Five People Born on May 18th

Tina Fey

Today is May 18, 2010 and the 131st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 227 days left in the year. According the Mayan calendar, there are 948 days till the end of the current cycle.  Today is Visit Your Relatives Day.  So get out there and go visit your family.  Don’t call ahead, just drop in and surprise them. Here are five people born on this day.

 
 

TINA FEY

This Pennsylvania-born comedian, producer, writer and actress was slashed in the face with a knife, by a complete stranger, when she was only five years old.  This left Fey feeling awkward and reserved into herself.  She calls herself a “supernerd” since she filled this time with studying instead of dating.  She went on to study drama at the University of Virginia, and upon graduation in 1992, she moved to Chicago to study comedy.  She enrolled in the comedy training ground Second City, a renowned program where many Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedians got their start. In 1995, SNL writers came to Second City looking for new talent and were encouraged by Tina Fey’s aptitude. When SNL producer Lorne Michaels read Fey’s sketch ideas, she was offered a job as an SNL writer. It may be hard for some to imagine Tina Fey prior to stardom and her trademark sexy librarian image, but husband Jeff Richmond remembers dating a Tina who wore “mismatched frumpy clothing” on a heavier, Rubenesque frame. After several years in New York, Fey became the first female head writer in SNL history. However, when critics were apprehensive of casting her because she didn’t have the looks, Fey realized she needed a diet and a makeover.  Despite gaining a more glamorous persona in recent years, Fey still retains her legendary work ethic, deadpan humor, and grounded personality. These qualities surely helped Fey catapult her comedy projects into unprecedented levels of success. In 2004, Fey went on to write Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan, a popular movie about the awkwardness of teenage culture in America. Shortly after, Fey created the television show 30 Rock, a satirical look on her own life as a SNL writer. Despite luke-warm ratings in the show’s early seasons, 30 Rock made comedy-series history after receiving 17 different Emmy nominations in 2008. The show won an Emmy for Best Comedy Series in 2007 and 2008, and Fey won two Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.  Many contribute the sudden success of 30 Rock to Tina Fey’s enormously popular impersonations of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live during the 2008 presidential election. When combined with friend Amy Poehler’s impersonations of New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the skits resulted in a 46 percent increase in Saturday Night Live‘s ratings from the prior season.
 
 

FRANK CAPRA

This Italian-born motion-picture director is best known for a series of gently satiric and sentimental situation comedies during the 1930s and ’40s.  After graduating in 1918 from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, he became an army engineering instructor. From 1921 Capra was a director of motion-picture shorts, a property man, a film cutter, a writer of film titles, a gag writer for Hal Roach and Mack Sennett comedies, and a director of such popular Harry Langdon comedies as Tramp, Tramp, Tramp (1926), The Strong Man (1926), and Long Pants (1927).  Capra’s “golden period” began with It Happened One Night (1934), the first picture to win an Oscar in each of the five major categories: best picture, actor, actress, director, and screenplay. He directed some of the most popular films of the 1930s, including Broadway Bill (1934) and Lost Horizon (1937), and won two more Oscars, for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and You Can’t Take It with You (1938).  Capra followed his “one man, one film” theory, feeling that as a director, he was responsible for every aspect of his films. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), the tale of an idealistic young senator (played by Jimmy Stewart) who battles corruption in Washington, D.C., has remained one of his most popular works. The mixture of patriotism, idealism, and sentimentality, found in this and many Capra films, was dubbed “Capra-corn” by the director himself.  His most famous success was It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), the story of a despairing man who is saved from suicide during the Christmas season by being shown how much his seemingly insignificant life has improved the lives of those around him. Although the film garnered Oscar nominations for best picture, director, and actor (James Stewart), it was a box office disappointment upon its release.  Only after it was shown repeatedly on television in the 1970s did audiences and critics recognize the film as Capra’s masterpiece. The film ranked 11th on the American Film Institute’s 1999 list of the 100 greatest films of all time, and it remains a perennial holiday favorite.

