But it would have been Vince Lombardi’s 94th birthday today. After becoming the head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959 at the age of 46, the Pack won five NFL championships and Super Bowls I and II (the first Super Bowl was played in 1967). Credited with the quote, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing,” Lombardi didn’t originate the saying, he simply used it in his opening day talk to the Packers in 1959. Lombardi passed away on September 3, 1970 of intestinal cancer. He was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and honored with a postage stamp by the USPS in 1997. The trophy for the NFL champion is named after him, and he was portrayed by comedian Jerry Stiller (Ben’s dad and George Costanza’s father on the Seinfeld TV show) in a series of commercials for Nike in 1997.
And since the main birthday boy is a football coach, I’ll also mention that one of the greatest QB’s ever, Joe Montana, also celebrates his birthday today. He’s 51.
The original Willie Wonka, Gene Wilder, is 72 (!) today. Eat chocolate in his honor. I think that Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, The Woman in Red, and See No Evil, Hear No Evil and the only films of his I’ve ever seen. But he was funny in them.
Okay, I’ll also mention that Joshua Jackson (The Mighty Ducks, Dawson’s Creek) is also celebrating his birthday today. The plucky little kid is 29.
More importantly, I missed author/illustrator Maurice Sendak’s 79th birthday. The author of Where the Wild Things Are, his fascination with the nightmarish aspects of children’s literature make him somewhat controversial. In the Night Kitchen, published in 1970, which features a young boy prancing naked through the story has been subject to censorship in Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas, among other states. I’ll admit, I was a bit disturbed by the book when I first saw it… but I’ll get over it. A movie version of Where the Wild Things Are is currently in production. The movie is being directed by Spike Jonze, based on a script by Jonze and Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), and starring the voice talents of Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland), Catherine Keener (The 40-Year Old Virgin), Michelle Williams (Dawson’s Creek), Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), and Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone). It’s supposedly due out in late 2008.
Saturday, June 9
Natalie Portman (26) – always The Professional and Luke and Leia’s mother, Padme.
Johnny Depp (44) – Edward Scissorhands! Oh, and that pirate of the Caribbean.
Michael J. Fox (46) – Alex P. Keaton and Marty McFly.
Dick Vitale (67) – Dickie V, baby!
Friday, June 8
Keenan Ivory Wayans (49) – almost 50 and still In Living Color.
Jerry Stiller (80) – I already explained who he is.
Thursday, June 7
Allen Iverson (32) – A.I. is questionably The Answer.
Liam Neeson (55) – Obi-Wan’s master, Qui-Gon Jinn and Oskar Schindler.
Tom Jones (67) – “What’s New Pussycat?” whoa, whoa-whoa, whoa-o.
Dean Martin (would have been 90) – dude, was this guy ever sober on stage?