Five People Born on February 14
Today is February 14, 2010 and the 45th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 320 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 1041 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date, in 1929, Al Capone ordered the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, Illinois, killing seven people. Here are five people that share a birthday on this day:
Florence Henderson (Born 1934)
American Actress born in Dale, Indiana. The youngest of ten children, Henderson began performing at an early age. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and quickly started a successful theater career. Rodgers & Hammerstein selected her for the lead in the national tour of Oklahoma, and she appeared on Broadway in Noel Coward’s The Girl Who Came to Supper. In 1970 she made her first feature film, The Song of Norway and she was a regular guest on variety and talk shows with Ed Sullivan, Merv Griffin, Steve Allen, and Dean Martin. Henderson holds the distinction of being the first woman ever to guest host The Tonight Show. The role for which Henderson is most famous came in 1969. For five years, she played the quintessential sitcom mom Carol Brady on TV’s The Brady Bunch. The show was a hit, and became increasingly popular in re-runs. It is now considered a cultural icon of the 70s, spawning two feature “spoof” films in the mid-90s. Since then, Henderson worked as a producer on the Nashville Network’s Country Kitchen for nine seasons, and guest starred on numerous sitcoms, including Roseanne, and as a recurring character on Dave’s World. In 1999, Henderson joined NBC News as cohost of the morning show Later Today.
Jack Benny (1894-1974)
Born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago, Illinois, Jack Benny was an entertainer who was a legend on the radio and television for over thirty years. He played violin in vaudeville from 1912, and in 1918 when he was taken into the U.S. Navy he was assigned to entertainment duties. It was there that his comic talent came to light and, while he remained a competent violinist in private, on stage his violin soon became little more than a prop which he played ineptly for comic effect. After World War I Benny returned to vaudeville as a comedian. He appeared in his first motion picture in 1927, completing 18 more between 1930 and 1945. The turning point in his career, however, came in 1932 when he entered radio and quickly gained a large following. Audiences responded to Benny’s type of humor. In an era of comedy characterized by broad jokes and rapid delivery, his style was subtle and languid. Over the years, he and his cast—including Eddie Anderson as Rochester, his chauffeur and valet; and Benny’s wife, Sadie Marks, as Mary Livingstone, his nemesis—carefully developed his stage image as a vain, stingy man and would-be violinist. He was notable for his verbal inflection and his acute sense of timing. “The Jack Benny Program” remained on network radio for 23 years, at which time Benny moved to television, where he appeared regularly until 1965, where it was renamed, “The Jack Benny Show”.
John Gotti, Jr. (Born 1964)
Businessman, mobster. John Angelo Gotti was born to John J. Gotti and Victoria DiGiorgio. His father was Italian-American. He was nicknamed “Junior” Gotti since he shared his father’s first name. Junior Gotti allegedly served as a capo in the Gambino family and was the acting boss when his father was in prison. The elder Gotti was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992. He died in prison ten years later at the age of 61. Prosecutors believe Gotti ran the Gambino crime family that operated in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania beginning in 1983. They said the enterprise involved murder, kidnapping, witness tampering and money laundering. In 1999, John “Junior” Gotti pleaded guilty to racketeering crimes including bribery, extortion, gambling and fraud. He was sentenced to 77 months in prison and was released in 2005. Three attempts to convict Gotti for an attack on the founder of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, all ended in mistrials in 2005 and 2006 and the charges were dropped. At the time, Gotti said he had long since retired from a life of crime. On August 5, 2008, Junior Gotti and five other men were indicted in connection with the murders of three men in the late 1980s and early 90s. Gotti was taken into custody by a dozen agents in a swoop on his Oyster Bay, New York, home on Long Island. The charges against Gotti and five other men related to a drug ring operated in New York, New Jersey and Florida. The murder victims identified in the case include Louis DiBono, a Gambino soldier and construction contractor. He was found shot seven times slumped in a Cadillac sedan in the parking garage of the World Trade Center in 1990. The other two victims were George Grosso (1988) and Bruce J. Gotterrup (1991).
Jimmy Hoffa (1913-1975?)
U.S. labor leader. He moved with his family to Detroit in 1924, left school at 14, and began work as a stock boy and warehouseman. He became a labor organizer in the 1930s, rising in the Teamsters Union during the next two decades until he reached the office of president, which he held from 1957 to 1971. Known throughout the trucking industry as a tough bargainer, he played a key role in forging the first national freight-hauling agreement and helped make the Teamsters the largest labor union in the U.S. Long associated with underworld figures, he was sent to prison in 1967 for jury tampering, fraud, and conspiracy; his sentence was commuted by Pres. Richard Nixon in 1971. In 1975 he disappeared from a restaurant near Detroit; he is believed to have been murdered to prevent his retaking control of the union. His son, James Riddle Hoffa, Jr. (b. 1941), was elected president of the Teamsters in 1999.
Gregory Hines (1946-2003)
Tap dancer, actor, director, musician who was born in New York City. Involved in show business at an early age, Hines grew up as a member of Hines, Hines, and Dad alongside his father and older brothers. He studied dance with master tap dancer Henry Le Tang and spent much of his early career dancing at the Apollo Theater, gleaning knowledge from such fellow performers as the Nicholas Brothers and Sandman Sims. In 1973, he left Hines, Hines, and Dad to form a jazz-rock group called Severance. But the smooth-as-silk tap dancer soon returned to New York where he launched a distinguished Broadway career that won him a Tony award in 1992 for the headlining role in George C. Wolfe’s musical tribute Jelly’s Last Jam. In 1981, Hines landed his first film role, as a Roman slave in Mel Brooks’ History of the World-Part 1, as a last-minute replacement for an ailing Richard Pryor. That role proved a stepping stone in Hines’ film career, and he went on to star in a range of movies, including 1984’s The Cotton Club and White Nights opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov the following year. He also exhibited his comedic timing in such films as Renaissance Man in 1994. That same year, he made his directorial debut with Bleeding Hearts. In 1987, Hines released an album, simply titled Gregory Hines. He also starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom The Gregory Hines Show, in which he played a single father having trouble reentering the dating scene. Gregory Hines died of cancer in Los Angeles on Saturday, August 9, 2003 at the age of 57.