Paul Sorvino has passed away at the age of 83. Primarily known for playing gangsters and cops, Sorvino found his greatest success in the early 90s with roles in Goodfellas and Law & Order. No cause of death has been announced, but Sorvino had apparently been suffering from numerous health issues recently.
Renegade film director Bob Rafelson, a founding member of the American New Wave of cinema, died Sunday of lung cancer at the age of 89. Rafelson is best known for his collaborations with Jack Nicholson, including Five Easy Pieces (which earned Rafelson his only two Oscar nominations), The King of Marvin Gardens, and The Postman Always Rings Twice.
The full trailer for A League of Their Own has been released. The series will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime on August 12.
Jean Shepherd was born in Chicago on July 26, 1921. Best known as co-writer and narrator of the holiday classic A Christmas Story, Shepherd began his career in radio and later segued into print media and live performances. His yarns about growing up in Hammond, Indiana (just east of Chicago) were compiled for the autobiographical novel In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, which later became the basis for A Christmas Story and its 1994 sequel, My Summer Story. Shepherd inspired a generation of storytellers such as Spalding Gray, Garrison Keillor, and Jerry Seinfeld. Shepherd died in 1999 at the age of 78.
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. were married on July 26, 1969. The two met as members of the 60s vocal group The 5th Dimension; they left the group in 1975, recorded their debut album as a duo in 1976, and co-hosted their own variety show for CBS in the summer of 1977. By the 80s, they were both solo artists; McCoo hosted Solid Gold and appeared on Days of Our Lives while Davis embarked upon a gospel recording career. They continue to record and perform together.
On July 27, 1982, Little Shop of Horrors made its off-Broadway debut at the Orpheum Theatre in the East Village. From the legendary songwriting partnership of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, Little Shop of Horrors became the highest-grossing off-Broadway production of all time. The beloved 1986 film adaptation earned Menken and Ashman their first Oscar nomination (they lost to “Take My Breath Away” from Top Gun) AND a deal with Disney Animation. Menken and Ashman completed two films (The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast) for Disney and won Academy Awards for both; they had begun work on Aladdin when Ashman passed away in 1991 from AIDS-related heart failure.
A Wild Hare, Bugs Bunny’s Looney Tunes debut, was released on July 27, 1940. Director Tex Avery added Bugs’ “What’s up, Doc?” line, a common expression in Avery’s home state of Texas. Audiences went bananas for the wascally wabbit and one of the most iconic animated characters in history was born.
And finally, Madonna’s self-titled debut album was released on July 27, 1983. The album went five times platinum in the US, yielded five singles, and catapulted Madonna to stardom. The first two singles, “Everybody” and “Burning Up”, were dance club favorites but it was the third single, “Holiday”, that broke through to the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at #16. “Lucky Star” and “Borderline” both made the top ten, as did the album itself. According to Rolling Stone, Madonna is one of the 100 best debut albums of all time; it’s certainly one of the most important debuts, as it heralded the arrival of one of the greatest artists of the modern era. And though its success would pale in comparison to Madonna’s later efforts, it still managed to sell 10 million copies worldwide.