August 19

There are 3 entries for this date: Pierre-Jean de Béranger Gene Roddenberry Ron Darling

    Pierre-Jean de Béranger

    Pierre-Jean de Béranger

    On this date in 1780, Pierre-Jean de Béranger was born in Paris. Although he briefly attended a school based on the principles of Rousseau, he was largely unschooled and illiterate when he was apprenticed at age 14 to a printer who educated him. Béranger was an eyewitness to the storming of the Bastille and was a lifelong republican.

    By 1802 he was living in a garret in Paris in great poverty, where he wrote lyric poetry, songs and epics. He became a protegé of Lucien Bonaparte, who sent him money and gave him commissions, eventually helping him find work as a clerk at a university.

    By 1813 Béranger was a highly popular songwriter. His first collection of songs, including many high-spirited satires on the clergy, was published in 1815. The song “Le Roi d’Yvetot,” a satire about Napoleon, literally traveled by word of mouth and was sung throughout France. His second collection of songs, also including anti-clerical works, was published in 1821 and lost him his university position.

    He was tried, found guilty, fined 500 francs and imprisoned for three months. Reportedly, he found his warm jail cell preferable to his own cold lodgings. Béranger was imprisoned for nine months after publication of his fourth collection of songs. In 1848 he was elected by near acclamation to the Constituent Assembly. Reluctantly he was seated but later quietly resigned. (D. 1857)

    Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

    Gene Roddenberry

    Gene Roddenberry

    On this date in 1921, writer/producer Eugene Wesley Roddenberry, creator of “Star Trek,” was born in El Paso, Texas. He left for “Space, the final frontier” at age 70 from a cardiopulmonary blood clot. In college he studied pre-law and engineering and got his pilot’s license. He flew B-17s in World War II and was a commercial pilot for Pan Am. He joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1949 and became speechwriter for Chief William H. Parker.

    He started writing scripts for TV shows like “The U.S. Steel Hour,” “Goodyear Theater,” “The Kaiser Aluminum Hour,” “Four Star Theater,” “Dragnet,” “The Jane Wyman Theater” and “Naked City.” He won his first Emmy for “Have Gun, Will Travel.” “Star Trek” debuted on NBC in 1966 and ran until 1969 (79 episodes). A sequel series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” premiered in 1987 and ended in 1994 (176 episodes).

    Roddenberry once recounted how in a script rejected by Paramount, the Enterprise met God in space. “God is a life form, and I wanted to suggest that there may have been, at one time in the human beginning, an alien entity that early man believed was God, and kept those legends. But I also wanted to suggest that it might have been as much the Devil as it was God. After all, what kind of god would throw humans out of Paradise for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge?

    “One of the Vulcans on board, in a very logical way, says, ‘If this is your God, he’s not very impressive. He’s got so many psychological problems; he’s so insecure. He demands worship every seven days. He goes out and creates faulty humans and then blames them for his own mistakes.’ ” (“Lost Voyages of Trek and the Next Generation” by Bill Planer, Cinemaker Press, 1992)

    Paramount produced 13 “Star Trek” feature films through 2016. It was announced in 2019 that two more are being developed, one potentially directed by Quentin Tarantino. (D. 1991)

    “I have always been reasonably leery of religion because there are so many edicts in religion, ‘thou shalt not,’ or ‘thou shalt.’ I wanted my world of the future to be clear of that.”

    —Roddenberry, quoted by his executive assistant Susan Sackett (
    Compiled by Bill Dunn

    Ron Darling

    Ron Darling

    On this date in 1960, Major League Baseball pitcher and commentator Ronald Maurice Darling Jr. was born in Honolulu to a Hawaiian-Chinese mother and a French-Canadian father, which led to him being fluent in Chinese, French and English. He grew up in Millbury, Mass., and was drafted by the Texas Rangers in 1981 after his junior year at Yale University, where he majored in French and Southeast Asian history. New Yorker writer Roger Angell once called him “the best right-handed part-Chinese Yale history major among the Mets starters.”

    He was traded to the New York Mets before playing for the Rangers and later pitched for the Montreal Expos and Oakland A’s. He amassed a 136–116 won-loss record during a 13-year career and was named a National League All-Star in 1985. In 1986 the Mets beat the Boston Red Sox for their first World Series title since 1969. (As of this writing in 2020, it’s the Mets’ last title.)

    Since his playing career ended at age 35 in 1995, Darling has worked primarily as a sports broadcaster. He has written three books: The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound (2009), Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life (2016) and 108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game (2019).

    He married Irish model Antoinette O’Reilly in 1986, with whom he had two sons, Tyler and Jordan. After divorcing, Darling married Joanna Last, a makeup artist for Fox Sports, in 2004. They had a son, Ronald Maurice Darling III, in 2016. In 2009 he founded the Ron Darling Foundation to fund diabetes research and support other charities, including Habitat for Humanity and Hurricane Sandy Relief. His son Jordan is a Type 1 diabetic. Darling was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2019 but after surgery announced he would return to the broadcast booth in 2020. 

    Darling is “not a big fan of organized religion” but has said if Baseball Chapel Inc. (started by Yankees Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek to create chapels for players) helps others, he’s glad for them. (Season of Ghosts: The ’86 Mets and the Red Sox by Howard Burman, 2012) 

    According to the website Inside Weddings in 2004, he and Joanna wanted a traditional wedding that transcended a specific religion or culture. The officiant conducted the ceremony in three languages and gave a blessing in Hawaiian to honor Darling’s mother. 

    “I’m not a formal religion type of person so I can’t say that I pray for Doc [Gooden]. But I do meditate and wish him the best.”

    —Darling, on former teammate Dwight "Doc" Gooden's ongoing drug addiction problems (, Jan. 26, 2017)
    Compiled by Bill Dunn

Freedom From Religion Foundation