Sunday, May 30, 2010

The A-Team - Iconic 1980s Alpha-Male Action TV Series

Thanks, Wikipedia.

The A-Team is an American action adventure television series about a fictional group of ex-United States Army Special Forces who work as soldiers of fortune while being on the run from the military after being branded as war criminals for a "crime they didn't commit".

The A-Team was created by writers and producers Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell (who also collaborated together on Wiseguy, Riptide and Hunter).

Despite being thought of as mercenaries by the other characters in the show, the A-Team always acted on the side of good and helped the oppressed.

The show ran for five seasons on the NBC television network, from January 23, 1983 to December 30, 1986, for a total of 98 episodes.

It remains known in popular culture for its cartoon-like use of over-the-top violence (in which people were seldom seriously hurt), supposedly formulaic episodes, featuring the ability to form weaponry and vehicles out of old parts, and its distinctive theme tune.

The show also served as the springboard for the acting career of wrestler Mr T (Lawrence Turand, who starred in Rocky 3), who portrayed the character of BA Baracus, around whom the show was initially conceived.

Some of the show's catchphrases such as "I love it when a plan comes together", "Hannibal's on the jazz" and "I ain't gettin' on no plane!" have also made their way onto T-shirts and other merchandise.

Although not directly referenced in the series, the name of the show comes from "A-Teams", the nickname for Operational Detachments Alpha (ODA).

The US Army Special Forces uses the term ODA for their 12-man direct operations teams.

A feature film based on the series is planned for release by 20th Century Fox on June 11, 2010.

The A-Team revolves around the four members of a former commando outfit and current group of mercenaries.

Their leader is Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (the late George Peppard of The Blue Max and Breakfast At Tiffany's), whose plans tend to be unorthodox but effective.

Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict who played Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica), usually referred to as "Face", is a smooth-talking con-man who serves as the team's appropriator of vehicles and other useful items.

The team's pilot is Captain Howard Matthew "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz), who has been declared "insane" by the US Army.

Finally, there is the team's strong man and mechanic, Sergeant Bosco Albert "Bad Attitude" Baracus (Mr T) also known as BA.

Three female characters, reporters Amanda Allen (Melinda Culea of Glitter, Knots Landing and Joey Lawrence's series Joey/Brotherly Love) and Tawnia Baker (Marla Heasley of Battlestar Galactica and TJ Hooker) and Vietnam War orphan Tia (Tia Carrere) assisted the team in the early seasons.

Later, they were replaced by special effects expert Frankie Santana (Eddie Velez of Cagney And Lacey, Hill Street Blues and White Chicks).

During their adventures, the A-Team was constantly met by opposition from the military police.

In the show's first season they were led by Colonel Lynch (William Lucking), but he was replaced for the second, third and fourth season by Colonel Decker (Lance LeGault) and his aide Captain Crane (Carl Franklin).

For the latter portion of the show's fourth season, the team was hunted by General Harlan "Bull" Fullbright (Jack Ging).

The fifth season introduced General Hunt Stockwell (Robert Vaughn) who, while serving as the team's primary antagonist, was also the team's boss and joined them on several missions.

He was often assisted by Carla (Judith Ledford).

Famous guest stars in the series included Boy George, Hulk Hogan, the late Rick James (Superfreak), David McCallum (British actor best known for The Invisible Man, The Man From UNCLE with Vaughn, and Sapphire And Steel), Pat Sajak and Vanna White (both in Wheel Of Fortune).

During the Vietnam War, the A-Team's commanding officer, Colonel Morrison, gave them orders to rob the Bank of Hanoi to help bring the war to an end.

They succeeded in their mission, but on returning to their base four days after the end of the war, they found their CO murdered by the Viet Cong and his headquarters burned to the ground.

Therefore no proof existed that the A-Team were acting under orders, and they were sent to prison by a military court.

They were sent to Fort Bragg, from which they escaped before they could actually stand trial.

