On this day in 1911, the physicist Polykarp Kusch was born. Along with Willis Lamb, he demonstrated the magnetic moment of the electron was greater than the theoretical value. This caused a whole bunch of changes in quantum electrodynamics. I have no idea how one would go about such a feat. But then, experimental anything has always amazed me. I was lucky if I could get through an afternoon in the lab without breaking something.
Paul Newman was born in 1925. He’s a good example of something we don’t talk about very much. Most of the great old stars got to where they were because they were born pretty. Don’t get me wrong: I think Newman was an excellent actor. But I think that is maybe a quarter of what it takes to be a star. Other film geeks and I may love Eli Wallach. And he is a better actor than Newman was and at least as charming on screen. But he wasn’t as pretty. Newman was pretty.
Political activist and writer Angela Davis is 70 today. She was a convenient bogeyman for conservatives in the 1970s. An admitted communist! I don’t know much about that. She general makes rather good points that one is unlikely to hear in normal discourse. I know her mostly from the excellent book, Are Prisons Obsolete? I highly recommend it!
The great celloist Jacqueline du Pre was born in 1945. She died of multiple sclerosis at only 42. Even more sad, she gave her final public performance at the age of 28. Nonetheless, she is still considered one of the greats. Here she is at 17 doing the Intermezzo from Enrique Granados’ opera Goyescas:
Other birthdays: singer Maria von Trapp (1905); sportscaster Bob Uecker (79); actor Scott Glenn (73); playwright Christopher Hampton (68); film critic Gene Siskel (1946); David Strathairn (65); singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams (61); guitarist Eddie Van Halen (59); singer-songwriter Anita Baker (56); and comedian Ellen DeGeneres (56).
The day, however, belongs to the great cartoonist Jules Feiffer who is 85 today. He is most associated with The Village Voice and I love his work. He was one of the most distinct editorial cartoonists of my lifetime, and he has a wonderfully twisted wit, as you can see in the following cartoon:
Happy birthday Jules Feiffer!