Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Last week was my birthday, July 10th, the mid point in the baseball season. My grandson, Thomas, shares a birthday with me. Like many people, I wondered about what famous people or major events share a birthday with me.

We'll start with Julius Caesar, the guy whom they named the month after. It wasn't his birthday, but he barely avoided a catastrophic defeat against his archenemy Pompey at the Battle of Dyrrhachium in Macedonia on July 10, 48 B.C. Pompey had Caesar's troops in disarray but halted his advance, suspecting (falsely) a trap. Historians knew the year because they found a calendar dated "48 B.C." Actually, I'm making that part up.

July 10th usually falls during the hottest time of the year. On July 10, 1913, the mercury climbed to 134 degrees F. in Death Valley, California, setting a record for North America. That reading was in the shade, 4 feet off the ground. The temperature at ground level would have been over 200 degrees. One could literally fry eggs on the sidewalk. The German tourists who frequent Death Valley in the summer were in hog heaven. They wouldn't have used air conditioning even if it was available at that time. Despite alleged global warming in recent years, that record hasn't been broken.

On July 10, 1997, scientists reported the findings of a DNA analysis of a Neanderthal skeleton from Africa which supports the "out of Africa theory" of human evolution placing the "African Eve" at 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. They haven't found Adam's skeleton yet.

Among well known people sharing my birthday, we find:

Jack "Legs" Diamond, American bootlegger (1897). His real name was Jack Moran. He became a legend when he survived several attempts on his life by fellow gangsters in the 1920's. His nemesis, Dutch Schultz reportedly said, "Ain't there nobody that can shoot this guy so he don't bounce back?" His demise finally came in 1931. The best guess of his unsolved murder was that he was killed by the Albany, NY, police on orders from political boss Dan O'Connell who didn't want other gangsters interfering with his rackets. Ironically, Legs had just been convicted at trial and was headed for the Federal Pen. Legs got his name because of either his fine dancing or his ability to run fast to escape his many enemies. Hollywood made a movie about his life.

Joe Shuster, cartoonist. (1914). He created "Superman" with his neighborhood buddy Jerry Siegel in Cleveland. The first Superman comic was published in 1938, several years after he created the character. It took awhile to sell it to a publisher. The hero was modeled after Douglas Fairbanks Sr. while his alter-ego Clark Kent was modeled after Harold Lloyd. Lois Lane was modeled after Jerry Siegel's girl friend and future wife, Joanne Carter.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921) The Governator's Mother in Law, and younger sister of President John F. Kennedy.

Fred Gwynne, actor (1926) You may remember him as the Southern judge in that wonderful Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei movie My Cousin Vinny.

Bernard Buffet, French painter (1928). Not believed to be related to Warren or Jimmy, he was an important painter, creating over 8,000 works, mostly still lifes and portraits. Japan built a Bernard Buffet Museum, honoring him and displaying many of his works.

Arthur Ashe American tennis champion (1943). The only African-American (although not the only Black) Men's Wimbledon champion (1975), he won 3 Grand Slam titles. He was also a champion of social justice during the Civil Rights Era.

Sue Lyon, actress (1946) Starred in Nabakov's Lolita at age 16, playing the 14 year old temptress. According to Wikipedia, "She was chosen for the role because her curvy figure suggested an older adolescent." She won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer. She went on to star in many other movies with Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton and Peter Sellers.

Andre Dawson, baseball player and maybe future Cubs' Hall of Famer (1954). I recall watching the major league All-Star Game played on the date of his birth. That was my 10th birthday. A wild, high scoring game, the American League won 11-9, its only win in the 1950's. Incredibly, the winning pitcher in that game, Dean Stone, didn't throw a pitch or retire a batter. He threw out a runner attempting to steal.

Jessica Simpson, singer and actress, and by far the most famous of this group (1980). She starred in Dukes of Hazzard, which except for her, was a forgettable movie. It was bad, but I saw it several times. just to be sure. Ms. Simpson is one of the few show business personalities to admit to supporting former President Bush (a fellow Texan) in his 2004 campaign. Aside from country music, you don't find many Republicans in show business.

There are others, like the anti-Bush protester, Cindy Sheehan (1957); musician Bela Fleck (1958) of the Flecktones; monster truck driver Tom Meents (1967); college football coach, Urban Meyer (1964); and wrestler Orlando Jordan (1980).



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home