Voice actor and comedian Mel Blanc was born in San Francisco in 1908. After many decades in radio, Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Brothers as the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and many other cartoon characters. He then went to work for Hanna-Barbera where he was the voice of Barney Rubble in The Flintstones. Blanc has also been the original voice for Woody Woodpecker. He was nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Voices.” Blanc had been involved in a near-fatal car crash in 1961 and was in a coma for three weeks. After suffering from emphysema, he quit smoking in 1977. Blanc died from coronary artery disease in 1989 at the age of 81.
Swing musician, bandleader, and clarinetist Benny Goodman, “The King of Swing,” was born in Chicago in 1909. In the mid 1930s, his band was one of the most popular one in the United States and in 1938 he performed a concert at Carnegie Hall in NYC. His band launched the careers of many major names in swing and jazz. Goodman’s popular recordings include Sing, Sing, Sing, King Porter Stomp, and One O’clock Jump. His later years were devoted to exploring classical music. Goodman died in 1986 from a heart attack at age 77. That same year he was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Christine Jorgensen was born in 1926 as George William Jorgensen, Jr. Jorgensen was the first person to become widely known for having sex reassignment surgery. After serving in World War II, she traveled to Europe to undergo a series of operations to begin her transformation. Jorgensen became in instant celebrity after an article in the New York Daily News and she began her role as an advocate for transgender people. In 1959, she tried to marry, but was unable to obtain a marriage license as she was listed her as a man on her birth certificate. Jorgensen worked as an actress and a nightclub entertainer as a singer. She also toured university campuses to speak about her experiences. Jorgensen died in 1989 from bladder and lung cancer at the age of 62.
The “Kansas Comet,” Gale Sayers was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1943. He is a former college and professional football player who played for seven years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears. He played at the University of Kansas before joining the Bears in 1965. Sayers was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and his friendship with Brian Piccolo was the basis for the movie Brian’s Song in 1971. In his first year in the NFL, Sayers set a rookie record for touchdowns with 22. Sayers first hurt his right knee in 1968 and in 1970 he reinjured the knee again. Brian Piccolo died of cancer in the same year. He played his last game in 1972 and became a stockbroker. The Bear have retired his #40.
The Goddess of Democracy (also known as the Goddess of Democracy and Freedom, the Spirit of Democracy, and the Goddess of Liberty) was unveiled by protesting students in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. The statue was constructed in four days out of foam and papier-mache over a metal frame. Soldiers who cleared out the square eventually destroyed the statue. The statue revived the spirit of the students in the square and it attracted many more protesters and spectators to Tiananmen Square. A number of replicas have been on display in various parts of the world.
Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.