CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

July 15th in history:

The middle of July is a popular time for political parties to choose their presidential candidates.  President Harry Truman accepted the Democratic nomination on July 15th of 1948, and Jimmy Carter gave his acceptance speech during the 1976 Democratic convention on the 15th.  Bill Clinton won the nomination on July 15th, 1992 at the Democratic convention, and Republican Barry Goldwater was nominated on this day during the Republican convention in 1964.

Goldwater’s nomination happened on the 26th birthday of his son, Barry Goldwater Jr., who was born in Arizona and later served as a Republican Congressman from California for seven terms.  Another Arizona native, singer Linda Ronstadt, was born on July 15th of 1946.

Linda Ronstadt is famous for recording rock songs and Spanish-language albums.  A language barrier was broken on this date in 1799 when a rock known as the “Rosetta Stone” was discovered in Egypt.  The stone has the same message printed three times, in hieroglyphics and two other languages, allowing experts to translate Egyptian sign language.

Some folks might need a Rosetta stone to figure out abbreviations used in messages on Twitter (LOL). The internet service, which originally limited messages (“tweets”) to 140 characters, was launched July 15th, 2006.

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DOWN WITH KINGS, UP WITH PRESIDENTS

July 14th in history:

Chancellor FordThe French celebrate July 14th as the day they began their revolution against royalty.  The Bastille prison in Paris was stormed by revolutionaries on this date in 1789.

France had a new king on this date in 1223:  Louis VIII.  He was 35 years old, and became king upon the death of his father, Philip II, who had reigned for 42 years.  Louis only held the throne for three years before he became ill and died.

A “King” who would rule the United States was born in Nebraska on this day in 1913.  He was born Leslie King Jr., but when his parents divorced and his mother remarried, Leslie was renamed after his stepfather:  Gerald Ford.  Mr. Ford had the shortest term of any U.S. president who did not die in office (less than three years), but he lived longer than any other president, until age 93.

July 14th is also the birthday of a Chancellor:  long-time NBC News anchor John Chancellor, born in 1927.  Chancellor began anchoring “NBC Nightly News” in 1970, when Chet Huntley retired from “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.”  He’s credited with originating the idea of using color-coded maps on network news coverage of presidential elections, starting in 1976, when NBC used blue to mark states won by Gerald Ford, and red for states won by Jimmy Carter.

 

ROCKET MEN AND CAR GUYS

July 13th in history:

Today is the birthday of two actors who became famous as fictional pilots of spaceships: Patrick Stewart (1940), alias Capt. Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Han Solo from Star Wars, Harrison Ford (1942).

Ford Motors canned company president Lee Iacocca, the developer of the Mustang, on July 13th, 1978. Within two years, Iacocca became a household name as the new chairman of Chrysler.

The Chrysler building went dark – and so did the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center, and all of the Manhattan skyline the night of July 13th, 1977. The storm-related power outage lasted just over 24 hours.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT

July 12th in history:

Malala Yousafzai

On this day in 1862, members of Congress authorized the Medal of Honor to be given by the U.S. Army for acts of valor.  More than 3,500 Medals of Honor have been awarded, with nearly half going to people who served in the Civil War.  As of 2018, Civil War physician Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman to receive the medal.

Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro made history on this day in 1984, when Walter Mondale announced that she would be his running mate in the presidential election. Ferraro was a former school teacher who became a lawyer and eventually a representative from New York. She became the first woman nominated for vice-president by a major party.

Political activist Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan has traveled the world, advocating education for young girls. Malala, born on this day in 1997, survived being shot in the head during an assassination attempt to stop her campaign to let girls attend school. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, making her, at age 17, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.

The sons and daughters of the King of Siam are taught by governess Anna Leonowens in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “The King and I.” Oscar Hammerstein II, born on July 12th, 1895, wrote the book and lyrics to “King and I” and other famous musicals, including “Show Boat,” “The Sound of Music,” and “South Pacific.”

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN

July 11th in history:

The first treasury secretary of the U.S., Alexander Hamilton, was felled by a bullet in his famous duel with Vice President Aaron Burr on July 11th, 1804. Hamilton died the next day.

The Skylab space station fell to Earth on July 11th, 1979, after six years in orbit. Pieces of the craft fell on Australia and into the Indian Ocean.

Movie fans remember Thomas Mitchell falling off his horse as Scarlett’s father in “Gone With the Wind.” Actor Mitchell also played Uncle Billy in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And late in his career, Mitchell portrayed an oddball detective named “Columbo” in a stage play, years before Peter Falk made the same character famous on TV. Mitchell was born July 11th, 1892.

LIVE BY SATELLITE

July 10th in history:

There was no such thing as a communications satellite until July 10th, 1962, when the first Telstar was sent into orbit. On that same day in ’62, President Kennedy signed a bill called the All-Channel Receiver Act, requiring new TV sets in the U.S. to carry UHF signals beyond VHF Channel 13.

Satellite technology helped make TV programs like “ABC World News Tonight” possible. That newscast debuted on July 10th, 1978, officially replacing the anchor team of Harry Reasoner and Barbara Walters. Three men – Frank Reynolds, Max Robinson and Peter Jennings – anchored the program from three different cities.

ABC’s new newscast began on the 58th birthday of competitor David Brinkley, who was then co-anchor of “NBC Nightly News”. Three years later, Brinkley moved to ABC.

MR. BRYAN, MEET PRIVATE RYAN

July 9th in history:

Tom Hanks William Jennings Bryan

On July 9th, 1850, Zachary Taylor became the second U.S. president to die in office. Taylor became sick after eating at a 4th of July celebration – and, to this day, some historians believe he was deliberately poisoned. His body was exhumed for testing in 1991, but the coroner did not find sufficient evidence of poisoning.

Another man who wanted to be president made a famous speech on this date in 1896. William Jennings Bryan delivered what was known as the “Cross of Gold” speech at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, opposing the gold standard.  Following that oration, Bryan became the youngest presidential nominee in Democratic party history at age 36, and earned the nickname the “Boy Orator.”

Tom Hanks became a first-time Oscar nominee at age 32 for “Big,” in which he played a boy suddenly stuck in a man’s body.  Hanks, born on July 9th, 1956, won back-to-back Oscars for “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.”  He has also played astronaut Jim Lovell in “Apollo 13,” commanded G.I.s in the WWII drama “Saving Private Ryan,” and romanced Meg Ryan in “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

“Big” was released in 1988, the same year that 11-year-old Fred Savage played a grown-up suddenly stuck in a boy’s body in “Vice Versa.”  Savage, born on this day in 1976, also played Peter Falk’s grandson in “The Princess Bride” and starred as Kevin Arnold on the TV series “The Wonder Years.”  As a grown-up, Savage has shifted from acting to directing.