Today is December 26, 2009 and the 360th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 5 days left in the year 2009. According the Mayan calendar, there are 1090 days till the end of the current cycle. This is my own special birthday list. In countries once run by the British Empire, this day is known as Boxing Day. Here are five people that share a birthday (with me) on this day:
Steve Allen (1921-2000)
U.S. entertainer and songwriter born in New York City. He appeared as a comedian on radio in the 1940s before moving to late-night television, where he created and hosted The Tonight Show (1954–57) and The Steve Allen Show (1956–60). He hosted several other television shows, including Meeting of Minds (1977–81). He composed over 3,000 songs, including “Picnic” and “Impossible,” and appeared in films such as The Benny Goodman Story (1955).
Bill Ayers (Born 1944)
Activist, educator, author, member of the Weathermen (later known as the Weather Underground). Born William Charles in Oak Park, Illinois. A former radical activist, Bill Ayers has established himself as an educator and author. Ayers became politically active, joining the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which sought social and political change and opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He took a break from college to work at an experimental private school in Ann Arbor in 1965 and then moved to Cleveland, Ohio, to help with a new school there. Returning to the university, Ayers continued to be involved in political and social causes, especially the anti-war movement. He was among the demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Developing a more militant version of the SDS, Ayers helped found the Weathermen the following year. The group thought more drastic measures were needed to end the war in Vietnam. In October 1969, the Weathermen took to the streets in what was called the “Days of Rage” protests. The group took responsibility for bombing several police cars in Chicago in retaliation for the killing of Mark Clark and Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party by the police. Ayers participated in the 1971 bombing of the Capitol building and the 1972 bombing of the Pentagon, according to his 2001 book Fugitive Days: A Memoir. He remained underground for a decade. Federal charges against Ayers were dismissed because of “improper surveillance,” according to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Ayers found himself in the midst of media maelstrom. His connection to Democratic candidate Barack Obama became an issue brought up by John McCain’s campaign, which made automated calls to voters in several states. Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is on sabbatical for the 2008-2009 academic year. He lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with fellow ex-Weatherman, Bernardine Dohrn.
Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976)
Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier, and statesman who led China’s communist revolution and served as chairman of the People’s Republic of China was born in Shaoshan, Hunan province, China. He became chairman of a Chinese Soviet Republic formed in rural Jiangxi province; its Red Army withstood repeated attacks from Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist army. Mao’s agrarian Marxism differed from the Soviet model, but, when the communists succeeded in taking power in China in 1949, the Soviet Union agreed to provide the new state with technical assistance. However, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and his criticism of “new bourgeois elements” in the Soviet Union and China alienated the Soviet Union irrevocably, in 1960.
Phil Spector (Born 1940)
Producer, songwriter was born Harvey Philip Spector in New York City. Spector went to New York and worked with hit-makers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. He became a staff producer for Dune Records, where he produced a string of hits and became an industry sensation. By the age of 21, Spector was a millionaire who was responsible for producing 20 consecutive smash hits. During this time, he started to work on his “Wall of Sound” technique in earnest. The “Wall” approach to production involved a process of overdubbing scores of musicians to make a full sound. The effect created a “roar,” which Spector described as the “Wagnerian approach to rock ‘n’ roll.” This style served to make Spector even more famous in the music industry, and many iconic artists would begin imitating this technique in future years, including The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen. Spector was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. He went on to write and produce music until 2003, when he was arrested in connection with the shooting of actress Lana Clarkson. After a panicked 9-1-1 call from Spector’s driver, police discovered Clarkson’s body at the producer’s mansion in Alhambra, California. On November 20, 2003, Spector was indicted for Clarkson’s murder.
Kitty Dukakis (Born 1936)
Author, social worker, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, was born Katharine Dickson on in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Long a part of the political scene as the wife of a Massachusetts governor and one-time presidential hopeful, Kitty Dukakis is best known for her activism as well as her struggles with addiction and depression. In her later memoir, she indicated that part of her problems could be related to her difficult relationship with her mother who she found overcritical. As the wife of a presidential candidate, Dukakis became a national public figure in the late 1980s. Her life was a whirlwind of activity as she traveled extensively in support of her husband. Beating out Dick Gephardt, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson, Michael Dukakis was officially chosen as the Democratic presidential nominee at the party’s convention in July 1988. In 2007, the Kitty Dukakis Treatment Center for Women was established in her honor at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital. The facility bears her name because of her advocacy work on addiction and mental health.