March 11, 1895 — Shemp Howard of the Thee Stooges is born

Born Samuel Horwitz, Shemp Howard and his brother, Moe Howard, were two of the original Three Stooges, one of the most successful acts of the vaudeville era, and also one of the few to make the jump to cinema. Shemp would come and go from the Stooges over the years, being replaced by his and Moe’s brother Curly in the lineup. In between times, Shemp was a fairly successful stand up comedian.

His stage name was derived from how his nickname, Sam, sounded when pronounced by his mother, who had a thick Litvak accent. Shemp was famous for his ability to improvise, and his quick wits belied the foolish image of the Stooges. In his solo years, he also performed in a few dramatic roles, showing a range that few would have suspected.

Shemp Howard in Brideless Groom 1947.png
By Columbia Pictures Corp. or Edward Bernds – archive.org, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler

February 29, 1916 — Dinah Shore born

Born Frances Rose Shore in Winchester, Tennessee, Dinah Shore almost didn’t become a star. She studied at Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1938 with a degree in sociology, but the pull of the stage was too great. She worked hard at her musical career for a while, with reasonable success, but it was television that made her a household name.

As the host of “The Dinah Shore Show” from 1951 to 1956 and “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” from 1956 to 1963, she was a weekly presence on American television. By the end of her career, in 1992, she had won three Emmys for her work on the small screen. Shore was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993, and died in 1994 a few days short of her 78th birthday.

Dinah Shore - promo.jpg
By Paramount Pictures – eBay, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler

July 8, 1916 — Eppie Lederer and Pauline Phillips born

Better known respectively by their noms du plume, Ann Landers and Dear Abby, Esther Pauline Friedman and Pauline Esther Friedman are perhaps the two best known advice columnists in American publishing history. Eppie’s “Ask Ann Landers” column ran from 1955 to 2002, while Paulione’s “Dear Abby” ran from 1956 until the present, although Pauline’s daughter took over the writing of it from 2000.

The twins were highly competitive, and writing two such similar columns led to a cycle of recriminations and reconciliations between them, but it didn’t stop either of them from becoming two of the most influential women in America. Both were refreshingly frank and unsentimental about dealing with people’s problems, but always empathetic. Eppie was more left-leaning, favouring, among other things, the legalisation of prostitution and equal rights for homosexuals, while Pauline’s characteristic style was marked by her brevity and somewhat abrasive humour. America felt that it could tell them anything, and both women were known to publish only some letters – the more personal and difficult problems would often receive direct letters (occasionally, in cases of great urgency, telegrams) in reply to their missives.

Ann Landers.jpg
By Fred Palumbo, World Telegram staff photographer – Library of Congress. New York World-Telegram &amp; Sun Collection. <a rel=”nofollow” class=”external free” href=”http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c11600″>http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3c11600</a>, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

The Chanukah Song (Part I) — Adam Sandler

January 26, 1925 — Paul Newman born

One of the greatest actors of the Twentieth Century, Paul Newman starred in – among others – “The Hustler”. “The Sting”, “The Great Escape”, “Hud”, “Cool Hand Luke”, “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean”, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “Cars”. In his time, he was nominated for an Academy Award nine times, although he won only one (Best Actor, for “The Color of Money” a sequel to “The Hustler”).

From the mid-Sixties onwards, Newman was increasingly active politically – his opposition to the Vietnam War scored him a place on Richard Nixon’s Enemies List – and also became a notable philanthropist.

May 13, 1939 — Harvey Keitel born

One of those rare actors to not use a screen name, Harvey Keitel was a US Marine and later a court reporter before he became an actor. He first began to get attention for his roles in some of Martin Scorcese’s early films, such as Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. His career took a downturn after he was replaced by Martin Sheen on the set of Apocalypse Now after only a week of filming, although Keitel remained a prolific supporting actor for years.

It was not until 1992, when he played the role of Mr White in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, that his career really took off again. Throughout the Nineties, Keitel was one of the most well-known and respected actors in Hollywood, having starred or guests in some of the highest profile films of the decade.

HarveyKeitelNov09.jpg
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Edwin L. Wriston – http://www.defenseimagery.mil/imagery.html#guid=46f2e9d0ea85153ce181dca28074749c5ffa7af, Public Domain, Link

As mentioned in:

The Chanukah Song (Part II) — Adam Sandler

July 14, 1939 — Betty Grable stars in “Million Dollar Legs”

“Million Dollar Legs” – the 1939 film, not to be confused with the 1932 W.C. Fields vehicle of the same name – was not a subtle film. Its poster showed only Grable (and her expensive lower appendages), and its 65 minute running time featured few scenes in which she wore anything other than hot pants. Grable appeared in the film with her husband, Jackie Coogan, but the experience was not a good one, and the two divorced later that year after the film flopped upon its release.

Grable actually announced her retirement from show business at that point, but was wooed back at a bigger studio and wound up becoming a greater star than ever before. Coogan went on to play Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family”.

