Five People Born on May 6

Today is May 6, 2010 and the 126th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 239 days left in the year 2010. According the Mayan calendar, there are 960 days till the end of the current cycle. On this day in 1994, Paula Jones filed suit against President Bill Clinton alleging that he had sexually harassed her in 1991.  Here are five people born on this day.

Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926)
This Italian-born American motion-picture actor was idolized as the “Great Lover” of the 1920s.  He was born Rodolfo Pietro Filiberto Raffaello Guglielmi, but changed his name to Rudolph Valentino when he entered the entertainment field.  Valentino immigrated to the United States in 1913 and worked for a time as a gardener, a dishwasher, and later as a dancer in vaudeville. In 1918 he went to Hollywood, where he played small parts in films until he was given the role of Julio in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). He immediately became a star, his popularity being managed by skillful Hollywood press agents. Valentino’s films, which were usually romantic dramas, include The Sheik (1921), Blood and Sand (1922), The Eagle (1925), and The Son of the Sheik (1926). Valentino’s sudden death from a ruptured ulcer at age 31 caused worldwide hysteria, several suicides, and riots at his lying in state, which attracted a crowd that stretched for 11 blocks. Each year after his death a mysterious “Woman in Black,” sometimes several “Women in Black,” appeared at his tomb.

Orson Welles (1915-1985)
Another great man of the silver screen is this Kenosha, Wisconsin-born fellow who was a motion-picture actor, director, producer, and writer. His innovative narrative techniques and use of photography, dramatic lighting, and music to further the dramatic line and to create mood combined to make his Citizen Kane (1941)—which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in—one of the most influential films in the history of the art.  Born into wealth, Welles played the piano and violin.  By the time he was 11, he had traveled around the world – twice.  Sadly, both of his parents were gone by the time he was 14 and the young Orson had to grow up an orphan.  His stage debut was made at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in the autumn of 1931, where he acted in Hamlet. Welles remained in Ireland for a year, acting with the Abbey Players as well as at the Gate. After a tour of Spain and Morocco, he returned to Chicago and then toured with Katharine Cornell’s company in 1933–34, playing Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Marchbanks in Candida, and Octavius Barrett in The Barretts of Wimpole Street. In 1934 he organized a drama festival at Woodstock, where he played Hamlet. He made his New York debut as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet in December 1934. Welles was the director of an all-black cast in Macbeth for the Negro People’s Theatre, a part of the Federal Theatre Project, in 1936. In 1937 he formed the Mercury Theatre, which presented a renowned modern-dress version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.  He attained national notoriety with the radio program based on H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds; the performance on October 30, 1938, using the format of a simulated news broadcast, announced an attack on New Jersey by invaders from Mars. Thousands of listeners, not realizing the announcement was a simulation, were panic-stricken.  In 1940 Welles, on contract to RKO, went to Hollywood and made the classic film Citizen Kane (1941), which portrayed the life of a newspaper magnate (suggestive of William Randolph Hearst, who sought to ban the movie), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), a screen version of Booth Tarkington’s novel of the same name. Welles directed and starred in The Stranger (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), and Macbeth (1948). He then lived for several years in Europe, where he produced, directed, and acted in Othello (1952) and Mr. Arkadin (1955). He returned to Hollywood to direct and perform in Touch of Evil (1958), then went back to Europe for Le Procès (1962; The Trial) and Campanadas a medianoche (1966; Chimes at Midnight). In 1974 he wrote, directed, and acted in the highly original F for Fake.  He continued acting right up until his death, at the age of 70, which occurred 2 hours after giving an interview to Merv Griffin on the Merv Griffin Show.

Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter (Born 1937)
You may have heard about this Prizefighter from the Bob Dylan tune “The Hurricane” or may have seen the movie by the same name.  Both refer to Rubin Carter, a middleweight boxing champion who was twice, wrongly convicted of a triple murder in Patterson, New Jersey, and sent to prison during the prime of his boxing career.  He and another man, John Artis, were tried twice and convicted for the murders, but the convictions were overturned on appeal in 1985 and the prosecution chose not to try the case for a third time.  The trial, itself, was a farce.  A petty burglar – out robbing someone – witnessed two armed black men get into a white car (no make or model).  Two people who survived the shooting couldn’t identify either Rubin or his friend, John Artis, and no fingerprints were taken.  Rubin Carter just happened to own a white car and later, guns matching the ones used in the murders were found in the car (just not at the time of arrest).  Even the witnesses who identified Carter and Artis later said they were lying and didn’t really know what the gunmen looked like.  Carter appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, where it was found that the prosecution in the first trial had withheld evidence from the defendants.  However, Carter remained in prison.  Finally, in 1988, after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, the charges were finally dropped against the two men and they were allowed to go free due to lack of evidence and that the conviction was founded in “racism rather than reason”.  However, Rubin Carter was well beyond his prime as a boxer – his hopes and dreams of being a world champion were dashed.  Today, he lives in Toronto and is now a motivational speaker.

Willie Mays (Born 1931)
Known as the “Say Hey, Kid”, this professional baseball player who was exceptional at both batting and fielding.  Mays played in major league baseball very soon after the colour bar ended, and he probably never received the respect due him based upon his skills. He is considered by many to have been the best all-around player in the history of baseball.  Both Mays’s father and his grandfather had been baseball players. Willie Mays, who batted and fielded right-handed, played semiprofessional baseball when he was 16 years old and joined the Birmingham Black Barons of the Negro National League in 1948, playing only on Sunday during the school year. The National League New York Giants paid the Barons for his contract when he graduated from Fairfield Industrial High School in 1950. After two seasons in the minor leagues, Mays went to the Giants in 1951 and was named Rookie of the Year at the end of that season—one legendary in baseball. The Giants were far behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the pennant race. With the great play of Mays and others, the Giants tied the Dodgers in the standings on the last day of the season, and a three-game playoff for the National League championship was won with a home run, known as “the shot heard ’round the world,” hit by the Giants’ Bobby Thomson.  Mays became known first for his spectacular leaping and diving catches before he established himself as a hitter. He served in the army (1952–54), and upon his return to baseball in the 1954 season, when the Giants won the National League pennant and the World Series, Mays led the league in hitting (.345) and had 41 home runs. In 1966 his two-year contract with the Giants (who had moved to San Francisco in 1958) gave him the highest salary of any baseball player of that time. He was traded to the New York Mets midseason in 1972 and retired after the 1973 season. Late in his career he played in the infield, mainly at first base. His career home run total was 660 and his batting average .302. Mays had 3,283 hits during his career, which made him one of the small group of players with more than 3,000 career hits. He led the league in home runs in 1955, 1962, and 1964–65, won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves (1957–68), and appeared in 24 All-Star Games.  After retiring as a player, Mays was a part-time coach and did public relations work for the Mets. In 1979 Mays took a public relations job with a company that was involved in gambling concerns, with the result that he was banned from baseball-related activities just three months after being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. In 1985 the ban was lifted, and in 1986 Mays became a full-time special assistant to the Giants. His autobiography, Say Hey (1988), was written with Lou Sahadi.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Born in Austria under the name of Sigismund Schlomo Freud, he was a neurologist who founded the psychoanalytic method of psychiatry.  Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression, and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient, technically referred to as an “analysand”, and a psychoanalyst. Freud is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, as well as for his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires. He was an early neurological researcher into cerebral palsy, and a prolific essayist, drawing on psychoanalysis to contribute to the history, interpretation and critique of culture.  While some of Freud’s ideas have fallen out of favor or been modified by Neo-Freudians, and modern advances in the field of psychology have shown flaws in some of his theories, Freud’s work remains seminal in our quest for self-understanding, especially in the history of clinical approaches. In academia, his ideas continue to influence the humanities and social sciences. He is considered one of the most prominent thinkers of the first half of the 20th century, in terms of originality and intellectual influence.  He died at the age of 83 in London.