Jul. 8, 2000
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more
Today is the 46th birthday of columnist and novelist Anna Quindlen, born in Philadelphia (1953).
It's the birthday of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, born in Zurich, Switzerland (1926), known mostly for her first book, On Death and Dying (1969), for which she interviewed hundreds of dying patients in hospitals. Contrary to popular belief, she found that the dying were often eager to talk about death. She decided a terminally ill person faces five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. She had worked as a county doctor in a Swiss Village where most people died at home with family and friends gathered around, and was appalled by the American system of isolating dying patients in hospitals. When the clergy were called in, she recalls, "They came in with a little black book and they read a psalm and they took off, quick as a bunny."
On this day in 1918, Ernest Hemingway was wounded in Italy. An ambulance driver for the American Red Cross, still a teenager, Hemingway was nearly killed by an exploding shell while carrying a dying Italian soldier to safety. During his recuperation, he fell in love with a nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky, who later served as the model for Catherine Barkley in his novel A Farewell to Arms (1929).
It's the birthday of singer and bandleader Billy Eckstine, born in Pittsburgh (1914). The band he formed in the mid-forties, though it lasted only three years, is still legendary for the many greats he attracted to join: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, and Sarah Vaughan.
It's the birthday of drama critic Walter Kerr, born in Evanston, Illinois (1913). After a number of years of teaching drama at Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., he became a full-time drama critic for the New York Herald Tribune (1951). When that paper went out of business (1966), he moved to the New York Times and wrote a weekly column there until his retirement in 1983.
Itís the birthday of two famous Rockefellers, politician Nelson Rockefeller, born in Bar Harbor, Maine (1908), and his magnate grandfather, John D(avidson) Rockefeller, born in Richford, New York (1839). In the early 1860s, John D. set up his oil company in western Pennsylvania, and built his first refinery near Cleveland (1863), which, in 1870, became the Standard Oil Company.
On this day in 1907, the Ziegfeld Follies first performed on Broadway. Theater manager Florenz Ziegfeld produced an all-American version of the Parisian Folies Bergere on the New York Stage.
Itís the birthday of architect Philip C. Johnson, born in Cleveland, Ohio, (1906). At the Museum of Modern Art, he co-authored the classic book The International Style: Architecture Since 1922. With Mies van der Rohe he designed the Seagram Building (New York, 1958).
Today is the birthday of fable-writer Jean de la Fontaine, born in Chateau-Thierry, France (1621)-- a charming parasite who moved easily in aristocratic and literary circles. He wrote over 240 fables, short poems of 10 to 20 lines each, which remain a delight to French schoolchildren and which have been translated into many other languages.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®