April 23: 20th Century Celebrity Birthdays

TV producer Bill Cotton and child star Shirley Temple would have been 90 today!

Sir_Bill_Cotton Shirley_Temple-1990

After working on various programmes such as his father’s Billy Cotton Band Show and popular music programme Six-Five Special, Bill Cotton (April 23, 1928 – August 11, 2008) was promoted to Head of Light Entertainment in 1970. Cotton was responsible for overseeing the production of a whole series of popular and iconic comedy programmes, including The Morecambe and Wise Show (1968–77), Monty Python’s Flying Circus (1969–74), The Two Ronnies (1971–87), and Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game (first run 1971–77).

Cotton’s success as Head of Light Entertainment led to his promotion to Controller of BBC1 in 1977.  In 1981, he was made the BBC’s deputy managing director of television under and, in 1984, Cotton was promoted to become managing director of Television, a role he fulfilled until his retirement from the Corporation in 1988.

Shirleytemple_youngShirley Temple (April 23, 1928 – February 10, 2014) was an American actress, singer, dancer, businesswoman, and diplomat who was Hollywood’s number one box-office draw as a child actress from 1935 to 1938. As an adult, she was named United States ambassador to Ghana and to Czechoslovakia, and also served as Chief of Protocol of the United States.

Temple achieved international fame in Bright Eyes (1934), a feature film designed specifically for her talents. Film hits such as Curly Top (1935) and Heidi (1937) followed year after year during the mid-to-late 1930s. She appeared in a few films of varying quality in her mid-to-late teens, and retired from films in 1950 at the age of 22.

In 1958, Temple returned to show business with a two-season television anthology series of fairy tale adaptations. She sat on the boards of corporations and organisations including The Walt Disney Company, Del Monte Foods, and the National Wildlife Federation.

She began her diplomatic career in 1969 when she was appointed to represent the United States at a session of the United Nations General Assembly In 1988, she published her autobiography, Child Star.

Bill Cotton and Shirley Temple share this date with…

The Big “O”, Roy Orbison (1936-1988)

Broadcaster Mike Smith (1955-2014)

Def Leppard guitarist, Steve Clark (1960-1991)

This was also the day we lost…

First Doctor Who, William Hartnell (1975, born 1908)

Original Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, Buster Crabbe (1983, born 1908)

Actor Sir John Mills (2005, born 1908)

Only Fools and Horses creator, John Sullivan (2011, born 1946)



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