.

One commenter suggested there should be pictures. So this year, I went back to Brainy and got their list of 1909. There are some notables on it, but I think 1908 was a better year. No one on the list is still alive - Katherine Dunham died in 2006.

Brainy has them listed in alphabetical order by first name - well, it's not totally consistent. I've reordered them by how long they lived, starting with those who died youngest. And added brief bios and pictures. I've tried to get information that isn't all from Wikipedia. I've generally taken a relatively small amount - a teaser - with links to the rest of it. And I added one person to Brainy's list - Art Tatum.

There is something about seeing all these people who were born the same year. How many knew each other? (I only found one link between two of these people, it's mentioned in the profiles below.) And you have to think about chance and fate when you contemplate how short a trip some had in this world and how long others were around. Four people died in 1957. Then no year had more than one death until three died in 1993, five in 1994. Note that the sixties were so exciting that only one person - a Pole - died that decade.

If you notice any errors or omissions, please either post a comment or email me . I was only able to do limited double checking on birth and death dates and I'd be surprised if I didn't make some typos on those.

The List in Birth Order
  • Barry M. Goldwater
    Jan. 1, 1909 - May 29, 1998
  • Victor Borge
    Jan. 3, 1909 - Dec. 23, 2000
  • Keith Davis
    Jan 6, 1909 - Sept. 9, 1994
  • U. Thant
    Jan. 22, 1909 - Nov. 25, 1974
  • Saul Alinsky
    Jan. 30 1909 - June 12, 1972
  • Simone Weil
    Feb. 3, 1909 - Aug. 24, 1943
  • Dean Rusk
    Feb. 9, 1909 - Dec. 20, 1994
  • Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    Feb. 11, 1909 - Feb. 5, 1993
  • Wallace Stegner
    Feb. 18, 1909 - April 13, 1993
  • Stephen Spender
    Feb. 28, 1909 - July 16, 1995
  • Stanislaw J. Lec
    March 6, 1909 - May 7, 1966
  • Claire Trevor
    March 8, 1909 - April 8,1957
  • Nelson Algren
    March 28, 1909 - May 9, 1981
  • Eudora Welty
    April 13, 1909 - July 23, 2001
  • Rollo May
    April 21, 1909 - October 22, 1994
  • Jessica Tandy
    June 7, 1909 - Sept. 11, 1994
  • Errol Flynn
    June 20, 1909 - Oct. 14, 1959
  • Mike Todd
    June 22, 1909 - March 22, 1957
  • Katherine Dunham
    June 22, 1909 - May 21, 2006
  • Lupe Velez
    July 18, 1909 - Dec. 13, 1944
  • Malcom Lowry
    July 28, 1909 - June 26, 1957
  • C. Northcote Parkinson
    July 30, 1909 - March 9, 1993
  • Roberto Burle Marx
    Aug. 4, 1909 - June 4, 1994
  • Elia Kazan
    Sept. 7, 1909 -Sept. 28, 2003
  • David Riesman
    Sept. 13, 1909 - May 10, 2002
  • Al Capp
    Sept. 28, 1909 - Nov. 5, 1979
  • Art Tatum
    Oct. 13, 1909- Nov. 4, 1956
  • James Reston
    Nov. 3, 1909 - Dec. 6, 1995
  • Joseph R. McCarthy
    Nov. 14, 1909 - May 2, 1957
  • [Johnny Mercer
    Nov. 18, 1909 -   June 25, 1976
  • Peter F. Drucker
    Nov. 19,1909 - Nov. 11, 2005
  • Eugene Ionesco
    Nov. 26, 1909 - March 28, 1994
  • (Rufus) James Agee
    Nov. 27, 1909 - May 16, 1955

List in Order of Longevity

Simone Weil
Feb. 3, 1909 - Aug. 24, 1943

Taken from rivertext.com:
... the following sentences from the opening of Weil's, "The Iliad, or the Poem of Force, ß" might have been lifted out of an analysis of Coppola's Godfather trilogy:
In this work, at all times, the human spirit is shown as modified by its relations with force, as swept away, blinded, by the very force it imagined it could handle… To define force – it is that x that turns anybody who is subjected to it into a thing. Exercised to the limit, it turns man into a thing in the most literal sense: it makes a corpse out of him. …

… Thus it happens that those who have force on loan from fate count on it too much and are destroyed.
[picture also from rivertext, but a page with several Weil quotes about God.]
OK, you want to know who she was:

French philosopher, activist, and religious searcher, whose death in 1943 was hastened by starvation. Weil published during her lifetime only a few poems and articles. With her posthumous works - 16 volumes, edited by André A. Devaux and Florence de Lussy - Weil has earned a reputation as one of the most original thinkers of her era. T.S. Eliot described her as "a woman of genius, of a kind of genius akin to that of the saints."
"What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war. Gasoline is much more likely than wheat to be a cause of international conflict." (from The Need for Roots, 1949)

For the rest of this go to Kirjasto.

Lupe Velez
July 18, 1909 - Dec. 13, 1944

An actress, born in Mexico who succeeded in Hollywood. Her web presence is full of contradicting stories. My sense is that if we ever heard her true story, one she may not have been able to tell herself when she committed suicide at age 36, it would be more interesting even than the wild ones we do get. Here's a bit from emol.org.

Velez's brief affair with Douglas Fairbanks accelerated the breakup of his famous union with Mary Pickford. Lupe's other affairs were legendary. Her men included Tom Mix, Clark Gable, Russ Columbo, John Gilbert, Jack Dempsey, Jimmy Durante, and Charlie Chaplin.

Velez's tempestuous liaison with Gary Cooper drove the tall, handsome, slim actor to lose 40 pounds and suffer a nervous breakdown. Their three-year relationship was marked by brawls and rages, yet they would have married, if not for the vehement disapproval of Cooper's mother. Finally, when Gary was boarding the Twentieth Century train to Chicago, vengeful Lupe arrived, pulled a gun and shot several times at her lover, narrowly missing his head. Cooper dove into the car and Velez quickly stormed out of the station, swearing at her lack of marksmanship and escaping arrest.

