Category: Today in history


October 4 in history:


Work crews at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota began carving the faces of four U.S. presidents into the mountainside on October 4th, 1927. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum took 12 years to complete the task, starting with the face of George Washington, and leaving Theodore Roosevelt until last.

A chase on Mount Rushmore concludes the 1959 Hitchcock movie “North by Northwest,” which also features major scenes aboard a train. “The General,” about a Civil War train, was a silent movie hit for actor and director Buster Keaton, born on this day in 1895.

“Murder on the Orient Express” was a popular hit movie of 1974. The actual Orient Express train made its first run between Paris and Romania on October 4th, 1883.

A spectacular circus train crash is a highlight of the 1952 film “The Greatest Show on Earth,” starring Charlton Heston, born on this day in 1923. Heston’s famous roles include the title character in “Ben-Hur,” astronaut Taylor in “Planet of the Apes,” and Moses in “The Ten Commandments.”

The leader of the Catholic Church visited the U.S. for the first time on October 4th, 1965. Pope Paul VI flew to New York, where he spoke at the United Nations and attended an outdoor mass at Yankee Stadium.

And another historic flight occurred on this day in 1957, when the Soviet satellite Sputnik became the first man-made object to orbit the earth.


October 3 in history:

The popular “Siegfried and Roy” magic act at the Mirage in Las Vegas was disrupted on October 3rd, 2003, when one of the duo’s famous tigers bit Roy Horn in the neck.  The attack effectively brought an end to the long-running act, although Siegfried and Roy did comeback performances a few years later.  The tiger attack happened on Roy’s 59th birthday.

A mouse and a “kangaroo” both began long-running children’s shows on TV on October 3rd, 1955.  The mouse was Mickey Mouse, cartoon star of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” on ABC, featuring the Mouseketeers, talented kids wearing sweaters and mouse ears.  Same day, different network: “Captain Kangaroo” made his debut on CBS. Bob Keeshan played the Captain as a grandfatherly host with a big mustache and deep-pocketed jackets.  He had a number of “animal” co-stars, including Dancing Bear and the puppets Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose.

“Buffalo wings” were invented on this day in 1964. That is, a special recipe for chicken wings coated with cayenne pepper sauce, created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y.

The Buffalo Bills football team featured Heisman winner O.J. Simpson on their roster for nine seasons. Millions tuned in to live TV on this day in 1995 to see Simpson acquitted in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. On the same date 13 years later, Simpson was found guilty in a kidnapping and armed robbery case in Nevada. He is still in prison for those crimes.


October 2 in history:

To match Reuters Life! PEANUTS-ANNIVERSARY/

“Good ol’ Charlie Brown…How I hate him!”  That was the punchline for the first “Peanuts” comic strip that appeared in newspapers on October 2nd, 1950.  Charles Schulz wrote and drew the adventures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and friends until retiring just before his death 50 years later.

Cartoonist Murat “Chic” Young created the long-running comic strip “Blondie,” and Chick Young was the name of William “Bud” Abbott’s character in the monster movie parody “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”  Abbott was born October 2nd, 1895, exactly five years after the birth of another comedian whose career lasted from vaudeville to TV, Julius “Groucho” Marx.

Sometimes funny, often scary, or just weird.  Those words could describe two classic TV anthology shows that both premiered on October 2nd:  “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” in 1955, and Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” in 1959.


October 1 in history:

A steamboat called the “New Orleans” reached Louisville, Kentucky on October 1st, 1811, having traveled down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh.  People in Louisville had never seen a steamboat before, and the vessel was so noisy, stories circulated that the noise was caused by a comet falling into the river.

The U.S. space agency NASA was formed on this date in 1958, almost a full year after the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite.

Disney’s EPCOT theme park, known for displays of futuristic technology, opened in Florida on October 1st, 1982.  That was 11 years to the day after Disney World opened in the Orlando area.

On that same day in 1982, Sony introduced its first compact disc player in Japan.  The first record album to be released on CD was Billy Joel’s “52nd Street.”

October 1st of ’82 also marked the first weekly episode of “Knight Rider” on NBC, which featured a high-tech talking car named KITT.


September 30 in history:

“The Simpsons” and “Family Guy” might not have existed without Fred Flintstone.  On September 30th, 1960, “The Flintstones” debuted on ABC.  It was the first long-running animated sitcom in prime time, and it inspired spinoffs, sequels, live-action movies, breakfast cereals, and chewable vitamins.

Lewis Milestone was not a character on “The Flintstones.”  He was an Oscar-winning director who had a hit movie in theaters in the fall of 1960, the original “Ocean’s Eleven.”  Milestone was born on this date in 1895.  He also directed the Best Picture winner for 1930, the World War I drama “All Quiet on the Western Front.”

European leaders hoping to prevent a second World War signed the Munich Pact on September 30th, 1938.  The pact would allow Hitler to annex the Sudetenland portion of Czechoslovakia to Germany. The agreement has gone down in history as a monumental blunder, especially for British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who returned to England that day with a peace treaty signed by Hitler.

The most popular song in much of Europe on this date in 1976 was “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.  On September 30th, it was the number-one song in England, Ireland, Holland, Norway, and Sweden.


September 29 in history:

Pope John Paul, formerly Cardinal Albino Luciani, died on September 29th, 1978, only 34 days after being elected.  John Paul was immensely popular during his short reign as pope, prompting his successor, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, to choose the name John Paul II.

Construction on the Washington National Cathedral began on September 29th, 1907.

On that same day, “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry was born.  Autry was famous for his movies and Christmas recordings, and later in life as the founder of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team.

September 29th was the last day of the regular baseball season in 1957, and two franchises played — and lost — their last games as New York teams on that day before moving to California.  The Giants, headed to San Francisco, lost their last home game at the Polo Grounds to Pittsburgh, and the Brooklyn Dodgers were beaten in Philadelphia in their final game before moving to Los Angeles.

A Martian had to settle in Los Angeles after his spaceship crashed, on the sitcom “My Favorite Martian,” which debuted September 29th, 1963 on CBS. Ray Walston was billed as “The Martian,” but he was called “Martin O’Hara” and “Uncle Martin” while living with a newspaper reporter played by Bill Bixby.

Jonathan Harris of “Lost in Space” played the voice of Uncle Martin in a 1970s cartoon show based on “Martian.”  On this night in 1963, the same Sunday night that “Martian” premiered, Harris appeared on NBC’s “Bonanza” as author Charles Dickens, visiting the Ponderosa.  Harris was a regular cast member on another NBC series that aired that night, “The Bill Dana Show,” in which Dana’s popular character Jose Jimenez worked as a hotel bellhop.


September 28 in history:

The Norman Conquest began on this date in 1066, when William, the Duke of Normandy, invaded England.  William was crowned king of England the following Christmas.

The battle which ended the American Revolution began on September 28th, 1781.  The British surrendered three weeks into the Battle of Yorktown in Virginia.

“Revolution” was the flip side of the Beatles’ single “Hey Jude,” which became the number-one song in America on this day in 1968, replacing “Harper Valley P.T.A.”  “Hey Jude” stayed on top of the charts for two months.

The Beatles led the “British Invasion” of American popular music when they first appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. Sullivan was born September 28th, 1901…the same day and year as his long-time boss at CBS, network founder William S. Paley.