Today is March 30, 2010 and the 89th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 275 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 997 days till the end of the current cycle. On this date, in 1858, Hyman Lipman patented the first pencil with attached eraser. Here are five people that share a birthday on this day:
Warren Beatty (Born 1937)
This fellow Sigma Chi and actor was born Henry Warren Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. He is best known for his politically charged portrayals of somewhat outcast but charming heroes. The younger brother of actress Shirley MacLaine, Beatty attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, for one year before studying with famed acting coach Stella Adler in New York City. He occasionally appeared on stage and then in 1959 earned a recurring role in the television series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959–63). Beatty made a strong screen debut as a tortured teenager in love in Elia Kazan’s Splendor in the Grass (1961), but his next films, although interesting efforts, were mostly financial disappointments. Taking command of his career, Beatty assigned himself the duties of star and producer for Bonnie and Clyde (1967), the story of depression-era bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Counterculture audiences of the 1960s identified with the film’s outlaw heroes, thanks largely to Beatty’s performance, which was filled with much compassion for Barrow and the poor in America. The film, directed by Arthur Penn, with whom Beatty had worked on Mickey One (1965), also received much attention for the artfully rendered climactic shoot-out, which set new standards for screen violence. It subsequently became a colossal hit and a milestone in cinema history. Never one to rush into projects, Beatty acted in only four films in the next seven years. His next big hit was Shampoo (1975), a comic sexual romp, flavored with a left-wing sensibility, that Beatty starred in, produced, and co-wrote with Robert Towne. In it, Beatty plays a womanizing hairdresser who finds it impossible to juggle all his lovers on the eve of President Nixon’s election in 1968. Even more successful was Heaven Can Wait (1978), a showcase vehicle for Beatty’s comedic talents. For this film, Beatty was nominated for Academy Awards in four separate categories (best actor, picture [producer], writing, and direction), an unprecedented achievement in Hollywood history and an achievement he was to repeat with his next film, Reds (1981).Reds was the film that established Beatty as a serious filmmaker. The epic, romantic tale of John Reed, an American communist who influenced the Russian Revolution of 1917, the film received Oscar nominations in all the major categories and won for Beatty an Oscar for best director. He did not direct again for nine years, when he chose as his next vehicle a star-studded adaptation of the comic strip Dick Tracy (1990). His notable films of the 1990s include Bugsy (1991) and Love Affair (1994), both costarring Annette Bening, whom Beatty married in 1992—an act that tempered somewhat Beatty’s long-standing playboy reputation. In 1998 he co-wrote, directed, and starred in Bullworth, playing a U.S. Senator whose disillusionment with the political system is fueled by his immersion in hip-hop culture. Despite the accolades he has received, Beatty has also been part of two of Hollywood’s most expensive failures, Ishtar (1987) and Town & Country (2001).
Mehmed II (1432-1481)
This Ottoman Turkish leader was known as “The Conqueror”. He was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and is best known for the conquering of Constantinople, which brought the Byzantine Empire (which was the head of Rome) to an end. His empire spanned as far east as modern-day Turkey and Serbia in the West. He met with two defeats – the Albanians stopped him from entering the Italian Peninsula and a Wallachian noble by the name of Vlad Tepes (the original Dracula) stopped him from taking over his lands in modern Romania. Eventually, Vlad Tepes was betrayed by his brother and Mehmed II exacted his revenge. Other achievements included taking the Roman (Byzantine) style of government and incorporating into the Ottoman political structure. He introduced the word “politics” into Arabic and was very well-read. Mehmed II spoke Turkish, French, Latin, Greek, Serbian, Persian, Hebrew, and Arabic with fluency. He died, mysteriously, when he was 52. It is thought that he had been poisoned by his son.
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
This Dutch post-Impressionist painter is probably best known, by the general public, as the deeply depressed man who sliced off his ear and sent it to a prostitute that he was in love with. His work has greatly influenced twentieth century art for its brilliant colors and emotional impact. His work helped to set the foundation for modern art. He was not known as a great artist during his own lifetime. If anything, he was the poor starving emo-artist who suffered from serious bouts of depression and mental illness. A late bloomer, van Gogh was prolific in his work. In just over ten years, he created more than 2000 pieces of artwork, some of which include: The Potato Eaters (1885), The Blooming Plumtree (1887), Courtesan (1887), The Night Café (1888) and numerous self-portraits. The famous story about van Gogh cutting off his ear is often exaggerated. In 1888, he was suffering from one of his bouts of depression. One of these occurred with his very close friend (and some say lover, though this has never been proven) Paul Gauguin. The two were contemporaries and often painted each other. In a fit of rage, van Gogh confronted his friend Gauguin in an argument over art. When he left, he went to a brothel, cut off his lower earlobe and left it with a prostitute named Rachel, asking her to “keep this object carefully”. Not too surprising, he spent the last years of his life in and out of mental institutions making it almost impossible for him to paint. He was suffering from syphilis and eventually, the depression became too much for him and he took his own life. Historians believe that his mental illness was a result of the syphilis, swallowing toxic paints, bipolar disorder, or possibly epilepsy. This, mixed with his bouts of absinthe abuse, insomnia, and overwork only aggravated his condition.