On July 24, 1934, Lupe married handsome Olympic champion and Tarzan star Johnny Weismuller. Their union was ferocious, and famed for its public scenes. Johnny was the one who always ended up bruised, bitten, and beaten to a pulp during their five years together.

James Agee
Nov. 27, 1909 - May 16, 1955

"I know I am making the choice most dangerous to an artist in valuing life above art."
With these words James Agee acknowledged the restless journey his biography would encompass. Poet, novelist, journalist, film critic, and social activist, Agee would lead an unorthodox, hard-driving life that would result in an early death. So voracious was he for experience that in valuing life, as he put it, he could not help but shape the penetrating, passionate, and colorful poetry and prose he produced.
Of Huguenot ancestry, James Agee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1909, the son of a postal worker who was killed in the prime of his life in an automobile accident. The loss of his father marked James Agee both short term and long term.
Thirty years later it would form the kernel of the novel which is the cornerstone of his fame (A DEATH IN THE FAMILY), but more immediately it resulted in what the author would later see as an expulsion from a childhood Eden. From PBS. Photo from HarvardSquare.

Art Tatum
Oct. 13, 1909- Nov. 4, 1956
(Picture from Southern California artist Merryl Jaye. Check her other jazz portraits.)
Art Tatum was among the most extraordinary of all jazz musicians, a pianist with wondrous technique who could not only play ridiculously rapid lines with both hands (his 1933 solo version of "Tiger Rag" sounds as if there were three pianists jamming together) but was harmonically 30 years ahead of his time; all pianists have to deal to a certain extent with Tatum's innovations in order to be taken seriously. Able to play stride, swing, and boogie-woogie with speed and complexity that could only previously be imagined, Tatum's quick reflexes and boundless imagination kept his improvisations filled with fresh (and sometimes futuristic) ideas that put him way ahead of his contemporaries. (from thefeelingofjazz.blogspot.com)
For NPR Audio Jazz Profiles on Art Tatum

Claire Trevor

March 8, 1909 - April 8,1957
A remarkable actress, Claire Trevor was famous for playing molls, floozies and broads, and was cast as the owner of a rowdy saloon in many a western. She made her debut in 1933, and became a glamorous leading lady, opposite the likes of John Wayne, Clark Gable, Glenn Ford or William Holden. Brilliant in StagecoachAward for Key Largo (1948). She appeared as a guest at the 70th Annual Academy Award (1939), the film that catapulted her to success, she won an Academy Award for Key Largo (1948). She appeared as a guest at the 70th Annual Academy presentation in 1998. (From IMDB which has a full bio as well)
[Picture and lots more pictures from Starlets Showcase.]

Malcom Lowry

July 28, 1909 - June 26, 1957

English novelist, short story writer, and poet, who is best known for his book UNDER THE VOLCANO (1947), a 20th century classic. Like many of Lowry's publications, the novel is highly autobiographical. An alcoholic, Lowry spent his post-Volcano years drinking and planning a cycle of novels built around his masterwork. He lived from 1940 to 1954 in a primitive cabin in Dollarton, British Columbia, and then in Italy and England until his death.
I wrote: in the dark cavern of our birth.

The printer had it tavern, which seems better:
But herein lies the subject of our mirth,
Since on the next page death appears and dearth.
So it may be that God's word was distraction,
Which to our strange type appears destruction,
Which is bitter.

('Strange Type', from Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry, 1962)http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/mlowry.htm

Joseph R. McCarthy
Nov. 14, 1909 - May 2, 1957

Joseph Raymond McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period of intense anti-communist suspicion inspired by the tensions of the Cold War.[1] He was noted for making claims that there were large numbers of CommunistsSoviet spies and sympathizers inside the federal government and elsewhere. Ultimately, McCarthy's tactics and his inability to substantiate his claims led to his being discredited and censured by the United States Senate. The term "McCarthyism," coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy's practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist pursuits. Today the term is used more generally to describe demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.[2] (for the rest of this bio go to Wikipedia. Photo from ohiohistorycentral)

Mike Todd
June 22, 1909 - March 22, 1957
Wikipedia lists both 1907 and 1909 as possible birth years) Best known as the creator of Todd AO, the producer of Academy Award winning Around the World in 80 Days, and one of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands. Died when his small plane crashed. (Photo of Todd from Instantcast.com.)

Errol Flynn
June 20,1909 - Oct. 14, 1959

The 1930s and 1940s are remembered as the golden era of Hollywood, when monumental films were made and stars were born. Some emerged slowly, but Errol Flynn took the world by storm. His acting talent, gorgeous face and handsome build put him on movie screens everywhere and kept him there for nearly 30 years. To moviegoers, Flynn was a dashing, noble romancer. To his friends, he was a mischievous, witty prankster. In all, he was loved and appreciated by fans everywhere.

Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn was born in the British Commonwealth seaport of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on June 20, 1909. He died in Vancouver. British Columbia. (From cmgww.com.) (Picture from Hot Beans in Love Mustache Hall of Fame.)

Stanislaw J. Lec
March 6, 1909 - May 7, 1966
Stanisław Jerzy Lec (6 March 1909 – 7 May 1966) (born Baron Stanisław Jerzy de Tusch-Letz) was a Polish poet and aphorist of Polish and Jewish noble origin. Often mentioned among the greatest writers of post-WW2 Poland. One of the most influential aphorists on the 20th century. wikipedia
Photo and some Lec aphorisms from theinfidels

Some like to understand what they believe in. Others like to believe in what they understand.

There are parodies of non-existent things.

Do I have no soul as punishment for not believing in the soul?

Perhaps God chose me to be an atheist?

Sometimes the devil tempts me to believe in God.

