HIGH NOON AND OTHER TIMES

March 19th in history:

On March 19th, 1918, Congress approved Daylight Saving Time and the formation of time zones across the country.

The first Academy Awards broadcast on television started at 10:30 Eastern Time (7:30 Pacific Time) on March 19th, 1953. The program originated both in Hollywood and New York. Gary Cooper was named Best Actor for playing the marshal in “High Noon.”

Real-life Western lawman Wyatt Earp was born on March 19th, 1848. Earp has been a character in many movies, including “Sunset” (1988), featuring Bruce Willis (born on this day in 1955) as movie cowboy Tom Mix.

PIONEERS AND QUEENS

March 18th in history:

On March 18th, 1850, businessmen William Fargo and Henry Wells combined their express mail businesses to start American Express. They started another famous delivery and banking company a short time later, known for its wagons crossing the American frontier, with Wells getting first billing.

Aleksei Leonov stepped into space (the final frontier) on this day in 1965. The Soviet cosmonaut was the first human to take a “space walk,” lasting 12 minutes, as part of the Voskhod 2 mission.

The governor-general of Canada became a pioneer on this date in 1893, when he pledged to donate a silver challenge cup to the best hockey team in Canada. The cup still exists, only now it’s awarded to the best team in the National Hockey League. And it still bears the name of its donor, Lord Frederick Stanley.

Stanley was appointed to the Canadian post by England’s Queen Victoria. March 18th is the birthday of Mary Tudor, Queen of France (born to the King and Queen of England in 1496)…singer and actress Queen Latifah (born Dana Owens in 1970)…and a beauty queen, former Miss America Vanessa Williams (born 1963).

NEW YORKERS AND GOING GREEN

March 17th in history:

Franklin D. Roosevelt resigned from the New York State Senate on March 17th, 1913, to become assistant secretary of the Navy under President Woodrow Wilson. It was his eighth wedding anniversary. In the next 20 years, Roosevelt would become a vice-presidential candidate, governor of New York and president of the United States.

Eliot Spitzer had been governor of New York for just over a year when he resigned on this date in 2008, after a prostitution scandal in which he admitted to being a client of an escort agency.

New Yorkers like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a big parade in Manhattan. The Irish holiday was celebrated in New York City for the first time on March 17th, 1756.

St. Patrick’s Day is the birthday of two actors who have starred in movies and TV shows about New York City: Kurt Russell (born 1951), who played Snake Plissken in the action drama Escape from New York; and Gary Sinise (1955), Mac Taylor from “CSI: New York,” also known as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.

Sinise also played real-life astronaut Ken Mattingly in the movie Apollo 13. Mattingly was born March 17th, 1936. He was pulled from the Apollo 13 mission days before its launch in 1970 after being exposed to German measles, so he missed being aboard the spacecraft that had to return to Earth after an explosion. Mattingly did get to circle the moon two years later, as the command module pilot of Apollo 16.

HORSE POWER AND CAR POWER

March 16th in history:

The Army Corps of Engineers was established on March 16th, 1802, to operate the military academy at West Point.

On this date in 1916, General John J. Pershing (West Point class of 1886) led the horsemen of the Cavalry across the Mexican border to search for revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Most people gave up horses for cars in the early 20th century. On March 16th, 1958, Ford produced its 50 millionth car, a Thunderbird. Exactly 10 years later on the same date, General Motors made its 100 millionth auto. It was an Olds Toronado.

HAIL C-ZAR

March 15th in history:

Beware March 15th, the Ides of March — the day in 44 B.C. when emperor Julius Caesar was stabbed to death by several members of the Roman Senate.

The Russian title “Czar,” meaning an emperor, is thought to be related to the name Caesar. Czar Nicholas the 2nd of Russia abdicated on March 15th, 1917. His brother then became the czar.

Russia was part of the Soviet Union for decades after the monarchy fell. On March 15th, 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev officially took the title of “president” of the USSR. He was the last Soviet president, when the Union disbanded the following year.

A band called the Ides of March was climbing up the record charts on this day in 1970 with its biggest hit, “Vehicle.”  At the same time, the song “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)” by Sly and the Family Stone was headed down the charts after hitting number 1 in February.  The band’s leader, Sly Stone, was born on March 15th (year in dispute, 1943 or 1944).

DEATH AND TAXES

March 14th in history:

Warren G. Harding made history on March 14th, 1923, as the first president to file an income tax report.  This was 10 years after the 16th Amendment was ratified, legalizing income taxes in the U.S.

Harding died of an illness later that year, the third year of his presidency.  John F. Kennedy also died in his third year as president.  Just after his assassination, Kennedy was buried in a simple grave at Arlington Cemetery.  On this day in 1967, Kennedy’s body was moved to a more elaborate gravesite.  Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and two Kennedy children also are buried at the site, with the graves of Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy nearby.

Borman CernanTwo days after JFK was killed, Dallas bar owner Jack Ruby shot and killed suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV.  On this day in 1964, Ruby was convicted of Oswald’s murder.

President Kennedy set a national goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s.  Astronauts Frank Borman and Eugene Cernan both orbited the moon on different Apollo flights, and Cernan actually walked on the moon during the last manned lunar mission, Apollo 17.  Both men were born on March 14th…Borman in 1928, and Cernan six years later.

SCIENCE, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

March 13th in history:

Attorney Clarence Darrow, the defense lawyer at the Scopes “Monkey” trial, died on this date in 1938. It was exactly 13 years after the day the Tennessee House voted to ban the teaching of evolution in state schools. Passage of that law led to the Scopes trial.

A major scientific discovery on March 13th, 1781: Astronomer William Herschel announced that he had found the planet Uranus. It was the first planet in the solar system to be discovered by telescope.

And on this date in 1930, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh announced to the Harvard College Observatory that he had discovered a ninth planet, which would be named Pluto. In 2006, Pluto was downgraded to the status of “dwarf planet.”