‘Spartacus’ Arrives in Theaters
Inspired by the true-life events of a leader of a slave revolt during the Third Servile War, Spartacus arrived in movie theaters on this day in 1960. It starred Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Jean Simmons and Tony Curtis. The film was to be directed by Anthony Mann, but was removed after the first week of shooting. Douglas replaced him with Stanely Kubrick and became the only film that Kubrick directed where he did not have complete artistic control. The screenwriter for the film, Dalton Trumbo, was blacklisted at the time in Hollywood, so Douglas publicly announced that Trumbo was the screenwriter. John F. Kennedy, who the President-elect at the time, crossed the American Legion picket line to watch the film as a way of protesting the blacklisting. The movie won four Academy Awards including Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ustinov), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Spartacus became a huge hit for Universal Studios that wasn’t surpassed until 1970’s Airport.
Michael W. Smith is Born
On this day in 1957, Michael Whitaker Smith was born in Kenova, West Virginia. The three-time Grammy Award winner has also won 40 Dove Awards to date. His biggest success, at least in the world’s eyes, was the release of the song “Place in this World” in 1991 which got as high as #6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although growing up in a model Christian home, Smith started moving toward alcohol and drugs after he graduated from high school, but attended Marshall University while he honed in on his songwriting. After playing in a few local bands, he was encouraged to move to Nashville. There he worked as a landscaper by day, played at the clubs at night. Drugs and stress got the best of him and in 1979 Smith suffered a breakdown which led to his re-commitment to Jesus Christ. The very next day he auditioned for a new Christian band, Higher Ground and the rest is history.
Other events that have happened on this day:
Mother Teresa begins her Missionaries of Charity in 1950.
FOX News Channel begins broadcasting in 1996.
Famous people born on this day:
Graeme Ferguson, co-founder of the IMAX Corporation in 1929
Joy Behar, comedian in 1942
John Mellencamp, Singer/songwriter in 1951
Simon Cowell, producer in 1959
Toni Braxton, singer-songwriter in 1967
Taylor Hicks, singer-songwriter in 1976