Many of America's astronauts have been Freemasons. One such man is Buzz Aldrin. In 1963 Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became a member of the third group of astronauts named to join NASA. On November 11th three years later Aldrin and commander Jim Lovell launched into space aboard the Gemini 12 shuttle for a four day flight. the successful completion of this mission lead to the equally successful end to the entire Gemini program. While in outer space with the Gemini 12 Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin established a new record for activity outside a space shuttle by remaining outside in a lunar vehicle for 51/2 hours.
King of the Cowboys
Roy Rogers was called the "King of the Cowboys" during his long career as a folksy singing hero of movies and TV. He was an original member of the cowboy singing group The Sons of the Pioneers, and in 1937 he signed on with Republic Pictures, replacing their departing star Gene Autry. He starred in more than 80 westerns with titles like The Arizona Kid (1939) and In Old Cheyenne (1941). He often co-starred with cowgirl Dale Evans, whom he married in 1947. Rogers's famous horse was Trigger, a Palomino stallion with flowing white mane who became a favorite with Rogers's fans. In the 1950s Rogers moved into TV with the The Roy Rogers Show. His theme song with Dale Evans was the gentle and cheery "Happy Trails to You."
|John Philip Sousa|
The March King
"March King" John Philip Sousa was the most famous band leader in the United States during his lifetime, a former U.S. Marine Band leader who composed and conducted some of the most well-known marches in the world. His professional career began as a violinist in travelling orchestras, but his first fame came as the leader of the U.S. Marine Band from 1880 until 1892. Sousa composed the official song of the Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis" at the request of President Chester A. Arthur (who was looking for a song to replace "Hail to the Chief," or so the story goes). In 1892 he started a civilian band that became internationally famous and hugely popular (in 1910 they toured the world). The band was known especially for marches that Sousa composed, notably "Stars and Stripes Forever," designated in 1987 as the National March of the United States.
Comedian and Entertainer
John Wayne (born Marion Morrison) was the son of pharmacist Clyde Morrison and his wife Mary. Clyde developed a lung condition that required him to move his family from Iowa to the warmer climate of southern California, where they tried ranching in the Mojave Desert. Until the ranch failed, Marion and his younger brother Robert E. Morrison swam in an irrigation ditch and rode a horse to school. When the ranch failed, the family moved to Glendale, California, where Marion delivered medicines for his father, sold newspapers and had an Airedale dog named "Duke" (the source of his own nickname). He did well at school both academically and in football. When he narrowly failed admission to Annapolis he went to USC on a football scholarship 1925-7. Tom Mix got him a summer job as a prop man in exchange for football tickets. On the set he became close friends with director John Ford for whom, among others, he began doing bit parts, some billed as John Wayne. His first featured film was Men Without Women (1930). After more than 70 low-budget westerns and adventures, mostly routine, Wayne's career was stuck in a rut until Ford cast him in Stagecoach (1939), the movie that made him a star. He appeared in nearly 250 movies, many of epic proportions. From 1942-43 he was in a radio series, "The Three Sheets to the Wind", and in 1944 he helped found the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a right-wing political organization, later becoming its President. His conservative political stance was also reflected in The Alamo (1960), which he produced, directed and starred in. His patriotic stand was enshrined in The Green Berets (1968) which he co-directed and starred in. Over the years Wayne was beset with health problems. In September 1964 he had a cancerous left lung removed; in March 1978 there was heart valve replacement surgery; and in January 1979 his stomach was removed. He received the Best Actor nomination for Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) and finally got the Oscar for his role as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (1969). A Congressional Gold Medal was struck in his honor in 1979. He is perhaps best remembered for his parts in Ford's cavalry trilogy - Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Rio Grande (1950).
Man of 1,000 Voices
Mel Blanc, voice specialist from radio, movies and TV was rarely seen by his widespread audience. On 1940s radio, for example, his voice supplied the sound effects for the comedian Jack Benny's antique "Maxwell" automobile's gasping and wheezing and struggling to crank up. More widely recognised as the voice of virtually every major character in the Warner Bros. cartoon pantheon, including Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety & Sylvester both, Yosemite Sam, et al. Since Blanc's death, his son Noel Blanc has taken up some of his father's mantle.