Five People Born on March 26

Today is March 26, 2010 and the 85th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.  There are 279 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 1001 days till the end of the current cycle.  On this date, in 1830, the Book of Mormon is published in Palmyra, New York.  Here are five people that share a birthday on this day:

Leonard Nimoy (Born 1931)
Just days after William Shatner’s birthday, this actor, director, poet, producer, and photographer, born in Boston, gets his cake.  Nimoy was the youngest child of Max and Dora, Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants who had escaped from Stalinist Russia. The family settled in the West End of Boston, where Max was a popular local figure and enjoyed his life as a barber. The young Nimoy brothers—Leonard and older brother Melvin—were neighborhood fixtures, and sold newspapers in Boston Common. The acting bug bit Nimoy early on, and he was just eight years old when he appeared in his first play. After seeking career advice from established cast members, Nimoy submitted an application to California’s Pasadena Playhouse. He made his way out to the West Coast using money he earned by selling vacuum cleaners.  After carving out a niche with day-player roles on the likes of “Dragnet,” “The Rough Riders,” “Sea Hunt,” “Bonanza,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Dr. Kildaire” and “Perry Mason,” Nimoy’s featured role on a 1965 episode of “The Lieutenant” earned the attention of producer and writer Gene Roddenberry. At the time, Roddenberry was casting for the upcoming sci-fi series “Star Trek,” and thought Nimoy would be ideal for the role of the stoic, logical, and brilliant science officer known as Dr. Spock. Roddenberry even allowed Nimoy to contribute his own elements to the character. Nimoy developed both the pacifistic Vulcan Nerve Pinch and the two-fingered Vulcan salute; the latter is reportedly based on a Jewish blessing.  “Star Trek” premiered in 1966, and turned both Nimoy and co-star William Shatner into legitimate stars. The groundbreaking show garnered a steady following (and earned Nimoy three Emmy nominations), but forged an active rivalry between its two competitive leading men. “The truth is, every good actor has an ego,” Shatner said in his book, Up Till Now: An Autobiography. “I was supposed to be the star, but Leonard was getting more attention than I was. It bothered me.” Despite the show’s cult popularity, “Star Trek” closed down production and was taken off the air by 1969.  After the series ended, Nimoy was snapped up as a series regular on the show “Mission: Impossible.” He spent the next two years playing the role of “The Great Paris,” a master of disguise and illusion. He left the show in 1971.  During this time, he began to explore other pursuits. Nimoy stepped behind the camera, and established a reputation as a competent television director. Throughout the 70s, he issued several volumes of poetry, and in 1975, he released his self-penned (and fan-offending) autobiography, I Am Not Spock, which featured a series of imagined discussions between himself and his most famous character. However, he never strayed far from on-screen work, and in 1976, he began hosting the long-running series, “In Search Of…”, a show devoted to investigations of the unusual and the paranormal.  The film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was released in 1979. It was a box-office smash, and was nominated for three Oscars. Nimoy returned for 1982’s sequel, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, and even directed the third and fourth installments in the series—1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  The following year, Nimoy used his brief time away from the franchise to hone his directing chops further, and in 1987 he helmed the enormously successful Three Men and a Baby.  In 1995, he released his second biography, I Am Spock.  After retiring from acting, Nimoy embraced a new career as a photographer and a philanthropist, however, he reprised his most famous role in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 reimagining of “Star Trek.”

 

Nancy Pelosi (Born 1940)
Born Nancy D’Alesandro in Baltimore, MD, Nancy Pelosi is the first woman to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Her father served in Congress and was the mayor of Baltimore for twelve years. And her brother Thomas later served as mayor of Baltimore as well.  Pelosi got into politics slowly, starting out as a volunteer for the Democratic Party. She hosted parties and helped with campaigns. Pelosi rose up in the party ranks, serving as a California representative to the Democratic National Committee from 1976 to 1996. She also served as the state and northern chair of the California Democratic Party.  In 1987, Pelosi made the leap to public office, winning a special election for California’s Eighth District, which includes San Francisco. As a member of the House of Representatives, she has served on the Appropriations Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Pelosi has been a strong supporter of increased funding for health research and for other health care and housing programs and initiatives. She is also an advocate for human rights and the environment.  Pelosi has emerged as one of the leading Democrats in Congress. In 2002, Pelosi was selected to be the Democratic Leader of the House of Representatives, making her the first woman in history to do so. Four years later, she again broke new ground for women in U.S. politics.  On March 25, 2010, Nancy Pelosi was instrumental in getting the Healthcare Bill passed into law.

 

