October 8 in history:
Famous fires broke out on the shores of Lake Michigan on October 8th, 1871. The deadliest of those fires occurred in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, along Green Bay. As many as 2500 people may have died in the forest fire that destroyed Peshtigo and other communities. The better-known fire of October 8th was the Great Chicago Fire, which claimed about 300 lives and destroyed four square miles of the city.
Minister and political activist Jesse Jackson, the founder of Operation PUSH in Chicago, was born October 8th of 1941. Jackson shares a birthday with comedian Darrell Hammond (1955), who impersonated him and dozens of other celebrities during a 14-year run on “Saturday Night Live.” Hammond occasionally imitated SNL announcer Don Pardo on the show, and in 2014, was hired to succeed the late Pardo as the program’s new announcer.
Chevy Chase played President Gerald Ford in sketches during the first two seasons of SNL. Chase, born October 8th, 1943, went on to play Clark Griswold in the “Vacation” movie series, and returned to TV as a cast member of “Community.” He co-starred in “Deal of the Century” with Sigourney Weaver, born this day in 1949. Weaver played Ripley in the “Alien” movies, and appeared in “Avatar” and “Ghostbusters.”
Live from New York, baseball fans saw and heard history being made on October 8th, 1956, when Game 5 of the World Series was broadcast from Yankee Stadium. Don Larsen of the Yankees became the first man to pitch a perfect game during a World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0.
October 6 in history:
October 6th of 1889 must have been a busy day for Thomas Edison. On that day, a judge ruled in Edison’s favor on a dispute over the patent for his incandescent light bulb. Another inventor accused Edison of stealing the bulb design from him, but the judge decided that Edison had made improvements on the other man’s bulb. That same day, Edison demonstrated a motion picture for the first time at his New Jersey lab. It was a “talking” picture, coordinated with a phonograph recording.
The first actual “talking picture” to catch on with the public premiered in New York on October 6th, 1927: “The Jazz Singer,” starring Al Jolson.
The first woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress, Janet Gaynor, was born on this date in 1906.
And October 6th of 1991 was the date of Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth and final wedding. Construction worker Larry Fortensky was Taylor’s seventh husband. They had met at the Betty Ford Clinic. The wedding took place at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
October 5 in history:
The city of Anaheim, California, was founded in 1857. It would become the site of Disneyland, and the home of the Angels baseball team, which won the World Series in 2002.
Another nearby franchise, the San Diego Padres, has played in the World Series twice without winning. The first time was 1984, the same year Padres owner Ray Kroc died. Kroc, who earned a fortune after buying the McDonald’s hamburger business from brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald, was born October 5th, 1902.
Another popular comedy team made its debut on October 5th, 1969, when the first episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was aired on the BBC.
John Cleese of “Monty Python” has appeared as spy gadget expert Q (or R) in two James Bond films. The very first 007 film, “Dr. No,” premiered in London on October 5th, 1962. This is also the birthday of Donald Pleasence (born 1919), who played the villain Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice”…used as an inspiration for Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” spy comedies.
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:
“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.