REACH FOR THE SKY

September 17 in history:

Freaks and Geeks Wild West Style

Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge became the first person to die in a plane crash on September 17th, 1908.  Orville Wright was flying the plane, and Selfridge was his passenger, in a demonstration at Fort Myer, Virginia. The plane went into a nose-dive after a propeller broke.

On this date in 1916, German Baron von Richthofen, the “Red Baron,” shot down his first enemy plane during World War One.  The English plane was the first of 80 that Richthofen downed before he was shot down himself a year-and-a-half later.

Soldiers shoot at an airplane carrying IMF agents at the end of the pilot of “Mission: Impossible,” which debuted on CBS on this date in 1966.  One year earlier, two series with heroes performing nearly impossible or secret missions premiered on CBS on September 17th, 1965:  “The Wild Wild West” and “Hogan’s Heroes.”

“Mission: Impossible” star Peter Graves played an ill-fated pilot in the movie comedy “Airplane!”  An ill-fated airplane flight to Las Vegas which has to be diverted to Casper, Wyoming, is a highlight of the 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids,” directed by Paul Feig, born on September 17th, 1962.  Feig, also known for creating the TV series “Freaks and Geeks,” was born the same day and year as Australian movie director Baz Luhrmann, whose films include “Moulin Rouge!” and the 2013 remake of “The Great Gatsby.”

Below: Triviazoids’ Brad Williams quizzed on September 17 TV trivia on “Live with Regis and Kelly”, as seen in the documentary, “Unforgettable”.

MORE MASSACHUSETTS CONNECTIONS

September 16 in history:

More than 100 “pilgrims” left Plymouth, England on September 16th, 1620, aboard the Mayflower.  They were headed to Virginia, but landed instead at Cape Cod in Massachusetts that November.

Ten years later, on September 16th, 1630, another Massachusetts settlement named Shawmut was renamed after a town in England. The community’s new name was “Boston.”

When the sitcom “Cheers,” set in Boston, ended in 1993, a spinoff was created for supporting character Frasier Crane, who moved to Seattle and started a radio talk show.  “Frasier” debuted on this date in ’93, and like “Cheers,” it lasted for 11 years.

Actress Amy Poehler, Boston College Class of ’93, shares a September 16th birthday (1971) with another veteran of “Saturday Night Live,” Molly Shannon (1964).  Poehler joined “SNL” in 2001, a few months after Shannon ended a six-year run on the show.

SIX DEGREES OF JFK

September 15 in history:

September 15th of 1901 was Theodore Roosevelt’s first full day as president, after the assassination of William McKinley.  Roosevelt had been vice president for only six months before succeeding McKinley.  It was the 44th birthday of William Howard Taft, who would follow T.R. into the Oval Office eight years later.

Taft is one of only two U.S. presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery.  The other is John F. Kennedy.  Two men associated with the 1991 movie “JFK” were both born on September 15th, 1946:  the film’s director, Oliver Stone, and actor Tommy Lee Jones.

The Hollywood star most closely associated with JFK filmed what is probably her most famous movie scene on this date in 1954. Early that morning. Marilyn Monroe stood over a subway grate on Lexington Avenue in New York as air from the grate blew her skirt above her knees, for a scene in “The Seven Year Itch.”  The actual New York footage was not used in the movie.  The scene was re-created on a Hollywood lot.

MISSING HISTORY

September 14 in history:

Do you remember what major event happened in England on September 13th, 1752?  You do?  LIAR!!  It was a trick question. Nothing happened in England, or America, or anywhere in the British Empire on that day, because the date did not exist.  The Gregorian calendar was adopted by the British on September 14th, 1752.  They had to eliminate 11 days from the calendar that year…September 3rd through the 13th…to make the British calendar match those used by other countries.  Also, before the change, the British used to start a new year on March 25th instead of January 1st.

Okay, do you remember the 1994 World Series?  Liar, liar, pants on fire!  There was no World Series that year, because on September 14th of ’94, major league baseball cancelled the rest of the season because of a players’ strike.

Now, do you remember a TV show called “My Mother, the Car”?  Liar, liar…oh, sorry, there really WAS a series by that name.  It starred Jerry Van Dyke as a guy whose late mother was rein-“car”-nated as an antique auto.  Mom (the voice of Ann Sothern) spoke to him through the car radio.  “My Mother, the Car” debuted on NBC on September 14th, 1965.  Longer-running series which began on this date over the years include “The Waltons” (1972), and “The Golden Girls” (1985).

BITS OF AMERICAN HISTORY

September 13 in history:

New York City became the first official capital of the United States on September 13th, 1788.  George Washington was sworn in as president there the following year.  By 1790, the capital was moved to Philadelphia.

Margaret Chase Smith was a pioneer at the U.S. Capitol.  Mrs. Smith had succeeded her late husband in the House, and on September 13th, 1948, she was elected to the U.S. Senate from Maine. That made her the first woman to be elected to both houses of Congress.

Maine was not a state yet during the War of 1812, so it was not represented on the “star-spangled banner” that flew over Ft. McHenry in Baltimore on this date in 1814.  Francis Scott Key wrote his famous poem about the 15-star, 15-stripe flag that continued to fly over the fort after a British attack.

FROM THE EARTH TO THE HONEYMOON

September 12 in history:

“How do I love thee…?”  Elizabeth Barrett showed her love for fellow poet Robert Browning by eloping with him in England on September 12th, 1846.  Barrett’s father did not approve of Browning.

Astronauts Mark Lee and Jan Davis became the first married couple to travel together in space on September 12th, 1992.  They were among the seven crew members aboard the shuttle Endeavour.  The eight-day mission was the first space flight for Davis, and the second for Lee.

“To the moon, Alice!”  On September 12th, 1970, “The Jackie Gleason Show” ended an eight-year run on CBS.  The hour-long variety show often featured musical episodes of “The Honeymooners” with Gleason as Ralph Kramden and Art Carney as Ed Norton.

The Gemini 11 mission was launched on this date in 1966. Astronauts Pete Conrad and Richard Gordon conducted tests to link two space capsules in orbit, a skill that would be needed on flights to the moon.

Pete Conrad was portrayed by actor Peter Scolari in an episode of the TV miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.”  Scolari, best known for his roles on “Newhart” and “Bosom Buddies,” was born September 12th of 1955.

WHAT ELSE HAPPENED

September 11 in history:

Since 2001, the date of September 11th brings to mind images of the terror attacks which occurred during one day in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.  As for other events in history on this day…

The U.S. ambassador to Libya was among four persons killed in an attack at a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012. The Obama White House and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been accused of trying to cover up the true circumstances surrounding the attack.

The Pentagon was hit by one of the airplanes hijacked on 9/11/01. September 11th was the day construction began on the Pentagon in 1941.

One of the airline passengers killed in the Pentagon attack was political commentator Barbara Olson, whose husband Theodore was Solicitor General at the time.  Ted Olson was born on September 11th of 1940…the same day as movie director Brian de Palma, who opened the movie “The Bonfire of the Vanities” with a long single-take shot inside the World Trade Center. De Palma’s other films include “Carrie,” “Scarface,” and “The Untouchables.”

September 11th was the day in 1609 that Henry Hudson sailed in what would become New York Harbor, and discovered the mouth of the river eventually named after him.

New York is where Tom Landry began his coaching career in pro football, on the staff of the Giants.  Landry, born on September 11th, 1924, left the Giants to become the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  He shared his birthday, and a habit of wearing distinctive hats on the sidelines, with another legendary football coach, Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant (born 1913).