Willard Carroll “Will” Smith Jr.
Born September 25, 1968 is an American actor, producer, rapper, comedian, and songwriter.
In the late 1980’s, Smith achieved modest fame as a rapper under the name The Fresh Prince. In 1990, his popularity increased dramatically when he starred in the popular NBC television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, which ran for six seasons until 1996. After the series ended, Smith transitioned from television to film, and has gone on to star in numerous blockbuster films. He is the only actor to have eight consecutive films gross over $100 million in the domestic box office, eleven consecutive films gross over $150 million internationally, and eight consecutive films in which he starred, open at the number one spot in the domestic box office tally.
Smith has been ranked as the most bankable star worldwide by Forbes. As of 2014, 17 of the 21 films in which he has had leading roles have accumulated worldwide gross earnings of over $100 million each, five taking in over $500 million each in global box office receipts. As of 2016, his films have grossed $7.5 billion at the global box office. For his performances as boxer Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001) and stockbroker Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Smith received nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Willard Carroll Smith Jr. was born on September 25, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Caroline (Bright), a Philadelphia school board administrator, and Willard Carroll Smith, Sr. (died 2016), a refrigeration engineer. He grew up in West Philadelphia’s Wynnefield neighborhood, and was raised Baptist. He has three siblings, sister Pamela, who is four years older, and twins Harry and Ellen, who are three years younger. Smith attended Our Lady of Lourdes, a private Catholic elementary school in Philadelphia. His parents separated when he was 13, but did not actually divorce until around 2000.
Smith attended Overbrook High School. Though widely reported, it is untrue that Smith turned down a scholarship to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); he never applied to college because he “wanted to rap.” Smith says he was admitted to a “pre-engineering [summer] program” at MIT for high school students, but he did not attend. According to Smith, “My mother, who worked for the School Board of Philadelphia, had a friend who was the admissions officer at MIT. I had pretty high SAT scores and they needed black kids, so I probably could have gotten in. But I had no intention of going to college.”
Smith started as the MC of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, with his childhood friend Jeffrey “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes as turntablist and producer. Jeff Townes and Will Smith were introduced to each other by chance in 1985. One night, Townes was performing at a house party only a few doors down from Smith’s residence, and he was missing his hype man. Smith decided to fill in. They both felt strong chemistry, and Townes was upset when his hype man finally made it to the party.
Soon after, the two decided to join forces. Smith enlisted a friend to join as the beatboxer of the group, Clarence Holmes (Ready Rock C), making them a trio. Philadelphia-based Word Up Records released their first single in late 1985 to 1986 when A&R man Paul Oakenfold introduced them to Word Up with their single “Girls Ain’t Nothing but Trouble,” a tale of funny misadventures that landed Smith and his former DJ and rap partner Mark Forrest (Lord Supreme) in trouble. The song sampled the theme song of “I Dream of Jeannie.” Smith became known for light-hearted story-telling raps and capable, though profanity-free, “battle” rhymes. The single became a hit a month before Smith graduated from high school.
Michael Kirk Douglas
An American actor and producer born on September 25, 1944. Douglas’ career includes a diverse range of films in independent and blockbuster genres, for which he has received a number of accolades, both competitive and honorary. These awards include the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” and the AFI Life Achievement Award, which “honor[s] an individual whose career in motion pictures or television has greatly contributed to the enrichment of American culture”.
The elder son of Kirk Douglas and Diana Dill, Douglas received his Bachelor of Arts in Drama from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His early acting roles included film, stage, and television productions. Douglas first achieved prominence for his performance in the ABC police procedural television series The Streets of San Francisco, for which he received three consecutive Emmy Awardnominations. In 1975, Douglas produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, having acquired the rights to the Ken Kesey novel from his father. The film received critical and popular acclaim, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, earning Douglas his first Oscar as one of the film’s producers. After leaving The Streets of San Francisco in 1976, Douglas went on to produce films including The China Syndrome (1979) and Romancing the Stone (1984). He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for Romancing the Stone, in which he also starred, thus reintroducing himself to audiences as a capable leading man.
After reprising his Romancing the Stone role as Jack Colton in the 1985 sequel The Jewel of the Nile, which he also produced, and along with appearing in the musical A Chorus Line (1985) and the psychological thriller Fatal Attraction (1987), Douglas received widespread acclaim for his portrayal of amoral corporate raider Gordon Gekko in the Oliver Stone-directed drama Wall Street, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. He reprised the role in the sequel Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). Douglas’s subsequent film roles included: Black Rain (1989); The War of the Roses (1989); Basic Instinct (1992); The American President (1995); The Game (1997); Traffic and Wonder Boys (both 2000); Solitary Man (2009); and Ant-Man (2015). In 2013, Douglas’s performance as Liberace in the HBO biopic Behind the Candelabra, received universal critical acclaim, and the actor won numerous accolades for his role, including Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Apart from his career in the film industry, Douglas has received notice for his humanitarian and political activism, as well as media attention for his marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones, and his tongue cancer diagnosis.
Barbara Jill Walters
Born September 25, 1929, Barbara is an American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. Walters is known for having hosted a variety of television programs, including Today, The View, 20/20, and the ABC Evening News. Since retirement as a full-time host and contributor, she has continued to occasionally report for ABC News.
Walters first became known as a television personality in the early 1960’s, when she was a writer and segment producer of “women’s interest stories” on the NBC News morning program The Today Show, where she began work with host Hugh Downs. As a result of her outstanding interviewing ability and her popularity with viewers, she received more airtime on the program. Even though her production duties made her a significant contributor to the program, she had no input in choosing a successor for Downs when he left in 1971, and Frank McGee was hired. In 1974, at the time of McGee’s death, Walters became co-host of the program, the first woman to hold such a title on an American news program.
In 1976, continuing as a pioneer for women in broadcasting, she became the first female co-anchor of a network evening news, working with Harry Reasoner on the ABC News flagship program, the ABC Evening News, earning an unprecedented US$1 million per year.
From 1979 to 2004, she worked as co-host and a producer for the ABC newsmagazine 20/20.
In 1997, Walters created and debuted as a co-host on The View, a daytime talk show with an all-female panel. She retired as a co-host of The View in 2014 after 16 seasons, but still serves as its executive producer.
Since her retirement from The View, she has hosted a number of special reports for 20/20 and ABC News, as well as a documentaryseries for Investigation Discovery. Additionally, Walters continued to host her annual 10 Most Fascinating People special on ABC.
In 1996, Walters was ranked #34 on the TV Guide “50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time” list, and in 2000 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.