November 17 in history:
Television history was made on this day in 1968, when a Sunday afternoon game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders was running long. NBC was contracted to broadcast a new version of “Heidi,” sponsored by Timex watches, precisely at 7 p.m. Eastern time that night, whether the game was over or not. A last-minute network decision to delay “Heidi” until after the game did not get to the right people, and the football broadcast for most of the U.S. was cut off with one minute left to play, and the Jets ahead by three points. The game ended with two quick touchdowns by the Raiders, who won by a score of 43-32. The fan uproar that resulted led to the now-common practice of delaying all regular programming on the networks rather than disrupting football games in progress.
President Richard Nixon made history on live television by stating “I’m not a crook” during a broadcast news conference on November 17th, 1973. The question-and-answer session was part of an Associated Press meeting at Disney World, in the middle of the Watergate scandal. Nixon made the “crook” remark while telling the reporters that he had never profited from his years of public service.
The Nixon news conference was aired live on network TV on a Saturday night. The producer of “Saturday Night Live,” Lorne Michaels, was born on this day in 1944…the same day and year as frequent SNL host Danny De Vito, known for the TV series “Taxi” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
TV coverage of a concession speech by Howard Dean has been blamed for costing him the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Dean was portrayed as being too emotional and out of control when he shouted to supporters after losing the Iowa caucuses. Dean, a former governor of Vermont, was born on November 17th, 1948.
John Boehner has never run for president, but he was third in line for the Oval Office as Speaker of the House. The Ohio Republican was born on this date in 1949.
November 16 in history:
On November 16th, 1907, Oklahoma was admitted to the Union. The U.S. flag would bear 46 stars after that, until New Mexico and Arizona became states in 1912.
The 50th anniversary of Oklahoma’s statehood, on November 16th, 1957, was not a happy day for fans of the Oklahoma Sooners football team. The Sooners’ 47-game winning streak, dating back to 1953, was ended with a 7-0 loss to Notre Dame.
“Oklahoma!” was the first hit musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Their last show, “The Sound of Music,” opened on Broadway on November 16th, 1959, with Mary Martin as Maria.
Another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “Carousel,” was based on a Hungarian play called “Liliom.” Actor Burgess Meredith played the title role in “Liliom” on Broadway in 1940. Meredith’s long career included the “Rocky” and “Grumpy Old Men” movies, appearances on “The Twilight Zone,” and the role of the Penguin on “Batman” in the ’60s. Meredith was born on this date in 1907, the same day Oklahoma became a state.
November 15 in history:
Conquistador Francisco Pizarro arrived with his army at Cajamarca, the capital of the Incas, on November 15th, 1532. Pizarro’s men urged the Incan king Atahualpa to convert to Christianity and pledge allegiance to Spain. The king refused. He was captured and his army was attacked.
General William Tecumseh Sherman set fire to Atlanta on this date in 1864, beginning a March to the Sea (the Atlantic) by Union troops. The burning of Atlanta is a major scene in the movie “Gone with the Wind.”
Another military leader known for his ability to move armies, German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, was born on November 15th, 1891.
Zebulon Pike was an explorer rather than a conqueror. On this day in 1806, Pike discovered a large mountain in the Rockies which was later named Pike’s Peak.
And for fast-food lovers wanting to know “Where’s the beef?”, their journey often takes them to Wendy’s restaurants. Dave Thomas opened his first Wendy’s outlet, named after his daughter Melinda (nicknamed “Wendy”), in Columbus, Ohio on November 15th, 1969.
November 14 in history:
Americans met the goal of reaching the moon before the end of the 1960’s when Apollo 11 landed in July of ’69. There would be one more manned trip to the moon before 1969 was over. Apollo 12 continued the moon exploration program when it was launched on November 14th that year.
The next lunar mission, Apollo 13, was scrubbed in mid-flight because of an accident, and made a dramatic return to the earth after orbiting the moon. Astronaut Fred Haise, born on this day in 1933, was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13. It’s also the birthday of Ed White (1930), the first U.S. astronaut to walk in space. White died in 1967 in the launching pad fire inside the Apollo 1 spacecraft.
