Freethought of the Day

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There are 2 entries for this date: Tony Randall and Victor Marie Hugo
Tony Randall

Tony Randall

On this date in 1920, actor Tony Randall, né Leonard Rosenberg, was born in Tulsa. His talent for mimicry brought notes home from teachers to his parents begging, "Please stop him from making faces!" He attended Northwestern University for one year before enrolling in the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. Randall also studied under choreographer Martha Graham. He served in the Army Signal Corps during World War II, then went back to the stage. Randall portrayed the character based on H.L. Mencken in the 1955 Broadway production of "Inherit the Wind." New York Herald Tribune reviewer Walter Kerr wrote that Randall uttered "juicy sarcasm with great finesse." Randall's career in television took off when he played the overbearing history teacher, Harvey Weskit, on "Mr. Peepers" (1952-1955). His film roles, mostly comedies, included a recurring role as foil in the Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies. Randall portrayed the "brain" in Woody Allen's "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask" (1972). A critic of rightwing cuts to the arts, Randall founded and funded the National Actors Theater in New York in 1991, to ensure that classic plays would be available to the public at reasonable ticket prices. Randall was a well-known opera aficionado and booster. His wife of 54 years, nee Florence Gibbs, died in 1992, and he remarried a young woman, Heather Harlan, in 1995, with whom he had two children. In his autobiography, Which Reminds Me, he suggested for his epitaph: "I'm not going to take this lying down." D. 2004.

“I wish I believed I'd see my parents again, see my wife again. But I know it's not going to happen.”

—Tony Randall, Washington Post, Sept. 25, 2003

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Victor Marie Hugo

Victor Marie Hugo

On this date in 1802, Victor Marie Hugo was born in France, the son of a Napoleonic officer. By 17, Hugo had earned three prizes for poetry at Toulouse. The King awarded Hugo a royal pension after Hugo's Odes and Poetry appeared (1822). His first drama, "Cromwell," was published in 1827. After devoting nearly two decades to stage writing, Hugo turned to fiction. His novel, known in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was published in 1831, featuring a villainous priest. It has been turned into several movies and dramatizations, including a Disney cartoon (which interestingly turned villain Claude Frollo into a layperson). Les Miserables was published in 1862 in ten languages. The epic tale has spawned several movies. A French musical opened in 1980. The English version debuted in 1985, and its Broadway debut was in 1987. Hugo was forced to flee to Belgium following Napoleon III's coup d'etat. He eventually returned to France when the Republic was proclaimed, and was elected a senator of Paris in 1876. Although his spiritual views wavered over his long and tempestuous life, Hugo was anti-clerical, freedom-loving, and generally considered to have been a rationalistic Deist. D. 1885.

“An intelligent hell would be better than a stupid paradise.”

—Victor Hugo "Ninety-three," play (1881)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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