Five People Born On May 17

AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI

Today is May 17 and the 130th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 228 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 956 days till the end of the current cycle.  Today is World Hypertension Day.  I am not certain if you are supposed to celebrate Hypertension (high blood pressure), be aware of your Hypertension, or go out and get high blood pressure.  Here are five people born on this day.

MAUREEN O’ SULLIVAN

O’Sullivan was an Irish actress who was discovered at a horse show in Dublin by Hollywood director Frank Borzage. She moved to Hollywood and started her film career dubiously with the 1930 musical flop Song O’ My Heart co-starring John McCormack. Her first real success came in 1931 with Will Rogers in A Connecticut Yankee. Legendary producer Irving Thalberg tapped her for what became her most famous role, as Jane in the Tarzan series, opposite Olympic swimmer-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller.    After 12 years in the movies, O’Sullivan took a break to raise her seven children, whom she had with her husband, Australian writer and director John Farrow.  She is the mother of Mia Farrow.  She returned to the big screen in 1948, with The Big Clock, directed by her husband.  Her career, spanning 64 years and over 60 films, included Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married(1986) and Hannah and her Sisters(1986) with her daughter Mia, and directed by Mia’s then-boyfriend Woody Allen. O’Sullivan was frequently seen at Mia’s side during her bitter custody battle with Allen.  O’Sullivan died in 1998 at the age of 87.

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AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI

When I was younger, the face of this Muslim Cleric and leader of Iran (1979-1989) was the epitome of evil.  In his religious fervor, Khomeini was always an opponent of Iran’s leaders, the Shahs, which were supported by the United States.  Popularly recognized as a grand ayatollah in the early 1960s, he was imprisoned and then exiled (1964) for his criticism of the government. He settled first in Iraq—where he taught at the shrine city of Al-Najaf for some years—and then, in 1978, near Paris, where he continued to speak out against the shah. During that time he also refined his theory of velyat-e faqh (“government of the jurist”), in which the Sh’ite clergy—traditionally quiet in politics in Iran—would govern the state. Iranian unrest increased until the shah fled in 1979; Khomeini returned shortly thereafter and was eventually named Iran’s political and religious leader (rahbar). He ruled over a system in which the clergy dominated the government, and his foreign policies were both anti-Western and anticommunist. During the first year of his leadership, Iranian militants seized the U.S. embassy in Tehrn—greatly exacerbating tensions with the U.S.—and the devastating Iran-Iraq War (1980–90) began.

 

 

DENNIS HOPPER

Dennis Hopper is an actor, director, photographer, and art collector probably best known for his unique voice and dark characters.  He was born in Dodge City, Kansas and started acting as a teenager.  While filming a small role in Rebel Without A Cause (1955), Hopper befriended fellow actor James Dean. The two appeared together again in Dean’s last film, Giant (1956), which was made before Dean’s fatal car crash. But it wouldn’t be until 1969 that Hopper would score his greatest success on screen with Easy Rider. The film follows a road trip made by two counterculture hippies on motorcycles played Hopper and Peter Fonda, capturing a moment in American history. In addition to his starring role, Hopper directed and co-wrote the film with Fonda and Terry Southern. The film received two Academy Award nominations—one for a then-unknown Jack Nicholson for Best Supporting Actor and one for Hopper, Fonda, and Southern for Best Original Screenplay.  Unfortunately, Hopper’s next directing project, The Last Movie (1971), was a commercial and critical failure. This sent him into a tailspin, and he sank into a period of intense alcohol and drug abuse. In the 1980s, Hopper went through a personal and professional revival, getting sober and landing more substantial parts. He turned in a memorably disturbing performance in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986) as the sinister Frank Booth who was involved in a strange relationship with Dorothy Vallens played by Isabella Rossellini. Showing great versatility, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of an alcoholic father to tries to get sober and help coach his son’s basketball team in Hoosiers (1986).  Hopper returned to directing with 1988’s police versus street gangs drama Colors, starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall. Since then he has directed a few more films, including The Hot Spot (1990) and Chasers (1994). In the 1990s, however, he was better known for his acting, especially playing the bad guy in such films as Speed (1994) which happened to be one of my favorite performances by the actor.  In addition to his film and television work, Hopper is an accomplished photographer. His work has been shown at museums and galleries and several books of his photographs have been published. Hopper is also known for amassing a large modern art collection.

 

 

SUGAR RAY LEONARD

Born Ray Charles Leonard in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, this boxer, known for his agility and finesse, won 36 of 40 professional matches and several national titles. As an amateur, he took an Olympic gold medal in the light-welterweight class at the 1976 Games in Montreal.  By his mid-teens Leonard proved adept at boxing, and, as an amateur, he won 145 of 150 bouts and garnered two National Golden Glove championships (1973, 1974), two Amateur Athletic Union championships (1974, 1975), and a gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games. Following his Olympic victory in 1976, he announced his retirement from the sport but reentered the ring as a professional on February 5, 1977.  In November 1979 Leonard defeated the reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight champion, Wilfred Benítez, only to lose the title in June 1980 in a famous match against Roberto Durán. Five months later Leonard regained the title by defeating Durán, and he successfully defended it thereafter, winning the World Boxing Association (WBA) version of the title with a victory over Thomas Hearns in 1981. Earlier that same year he had won the WBA junior-middleweight title with a ninth-round knockout of Ayub Kalule.  Leonard retired from prizefighting in 1982 and again in 1984 but was enticed to return in April 1987 to face the up-and-coming Marvelous Marvin Hagler, whom he defeated to capture the WBC middleweight title in what was considered one of the greatest professional boxing matches of all time.   Leonard retired again in 1991 after losing a WBC super welterweight title bout, but he returned to the ring once more in 1997, at age 40, and lost by a fifth-round technical knockout. He retired after the fight and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame later that year. After his final retirement, Leonard served as a boxing commentator and television host.

 

 

ENYA

The reason this Irish singer is known by only one name because her real name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin (which no one, outside of Ireland, can pronounce).  She was born in Donegal into a family of musicians, where Enya played keyboard alongside her siblings in the Irish band Clannad before pursuing a solo career.  Her first success as a soloist was producing television scores for the BBC.  Enya’s debut album, Watermark (1988), blended Celtic folk songs, synthesized backdrops and her other worldly vocals to create a distinctive sound some describe as New Age. The album sold more than 8 million copies and was followed by Shepherd Moons (1991), which enjoyed even greater success. Other albums include Memory of Trees (1995), Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of Enya (1997), Day Without Rain (2000) and Amarantine (2005). In 2002, Enya contributed the hit score “May It Be” for the first Lord of the Rings film.