Synchronicity. It’s not just a tremendous album by The Police. It’s the idea put forward by analytic psychologist Carl Jung that you can have “meaningful coincidences” even if it appears that things and events are largely unrelated. One such set of coincidences is the number celebrities born on this day. It’s not just that you have a number of famous people born on September 21st; that’s true of virtually every day of the year. What’s fascinating is how many famous people that were born on this day have been or remain at the absolute pinnacle of their fields. In short, what’s so special about September 21st? This list highlights some of the amazing people born in the last days of summer.
1866: H.G. Wells
Though he wrote prolifically in other genres, his towering influence remains most prominent as one of the “fathers of science fiction.” Wells wrote seminal texts like The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau, and dozens more. In fact, the term “time machine” didn’t even exist before Wells coined it. He became friends with Winston Churchill, and the Prime Minister’s use of the phrase “the gathering storm” to describe the lead-up to World War II was borrowed from Wells.
1874: Gustav Holst
“Mars, Bringer of War,” performed in 2015 by the BBC Orchestra and Elysian Singers with Susanna Mälkki conducting.
The English composer of more than 200 pieces in opera, ballet, orchestral suites, folk music, choral music, and hymns probably remains best known for sparking an English folk song revival as well as The Planets, a suite that’s a staple of marching bands and symphony orchestras everywhere. Its most famous movement is the first, titled “Mars, Bringer of War,” which was a notable influence on John Williams’s composing of the various Star Wars scores, particularly “The Imperial March.” There’s an inscribed memorial dedicated to the composer at Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex, England.
1912: Chuck Jones
Chuck Jones won the 1965 Animated Short Film Oscar for “The Dot and the Line: An Adventure in Lower Mathematics.”
Among the greatest animators that ever lived, Chuck Jones worked on Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies, Tom & Jerry, and many more. He co-created Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner, and Pepe LePew, redesigned Bugs Bunny, and defined the look of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Jones was nominated for eight Oscars, won three, and received an honorary award for animation in 1996. When animation historian Jerry Beck compiled his book The 50 Greatest Cartoons, ten were directed by Jones (in fact, four out of the top five were Jones pieces). He directed more than 300 cartoons in his career and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1931: Larry Hagman
A charismatic actor that would appear in dozens of productions in a career that spanned from the 1950s to 2012, Hagman ascended to super-stardom as J.R. Ewing on Dallas and its various spin-offs. Ewing become an enormously popular villain, eventually being selected by TV Guide as the #1 “Nastiest Villain of All Time” in 2013 and #11 on Rolling Stone’s list of “40 Greatest TV Villains” in 2016. The Dallas third season cliffhanger, in which J.R. was shot, became a national phenomenon in 1980; the third episode of season four, which revealed that the assailant was J.R.’s sister-in-law, Kristen, became one of the highest-rated single episodes of a series ever. When Dallas was revived on TNT in 2012, Hagman was back in the center of the action. Unfortunately, the actor would pass away shortly thereafter while battling leukemia.
1943: Jerry Bruckheimer
A crowd-pleasing film and television producer since the 1970s, Jerry Bruckheimer has stacked together a stream of blockbuster successes, both alone and with his late partner, Don Simpson. The pair’s first collaboration came in 1983 with the hit Flashdance; they followed it in short order with Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun. The duo kept knocking them out into the ’90s with hits like Bad Boys, Crimson Tide, and The Rock. After Simpson’s death in 1996, Bruckheimer continued a nearly unparalleled winning streak with movies like Armageddon, The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and the National Treasure franchise. For television, Bruckheimer executive-produced the CSI franchise, The Amazing Race, Without a Trace, and current cult hit Lucifer. Bruckheimer aims to re-team with Tom Cruise for 2020’s upcoming Top Gun: Maverick.
1947: Stephen King
Stephen King discussed his appeal and early critics on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in 2015.
The Master of Horror, Stephen King has published 58 novels (as of this writing), written over 200 short stories, and sold over 350 million books. His work has been made into more than 60 films and dozens of TV series, movies, mini-series, and adapted episodes. King has also produced incisive non-fiction writing, including his “Pop of King” column for Entertainment Weekly, his examination of the history of horror in Danse Macabre, and his widely-praised On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, in which King dealt frankly with his approach to writing, his career, and his harrowing experience after being struck by a van in 1999. King received the Medal for the Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation in 2003, the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2004, the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of American in 2007, and a National Medal of Arts from the United States National Endowment for the Arts in 2015.
