‘West Side Story’ Premiers on Broadway 1957

As the curtain finally closed, cheers and applause rang through New York’s Winter Garden Theatre as the beloved musical “West Side Story” premiered on Broadway. The play is homage to Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, set in the 1950s with New York street gangs.  Tony, a gang member, falls in love with Maria, the brother of a rival Puerto Rican gang member.  Tragedy ensues for the star-crossed lovers as they pursue their romance (you’d think that we’d learn our lessons, but nooooo). The play was recreated as a musical in 1961, sweeping the Academy Awards that year with 10 Awards, including for “Best Picture”. One of the memorable songs is “Somewhere”, which begins, “There’s a place for us /Somewhere a place for us / Peace and quiet and open air/ Wait for us somewhere”, which is still a plaintive theme song for many Latinx immigrants.

Happy Birthday to Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan

Happy Birthday to singer, songwriter, and actress Gloria María Milagrosa Fajardo García de Estefan.  Known to the nation as the Queen of Latin Pop, Estefan and her happy family are the song of the American Dream.  Born in Havana, Cuba, she immigrated to Miami with her family at a young age.  The family endured the hardships and challenges of starting over in a new land, as well as the tragedies of her father’s disabilities contracted while serving his adopted country in the Vietnam War.  Music was her solace. The shy Estefan overcame her severe stage fright, and in the 1980s and 1990s reigned over the norteamericano airwaves as the US smiled to her Latin beat.  Estefan and Emilio, her husband and musical collaborator, married and live in Miami with their two children. Her numerous awards include the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Medallion of Excellence for Community Service, the Berklee College of Music honorary doctorate, and Person of the Year by the Latin Grammy Awards. (Image of album cover)

We all loved Lucy Ricardo

May 6, 1957 was the final series broadcast of the “I Love Lucy” show on CBS television.  The show started its run in 1951, and featured Lucille Ball and her Cuban born real-life husband, Desi Arnaz.  “I Love Lucy” became a huge success as North American viewers laughed at the stories and antics of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.  More viewers watched the television birth of their son, “Little Ricky”, than President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration on the same night. The show was the first in television history with an audience of more than ten million homes.

Happy Birthday to Saundra Santiago, Actress

Happy Birthday to actress Saundra Santiago, the talented daughter of a Cuban father and Puerto Rican mother.  Santiago was born in The Bronx in New York on April 13, 1957.  Her family later moved to Florida, where Santiago was an All-American girl:  cheerleader, homecoming queen, and class president.  After earning her MFA from Southern Methodist University in 1981, she moved back to New York and worked as – guess what? – a singing waitress while she auditioned.  (What did I mention about Latinx waiters/ waitresses?  Please see Andy Garcia, April 12.) While Santiago is famous for her television role on “Miami Vice”, she has starred in numerous stage roles, from the serious “A View from the Bridge” to the musical “Nine”.   When she is not dazzling audiences, Santiago volunteers for community work with the Miami police department.  (Photo by David Vance)

V is for Vanna

Take a guess at the name of a Hispanic that you didn’t know is Hispanic, and we’ll give you a “V” and two “N”s.  Okay, since this is not an interactive app, we’ll tell you that today, February 18, is the birthday of Vanna White, born Vanna Marie Rosch, the hostess of the popular TV show, Wheel of Fortune.  White’s father, Miguel Angel Rosich was born in Puerto Rico.  White later took the name of her stepfather.

Tener una pista sobre el nombre de un hispano que no sabía es hispano, y vamos a darle una “V” y dos “N” s. De acuerdo, ya que esta no es una aplicación interactiva, te diremos que hoy es el cumpleaños de Vanna White, nacido Vanna Marie Rosch, la anfitriona del popular programa de televisión, Rueda de la Fortuna. Padre de White, Miguel Ángel Rosich nació en Puerto Rico. White más tarde tomó el nombre de su padrastro.

Gilberto Hernandez, Latino Graphic Novelist, Comic Book Writer

Happy Birthday to Gilberto Hernandez, a Hispanic American graphic novelist, comic book writer and illustrator, born on February 1, 1957.  His work includes “Palomar”, set in a fictional Central American town, and “Love and Rockets”, an exploration of contemporary Latino culture in the US.  Hernandez is a USA Rasmussen Fellow.  Hernandez and his brother were included in Time Magazine’s “Top 100 Next  Wave Storytellers” in 2009. (Photo by Luigi Novi)

Feliz cumpleaños a Gilberto Hernández, un hispano americano novelista gráfico escritor de cómics e ilustrador, nacido el 1 de febrero de 1957. Su trabajo incluye el “Palomar”, situado en un pueblo ficticio de América Central, y “Love and Rockets”, una exploración de la cultura latina contemporánea en los EE.UU.. Hernández es miembro EE.UU. Rasmussen. Hernández y su hermano fueron incluidos en la revista Time “100 mejores narradores Next Wave” en 2009. (Photo by Luigi Novi)

Mexican-American Pro Golfer Nancy Lopez

January 6, 1957 is the birthday of Mexican-American golfer Nancy Lopez.  Lopez began playing golf at age 8, and was the women’s champion in her home state of New Mexico by age 12.  She won five professional tournaments in a row, a feat unrivaled in women’s golf, and won 48 LPGA Tour events during her LPGA career.  (Image by Sports Illustrated)