Lance Bass, Pop Singer
b. May 4, 1979
“The constant fear of people discovering who you really were and the inevitable shame that would fall upon you and your family dictated how you lived your life every day.”
Lance Bass is an American singer who rose to fame as a member of the pop group NSYNC, one of the best-selling boy bands of all time. NSYNC produced two Billboard No. 1 albums, No Strings Attached (2000) and Celebrity (2001), before splitting up. Bass came out as gay in a People magazine cover story in July 2006.
Born in Laurel, Mississippi, Bass was raised Southern Baptist. He sang in the church choir and local and state performance groups. He joined NSYNC at age 16 and toured Europe with the group from 1995 to 1997. RCA Records signed the band in 1998, launching their career in the United States.
NSYNC performed five national and international concert tours and sold over 70 million records. No Strings Attached, the group’s second album, was the fastest-selling record in history with sales of 1.1 million copies on the day of its release. Two of the band’s best-performing singles, the No. 1 hits “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “Bye Bye Bye” appear on the album. NSYNC received eight Grammy Award nominations between 2000 and 2003, including the 2001 nomination of “Bye Bye Bye” for Record of the Year.
Bass also enjoyed a career in film, television, and radio. In 2001, he guest starred on the television drama 7th Heaven. The same year, he played the lead in the romantic comedy film On the Line. In 2005, Bass finished in third place on the seventh season of Dancing With the Stars. From 2012 to 2016, he hosted “Dirty Pop with Lance Bass,” a daily radio show on Sirius XM featuring LGBT-related topics.
In addition to his entertainment endeavors, Bass is a space exploration advocate. From 2003 to 2005, he served as World Space Week’s Youth Spokesman, traveling to high schools to encourage students to explore science and space-related careers. Since 2004 he has served on the National Space Society’s board of governors.
In 2014 Bass married Ben Thigpen, a New York City hairstylist, in a ceremony on the E! channel. The broadcast made them the first same-sex couple to wed on an American television network.
The Human Rights Campaign honored Bass with its Visibility Award in October 2006. His autobiography, Out of Sync, debuted on The New York Times best-seller list upon its release in October 2007. NSYNC received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April 2018.
James Beard, Internationally Renowned Chef
b. May 5, 1903
d. Jan. 21, 1985
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
Dubbed the “Dean of American Cookery” by The New York Times in 1954, James Beard was a prominent American chef, culinary instructor, and television personality. He is regarded as the first TV chef. Beard wrote 20 cookbooks and trained countless other acclaimed chefs.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Beard was exposed to Pacific Northwest cooking, which included seafood, moose meat, and venison. His family made meals using wild berries and freshly caught fish. Chinese culture and the meals prepared by his family’s Chinese helper also influenced him, along with the culture and cuisine of France, where he spent his 20s. During the 1950s, Beard was known for bringing French cuisine to the American middle and upper classes.
After briefly attending Reed College in Portland, Beard was expelled. He believed it was due to his homosexuality. In 1937, he moved to New York City, and in 1939 he founded a successful catering company, Hors D’oeuvre, Inc., which served the Manhattan elite.
In 1940, at age 37, Beard published his first cookbook, Hors D’oeuvre & Canapés, which contained a collection of his catering recipes. Then in 1942, he garnered acclaim for elevating outdoor cooking with Cook It Outdoors. Released in 1973, Beard on Beard became his best-selling cookbook. He also wrote articles and columns for numerous magazines such as Woman’s Day and House & Garden.
In 1946, Beard began hosting television’s first live cooking show, I Love to Eat, on NBC. His popularity led to endorsement deals for products such as Omaha Steaks and Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer. In 1955, he created the James Beard Cooking School in New York City and Seaside, Oregon. He dedicated more than 30 years of his life to teaching and mentoring chefs at his two schools and to lecturing at women’s clubs and other civic groups around the nation.
Beard died of heart failure at the age of 81. Established in 1986 the James Beard Foundation honors his life’s work. Since 1991 the prestigious James Beard Awards have annually honored chefs and restaurants. Early recipients included Wolfgang Puck and Rick Bayless. The Foundation’s scholarship program has provided more than $4.6 million in financial assistance to students and chefs to help develop and advance their culinary careers.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images