The finger of God never leaves identical fingerprints.

In the beginning there was the Word -- at the end just the Cliché.

To god what is God's, to Caesar what is Caesar's. To humans -- what?

Many who tried to enlighten were hanged from the lamppost.

Burning stakes do not lighten the darkness.

The face of the enemy frightens me only when I see how much it resembles mine.

Saul Alinsky
Jan. 30 1909 - June 12, 1972

Saul David Alinsky (January 30, 1909, Chicago, Illinois - June 12, 1972, Carmel, California) was an American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing in America, the political practice of organizing communities to act in common self-interest.[1]Wikipedia
The web is filled with snide right wing portraits of Alinksy as the amoral community organizer guru to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I suspect it's not Alinsky's approach they object to, but his application of it to organizing the poor. What they admire in, say, a Donald Trump or other ruthlessly successful business man who uses it to get rich, they can't stand in someone who uses it to help the poor. But reading their stuff, I can now understand why they thought trying to smear Obama as a community organizer was a natural. They really believe it. Read Rules for Radicals and judge for yourself.

U Thant
Jan. 22, 1909 - Nov. 25, 1974
U Thant served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971. He succeeded to the post in tragic circumstances following the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold in a plane crash on 18 September 1961.
Born in Pantanaw, Burma (Myanmar) on 22 January 1909, U Thant was educated at the National High School in Pantanaw and at University College, Rangoon.
Before embarking on his diplomatic career, U Thant had gained extensive professional experience as an educator. U Thant was a member of Burma's Textbook Committee and served on the Council of National Education in the years before World War II. Additionally, he sat on the Executive Committee of the Heads of Schools Association. He also found time during that period to establish a career as a freelance journalist.
(photo and excerpt from uthantinstitute.org)

[Update Nov. 22:  
Johnny Mercer - Nov. 18, 1909 - June 25, 1976 

Johnny Mercer wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs.
Johnny MercerJohnny Mercer wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs.
November 18, 2009 - Lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer — born Nov. 18, 1909, in Savannah, Ga. — wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs, including American Songbook standards like "Skylark," "That Old Black Magic" and "Come Rain or Come Shine."
Mercer wrote the impishly satirical "Hooray for Hollywood," too — along with a total of 90 of that town's most famous exports. His Academy Awards tally includes four statues (one for what's possibly his most famous tune, "Moon River") and 19 nominations.[Photo and bio excerpted from NPR.]

Thanks to Michele C for the heads up.  I missed this one, but I love his music. To make up for the late entry here, I've added this audio of NPR's anniversary of Mercer's birth on Fresh Air. 

Al Capp

Sept. 28, 1909 - Nov. 5, 1979
{short description of image}
Regarded by many as the greatest comic strip of all time. He was born Alfred Gerald Caplin in New Haven, CT. At the age of nine he lost his left leg in a trolley accident. Encouraged by an artistic father, young Alfred developed his own cartooning skills. At 19, he became the youngest syndicated cartoonist in America, drawing "Colonel Gilfeather," a daily panel for Associated Press. But, bored with the staid and formulaic Gilfeather, Capp left AP and soon was ghosting the popular boxing strip "Joe Palooka" for Ham Fisher. But Capp found the working conditions in Fisher's studio intolerable. (Picture and text from Lil Abner)

Nelson Algren
March 28, 1909 - May 9, 1981

One of the most neglected American writers and also one of the best loved, Nelson Algren once wrote that "literature is made upon any occasion that a challenge is put to the legal appartus by conscience in touch with humanity". His writings always lived up to that definition. He was born March 28,1909 in Detroit and lived mostly in Chicago. His first short fiction was first published in Story magazine in 1933. In 1935 he published his first novel, Someday in Boots. In early 1942, Algren put the finishing touches on a second novel and joined the war as an enlisted man. By 1945, he still had not made the grade of Private first class, but the novel Never Come Morning was widely praised and eventually sold over a million copies. Jean-Paul Sartre translated the French language edition. In 1947 came The Neon Wilderness, his famous short story collections which would permanently establish his place in American letters. The Man with the Golden Arm, winner of the first National Book Award, appeared in 1949. Then came Chicago, City on the Make(1951), a prose poem, and A Walk on the Wild Side(1956), possibly his greatest novel. Algren also published two travel books, Who Lost an American? and Notes from a Sea Voyage. The Last Carousel, a collection of short fiction and nonfiction, appeared in 1973. He died on May 9, 1981, within days of his appointment as a fellow of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. His last novel, The Devil's Stocking, based on the life of Hurricane Carter, and Nonconformity: Writing on Writing, a 1952 essay on the art of writing, were published posthumously in 1983 and 1996 respectively.
From SevenStoriesPress
Picture from popsubculture.com.

Benny Goodman

May 30, 1909 - June 13, 1986

Benny Goodman was indisputably the King of Swing - the title was invented by Gene Krupa - and he reigned as such thereafter until his death in 1986 at age 77. Over the years he played with the greatest figures in jazz: Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Mildred Bailey, Bessie Smith and countless others. Many of those who played with him as sidemen later achieved fame as leaders of their own bands, as soloists, or even as movie or TV actors - Harry James, Ziggy Elman, Gene Krupa and Lionel Hampton to name a few. A list of Benny's hits would fill a book. In fact it filled several books by his devoted discographer/biographer Russ Connor. . .

On January 16, 1938, Sol Hurok, the most prestigious impresario in America, booked the Benny Goodman band into Carnegie Hall. For generations Carnegie Hall had been the nation's greatest temple of musical art, home of the New York Philharmonic and scene of every important artist's debut (even if they had played in a hundred other concert halls first).
(For the whole bio go to the source of the bio and the images at Bennygoodman.com.)
Also you can listen to Sing, Sing, Sing on an NPR piece with musicians talking about the 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert.

Info on the Goodman Centennial concerts in New York City May 28, 29, 30, and June 6.

