Today is April 3, 2010 and the 93rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 271 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 993 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date, in 1882, Jesse James was shot in the back and killed by the no-good coward, Robert Ford. Here are five people born on this day.
Lady Jane is an ethologist – or one who studies animal behavior – and was born in London, England. Her fascination with animal behavior began in early childhood. In her leisure time, she observed native birds and animals, making extensive notes and sketches, and read widely in the literature of zoology and ethology. From an early age, she dreamed of traveling to Africa to observe exotic animals in their natural habitats. Through friends, she soon met the famed anthropologist Louis Leakey, then curator of the Coryndon Museum in Nairobi. Leakey hired her as a secretary and invited her to participate in an anthropological dig at the now famous Olduvai Gorge, a site rich in fossilized prehistoric remains of early ancestors of humans. In addition, Goodall was sent to study the vervet monkey, which lives on an island in Lake Victoria. Leakey believed that a long-term study of the behavior of higher primates would yield important evolutionary information. He had a particular interest in the chimpanzee, the second most intelligent primate. Few studies of chimpanzees had been successful; either the size of the safari frightened the chimps, producing unnatural behaviors, or the observers spent too little time in the field to gain comprehensive knowledge. Leakey believed that Goodall had the proper temperament to endure long-term isolation in the wild. At his prompting, she agreed to attempt such a study. Many experts objected to Leakey’s selection of Goodall because she had no formal scientific education and lacked even a general college degree. On July 16, 1960, accompanied by her mother and an African cook, she returned to Africa and established a camp on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in the Gombe Stream Reserve. Her first attempts to observe closely a group of chimpanzees failed; she could get no nearer than 500 yards before the chimps fled. After finding another suitable group of chimpanzees to follow, she established a nonthreatening pattern of observation, appearing at the same time every morning on the high ground near a feeding area along the Kakaombe Stream valley. The chimpanzees soon tolerated her presence and, within a year, allowed her to move as close as 30 feet to their feeding area. After two years of seeing her every day, they showed no fear and often came to her in search of bananas. She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees eating meat and using and making tools. Tool making was previously thought to be an exclusively human trait, used, until her discovery, to distinguish humans from animals. She also noted that chimpanzees throw stones as weapons, use touch and embraces to comfort one another, and develop long-term familial bonds. To preserve the wild chimpanzee’s environment, Goodall encourages African nations to develop nature-friendly tourism programs, a measure that makes wildlife into a profitable resource. She actively works with business and local governments to promote ecological responsibility. Her efforts on behalf of captive chimpanzees have taken her around the world on a number of lecture tours. Goodall’s stance is that scientists must try harder to find alternatives to the use of animals in research. She has openly declared her opposition to militant animal rights groups who engage in violent or destructive demonstrations. Extremists on both sides of the issue, she believes, polarize thinking and make constructive dialogue nearly impossible. While she is reluctantly resigned to the continuation of animal research, she feels that young scientists must be educated to treat animals more compassionately. In recognition of her achievements, Goodall has received numerous honors and awards, including the Gold Medal of Conservation from the San Diego Zoological Society in 1974, the J. Paul Getty Wildlife Conservation Prize in 1984, the Schweitzer Medal of the Animal Welfare Institute in 1987, the National Geographic Society Centennial Award in 1988, and the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences in 1990. More recently, she was named a Messenger of Peace by the United Nations in 2002 and a Dame of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II of England in 2003.
This New York City writer was educated privately, studied law, and began to write essays for periodicals. He travelled in France and Italy (1804–6), wrote whimsical journals and letters, then returned to New York City to practice law in a haphazard way. He first became more widely known for his comic work, A History of New York (1809), written under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker. In 1815 he went to England to work for his brothers’ business, and when that failed he composed a collection of stories and essays that became The Sketch Book, published under the name Geoffrey Crayon (1819–20), which included ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. In 1822 he went to the Continent, living in Germany and France for several years, and was then in Spain (1826) and became attache at the US embassy in Madrid. While in Spain he researched for his biography of Christopher Columbus (1828) and his works on Granada (1829) and the Alhambra (1832). He was secretary of the US legation in London (1829–32), and later returned to Spain as the US ambassador (1842–6), but he spent most of the rest of his life at his estate, ‘Sunnyside’, near Tarrytown, NY, turning out a succession of mainly historical and biographical works, including a five-volume life of George Washington. Although he never really developed as a literary talent, he has retained his reputation as the first American man of letters.
