March 10th in history:
Nineteen years later, Jefferson was president of the United States, and negotiated the purchase of the Louisiana territory from France. The purchase was made official in St. Louis on March 10th, 1804.
And the French Foreign Legion was established by King Louis-Philippe on this day in 1831.
March 9th in history:
On March 9th, 1965, more than two thousand civil rights demonstrators led by Martin Luther King Jr. marched to the Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama for the second time in three days. State troopers had physically attacked marchers on March 7th, to keep them from crossing the bridge on a trek from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. The March 9th demonstration ended with the group turning back at the bridge because of a court order blocking the march. The full march to Montgomery was permitted later that month.
The “original” Martin Luther earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible studies on this date in 1508, a year after becoming a Catholic priest. Five years later, on March 9th, 1513, the pope who would eventually excommunicate Luther was elected. Giovanni de Medici took the papal name Leo X.
The shout “Attaboy, Luther!” is a running joke in the Don Knotts comedy “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” written by Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum. Fritzell was only 59 when he died on this date in 1979. He and Greenbaum worked as a writing team for decades, contributing to many popular TV series including “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Mister Peepers,” “Sanford and Son,” and “M*A*S*H.”
March 8th in history:
Two U.S. presidents died on March 8th: Millard Fillmore in 1874, and William Howard Taft in 1930. Fillmore was not nominated for a second term by the Whigs in 1852, and finished third in the electoral vote in the 1856 election. Taft came in third in his 1912 re-election bid, behind Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt. Taft served as Chief Justice for nine years, and retired just weeks before his death.
Charles De Gaulle was still president of France when construction began on an airport near Paris that would be named after him. De Gaulle International Airport opened eight years later, on this date in 1974.
Arthur Dent began his travels through the universe when the first episode of the radio show “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was broadcast on the BBC on this date in 1978.
And March 8th is the birthday of the “Skipper” who led the S.S. Minnow on an infamous “three-hour tour.” Alan Hale of “Gilligan’s Island” was born on this date in 1921.
In its final season, “Gilligan’s Island” aired Monday nights on CBS, opposite “The Monkees” on NBC. Monkees singer and drummer Micky Dolenz was born March 8th, 1945.
March 7th in history:
On March 7th, 1912, explorer Roald Amundsen publicly announced that he had reached the South Pole nearly three months earlier. Amundsen had to wait until arriving in Australia before announcing his feat, because there were no telephone poles at the South Pole.
Telephones had been around for more than 30 years, though. On March 7th, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for his telephone. Bell didn’t prove that the invention actually worked until three days later.
Alexander Graham Bell was played by Don Ameche in a 1939 movie biography, and it became Ameche’s most famous role. Two years later, Ameche starred in the movie “Kiss the Boys Goodbye” with Mary Martin, whose most popular role on stage and TV was Peter Pan. On this date in 1955, Martin starred in a live color production of “Peter Pan” on NBC, which set a ratings record with an audience of 65 million viewers.
March 6th in history:
The Alamo fell to Mexican forces on this day in 1836, after a 13-day siege over whether the land would be controlled by Mexico or settlers of Texas.
“The Defense of the Alamo” was a 1953 episode of the TV series “You Are There,” hosted by Walter Cronkite of CBS News. Cronkite later went on to anchor “The CBS Evening News” and live coverage of many manned space flights. He also hosted a Saturday morning revival of “You Are There” in the 1970s, which included a story about the Alamo. Cronkite’s last night on the “Evening News” was March 6th, 1981.
March 6th is the birthday of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper (1927), and the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova (1937). It’s also the birthday of a guy who knows about the “Dark Side of the Moon” — Pink Floyd musician David Gilmour (1946).
March 5th in history:
Two famous show-business deaths on March 5th: John Belushi and Patsy Cline, who were both in their early 30s when they died. Comedian Belushi was found dead of a drug overdose on this day in 1982. Cline and other country singers were killed in a 1963 plane crash in Tennessee.
John Belushi once played an alien named Kuldorth in a “Coneheads” sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” On the day Belushi died in ’82, a Soviet spacecraft called Venera 14 landed on the surface of Venus, surviving the heat and atmospheric pressure of the planet for nearly an hour to take photographs.
