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BORN ON THIS DAY – JANUARY 19th
 
Singer-songwriter, DOLLY PARTON was born on this day in 1946 in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. Nicknamed “The Queen of Country Music” Parton is the only artist to score a No 1 country single in each of the last four decades.  Her song “9 to 5” reached No1 in Country, Pop and Contemporary charts giving her a triple-number-one hit and she starred in the movie of the same name.  Parton is also an author, philanthropist and advocate for children’s education.  She is known for her distinctive soprano, sometimes bawdy humour, flamboyant dress sense and voluptuous figure.
 
British Actor, MICHAEL CRAWFORD was born on this day in 1942 in Salisbury, England.  He was the original Phantom of the Opera but is perhaps best loved for the long running TV show “Some Mothers do have ‘em”.  He acted in numerous films during the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Hello Dolly, The Jokers, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Two Left Feet and – more recently - Once Upon a Forest.
 
Actress, TIPPI HEDREN was born on this day in 1930 in New Ulm, MN of German, Norwegian and Swedish ancestry.  She was a favourite of Alfred Hitchcock (who had a fondness for “cool blonds”) and he chose her for The Birds despite the fact that she had virtually no acting experience apart from her work as a model.  She won a Golden Globe in 1964 as the most promising newcomer for her role in  The Birds.  She also starred in Marnie with Sean Connery in Hitchcock’s psychological thriller of the same name.
 
Prolific author and poet EDGAR ALLEN POE was born on this day in 1809 in Boston MA. He was orphaned after the death of his parents and adopted by John Allan, a tobacco merchant, and indulged in every way.  However, as a young man it became evident that he had inherited the neurotic tendency that ran in his family.  A fine athlete and mathematician, he developed a passion for gambling and drink and racked up debts his adoptive father refused to pay.   His patience exhausted, Allan left his adopted son nothing.  A rare but melancholy genius, he produced masterpieces such as The Pit and the Pendulum and The Fall of the House of Usher.
  
PATRICIA HIGHSMITH – Born on this day in 1921 at Fort Worth, Texas, Highsmith was a novelist of distinction producing many novels and several volumes of short stories prior to her death from cancer in 1995.  At least two of her novels were made into movies - Strangers on a Train by Hitchcock starring and The Talented Mr Ripley starring Matt Damon. 
 
The nventor of the modern steam engine, JAMES WATT was born on this day in 1736 in Greenock, Scotland.  He was thrown onto his own resources at an early age after his father lost his fortune in speculative ventures. He became an apprentice instrument maker and found work in repairing astronomical instruments. His breakthrough came as he tried to remedy the imperfections in a stream engine built by Thomas Newcomen.  However, it’s commercial success would not have been possible without the foresight of the owner of Soho Engineering works – a partnership of inventive genius and business enterprise.
 
The artist PAUL CEZANNE – Born on this day in 1839 in Aix-en-Provence, France, Cezanne is acknowledged as one of the giants of European painting and the “father” of modern art.  He saw nature in a new way – neither photographic like the ‘old masters” nor impressionistic like many of his contemporaries.  For him, nature was about forms, colours and relationships – a bit like geometry and indeed his style was called Cubist! This led some to label him a wild revolutionary bent on destroying the values of established art.  This was not his intention nor was the development of the abstract art of the 20th Century but such was his influence that it transcended his own era.