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BORN ON THIS DAY – 26 JANUARY
 
General DOUGLAS MacARTHUR was born on this day in 1880 in Little Rock, Arkansas.  He served in the United States Army from 1903 to 1951, fought in WWI and rose to the rank of  American General, United Nations General and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army.  He played a prominent role in the Pacific theatre of WWII.  On the defeat of Japan, MacArthur oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951 and is credited with implementing far-reaching democratic reforms in that country.
 
Quite a different character was –
 
Head of State, NICOLAE CEAUSESCU, who was born on this day in 1918.  He became President of Romania in 1974.  While his first decade as President was marked by an open policy towards Western Europe and the United States, his second decade was characterised by an increasingly erratic personality cult, nationalism and declining relations with Western powers as well as the Soviet Union.  He was overthrown in 1989 by a military coup and he and his wife were executed following a televised two-hour session by - what some have described as -  a kangaroo court.
 
Film Director, ROGER VADIM, was born on this day in 1928 in Paris.  Also a journalist, author, actor and screenwriter and producer, he launched Brigitte Bardot’s career in the film And God Created Woman.  He was celebrated for his romances and marriages to beautiful actresses, including Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and Jane Fonda.
 
Actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian and auto racing enthusiast, PAUL NEWMAN, was born on this day in 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the Martin Scorsese film The Color of Money along with many other nominations and awards during his long career.  Newman’s food company donates all post-tax profits and royalties to charity and in October 2008 these donations had exceeded $289 million US dollars.  Newman died in 2008 leaving Joanne Woodward, his wife of 50 years.
 
American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, ANITA BAKER, was born on this day in 1958 in Toledo, Ohio. Her songs include Giving You the Best, Sweet Love, Body and Soul, I Apologise and Rhythm of Love.  Baker has won 8 Grammy Awards, and has four platinum albums and two gold albums to her credit.
 
Composer, JIMMY VAN HEUSEN, was born on this day in 1913 in Syracuse, New York.  He wrote songs for films and television, including All the Way, High Hopes, Love and Marriage, Come Fly with Me and Call Me Irresponsible.  He won four Academy Awards for Best Original Song and an Emmy.  Interestingly, he was a part-time test pilot for Lockheed Corporation in WWII.

 
Musician, EDDIE VAN HALEN, born on this day in 1955 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands is a Dutch-American guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter and producer best known as lead guitarist and co-founder of the hard rock band Van Halen.  An unrelenting seeker of electronic chorded sounds and tones and rhythms, he is regarded for his innovative performing and recording styles,  He is also known for energetic and acrobatic stage performances.  The All Music Guide has called him “undoubtedly one of the most influential, original and talented rock guitarists of the 20th century”.
 
JOHNNY CASH was born on this day in 1932.  American singer-songwriter, actor author and Biblical scholar, Cash was also one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century.  Although he is primarily remembered as a country music artist, his songs and sound spanned many other genres - including rockabilly and rock and roll – as well as blues, folk and gospel.  Known as The Man in Black much of his music echoed themes of sorrow, moral tribulation and redemption.  His signature songs include I Walk the Line, Folsom Prison Blues and Ring of Fire.  On the lighter side, he recorded humorous numbers such as A Boy Named Sue and Rock Island Line.
 
Actor, SCOTT GLEN, was born on this day in 1941 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Although a sickly child he joined the Marine Corps after which he worked as a reporter.  He appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in a small role and after a stint as barman, huntsman and mountain ranger he went on to appear in feature roles in Urban Cowboy, The Right Stuff, The Hunt for Red October and  The Silence of the Lambs
 
Playwright, CHRISTOPHER HAMPTON, was born on this day in 1946 in the Azores, Portugal to British parent.  An Oxford scholar with a First Class Degree, he became involved in the theatre while at university. Now an Academy Award-winning playwright, screen writer and film director he is best known for his film Dangerous Liaisons and also, more recently, for writing the screenplay for the film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s Atonement
 
ELLEN DeGENERES, was born on this day in 1958 in New Orleans.  Famous for her 1997 sitcom, Ellen, her character became the first lead in TV history to acknowledge her homosexuality on air.  The revelation led to the show’s cancellation - but she bounced back in 2001 with her own talk show.  Last year (2009) she became a judge for American Idol.