A milestone in flight on March 5th, 1912: It was the first time that a dirigible, or zeppelin, was used for military purposes, when Italy sent a dirigible behind Turkish lines on a spy mission.
Led Zeppelin performed “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time in public in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 5th, 1971. The band’s bassist, John Paul Jones, says audience members were bored by the song because they had never heard it before.
March 4th in history:
Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for the first of his four terms as president on March 4th, 1933. It was the last March inauguration. The swearing-in date changed to January 20th in 1937. FDR’s first inaugural address was the one in which he said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Fear of an unseen, menacing truck driver is what drives the plot of Steven Spielberg’s 1971 made-for-TV movie Duel. The real driver behind the wheel of the truck in Duel was stunt driver Carey Loftin, who also drove in famous chase scenes for Bullitt and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Loftin was 83 years old when he died on this date in 1997.
March 4th is the birthday of the AAA (American Automobile Association), founded in Chicago in 1902.
German auto maker Gottlieb Daimler unveiled his first automobile on this day in 1887. Daimler is credited as the inventor of the first four-wheel auto.
Popular hot-rod designer of the 1960s, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, was born on March 4th, 1932.
March 3rd in history:
“The Star-Spangled Banner” became the national anthem of the United States on March 3rd, 1931.
On this date in 1845, Florida became the 27th star in the flag when it joined the union.
The Apollo 9 mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on this date in 1969. It was the first test flight for the lunar landing module, and its three-man crew consisted of Jim McDivitt, Rusty Schweikart, and David Scott.
Another “Mr. Scott” well known for fictional space travels, actor James Doohan of the “Star Trek” TV series was born on March 3rd of 1920.
Another historic video was shot on March 3rd, 1991, when a man in Los Angeles filmed a police beating from his window. The beating of black driver Rodney King by white policemen touched off racial tensions, which led to riots in L.A. the following year when a jury acquitted the police officers.
March 2nd in history:
Just days before President Ulysses S. Grant was scheduled to leave office in 1877, Americans still didn’t know who the next president would be. A dispute over electoral votes ended March 2nd, three days before the inauguration ceremony, when a special commission declared Rutherford B. Hayes the new president by just one electoral vote. Samuel Tilden had won the popular vote in the 1876 election.
It took just three ballots to choose a new pope on March 2nd, 1939. On his 63rd birthday, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli became Pope Pius XII. Pacelli was assigned to Rome for most of his priesthood, and he was welcomed to the Vatican in 1901 by Pope Leo XIII, born Vincenzo Pecci on this day in 1810.
Leo was the first pope to appear in a motion picture, and to have his voice recorded. That pope shares a birthday with a “Carpenter” who was famous for recordings: singer Karen Carpenter, born March 2nd, 1950. Teamed with her brother Richard, Karen sang lead on several hit songs in the 1970s, including “Close to You,” “Superstar,” and “Top of the World.”
Wilt Chamberlain was already a basketball superstar in 1962, as the NBA’s all-time scoring king for a single game, but he was on top of the world on March 2nd of that year. On that day, Chamberlain became the first (and so far, only) player in the league to ever score 100 points in one game, leading the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169-147 win over the New York Knicks. The game played in Hershey, Pennsylvania, was broadcast on the radio, but not on TV.
March 1st in history:
On March 1st, 1962, an American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles with 95 people aboard crashed into Jamaica Bay just after takeoff from Idlewild Airport on Long Island. No one survived. It was the worst crash involving a U.S. commercial airliner up until that time.
The crash happened on the same day that astronaut John Glenn was being honored in New York with a ticker-tape parade, for being the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton turned 38 that day. Slayton was scheduled to fly on the next Mercury mission, but a medical problem grounded him, and kept him from flying in space until 1975.
Other famous people associated with flying were born on March 1st. They include:
Bandleader Glenn Miller (born 1904), lost on a plane flight while serving in World War II;
Actor Robert Conrad (birth year in dispute, either 1929 or 1935), who played World War II pilot Pappy Boyington on “Black Sheep Squadron,” but is best known as secret agent James West on “The Wild Wild West”;
And Ron Howard (1954), who directed the space drama Apollo 13. Before becoming an award-winning director, Howard played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days.”