Francisco Goya (1746-1828)
The second artist on today’s list, Goya was a Spaniard that was a painter and printmaker and often is regarded as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Modernists. He was a court painter for the Spanish crown and his subversive and often disturbing art was an influence for painters such as Manet and Picasso. His earlier works were very normal paintings, but as he grew older, his visions became darker and disturbing. He would paint like a maniac for days on end and then fall into serious illness which would keep him from painting for weeks at a time. It is presumed that Goya would poison himself from the paints that he used, which involved him smearing the colors with his hands. Paint, in those days, was made by the artist, and the ingredients often contained a lot of lead and other toxic elements. By using his hands, Goya would have absorbed these chemicals under his fingernails. Some of his best known paintings include: The Nude Maja (1800) and The Clothed Maja (1803) – duplicate paintings of a woman in the same pose, with the same expression, but with and without clothing. His darker works (and you can tell how dark from the names of the pieces) included: Satan Devouring His Son (1819), Courtyard With Lunatics (1794), and The Witches’ Sabbath (1798). Not surprisingly, Goya caught the attention of the Spanish Inquisition, however, they only seized his paintings and let him go, realizing that he was suffering from illness and that it clouded his mind. He died at the age of 82 and is considered one of Spain’s greatest artists.
Eric Clapton (Born 1945)
An artist of a different medium, this British rocker was born Eric Patrick Clapp in Ripley, Surrey, England. He was a highly influential guitarist in the late 1960s and early 1970s and later became a major singer-songwriter. Clapton was raised by his grandparents after his mother abandoned him at an early age. He began playing the guitar in his teens and briefly studied at the Kingston College of Art. After playing lead guitar with two minor bands, in 1963 he joined the Yardbirds, a rhythm-and-blues group in which his blues-influenced playing and commanding technique began to attract attention. Clapton left the Yardbirds in 1965 when they pursued commercial success with a pop-oriented style. That same year he joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and his guitar playing soon became the group’s principal drawing card as it attracted a fanatic following on the London club scene. In 1966 Clapton left the Bluesbreakers to form a new band with two other virtuoso rock musicians, bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. This group, Cream, achieved international popularity with its sophisticated, high-volume fusion of rock and blues that featured improvisatory solos. Clapton’s mastery of blues form and phrasing, his rapid runs, and his plaintive vibrato were widely imitated by other rock guitarists. The high energy and emotional intensity of his playing on such songs as “Crossroads” and “White Room” set the standard for the rock guitar solo. Cream disbanded in late 1968, however, after having recorded such albums as Disraeli Gears (1967), Wheels of Fire (1968), and Goodbye (1969). In 1969 Clapton and Baker formed the group Blind Faith with keyboardist-vocalist Steve Winwood and bassist Rick Grech, but the group broke up after recording only one album. Clapton emerged as a capable vocalist on his first solo album, which was released in 1970. He soon assembled a trio of strong session musicians (bassist Carl Radle, drummer Jim Gordon, and keyboardist Bobby Whitlock) into a new band called Derek and the Dominos, with Clapton as lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. The guitarist Duane Allman joined the group in making the classic double album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970), which is regarded as Clapton’s masterpiece and a landmark among rock recordings. Disappointed by Layla‘s lacklustre sales and addicted to heroin, Clapton went into seclusion for two years. Overcoming his addiction, he made a successful comeback with the album 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), which included his hit remake of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” On the album Clapton adopted a more relaxed approach that emphasized his songwriting and vocal abilities rather than his guitar playing. Over the next 20 years Clapton produced a string of albums, including Slowhand (1977), Backless (1978), Money and Cigarettes (1983), August (1986), Unplugged (1992)—which featured the Top Five hit “Tears in Heaven,” written after the death of his son—and From the Cradle (1994). He explored his musical influences with a pair of Grammy-winning collaborations: Riding with the King (2000) with blues legend B.B. King and The Road to Escondido (2006) with roots guitarist J.J. Cale. The critical and commercial success of these albums solidified his stature as one of the world’s greatest rock musicians. Clapton, an autobiography, was published in 2007. In 2000 Clapton was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.