The second post has video of the two that appear to still be alive (both opera singers), Risë Stevns and Licia Albanese. It also has the list of all 44 that I chose in birth order. So the 'oldest' born January 4, 1913, Rosa Parks, starts the list.
This is the third post - and I'll probably have two more - with bios of the people where you can learn more about them. Since these are so long, I'll divide them up into shorter posts. And I still have bios to finish.
The people in this post are listed by death date. The first (and thus youngest) of the 2013 cohort to die - Albert Camus - comes first. And reflecting culturally who had most access to power and fame in the 20th Century, most are white males.
Albert Camus, 46 (1913 - 1960 ) Nobel Prize in Literature 1957
Image from Tigerloaf
was a representative of non-metropolitan French literature. His origin in Algeria and his experiences there in the thirties were dominating influences in his thought and work. Of semi-proletarian parents, early attached to intellectual circles of strongly revolutionary tendencies, with a deep interest in philosophy (only chance prevented him from pursuing a university career in that field), he came to France at the age of twenty-five. The man and the times met: Camus joined the resistance movement during the occupation and after the liberation was a columnist for the newspaper Combat. But his journalistic activities had been chiefly a response to the demands of the time; in 1947 Camus retired from political journalism and, besides writing his fiction and essays, was very active in the theatre as producer and playwright (e.g., Caligula, 1944). He also adapted plays by Calderon, Lope de Vega, Dino Buzzati, and Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun. His love for the theatre may be traced back to his membership in L'Equipe, an Algerian theatre group, whose "collective creation" Révolte dans les Asturies (1934) was banned for political reasons.
The essay Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), 1942, expounds Camus's notion of the absurd and of its acceptance with "the total absence of hope, which has nothing to do with despair, a continual refusal, which must not be confused with renouncement - and a conscious dissatisfaction". Meursault, central character of L'Étranger (The Stranger), 1942, illustrates much of this essay: man as the nauseated victim of the absurd orthodoxy of habit, later - when the young killer faces execution - tempted by despair, hope, and salvation. Dr. Rieux of La Peste (The Plague), 1947, who tirelessly attends the plague-stricken citizens of Oran, enacts the revolt against a world of the absurd and of injustice, and confirms Camus's words: "We refuse to despair of mankind. Without having the unreasonable ambition to save men, we still want to serve them". Other well-known works of Camus are La Chute (The Fall), 1956, and L'Exil et le royaume (Exile and the Kingdom), 1957. His austere search for moral order found its aesthetic correlative in the classicism of his art. He was a stylist of great purity and intense concentration and rationality.
Alan Ladd, 50 (1913-1964) Actor
|Photo for sale at leadinglightsautographs|
Alan Ladd was born on September 3, 1913, to the American-born Alan Ladd Sr., a freelance accountant who traveled frequently, and the petite Selina Rowley Ladd (stage name Ina Raleigh), who was born in County Durham, England, in 1888 and came to the United States in 1907. They married in Hot Springs in 1912, but it is not known how the couple met or came to settle in Arkansas.
In 1917, when young Ladd was four, he saw his father fall over and die from a heart attack. While there was a small amount of insurance money to tide them over, the poverty-stricken mother and son lived in a rundown apartment building in Hot Springs, while Ina, without family or close friends, tried to decide what to do. On July 3, 1918, four-year-old Alan found a box of matches to play with and burned down the shabby apartment building the Ladds lived in.
Without furniture or possessions, Ina took what little money she had and moved with Alan to Oklahoma City. Alan was a frail child, and when he entered school, he was the smallest in his grade and was subjected to relentless teasing about his tiny size. Ina remarried to a frequently unemployed house painter named Jim Beavers. Unable to find work to support the family in Oklahoma City, they decided to move to California in 1920. Ladd later said it was like John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, taking them four months to make the journey in a broken-down Model T. He also remembers constantly being hungry, as the family was too poor to buy food. Beavers was forced to sell his paint brushes to pay for the frequent car repairs. Reaching California, they moved from a transient camp in Pasadena to Hollywood, where Beavers found a short-lived job painting movie sets for a soon-to-be defunct studio. Ladd remembers the family subsisting on potato soup for weeks on end. . .