Tommy Trinder
May 24, 1909 - July 10, 1989
From the age of 12 when, an early school leaver, Trinder threw in his job as an errand boy and went on the stage to make people smile. Touring South Africa with a revue company in 1921, he appeared as a boy vocalist at Collins' Music-Hall the following year. The son of a London tram driver, Tommy always possessed a quick wit. Trinder spent years touring Britain on variety bills as a stand-up comic before nationwide success found him. It began to come in 1937 with the revues Tune In and In Town to-Night, by which time music-hall audiences had become familiar with the leering smile, the pork-pie hat and the wagging finger. The British cinema, regaining confidence after its mid-1930s slump, drew him in, but straitjacketed him into roles that most light comedians could have played. Sailors Three, a genuinely funny war comedy that harnessed him with Claude Hulbert and Michael Wilding as three friends who capture a German pocket battleship, boosted his standing. Trinder's robust performance brought him further roles with the film's makers, Ealing Studios, with whom he was to do his best film work.

Meanwhile, he had virtually taken up residence at the London Palladium. Back at Ealing, he successfully played two fairly straight roles laced with his own engaging brand of humour and native London wit. The Foreman Went to France was the story of a true wartime exploit, and The Bells Go Down a smoke-grimed tribute to die work of London's firemen in the Blitz. He was, ironically, taken back to Australia by his final Ealing venture, Bitter Springs, another salt-of-the-earth role in this story of a family fighting to make a new life in Aborigine country. With the arrival of independent television in the London area in 1955, a big variety show was mounted called Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Trinder was the obvious choice as compere, and he did his old stamping-ground proud, becoming the top British TV star of the time. He continued to appear in pantomimes and cabaret, but further film appearances were only cameos. He celebrated his 80th birthday shortly before his death from heart problems. www.britmovies.co.uk

Edwin H. Land
May 7, 1909 -March 1, 1991

Edwin Herbert Land, American physicist and inventor, born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. While a freshman at Harvard University in 1926, he became interested in polarized light (light oriented in a plane with respect to the source). Taking a leave of absence, he developed a new kind of polarizer, which he called Polaroid, by aligning and embedding crystals in a plastic sheet. Land returned to Harvard at the age of 19 but left again in his senior year to found a laboratory nearby. Joined by other young scientists, he applied the polarizing principle to light filters, optical devices, and motion picture processes. (From ideafinder.com) (Photo from picasaweb.google.com)

Joseph L. Mankiewicz
b. February 11, 1909, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
d. February 5, 1993, Bedford, New York, USA
Despite an oeuvre comprising only 20 feature films, Joseph L. Mankiewicz explored a number of genres and styles in his work: gothic (Dragonwyck, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Suddenly, Last Summer); film noir (Somewhere in the Night); musical comedy (Guys and Dolls); Shavian comedy (All About Eve, People Will Talk); Shakespearean tragedy (Julius Caesar); espionage (5 Fingers); the Western (There Was a Crooked Man…); race drama (No Way Out); mystery (The Honey Pot); Roman epic (Cleopatra); thriller (Sleuth); family melodrama (House of Strangers). Moreover, he often combined genres within a single film. House of Strangers (1949) and All About Eve (1950) have a film noir ambience (both films are concerned with ambition and its consequences), while There Was a Crooked Man… (1970) combines a Western with a prison drama.( part of essay by Brian Dauth. Photo from University Press of Mississippi Press

C. Northcote Parkinson
July 30, 1909 - March 9, 1993

A distinguished British naval historian, he was a professor at the University of Malaya in 1955 when his life was transformed by an article he wrote for The Economist, inspiring a Boston publisher to commission what was to be a best-selling book and triggering a second career on the American lecture circuit. His subject entered the language-- "Parkinson's Law": Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Parkinson proved his point with a devastating deadpan discussion of the extraordinary inverse relationship between the Royal Navy's number of capital ships and civilian personnel--and a savagely satirical mockscientism that uncannily anticipated the great eruption of business-school bombast. (From thefreelibrary.com)
Images from blog.shj.se.olpe and Amazon.com

Wallace Stegner
Feb. 18, 1909 - April 13, 1993
Wallace Stegner was born on February 18, 1909 in Lake Mills, Iowa. Over a 60 year career he wrote 30 books. Among the novels are, The Big Rock Candy Mountain, 1943; Joe Hill, 1950; All The Little Live Things, 1967 (Commonwealth Club Gold Medal); Angle of Repose, 1972 (Pulitzer Prize); The Spectator Bird, (National Book Award), 1977; Recapitulation, 1979; Collected Stories, 1990, and Crossing to Safety, 1987. The nonfiction includes Beyond the Hundredth Meridian, 1954; Wolf Willow, (A History, A Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier), 1962; The Sound of Mountain Water, 1969; Where the Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs: Living and Writing in the West, 1992, a collection of essays that earned him a nomination for the National Book Critics Circle award. . .
Wallace Stegner wrote about the need to preserve the West, and he also fought for it. He became involved with the conservation movement in the 1950's while fighting the construction of dam on the Green River at Dinosaur National Monument. In 1960 he wrote his famous, Wilderness Letter, on the importance of federal protection of wild places. This letter was used to introduce the bill that established the National Wilderness Preservation System in 1964. Wallace Stegner also founded the Committee for the Green Foothills in Santa Clara County, California and was involved with The Sierra Club and Wilderness Society. He also served as assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, during the Kennedy administration. There, he worked on issues dealing with the expansion of National Parks. His passion about the need to protect our wild places, and his respect for our landscape are a theme that Mr. Stegner eloquently expresses in many of his books and essays. ( There's a lot more where this came from: wallacestegner.org including information on Centenniary celebrations.)
Stegner picture from Sunset Magazine.

