On this day in 1882, the physicist Hans Geiger was born. He is remembered today as the co-inventor of the Geiger counter. But he is actually important for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which showed that atoms are kind of like planetary systems with a big nucleus and electrons spinning around outside. Ah, it brings me back to high school when I was confused about those wave equation illustrations of electron densities.
The great film director Lewis Milestone was born in 1895. He directed some really fine movies like All Quiet on the Western Front and one of better versions of The Front Page. He also directed the Burgess Meredith Of Mice and Men, the Sinatra Ocean’s 11, and the Marlon Brando Mutiny on the Bounty. He died just 5 days short of his 85th birthday—by that time forgotten by an industry that should have heralded him as a god.
Johnny Mathis is 78 today. He does have a distinction voice, but I only bring him up today so I can present one of my favorite American Music Club songs, “Johnny Mathis’ Feet”:
Other birthdays: French singer Mireille Hartuch (1906); the great jazz drummer Buddy Rich (1917); puppeteer Fran Brill (67); actor Eric Stoltz (52); comedian (who reminds me of my sister) Kathleen Madigan (48); and actor Tony Hale (43).
The day, however, belongs to the great writer Truman Capote who was born on this day in 1924. All the great southern writers like William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor seem to have existed only to allow Capote to be created so that at last we would have a writer of great ability who was not focused on depressing us. Despite everything, Capote’s work is hopeful. In his later years, he allowed his celebrity to harm his work. But going back to his first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms through In Cold Blood, he was fabulous.
Here he is on the Dick Cavett Show being his usual charming self:
Happy birthday Truman Capote!