NOVEMBER 15: Teens making news

snl-murphy-splshNOVEMBER 15 was a good day for at least two African American entertainers, although Eddie Murphy attained far wider fame than Little Willie John.

Nov. 15, 1780: “Young Gwinn,” fourteen, shot and killed Tory captain James “Otterskin” Lewis with a single shot from his musket during a raid at Georgetown, South Carolina, during the Revolutionary War. The soldier is generally referred to as Young Gwinn or Gwinn — his full name is unknown.

1867: Elihu Thomson, fourteen, rises to witness a meteor shower in the sky above his home in Philadelphia. That assisted him, he later said, “in understanding what goes on in the universe around us.” Thomson became an engineer, inventor, and founder of several electric companies

Nov. 15, 1937: Little Willie John was born. He had his first rhythm & blues hit at eighteen with “All Around the World” and recorded “Fever” at nineteen in 1956, two years before Peggy Lee made it her signature song.

Nov. 15, 1980: Eddie Murphy, nineteen, debuts as a featured player on “Saturday Night Live.” After just a few appearances fellow SNL cast-member Dan Aykroyd accurately noted, “Eddie’s on his way to becoming an industry.”




ON THIS DATE in 1934, fourteen-year-old Norma Dolores Egstrom made her public singing debut at a New Year’s Eve party in Valley City, North Dakota. Egstrom would change her name to Peggy Lee and become one of the most renowned jazz and popular singers of the 20th century. She is best known for her version of “Fever” and for providing the singing and speaking voices for several characters in Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955).