Initially turned down as an actor by motion picture studios because of his light skin and blond hair (which was felt not to photograph well), as well as his short stature (at this time 5' 6"), he played small parts in local radio productions, working to improve his voice until he progressed to national presentations broadcast from Hollywood, such as “Lux Radio Theater.” Talent agent and former starlet Sue Carol heard him on the radio, liked what she heard, and offered to sign him to a contract. Ten years older than Ladd, she later said, “He came into my office wearing a long white trench coat. His blond hair was bleached by the sun. He looked like a young Greek god and he was unforgettable.” Through her efforts, he was cast in an uncredited role as a reporter in the 1941 movie Citizen Kane. His role as the hired killer Raven in the film This Gun for Hire (for which his hair was dyed black) won him instant fame in 1942. That same year, he divorced his wife Midge and married his agent Sue Carol a week later. They had two children, Alana (born 1943) and David (born 1947). . .
He starred in the movies Two Years Before the Mast, The Blue Dahlia, O.S.S. (all in 1946), and The Great Gatsby in 1949. His starring role in 1953’s Shane was said in The New York Times to be “one of the best performances ever given in a Western movie.” He received the Photoplay Gold Medal for the most popular performance of 1953 for Shane (along with Marilyn Monroe for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). His handprints and footprints were added to Graumann’s Chinese Theatre in 1954.
On November 2, 1962, he was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his chest, which he said was accidental. On January 29, 1964, at age fifty, Alan Ladd was found dead at his Palm Springs home of an overdose of sedatives and alcohol. . . (From The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture)
|Image from Findagrave|
Delmore Schwartz was born December 8, 1913, in Brooklyn. The marriage of his parents Harry and Rose, both Roumanian immigrants, was doomed to fail. Sadly, this misfortune with relationships was also a theme in Schwartz's life. His alcoholism, frequent use of barbiturates and amphetamines, and battles with various mental diseases, proved adverse in his relationships with women. His first marriage to Gertrude Buckman lasted six years; his second, to the young novelist Elizabeth Pollett, ended after his ceaseless paranoid accusations of adultery led him to attack an art critic with whom he believed Elizabeth was having an affair.
Despite his turbulent and unsettling home life as a child, Schwartz was a gifted and intellectual young student. He enrolled early at Columbia University, and also studied at the University of Wisconsin, eventually receiving his bachelor's degree in 1935 in philosophy from New York University. In 1936 he won the Bowdoin Prize in the Humanities for his essay "Poetry as Imitation." In 1937 his short story "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" (successfully written in one month during the summer of 1935 after he locked himself in his Greenwich Village apartment) was published in Partisan Review, a left-wing magazine of American politics and culture; the following year this short story would be published by New Directions with other poetry and prose in his first book-length work, also titled In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. It was praised by many, including T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Robert Lowell, and Vladimir Nabokov. . .
The last years of his life Schwartz was a solitary, disheveled figure in New York. He drank frequently at the White Horse Tavern, and spent his time sitting in parks and collecting bits of work, quotes, and translations in his journal. Finding himself penniless and virtually friendless, in the summer of 1966 Schwartz checked into the Times Squares hotel, perhaps to focus on his writing. Unfortunately by this time his body had been taxed by years of drug and alcohol abuse. He worked continuously until a heart attack on July 11 seized him in the lobby of the hotel. [From Poets.com]For a more literary view of Schwartz see The Poetry Foundation.
|Image from Dr. Marco's|
Actress Vivien Leigh was born Vivian Mary Hartley in Darjeeling, India. From the ages of six to 15 she was educated in English convent schools, where she showed aptitude for the performing arts; then her education was polished off in European finishing schools. (According to Mia Farrow, 7-year-old Vivian told Farrow's mother Maureen O'Sullivan, who was a schoolmate, that she "was going to be famous.") At 18 she enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and at 19 she married barrister Leigh Holman, whose name she used to create her stage name, Vivien Leigh. A year later, still studying acting, she had a daughter, Suzanne.