Eugene Ionesco
Nov. 26, 1909 Slatina, Romania - March 28, 1994 Paris, France

Absurdist playwright Eugène Ionesco was born on November 26, 1909, in Slatina, Romania. The following year, he moved with his family to Paris where he lived until 1925, at which time his parents divorced and he returned to Romania with his father. In 1928, he began studying French literature at the University of Bucharest and two years later published his first article in the Zodiac review. A volume of poetry, Elegy of Miniscule Beings, followed in 1931, and in 1934 he published a collection of essays entitled No. In 1938, he received a fellowship from the Rumanian government to write a thesis on the subject of death in modern French poetry. He moved to Paris and began his research, but the German invasion (1940) soon forced him to relocate to Marseilles. He returned to Paris five years later, after its liberation from the Germans, and found work as a proofreader and translator. (Text from theatrehistory.com. Image from www.core-target.ro. There's a wonderful picture of Ionesco at www.signum-fotogalerie.at/kunstler.htm look at Ionesco Nr. 11.)

Roberto Burle Marx
Aug. 4, 1909 - June 4, 1994
Influential 20th century Brazilian landscape architect
Following up on our post yesterday about contemporary Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, we have complied some links to websites that feature images of his works. One of the sites is in Portuguese and another in German, and both of those are somewhat difficult to navigate, but the effort is well worth while. Unfortunately, there are few images on the Burle Marx firm website (Burle Marx & Cia. continues today lead by Marx's partner Haruyoshi Ono who joined the firm in 1968), but there is a little bit of history.

"Roberto Burle Marx is internationally known as one of the most important landscape architects of the 20th century.

"An artist of multiple facets, besides being a landscape designer he was also a remarkable painter, sculptor, singer, and jewelry designer, with a sensibility that is shown throughout his work."

Burle Marx is perhaps best know for his work in Brazil's modern capital, Brasilia. Text and picture from landliving.com. Photo of Marx bust from Johnnyjet.com
There's a decent bio of Marx in German.

Keith Davis (Couldn't find a picture)
Jan 6, 1909 - September 9, 1994
Yet for all the naturalness of the finished product, Mr. Broderick's singing voice took concentrated work to develop. When he was first approached about the revival, he dismissed the idea, but his sense of adventure won out. He found a voice teacher, Keith Davis, and began what he thought would be six months or so of lessons to determine whether he could handle the role. With the typical production delays, the six months turned into four years. Sadly, the night before the first rehearsal of "How to Succeed," which opened in La Jolla, Calif., in October 1994, Mr. Davis died of a stroke at 85. NYTimes

Jessica Tandy
June 7, 1909 - Sept. 11, 1994
[Tandy/Gielgud photo used with permission from
http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk] After an acting career spanning some sixty five years, Tandy found latter-day movie stardom in major-studio releases and intimate dramas alike. From a young age she was determined to be an actress, and first appeared on the London stage in 1926, playing, among others, Katherine opposite Laurence Olivier's Henry V, and Cordelia opposite John Gielgud's "King Lear". She also worked in British films. Following the end of her first marriage, she moved to New York and met Canadian actor Hume Cronyn, who became her second husband and frequent partner on stage and screen. She made her American film debut in The Seventh Cross (1944). She also appeared in The Valley of Decision (1945), The Green Years (1946, ironically enough as Cronyn's daughter!), Dragonwyck (1946) starring Gene Tierney and Forever Amber (1947). After her Tony-winning performance as Blanche DuBois in the original Broadway production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, she concentrated on the stage and only appeared sporadically in films such as The Light in the Forest (1957) and The Birds (1963).
The beginning of the 1980s saw a resurgence in her film career, with character roles in The World According to Garp, Best Friends, Still of the Night (all 1982) and The Bostonians (1984), and the hit film Cocoon (1985), opposite Cronyn, with whom she reteamed for *Batteries not included (1987) and Cocoon: The Return (1988). She and Cronyn had been working together more and more, on stage and television, to continued acclaim, notably in 1987's Foxfire which won her an Emmy Award (recreating her Tony-winning Broadway role). However, it was her colorful performance in Driving Miss Daisy (1989), as an aging, stubborn Southern-Jewish matron, that made her a bonafide Hollywood star and earned her an Oscar. She was the oldest actor to ever win an Academy Award, beating out George Burns by less than a year. (From respectance.com)

Rollo May
April 21, 1909 - October 22, 1994

Rollo May was one of the founders of the humanistic psychology movement, and is considered by most to be one of the most influential American psychologists of the twentieth century.
He was born on April 21, 1909, in Ada, Ohio. He was the second of six children of Earl Tittle May and Matie Boughton. His father was a field secretary for the Young Men’s Christian Association and moved the family to Michigan when young Rollo (given the name Reece at birth) was still a small child.
May began his college career at Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science (now Michigan State University). While there, he was not exactly a stellar student, and he co-founded a magazine that was critical of the state legislature. This caused quite a lot of political difficulties for him at the college, so he transferred to Oberlin College , a small liberal arts school in Ohio. There he began to be more successful in his studies, and majored in English, with a minor in Greek literature and history. He graduated in 1930, and spent the next three years teaching English in Salonika, Greece. He had the opportunity during that time to attend seminars in Vienna, Austria taught by Alfred Adler.(Continued at atpweb.org. Photo from intuition.org)

Dean Rusk
Feb. 9, 1909 - Dec. 20, 1994

(David) Dean Rusk served as Secretary of State through the eight years of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the second longest tenure in U.S. History. Rusk was closely involved in relations with the Soviet Union, especially in negotiating the 1963 test ban treaty. He was a major participant in the secret Cuban missile crisis meetings, and later became a strong advocate of U.S. intervention in Vietnam. Mr. Rusk, a native of Georgia, has also been recognized for his support of the civil rights movement, becoming one of the first members of President Kennedy’s cabinet to speak out on the issue. In 1990, Mr. Rusk published a memoir, As I Saw It, which he co-authored with his son, Richard. (From the
JFK library site. Photo from history.sandiego.edu.)