William C. Westmoreland (1914-2005)
U.S. Army general born in South Carolina.  Before his name became synonymous with the Vietnam War, William C. Westmoreland was a decorated soldier who had fought in World War II and the Korean War. He came from a long line of soldiers, dating back to the Revolutionary War. After graduating high school, Westmoreland went to The Citadel, the state military college of South Carolina. He then received an appointment to attend the elite United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1936.  Commissioned as a second lieutenant, Westmoreland was posted at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. He steadily rose up the ranks, serving at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and Fort Bragg in North Carolina before traveling overseas to see combat during World War II in 1942. First, Westmoreland went to North Africa with the 34th Field Artillery Battalion, 9th Infantry Division, where he served as a battalion commander for military operations in Tunisia. His battalion then moved to the European theater, fighting in Sicily, Italy. Westmoreland continued to serve in Europe, eventually becoming the chief of staff for his division.  After the war, Westmoreland continued his ascent in the military hierarchy, becoming a major in 1948 and lieutenant colonel in 1952. That same year, he commanded the 187th Airborne Regimental Team in Korea, but he returned stateside in late 1953 to serve at the Pentagon where he held several posts. In 1960, Westmoreland became the superintendent at West Point.  In 1963, Westmoreland once again went abroad—this time to Vietnam. At he worked with U.S. military advisers who were assisting the forces of the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese government in their conflict against the communist North Vietnamese. After U.S. destroyers were allegedly attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized an escalation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Westmoreland soon became the commander of the United States Military Assistance Command. Initially he was a popular figure, becoming a full four-star general and being named Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1965.  The U.S. military fought against the North Vietnamese by heavily bombing important targets in the north. It also fought the Viet Cong, a communist militant group supported by the North Vietnamese. Westmoreland’s military strategy has widely been described as a war of attrition, quickly diminishing the number of opposing troops before replacements could be found. As a result, success in the conflict was often measured by the number of enemy troops killed. But over time, the public became skeptical of the U.S. Army’s reports regarding the Vietcong body count. Many were also concerned about the growing number of American casualties. Westmoreland was called back to the United States in 1967 to report on the war before Congress. He told Congress that with enough support “we will prevail . . . over the Communist aggressor,” according to a Time magazine article published at the time. But support for the war and Westmoreland on the home front was already waning.  The South Vietnamese forces and the U.S. military troops were dealt a surprising blow duing Tet, the lunar New Year festival, in 1968. Vietcong troops attacked cities and sites throughout South Vietnam, taking over several large cities and provincial capitals. News coverage of battles in Saigon and Hue exposed the people at home to the brutal fighting in Vietnam. While U.S. and South Vietnamese troops eventually drove them out, the conflict was the last straw for many Americans. Concern continued to grow about the U.S. involvement in what appeared to be an unwinnable war.  Westmoreland remained focused on achieving victory despite the shifting public and political opinions regarding the war. Weeks after the Tet Offensive, he requested more than 200,000 additional troops be sent to Vietnam. President Johnson put off his request and eventually decided to call Westmoreland back to the United States to serve as chief of staff for the U.S. Army. During his time in Vietnam, the number of U.S. troops engaged in the conflict grew from less than 20,000 to approximately 500,000.  After retiring from the military in 1972, Westmoreland moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and spent some of his time as a public speaker. Still experiencing the bitter legacy of his role in the Vietnam War, he often encountered protesters at his events. Westmoreland also made an unsuccessful run for governor in 1974 and published an autobiography entitled A Soldier Reports in 1976.  Westmoreland died on July 18, 2005, at a retirement home in Charleston at the age of 91.

 

Sandra Day O’Conner (Born 1930)
Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve as a justice on the United States Supreme Court in 1981. Long before she would weight in on some of the nation’s most pressing cases, she spent part of her childhood on her family’s Arizona ranch. O’Connor was adept at riding and assisted with some of ranch duties.  After graduating from Stanford University in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Sandra Day O’Connor attended the university’s law school. She received her degree in 1952 and worked in California and Frankfurt, Germany, before settling in Arizona.  In Arizona, Sandra Day O’Connor worked as the assistant attorney general in the 1960s. In 1969, she made the move to state politics with an appointment by Governor Jack Williams to state senate to fill a vacancy. A conservative Republican, O’Connor won re-election twice. In 1974, she took on a different challenge. O’Connor ran for the position of judge in the Maricopa County Superior Court.  As a judge, Sandra Day O’Connor developed a solid reputation for being firm, but just. Outside of the courtroom, she remained involved in Republican politics. In 1979, O’Connor was selected to serve on the state’s court of appeals. Only two years later, President Ronald Reagan nominated her for associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. O’Connor received unanimous approval from the U.S. Senate. She broke new ground for women in the legal field when she was sworn in as the first female justice on the Supreme Court.  As a member of the court, Sandra Day O’Connor was considered to be a moderate conservative. She tended to vote in line with her politically conservative nature, but she still considered her cases very carefully. In opposition to the Republican call to reverse the Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, O’Connor provided the vote needed to uphold the court’s earlier decision. Many times she focused on the letter of law, not the clamoring of politicians, and voted for what she believed best fit the intentions of the U.S. Constitution.  Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the court on January 31, 2006. Part of her reason for retiring was to spend more time with her husband, John Jay O’Connor. The couple has been married since 1952 and has three sons. She divides her time between Washington, D.C., and Arizona.  For 24 years, Sandra Day O’Connor was a pioneering force on the Supreme Court and will always be remembered as acting as a sturdy guiding hand in the court’s decisions during those years—and serving a swing vote in many important cases. 

 

Larry Page (Born 1973)
Internet entrepreneur, computer scientist who was born in East Lansing, Michigan. Page’s father Carl was a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence and his mother taught computer programming. After earning a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the University of Michigan, Page decided to concentrate on computer engineering at Stanford University, where he met Sergey Brin.  As a research project at Stanford University, Page and Brin created a search engine that listed results according to the popularity of the pages, after concluding that the most popular result would often be the most useful. They called the search engine Google after the mathematical term “Googol,” which is a 1 followed by 100 zeros, to reflect their mission to organize the immense amount of information available on the Web.  After raising $1 million from family, friends and other investors, the pair launched the company in 1998. Google has since become the world’s most popular search engine, receiving more than 200 million queries each day. Headquartered in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, Google held its initial public offering in August 2004, making Page and Brin billionaires. Page continues to share responsibility for Google’s day-to-day operations with Sergey Brin and CEO Eric Schmidt.In 2006, Google purchased the most popular Web site for user-submitted streaming videos, YouTube, for $1.65 billion in stock.