An airplane crash in West Virginia on November 14th, 1970, dealt a severe blow to the football program at Marshall University. A chartered plane carrying most of the Marshall team, coaches, and some fans crashed into a hill as the flight returned from a game in North Carolina. All 75 persons aboard the plane were killed. It took more than a decade for the university to rebuild the football program before Marshall had a winning season in 1984. The 2006 movie We Are Marshall tells the story of how the plane crash affected the university and the community.
An artist named Marshall was hired in 2005 to keep an enduring comic strip going. John Marshall is the latest cartoonist to draw the “Blondie” strip. He was born on this date in 1955.
Louis Mountbatten was an air vice-marshal for the British during World War II. On November 14th, 1973, Mountbatten’s grand-niece, Princess Anne, married Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey. The wedding took place on the 25th birthday of Anne’s older brother, Prince Charles.
November 13 in history:
A “March Against Death” to protest the Vietnam War began at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on November 13th, 1969. More than 40,000 protesters marched into Washington, as a prelude to a large anti-war moratorium two days later.
On the same date 13 years later, in 1982, a monument to the thousands of Americans killed in Vietnam was dedicated near the Lincoln Memorial. The V-shaped granite wall bearing names of the war dead was not universally popular at first, but since its dedication, it has been praised for the simplicity of its design.
The Holland Tunnel linking New Jersey to Manhattan was an early example of an automotive tunnel designed to keep car exhaust from building up. The nearly two-mile tunnel, named after its chief engineer, Clifford Holland, opened on November 13th, 1927.
November 13th was opening night in 1997 for the Broadway musical version of the Disney movie “The Lion King.” Actress Whoopi Goldberg, born Caryn Johnson on this date in 1955, provided the voice of the hyena Shenzi in the original animated movie.
Since 2007, Whoopi Goldberg has been one of the hosts of the ABC daytime talk show “The View.” Jimmy Kimmel, born on November 13th, 1967, has been a late-night talk show host on ABC even longer, since 2003. Before that, Kimmel was a co-host of “The Man Show” and “Win Ben Stein’s Money.”
November 12 in history:
An American Airlines flight crashed in Queens, New York on November 12th, 2001, shortly after taking off from JFK Airport. More than 250 people were killed. It was the first major crash of a commercial airplane in the U.S. since the World Trade Center attack two months earlier, leading to concerns that it might be an act of terrorism. Even though pilot error was found to be the cause of the disaster, rumors spread that a terrorist did blow up the plane.
A very unusual explosion took place on this date in 1970, in Florence, Oregon…after a whale beached itself there. The Oregon Highway Division was the agency in charge of the state’s beaches at the time, and highway staffers decided that the best way to dispose of the eight-ton whale carcass was to blow it up with half-a-ton of dynamite. The explosion, captured on film by a local TV station, blasted chunks of whale hundreds of feet from the carcass.
An ice skating star was born in Oregon on the same day that whale blew up. Tonya Harding competed in women’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics of 1992 and 1994. The second time, Harding’s backers plotted to help her get to the Olympics by physically attacking her chief rival, Nancy Kerrigan, at the U.S. championships. Tonya got to the Olympics again, but the scheme blew up in their faces. Kerrigan recovered from her leg injury and won the Olympic silver medal, while Harding placed 8th.
Harding shares her November 12th birthday with another Olympic athlete: Nadia Comaneci of Romania, born in 1961. Comaneci made history at the Montreal Games of 1976 by getting the first perfect score in Olympic women’s gymnastics.
November 11 in history:
Many of the Pilgrims who came to America aboard the Mayflower signed the Mayflower Compact on November 11th, 1620. The document established a government at the Massachusetts colony where they had landed.
The armistice agreement which ended the First World War was signed on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, in a railroad car in a French forest. The war’s end came four years after its triggering event, the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and about a year-and-a-half after the U.S. joined the conflict.
The war ended on George S. Patton’s 33rd birthday. Patton was a tank commander in the war, but on Armistice Day, he was recovering from a leg injury received in battle two months earlier.
Comedian Stubby Kaye was born on the last day of World War I. Kaye became a man in uniform in the movie “Guys and Dolls,” as a reformed gambler who joined the Save-a-Soul Mission. He’s also known for appearances in “Cat Ballou” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”