Five People Born on April 18

Today is April 18, 2010 and the 108th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.  There are 257 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 978 days till the end of the current cycle.  On this date, in 1783, the American Revolution comes to an end – exactly eight years from the day it started.  Here are five people born on this day.

Lucretia Borgia (1480-1519e
This daughter of Pope Alexander VI has gone down in history as not-the-nicest person you’d invite to a dinner party.  She and her family came to epitomize everything you’ve ever heard about ruthless, Machiavellian behavior: they poisoned people, tortured and did all sorts of nasty things to anyone who got in their way.  Along with her brothers: Caesar, Giovanni, and Gioffrie, the Borgia’s terrorized the Renaissance Papacy with their sexual deviancy and cloak and dagger politics.  She is often regarded in history as the original femme fatale, though very little is actually known about her.  There is one painting that has survived that shows her as a blonde woman with hair that fell past her knees and  a fair complexion.  She was married three times, and it is thought that her brothers or father had the men murdered as their political power waned.  She gave birth to at least eight children, throughout her many marriages and flings, and it has been estimated that she might have had three more that died in childbirth.  Rumors persisted that she and her family had huge parties filled with incest and murder – mainly by poisoning, on her part, but these have never been proven.  Whether they happened or not, may have just been propaganda  put forth by her father’s enemies.  Lucretia died at the age of 39, yet it is unknown of the reasons.

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
Perhaps one of the best known attorneys of his time, Clarence Darrow went down in history for defending such high-profile cases as: the teenage thrill killers, Leopold and Loeb, after they killed fourteen year old Bobby Franks (1924) and the Scopes Monkey Trial (1925), in which he faced off against William Jennings Bryan in “the trial of the Century”.  Born in the rural area of Kinsman, Ohio, Darrow was known as “the sophisticated country lawyer”.  Both of his parents were progressive thinkers for their time and Darrow went into law thinking he could make a difference helping people.  He first started practicing law in Youngstown, Ohio and then moved north to open his own firm in Andover and later, Ashtabula.  It was in this small, Northeast Ohio town that Darrow first became interested in the Democratic Party.  He later moved his family to Chicago, where he started getting larger cases to defend.  One of these cases was the trial of Eugene Debs, leader of the American Railway Union, who was prosecuted by the federal government for leading the nationwide Pullman Strike in 1894.  Darrow sacrificed his own financial stakes by cutting ties off with the railroads and got Debs off in one trial.  He also went on to defend the Western Federation of Miners, the McNamara Brothers (charged with blowing up the Los Angeles Times), and then, the Scopes Monkey Trial.  This great match-up between Darrow and Bryan, was over the teaching of evolution in the classroom over the Bible’s Scripture.  During the trial, Darrow did the unheard of ploy by calling Bryan to the stand as a witness and asked him if everything in the Bible was literal.  While Darrow lost the case, the defendant, John T. Scopes, only had to pay the minimum fine of $100.  Darrow went on to live a long life practicing law, dying in Chicago at the age of 80.

Haley Mills (Born 1946)
This British actress is from an acting family, she made her film debut in Tiger Bay (1959) with her father, John Mills.  Specializing in children’s films of the 1960s, Mills won a special Oscar for her part in Pollyanna (1960), and went on to star in such films as The Parent Trap (1961), Whistle Down The Wind (1961), Endless Night (1971), and Appointment With Death (1988). Television work includes Parent Trap II (1986) and its two sequels (both 1989). Her son, Crispin Mills is a guitarist and vocalist.

