Five People Born on April 6

Today is April 6, 2010 and the 96th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar.  There are 269 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 990 days till the end of the current cycle.  On this date, in 1199, King Richard the Lionhearted dies of infection from an arrow wound.  Here are five people born on this day.

Raphael (1483-1520)
No, not the Ninja Turtle, but the one he was named after.  Raphael was an Italian painter and architect born, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.  Along with Michelangelo and Da Vinci, he creates a traditional trinity of Italian grand masters of the Renaissance.    Even though Raphael lived until the age of thirty-seven, he created a huge amount of work and ran a great workshop.  Most of his paintings now reside in the Vatican, where you can visit the Raphael Rooms made of his ornate frescos.  His greatest rival, during his lifetime, was the artist, Michelangelo, who went on to live a long and illustrious life working for Rome.  Raphael’s work falls into three categories or stages of his life, where he lived when he created his art.  They are: Umbria, Florence, and Rome – where he worked for the last 12 years he was alive.  Some of his famous works include: The School of Athens (fresco) 1511-1512, Christ Supported by Two Angels (1490 – yes, when he was seven!), a self-portrait in graphite (unknown), Coronation of the Virgin (1502-03), and Saint George and the Dragon (unknown).  After the death of the architect, Bramante, Raphael was made the chief architect of the Vatican, however, most of the work he did, was either changed or destroyed by Michelangelo.  Chigi Chapel is one of the only works that he designed which still remains.  The rest were either destroyed for other buildings or replaced.  Supposedly, he died on Good Friday (which was also his birthday) after celebrating a night full of sex with his mistress.  He felt ill the next day, was given a bad cure by his doctors and died soon after.  What a way to go!

Marilu Henner (Born 1952)
One of my favorite actresses, Marilu was born Mary Lucy Pudlowski (understand why she changed her name?) in Chicago, Illinois.  The third of six children, she attended the University of Chicago for three years, before deciding to wholeheartedly pursue an acting career. Billed as Marilu Henner, she originated the supporting role of Marty in the musical Grease at the University of Chicago’s Community Theatre. Henner dropped out of school in 1972, in order to travel with the national company of Grease, at which time she carried on a highly publicized romance with costar John Travolta. In 1976, she moved to New York, landing her first Broadway role in Over Here! Following a handful of forgettable stage performances, Henner made her cinematic debut as a stripper in the 1977 sleeper Between the Lines.  In 1978, Henner landed the breakthrough role of her career as receptionist-turned-cabbie Elaine Nardo in the hit TV sitcom Taxi. A handful of film roles followed, including Blake Edward’s farce The Man Who Loved Woman (1983), which starred Burt Reynolds, Kim Bassinger, and Julie Andrews. Over the next few years, Henner’s body of work ranged from disappointing films like 1985’s Perfect (which paired her with former beau John Travolta) to well-received comedies like L.A. Story (1991), starring Steve Martin and Patrick Stewart.  In 1990, Henner found renewed success on TV in the sitcom Evening Shade. She enjoyed a four-year run in her role as Ava Evans Newton, the wife of a high school athletics coach played by Burt Reynolds. In 1994, Henner hosted her own short-lived daily talk show, Marilu. Later that year, she published a revealing autobiography, By All Means Keep on Moving, in which she candidly discussed her sexual exploits with many of her Taxi costars, including Tony Danza and Judd Hirsch.  In 1999, Henner played herself in the critically acclaimed film Man on the Moon, which documented the life of former Taxi cast member and famed comedian Andy Kaufman. She has coauthored a book on child rearing—I Refuse to Raise a Brat: Straightforward Advice on Parenting in an Age of Overindulgence (1999), and published two bestselling guides on health and beauty—The 30 Day Total Health Makeover (1999) and Healthy Life in the Kitchen (2000). Henner recently returned to the stage, headlining a national tour of the revival of Annie Get Your Gun.  Not one to slow down, Henner continues to pursue her career as a health and wellness expert. She has published several more books on the subject, including 2002’s Healthy Holidays, as well as offering online classes to support her total health makeover program. Henner continues to appear on television as well, most recently serving as host of the PBS series America’s Ballroom Challenge.

