Tom Baker

Morbius Prolific British TV and Film actor Tom Baker was born on this day, 20 January in 1934. He is best known for playing the fourth incarnation of the Doctor in the science fiction television series Doctor Who, a role he played from 1974 to 1981. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Baker was part of Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre company, and had his first big film break in 1971 with the role of Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexandra after Olivier recommended him for the part. He also appeared in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s version of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, released in 1972, as a younger husband of the Wife of Bath. In 1974. Tom Baker then took on his most famous role of the Doctor from Jon Pertwee. He was recommended to producer Barry Letts by the BBC’s Head of Serials, Bill Slater, who had directed Baker in Play of the Month. Impressed by Baker on meeting him, Letts was convinced he was right for the part after seeing his performance in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

RobotsdeathHe quickly made the part his own. As the Doctor, his eccentric style of dress and speech, particularly his trademark long scarf and fondness for jelly babies, made him an immediately recognisable figure, and he quickly caught the viewing public’s imagination. Baker played the Doctor for seven consecutive seasons over a seven-year period, making him the longest-serving actor in the part on-screen. Baker himself suggested many aspects of the Fourth Doctor’s personality. The distinctive scarf came about by accident. James Acheson, the costume designer, had provided far more wool than was necessary to the knitter, Begonia Pope, and Ms. Pope knitted all the wool she was given. It was Baker who suggested that he wear the resulting ridiculously over-long scarf. The manifestation played by Tom Baker (1974–1981) is regarded by many as the most popular of the Doctors.

Alphacentauri DalekSince 2001 Baker has also been the narrator of Little Britain on BBC Radio 4, and remained in the role when it transferred to television. Baker has suggested that he was chosen for the part in Little Britain due to his popularity with Walliams and Lucas, part of the generation to whom he is the favourite Doctor. “I am now being employed by the children who grew up watching me”, he stated in a recent DVD commentary. Another trademark of Little Britain’s narration is the deadpan quotation of old rap lyrics, usually in the opening credit sequence. Baker is a prolific and highly recognisable voiceover artist, he narrated an animated adventure of Doctor Who as the Fourth Doctor, and also played Puddleglum, a “marsh-wiggle”, in the BBC adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Silver Chair. Baker also portrayed Sherlock Holmes in a four part BBC miniseries version of The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1982 and made an appearance as the sea captain Redbeard Rum in Blackadder II. He has also appeared as a guest on the quiz show Have I Got News For You and was subsequently described by presenter Angus Deayton as the funniest guest in the show’s history…

Paul Stanley (Kiss)

KissPaul Stanley, the Vocalist and guitarist with hard rock band Kiss was born 20th January 1952. Kiss were Formed in New York City in January 1973 and rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of the members’ white and black face paint and flamboyant stage outfits and elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, The 1973–’80 original lineup of Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals and bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter Criss (drums) is the most successful. With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley) and Catman (Criss) and the performances included levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics.

The band explains that the fans were the ones who ultimately chose their makeup designs. Stanley became the “Starchild” because of his tendency to be referred to as the “starry-eyed lover” and “hopeless romantic”. The “Demon” makeup reflected Simmons’ cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Frehley’s “Spaceman” makeup was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet. Criss’ “Catman” makeup was in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn. Because of creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band’s commercial fortunes had waned considerably by that point.

However Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band announced a reunion of the original lineup in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide/Reunion Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996 and 1997. Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again, but the band continues with Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. Stanley and Simmons have remained the only two constant members.

Kiss have also been named in many “Top” lists. They include Number 10 on VH1′s ’100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock’,9th on ‘The Greatest Metal Bands’ list by MTV, number one on Hit Paraders’s “Top 100 Live Bands”, 56th on VH1′s “100 Greatest Artists Of All Time”, and 26th on Gibson’s “50 Greatest American Rock Bands” and Counting the 1978 solo albums, Kiss has been awarded 28 gold albums to date, and have sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 20 million have been certified by the RIAA and their worldwide sales exceeds 100 million albums.

Buzz Aldrin

BuzzAldrinAmerican astronaut Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. was born January 20, 1930. He was the second person to walk on the Moon. He was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history. On July 20, 1969, he set foot on the Moon, following mission commander Neil Armstrong. He is also a retired United States Air Force pilot.

After graduating from Montclair High School in 1946, Aldrin turned down a full scholarship offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and went to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Buzz Aldrin graduated third in his class at West Point in 1951, with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as a jet fighter pilot during the Korean War. He flew 66 combat missions in F-86 Sabres and shot down two Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 aircraft. The June 8, 1953, issue of Life magazine featured gun camera photos taken by Aldrin of one of the Russian pilots ejecting from his damaged aircraft

Subsequent to the war, Aldrin was assigned as an aerial gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and next was an aide to the dean of faculty at the United States Air Force Academy, which had recently begun operations in 1955. He flew F-100 Super Sabres as a flight commander at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, in the 22d Fighter Squadron. In 1963 Aldrin earned a doctor of science degree in astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His graduate thesis was “Line-of-sight guidance techniques for manned orbital rendezvous”,[9] the dedication of which read, “In the hopes that this work may in some way contribute to their exploration of space, this is dedicated to the crew members of this country’s present and future manned space programs. If only I could join them in their exciting endeavors!” On completion of his doctorate, he was assigned to the Gemini Target Office of the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles before his selection as an astronaut. His initial application to join the astronaut corps was rejected on the basis of having never been a test pilot; that prerequisite was lifted when he re-applied and was accepted into the third astronaut class.

Aldrin was selected as part of the third group of NASA astronauts selected in October 1963. Because test pilot experience was no longer a requirement, this was the first selection for which he was eligible. After the deaths of the original Gemini 9 prime crew, Elliot See and Charles Bassett, Aldrin and Jim Lovell were promoted to back-up crew for the mission. The main objective of the revised mission (Gemini 9A) was to rendezvous and dock with a target vehicle, but when this failed, Aldrin improvised an effective exercise for the craft to rendezvous with a coordinate in space. He was confirmed as pilot on Gemini 12, the last Gemini mission and the last chance to prove methods for extra-vehicular activity (EVA). Aldrin set a record for EVA, demonstrating that astronauts could work outside spacecraft.

On July 20, 1969, he became the second astronaut to walk on the Moon, keeping his record total EVA time until that was surpassed on Apollo 14. There has been much speculation about Aldrin’s desire at the time to be the first astronaut to walk on the Moon. According to different NASA accounts, he had originally been proposed as the first to step onto the Moon’s surface, but due to the physical positioning of the astronauts inside the compact lunar landing module, it was easier for the commander, Neil Armstrong, to be the first to exit the spacecraft. Aldrin, a Presbyterian, was the first person to hold a religious ceremony on the Moon. After landing on the Moon, he radioed Earth: “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way.” He gave himself Communion on the surface of the Moon, but he kept it secret because of a lawsuit brought by atheist activist Madalyn Murray O’Hair over the reading of Genesis on Apollo 8. Aldrin, a church elder, used a pastor’s home communion kit given to him by Dean Woodruff and reed words used by his pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church. Webster Presbyterian Church, a local congregation in Webster, Texas, (a Houston suburb near the Johnson Space Center) possesses the chalice used for communion on the Moon, and commemorates the event annually on the Sunday closest to July 20.