In the mid-1930s Vivien met and began a passionate pursuit of Laurence Olivier, who was then married to Jill Esmond. Leigh and Olivier soon began a very public affair, and after appearing together on both stage and screen, including Fire Over England, they each left their spouses. When Olivier signed to play Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, which was being filmed in Hollywood, Vivien asked to be cast as Heathcliff's Cathy, but was turned down because she was an unknown in America at the time. It was then the ultimate irony that she won the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, which came out in the same year as Wuthering Heights and completely eclipsed the latter film at the Academy Awards for 1939. Vivien Leigh, the unknown, won Best Actress.
Leigh and Olivier were married at last in 1940. During the war years, Vivien worked mostly on stage in and around London. Speaking of this period, stepson Tarquin Olivier, said, "She was an insomniac always, and he had to sit up with her, and he was not an insomniac. She only needed about three or four hours a night. It was very hard." In 1944, while filming Caesar and Cleopatra, Leigh discovered she was pregnant, but a fall on the set caused her to miscarry. It was Tarquin's opinion that losing this baby "caused her manic depression to come forward" (Biography, 2000). Additionally, in 1945 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
Bipolar disorder was little understood at that time. Lithium was not yet in use, and the only treatment she received was shock therapy, which was not then administered with the same level of care as today. Tarquin Olivier saw burns on his stepmother's temples at times from her shock treatments. Her ill health, physical and mental, began to strain the Leigh-Olivier marriage. Leigh was drinking heavily at times, culminating in a breakdown during the filming of Elephant Walk (she was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor).
In spite of her illnesses, she continued to work in a handful of films and on stage, winning a second Oscar for her performance in A Streetcar Named Desire. Olivier finally divorced her in 1960 to marry actress Joan Plowright. Though Leigh lived for the rest of her life with a younger actor by the name of Jack Merivale, friends agree that Olivier was her great love. She died of tuberculosis in 1967. [From About.com Bi Polar]
|Image from Hartford Courant|
One of the most successful coaches in football history, Vince Lombardi transformed the Green Bay Packers into a dominating force in the National Football League in the 1960s, winning five NFL titles and the first two Super Bowl crowns. Off the field, Lombardi became known for his coaching philosophy and motivational skills, demanding dedication and obedience from his team and promising championships in return.
Vincent Thomas Lombardi was born on June 11, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of five children. Raised Catholic, Lombardi studied for the priesthood for two years before transferring to St. Francis Preparatory High School, where he became a star fullback on the football team. Accepted at Fordham University in 1933, Lombardi spent his first year on the freshman team before being promoted to offensive guard on the varsity team. He graduated with a degree in business in 1937.
After college Lombardi worked for a finance company while taking night classes at Fordham's law school and playing semi-professional football with the Wilmington Clippers. In 1939 Lombardi took a teaching and coaching job at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey, where he taught Latin, algebra, physics and chemistry. He also coached the football, basketball and baseball teams. He married Marie Planitz in 1940.
Lombardi left St. Cecilia in 1947 to accept a coaching position at Fordham. Two years later he was hired to coach the varsity defensive line at the United States Military Academy. Under Earl Blaik, who was widely considered the best coach in the country at the time, Lombardi honed the leadership and coaching skills that would become a hallmark of his later coaching success.
Lombardi's professional football career began in 1954 when he became the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Working closely with defensive coordinator Tom Landry and head coach Jim Lee Howell, Lombardi helped to turn the Giants into a championship team in only three years. During Lombardi's five years with the team, the Giants did not have a losing season.
Tired of being an assistant coach, Lombardi accepted a five-year contract as general manager and head coach of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had won only one game the previous season but Lombardi believed himself up to the challenge. He immediately began cementing his reputation as a demanding coach, creating punishing training regimens and expecting 100-percent dedication from his players. His unrelenting style paid off as Lombardi's Packers defeated the Giants for the National Football League championship on December 31, 1961. For the next eight years the Packers stood alone in the field, winning six divisional titles, five NFL championships, and the first two wins in Super Bowls I and II.