1949: Artis Gilmore
Gilmore’s NBA Hall of Fame Career Retrospective video.
An All-Star in both the ABA and NBA, Artis Gilmore began building his Hall of Fame bonafides in college. He led the Jacksonville University Dolphins in the NCAA Finals in 1970 while averaging both 20 points and 20 rebounds per game in his college career. In fact, Gilmore still has the highest career average of rebounds per game at 22.7. When Gilmore signed with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA for the ’71-’72 season, he signed a record-high contract, then capped off the year by winning both Rookie of the Year and the MVP. His ABA stats are a litany of superlatives as he racked up five All-Star Game appearances. When the NBA merged with the ABA, Gilmore was the number one pick in the dispersal draft and rolled to six NBA All-Star selections. When he retired from the NBA in 1988, he was the league’s career leader in field goal percentage (59.9 percent). His essentially automatic Hall of Fame selection came in 2011.
1950: Bill Murray
Murray’s classic “apology for not being funny” bit from Saturday Night Live, May 12, 1977.
Comedy icon, comedy genius. Bill Murray broke through during the second season of Saturday Night Live. His popularity led to his first film role in 1979’s Meatballs, which was also his first team-up with director Ivan Reitman. Murray went on to become one of the dominant comedy stars of the ’80s and ’90s with a string of hits like Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, What About Bob?, Groundhog Day, and Kingpin. His turn in Rushmore in 1999 showed a more nuanced Murray, a style that he would continue to essay into his present with his roles in Lost in Translation and further collaborations with director Wes Anderson. Murray also enjoys a kind of status as a living urban legend, occasionally popping up in stories of randomly dropping into parties or conversations on the street. Murray was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2016.
1957: Ethan Coen
The first trailer for the Coen Brothers’ 1996 hit, Fargo.
With his brother, Joel, Ethan Coen has established himself as a filmmaker of the first order. The siblings produce, write, direct, and edit their “Coen Brothers” features together, though they have occasionally written films that they did not direct (like historical dramas Unbroken and Bridge of Spies). The pair are known for subverting expectations within genre, such as wringing humorous moments from scenes of violence or discomfort, and for creating indelible characters. Their films have earned 45 Oscar nominations since 1991. Among their most revered works are Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, No Country for Old Men, their remake of True Grit, and Inside Llewyn Davis. Presently, the duo produces the series Fargo for FX and will debut the film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs in November on Netflix.
1967: Faith Hill
“This Kiss” was Faith Hill’s first crossover pop hit in 1998.
Country stars can and do crossover to pop stardom. Cash. Dolly. Reba. Kenny. Shania. And, without a doubt, Faith. Faith Hill kicked off an unbroken chain of success in 1993 that’s led to 40 million albums sold, five Grammys, 15 Academy of Country Music Awards, and six American Music Awards. In 1998, Hill’s third album, Faith, broke on both the Country and Pop charts, leading to a number of hit songs and videos. She ended the 2000s as Billboard’s No. 1 Adult Contemporary Artist of the Decade. Hill continues to tour frequently with her husband, superstar in his own right Tim McGraw. She has also made inroads into acting and producing, including producing the daytime talk show Pickler & Ben.
1972: Liam Gallagher
1995’s “Wonderwall” remains the greatest worldwide hit for Oasis.
Best known as the frontman for the band Oasis, Liam Gallagher broke onto the alternative rock scene in the mid ’90s. Almost as famous for his frequent clashes with his former bandmate (and brother), guitarist/songwriter Noel, Liam has nevertheless carved out a reputation as a critically acclaimed vocalist. With Oasis, Gallagher sold over 75 million albums worldwide, notching eight U.K. #1 singles and eight U.K. #1 albums. Their 1995 album, What’s the Story (Morning Glory)?, sold more than five million copies in the United States and was the U.K.’s best-selling album of the entire decade; the album included their biggest single, “Wonderwall.” “Wonderwall” is the most streamed ’90s song on Spotify as well as the most-streamed song released before the year 2000, with more than 500 million listens as of last month. Oasis disbanded in 2009, but Gallagher continues on, briefly fronting the band Beady Eye before releasing his first solo album, the U.K. #1 As You Were, in 2017.
Quite the gallery of talent, isn’t it? And honestly, that’s not even the full list. There’s no clear reason why any date might end up being the birthday of so many people that go on to wild success in their chosen field. The common thread appears to be drive, determination, and an enormous amount of work. So whatever cosmic alignment may or may not have occurred, it’s more than likely that the reasons is not in the stars, but in the stars themselves.
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