January 18th in history:
Former U.S. President John Tyler died on January 18th, 1862, shortly after being elected to the Confederate Congress. Tyler was the first vice president to succeed a U.S. president who died in office, following the 1841 death of William Henry Harrison.
John Tyler fathered 15 legitimate children by two wives, and was accused of fathering more children in affairs with slaves. A notorious presidential affair was revealed on this date in 1998, when the “Drudge Report” web site said that President Bill Clinton had had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton publicly denied the affair at first, but admitted to it months later.
The leading man of the 1957 movie An Affair to Remember, Cary Grant, was born on January 18th, 1904. Grant’s film career lasted from the 1930s to his retirement in the 1960s, and included four Hitchcock movies and four films with Katharine Hepburn.
Hepburn’s 1969 movie The Madwoman of Chaillot was the last feature film for comedian Danny Kaye, born on this day in 1911. Kaye, known for physical humor and fast-talking wordplay, also starred in White Christmas and The Court Jester, as well as a 1960s variety show on CBS.
Danny Kaye was one of the original owners of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Actor and director Kevin Costner, born January 18th, 1955, had one of his biggest hits as an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in a cornfield in “Field of Dreams.” Costner also starred in the popular sports movies “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup,” and the frontier epic “Dances with Wolves,” which earned him Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture
January 17th in history:
The earth shook in Southern California on January 17th, 1994. The “Northridge Earthquake” caused 72 deaths and $20 billion in damage.
Eartha’s birthday is on January 17th — Eartha Kitt, that is — born in 1927. Kitt replaced Julie Newmar as Catwoman on the “Batman” TV show in 1967. Jim Carrey also is famous for playing a Batman villain, the Riddler, as well as portrayals of the Grinch and Horton the Elephant. Carrey, born in 1962, shares a January 17th birthday with Andy Kaufman (1949), whom he impersonated in the movie “Man on the Moon.”
And the man who discovered the planet Pluto, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, died on this day in 1997. A few years after Tombaugh’s death, scientists declared that Pluto is not really a planet.
January 16th in history:
Prohibition became the law in the U.S. when 36 states ratified the 18th Amendment. That threshold was reached on January 16th, 1919, when five states approved the amendment in one day. The actual ban on alcohol took effect one year later.
“I get no kick from champagne” is the opening line of the song “I Get a Kick Out of You,” introduced by Ethel Merman in the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes.” Merman was born January 16th, 1908. She originated the roles of Annie Oakley in “Annie Get Your Gun” and Mama Rose in “Gypsy,” and played Mrs. Marcus in the movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.”
The beer-brewing Busch family has its name on the home stadium of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Two famous players for the Cardinals were born on January 16th…Jay “Dizzy” Dean (1910) and Albert Pujols (1980).
On this date in 1970, center fielder Curt Flood sued Major League Baseball to protest his trade from the Cardinals to the Phillies. Flood’s challenge of the baseball “reserve clause” eventually helped Major League players to become free agents, who could choose which teams to play for.
January 15th in history:
Twenty-one people were killed and more than 100 others were injured by a flash flood in Boston on January 15th, 1919 — a flood of molasses. A 50-foot-tall holding tank owned by the Purity Distilling Company burst open, and more than two million gallons of molasses poured out in a wave that was said to be as high as 15 feet. The tank had sprung leaks before that day, and experts think the “Great Molasses Flood” might have been caused by unusually warm winter weather.
Another East Coast disaster 90 years later had a much happier ending. January 15th, 2009, was the date of the “Miracle on the Hudson,” when U.S. Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger landed Flight 1549 from New York’s La Guardia Airport onto the Hudson River after birds flew into the engines two minutes into the flight. All of the crew members and the 150 passengers survived the water landing.
A Mississippi plane crash in 1977 killed three members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd, including the lead singer of “Free Bird,” Ronnie Van Zant — born on this date in 1948. And it’s the birthday of actor Lloyd Bridges (1913), who had a career revival after appearing in the disaster-film spoof “Airplane!”
January 14th in history:
The name “Casablanca” made headlines when U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met in the Moroccan city for a war conference, beginning January 14th, 1943. The two Allied leaders spent nearly two weeks planning European strategy against Italy and Nazi Germany.
The Casablanca meeting coincided with the general release of the movie “Casablanca,” starring Humphrey Bogart. Bogie died of cancer on January 14th, 1957 — just five years after winning his only Oscar for “The African Queen.”
Twenty years later, actor Peter Finch died on January 14th, 1977. Finch would win a posthumous Oscar as Best Actor that year for his role as mad anchorman Howard Beale in “Network.” Finch died on the 36th birthday of his “Network” co-star Faye Dunaway (1941), who won the Best Actress Oscar for that movie. The two had no scenes together in “Network.”
January 13th in history:
On January 13th, 1953, Josip Broz, the prime minister of Yugoslavia, took on a new job title. That day, he became the president of Yugoslavia, and held the job until his death in 1980. Broz was better known by the title “Marshal Tito.”
Another man from Eastern Europe took an important leadership position on January 13th of 1964. Polish Bishop Karol Wojtyla officially became the Archbishop of Krakow. Fourteen years later, Wojtyla took on a new job, and a new name: Pope John Paul II.
Actor Patrick Dempsey is better known to many TV fans by the title “Dr. McDreamy” on the series “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dempsey was born on January 13, 1966 — making him exactly four years older than “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes (1970). It’s also the birthday of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, alias “Elaine”, “Old Christine” and “Veep” (1961).
January 12th in history:
Just a month after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt took action on January 12th of 1942 to prevent major industries from shutting down. Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board, to stop strikes by workers at businesses supplying vital materials for the war.
It wasn’t Roosevelt that Archie and Edith Bunker wanted to see again, but Herbert Hoover. Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton, as the Bunkers, praised Hoover in the song “Those Were the Days” to open the first episode of “All in the Family” on CBS, January 12th, 1971.
January 12th was the premiere date for “Batman” on ABC in 1966. For most of its three years on the air, “Batman” was seen twice a week, with a story beginning on the Wednesday episode and building to a cliff-hanger ending to be resolved on Thursday, “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.” Many stories began with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Adam West) receiving his assignment over the “Batphone” from Police Commissioner Gordon of Gotham City.
For 23 years, Kenesaw Mountain Landis was the commissioner of bats, balls, diamonds, and all things related to baseball in the US. Landis, a federal judge, was elected the first commissioner of baseball on January 12th, 1921.
And happy birthday to Mr. Freese…not a “Batman” villain, but saxophone player Jason Freese, born on this date in 1975. Freese has performed with Green Day and other popular rock bands..