Five People Born on April 25

Today is April 25, 2010 and the 115th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.  There are 250 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 971 days till the end of the current cycle.  On this date, in 1915, the battle of Gallipoli begins in the Turkish Peninsula during World War I.  Here are five people born on this day.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
This famous newsman was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was the most influential and esteemed figure in American broadcast journalism during its formative years.  Murrow graduated from Washington State College (now University), Pullman. He served as president of the National Student Association (1929–31) and then worked to bring German scholars displaced by Nazism to the United States. He joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1935 and was sent to London in 1937 to head the network’s European Bureau. Murrow’s highly reliable and dramatic eyewitness reportage of the German occupation of Austria and the Munich Conference in 1938, the German takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1939, and the Battle of Britain during World War II brought him national fame and marked radio journalism’s coming of age.  After the war Murrow became CBS vice president in charge of news, education, and discussion programs. He returned to radio broadcasting in 1947 with a weeknight newscast. With Fred W. Friendly he produced Hear It Now, an authoritative hour-long weekly news digest, and moved on to television with a comparable series, See It Now. Murrow was a notable force for the free and uncensored dissemination of information during the American anticommunist hysteria of the early 1950s. In 1954 he produced a notable exposé of the dubious tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had gained prominence with flamboyant charges of communist infiltration of U.S. government agencies. Murrow also produced Person to Person (1953–60) and other television programs. He was appointed director of the U.S. Information Agency in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy.

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)
One of the most beautiful voices to sing, Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia.  fter a troubled childhood, including the death of her mother in 1932, Fitzgerald turned to singing and debuted at the Apollo Theater in 1934 at age 17. She was discovered in an amateur contest in Harlem and joined Chick Webb’s band and recorded several hits, notably “A-tisket A-tasket” (1938).  After Webb died in 1939, his band was renamed Ella Fitzgerald and her Famous Orchestra. Two years later, she began her solo career and by the mid-1950s, she had become the first African-American to perform at the Mocambo. Her lucid intonation and broad range made her a top jazz singer. Her series of recordings for Verve (1955-9) in multi-volume “songbooks” are among the treasures of American popular song. Fitzgerald is known as “The First Lady of Song,” and was the most popular American female jazz singer for over fifty years. In her lifetime, she won 13 Grammy awards and sold over 40 million albums.  With the exception of Jazz at Santa Monica Civic ’72, her latter recordings marked a decline in her voice due to complications from diabetes. The disease left her blind, and she had both legs amputated in 1994. She made her last recording in 1989 and her last public performance in 1991 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Ella Fitzgerald died on June 15, 1996 in her Beverly Hills home.

Al Pacino (Born 1940)
An intense and explosive actor, the person who was to play Michael Corleone was born Alfredo James Pacino in East Harlem, New York.  At the age of 19, he moved to Greenwich Village to study acting and appeared in many Off-Broadway and out-of-town productions, including Hello, Out There (1963) and Why Is a Crooked Letter (1966). He took further acting lessons from Lee Strasberg and played a small part in the film Me, Natalie in 1969. The same year, he made his Broadway debut and won a Tony Award for his performance in the play Does the Tiger Wear a Necktie? Pacino’s first leading role in a film came with The Panic in Needle Park (1971), a grim tale of heroin addiction that became something of a cult classic.  It was director Francis Ford Coppola who cast the then-unknown Pacino into a film called, The Godfather (1972). The saga of a family of gangsters and their fight to maintain power in changing times, The Godfather was a wildly popular film that won the Oscar for best picture and earned Pacino numerous accolades for his intense performance as Michael Corleone, a gangster’s son who reluctantly takes over the “family business.” Pacino solidified his standing as one of Hollywood’s most dynamic stars in his next few films. In Scarecrow (1973), he teamed with Gene Hackman in a bittersweet story about two transients, and his roles in Serpico (1973) and Dog Day Afternoon (1975) displayed Pacino’s characteristic screen qualities of brooding seriousness and explosive rage. He also repeated the role of Michael Corleone for Coppola’s The Godfather, Part II (1974), a film that, like its predecessor, won the best picture Oscar.  In 1983, Pacino starred in Brian De Palma’s Scarface.  Pacino returned to the kind of combustible, high-intensity role that had made him famous. As gangster Tony Montana, Pacino gave a highly charged, unrestrained performance that, although loved by some and deplored by others, ranks among his most unforgettable.  He reprised the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part III (1990), but it was his hilarious portrayal of grotesque gangster Big Boy Caprice in Dick Tracy (1990) that won him a supporting actor Oscar nomination. Frankie and Johnny (1991) and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) continued his string of well-received films, and he won a best actor Oscar for his portrayal of a bitter blind man in Scent of a Woman (1992). Pacino’s other notable films of the 1990s include Carlito’s Way (1993) and Heat (1995).  Pacino’s prolific acting career continued into the 21st century. In 2002 he starred with Robin Williams in the thriller Insomnia, and he later appeared in Ocean’s Thirteen (2007), the final installment of a popular comedy trilogy.  Pacino frequently returned to the stage throughout his career. He won a Tony Award for his leading role in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel (1977) and also starred in such plays as Richard III (1973, 1979), American Buffalo (1980, 1981, 1983), and Julius Caesar (1988). In 1996 he directed Looking for Richard, a documentary film about his own production of Richard III. Four years later, he directed and starred in Chinese Coffee, in which he played the role of Harry Levine, a washed-up writer who is depressed about his lack of success.

