4    Aug 20150 comments

Happy Birthday, Louis Armstrong!

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

This month marks the birthday of musical icon Louis Armstrong, known by his nicknames Satchmo or Pops. As an American jazz trumpeter and singer, he was one of the most influential jazz musicians in history.

Renowned for his stage presence and throaty voice as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong's influence extended well beyond jazz music, and his charismatic and heartfelt performances.

"He left an undying testimony to the human condition in the America of his time" - Wynton Marsalis

Armstrong was born August 4, 1901, in  New Orleans, Louisiana, to Mary Albert Armstrong (1886–1942) and William Armstrong (1881–1922). He was the grandson of slaves raised on plantations. They spoke English rather than French and, like most slaves, had little idea of their origins. Louis himself grew up in a poverty-stricken rough neighborhood in New Orleans, known as “Back of Town.” When he was only a baby, his father left the family. From then until he was 5, he and his sister Beatrice were taken care of by their grandmother, Josephine Armstrong. At 5, he moved back to live with his mother, and only very rarely saw his father. Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Louis Armstrong!" »

3    Aug 20123 comments

Marilyn Monroe: Model, actress, singer and legend

Marilyn Monroe as a child. Taken from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-life.htm

Marilyn Monroe as a child. (Credit: www.howstuffworks.com)

Marilyn Monroe died 50 years ago on Sunday, August 5. In her short 36-year life, she achieved international stardom both on and off the big screen.

Born Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles on June 1, 1926, her surname was later changed to Baker, the family name of her mother's first husband.

Marilyn's birth certificate (below) lists Martin Edward Mortensen as her father.

Marilyn did not believe Martin was her father. She was once shown a photo of her father, whom she thought resembled Clark Gable. As a child, she pretended that Gable was her father.

Marilyn Monroe's birth certificate. Source: Wikipedia (click to zoom).

Marilyn Monroe's birth certificate. (Source: Wikipedia.org) (click to zoom).

She adopted the stage name of Marilyn Monroe - Monroe was her mother's maiden name.

Continue reading "Marilyn Monroe: Model, actress, singer and legend" »

21    Mar 20120 comments

Johann Sebastian Bach: Happy birthday!

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

This post is from the Dutch MyHeritage Blog,  originally written by Denie Kasan, MyHeritage’s Netherlands community manager.

Today, March 21, marks the birthday of one of the greatest musical composers, Johann Sebastian (J.S.) Bach (1685-1750). His famous works are still taught today to music students across the globe, ensuring that Bach’s music and style lives on.

Perhaps less known is Bach's musical family background and abundant progeny. Within seven generations, the Bach family produced no fewer than 120 musicians and, over two marriages, Bach fathered 20 children!

Born March 21, 1685, in the German town of Eisenach (Thuringia), he was the eighth child of German composer Johann Ambrosius Bach and Elisabeth Lämmerhirt. His musical legacy is attributed to his great-great-grandfather Veit Bach who, according to J.S. Bach’s diary, played the lute. Generation after generation of musicians were born to the Bach family, and many served as royal court musicians. Continue reading "Johann Sebastian Bach: Happy birthday!" »

20    Feb 20122 comments

Presidents’ Weekend: George and Abe slept here!

George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

Historic houses in many states bear signs reading “George Washington slept here,” or “Abraham Lincoln slept here.”

There weren’t many hotel or motel chains in those days, so famous people - indeed, all travellers - slept in taverns, inns, private homes or camped out under the stars.

Perhaps that’s why Presidents' Weekend is known as the best time for sales of mattresses and bedding, as every US department and bedding store advertises great prices!

Abraham Lincoln

Seriously though, Presidents’ Weekend is relatively new. When I was in elementary school in New York, we celebrated Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays on two weekends in February, each with a Monday or Friday off.

Since they were both legal holidays - with banks, businesses, government offices and schools closed – someone suggested that perhaps the two holidays could be combined with only one day off instead of two. While schoolchildren mourned the loss of an anticipated holiday, the business community welcomed it.

Each state sets its observance of the holiday, and not all US states observe Presidents' Weekend. Read the history here.

Continue reading "Presidents’ Weekend: George and Abe slept here!" »

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