Stephen Spender
Feb. 28, 1909 - July 16, 1995

Spender thought of himself as an autobiographer. Marianne Moore described him as a discerner "of the core of a writer's intentions," and Virginia Woolf praised "his large generous sensitivity." Perhaps Reynolds Price said it best when he called Spender "a brilliantly generous connoisseur of beauty." In "World Within World," all these qualities shine. The book is a masterpiece: a major philosophical and aesthetic attempt to encompass the cosmos of Europe during the first three decades of the century. It is memorable for its portraits of Woolf, Eliot, Auden and Isherwood, which have the psychological depth of Rembrandt and the elegance of Velaszquez. It contains Spender's dazzling comments on German architecture and his keen insights into the street life of prewar Berlin and the scapegoat-hunting paranoia of the economically desperate German middle class. And it was one of the first books in which a prominent intellectual drew the parallels between communism and fascism. (From a Jaime Manrique review of a biography of Spender on Salon.com. Photo from New York Times, there, courtesy of Natasha Spender. Photo includes left to right WH Auden, Spender, and Christorpher Isherwood.)
I noticed that Spender wrote and introduction to Malcolm Lowry's (another 1909 member) Under the Volcano.

James Reston
Nov. 3, 1909 - Dec. 6, 1995

First as a reporter and then, beginning in 1953, as a columnist, Mr. Reston was perhaps the most influential journalist of his generation. In Washington, where he was based, and also in other capitals around the world, he had unrivaled access to the high and the mighty. Yet he retained a wry, self-deprecating personality, free of bombast, and always sought to reduce political complexity to plain language.
"What I try to do," he said, "is write a letter to a friend who doesn't have time to find out all the goofy things that go on in Washington."
Interested in China and the Soviet Union as well as the United States, a student of diplomacy as well as domestic politics, he won two Pulitzer Prizes and dozens of other awards.
Mr. Reston was forgiving of the frailties of soldiers, statesmen and party hacks -- too forgiving, some of his critics later said, because he was too close to them. But his stern moral standards, rooted in the Victorian values of his youth, never wavered. He remained an idealist in a world of cynics. (The rest at this New York Times report of Reston's death. The picture is from an interesting site, from an historical perspective. It's covers of Time magazines over the years.)

Barry M. Goldwater
Jan. 1, 1909 - May 29, 1998

OK, so anyone who knows the name Barry Goldwater, knows he lost the 1964 presidential election to Lyndon Johnson, but that he paved the way for Ronald Reagan in 1980. But here's glimpse at his early history from a Washington Post article (photo from same article) on his death in 1998:

Barry Morris Goldwater was born in Phoenix on New Year's Day, 1909, three years before Arizona was admitted to the Union. He was the eldest son of Baron and Josephine Williams Goldwater, and the grandson of "Big Mike" Goldwasser, a Jewish immigrant from an area of Poland that was then ruled by the Russian czars. Although Jewish on his father's side, Mr. Goldwater was raised in the Episcopalian tradition of his mother.
"Big Mike" Goldwasser left Poland at the age of 14 and went first to London, then to California and, in 1859, to Arizona where with his brother, Joe, operated a trading and mercantile operation in Prescott. In 1896, Baron Goldwater -- the surname had long since been Anglicized -- opened a branch of the family business, M. Goldwater & Sons, in Phoenix. The Goldwater stores would remain in family hands until 1962, when they were sold to Associated Dry Goods Corp. of New York for $2.2 million in Associated Dry Goods stock. Associated Dry Goods also assumed nearly $2 million in debt on the Goldwater stores' books.
Growing up in Phoenix, the future senator was popular with his schoolmates but an indifferent student; after a disastrous freshman year in high school, his parents sent him to Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. There, Mr. Goldwater thrived on the rigorous discipline and military atmosphere, and he graduated at the top of his class. He returned to Arizona and enrolled as a freshman at the University of Arizona in the fall of 1928. His father died the next spring, and Mr. Goldwater left college to work in the family store.
Associates said he was a natural merchandiser with a gift for recognizing the sales potential of an offbeat item. Early in his career, he purchased a design for "antsy pantsy" men's shorts with red ants crawling all over the white cloth, and the item proved to be a tremendous success. By age 27, he was general manager of the Phoenix store. He initiated a five-day workweek for his employees and improved fringe benefits.

Victor Borge
Jan. 3, 1909 - Dec. 23, 2000

Musical humorist Victor Borge was born Børge Rosenbaum in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 3, 1909; the son of a violinist with the violin in the Danish Symphony Orchestra, he began playing piano at age three, and was quickly hailed as a child prodigy. On scholarship at the Royal Danish Music Conservatory, he studied under Olivo Krause and Victor Schiøler, later becoming a protege of Frederic Lamond and Egon Petri; in 1926 Borge made his professional debut, and by the following decade ranked among the top stage and film stars in all of Scandinavia. His performances always maintained a satirical bent, adopting an increasingly acrid sensibility as the Nazis began sweeping through Europe; Borge, a Jew, regularly mocked Hitler from the stage, and when the German forces invaded Denmark in 1940 the pianist was briefly blacklisted before fleeing to the United States, escaping from Finland via the S. S. American Legion, the last American passenger ship to leave Northern Europe prior to World War II.

Borge arrived in New York City without knowing a word of English, but soon learned enough of the language to land a job as the opening act for Rudy Vallee's radio show before moving on to Bing Crosby's program. Emerging as a fixture of radio and later television, in 1953 Borge arrived on Broadway as the star of Comedy in Music; the production ran through 1956, and its 849 performances entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running one man show. (The rest is at artistdirect.com. Picture from www.kor.dk)

Eudora Welty
April 13, 1909 - July 23, 2001

Why I Live at the P.O. by Eudora Welty
I WAS GETTING ALONG FINE with Mama, Papa-Daddy and Uncle Rondo until my sister Stella-Rondo just separated from her husband and came back home again. Mr. Whitaker! Of course I went with Mr. Whitaker first, when he first appeared here in China Grove, taking "Pose Yourself" photos, and Stella-Rondo broke us up. Told him I was one-sided. Bigger on one side than the other, which is a deliberate, calculated falsehood: I'm the same. Stella-Rondo is exactly twelve months to the day younger than I am and for that reason she's spoiled. (The rest of the story is at art-bin.com. Picture from the National Park Service.)
And find out why the computer program was named after Eudora Welty.

