FINDING THE UNKNOWN AND UNUSUAL

June 24th in history:

On June 24th, 1497, English explorer John Cabot became the first European to reach Newfoundland since the Vikings.

An artist with an unusual visual style had his first art exhibition on this date in 1901. His name was Pablo Picasso.

It only took 50 years, but on June 24th, 1997, the Air Force issued a report on alleged alien sightings in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The official report said the “aliens” actually were dummies. Many people continue to suspect a cover-up.

He wasn’t an alien – he was a “RoboCop.” Actor Peter Weller celebrates his birthday today (1947) – and so does his “RoboCop” co-star, Nancy Allen (1950).

HERE COMES THE JUDGE

June 23rd in history:

President Nixon and aide H.R. Haldeman had an Oval Office conversation on June 23rd, 1972, which would come back to haunt Nixon two years later. On that day, Nixon and Haldeman discussed recruiting the CIA to block an FBI investigation of the Watergate break-in days earlier. The Supreme Court ruled in 1974 that a recording of the conversation had to be given to a special prosecutor, and Nixon resigned the same week that the recording was made public.

The man who led the Supreme Court during Watergate, Warren Burger, became Chief Justice on June 23rd, 1969.

Justice Clarence Thomas was born on this date in 1948. Another judge with a June 23rd birthday is Randy Jackson of “American Idol” (1956).

CATASTROPHE, CAPITAL CRIMES AND CANADA

June 22nd in history:

A deadly train wreck occurred near Hammond, Indiana, on June 22nd, 1918. The engineer of one train reportedly fell asleep and was unable to stop his train from striking the rear of a circus train on the same track. The wooden cars on the circus train caught fire quickly, and 86 people died. The engineer blamed for the accident was hanged a few days later for causing the disaster.

Hanging was the method of execution in Canada, until that country abolished capital punishment. The Canadian House of Commons voted on June 22nd, 1976, to end the death penalty.

The actor who played Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Fenwick in the “Dudley Do-Right” cartoons, Paul Frees, was born on this date in 1920. Frees also was famous for providing the accents of animated characters such as Professor Ludwig Von Drake and Boris Badenov.

June 22nd is also the birthday of another performer skilled at accents…three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (1949).  Streep used foreign accents in two of her award-winning roles…as the Polish heroine of “Sophie’s Choice,” and as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.”

FAMILY TIES

June 21st in history:

A court ruling of concern to the First Family, the Reagans, on June 21st, 1982: John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shootings of President Reagan and three other men. Hinckley was committed to a mental hospital.

On that same day and year, there was a new addition to the British royal family. It was Prince William, the first child of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. Upon his birth, William became second in line to the British throne.

Later in 1982, the sitcom “Family Ties” premiered on NBC. The parents on that show, Steven and Elyse Keaton, were played by two performers born on June 21st, 1947: Michael Gross and Meredith Baxter.

MASSACHUSETTS LINKS

June 20th in history:

On June 20th, 1840, Massachusetts native Samuel F.B. Morse received a patent for his telegraph.

Another form of fast communication was the Hot Line between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, installed June 20th, 1963, during the presidency of John F. Kennedy (from Massachusetts).

In New Bedford, Massachusetts, on June 20th, 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the ax murders of her mother and father.

And June 20th is the birthday of Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis (1931), a Massachusetts native and cousin of former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. Olympia Dukakis won her Oscar for the 1987 movie comedy “Moonstruck,” and shares a June 20th birthday with two other stars of that film:  Danny Aiello (born 1933) and John Mahoney (1940).

“Moonstruck” also features the Dean Martin song “That’s Amore,” introduced in the Martin and Lewis movie “The Caddy.”  Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were among the guests on the premiere of the CBS variety show “Toast of the Town” on June 20th, 1948.  The series eventually was renamed “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and ran for 23 years.

CELEBRATIONS AND RECOGNITION

June 19th in history:

The holiday called “Juneteenth” resulted from an event in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1865. Two months after the end of the Civil War, it was announced in Galveston that all slaves in Texas were being granted their freedom. Five years later, on June 19th, 1870, the “Confederate States of America” was officially abolished, after all the Confederate states had rejoined the Union.

Fathers were put on a pedestal with a holiday of their own, when a “Father’s Day” celebration was observed for the first time at a church in Spokane, Washington, on this day in 1910.

June 19th is the birthday of an American idol, baseball star Lou Gehrig (1903), and an original “American Idol” judge, Paula Abdul (1962).

PIONEERING WOMEN

June 18th in history:

She was arrested for voting in a presidential election. A century later, she received an honor usually reserved for presidents: getting her face on a U.S. coin. Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for illegally voting. The fine was imposed on June 18th, 1873.

On this date in 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly in an aircraft across the Atlantic. Earhart wasn’t the pilot, but was a passenger.

Exactly 55 years later, on June 18th, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, aboard the shuttle Challenger.

And it’s the birthday of a man known for singing about women named “Sally G,” “Michelle,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Lady Madonna.”  Sir Paul McCartney was born on June 18th, 1942.