Lombardi retired as head coach in 1968, but retained his position as general manager. Bored without his coaching duties, though, Lombardi became head coach of the Washington Redskins in 1969. He led the Redskins to their first winning record in 14 years. In 1970 the NFL named him its "1960s Man of the Decade."
Diagnosed with intestinal cancer, Lombardi died on September 3, 1970. The following year Lombardi was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame and the Super Bowl trophy was renamed in his honor. ESPN named Lombardi "Coach of the Century" in 2000. [From Wisconsin History website.]
|Image from Library Thing|
William Inge’s Kansas boyhood is reflected in many of his works. Born in Independence on May 3, 1913, he was the second son of Luther Clay Inge and Maude Sarah Gibson-Inge and the youngest of five children. His boyhood home at 514 N. 4th Street in Independence still stands. . .
Independence, Kansas in the 1920’s was a wealthy white-collar town and the home of Alf Landon, Harry Sinclair, and Martin Johnson. Until the depression, Independence was said to have had more millionaires per capita than any other city in the country.
Inge’s fascination for the theatre began early. In the 1920’s Independence had many cultural events as top artists and shows stopped over for one night stands between performances in Kansas City, Missouri, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Although Inge was not from a well-to-do family, he did get to see many shows as a member of a local Boy Scout Troop. The troop met in the Civic Center, a ground floor meeting room of Memorial Hall, a large 2,000 seat theater where these shows were held. The scouts were regularly invited to sit in the balcony after their meetings to watch the performances.
The small town of Independence had a profound influence on the young Inge and he would later attribute his understanding of human behavior to growing up in this small town environment. “I’ve often wondered how people raised in our great cities ever develop any knowledge of humankind. People who grow up in small towns get to know each other so much more closely than they do in cities,” said Inge. Inge would later use this knowledge of small town life in many of his plays, most of which revolve around characters who are clearly products of small towns like Independence.
In 1943, he moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked as the drama and music critic for the St. Louis Times. It was while he worked as a drama critic that Inge became acquainted with Tennessee Williams. He accompanied Williams to a performance of his play THE GLASS MENAGERIE in Chicago. "I was terrifically moved by the play," said Inge. "I thought it was the finest (play) I had seen in many years. I went back to St. Louis and felt, ‘Well, I’ve got to write a play.’" Within three months he had completed FARTHER OFF FROM HEAVEN, which was produced by Margo Jones in Dallas. Inge returned to a teaching position at Washington University in St. Louis and began serious work on turning a fragmentary short story into a one act play. This work evolved into a play that earned Inge the title of most promising playwright of the 1950 Broadway season. The play was COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA.
In 1953, PICNIC opened at The Music Box Theatre in New York City. . . PICNIC won Inge a Pulitzer Prize, The Drama Critic Circle Award, The Outer Circle Award, and The Theatre Club Award.
It was in 1952 that Paramount Pictures released the film version of COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA directed by Daniel Mann and starring Shirley Booth and Burt Lancaster. Shortly after, in 1956, Columbia Pictures released the film version of PICNIC directed by Joshua Logan and starring William Holden, Kim Novak and Rosalind Russell.
Inge’s next success came in 1955 when BUS STOP opened at The Music Box Theatre in New York City. Directed by Joshua Logan, the film version of BUS STOP was released by Fox in 1956 with Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray and Eileen Heckart in starring roles.
Inge’s fame continued to grow as THE DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, a reworking of his first play FARTHER OFF FROM HEAVEN opened on Broadway in 1957. DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, considered to be Inge’s finest play, is one in which he draws most directly from his own past. He confessed the play was his "first cautious attempt to look at the past, with an effort to find order and meaning in experiences that were once too close to be seen clearly." It was released as a film starring Dorothy McGuire, Robert Preston, Shirley Knight, Eve Arden, and Angela Lansbury in 1960. . .