In the final episode, "The Grey Team", Hannibal, after being misled by Stockwell one time too many, tells him that the team will not work for him any more.

At the end, the team discusses what they will do if they get their pardon, and it is implied that they will continue doing what they are doing as the A-Team.

The series always featured a GMC van owned by Baracus as the getaway vehicle for the team and sometimes in episodes a white corvette with a red stripe appeared as Face's vehicle.

In early episodes the team used M16 rifles, while in later episodes they used the Ruger AC-556 rifles.

In the coming film Liam Neeson plays Hannibal, Bradley Cooper of Valentine's Day plays Faceman, South African actor, producer and director Sharlto Copley of District 9 plays Murdock and wrestler Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is BA.

The film is directed by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott.

Instead of being Vietnam War veterans, the team is re-written as Gulf War veterans.

There will be cameos by Schultz (now riding high in Ben 10) and Benedict.

Clint Eastwood - King Of Hollywood's Alpha-Males

One of the grand old men of Hollywood, Clint Eastwood is the classic American alpha-male.

A sifu (master) of Hollywood, he is best known for his no-nonsense work ethics, spartan and health-conscious lifestyle, dedication to lifelong work and productivity, and raw masculinity which only Wolverine (played by Australian Hugh Jackman) can eclipse.

He turns 80 on May 31, 2010 and I take this opportunity to wish him a happy birthday, continued success and good health.

Read all about him, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Clinton Elias Eastwood, Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American film actor, director, producer and composer.

He has received five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award and five People's Choice Awards — including one for Favourite All-Time Motion Picture Star.

Eastwood is known for his anti-hero acting roles in violent action and Western films.

Following his role as a cast member of the TV series Rawhide starting in 1958, he went on to star as the Man With No Name in the Dollars trilogy of Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s and as Inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films of the 1970s and 1980s.

These roles have made him an enduring icon of masculinity.

Eastwood is also known for his comedic efforts in Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can, his two highest-grossing films.

For his work in the films Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), Eastwood won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture and received nominations for Best Actor.

These films, as well as Play Misty For Me (1971), The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Escape From Alcatraz (1979), Pale Rider (1985), In The Line Of Fire (1993) and Gran Torino (2008) have all received great critical acclaim and commercial success.

He has directed most of his star vehicles as well as films he has not acted in, such as Mystic River (2003) and Letters From Iwo Jima (2006), for which he received Academy Award nominations.

He also served as the nonpartisan mayor of Carmel-By-The-Sea, California from 1986–1988, tending to support small business interests on the one hand and environmental protection on the other.

Eastwood was born in San Francisco, California, to Clinton Elias Eastwood Sr. (1906–1970), a steelworker, and Margaret Ruth Rutherford (1909–2006), a factory worker.

He was a large baby (5.62 kg) and was named "Samson".

Eastwood is of British ancestry.

The family settled in Piedmont, California, where Eastwood attended Piedmont High School.

Eastwood held several jobs as he moved to different areas, including a paper carrier, grocer clerk, forest firefighter and caddy.

After graduating high school in 1949, Eastwood was drafted into the US Army.

He was stationed at Fort Ord where his certificate as a lifeguard got him appointed as a life-saving and swimming instructor.

Eastwood safeguarded film and television actors who had joined the Army through the Special Services Programme.

In 1951, while on leave, Eastwood rode in a Douglas AD bomber that ran out of gas and crashed in the ocean near Point Reyes.

After escaping the sinking fuselage, Eastwood and the pilot swam several miles to the shore.

He later moved to Los Angeles and wed college student Maggie Johnson in 1953.

In 1954, Eastwood made his first film audition, trying out for a part in Six Bridges To Cross. It was unsuccessful.

He also tried out for Brigadoon, The Constant Nymph, Bengal Brigade and The Seven Year Itch, all without success.

Eastwood eventually starred in the film Revenge Of The Creature, set in the Amazon jungle, which was the sequel to The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

Universal presented him with his first TV role, NBC's Allen In Movieland in 1955, starring Tony Curtis and Benny Goodman.

