Birthdays….. June 4
Anthony Braxton…June 4, 1945
Braxton is an African American experimental composer and saxophonist. Anthony was born in Chicago and grew up in a poorer district where he attended Betsy Ross Grammar School and had a paper route. He sang in a church choir and had an early interest in rock music with his favorites being “Frankie Lyon and the Teenagers” and “Bill Haley and His Comets” but also had an interest in rocketships, television and technology. In his early teens he studied drafting courses in a vocational high school.
In his early musical career he was involved with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he led a musical trio and recorded a double LP “For Alto” in 1969, with tracks dedicated to John Cage (avant-garde musical artist). This album was performed by Braxton with his alto saxophone and no additional instrumentation or musicians.
Over the years he has done hundreds of compositions, and has been inspired by his studies of the Native American Ghost Dance (which originally meant to reunite the living with spirits of the dead).
He was a professor of music at Wesleyan University until his retirement in 2013. Braxton won several awards such as the Guggenheim, MacArthur, and United States Artists Fellowship awards. He also received honorary doctorates from a University of Liege in Belgium as well as the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
Bruce Dern…June 4, 1936
Bruce is an American actor often playing supporting villainous characters of unstable nature.
Bruce was born in Chicago to a utility chef and an attorney. He attended University of Pennsylvania and was a lifelong avid runner and track star and was sought to qualify for the Olympic trials in 1956. Dern studied at The Actors Studio and got small roles in Broadway plays one being “Sweet Bird of Youth” starring Paul Newman.
He moved from the stage to film and television making appearances in such as “Wagon Train”, “The Fugitive”, and “Gunsmoke” and feature films such as Elia Kazan’s “Wild River”, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” and Robert Aldrich’s “Hush Hush-- Sweet Charlotte”.
During his career he made almost 90 films and when asked if he had contemplated retirement he said…”If you think I’m gonna retire so Jimmy*******Caan can get another part from me you’re wrong. I’m gonna go till I’m 100. My goal is to do stuff with older characters that people never got the chance to do because they never lived long enough.”
Bruce was nominated for two AA awards. Bruce is the father of actress Laura Dern (Jurassic Park, Wild At Heart, Blue Velvet)
Short list of Bruce Dern films
Hush--Hush Sweet Charlotte…1964, directed by Robert Aldrich, starred Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and Joseph Cotton, the film was nominated for 6 AA awards
The Trip….1967….directed by Roger Corman, written by Jack Nicholson, starred Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson
Silent Running…1972…directed by Douglas Trumbull, (Trumbull is a special effects supervisor who was responsible for the effects in “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Blade Runner” and “Tree Of Life”).
The Wild Angels..1966, directed by Roger Corman, starred Peter Fonda
The Haunting…1999, directed by Jan de Bont, starred Liam Neeson, Owen Wilson, Catherine-Zeta Jones…was a remake of a 1963 classic film directed by Robert Wise
Monster…2003..directed by Patty Jenkins, won AA award for Best Actress Charlize Theron
Dennis Weaver…June 4, 1924-2006
Dennis was an American actor best known for his work in television from the early 50’s most famously as Chester Goode in the western Gunsmoke.
Dennis was born in Joplin, Missouri and wanted to be an actor from childhood. He studied drama at the University of Oklahoma and was a track star setting records in several events. He tried out for the 1948 US Olympic team in the decathlon and finished sixth behind Bob Mathias…he said “I did so poorly I decided to stay in New York and try acting.”
Weaver supported his family by doing odd jobs, including selling vacuum cleaners, tricycles and women’s hosiery. He eventually enrolled in the Actors Studio where he met Shelley Winters who helped him get a contract from Universal Studios and over the next three years he played in a series of movies until his big break landing the role of Chester Goode, the limping loyal assistant of Marshal Matt Dillion James Arness, on the new television series “Gunsmoke”. The hobbling leg was Weaver’s idea. When the producer pointed out that sidekicks almost always have some failing or weakness that makes them less capable than the star, Dennis then decided that the limp would be just the right thing!
A little Gunsmoke trivia
Gunsmoke television series ran from 1955 to 1975. It was routinely placed among the best shows of any kind. It was based on a Radio series “Gunsmoke” that aired from 1952 to 1961. William Conrad played Dillon on that radio program. Raymond Burr, William Conrad, and John Wayne were almost cast as Matt Dillon on the television show.
Star Trek’s Kirk, Spock, Bones and Scotty had all appeared in Gunsmoke episodes.
Ken Curtis (born Curtis Gates) who played Festus had a successful singing career and actually replaced Frank Sinatra in Tommy Dorsey’s band when Sinatra left and he stayed until Dick Haymes contractually replaced Sinatra. Curtis then joined “Shep Fields and His New Music”, an all-reeds band.
