Birthdays are a wonderful daily occurrence in our lives. It is rare to weave through one’s day without becoming privy to an announcement or celebration of a birthday or two, whether they belong to family, friends, or other eminent figures. Remembering those who have passed each day is, perhaps, just as noteworthy an endeavor, for if their memories are kept alive, one might argue, so too are their spirits.
Here is a sampling of June 24 honorees, which today features a plethora of bigger-than-life celebrities:
Jackie Gleason – How sweet he was. At separate times during his five decade length career, he played millionaire Reginald Van Gleason III, boisterous Rudy the Repairman, gregarious Joe the Bartender, the uncomplicated Poor Soul, Rum Dum, the boorish Loudmouth Charlie Bratton, and The Bachelor. But Jackie Gleason will forever be Ralph Kramden in the hearts of several generations of television viewers. Remarkably, “The Honeymooners” was a one-season wonder in 1955, with Gleason taking his entertainment agenda into a variety of forms thereafter. But those 39 original episodes…the classic 39…ultimately became so popular, Gleason reinvented “The Honeymooners” with Art Carney, Sheila McCrae replacing Audrey Meadows, and Jane Kean replacing Joyce Randolph. The segments would run anywhere from full hour-length musicals to short segments on Gleason’s variety program, popular during the 1960’s. He also had a generous amount of film and stage credits to his name, including his portrayal as Minnesota Fats in “The Hustler,” a dramatic role which demonstrated Gleason’s range as an actor. The high-living Gleason eventually succumbed to his heavy drinking, heavy smoking ways at the age of 71 on this date in 1987.
Patsy Ramsey – Together with the death of Nicole Brown Simpson and the spectacle of the OJ Simpson trials, there wasn’t a more sensational death and subsequent murder investigation than the one involving six-year-old American beauty pageant contestant JonBenét Ramsey. Her mother, Patsy Ramsey, the subject of so much speculation finally dispelled years later, passed away on this day in 2006 from ovarian cancer. Before being saddled with the horrendous circumstances of a child’s death, being accused of said death, and then falling victim to disease, Patsy Ramsey was a beauty queen herself, having won the Miss West Virginia beauty title in 1977.
Mick Fleetwood – He is best known for his role as the drummer with the blues/rock and roll band Fleetwood Mac. His name, combined with that of John McVie was the inspiration for the name of the legendary group. Born on this date in 1947 in Cornwall, United Kingdom, Mr. Fleetwood also helped form the different incarnations of the band and is the sole member to stay with the band through its ever-changing lineup. In 1974, he met and invited Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to join Fleetwood Mac, and the rest is history.
Michele Lee – Born in Los Angeles on this date in 1942, Michele Lee, is characterized as a singer, dancer, actress, producer, and director…in other words, she can do everything. Though she enjoyed a lengthy stage and film career, she is best-known for her role as Karen Cooper Fairgate MacKenzie on the 1980s prime-time soap opera, “Knots Landing.” Though slow to start, the series eventually became a ratings hit and became one of the longest running primetime dramas ever, lasting for a total of 14 seasons. Lee was the only performer to appear in all of the show’s 344 episodes, which, at the time, was a record for an actress playing the same character on primetime television.