Sept 25: A Day of Icons

September 25 marks the birth or debut of notable icons from Howard University and Fenwark Park to Pedro Almodóvar, Michael Douglas, William Faulkner, Glenn Gould, Christopher Reeves, Mark Rothko, Cheryl Tiegs and Barbara Walters.

1867 – Howard University

Congress established Howard University in 1867 (although the University states that it was chartered on March 1, 1867).  The school became the Harvard for black America and has played an important role in the battle over civil rights and in American history in general.  Howard’s notable alumni include: the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; the first African-American governor L. Douglas Wilder; Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison; Savage Holdings LLC CEO and Howard Board of Trustees Chairman Frank Savage; Emmy Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad; opera singer Jessye Norman; actress, producer and director Debbie Allen; the first African-American president of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr.; attorney, civil rights leader and Wall St. executive Vernon Jordan; former mayor and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young; and the first female mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin and California’s Attorney General Kamala Harris.

1897 – William Faulkner

William Faulkner is considered by many the greatest writer of the American south.  He was only the 4th American to win a Nobel Prize in literature (Eugene O’Neil, Pearl Buck and TS Elliot preceded him).   Two of his works, A Fable (1954) and his last novel The Reivers (1962), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked his 1929 novel The Sound and the Fury sixth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century; also on the list were As I Lay Dying (1930) and Light in August (1932).

1903 – Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko was an American painter identified as an Abstract Expressionist, although he himself rejected this label and even resisted classification as an “abstract painter.” With Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, he is one of the most famous postwar American artists.  An early November 2005 Rothko’s 1953 painting Homage to Matisse broke the record for any postwar painting at a public auction, selling for 22.5 million dollars.  I In May 2012, Rothko’s 1961 painting Orange, Red, Yellow (#693 in Anfam’s catalogue raisonné) was sold by Christie’s in New York for 86.9 million dollars, setting a new nominal-value record for a postwar painting at a public auction.

1911 – Fenway Park

On September 25, 1911 ground was broken for building Fenway Park in Boston – the oldest professional sports stadium in America.  The stadium opened the next season and was christened with a World Series win that year.  Yesterday, Fenway added a statue of the “Greatest Living Red Sox” Carl Yastrzemski.

1929 – Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters is the first woman co-host of a news show (Today Show), the first woman co- anchor of a network news show (ABC News) and the first woman moderator of a presidential debate.  She also was a longtime host of 20/20 (1984-2004(and since 1997 has hosted The View.

1932 – Glenn Gould

Glenn Gould (25 September 1932 – 4 October 1982) was a Canadian pianist who became one of the best-known and most celebrated classical pianists of the 20th century. He was particularly renowned as an interpreter of the keyboard music of Johann Sebastian Bach. His playing was distinguished by remarkable technical proficiency and capacity to articulate the polyphonic texture of Bach’s music.

1944 – Michael Douglas

Born into Hollywood royalty, he quickly made his own mark as producer winning an Academy Award for One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest at the age of 31 and a Golden Globe nomination two years later for The China Syndrome.  He has played a number of memorable roles in movies like Basic Instinct, Falling Down, Fatal Attraction, Romancing The Stone, Wonder Boys and Wall Street – the last one earning him an Oscar for his iconic portrayal of Gordon Gekko


1947 – Cheryl Tiegs


Cheryl Tiegs was the supermodel who put the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition on the map.  Tiegs began modeling at 17, with covers of GlamourSeventeen, and Elle. She is the first model to appear three times in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue issues, and also made the cover of People (magazine) four times, and did three covers of Time Magazine most notably for the “All-American Model” cover story. Her 1978 poster in a pink bikini became an iconic 1970s pop culture image.  She was the first supermodel to venture into the retail world by starting a signature line of clothing and accessories for Sears. The Cheryl Tiegs line sold nearly $1 Billion USD of merchandise in its 10-year span.

1949 – Pedro Almodóvar

IMDB calls him “most internationally acclaimed Spanish filmmaker since Luis Buñuel.”   Wikipedia notes that Almodovar’s films are
marked by complex narratives, employ the codes of melodrama and use elements of pop culture, popular songs, irreverent humor, strong colors and glossy décor. Desire, passion, family and identity are among Almodóvar’s most prevalent themes. His films enjoy a worldwide following and he has become a major figure on the stage of world cinema.
The clip is from Almodovar winning his first Oscar (for best foreign language feature) presented by two stars from several of his films – fellow Spaniards (Antonio Bendaras and Penelope Cruz).

1952 – Christopher Reeve

Christopher Reeve achieved stardom for his acting achievements, in particular his motion-picture portrayal of the DC comic book superhero, Superman.

On May 27, 1995, Reeve became a quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse during an equestrian competition in Culpeper, VA. He required a wheelchair and breathing apparatus for the rest of his life. He lobbied on behalf of people with spinal-cord injuries and for human embryonic stem cell research, founding the Christopher Reeve Foundation and co-founding the Reeve-Irvine Research Center.

Reeves showed that he was truly a Man of Steel with the courage he displayed following his tragic riding accident.


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