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.”

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.

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.

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.

March 11, 1895 — Shemp Howard of the Three 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.