October 06, 2004

Today in History: Birthday Celebration Edition

It's been a long while since I've done one of these but today is a good day to do it.

Birthdays today, October 6:

*1820 Jenny Lind, the Swedish Nightingale and the most popular female vocalist of the mid to late 1800's. Probably the inspiration for the Teutonic Titwillow of Blazing Saddles, one of my favorite movies. First brought to NY to sing by P.T. Barnum.

*1846 George Westinghouse responsible for alternating current in US and thus the Age of Electricity. Also created the air brake for the trains.

*1887 Le Corbusier (beware the popups, but a great source of links) Switzerland, architect/city planner/artist (Urbanisme). I always hated the fact that he wanted to tear down the center of Paris and replace it with high rises. His only building in the United States is the Carpenter Center at Harvard (picture). This building was designed as the graduate school for architects at Harvard and the architect, as I recall from my studies, threw every decorative element he possessed in his bag of tricks into the building, including the tropical sun shades he had created for Brazil, in order to give the budding architects the chance to experience all of him and his vernacular. Not the best building but fun to visit should you be in Cambridge.

*1909 Carole Lombard actress (My Man Godfrey, In Name Only)

*1914 MY (maternal) GRANDFATHER!!! My grandfather was born twelve years after his father came to this country. My great-grandfather came with no money and no English but got a job very quickly. The street car conductor would tell him where to get off to go to work, at first. My grandfather was born in a lower east side tenement, with gas lights flickering on the walls, no electricity. My grandfather, born to immigrants with no money, graduated from Harvard University on a full scholarship and Columbia University School of Law. He went into real estate and eventually became one of the first corporate raiders, albeit without the kind of capital those fellows enjoy today. He is civic minded to the nth degree, serving on boards of educational institutions, symphonies, and historical societies. He has written books and published articles. He is, to my mind, the living embodiment of the American Dream. In short, my grandfather is my personal hero and I strive to model myself after him and live up to the very hard example he has set. I come up short, I think, but I do try. Knowing him has enriched my life and I look forward to having dinner with him tonight to celebrate. 90 years old and 100% there. Happy birthday!

*1914 Thor Heyerdahl Norway, anthropologist/explorer, sailed the Kon Tiki raft from Peru to Polynesia to prove his theory that American Indians could have been the ancestors of the Polynesians. His many expeditions are chronicled here

*1942 former Bond-girl and ex-wife to Peter Sellers, Britt Ekland, (IMDB bio) and pictures.

Deaths occuring today

* 1891 Charles Stewart Parnell leader of the Irish party and nationalist who gave the concept of the boycott by telling people to shun those who bought foreclosed farms. He was brought down by a sensational divorce case involving Kitty O'Shea, who you may have heard of.

*1981 Anwar Sadat assassinated Hosnai Mubarak becomes Egytian president

*1983 Terence Cardinal Cooke, age 62. He was a great Cardinal for the City of New York.

*1989 Bette Davis, 81.

*2004 Rodney Dangerfield, age 82.


*1520 German reformer Martin Luther, 36, published "Prelude on the Babylonian Captivity of the Church," his famous writing which attacked the entire sacramental system of the Catholic Church.

*1781 Americans & French begin siege of Cornwallis at Yorktown; last battle of the Revolutionary War. The rumor is that when the British marched out of the garrison, after surrendering, their band played, "The World Turned Upside Down".

*1889 Thomas Edison shows his 1st motion picture, . Go check out some of the clips from other Edison films.

*1927 "Jazz Singer," (beware popups) first full length movie with a sound track, premieres in NYC. It is the story of a Cantor's son who doesn't want to be a Cantor. Al Jolson (born Asa Yoelson) starred.

*1973 Yom Kippur War begins as Syria & Egypt attack Israel. Here, I want to send you to Michael Oren's book, the best book I've read on the subject. It is an enthralling read: Six Days of War : June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Oren thinks, and I agree, that you cannot understand the current situation in the Middle East without understanding this conflict. Even then, the aim of the invading Arabs was nothing less than the complete destruction of the Jewish people, as Oren demonstrates by, inter alia, quoting from Arab government documents and newspapers articles.

Whew, this was a long one, wasn't it? Maybe that's why it's been a while, it takes a bit of time to create these.


Thanks to Mick for noting my mistake on the dates above. I corrected it.

Posted by Random Penseur at October 6, 2004 08:49 AM

i like these...
and 90

and hi...i have some catching up to do i think - i have been missing...

Posted by: standing naked at October 6, 2004 10:02 AM

Happy Birthday RP's Grandfather!

Posted by: Elizabeth at October 6, 2004 10:38 AM

Thanks for a great list, RP! Sounds like your grandpa fits in perfectly with the august company his birthday would imply.
(PS Carole Lombard is spelled with an "e" at the end)

Posted by: GrammarQueen at October 6, 2004 11:00 AM

Random, congratulate your grandfather for me! He sounds like an amazing man.

One thing though, his birth date was probably in 1914, don't you think?

Posted by: Mick at October 6, 2004 11:06 AM

Hey, wonderful story about your grandfather. Harvard? On a full scholarship? That's amazing. Please extend my best wishes for a Happy Birthday to him! Does he understand about the internet? Would he get it, being 90?

Posted by: Amber at October 6, 2004 12:06 PM

He'd get it. He uses the internet to do investment research.

Thanks to everyone for their nice birthday wishes!

Posted by: RP at October 6, 2004 12:23 PM

Psst-Heyerdahl was later debunked as his work was fraudulent.

Not that I know or anything.

*hides anthropology degree in a drawer*

Posted by: Helen at October 6, 2004 02:40 PM

His anthropological conclusions and such may not have been correct and I admit I don't have the background to know one way or the other, but I am still tickled by the romance of him setting off in a reed boat to sail to Polynesia. That wasn't fake, right?

Posted by: RP at October 6, 2004 03:06 PM
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