Updated: Mar 30, 2020
By Maria Beale Fletcher:
Because October includes stunning birthdays every day of the month, I decided to point out those individuals who honored their drive for providing justice in their day, to the extent that they could; unique individuals over the centuries who have made a huge impact on their world and ours. Many are still with us today.
I was privileged to meet two of them many years ago. As Miss America 1962, I met Johnny Carson and was interviewed by him on his Tonight Show in the late 1960s. At that time, I co-hosted a daily one-hour show called The Noon Show on NBC in Nashville, TN. Johnny and I had a wonderful connection; he was quite the flirt and very complimentary! Why wouldn't he be, with an October 23rd birthday, and me with a June 23rd birthday! Like energies do attract!
It was quite a different circumstance when I met the second celebrity in our October birthdays lineup. I was sitting in a hair salon getting a haircut in a northeastern village near Recife, Brazil, in December 1971. There were only 3 female hair stylists and 3 female customers in the small one-room wooden cottage. A large plate glass picture window separated us from the view of the countryside. Gradually, we became aware of a large crowd of voices chanting one word repeatedly. Suddenly, we could see in the distance a large crowd chasing a solitary figure. The intense yelling increased, and we could hear the name, "Pelé! Pelé! Pelé," over and over again as the crowd drew closer to their idol. The sound deafened and terrified us as suddenly, the back door flew open and the man crashed to the floor.
The proprietor jumped to lock the door, and Pelé, Brazil's soccer icon, and the rest of us saw scores of faces pressing against the window still shouting, "Pelé! Pelé!" For several minutes, the six women and the athlete tried to protect the window from breaking. Finally, after 15 minutes, the crowd began to dissipate a few at a time. Amazingly, the plate glass didn't shatter, and the crowd did not demolish the small cottage. Afterward, Pelé walked over to the chair beside mine, sat down, and got his hair cut! The following are outstanding October birthdays with a theme of "fair play for all." As you can see, on several days, I just had to include more than two!
October 1: Jimmy Carter, born October 1, 1924 (39th president of the United States from 1977–1981, best known for having negotiated a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, also known for his creation and legacy of "Habitat For Humanity")
October 1: Julie Andrews (born 1935: actress/singer, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music) October 2: Mohandas Gandhi (born 1869: known as the Mahatma, an Indian religious and social leader, independent lawyer, assassinated by a religious fanatic)
October 2: Don McLean (born 1945: songwriter, wrote and sang "Miss American Pie") October 3: Harvey Kurtzman (born 1902: created Mad Magazine) October 3: Chubby Checker (born 1941: singer, musician, started "the twist" craze) October 4: St. Francis of Assisi (born 1181: Italian Catholic religious leader) October 4: Rutherford B. Hayes (19th U.S. president from 1877–1881, Civil War General) October 5: Chester A. Arthur (21st U.S. president from 1881–1885, lawyer, argued case on behalf of fugitive slaves, revamped civil service)
October 5: Philip Berrigan (Roman Catholic pacifist priest, anti-war activist) October 6: Thor Heyerhahl (Norwegian adventurer, sailed raft across Pacific and Atlantic, wrote Kon Tiki) October 6: Florence B. Seibert, (biochemist, tuberculosis test inventor) October 7: Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize-winning South African arch bishop, anti-apartheid activist) October 7: Yo Yo Ma (Chinese-American cellist) October 8: Eddie Rickenbacker (top U.S. WWI flying ace, auto racer, former owner of Indianapolis Speedway, lost at sea for over 30 days and lived to write about it)
October 8: Sigourney Weaver (actress, Ghostbusters, Alien franchise)
October 9: Aimee Semple McPherson (evangelist-healer, missionary) October 9: John Lennon (British singer/songwriter, known for The Beatles, shot to death at age 40) October 9: Sean Lennon (John Lennon and Yoko Ono's son) October 10: Helen Hayes (stage, film, TV actress) October 10: Ben Vereen (dancer, singer, actor, entertainer)
October 11: Eleanor Roosevelt (stateswoman, social reformer, First Lady, U.S. UN delegate) October 11: Sir George Williams (British social reformer, YMCA founder) October 11: Mario Bueno (Brazilian tennis champion, 4X U.S. Open, 3X Wimbledon winner) October 12: Luciano Pavarotti (Italian tenor) October 12: Perle Mesta (Washington "hostess with the mostes," business woman, U.S. Ambassador)
October 13: Margaret Thatcher (British Prime Minister, "The Iron Lady," eleven year reign, First Conservative Party woman leader) October 14: William Penn (Quaker religious leader, peacemaker, founded Pennsylvania and Philadelphia) October 14: Dwight David Eisenhower (34th U.S. president, commander-in-chief of allied forces in WWII) October 15: John L. Sullivan (first heavyweight boxing champion, last of the bare-knuckle champs) October 15: Mario Puzo (author, The Godfather) October 16: Noah Webster (born 1758, created first American-English dictionary) October 16: David Ben-Gurion (born 1886, First Prime Minister of Israel) October 16: William O. Douglas (born 1898, Supreme Court Justice) October 17: Rita Hayworth (stage and film actress, dancer) October 17: Arthur Miller (playwright, "Death of a Salesman," former husband of Marilyn Monroe) October 18: Martina Navratilova (Czech-American tennis champion, 9X Wimbledon, 4X U.S., 3X Australian, 2X French Open winner)