Inge committed suicide on June 10, 1973 at his home in Hollywood, where he lived with his sister, Helene. He was 60 years old. (From The Inge Center.)
|Image from Michael Barrier|
"We have met the enemy and he is us,"
Walter Crawford Kelly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 25, 1913, to Walter Crawford Kelly and Genevieve MacAnnula At the age of two, his family moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut. In high school Kelly recognized his calling when he began drawing cartoons for the high school magazine and a local newspaper, The Bridgeport Post. It was not until many years later in his book, Ten Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Years with Pogo, that Kelly paid homage to his memories in this Connecticut town, saying “my thanks to Bridgeport, which was more a flower pot than a melting pot, more by-way than highway, maybe even more end than beginning.” After graduating high school, he decided to take his talents to New York City. He worked for the embryonic comic book industry and soon decided to move to Los Angeles where his Bridgeport sweetheart, Helen Delacy, had relocated..
In January of 1936, Kelly got one of the biggest breaks of his career. He became part of the staff at Walt Disney Studios, first in the story department and then into animation, which is where he contributed to works such as Dumbo, Pinocchio, and Fantasia. A year later, in 1937, Kelly solidified his long-lasting relationship with Delacy, and they were married in September. By 1941, Kelly realized that he had seen his share of the West Coast and decided to return to Connecticut. While in Darien, Connecticut, Kelly made frequent trips to New York City to look for work. Finally, in 1941, Kelly was hired by Animal Comics, which would become the birthplace of his ever beloved Pogo. First appearing in Kelly’s “Bumbazine and Albert the Alligator” in October, the little grey opossum with big eyes and his signature red and black striped sweater would not resurface until seven years later when Kelly was hired as the art director of the New York Star. From this point, Pogo’s popularity grew enormously. The comic strip was picked up by the Post-Hall Syndicate after the New York Star folded in January of 1949. Kelly’s so-called “swampland characters” became well known for their witty human ventures, which consequently lacked any sort of rationale. The beginning of Pogo as a political element began in 1952 when Kelly began including social insinuations and an array of new characters that ironically resembled many different political figures. Such figures as Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, and J. Edgar Hoover have appeared in Kelly’s comics as a pig, a goat, and a bulldog.
The year of 1951 was a bitter-sweet one for Kelly. In that same year he was given the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonist Society, and he divorced Delacy after three children and fourteen years of marriage. Kelly married a second time to Stephanie Waggony and, later, married third wife, Shelby Daley. The final tribute to Pogo that Kelly had the opportunity to experience was the creation of a Pogo animated cartoon that appeared on television in 1969. Walter Crawford Kelly died in Woodland Hills, California, on October 18, 1973, due to difficulties from diabetes. Kelly will forever be remembered not only for his masterpiece, Pogo, but for also setting the foundation for political and satirical comic strips everywhere. (From Pennsylvania Center for the Book.)
|image from Esquire|
Jimmy Hoffa was born February 14, 1913, in Brazil, Indiana. He became a labor organizer in the 1930s, rising in the Teamsters Union during the next two decades. He played a key role in forging the first national freight-hauling agreement. He was sent to prison in 1967 for jury tampering, fraud, and conspiracy. In 1975 he disappeared; he is believed to have been murdered.
Still missing and presumed dead, Jimmy Hoffa was one of the most famous labor leaders in American history. He saw the challenges and hardships American workers faced firsthand growing up. His father was a coal miner who died when he was still young. His mother went to work to support Hoffa and his three siblings, eventually moving the family to Detroit.
Hoffa only had a limited education. Before the ninth grade, he dropped out of school to go to work to help his family. Hoffa eventually went to work on a loading dock for a grocery store chain in Detroit. There he orchestrated his first labor strike, helping his co-workers land a better contract. He used a newly arrived shipment of strawberries as a bargain chip. The workers wouldn't unload until they had a new deal.
In the 1930s, Hoffa joined the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He eventually became the president of the union's Detroit chapter. Ambitious and aggressive, Hoffa worked hard to expand the union's membership and negotiate better contracts for his constituents by any means necessary. His extensive efforts paid off in 1952 when he became the vice president of the entire union.