In 1958 he starred as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide. The TV series won the American Heritage Award as the best Western series.

Eastwood also appeared in Western comedy series Maverick, with James Garner.

In late 1963, Eastwood starred in A Fistful Of Dollars directed by Sergio Leone of Spain.

This film was a benchmark in the development of Spaghetti Westerns. Eastwood became a new icon of Western heroes, more lawless and desolate than usual.

It also made Eastwood a major film star in Italy. The film also redefined Western heroes into bounty hunters with distinct moral ambiguity.

A Fistful Of Dollars spawned two sequels, For A Few Dollars More in 1965 and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly in 1967.

Eastwood's iconic anti-hero in the trilogy was known as The Man With No Name.

In 1969, he starred in Hang 'Em High which was influenced by Rawhide.

He also starred in the World War II epic Where Eagles Dare.

In the same year he starred in his only musical Paint Your Wagon with Lee Marvin.

In 1970, Eastwood starred in the Western Two Mules For Sister Sara with Shirley MacLaine and the World War II movie Kelly's Heroes with Telly Savalas (Kojak) and Donald Sutherland.

Another major film in this year was The Beguiled, which was well-received in France.

In 1971, Eastwood directed his first film Play Misty For Me.

He also stepped into the iconic role of Inspector Harry Callahan, a tough, no-nonsense cop in Dirty Harry.

As Callahan, Eastwood defined the "follow-no-rules" cop film genre.

However, his character was also criticised for being misogynistic and disrespectful of human rights.

In 1972, he starred in the Western Joe Kidd. A year later, he starred in the Western High Plains Drifter.

In 1973, he reprised his role as Callahan in Magnum Force.

A year later he joined Jeff Bridges in action film Thunderbolt And Lightfoot.

In 1975 he starred in The Eiger Sanction, a commercial failure, and The Outlaw Josey Wales. It also starred his son Kyle, then seven.

He also did a third Dirty Harry film The Enforcer in 1976. Panned by critics, it marked Tyne Daly's first major screen appearance (she later became famous in Cagney And Lacey).

In 1977, Eastwood directed and starred in The Gauntlet as a down-and-out cop.

Two years later he appeared in Escape From Alcatraz, based on the true story of Frank Lee Morris, who, along with John and Clarence Anglin escaped from the notorious Alcatraz prison in 1962.

In 1980, Eastwood directed and played the star of a Wild West Show in the comedy film Bronco Billy.

His children Kyle and Alison had small roles as orphans.

In 1982, Eastwood directed and starred in Honkytonk Man, based on the novel by Clancy Carlile about country music singer Red Stovall, set during the Great Depression.

In 1982, Eastwood also directed, produced and starred in the Cold War-themed Firefox, based on a 1977 novel by British novelist Craig Thomas.

The fourth Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact in 1983 was considered the darkest, "dirtiest" and most violent film of the series. However, it was also the most popular.

In 1984, Eastwood starred in the thriller Tightrope set in New Orleans.

Eastwood starred in the period comedy City Heat with Burt Reynolds in 1984.

A year later he starred in Steven Spielberg's TV series Amazing Stories. Spielberg later produced Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima with Eastwood as director.

In 1986, Eastwood starred in the military drama Heartbreak Ridge, about the 1983 US invasion of Grenada.

Eastwood's fifth and final Dirty Harry film, The Dead Pool was released in 1988. It starred Jim Carrey and Liam Neeson.

Carrey later appeared with Eastwood in the poorly received comedy Pink Cadillac (1989).

In 1990 Eastwood starred as a character closely based on the legendary film-maker John Huston in White Hunter Black Heart.

The film was shot in Zimbabwe and Pinewood Studios in England.

He also directed and co-starred with Charlie Sheen in The Rookie.

In 1992, he revisited the Western genre in the self-directed film, Unforgiven, taking on the role of an aging ex-gunfighter.

