On This Day: March 26


Leonard Nimoy begins a long and prosperous life, though his singing career tribbles us still. Plus, tough guy James Caan comes out swinging, the Best Picture that almost wasn't, and the sci-fi cultists of Heaven's Gate reach for the stars.

1931 -- Leonard Nimoy takes on Earthly form, just four days after future co-star William Shatner beams down the birth canal. Damn you, Kirk! Always getting the jump on your half-man Spock! The two actors would work extensively in TV and do films before taking on the roles that'd define them. And the oneupmanship of '60s celebrity would see both make those weird kitsch albums. Discuss: Is Nimoy's ode to Hobbits worse than Shatner's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds?


1940 -- James Caan comes into the world swinging in The Bronx. Even at 70, this Master of Karate Gosuko Ryu would totally kick your ass. Play it safe and wish him the best!

1990 -- Driving Miss Daisy wins four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. But the film almost didn't happen at all. Producers Lili and Richard Zanuck had in 1987 taken the script -- penned by Alfred Uhry from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play -- to MGM/UA, who agreed to finance it to the tune of $12.5m. But when Alan Ladd left in '88, the deal was off. All the other studios passed. Eventually the Zanucks convinced Warner Bros. to do it -- by cutting the budget nearly in half to $7.5m. Daisy drove on to awards glory and a global gross of $146m.


1997 -- Thirty eight members of the Star Trek-loving Heaven's Gate cult commit mass suicide in California. The reason? It's the only way to evacuate Earth and hop onto the spaceship that's trailing the approaching Hale-Bopp Comet. While the group had a low profile -- Louis Theroux this same month had approached them for his show Weird Weekends, only to be told doing the show would interfere with "what we must focus on" -- their spooky guru, Marshall Applewhite, and co-founder Bonnie Nettles, had been the inspiration for a 1982 telemovie called Mysterious Two. The tagline for the film's video release: "They promised a better life... but at a frightening price!"

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