CHANGE OF COMMAND

August 19 in history:

Many countries have experienced dramatic changes in leadership on August 19th …

Bill Hill and TipperThis date is considered Independence Day in Afghanistan, marking the day in 1919 when the country broke away from the United Kingdom.

On August 19th, 1945, Ho Chi Minh took power in Vietnam.

This was the date in 1953 when Iran’s elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, was overthrown in a coup arranged by the CIA. Mossadegh was placed under house arrest, as Shah Reza Pahlavi replaced him as leader of Iran.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was under house arrest on August 19th, 1991, as hard-line members of the Communist government tried to remove him from power. The coup attempt failed after a few days, and the USSR was disbanded that December.

August 19th is the birthday of one U.S. president, Bill Clinton (1946), and of Tipper Gore (1948), the wife of Clinton’s Vice President, Al Gore.

MUCH TO DISCOVER

August 18 in history:

August 18th is the birthday of explorer Meriwether Lewis (1774), who traveled for more than two years with William Clark through the Louisiana Purchase territory and along the Pacific Coast.

It’s also the birthday of Virginia Dare (1587), the first child born at an English settlement in North America, the Roanoke Colony in present-day North Carolina. Virginia was the granddaughter of the settlement’s governor, John White, who returned to England for supplies shortly after her birth. White did not get back to Roanoke until Virginia’s third birthday in 1590, and found the colony deserted, with few clues about what happened to the settlers.

Countless modern birthday celebrations have included helium balloons. The existence of helium was discovered on August 18th, 1868 by French astronomer Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen, who was analyzing sunlight during a solar eclipse. It took a few more years for others to actually find the element on Earth.

THE SPEEDY AND THE SEXY

August 17 in history:

Inventor Robert Fulton helped people travel faster by water with his steamboat, the Clermont, which completed its first round trip between New York City and Albany on this date in 1807. The Clermont traveled on the Hudson River at the rate of five miles an hour.

Michael Phelps showed during the 2008 Summer Olympics that he was faster than other swimmers. On August 17th that year, Phelps took his eighth gold for the U.S. at Beijing. No person had ever won that many golds in one Olympiad before Phelps.

President Bill Clinton got into hot water when he was accused of lying under oath about an alleged affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. On this date in 1998, Clinton admitted to a relationship with Lewinsky, and four months later, he was impeached for committing perjury.

Clinton’s admission contradicted his famous quote “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” Actress Mae West came up with plenty of famous quotes about sex in her long career. She was born August 17th, 1892.

IT’S REIGNING MEN, HALLELUJAH

August 16 in history:

Several “kings” in different fields have connections to August 16th…

This is the day in 1977 that Elvis Presley, “King of Rock and Roll,” died at the Graceland Mansion in Memphis.  Elvis was just 42.

Babe Ruth, who’s been called the “King of Swat” and the “Home Run King,” died on August 16th, 1948.  And it was the day former Ugandan leader Idi Amin died in 2003.  Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for playing Amin in the movie “The Last King of Scotland.”

Director James Cameron declared, “I’m king of the world!” when his movie “Titanic” took the Best Picture Oscar for 1997.  Cameron was born on August 16th, 1954.  It’s also the birthday of Fess Parker (1925), who became famous in the ’50s for playing Davy Crockett, “king of the wild frontier.”

And many men dreamed of becoming rich as kings when they headed to the frontier of Canada and Alaska in search of gold.  The Klondike gold rush began on this date in 1896, when three men discovered the precious metal in the Klondike River.


REALLY BIG SHOWS

August 15 in history:

Some big events in show business on this date…

“The Wizard of Oz” had its Hollywood premiere on August 15th, 1939, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles at their Shea Stadium concert in New York on this date in 1965.  More than 50,000 fans attended, with tickets priced from $4.50 to $5.65.

JenBenGovBallThe advance ticket price was $6 a day for the Woodstock Music Festival in New York state, which drew much more than 50,000 music fans. Woodstock began on August 15th, 1969, and lasted until the early
morning of August 18th.

The Stevie Wonder hit “My Cherie Amour” was a top-ten song on the Billboard charts the week of the Woodstock festival.  The record was featured in the 2012 movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” for which Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for best actress.  Lawrence, also known for playing Katniss in the movie version of the novel “The Hunger Games,” was born on this date in 1990.

On the same night in 2013 that Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar, Ben Affleck accepted the Best Picture award as a producer of the film “Argo,” which he also directed and starred in. Affleck, born August 15th, 1972, previously won an Oscar for writing “Good Will Hunting” with Matt Damon.

MORE PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

August 14 in history:

According to some aviation experts, the first official airplane flight in America happened on this day in 1901 in Connecticut.  Gustave Whitehead claimed that he flew a plane half-a-mile and reached an altitude of 50 feet.  That was more than two years before the Wright Brothers achieved their famous flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.  In 2013, the governor of Connecticut signed a law officially declaring that Whitehead’s August 14th flight was the first powered airplane flight in the U.S.

On August 14th, 1893, the world’s first automobile license plates reportedly were issued in Paris.

August 14th is the birthday of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” star Steve Martin (1945).

Oh, did I forget to mention trains?  Crosby, Stills, and Nash had a famous song about a train in Morocco called the “Marrakesh Express.” Singer and musician David Crosby was born on this date in 1941.

Many electric trains in the northern U.S. stopped working on August 14th, 2003, when a control room problem in Ohio led to the largest blackout ever in North America. More than 50 million people were left without power in eight states and much of eastern Canada.

COLD WAR / HOT AIR

August 13 in history:

berlin-wall-built-2

On August 13th, 1889, German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin received a patent for a “navigable balloon,” which would later become known as a blimp or a “zeppelin.”

Germany was divided into East and West by 1961, and on August 13th of that year, work began on a physical barrier to separate East and West Berlin. The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years until the border between the two halves of the city was opened in 1989.

East Berlin and the Cold War figured into the plot of the 1966 movie “Torn Curtain,” the 50th film directed by “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, born on this date in 1899.  Hitchcock’s 51st movie was another Cold War thriller called “Topaz,” set partly in Communist Cuba.  That movie featured a cameo appearance, through archival footage, of Cuban premier Fidel Castro, born August 13th, 1926.

In Hitchcock’s film “North By Northwest,” Cary Grant is mistaken for a spy who doesn’t really exist.  The phony spy was invented to keep a female agent’s cover from being blown.  The cover of real-life CIA agent Valerie Plame was blown by a newspaper columnist in a public scandal during the George W. Bush administration.  Plame was born on August 13th, 1963.