At the center of Eudora Welty’s first published story, “Death of a Traveling Salesman,” Bowman, the bachelor businessman, suddenly understands both his years of loneliness and the relationship between the older man and the girl who have rescued him from his wrecked car. He sees there: “A marriage, a fruitful marriage. That simple thing. Anyone could have had that.” This crucial moment augurs the “fruitful” subject that permeates Welty’s fiction: the intimate and often strange relationships within families. Welty is the twentieth-century master of her subject, and the century’s most gifted and radical practitioner of the short story. She won most of the major literary prizes during her career, including the Pulitzer Prize and the French Légion d’Honneur. Only the Nobel Prize eluded her, and many believe this to be one of that committee’s great oversights. Even a generic description of Welty’s oeuvre—four collections of stories, five novels, two collections of photographs, three works of non-fiction (essay, memoir, book review), and one children’s book—shows Welty’s wide scope as an artist, and reading through her work reveals an astonishing tonal range in subject and style, the most expansive of any twentieth-century American writer.(Get the rest at olemiss.edu.)

David Riesman
Sept. 13, 1909 - May 10, 2002
Sociologist David Riesman, best known for his influential study of post-World War II American society, The Lonely Crowd, died May 10 in Binghamton, NY, of natural causes. He was 92.
Born in Philadelphia in 1909, the son of a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Riesman attended Harvard College, graduating in 1931.
He earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1934 and embarked on a law career, which included clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and teaching at the University of Buffalo Law School.
As a research fellow at Columbia Law School, Riesman had the opportunity to discuss comparative social issues with anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, philosopher Hannah Arendt, and literary critic Lionel Trilling. Later he studied psychoanalysis with Erich Fromm and Harry Stack Sullivan.
In 1949, he was invited to join the social science faculty of the University of Chicago. The Lonely Crowd was published in 1950, and became a best seller, as well as winning the admiration of his academic peers. He co-authored the book with Nathan Glazer, professor emeritus of education and social structure, and Reuel Denney, but, according to Glazer, Riesman was the real author of the work. Riesman taught at Chicago until 1958, when he was named the Henry Ford II Professor of Social Sciences at Harvard. (The rest at asanet.org and the photo from harvardsquarelibrary)

Elia Kazan
Sept. 7, 1909 -Sept. 28, 2003

One of the most revered directors of his era, Elia Kazan was also one of the most — arguably the most — controversial. In addition to making his mark on film history with masterpieces such as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, and East of Eden, Kazan made a more dubious mark with his involvement in the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC)'s anti-Communist witchhunt of the 1950s; his decision to name alleged industry Communists earned him the ire of many of his peers, resulting in what was essentially his own Hollywood blacklisting. Thus, any biography of Kazan cannot be written without mention of his political involvement, in tandem with the many cinematic contributions he made throughout a long and illustrious career. An Anatolian Greek, Kazan was born Elia Kazanjoglou in Istanbul (then Constantinople), Turkey, on September 7, 1909. In 1913, he emigrated with his parents to New York City, where his father sold rugs for a living. After an undergraduate education at Williams College and drama study at Yale, Kazan joined New York's left-leaning Group Theatre as an actor and assistant manager. (Continued at eliakazan.com. Picture also from there.)

This quote from Arthur Miller tells gives us an example of how if someone knows what you badly want, they can control you.

In his autobiography Timebends, Arthur Miller describes being told by Elia Kazan about his intention to testify to the House of Un-American Activities Committee.

Listening to him I grew frightened. There was a certain gloomy logic in what he was saying: unless he came clean he could never hope, in the height of his creative powers, to make another film in America, and he would probably not be given a passport to work abroad either. If the theatre remained open to him, it was not his primary interest anymore; he wanted to deepen his film life, that was where his heart lay, and he had been told in so many words by his old boss and friend Spyros Skouras, president of Twentieth Century Fox, that the company would not employ him unless he satisfied the Committee. (from sparticus.schoolnet.co.uk)

Peter F. Drucker
Nov. 19,1909 - Nov. 11, 2005
Along with books on management questions, Drucker has also published a number of works in which he has dealt with general societal developments. Already at the end of the fifties, in Landmarks of Tomorrow, Drucker was speaking of a "post modern society." A decade later, in The Age of Discontinuity, he foresaw a replacement of industrial work with "knowledge work." And in Post-Capitalist Society, his last major work of social theory of 1993, he described a development which would end not with capital, but with knowledge providing the basis of society. (Bio excerpt and photo from peterdrucker.at)