Five years later, Hoffa won the presidency of the Teamsters, replacing Dave Beck. Beck was tried and convicted on charges related to his union activities. Hoffa himself was the subject of numerous investigations but managed to avoid prosecution for many years. In 1961, he scored one of his decisive victories as union president. Hoffa brought together almost all of the trucker drivers in North America under one contract. Both the FBI and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy kept a close eye on Hoffa, believing that he advanced himself and his union with assistance from organized crime. The Justice Department indicted Hoffa several times, but they failed to win their cases against the popular labor leader. In March 1964, however, the prosecution scored a victory against Hoffa. He was found guilty of bribery and jury tampering in connection with his 1962 federal trial for conspiracy. That July, Hoffa suffered another blow. He was convicted of misusing funds from the union's pension plan.
Hoffa spent three years appealing his convictions, but these efforts proved fruitless. He began serving a possible 13-year prison sentence in 1967, but he received a pardon from President Richard Nixon in 1971. Nixon also banned Hoffa from holding a leadership position in the union until 1980. But Hoffa wasted no time trying to fight that ban in court and working behind the scenes to regain control over the Teamsters. [From Biography.]
|Image from Philharmonia Chorus|
'I write music for human beings'
Benjamin Britten wrote some of the most appealing classical music of the twentieth century. As a boy he began by setting favourite poems to be sung by family and friends. Later, his life partner, Peter Pears, was a singer who provided inspiration for almost four decades.
So it is not surprising that Britten is best known for his music for the voice: choral works, songs and song cycles, and – above all - a series of operas among the most engaging ever written. His first success in this genre, Peter Grimes, revived opera in English.
Britten was also a master of orchestral writing, as his two most familiar works, the Four Sea Interludes and Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, make clear. He was equally committed to writing music for children and amateur performers as he was for leading soloists of the day such as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.
From the outset, Britten was the modern composer who did not want modern music to be just for ‘the cultured few’, and aimed always to be ‘listenable- to’. [BrittenPearsFoundation]
|From Jessie Owens Park|
Jesse Owens, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave, achieved what no Olympian before him had accomplished. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin has made him the best remembered athlete in Olympic history.
The seventh child of Henry and Emma Alexander Owens was named James Cleveland when he was born in Alabama on September 12, 1913. "J.C.", as he was called, was nine when the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where his new schoolteacher gave him the name that was to become known around the world. The teacher was told "J.C." when she asked his name to enter in her roll book, but she thought he said "Jesse". The name stuck and he would be known as Jesse Owens for the rest of his life. . .
Owens chose the Ohio State University, even though OSU could not offer a track scholarship at the time. He worked a number of jobs to support himself and his young wife, Ruth. He worked as a night elevator operator, a waiter, he pumped gas, worked in the library stacks, and served a stint as a page in the Ohio Statehouse, all of this in between practice and record setting on the field in intercollegiate competition. . .
His success at the 1935 Big Ten Championships gave him the confidence that he was ready to excel at the highest level. Jesse entered the 1936 Olympics, which were held in Nazi Germany amidst the belief by Hitler that the Games would support his belief that the German "Aryan" people were the dominant race. Jesse had different plans, as he became the first American track & field athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympiad. This remarkable achievement stood unequaled until the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, when American Carl Lewis matched Jesse's feat. Although others have gone on to win more gold medals than Jesse, he remains the best remembered Olympic athlete because he achieved what no Olympian before or since has accomplished. During a time of deep-rooted segregation, he not only discredited Hitler's master race theory, but also affirmed that individual excellence, rather than race or national origin, distinguishes one man from another.
Jesse Owens proved in Berlin and thereafter that he was a dreamer who could make the dreams of others come true, a speaker who could make the world listen and a man who held out hope to millions of young people. Throughout his life, he worked with youths, sharing of himself and the little material wealth that he had. In this way, Jesse Owens was equally the champion on the playground of the poorest neighborhoods as he was on the oval of the Olympic games. . .
