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Pick a Day

Music History Events: Singing Actors

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March 21, 1997 The movie Selena debuts in theaters, chronicling the life of the late Tejano singer, who was murdered two years earlier by the former president of her fan club. Jennifer Lopez is lauded for her breakout performance in the title role, which inspires her to pursue a singing career of her own.

September 10, 1990 Starring a young rapper named Will Smith, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air debuts on NBC. Smith hones his acting skills during his six seasons on the show, which features guest appearances by his musical partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff.More

March 2, 1984 This Is Spinal Tap is released in theaters, chronicling the hapless heavy metal band with exploding drummers and an amp that goes to 11. It leaves some in laughter and some in tears. Ozzy Osbourne is just confused.More

February 1, 1982 Bill Murray is the first guest on Late Night with David Letterman, hosted by an irreverent comedian with funny teeth. He sings the hit song "Physical," doing an aerobic routine along with his performance.More

April 9, 2009 Following a contentious interview where he insults Canadian audiences, Billy Bob Thornton's music career hits a roadblock when he and his band the Boxmasters are booed at their show in Toronto opening for Willie Nelson. The Boxmasters cancel their remaining Canadian dates the next day.More

November 23, 2004 Robert Downey, Jr. releases his debut studio album, The Futurist.

October 8, 2002 Jennifer Love Hewitt releases her fourth studio album, BareNaked.

October 6, 2000 Three investors in Steven Seagal's as-yet-unreleased album sue the actor, alleging that he has no intention of completing the project. Michael Vanderhoof, Michael Khaled, and Donald Danks claim they put a total of $600,000 into the recording of the album and the making of an accompanying documentary film.

October 27, 1995 Copycat debuts in US movie theaters. Harry Connick, Jr. plays a murderer who terrorizes Sigourney Weaver and mentors a budding serial killer in the psychological thriller. It's quite a departure for the smooth singer of love songs.

September 24, 1978 Ruth Etting, a popular singer and actress throughout the '20s and '30s, dies at age 80. Her life inspired the 1955 fictionalized biopic Love Me or Leave Me, starring Doris Day and James Cagney.

May 11, 1967 The Donna Reed Show's Paul Petersen signs with Motown Records (but never has a US hit with them).

November 1, 1963 Lorne Greene records "Ringo."

October 25, 1962 Cast member Paul Petersen sings his hit single "My Dad" on The Donna Reed Show.

September 28, 1961 Dr. Kildare debuts on NBC. The theme song, sung by the show's star Richard Chamberlain, goes to #10 the following year.

September 27, 1958 Pop singer/actor Shaun Cassidy is born in Los Angeles, California. Although he doesn't join The Partridge Family cast with mom Shirley Jones and half-brother David Cassidy, he stars on The Hardy Boys Mysteries and lands a trio of Top 10 hits in 1977 - including the chart-topper "Da Doo Ron Ron."

September 24, 1958 The Donna Reed Show, starring Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen, debuts on ABC. It runs for seven seasons.

April 10, 1957 Ricky Nelson, 16, performs his first single, a cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walking," on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the TV series he stars in alongside his real-life family. The song quickly climbs the charts and launches his music career.

February 19, 1955 Jeff Daniels is born in Athens, Georgia. Best known as an actor, he also releases several albums as a musician.

September 23, 1945 Paul Petersen, an actor-turned-singer known for his role as Jeff Stone on the '50s sitcom The Donna Reed Show, is born in Glendale, California.

December 3, 1944 Pop singer Paul Nicholas is born Paul Oscar Beuselinck in Peterborough, England. As an actor, he's known for starring in the 1983 BBC TV sitcom Just Good Friends.

November 15, 1934 Gene Autry appears in his first film, In Old Santa Fe, becoming the first "singing cowboy" on the silver screen.

June 5, 1925 Singer/actor Bill Hayes is born in Harvey, Illinois. Known for his long-running role as Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives and his chart-topping rendition of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett."

October 7, 1922 Actress Martha Stewart (not to be confused with the TV personality Martha Stewart) is born Martha Haworth in Bardwell, Kentucky, but would be raised in Brooklyn, New York.

December 31, 1920 Actor Rex Allen, who has a country hit with "Don't Go Near the Indians" in 1962, is born near Willcox, Arizona.

October 31, 1912 Western singer-songwriter Dale Evans is born Lucille Wood Smith (changed to Frances Octavia Smith soon after) in Uvalde, Texas. She meets screen partner Roy Rogers in 1944 and the pair marry in 1947.

April 1, 2016 Actor-turned-singer Kiefer Sutherland releases his debut single, "Not Enough Whiskey."

January 1, 2011 Hugh Laurie, a blues artist and actor best known for his role on the TV drama House, wins the fourth Golden Mouth Organ Award on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Laurie earns the award by playing "Oh! Susanna."

December 21, 2007 Tim Burton's film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street opens in US theaters. Johnny Depp stars as the Demon Barber himself, and manages to earn the respect of critics for his singing performance on the film's soundtrack.

December 29, 2004 Beyond the Sea, a musical about the life of Bobby Darin, debuts in US theaters. Darin superfan Kevin Spacey - who co-wrote, directed, and starred in the film - does his own singing. 45-year-old Spacey is a little old to be playing Darin, who was only 37 when he died.

February 20, 2003 Olivia Rodrigo is born in Murrieta, California. She stars on the Disney shows Bizaardvark and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series before releasing her debut single, "Drivers License," in 2021.

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