Category: Today in history

DISASTER HIGH ABOVE AND FAR BELOW

July 28 in history:

Until the September 11th attacks of 2001, perhaps the most famous case of a plane crashing into a skyscraper was the accident at the Empire State Building on July 28th, 1945. A B-25 bomber headed to Newark slammed into the building at the 79th floor level on a foggy Saturday morning. The three men on the plane died, along with 11 people inside the building.

A mining disaster in Pennsylvania was coming to a much happier end on this date in 2002. Nine coal miners were brought to the surface at the Quecreek mine, four days after they were trapped below ground by flooding. Many Americans spent Saturday night of that weekend watching live TV coverage of the efforts to rescue the miners.

Two women who became familiar faces on Saturday night TV in the 1970s have birthdays on July 28th.  During the 70’s, Sally Struthers (born 1947) played Gloria on “All in the Family,” and Georgia Engel (1948) was Georgette on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Georgette married Minneapolis TV anchorman Ted Baxter, whose boss was news director Lou Grant.  When the Lou Grant character got his own spinoff, he became a Los Angeles newspaper editor whose staff included reporter Billie Newman, played by Minneapolis native Linda Kelsey, born July 28th, 1946.

 

SEOUL ON ICE

July 27 in history:

The armistice ending the Korean War was signed on this date in 1953.

South Korea eventually hosted the Summer Olympics at Seoul in 1988. The Summer Games then went to Barcelona in 1992, and Atlanta, Georgia…where a bombing occurred at the Olympic Village on July 27th, 1996. One person was killed by the blast, and more than 100 others were injured. Eric Rudolph pled guilty to the bombing years later, claiming he intended the attack as a protest against abortion.

Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming was born on July 27th, 1948.  Fleming won the only gold medal for the U.S. at the 1968 Winter Olympics, and later appeared in TV specials that featured her performing on ice to popular songs.

“A Song of Ice and Fire” is the series of fantasy books by George R.R. Martin which inspired the TV series “Game of Thrones.”  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister on “Game of Thrones,” was born on this date in 1970.


THE SKY, THE MOON AND THE STARS

July 26 in history:

The first launch of a space shuttle since the Columbia disaster of 2003 happened on July 26th, 2005. It was the first time that the shuttle Discovery had flown in almost four years.

The fourth manned landing on the moon occurred during the Apollo 15 mission, which launched on this date in 1971. Astronauts James Irwin and David Scott were the first ones to use a “moon rover” vehicle during this mission.

The Oscar-winning song “Moon River” comes from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, directed by Blake Edwards, born on July 26th, 1922. Also born on the same date that year was Jason Robards, one of four Academy Award winning actors or actresses who share this birthday. The others are Helen Mirren (1945), Kevin Spacey (1959), and Sandra Bullock (1964).


YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST

July 25 in history:

Several firsts on this day in history…

louise_brownTwo English inventors, William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone, demonstrated their telegraph for the first time on July 25th, 1837. The two men communicated between rooms about a mile-and-a-half apart.

England claims the very first “test-tube baby.” Louise Brown, the first baby conceived through in-vitro fertilization, was born on this date in 1978.

Thirty-five year old cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space on July 25th, 1984, outside the Salyut 7 space station.

“Layyyyyy-deeee!” Did you know the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis performed together for the first time on July 24th and 25th in 1946 at a club in Atlantic City? Martin and Lewis also officially broke up on July 25th, 1956.

Bob Dylan was a major folk music star when he performed at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island on July 25th, 1965.  The audience reportedly booed Dylan when he chose to play a few songs on electric guitar that night, violating the acoustic tradition of ’60s folk music.  People who heard Dylan’s performance have disagreed on whether the audience was really upset about the playing of an electric guitar, or about the short time Dylan was given on stage, or whether there was much booing at all.


I AM NOT A COOK

July 24 in history:

Dan Hedaya DickSomeone’s in the kitchen with Nikita…and on July 24th, 1959, it was U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon. He and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev met in the kitchen area of an American home exhibit in Moscow and, through interpreters, debated eastern culture vs. western culture. The videotaped discussion became known as the “Kitchen Debate.”

Fifteen years later, Nixon had moved up to the job of president, but his presidency would soon come to an end. On July 24th of 1974, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Nixon would have to release secret tape recordings to the Watergate prosecutor. Nixon resigned shortly after the release of one tape showing that he wanted to use the CIA to block an FBI probe into Watergate.

In the 1999 Watergate comedy “Dick,” President Nixon was played by actor Dan Hedaya, born July 24th, 1940.  Hedaya is better known as Nick Tortelli, the ex-husband of Carla on “Cheers” and its spin-off, “The Tortellis”.