The film, also starring esteemed actors as Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris, laid the groundwork for later Westerns as Deadwood.

It was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Eastwood and Best Original Screenplay.

It won four, including Best Picture and Best Director for Eastwood.

As of 2009, Unforgiven is the last Western film that Eastwood has made.

In 1993, Eastwood played Frank Horrigan, a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent in the thriller In The Line Of Fire, co-starring John Malkovich and Rene Russo and directed by Wolfgang Petersen.

Later in 1993, Eastwood directed and co-starred with Kevin Costner in A Perfect World.

Eastwood starred opposite Meryl Streep in the love story The Bridges Of Madison County in 1995.

He also directed and starred in the well-received political thriller Absolute Power and Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil in 1999.

In 2000, Eastwood directed and starred in Space Cowboys, which also starred Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner.

Two years later, he appeared with Jeff Daniels in the thriller Blood Work.

In 2003, he directed the crime drama Mystic River which won two Academy Awards, Best Actor for Sean Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Tim Robbins, as well as nominations for Best Director and Best Picture.

In 2005, Eastwood produced, directed and starred in Million Dollar Baby with Hilary Swank.

He played a cantankerous trainer who forms a bond with a female boxer (played by Swank) whom he reluctantly trains after being persuaded by his lifelong friend (played by Morgan Freeman).

She becomes paralysed in a fight and he assists her suicide.

The film won four Academy Awards, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Swank) and Best Supporting Actor (Freeman).

Eastwood also received a nomination for Best Actor and the trio was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture.

In 2006, Eastwood directed two films about the Battle Of Iwo Jima in World War II.

The first one, Flags Of Our Fathers, focused on the men who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi.

The second one, Letters From Iwo Jima, dealt with the tactics of the Japanese soldiers on the island and the letters they wrote to family members.

Letters From Iwo Jima was the first American film to show a war issue completely from the view of an American enemy.

Both films were praised by critics and garnered several Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture for Letters From Iwo Jima.

In 2007, Eastwood directed and produced Changeling, based on a true story starring Angelina Jolie.

He also directed, produced and starred in Gran Torino, and wrote the film's theme song.

Gran Torino became his highest grossing film.

In 2009, Eastwood directed Invictus, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby team captain Francois Pienaar.

In the same year he directed Hereafter, a thriller film starring Matt Damon as "a reluctant psychic".

Eastwood is politically conservative and Republican. However he is against authoritarianism and US invasions (of Korea, Vietnam and Iraq), and for gun control, gay rights, feminism and abortion.

His first marriage to model Maggie Johnson in 1953 resulted in the birth of Kyle in 1968 and Allison in 1972. They divorced in 1975.

His second wife from 1975 to 1989 was Sondra Locke who starred in some of his films (Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can and Bronco Billy).

His third wife from 1989 to 1995 was actress Frances Fisher who starred with him in Unforgiven. They had a daughter, Francesca in 1993.

In 1996, he married television host Diana Ruiz, 35 years his junior.

As a singer and musician, Eastwood loves jazz. In 1996 he hosted a jazz concert titled Eastwood After Hours and wrote Why Should I Care with Linda Thompson and Carole Bayer Sager.

His son Kyle is a jazz musician.

Eastwood also owns the Tehama Golf Club in Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Eastwood is one of only two people to have been twice nominated for Best Actor and Best Director for the same film (Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby), the other being Warren Beatty (Heaven Can Wait and Reds).

Along with Beatty, Robert Redford, Richard Attenborough, Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson, he is one of the few directors best known as an actor to win an Academy Award for directing.

On February 27, 2005, at 74, he became one of only three living directors (along with Milos Forman and Francis Ford Coppola) to have directed two Best Picture winners.

He was also, at age 74, the oldest recipient of the Academy Award for Best Director.

Eastwood has directed five actors in Academy Award–winning performances - Gene Hackman in Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn in Mystic River and Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby.

