Five People Born on April 8
Today is April 8, 2010 and the 98th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 267 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 988 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date, in 1820, the Venus de Milo is discovered on the island of Melos in the Aegean Sea – minus her arms. Here are five people born on this day.
Catfish Hunter (Born 1946)
This Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher was born James Augustus Hunter in Hertford, North Carolina. Hunter claimed that he learned to pitch from his three older brothers, and developed his famous control by throwing baseballs through a hole in the barn door. He was known as "Jimmy" in his home-town, but was professionally called "Catfish," a nickname invented by Charlie Finley, the owner of the Kansas City, then Oakland, Athletics, for whom he pitched between 1965 to 1974. Hunter was named to the American League All-Star team eight times, the first two times (in 1966 and 1967) despite the less-than stellar performance of his team. He pitched a perfect game on May 8, 1968, after the A’s had moved to Oakland, against the Minnesota Twins. It was the first regular-season American League perfect game since 1922. The A’s went on to win three straight World Series titles between 1972 and 1974, and Hunter distinguished himself as a leader on these championship teams. He won the Cy Young Award in 1974, compiling a record of twenty-five wins and twelve losses, with a league-leading 2.49 earned run average (e.r.a.). At the end of that season, Hunter discovered a clause in his contract that had not been honored by the A’s, and in arbitration, Hunter won free agency, a status that was essentially unheard of at the time. His availability started a bidding war between all but one of the twenty-four major league teams. He ultimately chose to sign with the New York Yankees, who offered him $3.35 million for five years, including a $1 million signing bonus, along with other annuities. It was the largest package in baseball history at the time, and its impact is still felt by players today. In his first year with the Yankees, 1975, Hunter went on to lead the league, with twenty-three wins. Though his record was never quite as good in the following years, he played a valuable role in the Yankees World Series teams of 1977 and 1978. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner credited Hunter with teaching the team a winning spirit. When Hunter retired in 1979, at the age of thirty-three, he had compiled an impressive record of 224 wins and 166 losses, with a career e.r.a. of 3.26. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. After Hunter retired he returned to Hertford, N.C., and worked on his farm, where he pursued his life-long love for fishing and hunting. In 1998, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which claimed his life a year later.
Mary Pickford (1892-1979)
America’s Sweetheart wasn’t even American. This actress, screenwriter, and producer was born Gladys Mary Smith in Ontario, Canada. Mary Pickford was a legendary film actress during the age of silent pictures. She often appeared on screen in young girl roles, even when she was an adult. Pickford began performing at the age of five on the stage and was known for a time as "Baby Gladys." After touring in different shows and productions for more than nine years, she went to New York to conquer Broadway. Taking the stage name, Mary Pickford, she made her Broadway debut in The Warrens of Virginia. Soon after the show’s run, Mary Pickford got into film, working for D. W. Griffith, a director and head of American Biograph Company. At the time, most films were short and she appeared in more than 40 movies in 1909. When Griffith moved his operation to California the following year, Pickford went with him. Over the years, her fame grew as well as her salary. She became an international star, beloved for her beauty and charm. Some of Mary Pickford’s greatest films were a collaborative effort with friend and writer-director Frances Marion. Together they worked on such hits as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917) and Poor Little Rich Girl (1917). Pickford also worked behind the scenes as a producer and founded the United Artists (UA), a film company, in 1919, with D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., who would become her second husband. She had been married to actor Owen Moore and divorced him to be with Fairbanks. Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks married in 1920, becoming one of Hollywood’s earliest super couples. Fans adored the pairing, and the couple was known to host fabulous events at their home, called “Pickfair”, which were attended many of the leading figures in film. In the 1920s, Mary Pickford continued to score more box-office hits with Polyanna (1920) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1922). She went on to help establish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927. Around this time, the film industry was changing and talking pictures were on the rise. In 1929, Pickford starred in her first talkie Coquette, which explored the dark side of a wealthy family. She won an Academy Award for her work on the film. Still she was never quite able to recreate the phenomenal success she had in the silent pictures with the sound films. Her last film was 1933’s Secrets. After retiring from the screen, Mary Pickford continued to be involved in filmmaking. She worked as a producer on such films as One Rainy Afternoon (1936), Susie Steps Out (1946), and Sleep, My Love (1948). She also was on the board of directors for UA for many years. She married her third husband, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, in 1937. They stayed together until her death and adopted two children. In her final years, Mary Pickford became reclusive. She largely stayed home at Pickfair and choosing to only see a select few. She died on May 29, 1979, in Santa Monica, California at the age of 87.
