Happy birthday Duke Ellington!
Duke Ellington (April 29, 1899-May 24, 1974) was an American jazz pianist and composer. He is ranked as one of the most important musicians to come out of American jazz. He recorded over 1,000 compositions and worked with the best of the jazz world throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. He is remembered as being humble and socially astute, always deflecting attention onto others at public appearances. He was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 1999, along with many other awards and recognitions bestowed upon him during and after his life.
"Because only slow food can teach us the things that really matter — care, beauty, concentration, discernment, sensuality, all the best that humans are capable of, but only if we take the time to think about what we're eating."
Happy birthday Alice Waters!
Alice Waters (born April 28, 1944) is an American chef, restaurant-owner, activist, and author. She is most well known for founding Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Berkeley, California devoted to organic, locally grown ingredients. Waters is one of the most active members of the organic food movement, and has been dubbed the founder of modern American cooking.
George Petty (April 27, 1894 – July 21, 1975) was an American pin-up artist. Influenced by his photographer father, Petty grew up to design posters for many magazines, films, wartime propaganda, calendars, and other materials. He is most famous for his series "The Petty Girl," which he produced for Esquire magazine. His illustrations portrayed voluptuous and sensual caricatures of women.
Happy birthday Ma Rainey!
Ma Rainey (April 26, 1886 – December 22, 1939) was one of the first female blues singers in the United States. She started off her career doing minstrel shows, and made a name for herself as a singer and a comedienne. She went on to produce upwards of 90 recordings alongside the likes of Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and other jazz and blues greats. She was also known for her shrewd business sense, managing two theaters toward the end of her life. She is remembered as one of the most influential African American females in history, defining aspects of American feminism and creativity.
Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz vocalist. A contemporary of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and other big names, Fitzgerald was one of the defining voices in the American jazz canon. She had a prolific career, with some of her most notable recordings made during a partnership with jazz impresario Norman Granz. She is remembered for her poised delivery and diction alongside her careful phrasing and intonation.
Happy birthday Lyubov Popova !
Lyubov Popova (April 24, 1889-May 25, 1924) was a Russian avant garde artist. She was one of the Supremus group of Russian artists who developed Cubo-Futurism. She was also a participant in the Bolshevik Revolution, lending her artistry to the cause through various forms of propoganda.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (April 23, 1899-July 7, 1977) was a Russian-American novelist. He is most famous for his novel Lolita, which was written in English, although many of his novels were in Russian. His family was of Russian nobility, but fled as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution. He taught at Wellesley College and Cornell University. He was a self-proclaimed synesthete.
Charles (Charlie) Mingus Jr. (April 22, 1922–January 5, 1979) was an American composer and musician. He was hugely influential in the jazz world. First a bassist, Mingus went on to be a prolific composer, known for his affinity for collective improvisation. He greatly admired and was influenced heavily by Duke Ellington, with whom he played for a time. He is also remembered for his short temper, nicknamed "The Angry Man of Jazz."
John Muir (April 21, 1938 – December 24, 1914) was a naturalist and preservationist who spent the majority of his life in the California Sierras. He wrote the equivalent of ten volumes about various locations and aspects of nature throughout his lifetime. He co-founded the environmental preservation group the Sierra Club and is responsible for much of the preservation of Yosemite National Park.
Happy birthday George Takei!
George Takei (born April 20, 1937) is an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the character Mr. Sulu in Star Trek. He is an accomplished voice actor; he started out in Hollywood in the 1950s, recording the English dubbing of several Japanese monster films. He is an outspoken gay rights activist and has worked extensively on Japanese-American relations. He has been very active in politics, serving as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention and losing a campaign for Los Angeles City Council by just 1,647 votes. Takei turns 76 today.
Happy birthday Dudley Moore!
Dudley Moore (April 19, 1935 – March 27, 2002) was a British actor, comedian, musician, and composer. He worked as a writer and performer on Beyond the Fringe, a comedic stage revue that is widely considered the beginning of British satire. He went on to work heavily with Peter Cook, and the two are both perhaps best known for their collaboration portraying the characters Pete and Dud.
After his work with Cook, Moore moved on to a film career, appearing in such titles as Foul Play (1978), 10 (1979), and Arthur (1981). Having gotten his start in music, Moore also had a prolific music career, composing scores for several films and performing and recording with The Dudley Moore Trio throughout the 1960s.
Happy birthday Conan O'Brien!
photo credit: Justin Stephens. Image via Twitter
Conan O'Brien (born April 18, 1963) is an American television personality. He is a comedy writer, host, producer, and performer. He is best known as the former host of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, on NBC. He has worked on Saturday Night Live (SNL), The Simpsons, The Tonight Show, and many other sketch comedy projects. O'Brien currently hosts the late night talk show Conan on TBS.