Eastwood has received numerous other awards, including an America Now TV Award.

He received an honorary degree from the University Of The Pacific in 2006 and an honorary degree from the University Of Southern California in 2007.

In 2009, he was made French Legion Of Honour Commander. He was previously made French Legion Of Honour Knight in 2007.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper - Iconic Bad Boy Of American Film

After Gary Coleman, we've lost Dennis Hopper, an iconic bad boy of American cinema.

He succumbed to cancer at 74 on May 29, 2010.

Here's his life story from Wikipedia.

Dennis Lee Hopper (May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010) was an American actor, filmmaker and artist.

He made his first television appearance in 1955, and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause (1955) and Giant (1956).

Over the next ten years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films.

He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), winning an award at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as co-writer.

He was unable to build on his success for several years, until a featured role in Apocalypse Now (1979) brought him attention.

He subsequently appeared in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983), and received critical recognition for his work in Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, with the latter film garnering him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

He directed Colors (1988), and played the villain in Speed (1994).

Hopper's later work included a leading role in the television series Crash.

Hopper, who grew up in Kansas City and San Diego credited veteran actor Vincent Price as the man who introduced him to acting.

Hopper was married five times, including to actress Michelle Phillips for two weeks in 1970.

He is survived by four children.

As an artist he created the album cover for Tina Turner's River Deep, Mountain High in 1966.

Throughout his life, he battled drug addiction.

He campaigned for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lynn Redgrave - Royalty Of British Cinema

Thanks, Wikipedia.

Lynn Rachel Redgrave (March 8, 1943 – May 2, 2010) was an English actress.

A member of a well-known British family of actors, Redgrave made her theatrical debut in 1962.

In the mid-1960s she appeared in the films Tom Jones (1963) and Georgy Girl (1966) which won her a New York Film Critics Award and nominations for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award.

In 1967, she made her Broadway debut and also performed in the London West End.

She performed with her sister Vanessa in Three Sisters In London and in the title role in a television production of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Redgrave made a return to films in the late 1990s in Shine (1996) and Gods And Monsters (1998), for which she received another Academy Award nomination.

Redgrave was born in London, the daughter of actors Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson.

Her brother was Corin Redgrave and her sister was Vanessa Redgrave.

She was the aunt of Joely Richardson, Gabriel Nero, Jemma Redgrave and Natasha Richardson.

After training in London's Central School Of Speech And Drama, Redgrave made her professional debut in a 1962 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Court Theatre.

She was invited to join The National Theatre and worked with directors as Lord Laurence Olivier, Franco Zeffirelli and Noel Coward.

In the 1960s she appeared in films such as Tom Jones (1963), Girl With Green Eyes (1964), The Deadly Affair (1966) and Georgy Girl (also 1966).

In 1967 she made her Broadway debut in Black Comedy with Michael Crawford and Geraldine Page.

In 1983, she played Cleopatra in an American television version of Antony And Cleopatra opposite Timothy Dalton.

In 1988 she narrated a dramatised television documentary, Silent Mouse, which told the story of the creation of the Christmas carol Silent Night.

Highlights of her movie career also included The National Health, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, The Happy Hooker and Getting It Right.

For American television she was seen in the series Teachers Only, House Calls, Centennial and Chicken Soup.

She also did Heinz television commercials.

She also starred in BBC productions such as The Faint-Hearted Feminist, A Woman Alone and Fighting Back.

In 1967, Redgrave married British actor and director John Clark. Together they had three children. They were divorced in 2000.

She died a year after her niece Natasha Richardson and a month after her brother Corin.

About Bill Gates

Thanks, Wikipedia.

William Henry Gates III (born October 28, 1955) is an American business magnate, philanthropist and chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen.

He is consistently ranked among the world's wealthiest people and was the wealthiest overall from 1995 to 2009.

During his career at Microsoft, Gates held the positions of CEO and chief software architect and remains the largest individual shareholder with more than 8 percent of the common stock. He has also authored or co-authored several books.

Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution.

Gates has pursued a number of philanthropic endeavours, donating large amounts of money to various charitable organisations and scientific research programmes through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, established in 2000.

Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in 2000. He remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect.

In 2006, Gates announced that he would be transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

He gradually transferred his duties to Ray Ozzie, chief software architect and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer.

Gates' last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as non-executive chairman.

Gates was born in Seattle, Washington, to William H Gates Sr and Mary Maxwell, of English, German, Irish and Native American descent.

His father was a prominent lawyer and his mother served on the board of directors of First Interstate BancSystem.

His maternal grandfather J W Maxwell was a National Bank president.

Gates is the second of three siblings.

At 13 he enrolled in the Lakeside School, an exclusive school. There he became interested in programming BASIC and wrote his first computer programme, an implementation of noughts and crosses that allowed users to play games against the computer.

It was here that he met and became close friends with Paul Allen.

After his administrators became aware of his programming abilities, Gates wrote the school's computer programme to schedule students in classes.

At 17, Gates formed Traf-O-Data to make traffic counters based on the Intel 8008 processor.

In early 1973, Bill Gates served as a congressional page in the US House of Representatives.

Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973. He enrolled at Harvard College in the autumn of 1973.

While at Harvard, he met Steve Ballmer (of Belarussian descent), who later succeeded Gates as CEO of Microsoft and computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou, with whom he wrote a paper about pancake sorting.

The following year saw the release of the MITS Altair 8800 based on the Intel 8080 CPU and Gates and Allen saw this as the opportunity to start their own computer software company.

He talked this decision over with his parents, who were supportive of him.

After reading the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics that demonstrated the Altair 8800, Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation And Telemetry Systems (MITS), the creators of the new microcomputer, to inform them that he and others were working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform.

MITS president Ed Roberts agreed to meet them for a demo.

The demonstration, held at MITS' offices in Albuquerque, was a success and resulted in a deal with MITS to distribute the interpreter as Altair BASIC.

Allen was hired into MITS and Gates took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Allen in November 1975.

They named their partnership Microsoft and had their first office located in Albuquerque.

Gates never returned to Harvard to complete his studies.

Microsoft's BASIC was popular with computer hobbyists.

Microsoft became independent of MITS in late 1976.

The company moved from Albuquerque to Bellevue, Washington on January 1, 1979.

During Microsoft's early years, all employees had broad responsibility for the company's business.

Gates oversaw the business details, but continued to write code as well.

In the first five years, he personally reviewed every line of code the company shipped and often rewrote parts of it as he saw fit.

In 1980, IBM approached Microsoft to write the BASIC interpreter for its upcoming personal computer,the IBM PC.

After adapting the operating system for the PC, Microsoft delivered it to IBM as PC-DOS.

Gates oversaw Microsoft's company restructuring on June 25, 1981, which re-incorporated the company in Washington and made Gates President of Microsoft.

Microsoft launched its first retail version of Microsoft Windows on November 20, 1985.

From Microsoft's founding in 1975 until 2006, Gates had primary responsibility for the company's product strategy.

Gates' role at Microsoft for most of its history was primarily a management and executive role. However, he was an active software developer in the early years.

Gates appeared in a series of ads to promote Microsoft in 2008. He appeared with Jerry Seinfeld.

Gates married Melinda French from Dallas, Texas on January 1, 1994. They have three children.

In 1994, Gates sold some of his Microsoft stock to create the William H. Gates Foundation which is the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world.

As of 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates were the second most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity.

Time magazine named Gates one of the 100 people who most influenced the 20th century, as well as one of the 100 most influential people of 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Time also named Gates, Melinda and U2's lead singer Bono (Paul Hewson) as the 2005 Persons Of The Year for their humanitarian efforts.

Gates has authored two books, The Road Ahead (1995) and Business @ The Speed Of Thought (1999).

He also starred in the film Waiting For Superman.