April 21: Purple rain hits hard as we lose Prince

April 21 — The purple rain fell a little heavier on this day in 2016 when we learned we’d lost Prince. Prince Rogers Nelson died of an overdose of fentanyl, the result of treatment for injuries and wear and tear from energetic stage performances. It was the end of an era for GenX’ers who’d grown up on his sexually charged music and lyrics, and partied to his timeless “1999” at some Millennial Party somewhere. Prince had put out several commercially successful albums within the final few years of his passing. But he’ll be known best to most GenX’ers for his sixth album, Purple Rain (1984), and for singles such as “1999” (1982), “Little Red Corvette” (1982), “When Doves Cry” (1984), “Raspberry Beret” (1985) … come to think of it, just punch him up on YouTube. Since Prince’s death, his estate has made much of his material much more publicly available.

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Cake and candles …

Tony Danza (1951) is still the boss at 70. Originally a professional boxer, Danza went 9–3 with every bout ending in a knockout. He was discovered at a boxing gym and earned a spot on “Taxi” (1978–83) before his most successful venture, “Who’s the Boss?” (1984–92). Danza earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1988.

Brutus Beefcake (1957), a.k.a. Edward Leslie, turns 64. Best known for his stint with WWF/WWE 1984–93, he made a face turn as “The Barber” after breaking up from Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and manager “Luscious Johnny” Valiant in 1987. The neon-spandexed cutter would strut around the ring “snipping” with his fingers to signal that he was about to pacify his opponent with a sleeper hold and then cut the poor schlep’s hair. Beefcake retired in 2000. And while we don’t know if he ever opened a salon, he did leave a bag of cocaine on a subway that caused a stir among people who thought it was anthrax.

Rosalie Anderson “Andie” MacDowell (1958) turns 63 today, still a heartthrob as a spokeswoman for L’Oreal since 1986. She earned her first acclaim in “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” (1989), but we also remember her from “Groundhog Day” (1993) over and over and over …

Rob Riggle (1970), who turns 51, feels like he should be funnier than he is. From SNL (2004–05) to “The Daily Show” (2006–08), to “The Hangover” (2009) to the “Jump Street” films (2012–14) and others, he’s developed quite a comedic pedigree. Regardless, happy birthday to a fellow GenX’er who’s made it bigger than we have.

Tony Romo (1980), 41 today, has earned more accolades as an analyst than he ever did as the Cowboys’ quarterback (2003–16). One of the Burlington, Wis., native’s enduring images as a player came during a botched field-goal attempt that cost Dallas a Wild Card win at Seattle in January 2007. But he’s erased much of that with his career in the booth, where he regularly offers astute observations and has developed a reputation for predicting plays based on personnel and formations.

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“Walker, Texas Ranger” debuted OTD in 1993, answering the question, “How many Texas Rangers were there?” with, “Chuck Norris.”

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Geraldo Rivera finally solved the “Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault” OTD in 1986. In a long lead-up, he teased us with all the possible loot that could have been inside from the legendary gangster. Not to spoil the ending, but if you’re curious what was inside, go open up that top cabinet above your fridge that you never use. There’s probably more in there.

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Duran Duran released “The Reflex” OTD in 1984. It was their first no. 1 single.

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OTD in 1982, Rollie Fingers became the first pitcher to record 300 saves when he did so for the Milwaukee Brewers on their way to a World Series heartbreak against the Cardinals.

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OTD in NFL Draft history …

1991 — Russell Maryland went first overall to the Dallas Cowboys. He was one of the five Pro Bowlers taken in the first 10 picks, along with Eric Turner (Browns, 2), Todd Lyght (Rams, 5), Eric Swann (Cardinals, 6), and Herman Moore (Lions, 10). The only Hall of Famers taken in the entire draft, however, were some Falcons backup named Brett Favre in the second, and cornerback Aeneas Williams in the third.


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