Katherine Dunham
June 22, 1909 - May 21, 2006

If her repertory was diverse, it was also coherent. "Tropics and le Jazz Hot: From Haiti to Harlem" incorporated dances from the West Indies as well as from Cuba and Mexico, while the "Le Jazz Hot" section featured early black American social dances, such as the Juba, Cake Walk, Ballin' the Jack, and Strut. The sequencing of dances, the theatrical journey from the tropics to urban black America implied -- in the most entertaining terms -- the ethnographic realities of cultural connections. In her 1943 "Tropical Revue," she recycled material from the 1939 revue and added new dances, such as the balletic "Choros" (based on formal Brazilian quadrilles), and "Rites de Passage," which depicted puberty rituals so explicitly sexual that the dance was banned in Boston.
Beginning in the 1940s, the Katherine Dunham Dance Company appeared on Broadway and toured throughout the United States, Mexico, Latin America, and especially Europe, to enthusiastic reviews. In Europe Dunham was praised as a dancer and choreographer, recognized as a serious anthropologist and scholar, and admired as a glamorous beauty. Among her achievements was her resourcefulness in keeping her company going without any government funding. When short of money between engagements, Dunham and her troupe played in elegant nightclubs, such as Ciro's in Los Angeles. She also supplemented her income through film. Alone, or with her company, she appeared in nine Hollywood movies and in several foreign films between 1941 and 1959, among them CARNIVAL OF RHYTHM (1939), STAR-SPANGLED RHYTHM (1942), STORMY WEATHER (1943), CASBAH (1948), BOOTE E RIPOSTA (1950), and MAMBO (1954). . .
Moved by the civil rights struggle and outraged by deprivations in the ghettos of East St. Louis, an area she knew from her visiting professorships at Southern Illinois University in the 1960s, Dunham decided to take action. In 1967 she opened the Performing Arts Training Center, a cultural program and school for the neighborhood children and youth, with programs in dance, drama, martial arts, and humanities. Soon thereafter she expanded the programs to include senior citizens. Then in 1977 she opened the Katherine Dunham Museum and Children's Workshop to house her collections of artifacts from her travels and research, as well as archival material from her personal life and professional career. (A lot more where this came from at PBS Free To Dance. Picture from We Hatians.)


  1. great post. loved the work of al capp. i'm glad to be old enough to have enjoyed both "li'l abner" and "pogo". the politically- and social commentary-oriented daily cartoonists that followed, garry trudeau and berkeley breathed are great in their own right but really can't hold a candle to capp and walt kelly.

  2. Awesome post! Flynn was the Tasmanian devil wasn't he. He still looks beautiful to me after all these years. I think he would have been a great pal to hang out with, but only if you were prepared for trouble.:)))

  3. Thanks for the post. There will be a Saul Alinsky centennial birthday lunch celebration and program in Chicago on January 30, Alinsky's birth date. Anybody interested in attending should contact me.--Sandy Horwitt

  4. It must be my age. I know so many of these folks--it is like a review of several decades of my life. I can never forget Senior Wenses and Victor Borge. Then there was Goldy Hawn playing Moonbeam McSwine in Al Capp's Little Abner in our highschool play. I had the honor of taking care of her pig when she was not on stage. The Goldwater-Johnson election was the year I graduated from high school. I worked for a UN agency in D.C. when UThant was Secretary General. And Rules for Radicals was our bible when I trained as a Vista volunteer in Alabama. I came across Wallace Stegner later in life when I majored in natural resources management. And who has studied management without reading at least one Peter Drucker book or article.

  5. My grandfather was a Hollywood publicist and knew Flynn and Gable-- he drank with them. I forget what is family story and what I've read about them both and have a hard time discerning what happened when and to whom so I will leave it at that.

    That Lupe chick sounds loony. (Lune?) Part of her story reminds me of my brother's nutty ex wife, but she didn't kill herself. I couldn't help but laugh at her pathetic death. How many people would have loved to have had her problems!

    "In 1944, Lupe, now known as "The Mexican Spitfire" due to a popular series of movies incorporating that name in which she starred from 1940 -1942, found herself pregnant by Harald Ramond, a dark, handsome French drifter and bit-part actor. She planned a wedding, and became distraught when he would not marry her. A devout Catholic, Lupe felt having a child out of wedlock would be humilitating, and abortion out of the question. Instead, she decided to kill herself--glamorously, of course.

    At her elegant home in Beverly Hills, Casa Felicitas, she filled her 30-foot white bedroom with hundreds of fragrant gardenias and tuberoses. Dozens of lit candles flickered against the mirrored walls and white satin drapes as the gorgeously coiffed and manicured Lupe donned her favorite blue satin pajamas. Swallowing 75 illegal Seconals imported from Mexico and washing them down with brandy, Velez laid on her gigantic bed, framed by a silver, gold, and black rainbow-shaped headboard. There, she fell asleep to face blessed eternity.

    During the night, however, her spicy dinner, combined with her final dessert, awoke the beauty. Violently ill, teetering to the washroom, she slipped on the tiles and plunged head first into her Egyptian Chartreuse Onyx Hush Flush Model DeLuxe Commode, broke her neck and drowned December 14, 1944.

    Lupe's funeral in Mexico City attracted over four thousand mourners striving for a closer look at the star. Cemetery monuments were knocked over and several people were injured in an hysterical rush, including her sister Reyna who fainted and was trampled by the crowd. However, little Lupe was at peace."

  6. Well, these names aren't familiar to me, sorry.

  7. This is wonderful as my Nana was born in 1909 and will be 100 this year, I will share this with her

  8. really great! my daughter is to dress and a 100 year old person to celebrate the one hundreth day of school. she said she did not want to dress like a granny so your website has helped me find an alternative. think outside the box and dress as someone who would be 100 this year. not sure it is what her teacher had in mind, but it will work within the parameters given...

  9. thanks. great post. my grandfather turned 100 this month and i was curious about his "classmates."

  10. Thanks for the great site. Great gand-dad turns 100 16th March 2009 and now he can read 'who he beat in the race'. Hopefully he'll recall some of these people and get a smile from them.
    Julie (Australia)

  11. George Beverly Shea was born in 1909, and is still alive at age 103

  12. Good post and Smart Blog
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  13. Thanks for this list and I remember many of them. My mother was born April 30, 1909 and she was a fascinating woman who accomplished much in her short life. She died at 54 in 1993..a week after JFK and his funeral was on our minds as Mom was put to rest. She was way ahead of her times and long active before the Women's fight for equality...and she fought hard in her own way as she had 5 daughters and expected them to go out into the world and claim their place in the society of the dayl

    1. Maureen, thanks for leaving a note. I'm glad you found the list interesting. I think you meant your mom died in 1963, not 1993. I'm sorry she was taken so young, but she sounds like she was ahead of her time.


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