BORN ON THIS DAY – 21 JANUARY
Comic, BENNY HILL, was born on this day in 1924 in Southampton, England. During WWII he appeared in Stars in Battledress and later followed the traditional comic’s route of working-men’s clubs and reviews. An early convert to the potential of television, he was named TV personality of the year in 1954. He gained national popularity with the saucy The Benny Hill Show which ran from 1957 to 1966. He appeared in films such as the 1969 version of The Italian Job, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. He died of heart failure in 1992 at the age of 67.
Golfer, JACK NICKLAUS, was born on this day in 1940 in Columbus, Ohio. One of the greatest golfers in history, Nicklaus was winner of 18 Majors from 1962 to 1986. By that date “the Golden Bear”, as he was known, had played in 100 major championships, finishing in the top three 45 times. He was named Athlete of the Decade in for the 1970s Sports Illustrated and is the recipient of two Golfer of the Century awards. Perhaps Tiger Woods will someday challenge his awards, but for now Nicklaus remains – by far – the most accomplished player in the history of major championship golf.
Singer, conductor and opera administrator, PLACIDO DOMINGO, was born on this day in 1941 in Madrid, Spain. He first performed with the New York City Opera in 1965. His resonant, powerful tenor voice, imposing physical stature, good looks and dramatic ability made him one of the most popular tenors of his time. With Pavarotti and Carreras, he performed around the world as one of the Three Tenors, exposing millions of people to opera. He ventured into the popular singing with John Denver, Perhaps Love. Let his motto: “if I rest, I rust” be an example to us all!
Fashion Designer, CHRISTIAN DIOR, was born on this day in 1902 in Granville, France. He trained for the French diplomatic service, but in the financial crisis of the 1930s he began illustrating fashions for a weekly periodical. In 1947 he introduced his “New Look” which featured small shoulders, a natural waistline and voluminous skirts, a drastic change from the WWII look of padded shoulders and short skirts. He was instrumental in commercialising Parisian fashion on a world scale. Never married, he died of heart failure in 1957.
Actress, GEENA DAVIS, was born on this day in 1956 in Wareham, Massachusetts. Her first film appearance was Tootsie which stared Dustin Hoffman(1982). She won an Oscar playing a ditzy dog-trainer in The Accidental Tourist with William Hurt. She won further acclaim for playing Thelma in the controversial film, Thelma and Louise. Although never having played baseball she is said to have mastered the game in three weeks of training for A League of Their Own, performing all her own athletics including a nifty behind-the-back catch. An excellent archer, she almost made the 2000 US Olympic Team. In the TV series Commander in Chief she played the role of the first female president and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
Actor, PAUL SCOFIELD, was born on this day in 1922 in West Sussex, England. A commanding presence on the screen, his films include A Man for All Seasons, for which he earned a Golden Globe and Oscar for Best Actor in 1967 and Male of the Species for which he earned an Emmy. He also featured in many films including The Crucible, Hamlet, Henry V, and King Lear. He was the voice in Animal Farm. He was made Commander of the British Empire in 1956. He died in 2008 of Leukaemia leaving his wife to whom he was married for 65 years as well as a son and a daughter.
Actor, STEVE REEVES, was born on this day in 1926 in Glasgow, Scotland but later became a citizen of the United States, serving in the US Army during WWII in the Philippines. Awarded several Bodybuilding titles Reeves was the first bodybuilder to gain any sort of public fame. He had a brief career in mediocre Italian “epic” style films - most notably Hercules - in which his voice is nearly always dubbed. Other films included Son of Spartacus, The Thief of Bagdad, The Last Days of Pompeii and Goliath and the Barbarians.
Scientist, HORACE WELLS, was born on this day in 1815 in Hartford, VT. We should all be grateful for his discovery of nitrous oxide as an anaesthetic in tooth extractions although it took some time before its significance was recognised. Known as “laughing gas” the drug was primarily used at parties and in travelling shows and Wells was unable to demonstrate its effectiveness. Ironically, as he continued his experiments with painkillers Wells became addicted to chloroform. He was arrested after allegedly attacking a prostitute and jailed where he slashed himself to death with a razor. More than a decade after his death the American Dental Association honoured Wells as the discoverer of modern anaesthesia.
Co-founder of Microsoft, PAUL ALLEN, was born in 1953 in Seattle, Washington State. While attending school, 14 year old Paul Allen met 12 year old Bill Gates, a fellow student and computer enthusiast. Less than a decade later Allan and Gates, both college dropouts, founded Microsoft with the intention of designing software for the new wave of personal computers. They invented MS-DOS and install it as the operating system for IBM, which dominated market after its release. In 1983, Allen resigned from Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. He has since invested in a diverse range of online and interactive media companies. According to Forbes, in 2007 his net worth was $18 billion!