A complete list of the many awards and honors presented to Jesse Owens by groups around the world would fill dozens of pages. In 1976, Jesse was awarded the highest civilian honor in the United States when President Gerald Ford presented him with the Medal of Freedom in front of the members of the U.S. Montreal Olympic team in attendance. In February, 1979, he returned to the White House, where President Carter presented him with the Living Legend Award. On that occasion, President Carter said this about Jesse, "A young man who possibly didn't even realize the superb nature of his own capabilities went to the Olympics and performed in a way that I don't believe has ever been equaled since...and since this superb achievement, he has continued in his own dedicated but modest way to inspire others to reach for greatness".
Jesse Owens died from complications due to lung cancer on March 31, 1980 in Tucson, Arizona. Although words of sorrow, sympathy and admiration poured in from all over the world, perhaps President Carter said it best when he stated: "Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty and racial bigotry. His personal triumphs as a world-class athlete and record holder were the prelude to a career devoted to helping others. His work with young athletes, as an unofficial ambassador overseas, and a spokesman for freedom are a rich legacy to his fellow Americans."[From Jessie Owens Olympic Legends]
Bear Bryant, 69 (September 11, 1913 – January 26, 1983 ) Football Coach
Paul William Bryant was born to William Monroe and Ida Kilgore Bryant September 11, 1913, in rural Cleveland County, Arkansas. His birth certificate lists Kingsland as the place of birth as it was the nearest town. Moro Creek was the nearest geographic landmark. The local farmers identified with the creek's bottom land as home, hence the references to Bryant being from "Moro Bottom." He was the 11th of 12 children born to the couple; three others had died in infancy. Bryant was raised in the poor rural South. His father was disabled much of his life, forcing Bryant and his siblings to work on the family farm.
As Bryant neared his teens, the family moved to the nearby town of Fordyce, where the large-framed boy (six feet one and 180 pounds at age 13, according to some sources) played football and basketball for Fordyce High School. A visit from a traveling circus resulted in the teenage Bryant earning the nickname that became permanently associated with his name.
While attending a sideshow at the Lyric Theater, Bryant was unable to resist the offer of a dollar-a-minute to wrestle a bear. During the match the bear's muzzle came off and Bryant jumped out of the ring and did not get paid in the confusion. Bryant, in his senior year in high school, was a member of the 1930 Arkansas state football champion "Red Bugs."
Bryant was recruited by the University of Alabama's football team but had to take additional classes at the local high school to meet the university's admission requirements because he had not graduated from high school. . .
Bryant was stationed in North Africa. Near the war's end Bryant was assigned to a Carolina pre-flight school, again as a coach. He received an honorable discharge as a lieutenant commander on September 23, 1945. Days before his military service ended, Bryant signed a contract to be the head football coach of the University of Maryland, at age 32. After a 6-2-1 season and a disagreement with the university president, who reinstated a player Bryant had suspended, Bryant resigned. . .
In his 25 years Alabama compiled a 232-46-9 record on its way to six national championships (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, and 1979) and 14 SEC titles. His teams participated in 24 consecutive bowl games, including the Sugar, Orange, Liberty, Cotton, Bluebonnet, and Gator bowls. He was national coach of the year three times and SEC coach of the year 10 times while his players received 67 All-America honors. Numerous players went on to distinguished NFL careers, including Joe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Ozzie Newsome, and Lee Roy Jordan. . . [Encyclopedia of Alabama]
Danny Kaye, 74 (January 18, 1913 - March 3, 1987 ) Comedian
The bio also has this tidbit that I'm not quite sure what to do with:
Entertainer, Humanitarian, Renaissance Man"If Danny Kaye had not been born," a Hollywood writer once observed, "no one could possibly have invented him. It would have been stretching credibility far past the breaking point".
A virtuoso entertainer, UNICEF's first Goodwill Ambassador to the world's children (1954), a Renaissance man who was a jet pilot, baseball owner, master Chinese chef, symphony orchestra conductor, a performer honored with Oscars, Emmys, Peabodys, Golden Globes, the French Legion of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Danny Kaye was one of a kind. There was no one like him. If versatility, skill, passion and joy are necessary elements of genius, then Danny Kaye deservedly ranks among that elite class.
Unique among show business headliners, he starred on Broadway and made such film classics as White Christmas, Hans Christian Andersen, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Court Jester. He appeared on television and radio. He was a box-office magnet on the one-man concert stage. Life magazine called his reception at the London Palladium "worshipful hysteria". [This is just the beginning of the UNICEF bio.]
