IT’S REIGNING MEN, HALLELUJAH

August 16 in history:

Several “kings” in different fields have connections to August 16th…

This is the day in 1977 that Elvis Presley, “King of Rock and Roll,” died at the Graceland Mansion in Memphis.  Elvis was just 42.

Babe Ruth, who’s been called the “King of Swat” and the “Home Run King,” died on August 16th, 1948.  And it was the day former Ugandan leader Idi Amin died in 2003.  Forest Whitaker won an Oscar for playing Amin in the movie “The Last King of Scotland.”

Director James Cameron declared, “I’m king of the world!” when his movie “Titanic” took the Best Picture Oscar for 1997.  Cameron was born on August 16th, 1954.  It’s also the birthday of Fess Parker (1925), who became famous in the ’50s for playing Davy Crockett, “king of the wild frontier.”

And many men dreamed of becoming rich as kings when they headed to the frontier of Canada and Alaska in search of gold.  The Klondike gold rush began on this date in 1896, when three men discovered the precious metal in the Klondike River.


REALLY BIG SHOWS

August 15 in history:

Some big events in show business on this date…

“The Wizard of Oz” had its Hollywood premiere on August 15th, 1939, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles at their Shea Stadium concert in New York on this date in 1965.  More than 50,000 fans attended, with tickets priced from $4.50 to $5.65.

JenBenGovBallThe advance ticket price was $6 a day for the Woodstock Music Festival in New York state, which drew much more than 50,000 music fans. Woodstock began on August 15th, 1969, and lasted until the early
morning of August 18th.

The Stevie Wonder hit “My Cherie Amour” was a top-ten song on the Billboard charts the week of the Woodstock festival.  The record was featured in the 2012 movie “Silver Linings Playbook,” for which Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for best actress.  Lawrence, also known for playing Katniss in the movie version of the novel “The Hunger Games,” was born on this date in 1990.

On the same night in 2013 that Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar, Ben Affleck accepted the Best Picture award as a producer of the film “Argo,” which he also directed and starred in. Affleck, born August 15th, 1972, previously won an Oscar for writing “Good Will Hunting” with Matt Damon.

MORE PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES

August 14 in history:

According to some aviation experts, the first official airplane flight in America happened on this day in 1901 in Connecticut.  Gustave Whitehead claimed that he flew a plane half-a-mile and reached an altitude of 50 feet.  That was more than two years before the Wright Brothers achieved their famous flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.  In 2013, the governor of Connecticut signed a law officially declaring that Whitehead’s August 14th flight was the first powered airplane flight in the U.S.

On August 14th, 1893, the world’s first automobile license plates reportedly were issued in Paris.

August 14th is the birthday of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” star Steve Martin (1945).

Oh, did I forget to mention trains?  Crosby, Stills, and Nash had a famous song about a train in Morocco called the “Marrakesh Express.” Singer and musician David Crosby was born on this date in 1941.

Many electric trains in the northern U.S. stopped working on August 14th, 2003, when a control room problem in Ohio led to the largest blackout ever in North America. More than 50 million people were left without power in eight states and much of eastern Canada.

COLD WAR / HOT AIR

August 13 in history:

berlin-wall-built-2

On August 13th, 1889, German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin received a patent for a “navigable balloon,” which would later become known as a blimp or a “zeppelin.”

Germany was divided into East and West by 1961, and on August 13th of that year, work began on a physical barrier to separate East and West Berlin. The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years until the border between the two halves of the city was opened in 1989.

East Berlin and the Cold War figured into the plot of the 1966 movie “Torn Curtain,” the 50th film directed by “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, born on this date in 1899.  Hitchcock’s 51st movie was another Cold War thriller called “Topaz,” set partly in Communist Cuba.  That movie featured a cameo appearance, through archival footage, of Cuban premier Fidel Castro, born August 13th, 1926.

In Hitchcock’s film “North By Northwest,” Cary Grant is mistaken for a spy who doesn’t really exist.  The phony spy was invented to keep a female agent’s cover from being blown.  The cover of real-life CIA agent Valerie Plame was blown by a newspaper columnist in a public scandal during the George W. Bush administration.  Plame was born on August 13th, 1963.

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN

August 12 in history:

The U.S flag was raised over Iolani Palace in Honolulu on August 12th, 1898, marking America’s official annexation of Hawaii.  The last monarch to reign over Hawaii from the palace was Queen Lili’uokalani.

August 12th is marked as the day in 30 B.C. when Egyptian Queen Cleopatra the 7th died, apparently committing suicide by allowing a snake to bite her.

Director Cecil B. DeMille, born on this date in 1881, made a movie about Cleopatra in 1934, starring Claudette Colbert. “Cleopatra” was nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards the following year.

Actor John Cazale only made five movies in his brief career, but they were all nominated for best picture Oscars: the first two “Godfather” films, “The Conversation”, “Dog Day Afternoon” and “The Deer Hunter”. Cazale died of cancer at age 42.  He was born August 12th, 1935.

CALIFORNY IS THE PLACE YOU OUGHTA BE

August 11 in history:

Events and people from California stand out on August 11th in history…

On this date in 1934, the first civilian inmates arrived at the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.

The Watts riots in Los Angeles began on August 11th, 1965, when violence occurred after police tried to arrest an African-American man in the Watts neighborhood for drunk driving.  The riots lasted nearly a week, with 34 people being killed and more than a thousand others injured.

The movie “American Graffiti” opened on this date in 1973.  George Lucas’s film takes place during a single night near the end of summer in a small California town.

And California native Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Computers, was born on August 11th, 1950.

A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM

August 10 in history:

On August 10th, 1792, King Louis the 16th of France was sent to prison, and a royal art collection at the Louvre Palace in Paris was confiscated by the government.  The Louvre reopened as a museum exactly one year later.

On this date in 1846, the U.S. government established the Smithsonian Institution as a museum and research organization.  The original half-million dollar sum used to establish the Institution came from the estate of British scientist James Smithson.

Herbert Hoover became the fourth U.S. president to have his own official museum and library, when the Hoover Library was dedicated on August 10th, 1962 at West Branch, Iowa.  That was Hoover’s 88th birthday.