James Arness hitchhiked to Hollywood from Wisconsin where he made the rounds to agencies and casting calls. Not only his claim to fame is playing Mr. Matt Dillon but also as the “Thing From Another World”.
Amanda Blake who played Miss Kitty owned a real lion and would occasionally bring it on the Gunsmoke set. Blake and her husband were involved in animal welfare projects and were among the first to successfully breed cheetahs in captivity.
Weaver was a vegetarian since the 50’s and a student of yoga and devoted follower of Paramahansa Yoganada, the Indian guru who established the Self Realization Fellowship. The leader had many celebrity followers including George Harrison, Elvis Presley and Ravi Shankar and was dubbed “the 20th century’s first superstar guru”.
Dennis was a firm believer of preserving the environment and commissioned architect Michael Reynolds (a pioneer in sustainable architecture) to design and build his new residence in Colorado which incorporated recycled materials such as old automobile tires and discarded cans. He called his home “Earthship” and lived there for over 14 years.
Dennis Weaver starred in 17 films
Short list of Weaver’s films
Duel…1971…originally aired as a television film of the ABC Movie Of The Week…then theatrical release internationally… film directed by Steven Spielberg (his first feature film) story written by Richard Matheson
Touch of Evil…directed by Orson Welles, he played the twitchy motel attendant
A Man Called Sledge…1971…co-directed by Vic Morrow, co-starred James Garner
Way Way Out…1966…starred Jerry Lewis
Mc Cloud….TV series from 1970 to 1977 where Weaver played a Deputy Marshall from Taos, New Mexico who was on loan to the NYPD as a special investigator
Birthday Honorable Mentions
Rosalind Russell…June 4, 1907-1976 (Auntie Mame)
George Noory..June 4, 1950 (Coast To Coast AM) the show explores the world of paranormal, UFOs and conspiracies
Mark Wahlberg..June 5, 1971 (over 66 films including The Departed, The Italian Job, The Happening, Planet of the Apes, The Perfect Storm, Boogy Nights)
Laurie Anderson…June 5, 1947 (avant-garde artist, composer, musician)
Tony Curtis…June 3, 1925-2010…(Some Like It Hot, Spartacus, The Great Race, Johnny Dark)
Allen Ginsberg…June 3, 1926-1997..American poet who began friendships with William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac forming the core of the Beat Generation.
Special Holidays…June 4
National Cheese Day…not to be confused with Grilled Cheese Day or Mac and Cheese Day!!! This is a holiday for the “Big Cheese” only. Cheese is created from milk that is produced not only by cows, but also buffalo, goats and sheep. Temperature and aging affect the flavor as well as spices and seasonings added during the process. Take the opportunity to go and try some new cheeses today. There are plenty out there, after all there are over 1,800 different kinds to choose from!!
*What did Gorgonzola say to Cheddar?
*What do you call a dinosaur made of cheese?
*Why did the cheese cross the road?
To Feta the other side.
*What’s the smartest cheese?
*What did the police say to the cheese thief?
You’ve been up to no Gouda.
National Doughnut Day …This holiday was created by The Salvation Army in 1938. The Doughnut event was to honor those of their members who served doughnuts to soldiers during WWI. Doughnuts were often cooked in oil inside the metal helmets of American soldiers thus the term “doughboys”. On this day many bakeries and coffee shops may offer doughnut deals to their customers.
National Shopping Cart Day…On June 4, 1937 Sylvan Goldman made history. He rolled out the world’s first shopping cart at his Humpty Dumpty supermarket chain in Oklahoma City. He came up with the design by placing a basket on the seat of a folding chair and wheels on the legs. The awarded patent was titled “Folding Basket Carriage for Self Service Stores.”
Shopping cart trivia
The “Idiot-a-rod” is a shopping cart race in which teams of five or more “idiots” run through the streets of a major metropolitan area and the carts are usually themed and feature people in costumes. Many times the city will award a “Best In Show” prize. The competitions commonly included sabotage in the early years such as tripping, or throwing marbles and large obstacles in their paths. These events have taken place in cities Ann Arbor, Denver, NYC, Portland, Los Angeles, Washington DC to name a few. This sport was originally founded in San Francisco in 1994.
On This Day…June 4
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan released on June 4, 1982. At the time it was the largest ‘opening weekend gross’ in history. It was directed by Nicholas Meyer (who also directed and wrote “Time After Time”). The Wrath of Khan included the first completely Computer Generated cinematic image sequence in a feature film that was created by George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. The “Genesis Effect” scene was originally going to be animated.
Capitol Records opened on June 4, 1942 in Los Angeles. The company was founded by songwriter Johnny Mercer, producer Buddy DeSylva and Glenn Wallichs (Wallichs Music City record store in Hollywood). Wallichs was one of the first to display cellophane sealed albums in racks and stayed open till 2am. Since 1956 the Capital Records Tower in Hollywood has been a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument, and considered the world’s first circular office building.