Category: Today in history

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.

WORKS OF ART

June 17th in history:

An empress of India died during childbirth on June 17th, 1631, and her tomb has become one of the world’s most recognizable works of architecture. It took over 20 years to build the monument to Mumtaz Mahal, called (logically enough) the Taj Mahal.

One of the most famous statues of a woman arrived in the U.S. on June 17th, 1885. The pieces were all boxed up aboard a ship from France, and it took a year to put them together, to form the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

There was no statue of any kind waiting for Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet when they reached the Mississippi River on June 17th, 1673. They were the first white men to see the northern part of the Mississippi, as they arrived at the mouth of the Wisconsin River. But today, a few miles north of that point, a statue of Marquette stands high on a pedestal near a bridge linking Marquette, Iowa, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

FAMOUS TRAVELERS

June 16th in history:

Ulysses BookJune 16th, 1904, is the date when Leopold Bloom journeys through Dublin in the James Joyce novel “Ulysses.” Joyce reportedly chose that date and year because it was the occasion of his first date with his future wife.

Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16th, 1963, aboard the Soviet spacecraft Vostok 6.

Actress Laurie Metcalf went from the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago to New York in 1981, to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live.” She only appeared on one episode before a writer’s strike prematurely ended the season. Metcalf did not return to the show the following season – but she had better luck in Hollywood, where she spent nine years on “Roseanne.” Metcalf shares her June 16th (1955) birthday with another former cast member of SNL, Abby Elliott (1987).

FAMOUS DISCOVERIES

June 15th in history:

Benjamin Franklin is given credit for proving that lightning is an electrical charge because of an experiment reportedly performed on June 15th, 1752. That’s the day Franklin is said to have flown a kite during a rainstorm, tying the string to a key in a jar to capture an electrical charge from the kite. (Some sources say the experiment took place on June 10th, while others doubt that it happened at all.)

On this date in 1844, Charles Goodyear is given a patent for the process of vulcanizing rubber. Goodyear discovered that adding sulfur to rubber hardens it, and makes it last longer.

NPH and HHNeil Patrick Harris has played an inventor and mad scientist (“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”), a kid doctor (“Doogie Howser, M.D.”), and a banker (“How I Met Your Mother”). In real-life, he’s become a popular host for awards shows and a Tony Award winner himself. Harris was born on this day in 1973.

Courteney Cox was “discovered” when she danced on stage with Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing in the Dark” music video. The future star of “Friends” and “Cougar Town” was born on this day in 1964.

During the 1998-99 TV season, you could see three actresses with June 15th birthdays on popular network sitcoms…Courteney Cox on “Friends,” Leah Remini on “The King of Queens” (born 1970), and Helen Hunt (1963) on “Mad About You.” During the run of “Mad About You,” Hunt won a Best Actress Oscar for “As Good As It Gets.”