July 13, 1942 — Harrison Ford born

Born in Chicago, Harrison Ford would rise from humble beginnings to become one of the best known and highest grossing movie stars of his era. He is best known for his roles as Han Solo in the Star Wars film series and Indiana Jones in the four films of that series. To a certain generation of filmgoer, he defined rugged manliness in the way that Eastwood or Wayne had before him.

Ford’s family has a highly mixed background – his paternal grandfather was Irish, his paternal grandmother German, and his maternal grandparents Jews from Belarus. When asked about the effect this had on his life, Ford jokingly replied “As a man I’ve always felt Irish, as an actor I’ve always felt Jewish.”

December 19, 1963 — Jennifer Beals born

Forever to be associated with her best known role, that of the dancer Alex Owens in the 1980 film “Flashdance”, Beals never thought of herself as a dancer (she famously turned down “Dancing with the Stars”), but as an actor. And despite often being criticised (particularly in the Eighties) for being cast more for her sex appeal than her acting, she is undeniably a talented actor.

Other than “Flashdance”, career highlights include the film “Vampire’s Kiss”, and roles in the long-running “The L-Word” and the unfortunately cut short (but excellent) “The Chicago Code”. Despite her inclusion in the song by Sandler, Beals is not Jewish – her (now deceased) father was African American, and her mother is Irish American.

December 7, 1966 — Louise Post of Veruca Salt born

Louise Post was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1966. She later moved to Chicago, where her friend Lili Taylor introduced her to Nina Gordon. This simple introduction would radically change the courses of both women’s lives.

In 1993, Gordon and Post formed the band Veruca Salt, which originally had a sound not unlike that of the Indigo Girls. However, with the addition of Gordon’s brother, Jim Shapiro, on drums, and Steve Lack on bass, the band began gigging, and soon recorded their first (and best known) song, “Seether”, which was a hit for the band. Gordon and Post eventually had a falling out that led to Gordon leaving the band in 1998; while the two have since mended fences, they are not as close as they once were.

November 14, 1967 — Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt born

Nina Gordon was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1967. It was here that her friend Lili Taylor introduced her to Louise Post. This simple introduction would radically change the courses of both women’s lives.

In 1993, Gordon and Post formed the band Veruca Salt, which originally had a sound not unlike that of the Indigo Girls. However, with the addition of Gordon’s brother, Jim Shapiro, on drums, and Steve Lack on bass, the band began gigging, and soon recorded their first (and best known) song, “Seether”, which was a hit for the band. Gordon and Post eventually had a falling out that led to Gordon leaving the band in 1998; while the two have since mended fences, they are not as close as they once were.

October 29, 1971 — Winona Ryder is born

Born Winona Laura Horowitz, the actress now known as Winona Ryder is best known for her appearances in such films as “Heathers”, “Alien Resurrection”, “Reality Bites”, “Girl, Interrupted”, and more recently, “Stranger Things”, among many others.

She is also well known for dating Johnny Deep in the early Nineties (he had a tattoo reading “Winona Forever” on his arm; after they broke up, it was modified to read “Wino Forever”), and for getting arrested for shoplifting in 2001.

December 30, 1975 — Tiger Woods born

One of the greatest golf players currently competing at a professional level, Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods was born to parents who were each of decidedly mixed ancestry – he himself has referred to his racial background as “Cablinasian” (a syllabic abbreviation he coined from CAucasian, BLack, american INdian, and ASIAN). He began playing golf when only two years old, and soon proved himself a prodigy at it.

When only eight years old, he won the 9–10 year old boys’ event (the youngest age group available) at the Junior World Golf Championships of 1984, and he has continued to win tournaments ever since, except for the Keeping One’s Infidelities Secret Tournaments of 2009 and 2010, in which he placed last.

August 1, 1979 — The final episode of “Good Times” screens

“Good Times” was a distinctly Seventies show in many ways, but none moreso than its focus on African-American characters. Along with “The Jeffersons” and “Sanford and Son”, it was among the first shows to features a predominantly African-American cast, and after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s had won new rights for African-Americans, shows like these helped to create a new normal for black and white audiences alike (however much they might have been guilty of tokenism, racism and sexism themselves, they were still improvements on most of the domestic comedies that had preceded them).

The final episode of “Good Times” was entitled “The End of the Rainbow”, and saw each of the major characters given a happy ending in terms of career and domestic arrangements. Since that time, it has been a perennial in syndication, and a steady seller when it was released on DVD

July 19, 1991 – Mike Tyson rapes Desiree Washington

Mike Tyson’s career as a boxer was experiencing a brief setback in 1991. Injuries sustained during training had led him to pull out of a planned title challenge against Evander Holyfield, the Heavyweight Champion. We can’t know for sure what was in Tyson’s mind when he called Desiree Washington a little after 1:30 in the morning on July 19, and organised to come pick her up.

They were driven back to his hotel by Tyson’s chauffeur, and accounts vary as to what happened next. Washington claimed that Tyson raped her, Tyson claimed that they had consensual sex. The weight of evidence – and Tyson’s unlikable demeanour in the courtroom – led the jury to convict Tyson of the rape, and he served three years (of a six year sentence) in prison for the crime.