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ROBERT FRANKLIN STROUD – otherwise known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz”, was born on this day in 1890 in Seattle, Washington.  He was a Federal prisoner who reared and sold birds and became an ornithologist.  Despite his nickname, he actually only kept birds at Leavenworth penitentiary, prior to being transferred to Alcatraz where he was not allowed to keep pets.  His life was depicted in the movie Birdman of Alcatraz starring Burt Lancaster.  Stroud was never allowed to see the film!
Billionaire, CARLOS SLIM, born on this day in 1940 in Mexico City is an engineer, businessman and philanthropist.  He grew his wealth largely through ownership of telecommunications companies in Mexico and South America.  In 2007, Fortune Magazine reported Slim had overtaken Bill Gates as the world’s richest man with an estimated fortune of 57 billion US dollars.  Last year, Forbes Magazine ranked him as the world’s third-richest person after he lost 25 billion US dollars (on paper) during the global financial crisis.
Author, Sidonie-Gabrielle COLETTE, was born on this day in 1873 in Yonne, France.  She is best known for her novel Gigi (upon which the stage and film musical comedies were based).  Married to a bi-sexual whom she later left she had a short affair with American writer Natalie Barney.  They remained friends until Colette’s death in 1954.
Inventor, LUTHER SIMJIAN, was born on this day in 1905 in Turkey.  Born of Armenian parents he emigrated to the US at the age of 15 where he began work as a photographer and invented the self-posing camera portrait.  Over his lifetime he invented numerous devices and held over 200 patents.  His most famous invention is the Automated Teller Machine.  Its features and principles can still be found in today’ ATMs, including its name.
Pianist, ARTHUR RUBINSTEIN, was born on this day in 1887 in the Polish town of Lodz.  He is considered to be one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century.  He recorded most of the works of Chopin and was one of the earliest champions of the Spanish and South American composers - and of French composers such as Debussy and Ravel who were considered “modern” at that time.
English writer, director and producer, FRANK LAUNDER who was born on this day in 1906 in Hitchin, Hertfordshire made more than forty films - many of them in collaboration with Sidney Gilliat.  They were best known for their comedies including The Happiest Days of Your Life and - most famously - the St Trinians series based on Ronald Searle’s cartoons set in an anarchic girls school.
What a contrast is the work of –
FRANK DARABONT, also a film director, screenwriter and producer.  He was born on this day in 1959 in a refugee camp Montbeliard, France - his parents having fled after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.  He is best known for directing films such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist, all based on stories by Stephen King.  Prior to his directing career, Darabont was a successful screenwriter with work on genre films that included A Nightmare on Elm Street3, Dream Warriors, The Blob and The Fly 11.
JACKSON POLLOCK, who was born on this day in 1912 in Cody, Wyoming was an influential painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement.  Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety (remember the fuss in Australia over the Government’s purchase of Blue Poles for, I think, $2 million).  Reclusive, and with a volatile personality he struggled with alcoholism until his death in an alcohol-related, single-car crash, aged only 44 years.
ALAN ALDA, was born on this day in 1936.  Best known for his role as Hawkeye Pierce on the TV drama M*A*S*H , Alder then embarked on a successful career as a writer, director, and film actor.  He received six Golden Globe wins, as well as 31 Emmy’s and two Tony nominations for his work.  In 2004, his role in The Aviator earned him his first Oscar nod.
Actor, ELIJAH WOOD, was born on this day in 1981 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  He became a critically acclaimed child actor by age 13.  After his high-profile role as the Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Wood has resisted typecasting by choosing varied roles in films such as Bobby, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Sin City and Green Street.  He provided the voice of Mumble, in the award-winning animated film Happy Feet.  He also played an American tourist turned vampire in Paris, je t’aime.