Category: Today in history

SIXTEEN CANDLES, BIRTHDAYS AND PARTIES

February 18th in history:

Actress Molly Ringwald was born February 18th, 1968. On that same day, a Chicago-area high school student named John Hughes had 18 candles on his birthday cake. Hughes became a popular movie director and featured Ringwald in three hit films, including “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club.” Most of Hughes’ movies are set in and around Chicago.

The Chicago 7 were acquitted on this day in 1970. The seven anti-war protesters had been tried for conspiring to incite riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

On February 18th, 1856, the Know-Nothing Party nominated its first and only presidential candidate, former president Millard Fillmore. He carried only the state of Maryland in the November election.

YOU GOT TROUBLE IN THE POTOMAC RIVER CITY

February 17th in history:

Thomas Jefferson was elected president by the U.S. House on this date in 1801. The House had to break an electoral tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. As a result, Burr became vice president.

A helicopter buzzed the White House on February 17th, 1974, during the final months of Richard Nixon’s presidency. The chopper was stolen and flown by a disgruntled Army private named Robert Preston.

Actor Robert Preston was starring in the original Broadway production of “The Music Man” in February of 1958. For those who couldn’t go to Broadway, television was growing in popularity as an entertainment medium. On February 17th, 1958, Pope Pius XII declared St. Clare of Assisi the patron saint of television.

If there were no such thing as TV, there would be no “Larry the Cable Guy.” Larry, known in real life as Dan Whitney, celebrates his birthday on this day (1963).

DICTATORS AND KINGS

February 16th in history:

howard-carter-examining-tutankhamun-sarcophagus-king-tut_52859_600x450

On February 16th, 1959, Fidel Castro officially became the premier of Cuba. Many people mark January 1st of 1959 instead as the date Castro took power, because that was the day former dictator Fulgencia Batista was forced out of office.

A long-ago king made news on February 16th, 1923. That’s when archaeologist Howard Carter unsealed the burial chamber of Egypt’s King Tut.

And the Kings had to stop playing on this date in 2005. So did the Devils, Bruins and Canadiens, and all of the other teams in the National Hockey League. The NHL cancelled the rest of the 2004-’05 season because of a labor dispute.

IT AIN’T OVER ‘TIL IT’S “OVER”

February 15th in history:

The red-and-white Maple Leaf flag first flew over Canada on February 15th, 1965.

That same year, the last piece of the Gateway Arch was put in place, 600 feet over the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The Arch has become the most visible symbol of St. Louis, established on February 15th, 1764.

Another arch was immortalized in a tune by songwriter Harold Arlen, born on this day in 1905. He wrote the music to “Over the Rainbow” and the other songs in “The Wizard of Oz.”

If you wanted to sing “Over the Rainbow” over the Internet, you might post a video on YouTube. February 15th, 2005 was the first full day of operation for the do-it-yourself video website, but there were no videos to watch until the following April, when founder Jawed Karim posted a clip of himself visiting the San Diego Zoo.

PRESIDENTIAL IMAGE

February 14th in history:

James K. Polk posed for photographer Mathew Brady on February 14th, 1849, less than a month before leaving the White House.  It appears to be the first time that an incumbent U.S. president posed for a solo photograph.  President Polk had been photographed earlier in his term, in a group shot with members of his cabinet.

Television cameras came to the White House on Valentine’s Day, 1962, for a prime-time tour of the mansion, hosted by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The tour was shown on all three major networks.

George Washington never slept in the White House, but George Washington Slept Here was the name of a popular movie starring comedian Jack Benny, born February 14th, 1894.  Benny had a weekly show on radio, and then TV, for over 30 years, built around his character of a cheapskate who played the violin badly and always claimed to be 39 years old.  Benny’s hometown of Waukegan, Illinois, named a school after him in the 1960s.  The sports teams at Benny Middle School are nicknamed the 39ers.

Jack Benny was born in Chicago, not Waukegan.  On his 35th birthday in 1929, seven men were shot to death in a Chicago garage, in what became known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the most famous gangster-related murders of the 1920s.  The victims were associated with the “Bugs” Moran gang in Chicago.  Rival gang leader Al Capone was blamed for the killings.  In the 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon escape Chicago by posing as women after witnessing the Massacre.

LEADERS AND BEGINNINGS

February 12th in history:

Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were both born on February 12th in the same year, 1809.

One of the states that joined the Confederacy during Lincoln’s presidency was founded as a colony on February 12th, 1733. James Oglethorpe founded Georgia as the 13th European colony in the New World.

It was a new world for women in one U.S. territory on this date in 1870: The Utah Territory gave women the vote. Women wouldn’t be granted that right nationwide for another 50 years.

FROM A COAL MINE TO A GOLD MINE

February 11th in history:

A judge in Pennsylvania tried a different way of heating his home on February 11th, 1808. Judge Jesse Fell became the first American to use anthracite coal in his home fireplace.

“Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep it rollin'” is a famous rhyme from the song “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” Glenn Miller received a gold record for “Chattanooga Choo Choo” on a live radio show during the second week of February, 1942.  And on this date in 1950, a record with a similar title, “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” by Red Foley, topped the Billboard chart of songs played most often in jukeboxes.

Singer Whitney Houston earned gold, platinum, and diamond records for outstanding music sales during her career.  On February 11th, 2012, Houston died of accidental drowning at a Beverly Hills hotel, the day before that year’s Grammy Awards.

Houston won six Grammys in all, including record of the year in 1994 for “I Will Always Love You.”  The following year, 1995, the Grammy for record of the year went to “All I Wanna Do” by Sheryl Crow, born on this day in 1962.  Crow has won nine Grammys during her career.  She shares a February 11th birthday with phonograph inventor Thomas Edison (born 1847), who also popularized motion pictures and the light bulb.