James Woods (Born 1947)
American actor, Utah-born Woods is intelligent, intense, and charismatic. Woods studied political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before dropping out to pursue an acting career.  He got his start in the theater with dramatic roles on the New York stage.  oods had his film major film role in The Visitors (1972), which was directed by Elia Kazan. He went on to make a string of guest appearances on television series, such as Barnaby Jones, Family, The Rockford Files, and The Streets of San Francisco. He also had roles in several television movies and miniseries, including Holocaust (1978) opposite Meryl Streep.  In The Onion Field (1979), Woods portrayed a heartless cop killer, perhaps his darkest character to date. Critics and audiences alike were riveted by his performance. He received his first Oscar nomination for Salvador (1986) for his portrayal of a journalist who drives to El Salvador to document the country’s military dictatorship.  While he lost the Best Actor Oscar Award to Paul Newman, Woods continued to tackle a mix of dramatic roles in films and on television. He starred in The Boost, a 1988 feature film as a man whose life spirals out of control because of cocaine use. He won his first Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special for Promises in 1987. He has also played a number of famous people in television movies, including the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous in My Name Is Bill W. (1989) and the infamous lawyer Roy Cohn in Citizen Cohn (1992). Woods won the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Special Emmy Award for both of these performances.  Around this time, Woods took on a challenging film role. He tackled the part of Byron De La Beckwith, the suspected killer of Medgar Evers, the African-American civil rights activist, in 1996’s Ghosts of Mississippi. His portrayal brought Woods his second Oscar nomination—this time in the Best Supporting Actor category.  In recent years, Woods has found success on the small screen. In 2003, Woods was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of America’s mayor in Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story. Three years later, he made a guest appearance on the hit drama ER. His performance as Dr. Nate Lennox, a former biochemistry professor battling Lou Gehrig’s disease, earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.  Married twice, Woods has been romantically linked to Ashley Madison, who played his girlfriend during a guest appearance on the hit comedy Entourage. Outside of acting, Woods has earned a reputation for being an excellent poker player. He has competed in such tournaments as the World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic and the Bellagio World Poker Tour Championship.

Conan O’Brien (Born 1963)
This television host and writer is a comedian was born in Massachusetts.  O’Brien attended Harvard University, where he majored in American History (BA 1985). He was elected as president of the revered parody magazine, The Harvard Lampoon twice (the only other person to hold that distinction was humorist Robert Benchley in 1912). After graduation, O’Brien moved to Los Angeles and began writing for Not Necessarily the News, a series on cable station HBO. He also performed with an improv group, The Groundlings.  From 1988-91 O’Brien wrote for the hit NBC comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live; the writing staff of the show won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in 1989. (Some of O’Brien’s more memorable sketches were the “The Girl Watchers,” first performed by Tom Hanks and Jon Lovitz, singing “Roxanne” in the elevator with Sting, and Mr. Short-Term Memory). O’Brien joined The Simpsons, the animated FOX series known for its hilarious, sharp writing, as a writer, then supervising producer, for their 1992-93 season.  When late-night staple Johnny Carson announced he would retire 1992, both Jay Leno, who had been the permanent guest host, and David Letterman, whose own late-night show followed Carson’s, were considered as his successor. NBC chose Leno over Letterman, and Letterman left the network for CBS, where his new late-night show would go head-to-head with Leno’s. Countless personalities and comedians applied and auditioned for the coveted spot after The Tonight Show, and it was somewhat surprising when the unknown Conan O’Brien was introduced as the new host of Late Night. Tall (6-feet 4-inches) and a bit gangly, with no previous experience in front of the camera, NBC’s choice was questioned, critiqued, and ridiculed by some.  O’Brien replaced Jay Leno on NBC’s Tonight Show, after Leno’s contract expired in 2009. Comedian Jimmy Fallon was chosen as O’Brien’s replacement on Late Night, and O’Brien moved to Tonight Show‘s headquarters in California. A few months before O’Brien took the reins, Leno renegotiated his contract with NBC, moving to a prime-time slot just before O’Brien’s show. When Leno’s program produced poor ratings, the network attempted to shift the programming schedule. O’Brien, who had only been on the show for seven months, refused to make the switch.  However, the Network prevailed and after weeks of controversy, O’Brien was let go as Jay Leno returned.