During his 1968 campaign, Nixon made a brief appearance on the TV comedy show “Laugh-In,” saying “Sock it to me?” Ruth Buzzi was a “Laugh-In” cast member for the show’s entire six-season run. She was born on this date in 1936.

 

MORE CROWNED HEADS

July 23 in history:

Sarah Ferguson (“Fergie”) married into the British royal family on July 23rd, 1986.  Fergie’s marriage to Prince Andrew made her the Duchess of York.  Andrew and Sarah were married for 10 years.  Their daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, drew attention at the 2011 wedding of Prince William for their clothes, especially their designer hats.

Vanessa Williams had to stop wearing her royal headgear…the Miss America crown…on this date in 1984.  She was the first African-American contestant to be named Miss America, and the first to resign.  Williams was pressured to give up the title two months before the end of her reign because of publicity about nude photos of her, taken a year before she won the pageant.

On July 23rd of 1952, a revolution began in Egypt which led to the abdication of King Farouk I.

July 23rd was the birthday of Ethiopia’s last monarch, Emperor Haile Selassie (1892).  And it was the day that U.S. President U.S. Grant died in 1885.

CLEAVELAND ROCKS!

July 22 in history:

On July 22nd, 1796, a portion of land along Lake Erie was named “Cleaveland,” in honor of Gen. Moses Cleaveland, the head of the surveying party.  A printer later shortened the new city’s name to “Cleveland,” Ohio.

Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame includes the Eagles, whose drummer Don Henley was born on this date in 1947. Also born on July 22nd, actor David Spade (1964) from “Saturday Night Live” and “Just Shoot Me!”

The fatal shooting of bank robber and gangster John Dillinger happened on July 22nd, 1934 outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.  Three government agents fired at the 31-year-old Dillinger.

TRAIN / MONKEYS

July 21 in history:

The first U.S. train robbery west of the Mississippi happened on July 21st, 1873, near Adair, Iowa.  The James-Younger Gang got away with about three thousand dollars from a safe and from the train’s passengers.

Tennessee schoolteacher John T. Scopes didn’t get away with violating state law by teaching evolution in class.  On July 21st, 1925, a jury in Dayton, Tennessee convicted Scopes at the “monkey trial” which featured defense attorney Clarence Darrow and prosecuting attorney William Jennings Bryan debating evolution and the Bible.  The trial was later dramatized in the play “Inherit the Wind.”

Spencer Tracy played the fictional version of Darrow in the original 1960 movie of “Inherit the Wind,” two years after starring in the film “The Old Man and the Sea,” based on an Ernest Hemingway novel.  Hemingway was born on this date in 1899. 

 

HIGHER AND HIGHER

July 20 in history:

July 20th of 1921 was the first day of regular air mail service between New York and San Francisco.

On this day in 1976, Viking I became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars.  The Viking landing occurred on the seventh anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon.  July 20th, 1969 was the day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the lunar surface and left the first human footprints in the moon dust during the Apollo 11 mission.

Triviazoids creator Brad Williams with Josh Holloway on "Jimmy Kimmel Live"

Triviazoids creator Brad Williams with Josh Holloway on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”

Actor Josh Holloway was born on the day of the Apollo landing in 1969.  Holloway’s best-known character is a passenger on a fateful flight that crash-lands on an island.  He played Sawyer on the TV survival drama “Lost.”

Another actor well-known for a sci-fi series died on July 20th, 2005:  James Doohan, engineer Scotty of the Starship Enterprise on “Star Trek.”  Doohan’s ashes have been sent into space on more than one occasion.

And July 20th is the birthday of a man who went high places without being in an airplane or spacecraft:  Mount Everest conqueror Edmund Hillary (born 1919).

 

KENNEDY CONNECTIONS

July 19 in history:

On July 19th, 1969, Senator Edward Kennedy reported to police in Edgartown, Massachusetts, that he had been in a car accident the night before on Chappaquiddick Island.  He admitted to driving a car into a pond, and said he and others had failed to rescue passenger Mary Jo Kopechne from the car.  Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the accident scene. 

Thirty years later, on this date in 1999, police and the military were searching the waters off Martha’s Vineyard for a plane piloted by Senator Kennedy’s nephew, John F. Kennedy, Jr.  Kennedy, his wife Carolyn, and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette disappeared on July 15th in bad weather during a night flight to Martha’s Vineyard. 

July 19th was a happier day for the Kennedy family in 1986.  John Junior’s sister Caroline married Edwin Schlossberg on that day.

John and Caroline’s uncle, Sargent Shriver, was the running mate of Democratic nominee George McGovern in the November, 1972 presidential election.  McGovern was born July 19th, 1922.