Anthony Fokker (1890-1939)
This Dutch aeronautic engineer and pioneer of flight was the reason behind many Allied aviator deaths in World War One.  A high school dropout, he became interested in airplanes after hearing about Orville and Wilbur Wright and their airplane.  In the summer of 1908, he met Wilbur Wright who was exhibiting airplanes in France and decided that he wanted to devote his life to making these.  By the age of 20, Fokker was building his own planes and received his pilot license.  He moved to Germany and built an airplane factory.  By the outbreak of World War One, his factory was taken over by the German government and he was made director to build German warplanes for the Imperial German Army Air Service.  His planes included: the Fokker Eindecker and the Fokker D.R. 1, which was the triplane made famous by Baron Manfred von Richthofen, also known as The Red Baron.  Over the course of the war, he built over 700 planes for the German forces.  One of his famous inventions was to devise a synchronization device (known as the interrupter gear) that allowed machine guns to fire directly through the propeller.  This achievement helped make the German guns more accurate than the Allied planes that had the machine guns mounted on the top wing.  After the war was over, the Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany to build any aircraft, so Fokker moved back to the Netherlands to continue his work.  In 1922, he moved to the United States where he became a US citizen and started the Atlantic Aircraft Company.  This would eventually be bought out by General Motors who later sold the company to Boeing.  Fokker got out of the American airline industry after one of his planes crashed with Notre Dame football coach, Knute Rockne on board.  He would die of meningitis at the age of 49 years old.

Gil Kane (1926-2000)
My love for comic books got this Latvian cartoonist on the list today.  He was born Eli Katz, yet changed his name (possibly to emulate Batman creator, Bob Kane) when working in the comic book industry.  He originally started drawing for Timely Comics (the predecessor to Marvel Comics).  During this time, he got some small jobs penciling and drawing with a comic called, The Shield.  During World War Two, he served with the United States army in the Pacific theater and took a break from illustration to help fight. Kane resumed his comic book passion soon after peace was declared.  He drew for such comics as: Captain Action, Hawk and Dove, Captain Marvel and Teen Titans.  He is responsible for the modern versions of the Green Lantern, of which he drew the first 75 issues, and the Atom from DC Comics.  Other creations of Kane were the character of Iron Fist in Marvel Comics and major storylines in the Amazing Spider-man.  The most famous of which were issues #96-98, entitled The Night Gwen Stacy Died.  In this story arc, Spider-man has to come to grips with the actions he took against the Green Goblin helped to kill his girlfriend, Gwen Stacy.  In 1968, Kane pioneered one of the earliest graphic novels in his book, His Name is…Savage.   By the 1970s and 1980s, Kane had moved onto cartoons on television.  He penned the Superman animated series and did work for Hanna-Barbera, reworking some of their famous cartoons.   In 1997, Kane was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame and the Harvey Award Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.  In 2000, he died at his home in Florida from lymphoma.

Ivan Dixon (1931-2008)
This actor, director, and producer will always be best known as Staff Sergeant Ivan Kinchloe (or Kinch), one of Hogan’s Heroes from the hit television series.  Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Dixon grew up with other famous actors and performers, such as Gregory Hines, Ralph Ellison, and Josh White.  He would go onto earn his degree in drama from North Carolina University where he created his own acting troupe, called the Ivan Dixon Players.  Dixon got his start on Broadway performing in the play Cave Dwellers in 1957 and then again in 1959 with Raisin in the Sun – the first Broadway production produced by a black woman.  From here, he went onto television to appear in such series as the Twilight Zone.  By 1965, he was a regular on television in the role of Kinch on Hogan’s Heroes.  He would stay in this role until 1970, when he was replaced by Kenneth Washington, however the series would end in 1971.  For the next 23 years, Dixon would go behind the camera to direct some of the best-known sitcoms of the era: The Waltons, The A-Team, The Bionic Woman, The Rockford Files, and Magnum P.I., just to name a few.  He also directed the controversial 1973 feature film The Spook Who Sat by the Door based on a novel by Sam Greenlee, about the first black CIA agent, who takes his espionage knowledge and uses it to lead a black guerrilla operation in Chicago, Illinois.  He died of kidney problems in 2008 at the age of 76.