Danny Kaye was born David Daniel Kaminsky on January 18, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York (his actual year of birth was 1911, but the birthday he celebrated was 1913)I probably should stick him into the 1911 post. Weird.
Woody Hayes, 74 (February 14, 1913 - March 12, 1987 ) Football Coach
|Images from The Cleveland|
Hayes's career at The Ohio State University ended in 1978. This year the Buckeyes were playing Clemson University in the Gator Bowl. As the game was drawing to a conclusion, Hayes punched a player from Clemson after the player intercepted a pass, securing the victory for Clemson. Because of Hayes's action, Ohio State terminated him. [From Ohio Central History]OK. Everyone is more complex than one day. Here's from Buckeye Fans Only:
He was as complex as he was successful, leaving behind a legacy as stark in contrast as his personality traits. Throughout Ohio, he is revered for his graciousness and his charity work. The football facility is named in his honor, as is the street outside Ohio Stadium.
Throughout the rest of the country, though, he is reviled for his temper and for punching Clemson's Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl.
"The truth is, his legacy is always going to start with the fact he slugged Charlie Bauman," said Bruce Hooley, a Columbus sports talk show host who spent 18 years as a beat writer covering the Buckeyes. "I don't think Ohio State fans think of that within the first five things when they think of Woody. They think of the Super Sophomores, Hop Cassady, 'The 10-Year War' with Bo and the recruiting of Art Schlichter. You could talk to an Ohio State fan for five minutes before they ever got to the Gator Bowl. "If you talk to someone outside of Ohio, the first thing they mention is the Gator Bowl."
The material on Casey online offers little about his life before graduating from college. It also suggests - but doesn't prove - Casey could have been involved in some of the more corrupt actions in American history. These include working with the Iranians to postpone release of the American Embassy hostages until after the 1980 election to help Reagan's victory. We do know the hostages were released within an hour of Reagan's inauguration.
William Casey, 74 (March 13, 1913 - May 6, 1987 )
Image from Wikipedia
He was also involved with the - not unrelated - Iran-Contra affair.
The scandal began as an operation to free seven American hostages being held by a group with Iranian ties connected to the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. It was planned that Israel would ship weapons to Iran, and then the United States would resupply Israel and receive the Israeli payment. The Iranian recipients promised to do everything in their power to achieve the release of the U.S. hostages. The plan deteriorated into an arms-for-hostages scheme, in which members of the executive branch sold weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of the American hostages. Large modifications to the plan were devised by Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council in late 1985, in which a portion of the proceeds from the weapon sales was diverted to fund anti-Sandinista and anti-communist rebels, or Contras, in Nicaragua.There's nothing clear cut about the most disturbing parts of Casey's life. There's lots out there so if you want more you can check these sites:
New York Times obituary
A short review of Woodward's book on Casey by right-wing columnist William Safire - here's the end:
Did our master spy know of the diversion of Iran money to the contras? Of course he did; knowledge was power, and the resolute denial of guilty knowledge was quintessential Casey. But if, on his deathbed, this murky man suddenly became lucid, confessed his congressional sins to the nearest reporter and sought absolution from his dovish critics, I would say: Wait a minute, that`s not Casey; why is he conning us?A biography at Spartacus Educational that has Casey meeting in Madrid with Iranians to work out the deal to postpone the hostage release.
A review of evidence from Robert Parry's Trick or Treason: October Surprise Mystery which looked into the details of the Madrid meeting and the Bohemian Grove alibi the House investigation accepted.
Even if only half of the accusations are true, it paints an evil picture of the men in power and how they've wreaked havoc in the world, made a mockery of democracy, and gotten away with it. Will Americans ever get to learn the truth of this? If Tea Party types want to be outraged, the Reagan administration gives them plenty of legitimate fodder.
The next post will start with Woody Herman and end with Red Skelton. The last post will go from Loretta Young and finish with Risë Stevens and Licia Albanese, both of whom, as far as I can tell, are still alive.