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Looking Back - April 28, 2013

History Column

Let’s take a look back at some famous folks born these last few days of April, along with a few facts about each.

April 28

• Born in Sweden in 1941, Ann-Margret Olsson came to America at age five.

• Ann-Margret was ‘discovered’ by George Burns when he heard her sing in a campus musical at Northwestern University in November 1960 and hired her to be a part of his Las Vegas act.

• She was a cheerleader at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. Other New Trier graduates include Ralph Bellamy, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson and Hugh B. O’Brien,

• That beautiful red hair is not natural. That was Sydney Guilaroff’s idea. The legendary hairdresser was also responsible for turning Lucille Ball into a redhead.

• James (Jay) Douglas Muir Leno was born in 1950 in New Rochelle, N.Y.

• Leno began his career in night clubs, where he worked 300 nights a year before hitting it big in 1992 with his own late-night talk show, “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

• Leno was a writer on the 1970s comedy series “Good Times,” as was David Letterman.

• “The Mike Douglas Show” was the first talk show appearance for Leno, which aired on Oct. 19, 1977. Danny Thomas and Teddy Pendergrass were also guests.

• Nelle Harper Lee was born in 1926, in Monroeville, Ala. In 1959, she finished the manuscript of her Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” her only published novel.

• Lee’s father was a lawyer, a member of the Alabama state Legislature, and also owned part of the local newspaper.

• One of Lee’s closest childhood friends was another writer-to-be, Truman Capote (then known as Truman Persons).

• Lee attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery and then transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. She dropped out before finishing, wishing only to write.

• In 1949, the 23-year-old arrived in New York City. There she was reunited with Capote and met Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife, Joy.

• In 1956, the Browns gave Lee an impressive Christmas present, the pledge to support her for a year so that she could write full-time.

• After her novel was completed, Lee assisted Capote in his research for “In Cold Blood.”

• Lee leads a quiet, private life and usually avoids anything to do with her still popular novel.

April 29

• Eve Aline Plumb was born in 1958 in Burbank, Calif.

• Best known as Jan Brady, Plumb appeared in 117 episodes of “The Brady Bunch” from 1969-74.

• Plumb was the first to get married (1979) among all six Brady children, three sisters and three brothers, from “The Brady Bunch”.

• A few of Plumb’s many other TV appearances include “Lassie”, “Gunsmoke”, “Family Affair”, It Takes a Thief”, “The Virginian” and “Big Valley”. Plumb was seen in the Feb. 13, 2013 episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”

• Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was born in Washington, D.C. in 1899. He succumbed to metastasized lung cancer and pneumonia in May 1974.

• Composer, pianist and conductor, Ellington had his own orchestra by 1918.

• Ellington was pictured on a 22-cent U.S. commemorative postage stamp in the Performing Arts series in 1986 and again in silhouette in a poster for the film “Black and Tan” (1929) on a 42-cent U.S. commemorative postage stamp celebrating Vintage Black Cinema in 2008.

• Quotes: “I’m a telephone freak, the greatest invention since peanut brittle” and “To me, bebop is like playing Scrabble with all the vowels missing.”

Reader poll

Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937 and was hanged for a long list of crimes on Dec. 30, 2006. What was said to have been his favorite movie? All the choices hit theaters in 1972.

  • a) “Deep Throat” 20%
  • b) “The Poseidon Adventure” 0%
  • c) “The Godfather” 80%
  • d) “Deliverance” 0%

5 total votes.

April 30

• The year was 1933 when Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas. After his mother (and later his father) abandoned the family, he and sister Bobbie Lee were raised by gospel-singing grandparents. Working in the cotton fields, Willie was handed his first guitar at age six and was soon writing songs and playing in polka bands. During his teenage years, he played at high school dances and honky-tonks. He also worked for a local radio station and by graduation time he had become a deejay with his own radio show.

•Willie attended Abbott High School where he was a halfback on the school football team, and also played basketball as a guard and a shortstop in baseball. He also raised pigs for the Future Farmers of America organization.

• Before hitting it big in country music, Willie held a variety of jobs to get by including tree-trimmer, door-to-door Bible salesman, saddle maker, bouncer, pawnshop employee, relief telephone operator and janitor.

• Willie owns a selection of about 15 guitars, but the one he plays mostly on tour is his Martin acoustic, purchased in 1969 for $750, which he refers to as Trigger, named after the horse of Roy Rogers.

• Cloris Leachman was born in 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa. After graduating from high school, she attended Illinois State University and Northwestern University, where she majored in drama. In 1946, she won the title of Miss Chicago 1946, as part of the Miss America pageant. She placed in the top 16.

• Leachman has won nine Emmy awards (including one Daytime Emmy award), the most of any actor or actress. She co-starred in the 1971 film “The Last Picture Show,” for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

• Leachman was a contestant on Season 7 (2008) of “Dancing with the Stars,” paired with Corky Ballas. At the age of 82, she is the oldest contestant to have danced on the series. She currently stars as Maw Maw in the television comedy “Raising Hope.”

• This actress of stage, film and television once asked, “Why can’t we build orphanages next to homes for the elderly? If someone were sitting in a rocker, it wouldn’t be long before a kid will be in his lap.”