Category: Today in history


September 4 in history:

On September 4th, 1957, Ford Motor Company president Henry Ford the 2nd celebrated his 40th birthday by unveiling a new car brand named after his late father, Edsel Ford.  Edsels in showrooms around America were kept under wraps until the 4th, “E-Day.” More than 60,000 Edsels were built the first year, but two years later, production was down to about three thousand, and the brand was discontinued.

An Edsel may have been given away as a prize on “The Price Is Right” during its original run on TV in the 1950s and ’60s.  On September 4th, 1972, the game show was revived on CBS as “The New Price Is Right,” hosted by Bob Barker.  A contestant won a Chevrolet Vega wagon worth $2,746 in the first “pricing game” of the new show.

A new way of taking photographs was introduced by inventor George Eastman:  a personal camera that used rolls of film instead of photographic plates.  On this date in 1888, Eastman registered the trademark name “Kodak” for the camera company he would start four years later.

Another leap in technology occurred on September 4th, 1998, when Stanford graduate students Sergey Brin and Larry Page incorporated a company named Google, which would become famous for its internet search engine.


September 3 in history:

England’s King Richard the 1st, the Lionheart, was crowned on September 3rd, 1189.  Ironically, Richard primarily spoke French, and spent little time in England during his 10 years on the throne.

The United States formally separated from England with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on this date in 1783, officially ending the American Revolution.  John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were among the signers for the U.S.

“Signing in” on a blackboard was the way contestants made their entrance on the long-running game show “What’s My Line?”  The original Sunday night version of “Line” ended its 17-year run on CBS on September 3rd, 1967.  A daily syndicated version was launched a year later.

Actress and singer Kitty Carlisle Hart occasionally appeared as a panelist on “What’s My Line?”, but was more famous as a regular panel member on “To Tell the Truth.”  She was born on this date in 1910.


September 2 in history:

“The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite” expanded from a 15-minute newscast to a 30-minute program on September 2nd, 1963. In honor of the occasion, much of that night’s broadcast featured a Cronkite interview with President John F. Kennedy.  Oddly enough, despite Kennedy’s support of NASA and Cronkite’s reputation for covering space flights, the topic of space exploration did not come up during the on-air interview.

On this date in 1970, NASA cancelled its original plans for the Apollo 15 and 19 moon flights, in a budget-cutting measure. The Apollo 19 flight was never re-scheduled, but a revised Apollo 15 mission took place the following year.

On the TV show “I Dream of Jeannie,” fictional astronauts Tony Nelson and Roger Healey went to the moon on the Apollo 15 mission. The theme song for most episodes of “Jeannie” was written by composer Hugo Montenegro, born on this date in 1925. September 2nd is also the birthday of real-life shuttle astronaut and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe (1948).


September 1 in history:

The last known passenger pigeon in captivity, named Martha, died on September 1st, 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo. Ironically, the Ohio legislature was asked to protect passenger pigeons in the 1850s, and a study committee concluded that the species was so plentiful, there was no need for protection.

The passenger pigeon disappeared two years after the “unsinkable” ocean liner Titanic disappeared in the waters of the Atlantic.  But Titanic did not remain lost forever.  On September 1st, 1985, a team led by undersea explorer Robert Ballard found the wreckage of Titanic on the ocean floor, about 400 miles from Newfoundland.

The James Cameron film “Titanic” featured Kathy Bates as “the unsinkable” Molly Brown.  Bates won the Best Actress Oscar for “Misery” in 1990, the same year that Jeremy Irons was named Best Actor for “Reversal of Fortune,” playing real-life attempted-murder suspect Claus von Bulow.  September 1st is the birthday of both von Bulow’s wife, Martha “Sunny” von Bulow (1931 or 1932), and his defense attorney Alan Dershowitz (1938).


August 31 in history:

The King of England died in France on this date in 1422.  King Henry V was 35, and had been on the throne for nine years.  Henry died of dysentery while leading a military campaign in France.

The Princess of Wales died in France on this date in 1997. Princess Diana, formerly Lady Diana Spencer, was 36, and had been divorced from Prince Charles for just one year.  Diana and two others died after their car crashed into a pillar inside a Paris tunnel, as the car was trying to outrun photographers.  Despite conspiracy theories suggesting Diana and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed were murdered, official inquests concluded that the car’s driver was negligent and apparently drunk.

sara ramirez spamalotAlan Jay Lerner wrote the lyrics to popular musicals about a king (“Camelot”) and a “Lady” (“My Fair Lady”).  Lerner was born August 31st, 1918.

The Lady of the Lake is the leading female character in the musical “Spamalot,” based on the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”  Sara Ramirez won a Tony Award in 2005 for originating the role of the Lady on Broadway.  Ramirez, born August 31st, 1975, is known to television viewers as Dr. Callie Torres on “Grey’s Anatomy.”


August 30 in history:

Lincoln and Booth were together every week in the ’60s…the 1960s. On your TV screen.  Raymond Massey…famous for playing Abraham Lincoln on stage and film…portrayed Dr. Gillespie on “Dr. Kildare.” NBC followed “Kildare” on Thursday nights with “Hazel,” starring Shirley Booth.  The two shows debuted on the same night in 1961, and remained together on the NBC schedule until “Hazel” moved to CBS in 1965.  Both stars were born on August 30th…Massey in 1896, and Booth in 1898.

For much of the run of “Dr. Kildare,” “Lincoln” (Massey) was competing with “Steven Douglas” for Thursday night viewers. Fred MacMurray, born Aug. 30th, 1908, starred as Steve Douglas on “My Three Sons,” which was often scheduled on ABC opposite NBC’s “Kildare.”

One hundred years after Lincoln was president, a famous telephone was installed at the White House on August 30th, 1963. It was the first hotline between Washington and the Kremlin, designed to help communications between East and West and avoid international incidents.  It wasn’t a direct phone line between the U.S. president and the Soviet leader.  The Pentagon acted as a go-between.

George Washington got a message, a peace offer, from a British general on this date in 1776.  General William Howe offered to let Washington and his army escape from Brooklyn Heights before a possible British attack.  Washington rejected the offer, and sent it to the Continental Congress.


August 29 in history:

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. on August 29th, 2005, leading to massive flooding in New Orleans when many levees on the Mississippi were breached.  More than 18-hundred people died because of the storm, while over 20,000 people took shelter in the Louisiana Superdome.

A made-for-TV movie called “Superdome,” broadcast in 1978, starred David Janssen from the 1960s series “The Fugitive.”  The final episode of “The Fugitive” aired on August 29th, 1967.  Almost half the households in America watched as Dr. Richard Kimble confronted the real killer of his wife, the “one-armed man.”  The last line of the episode was “Tuesday, August 29th…the day the running stopped.”

August 29th of 2008 was the day the running started for vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska. Palin suddenly became a household name when Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose her as his running mate.  It was Palin’s 20th wedding anniversary and McCain’s 72nd birthday.  And on this date in 1968, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine was nominated as Hubert Humphrey’s running mate at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.