Julian Lennon (Born 1963)
This singer-songwriter was born John Charles Julian Lennon in Liverpool, England. He is the only child of John Lennon, a founding member of The Beatles, and his first wife Cynthia. Named after his father's mother Julia, he was born on the eve of Beatlemania when John was only available as a part-time father. Julian and his mother were also kept secret from the public because Beatles manager Brian Epstein felt John would be more appealing to female fans if he was believed to be single and available. Julian as a child inspired several Beatles compositions, including Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, which describes a drawing Julian made of a classmate. And when his parents divorced in 1968, Paul McCartney wrote Hey Jude to console him. After the divorce, John moved to the U.S. with his new wife, avant-garde artist Yoko Ono. Julian would later blame Ono for his father's absence. Julian began playing guitar and drums at age ten, adding piano as a teenager. He debuted on record as a drummer on the track Ya Ya on the John Lennon album Walls and Bridges. Julian started spending more time with his father, starting in 1979. But a deranged fan murdered John on Dec. 8, 1980, abruptly ending the blossoming relationship. After his father's assassination, Julian decided to pursue a singing career of his own. His first album Valotte (1984) was produced by Phil Ramone, best known as Billy Joel's producer. It generated four chart singles, including the top ten hits Valotte and Too Late For Goodbyes. Julian was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist. Julian's singing voice was remarkably similar to his father's, inviting inevitable comparisons which quickly became more a source of irritation than pride. Lennon's 1986 follow-up The Secret Value of Daydreaming, featuring the hit Stick Around was less successful, both critically and commercially. 1989's Mr. Jordan featured the single Now You're In Heaven. While the song was a top five hit in Australia, it did not return Lennon to the standing he enjoyed with Valotte. In 1991, Lennon released Help Yourself, featuring three chart singles in the UK, including Saltwater. Afterwards, Lennon left the music business and spent several years in seclusion. Julian has always had cordial relationships with the surviving members The Beatles. But Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr all rejected the idea of using him as part of a Beatles reunion. Lennon's relationship with Yoko Ono, has been strained over the years. But recently, Julian caught up with his half-brother Sean (John and Yoko's only child) during a promotional tour for his new album Friendly Fire.
Betty Ford (Born 1918)
This First Lady of the United States was born Elizabeth Anne Bloomer in Chicago, Illinois. Betty Ford is widely known as the wife of President Gerald Ford and for her work on social issues. As a child, she dreamt of becoming a dancer. In 1938, Ford traveled to New York to study with famed dancer-choreographer Martha Graham. But she put the dance career on hold in 1942 when she married her first husband Bill Warren. The union didn’t last—they divorced five years later. Around that same time, Betty Ford met a U.S. Navy officer and the couple quickly fell in love. She married Gerald R. Ford in 1948 and began her new career as supportive spouse to a politician. After Gerald R. Ford won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1948, the couple headed to Washington, D.C. She stood by her husband’s side as he spent more than 20 years as a representative. In 1973, her husband became the vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned. As her husband’s profile increased, so did Betty’s. A woman with strong beliefs, she spoke out on issues that were important to her, such as the legalization of abortion. When Gerald Ford became president in 1974, Betty Ford continued to offer her candid opinions on matters of the day. She actively supported for the Equal Rights Amendment and worked on behalf of many children’s and health-related causes. After her husband left office in 1977, Betty Ford finally had to face some personal demons. She had been taking pain medications and sedatives for years and had become reliant on these drugs as well as alcohol. After getting sober, Ford used her experiences to teach others about how to recover from drug and alcohol problems. She also helped found the Betty Ford Center, a drug and alcohol treatment center, in Rancho Mirage, California, in 1982. Since then, she has spent much of her time supporting many health-related causes. She has received numerous awards for her social work, including the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999, an award she shared with her husband. Betty Ford recently suffered a great personal loss. Gerald Ford, her husband of 58 years, died on December 26, 2006, at the age of 93. The couple had four children together: Michael, John, Steven, and Susan.
Kofi Annan (Born 1938)
Born on the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Kofi Annan was the seventh secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) from 1997 to 2006. He was the corecipient, with the United Nations, of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2001. Annan began his career with the UN as a budget officer for the World Health Organization in Geneva in 1962. With the exception of a brief stint as the director of tourism in Ghana (1974–76), he spent his entire career with the UN, serving in several administrative posts. On March 1, 1993, he was elevated to undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations. In that position, he distinguished himself during the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in his graceful handling of the transition of peacekeeping operations from UN forces to NATO forces. Because Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Annan's predecessor as secretary-general, had alienated some member nations—most notably the United States—with his independent and aloof style, Annan entered office with the tasks of repairing relations with the United States and reforming the UN bureaucracy. Soon after becoming secretary-general, he introduced a reform plan that sought to reduce the organization's budget and streamline its operations, moves that were welcomed by the United States. Other priorities included restoring public confidence in the UN, combating the AIDS virus, especially in Africa, and ending human rights abuses. In 2001 Annan was appointed to a second term. Later that year the September 11 attacks occurred in the United States, and global security and terrorism became major issues for Annan. In 2003 the United States launched a war against Iraq without receiving approval from the UN Security Council, and Annan's subsequent criticism of the war strained relations with the United States ( Iraq War). Later in 2003 Annan appointed a panel to explore the UN's response to global threats, and he included many of its recommendations in a major reform package presented to the UN General Assembly in 2005. A number of measures were later adopted; the proposal to expand the Security Council from 15 to 24 members was among those rejected. In 2005 Annan was at the centre of controversy following an investigation into the oil-for-food program, which had allowed Iraq, under UN supervision, to sell a set amount of oil in order to purchase food, medicine, and other necessities. A report described major corruption within the program and revealed that Annan's son was part of a Swiss business that had won an oil-for-food contract. Although Annan was cleared of wrongdoing, he was criticized for his failure to properly oversee the program. In 2007 Annan was named chairperson of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an organization aiding small-scale farmers; AGRA was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.