Gus Grissom (1926-1967)
Virgil Ivan Grissom was an American astronaut born in Mitchell, Indiana. Gus Grissom was one of the original members of the U.S. manned space program run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The oldest one of four children, he grew up in a small town where he earned money by delivering newspapers. In high school, Grissom was bright, but not a standout student or athlete. he enlisted in the military after graduating from Mitchell High School in 1944. After receiving basic training, Gus Grissom was stationed in San Antonio, Texas. In 1945, Grissom married his longtime sweetheart, Betty Moore. Later that year he was discharged at the end of World War II. Not long after he left the service, he was able to go college using the GI Bill. He went to Purdue University where he majored in mechanical engineering. Both Gus and Betty worked while Gus was in school to make ends meet. He graduated in 1950 with the goal of becoming a test pilot. To this end, he returned to the military. He enlisted with the U.S. Air Force and served during the Korean War. Flying approximately 100 missions, Grissom received the Air Medal with cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. Returning to the United States in 1952, Grissom served as a jet instructor in Bryan, Texas. Three years later, he went to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to study aeronautical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology there. He later had several months of test pilot training at Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1956. Finally realizing his dream, Grissom returned to Wright-Patterson in 1957 to serve as a fighter jet test pilot. By the late 1950s, NASA was developing its space exploration program, Project Mercury. The organization was considering more than 100 military test pilots as possible candidates to become the first American astronauts. In April 1959, Grissom was one of the seven men selected for Project Mercury. The others included Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H. Glenn, Walter Schirra, Donald “Deke” Slayton, and Alan Shepard. The astronauts underwent rigorous training in preparation for space missions. Grissom got his first mission in 1961. On July 21, he piloted the second American manned suborbital flight on spacecraft known as Liberty Bell 7. The flight lasted only 15 minutes and 37 seconds. With its chutes open, the craft drifted down to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. While the landing was smooth, Grissom’s departure from Liberty Bell 7 was difficult. The craft had an explosive hatch, which blew open suddenly, filling the cabin with water. Grissom struggled to get out and swam in the waters nearby, watching as the spacecraft sank. Grissom was selected to command the first manned mission of what would become known as Apollo 1. Unfortunately, Grissom and the rest of his crew, Ed White and Roger Chaffee, never made it into space. They died on January 27, 1967, in fire during a preflight test at the NASA Space Center in Florida. Grissom left behind a wife and two children. Like many other astronauts, Grissom knew his work was dangerous, but important. He is quoted in the book Footprints on the Moon as saying “If we die, we want people to accept it. We’re in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.”
Brando grew up in Illinois, and after expulsion from a military academy, he dug ditches until his father offered to finance his education. Brando moved to New York to study with acting coach Stella Adler and at Lee Strasberg’s Actors’ Studio. Adler has often been credited as the principal inspiration in Brando’s early career, and with opening the actor to great works of literature, music, and theater. While at the Actors’ Studio, Brando adopted the “method approach,” which emphasizes characters’ motivations for actions. He made his Broadway debut in John Van Druten’s sentimental I Remember Mama (1944). New York theater critics voted him Broadway’s Most Promising Actor for his performance in Truckline Caf (1946). In 1947, he played his greatest stage role, Stanley Kowalski- the brute who rapes his sister-in-law, the fragile Blanche du Bois in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. Hollywood beckoned to Brando, and he made his motion picture debut as a paraplegic World War II veteran in The Men (1950). Although he did not cooperate with the Hollywood publicity machine, he went on to play Kowalski in the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, a popular and critical success that earned four Academy Awards. His next movie, Viva Zapata! (1952), with a script by John Steinbeck, traces Emiliano Zapata’s rise from peasant to revolutionary to president of Mexico. Brando followed that with Julius Caesar and then The Wild One (1954), in which he played a motorcycle-gang leader in all his leather-jacketed glory. Next came his Academy Award-winning role as a longshoreman fighting the system in On the Waterfront, a hard-hitting look at New York City labor unions. During the rest of the decade, Brando’s screen roles ranged from Napoleon Bonaparte in Désirée (1954), to Sky Masterson in 1955′s Guys and Dolls, in which he sang and danced, to a Nazi soldier in The Young Lions (1958). From 1955 to 1958, movie exhibitors voted him one of the top 10 box-office draws in the nation. During the 1960s, however, his career had more downs than ups, especially after the MGM studio’s disastrous 1962 remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, which failed to recoup even half of its enormous budget. Brando portrayed Fletcher Christian, Clark Gable’s role in the 1935 original. Brando’s excessive self-indulgence reached a pinnacle during the filming of this movie. He was criticized for his on-set tantrums and for trying to alter the script. Off the set, he had numerous affairs, ate too much, and distanced himself from the cast and crew. His contract for making the movie included $5,000 for every day the film went over its original schedule. He made $1.25 million when all was said and done. Brando’s career was reborn in 1972 with his depiction of Mafia chieftain Don Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, a role for which he received the Academy Award for Best Actor. He turned down the Oscar, however, in protest of Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. Brando himself did not appear at the awards show. Instead, he sent a Native American Apache named Sacheen Littlefeather (who was later determined to be an actress portraying a Native American) to decline the award on his behalf. It has been observed that Brando has perhaps loved food and womanizing too much. His best acting performances are roles that required him to show a constrained and displayed rage and suffering. His own rage may have come from parents who did not care about him. Although Brando avoids speaking in details about his marriages, even in his autobiography, it is known that he has been married three times to three ex-actresses. He has at least 11 children. Five of the children are with his three wives, three are with his Guatemalan housekeeper, and the other three children are from affairs. Brando’s years of self-indulgence are visible;he weighed well over 300 pounds in the mid-1990s. The actor died of pulmonary fibrosis in a Los Angeles hospital in 2004 at the age of 80.
Newton, whose Las Vegas nightclub act grosses a million dollars a month, got his start on television variety shows in the 1950s while still a teenager. At 17, Wayne and his brother Jerry started their own Vegas act. When he was 21, after much frustration, Bobby Darin finally produced Newton’s single “Danke Schoen.” It became a hit, but it was Newton’s last, as his voice soon lowered. Newton’s Las Vegas act lived on, however, to become the highest grossing act in Las Vegas history. It featured fog machines, a spaceship, and Newton in very tight pants. Newton earned enough to acquire the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas, an Arabian horse ranch, and a mansion on 50 acres which he calls Casa Shenandoah. In 1992, he was forced to declare bankruptcy when he acquired $20 million in debts while suing NBC for libel; the network had reported that he partnered with the mafia to buy the Aladdin. However, several multi-million dollar performances around the world have since put the singer back on top.