Category: Trivia

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND HELL

October 25 in history:

The United Nations traded in old China for new on October 25th, 1971…when Taiwan (Nationalist China) was expelled and Communist China was admitted as a member.  The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., George Bush, walked out in protest.  Bush later served as an unofficial ambassador to China before being elected vice-president and president of the U.S.

Another dramatic moment at the U.N. occurred on this date in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The U.S. ambassador in ’62, Adlai Stevenson, presented evidence to the Security Council that the Soviets had missiles in Cuba.  When the Soviet ambassador did not respond to the charge right away, Stevenson said he was prepared to wait for an answer “until hell freezes over.”

A “primrose path to Hell” is how Archbishop Francis Beckman of Dubuque described swing music in a speech to the National Council of Catholic Women on October 25th, 1938.  Beckman made that speech on his 63rd birthday.

Wonder what the archbishop would have thought of rock and roll music.  It’s the birthday of singer Katy Perry (born 1984), who became a star with the song “I Kissed a Girl.”  Perry switched to pop music after releasing a Christian rock album under her real name, Katy Hudson.  She changed her last name to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.

October 25th, 1977, was the day of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant’s funeral.  Van Zant was one of six people killed in the crash of the band’s plane in Mississippi.  The new Lynyrd Skynyrd album “Street Survivors” was in stores at the time, and coincidentally showed band members surrounded by flames.  Released that same week:  Meat Loaf’s album “Bat Out of Hell,” which included not only the title track, but also “Heaven Can Wait” and “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”

IT’S ALL “OVER” NOW

October 24 in history:

Here’s a holiday experiment that didn’t work:  moving Veterans’ Day away from the traditional date of November 11th.  The holiday, originally called Armistice Day, observed the date on which World War I ended in 1918.  But starting in 1971, Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Presidents’ Day all became Monday holidays for federal government employees.  Veterans’ Day was switched to the fourth Monday in October…and was observed that way for the last time on October 24th, 1977, before being returned to November 11th.

October 24th of 1951 was designated the last day of World War II by President Truman.  Germany and Japan both surrendered to the Allies in 1945, but the European war never officially ended with a peace treaty.  Truman apparently got tired of waiting to reach an agreement with a divided Germany, so he declared the war to be over.

Over the falls in a barrel…that where Annie Edson Taylor went on her 46th birthday, October 24th, 1901.  She became famous as the first woman to ride over Niagara Falls inside a barrel.

Paul Newman and Robert Redford went over a cliff in a famous scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which opened around the U.S. on this date in 1969.  Both Redford and Newman won Oscars in the 1980s, as did two actors who were born on October 24th:  F. Murray Abraham (1939), who starred in “Amadeus,” and Kevin Kline (1947), a winner for “A Fish Called Wanda.”

FATEFUL FLIGHT

October 23 in history:

Seventy-two Canadians were appointed by the British Empire as senators for their new nation’s Parliament on this date in 1867.

Brutus is infamous for his role in assassinating Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate, in 44 B.C.  Two years later, on October 23rd, 42 B.C., Brutus met his own fate, killing himself after losing the second battle of Philippi to Marc Antony.

A fateful meeting of two old friends, two pilots, led to deadly consequences in 1942.  One man was flying a B-34 bomber for the Army, while the other was a pilot for American Airlines.  They discovered that both would be flying near Palm Springs, California the next day, October 23rd.  On that day, the bomber pilot, Lt. William Wilson, tried flying close to American Flight 28 to signal to his friend, First Officer Louis Reppert.  Wilson got too close, and the planes collided.  The airliner crashed in the desert, killing all 12 people aboard.  Wilson went through a court-martial, but was acquitted.

One passenger on the American flight was an Oscar-winning songwriter, Ralph Rainger.  He’s best known for writing the theme songs used by two popular comedians…”Love in Bloom,” associated with Jack Benny, and “Thanks for the Memory,” Bob Hope’s theme.  Late in their careers, Hope and Benny appeared frequently with Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show.”  Carson became a comedy legend in his own right, by hosting “Tonight” for 30 years.  He was born October 23rd, 1925.

KENNEDY’S GOT A SECRET

October 22 in history:

Better Call Saul

On October 22nd, 1962, President John F. Kennedy made a televised speech publicly revealing the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.  In the speech, Kennedy announced a quarantine on ships that might be carrying offensive weapons to Cuba.

By coincidence, Kennedy’s address fell on the same night that JFK impersonator Vaughn Meader was recording a comedy album about the president, to be called “The First Family.”  Meader later said that the actors knew about the speech before the recording session, but the studio audience did not.  He thought the audience members would not have laughed as much, if they had been aware of the missile crisis.

Appearing on TV that October night in ’62, besides the president, was the game show “I’ve Got a Secret,” created by song-parody writer Allan Sherman, best known for “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.”  His record “My Son, the Folk Singer” lost the Grammy for album of the year in 1963 to “The First Family.”

Actor Bob Odenkirk has done parody sketches on “Mr. Show” and “The Ben Stiller Show.” October 22nd of 1962 is when Odenkirk was born. He may be best known for playing attorney Saul Goodman on “Breaking Bad,” and in the planned spinoff series “Better Call Saul.”

OFF TO THE SEA

October 21 in history:

On October 21st, 1520, Ferdinand Magellan and his crew discovered the strait at the tip of South America which would later bear his name.  The strait was the connection which took them from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Another famous ocean explorer was remembered on this date in 1892, when the Columbian Exposition was dedicated in Chicago.  The fair designed to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the New World actually opened in May of 1893.  New products and inventions introduced at the fair included the Ferris Wheel, Cream of Wheat cereal, and Juicy Fruit gum.

October 21st was the day in 1797 that the U.S.S. Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” was launched.  The ship (pictured), docked in Boston, is still maintained as an active Navy vessel.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge began writing his epic poem about the sea, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” in 1797.  Coleridge was born October 21st, 1772.


COX, CAROL, AND COMPANY

October 20 in history:

A dramatic night in Washington on October 20th, 1973…

President Nixon wanted the attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox.  Richardson resigned instead of carrying out the order.  So did his deputy A.G., William Ruckelshaus.  Cox was fired by the third man approached by Nixon, Solicitor General and future Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork.  The incident became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,” and fueled efforts to impeach Nixon.

News of the political turmoil interrupted network TV schedules that night.  “The Carol Burnett Show” was a popular Saturday night program in 1973.  A special episode of the Burnett show was presented at the new Sydney Opera House in Australia in honor of the building’s grand opening, which took place the same date and year as the Washington “massacre.”

Another Saturday night TV hit in October 1973 was “M*A*S*H.”  William Christopher, who played Father Mulcahy on the series, was born on October 20th, 1932.

MORE WORLDS TO CONQUER

October 19 in history:

Two European kingdoms joined to become Spain as the result of a royal wedding on October 19th, 1469.  That’s when Ferdinand of Aragon (he was 17) married Isabella of Castile (she was 18).

Napoleon tried to conquer Russia in 1812, but the Russian Army would not surrender.  The French leader and his army spent a month in Moscow, but could not get enough supplies to stay for the winter, so they retreated on October 19th, 1812.

Boxer Evander Holyfield became the undisputed world heavyweight champion in October 1990 by knocking out defending champ Buster Douglas.  Holyfield was born on this date in 1962.

It’s also the birthday of actor John Lithgow (1945), known for films such as “The World According to Garp” and his TV role as a visitor from another world on “3rd Rock from the Sun.”