 

 

POPE JOHN PAUL II

This Pontiff was born in Poland as Karol Jozef Wojtyla.  Growing up, John Paul was athletic and enjoyed skiing and swimming. He went to Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 where he showed an interest in theater and poetry. The school was closed the next year by Nazi troops during the German occupation of Poland. Wanting to become a priest, John Paul began studying at a secret seminary run by the archbishop of Krakow. After World War II ended, he finished his religious studies at a Krakow seminary and was ordained in 1946.  John Paul spent two years in Rome where he finished his doctorate in theology. He returned to his native Poland in 1948 and served in several parishes in and around Krakow. John Paul became the bishop of Ombi in 1958 and then the archbishop of Krakow six years later. Considered one of the Catholic Church’s leading thinkers, he participated in the Second Vatican Council—sometimes called Vatican II. The council began reviewing church doctrine in 1962 and held several sessions over the course of the next few years. As a member of the council, John Paul helped the church to examine its position in the world. Well regarded for his contributions to the church, John Paul was made a cardinal in 1967 by Pope Paul VI.  In 1978, John Paul made history by becoming the first non-Italian pope in more than four hundred years. As the leader of the Catholic Church, he traveled the world, visiting more than 100 countries to spread his message of faith and peace. But he was close to home when he faced the greatest threat to his life. In 1981, an assassin shot John Paul twice in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Fortunately, he was able to recover from his injuries and later forgave his attacker.  A vocal advocate for human rights, John Paul often spoke out about suffering in the world. He held strong positions on many topics, including his opposition to capital punishment. A charismatic figure, John Paul used his influence to bring about political change and is credited with the fall of communism in his native Poland. He was not without critics, however. Some have stated that he could be harsh with those who disagreed with him and that he would not compromise his hard-line stance on certain issues, such as contraception.  In his later years, John Paul’s health appeared to be failing. At public appearances, moved slowly and seemed unsteady on his feet. He also visibly trembled at times. While one of his doctors disclosed that John Paul had Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder often characterized by shaking, in 2001. But there was never any official announcement about his illness from the Vatican.  John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, at his Vatican City residence. More than three million people waited in line to say good-bye to their beloved religious leader at St. Peter’s Basilica before his funeral on April 8. Church officials began the process of making John Paul II a saint soon after his death, waving the usual five-year waiting period.

 

 

REGGIE JACKSON

Mr. October was encouraged in sports by his father and became a star athlete at Cheltenham High School in Pennsylvania, excelling in track and football as well as baseball. He was a good pitcher as well as a hitter, batting and throwing left-handed. He continued his athletic career at Arizona State University (Tempe), but after two years he became a professional baseball player. He played with American League Kansas City Athletics farm teams (1967–68) and joined the Athletics in 1968 when the team moved to Oakland, California, remaining with the team through the 1975 season. He made his mark as a home-run hitter and an exceptional base runner. He led the league in home runs (1973 and 1975). Playing on the World Series-winning Athletics (1972–74), Jackson in the 1973 World Series batted .310, drove in all three runs as Oakland won the sixth game, and hit a two-run homer in the decisive seventh game.  In 1976 he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, and in 1977 as a free agent he signed a five-year contract with the New York Yankees for nearly $3 million. He finished his career with the California Angels (1982–86). He led the league in home runs in 1980. In the final game of the 1977 World Series, he hit three consecutive home runs and drove in five runs as the Yankees won 8–4. In the 1978 World Series he hit .391 and two home runs. He earned his nickname “Mr. October” because of his outstanding performance in World Series games. From 1973 he played mainly as a designated hitter (or DH, wherein one bats for the pitcher but holds no fielding position). Jackson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

 

 

CZAR NICHOLAS II

Nicholas the second was the last of the Tsar’s of Russia.  He was also considered the Grand Duke of Finlandand  King of Poland.  Nicholas II ruled from 1894 until his abdication on 15 March 1917.  As a leader, he was a disaster.  His reign saw Imperial Russia go from being one of the foremost great powers of the world to an economic and military collapse.   Under his rule, Russia was defeated in the Russo-Japanese War.  As head of state, he approved the Russian mobilization of August 1914, which marked the first fatal step into World War I and thus into the demise of his dynasty less than four years later.  During an event, known as the February Revolution, the Bolsheviks – a group that would later evolve into the Communist Party of Russia – kidnapped Nicholas and his entire family and staff.  They would be carted around and imprisoned for the next four months.  In July of 1917, Nicholas II, his wife, son, four daughters, the family’s medical doctor, the Tsar’s valet, the Empress’ lady-in-waiting and the family’s cook were all executed by the Bolsheviks.  For years after the executions, people came forward claiming to be a member of the Romanov family – namely Nicholas’ youngest daughter, Anastasia.  This was all put to rest in 1979 when their bodies were all discovered by an amateur archeologist.