November 21st Birthdays

Today is the birthday of historian, writer and philosopher Voltaire. Born in 1694 he is the author of the satirical novella 'Candide,' Voltaire is widely considered one of France's greatest Enlightenment writers. Voltaire's body of writing also includes the notable historical works The Age of Louis XIV (1751) and Essay on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations (1756). In the latter, Voltaire took a unique approach to tracing the progression of world civilization by focusing on social history and the arts.Voltaire's popular philosophic works took the form of the short stories Micromégas (1752) and Plato's Dream (1756), as well as the famed satirical novella Candide (1759). In 1764, he published another of his acclaimed philosophical works, Dictionnaire philosophique, an encyclopedic dictionary that embraced the concepts of Enlightenment and rejected the ideas of the Roman Catholic Church.

Today is the birthday of Vivian Blaine. Ms. Blaine is most noted for having portrayed Miss Adelaide, the long-suffering, perpetually engaged chorus girl, in the Broadway and film versions of Guys and Dolls (1955). She originated the role in 1950 on Broadway and stopped the show each night with her rendition of "Adelaide's Lament," in which she complains about having a bad cold because of her long engagement to gambler Nathan Detroit. Ms. Blaine also originated roles on Broadway in "Say Darling" and "Enter Laughing." She also starred on Broadway in "Hatful of Rain," "Company," and, briefly, in "Zorba." She starred in many national tours, including "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Don't Drink the Water," "Hello Dolly," and "Gypsy." Before going to Broadway, Ms. Blaine was a starlet at 20th Century-Fox, appearing in many musical comedy films, including Jitterbugs (1943), Greenwich Village(1944), and State Fair (1945). In the mid 1950s, Ms. Blaine reprised her role as Adelaide in the film version of Guys and Dolls (1955) with Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando. After her Broadway appearance in "Company" in 1972, she appeared on national television at the 25th Tony anniversary special. This led to a revival of her TV career, and she continued to appear in guest roles on TV and in independent films and theater until her retirement in 1984.

Today is the birthday of Dr. John. Dr. John is a Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter/musician regarded as a pioneering icon of the New Orleans style of R&B, rock and funk. Dr. John was born on November 21, 1940, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Having played as a guitarist and pianist for years in both his home city and Los Angeles, the splashy musician made his album debut with Gris-Gris in 1968. He had a hit single a few years later with "Right Place, Wrong Time," and over the decades, with many albums, has continued to share and shape the tradition of New Orleans R&B. Dr. John has won several Grammy Awards in a variety of categories, including best jazz vocal performance, duo or group for his version of "Makin' Whoopee" with Rickie Lee Jones, and best rock instrumental performance for his part in the multi-artist collaboration "SRV Shuffle." His 1992 album, Goin' Back to New Orleans, won for best traditional blues album, and 2012's Locked Down received the award for best blues album. The reflective Locked Down also received attention for its production work by Dan Auerbach of the rock duo the Black Keys. Dr. John received another honor in 2011, when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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