October 18: Chuck Berry (rock and roll pioneer, singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist, saxophonist) October 19: John Le Carré (British spy novelist, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold) October 19: Evander Holyfield (world heavyweight boxing champion) October 19: Marilyn Bell (distance swimmer, Lake Ontario, English Channel) October 20: Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, a.k.a. "Jelly Roll Morton" (first important jazz pianist composer)
October 20: Bela Lugosi (Hungarian-American horror film actor, Dracula) October 20: Mickey Mantle (Yankees baseball center fielder, Triple Crown winner, 3X MVP, leader in World Series HRs, RBls, total bases) October 21: Alfred Nobel (Swedish chemist, engineer, dynamite inventor, Nobel Prize founder/endower) October 21: Benjamin Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister since 2009, also served as Prime Minister 1996–1999, chairman of National Liberal Movement)
October 21: Carrie Fisher (film actress, author, Star Wars, Postcards from the Edge) October 22: Franz Liszt (Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, dynamic "superstar," retired to become most important teacher of piano) October 22: Joan Fontaine (film actress) October 22: Catherine Deneuve (French film actress, model) October 22: Brian Boitano (U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning figure skating champion)
October 23: Pelé (born 1940 in Tres Coracoes, Brazil, footballer and soccer legend, Pelé became a superstar with his performance in the 1958 World Cup. Pelé played professionally in Brazil for two decades, winning three World Cups along the way, before joining the New York Cosmos late in his career. At birth, he was named Edson Arantes do Nascimento, KBE, known as Pelé. He is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a forward. Pelé is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He is probably the most famous, and possibly the best paid, athlete in the world.) October 23: Gertrude Ederle (U.S. Triple gold medal-winning swimmer, first woman to swim English Channel, broke men's record by two hours) October 23: Michael Crichton (American author, screenwriter, film director, and producer, best known for his work in science fiction, thriller, and medical fiction genres, Jurassic Park, Westworld) October 23: Johnny Carson (born 1925: TV host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, received six Emmy awards, the Television Academy's 1980 Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award) October 24: Antonie von Leeuwenhoek (Dutch microscope inventor, naturalist, microbiologist, made early observations of bacteria) October 24: Kevin Kline (stage and film actor, A Fish Called Wanda) October 24: Moss Hart (born 1904: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright for drama, Tony Award for Best Director, one of the most successful playwrights of the 20th century, "You Can't Take It With You")
October 25: Pablo Picasso (Spanish painter, etcher, lithographer, sculptor, ceramicist, died at age 91) October 25: Richard E. Byrd (Arctic and Antarctic explorer, U.S. Navy rear admiral, aviator, first to fly over North Pole, writer of Alone) October 25: Bob Knight (college basketball, gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic team coach) October 25: Helen Reddy (Australian singer, songwriter, "I Am Woman") October 26: Mahalia Jackson (gospel singer, possessing a contralto voice, she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel," heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist) October 26: Jackie Coogan (child actor whose exploitation prompted laws to protect children's wages) October 26: Jaclyn Smith (TV and film actress, Charlie's Angels, and businesswoman) October 27: Theodore Roosevelt (26th U.S. president, known also for his quote, "Walk softly and carry a big stick." Nobel Peace Prize winner, anti-trust champion, took Panama from Columbia to build Panama Canal, National Park creator, as a soldier, organized Rough Riders, historian, Winning of the West) October 27: Nicolo Paganini (Italian Romantic violinist, composer, first music performance "superstar")
October 27: John Cleese (British writer, stage and film actor, TV comedian, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python) October 28: Desiderius Erasmus (Dutch Renaissance humanist scholar, philosopher, On Free Will, translated Bible into Greek) October 28: Isaac Merritt Singer (sewing machine developer, manufacturer) October 28: Jonas Edward Salk (virologist, dead polio virus vaccine developer, writer, Man Unfolding) October 28: Edith Head (greatest Hollywood costumier) October 28: Sir Richard Doll (British cancer researcher, established lung cancer-smoking link) October 28: William Gates (corporation executive, Microsoft billionaire, youngest at age 31) October 28: Bruce Jenner (U.S. Olympic decathlon gold medalist, TV sports commentator) October 28: Charlie Daniels (singer/songwriter, Charlie Daniels Band) October 28: Julia Roberts (film actress, Pretty Woman) October 29: Edmund Hailey (British astronomer and comet discoverer)
October 29: Kate Jackson (American actress, Charlie's Angels) October 30: Christopher Columbus (Italian-Spanish navigator, traditionally credited with discovering America) October 30: John Adams (2nd U.S. president from 1797–1801, Declaration of Independence signer, first minister to England, opposed war with France, statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, died same day as Thomas Jefferson) October 30: Charles Atlas (bodybuilder, bodybuilding mail-order king) October 30: Henry Winkler (TV, film actor, producer, played "Fonzie" in Happy Days) October 31: Chiang Kai-Shek (Chinese generalissimo, president, Republic of China, Kuo Min Tang [party], escaped with army to Taiwan, defended island against Mainland China)
October 31: Ethel Waters (spirituals singer, radio, TV, film actress) October 31: Marian Chace (founded dance therapy as a profession) October 31: Michael Landon (TV actor,Little House on the Prairie, played "Little Joe" on Bonanza, producer, director, writer)