THEY COULDN’T DISAPPEAR

September 1 in history:

The last known passenger pigeon in captivity, named Martha, died on September 1st, 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo. Ironically, the Ohio legislature was asked to protect passenger pigeons in the 1850s, and a study committee concluded that the species was so plentiful, there was no need for protection.

The passenger pigeon disappeared two years after the “unsinkable” ocean liner Titanic disappeared in the waters of the Atlantic.  But Titanic did not remain lost forever.  On September 1st, 1985, a team led by undersea explorer Robert Ballard found the wreckage of Titanic on the ocean floor, about 400 miles from Newfoundland.

The James Cameron film “Titanic” featured Kathy Bates as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown.  Bates won the Best Actress Oscar for “Misery” in 1990, the same year that Jeremy Irons was named Best Actor for “Reversal of Fortune,” playing real-life attempted-murder suspect Claus von Bulow.  September 1st is the birthday of both von Bulow’s wife, Martha “Sunny” von Bulow (1931 or 1932), and his defense attorney Alan Dershowitz (1938).

A KING AND A LADY

August 31 in history:

The King of England died in France on this date in 1422.  King Henry V was 35, and had been on the throne for nine years.  Henry died of dysentery while leading a military campaign in France.

The Princess of Wales died in France on this date in 1997. Princess Diana, formerly Lady Diana Spencer, was 36, and had been divorced from Prince Charles for just one year.  Diana and two others died after their car crashed into a pillar inside a Paris tunnel, as the car was trying to outrun photographers.  Despite conspiracy theories suggesting Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were murdered, official inquests concluded that the car’s driver was negligent and apparently drunk.

sara ramirez spamalotAlan Jay Lerner wrote the lyrics to popular musicals about a king (“Camelot”) and a “Lady” (“My Fair Lady”).  Lerner was born August 31st, 1918.

The Lady of the Lake is the leading female character in the musical “Spamalot,” based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”  Sara Ramirez won a Tony Award in 2005 for originating the role of the Lady on Broadway.  Ramirez, born August 31st, 1975, is known to television viewers as Dr. Callie Torres on “Grey’s Anatomy.”

MESSAGE TO WASHINGTON

August 30 in history:

Lincoln and Booth were together every week in the ’60s…the 1960s. On your TV screen.  Raymond Massey…famous for playing Abraham Lincoln on stage and film…portrayed Dr. Gillespie on “Dr. Kildare.” NBC followed “Kildare” on Thursday nights with “Hazel,” starring Shirley Booth.  The two shows debuted on the same night in 1961, and remained together on the NBC schedule until “Hazel” moved to CBS in 1965.  Both stars were born on August 30th…Massey in 1896, and Booth in 1898.

For much of the run of “Dr. Kildare,” “Lincoln” (Massey) was competing with “Steven Douglas” for Thursday night viewers. Fred MacMurray, born Aug. 30th, 1908, starred as Steve Douglas on “My Three Sons,” which was often scheduled on ABC opposite NBC’s “Kildare.”

One hundred years after Lincoln was president, a famous telephone was installed at the White House on August 30th, 1963. It was the first hotline between Washington and the Kremlin, designed to help communications between East and West and avoid international incidents.  It wasn’t a direct phone line between the U.S. president and the Soviet leader.  The Pentagon acted as a go-between.

George Washington got a message, a peace offer, from a British general on this date in 1776.  General William Howe offered to let Washington and his army escape from Brooklyn Heights before a possible British attack.  Washington rejected the offer, and sent it to the Continental Congress.


KATRINA AND THE WAVES

August 29 in history:

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. on August 29th, 2005, leading to massive flooding in New Orleans when many levees on the Mississippi were breached.  More than 18-hundred people died because of the storm, while over 20,000 people took shelter in the Louisiana Superdome.

A made-for-TV movie called “Superdome,” broadcast in 1978, starred David Janssen from the 1960s series “The Fugitive.”  The final episode of “The Fugitive” aired on August 29th, 1967.  Almost half the households in America watched as Dr. Richard Kimble confronted the real killer of his wife, the “one-armed man.”  The last line of the episode was “Tuesday, August 29th…the day the running stopped.”

August 29th of 2008 was the day the running started for vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska. Palin suddenly became a household name when Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her as his running mate.  It was Palin’s 20th wedding anniversary and McCain’s 72nd birthday.  And on this date in 1968, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine was nominated as Hubert Humphrey’s running mate at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

THEY HAD A DREAM

August 28 in history:

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom drew about 200,000 people to Washington, D.C. on August 28th, 1963. The March is remembered as the occasion when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech to the crowd gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Forty-five years later, on August 28th, 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama referred to King’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial during his own acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention.  The outdoor speech was given at Invesco Field (now Sports Authority Field) at Mile High, the home stadium of the Denver Broncos.

In 2013, Quvenzhane Wallis became the youngest African-American to receive an Oscar nomination for acting and the youngest person ever nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, for her role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”  Wallis turns 11 years old today.  She has been cast as the lead in a new movie version of the musical “Annie.”

Berry Gordy Jr. had a dream of running a record company.  Gordy’s company Motown released “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes on this day in 1961.  It would become Motown’s first number-one record.

Michael Jackson was one of the most successful artists on Motown Records.  In 1984, Jackson starred in TV commercials for a soft drink which got its current name on August 28th, 1898.  North Carolina druggist Caleb Bradham had invented a beverage he called “Brad’s Drink,” but in 1898, he renamed it “Pepsi-Cola.”


IT’S ALL IN THE GAME

August 27 in history:

Washington Senators LogoAugust 27th is the only date which is the birthday of more than one Vice-President of the United States. Three V-P’s actually were born on this date:  Lincoln’s first V-P, Hannibal Hamlin (1809), Coolidge’s V-P, Charles Dawes (1865), and Lyndon Johnson (1908), who later became President after Kennedy’s assassination.

Dawes is the only U.S. vice-president who wrote a number-one hit song.  His tune titled “Melody in A Major” was turned into “It’s All in the Game,” and the Tommy Edwards recording topped the charts in 1958. On this date in ’58, it looked like the game of major league baseball would be leaving Washington, D.C., when the owner of the Senators ball club said he would probably move the team to Minnesota. President Eisenhower even weighed in that day, urging the Senators to stay in D.C.

Another town got a professional sports team on August 27th, 1921, when the Green Bay Packers went pro and joined an organization which would soon be renamed the National Football League.

Greenbay_packers_1921

SEE JANE RUN. SEE JANE VOTE.

August 26 in history:

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect on August 26th, 1920, giving American women the right to vote.

It’s the birthday of the first woman to be nominated as Vice President by a major political party, Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, born in 1935.

Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to the Democratic Party convention in Denver on this date in 2008, the night before she officially conceded the party’s presidential nomination to Barack Obama.

Women still cannot be elected pope or vote for the pope. On August 26th, 1978, Catholic Cardinal Albino Luciani was elected pope to succeed Paul the 6th. Luciani combined the names of the two most
recent popes in naming himself John Paul the 1st.

August 26th is also the birthday of Mother Teresa (born 1910), the European-born nun who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work with the poor people of Calcutta.