King Edward II (1284-1327)
If you’ve seen the movie, Braveheart, you’ve seen this this fellow. No, it wasn’t Edward, the Longshanks, it was his son.  He was known as Edward the Carnarvon (which is a place in Northern Wales).  He became king of England in 1307, at the age of 23, and remained king until he was deposed in 1327.  His reign was marked by incompetence, political squabbling and military defeats.  While his father was considered a strong ruler and his son, Edward III,  started the Hundred Years War,  Edward II was pretty much a loser.  Widely rumored to have been either a homosexual or bisexual, he did father five children with two different women.  Of his male “friends”, one was French Gascon knight, named Piers Gaveston, and an English Lord, named Hugh Despenser (Insert Joke Here).  These affairs led to constant political unrest and his eventual deposition.  Whereas his father had conquered all of Wales and the Scottish lowlands, and ruled them with an iron hand, the army of Edward II was devastatingly defeated by Robert the Bruce at the battle of Brannockburn, leading Scotland from English control and allowing Scottish forces to raid unchecked throughout the north of England.  In addition to these disasters, Edward II is remembered for his probable death in Berkeley Castle – allegedly by murder – and for being the first monarch to establish colleges in the now widely noted universities of Oxford and Cambridge.  In 1327, Parliament gave him a choice – abdicate his throne to his son, or be forced out of being King.  Edward II was shocked by the decision, but let Parliament know that he hated being king and gave everything up to his son.  He was imprisoned in Berkeley Castle where he was murdered.  It is said that he was suffocated and then assaulted afterwards with a hot poker that – although a bit graphic for this forum – expounded upon his homosexuality.

Marchese Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1913)

An Italian inventor best known for his development of a radio telegraph system, which served as the foundation for the establishment of numerous affiliated companies worldwide. He shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Braun for his invention.  During his early years, Marconi had an interest in science and electricity.  Marconi began to conduct experiments, building much of his own equipment in the attic of his home at the Villa Griffone in Italy. His goal was to use radio waves to create a practical system of “wireless telegraphy” – or the transmission of telegraphs without the use of wires.  This was not a new idea—numerous investigators had been exploring wireless telegraph technologies for over 50 years, but none had proven commercially successful. Marconi did not discover any new and revolutionary principle in his wireless-telegraph system, but rather he assembled and improved an array of facts, unified and adapted them to his system.  At first, Marconi could only signal over limited distances. In the summer of 1895 he moved his experimentation outdoors. After increasing the length of the transmitter and receiver antennas, and arranging them vertically, and positioning the antenna so that it touched the ground, the range increased significantly.  Soon he was able to transmit signals over a hill, a distance of approximately a mile.  By the time he was finished with he experiments, he was transmitting signals across the Atlantic Ocean.  It was Marconi’s experiments that led to the Titanic’s distress signal during that disaster.  Britain’s postmaster-general summed up, referring to the Titanic disaster, “Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi…and his marvelous invention.”